Live and Let Psi Guest Post, Excerpt & Giveaway

Live and Let Psi Book Blitz

Today I’m happy to welcome author D. R. Rosensteel to the blog. The second book in his Psi Fighter Academy series is out now and he was kind enough to explain to me some of the inspiration for the book. He’s also shared an excerpt from the book and Entangled Teen is hosting an awesome giveaway. Keep reading to find out more.

From the Author

Hi Danielle,

Thanks for having me! You mentioned that you might like some background on my inspiration for Live and Let Psi, and since it releases this week, I thought that would be a good place to start.

Live and Let Psi is the second book in the Psi Fighter Academy series. Main character Rinnie Noelle is up to her masked eyes in danger, both in school and out. I wanted to crank up the tension in her story and explore two real issues that teens face: bullying and drug abuse. Bullying has always been around, but these days it is a major cause of teen suicide. And drugs are easier to get than ever. Some drugs, heroine in particular, are instantly addictive. Drug dealers actually target specific age groups with colorful packaging, just like toy makers do. It’s a dangerous, dangerous world.

Throw these real teen issues into the middle of an already tense story, and Rinnie suddenly has to deal with school situations that many adults aren’t prepared for. In one scene, she walks in on one of her friends as he is about to commit suicide. The boy has been bullied relentlessly, both in school and out, and he has had enough. I did a lot of research on teen suicide before writing the dialogue that takes place between Rinnie and her friend. The numb feeling of total helplessness, where dying seems like a better option than living, is almost impossible to understand and was extremely hard to convey. I rewrote that scene a gazillion times.

Then in another scene, Rinnie is confronted by a kid who overdoses in a major way and dies in her arms. I wrote this scene and the ones that followed it from a combination of research and my own memories. When I was in high school, a kid died in gym class. I didn’t know him, but it still shook me up badly. The thing I remember most, though, was how the entire school grieved. It was like everyone had lost a family member, even though I went to a pretty big school and most kids didn’t know the boy. Conveying that school-wide feeling of loss was as hard to put into words as the scene with the bullied kid.

Okay, I realize I didn’t tell you much about the story. I got lost talking about the sad stuff. But there is also a lot of fun in Live and Let Psi. Rinnie has to deal with a new Psi Fighter who gives her attitude, and a new member of the Dweeb League who dresses up like a superhero to “sweep crime into the dumpster!” Both characters were added for comic relief, and I must say, I had a blast with them. The banter between Rinnie and the other characters is my favorite part. That’s one thing I can say about writing novels—it is the hardest work I have ever done, and the most enjoyable.

Well, thanks again for having me!

Psi you later! (that’s what the Psi Fighter Street Team says when they sign off a video)

 D.R.Rosensteel

Excerpt from Live and Let Psi

Where Rinnie meets Pickles for the first time

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Next morning, Mason and I met Kathryn in the school library study room, where she sat with pencil in hand and books stacked a mile high on the table in front of her. She ran her hands through her long hair and twisted it above her head like a hat then plunged the pencil through to hold it in place.

“Putting on your thinking cap?” I asked.

She shook her head. “Trying to look adorable so you won’t hate me when I mention a slight faux pas that I may or may not have committed. So, Mason, how’s the wrist?”

“Almost healed.” Mason smiled. “Looking adorable and slyly changing the subject.”

I pursed my lips. “How slight?”

“You know how I said the Dweeb League thinks they’re ready to take on real criminals?”

“Yeah, so?”

“I may have whispered something to the wrong crowd.” She pointed out the window at a contingent of misfits marching toward us—the Dweeb League. “Nerd is the new superhero.”

“Oh, joy.”

The study room door opened and they filed in—a kid we called Whatsisface carrying a cafeteria tray overflowing with food, his Goth girlfriend Tish, and Kathryn’s boyfriend Bobby. Accompanying them was a pudgy little ninth-grader I didn’t recognize. He glanced across the table at me, gave me a little two-fingered salute, and stood at attention.

I shot Kathryn a you-call-this-slight? look.

Whatsisface plopped himself and his overburdened tray down beside me. He was the most oddly shaped human I had ever met. God had given him more than the normal share of legs and hips but less than he deserved of shoulders and head. The tray didn’t surprise me, though. Whatsisface’s eating abilities were legendary.

“Bobby-y,” Kathryn sang, patting the chair beside her. “Pop a squat.”

“Hi, Kitty,” Bobby said, taking his seat. “Whatsisface brought us a new member.”

“And a vat of food.” Kathryn puffed out her cheeks. “How did you get food into the library? We aren’t allowed.”

“Jedi mind trick,” Whatsisface said, waving his hand. “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, after all.”

“Sausage, eggs, potatoes, bacon, Cap’n Crunch… Big day.” Kathryn stared at the smorgasbord. “How many villages are you feeding?”

“Got to fuel the machine.” Whatsisface smiled. “You don’t maintain a body like this with exercise alone.”

“Your secret is safe with me,” Kathryn said. “Hey, I have a question. Does the machine have a name? I don’t feel right calling you Whatsisface to your face. I mean, behind your back, it’s okay, because I’d be like, ‘Hey, did you hear about Whatsisface?’ and everybody would know who I meant. But I’m sure your mother calls you something like Timmy or Johnny.”

Tish smiled. “Nope.”

Whatsisface turned slightly pale. “Hieronymus Friedrich Bodenwerder.”

Kathryn’s eyes widened. “So I should call you…?”

“Whatsisface,” Whatsisface said.

Kathryn nodded. “So, Whatsisface, who is our new member?”

“His name is Pickles.”

Kathryn clunked her head down on the table.

“Niles Piklowski,” Pickles said, arching an eyebrow. “The Niles Piklowski. You’ve probably heard of me.”

“Hi,” I said, wondering how old he was before he started getting beat up for saying things like that.

“The gamer,” Mason said. “I hear you’re pretty good.”

“Oh, I’m better than good, my man,” Pickles said. He flicked his head to the side, swinging his long bangs out of his face. “Let’s get right down to business. As I am the newest member of the Dweeb League, I have a special request for a special person.”

I looked around the room, trying to figure out who he was talking to.

“You, ma’am,” Pickles said, pushing his face so close to mine that our noses touched. “I’m talking to you.”

“Why me?” I backed up so I didn’t have to look at him cross-eyed.

“Because you are the local kung fu expert. I saw you in action against one Arthur Rubric. Now, I have to say, I’m not easily impressed, but girl, you have done it, and I am requesting advanced lessons. Don’t worry, I’m a quick study. Google me. I’m already world-renowned as a master of Immortal Assassin—billed as the impossible-to-defeat fighting game. Although”—Pickles closed his eyes and slowly shook his head—“I have defeated every level. Without, might I add, the benefit of cheat codes? No brag. Just fact.”

“What world?” I muttered.

“The world of online gaming, naturally.” He opened one eye and stared directly at me. “Obviously, I’m ready. I’d like to advance my already phenomenal skills in service to the Dweeb League.”

Kathryn patted me on the shoulder. “I mentioned the fact that you have actually taken martial arts lessons, as opposed to playing a mindless video game, and he was all over it. He wants you to call him Grasshopper.”

Pickles grinned at me. “Master.”

“Kwai Chang Pickles,” Mason said. “When you can snatch the controller from my hand, it will be time for you to leave.”

“It’s true, I’m the perfect man for the Dweeb League.” Pickles leaned close to me, cupped his hand alongside his cheek, and whispered, “I understand you’re safe, one of us, if you know what I mean. Now here’s the deal—I know the workings of the criminal mind. First it’s ‘kick me’ signs on people’s backs, then it’s burning paper bags of doggy doo on their doorsteps. Been there. So I ask myself, when is it going to stop? The answer came to me in a dream. I was sleeping in Language Arts after a grueling night of Immortal Assassin, when I heard an angel’s voice prophesying about Protectors who will stop the robberies.

Kathryn grinned in embarrassment and raised her hand. “That would be the faux pas.”

Pickles didn’t seem to notice. “When I woke up—honestly, it was more like coming out of a trance—right then, I knew that the prophesy must be fulfilled. Yes, the world needs a hero. Newsflash—I’m that hero. Yes, me. Yours truly. People look at me with disdain and belly laughs. They don’t suspect that I am a ninja, a warrior’s warrior, a sheep in wolf’s clothing.”

“A wolf in sheep’s clothing?” Kathryn said.

Pickles smiled smugly. “See? I have the perfect cover. There’s only one thing I don’t have, but you do, sister. Yes, indeedy, you have got it!”

I turned to Kathryn. “What did he just say?”

“He wants to be a superhero.”

“I don’t do superheroing. They fly, leap tall buildings in a single bound, shoot webs…” I turned to Pickles. “I don’t think I’m the right one to teach you.”

“You are the one. This I know.” He put his hands on his hips and laughed a deep belly laugh. “Leave the superheroing to me, Pocahontas. I just need my feet to be as deadly as my brain. I’m nearly there. Watch this.”

He plucked Kathryn’s pencil from her hair, causing it to flop across her face, then tossed the pencil high into the air. As it arced toward the ceiling, a high-pitched scream ripped from his throat. I assume it was meant to be a Bruce Lee imitation, but it sounded like a cat with its tail caught in a pencil sharpener. Pickles leaped into the air and threw a wild kick, totally splitting the seam out of his pants. His momentum spun him like a top and his foot plowed through Kathryn’s pile of books, sending them flying onto Whatsisface’s lap.

Pickles grinned at me, red-faced. “Okay, you get back to me on that, will you? We’ll set a time for the first lesson. TTFN.” He turned and duck-walked out of the study room, mumbling something about adding a sewing kit to his utility belt.

The Giveaway

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You can check out more about the author D. R. Rosensteel and his Psi Fighters by following these links:

www.drrosensteel.com

Huge thanks to D. R. Rosensteel and Entagled Teen for their time and the amazing giveaway!
Happy Reading,
danielle.

Life After Juliet Review & Giveaway

LifeAfterJulietTour

Click the banner above to see the complete tour schedule

 

The Book:
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Book Title: Life After Juliet
Author: Shannon Lee Alexander
Release Date: July 5, 2016
Genre: Contemporary YA

Synopsis: Becca Hanson was never able to make sense of the real world. When her best friend Charlotte died, she gave up on it altogether. Fortunately, Becca can count on her books to escape—to other times, other places, other people… Until she meets Max Herrera. He’s experienced loss, too, and his gorgeous, dark eyes see Becca the way no one else in school can. As it turns out, kissing is a lot better in real life than on a page. But love and life are a lot more complicated in the real world…and happy endings aren’t always guaranteed.

The companion novel to Love and Other Unknown Variables is an exploration of loss and regret, of kissing and love, and most importantly, a celebration of hope and discovering a life worth living again.

My Thoughts:

In this follow-up to Love and Other Unknown Variables, Becca has to learn how to navigate the world on her own, without the guidance of her best and only friend, Charlotte. Charlotte, the loud one. Charlotte, the one who was never afraid. Charlotte, the one who was all the things Becca didn’t know how to be.

I was drawn into Becca’s story from page one, empathizing with her desire to live each day in fictional worlds. However, as we all learn sooner or later, Becca realizes that we can only hide in the pages of books for so long. When she is given the opportunity to work behind the scenes of the drama club, Becca finds herself suddenly immersed in a world that teaches her how to live, how to take risks, and how to love.

My favorite part of the book was the multidimensionality of the characters. From surly Darcy to endearing Max, the characters all develop in a way that reminds us of the complexity that is a human being. Seeing how each of the characters dealt with adversity from annoying English class assignments to tragic accidents was enough to keep me turning the pages. Ultimately, though, this is Becca’s story. Becca, who is beautifully flawed and with whom readers will surely connect. Becca, who reminds us that redemption is possible and that sometimes you have to write your own happy ending.

I loved every bit of this book and I’m sure you will too.  Keep reading to find out more about the author and to enter the awesome giveaway.

About the Author:

Shannon LeeSLA Alexander is a wife and mother (of two kids and one yellow terrier named Harriet Potter). She is passionate about coffee, books, and cancer research. She spent most of her time in high school hiding out in the theater with the drammies and techies. Math still makes her break out in a sweat. She currently lives in Indianapolis with her family.

 

Author Website: http://www.shannonleealexander.com

Author Twitter: @shanlalexander

Author Facebook: Shannon L Alexander

Author Goodreads: Shannon Lee Alexander

Newsletter: Sign up here – http://eepurl.com/09Igj

The Giveaway:

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Giveaway Information:  Contest ends July 15, 2016

Open internationally, but prize packs ship only to US. International winners will receive Amazon gift cards (listed below).*

  • Grand prize: Hyperboles are the best EVER! tote bag, a 4oz. Novelly Yours Antique Books candle, Toe-meo and Juliet Shakespearean socks, Life after Juliet poison and dagger necklace, Velveteen Rabbit note card, signed Life after Juliet bookmark and bookplate*
  • 1st Runner Up: Hyperboles are the best EVER! tote bag, a 4 oz. Novelly Yours Antique Books candle, Toe-meo and Juliet Shakespearean socks, Life after Juliet dagger earrings, signed Life after Juliet bookmark and bookplate*
  • 2nd Runner Up: 2oz. Novelly Yours Antique Books candle, Life after Juliet dagger earrings, Velveteen Rabbit note card, signed Life after Juliet bookmark and bookplate*
  • 3rd Runner Up: 2oz. Novelly Yours Antique Books candle, Life after Juliet dagger earrings, signed Life after Juliet bookmark and bookplate*

*All contests are open internationally, but international winners will receive the following:

  • Grand prize: $25 Amazon gift card, signed Life after Juliet bookmark and bookplate
  • 1st Runner Up: $20 Amazon gift card, signed Life after Juliet bookmark and bookplate
  • 2nd runner up: $15 Amazon gift card, signed Life after Juliet bookmark and bookplate
  • 3rd runner up: $10 Amazon gift card, signed Life after Juliet bookmark and bookplate

P.S.

Follow THIS LINK to see all the amazing stops on this tour

To purchase the novel, follow any of the links below

Amazon:  http://www.amazon.com/Life-After-Juliet-Shannon-Alexander/dp/1633753239

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/life-after-juliet-shannon-alexander/1122537767

iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/life-after-juliet/id1065470169

Kobo: https://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/life-after-juliet

Amazon.co.uk:  http://www.amazon.co.uk/Life-After-Juliet-Shannon-Alexander/dp/1633753239

Amazon.ca: http://www.amazon.ca/Life-After-Juliet-Shannon-Alexander/dp/1633753239

Entangled Publishing: http://www.entangledpublishing.com/life-after-juliet/

Huge thanks to Entangled Teen, Chapter by Chapter Book Tours, and Shannon Lee Alexander. I have so much love for this book, I hope everyone out there does, too.

Happy Reading,

danielle.

Read Me Like a Book

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Ashleigh Walker is a mediocre student with an assortment of friends, a sort-of boyfriend, and no plans for the future. Then a straight-from-college English teacher, Miss Murray, takes over Ash’s class and changes everything. Miss Murray smiles a lot. She shares poetry with curse words in it. She’s, well, cool. And she seems to really care about her students. About Ashleigh. For the first time, Ash feels an urge to try harder. To give something — someone — her best. Before she knows it, Ashleigh is in love. Intense, heart-racing, all-consuming first love. It’s strong enough to distract her from worrying about bad grades and her parents’ marriage troubles. But what will happen if Miss Murray finds out Ashleigh is in love with her?

This is Liz Kessler’s first YA novel and one that comes highly recommended. Jodi Picoult calls Read Me Like a Book “a welcome reminder that love is love, no matter what.” Part romance, part bildungsroman, all heart — this novel will appeal to fans of Speak and The Miseducation of Cameron Post; or anyone who loves a well-written story. This is one that I cannot wait to get into the hands of readers!

Candlewick Press gave me the awesome opportunity to interview Ashleigh Walker, the novel’s protagonist. Read on to get some insight to the world through Ashleigh’s eyes.

Q: Two of the first people we meet in your story are your best mates, Cat and Luke. Why do you think your bond with them is so strong (even if you don’t always see eye-to-eye)?

A: Cat (or Catherine if you’re a teacher or just wanting to annoy her) keeps me on my toes. She’s tough to read sometimes, but she is a loyal friend. She’s the pretty one of the bunch and Luke has had a crush on her forever. Luke, he’s a good guy. Dresses nice, don’t have to worry about him trying to chat you up or pull anything untoward. He’s steady, you know? Anyway, I’m not smooth at all, I’m awkward and words don’t always work when I need them to. So I’ve got Cat and Luke to remind me I’m not a completely lost cause.  

Q: Why do you think the transition to high school was difficult for you?

A: Well, first, the teachers are all liars. I mean, they told us we’d have all this freedom, that we’d be treated like adults. But on the first day, Cat and I get called to the office to sign contracts that we won’t text, chat, update social media, or basically do anything else that would help us deal with our boring lessons. But, they weren’t all bad. I mean, Mrs. Murrray — she gets us. It’s like she’s one of us sometimes, but not. She’s smart and sophisticated. And beautiful. 

Q: What about the new friends you made in school, like Dylan?

A: Dylan. He’s a distraction really, I don’t know if he is a friend, a boyfriend, not a friend at all. But thinking about him keeps me from thinking about Dad and Mum. It keeps me from thinking about Dad on the pull-out couch at night while Mum sleeps in their bed. Dylan and poetry keep me from thinking about that. 

Q: You mentioned your parents. How is it at home?

A: Awful. Tense. Loud. Then quiet. Too quiet. They blame each other for everything. If I get in trouble, they blame each other for what I’ve done. Mum starts calling me “Young Lady” and Dad will ask her if she’s ever done anything wrong, then it’s all hands waving and yelling and accusations and they’ve forgotten about being mad at me because they are busy being mad at each other. 

Q: Just one more question, if you could give the readers any advice, what would it be?

Don’t shoplift hair dye? Well that and, just to be true to pay attention to all the lessons around you. I learned a lot about myself this year. There were some things that Mrs. Murray helped me figure out and some things my parents helped me figure out — most times not even trying. In the end, I realized that I had to stop working so hard to please other people because you can’t always please other people and that hurts. But you have to learn from the hurt and the mistakes and sometimes, if you give people a chance, they will surprise you in the best ways possible.

To find out more about Ash’s life and those lessons she talked about, pick up a copy of “Read Me Like a Book” from your favorite bookstore.

A HUGE thank you to Candlewick for including me in part of this incredible release celebration.

Happy Reading!

danielle.

Pete Hautman Discusses Eden West

Pete Hautman is a rock star in the YA world. His books are smart and engaging, he’s not afraid to tackle the big issues. My first introduction to Hautman’s writing was when a colleague handed me a copy of Godless and said, “you NEED to read this book.” She was right. Godless tackled issues of faith humanity, and hope. It was clear to me that while Hautman may have been writing a YA book, he was writing for everyone. I’ve been hooked ever since.

When I had the opportunity to interview Pete Hautman about his newest book, Eden West (thanks Candlewick!) I jumped at it. What I realized is that Hautman is a passionate and funny human who genuinely wants to make people think — his literature acknowledges that oftentimes, the questions are more important than the answers.

MM: You’ve said that Eden West was born in part by your own fascination with cults. What do you think drives this fascination?

PH: Probably envy. I have days when I wish somebody smarter than me would just tell me what to do. Wouldn’t that be great?

Seriously, I think that is the main draw of most cults, totalitarian governments, and some religions. We all feel lost at times—young people in particular. We want someone with vision, charisma, and confidence to tell us what to do, what to believe, what to feel. Cult leaders trade on that currency. It’s seductive.

An equally powerful lure is the whole tribal thing. We evolved as members of small tribal groups, but over time the groups have grown so large and unwieldy that we have to make our own tribes within the uber-tribes defined by politics and statehood. Most people scratch the tribal itch by having circles of friends with common interests, a large family, a political identity, or some other device that makes us feel both special and part of a group. When these “tribes” form around a strong leader they can take on a cultish flavor.

Cults happen because people want them, whether we are talking about Jim Jones’s People’s Temple, Ayn Rand acolytes, or Deadheads. They are part of who we are.

MM: Why is it important for you to tackle issues of faith and doubt in your books?

PH: Not that many writers are doing it, at least not in Young Adult literature. And it’s kind of important, don’t you think? Faith and doubt bring us together and tear us apart every day, in every culture, in every way. I seek understanding; I try to get there through my writing.

 MM: What songs would be on the Eden West soundtrack?

PH: That would be a medley of Enya, Public Image Ltd., and White Stripes. At least that’s what I remember listening to the most.

 MM: What was the best piece of advice you ever received?

PH: “You have to keep in mind that other people are people too.” An older man told me that once when I was complaining about certain “stupid jerks” (I may have used stronger language).

I struggle constantly to understand and appreciate those whose opinions, priorities, and actions are at odds with my own. That advice helped me a lot while I was writing Eden West, because it’s important to me to be able to embrace all my characters, even the irritating ones.

 MM: What are you reading now?

 PH: When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead, Mistress Masham’s Repose by T.H. White, and The Affinities by Robert Charles Wilson. I’m also reading the first draft of a novel I just finished. It needs work. I wish I had somebody to tell me what to do.

A million thanks to Mr. Hautman for letting us inside his head for a bit. Be sure to check out Eden West, and for a bit of fun — here’s the unboxing.

Check out all the awesome stops on this tour:

Word Nerds May 19 https://thewordnerds.wordpress.com/
Creatures ‘n’ Crooks May 20 http://cncbooksblog.wordpress.com/
My Book Views May 21 http://my-book-views.blogspot.com/
The Children’s Book Review May 22 http://www.thechildrensbookreview.com/
My Mercurial Musings May 26 http://www.mymercurialmusings.com/
The Roarbots May 27 http://theroarbots.com/
Unleashing Readers May 29 http://www.unleashingreaders.com/
Hudson Booksellers June 1 http://www.hudsonbooksellers.com/
Fiction1

An Epic Giveaway from Candlewick Press

Don’t know what to read this year? The amazing folks at Candlewick Press have you covered. Recently, Time Magazine, with the assistance of industry experts, reviewers, and major literacy non-profits, compiled a list to honor the 100 Best Young-Adult Books of all time. This list honors new literature as well as the classics. Candlewick Press, has SIX titles included on this list. And the best part?

Candlewick is giving away a set of of those six featured books to one lucky winner. Guys, this is a HUGE giveaway and a chance to find some new favorites. This prize pack includes paperback copies of: The Tiger Rising and The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane both by Kate DiCamillo A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness & illustrated by Jim Kay The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness Feed by M.T. Anderson Boy Proof by Cecil Castellucci These are some amazing titles and would make a lovely addition to your 2015 to read list. You can find out more of each of the books below. Scroll all the way down to the Rafflecopter widget to enter. (US & Canada only)  Fiction1 Feed by M. T. Anderson Anderson takes on consumerism in this smart, savage satire that has captivated readers with its view of an imagined future that veers unnervingly close to the here and now.

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

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

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness, illustrated by Jim Kay An unflinching, darkly funny, and deeply moving story of a boy, his seriously ill mother, and an unexpected monstrous visitor.

The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness A dystopian thriller follows a boy and girl on the run from a town where all thoughts can be heard — and the passage to manhood embodies a horrible secret.

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

Follow the directions on the Rafflecopter Widget below to enter to win these awesome titles. Winners will be announced on January 27th. Open to readers 13 and older in the US and Canada. 

 

If you can’t see the giveaway widget please follow this LINK or the Rafflecopter link below to enter.

(Apologies while I try to get WP to play nice with Rafflecopter)

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Review: Red Queen

Red Queen Cover

Red Queen || Victoria Aveyard || Harper Teen || February 2015 || 400 pages

Somewhere between a Faustian allegory and Tolkienesque epic, is Red Queen. Victoria Aveyard has crafted a beautifully dangerous world full of intrigue and duplicity where “anyone can betray anyone.”

In Mare Barrow’s world, there are two classes — the Reds and the Silvers, each class designated by the color of its blood. Mare is a Red, who can look forward to subsisting until the age of conscription when she, like her brothers before her, will be sent to the front lines of a war that has been raging for over 100 years. The elite Silvers, whose blood grants them special abilities (such as the power to control metal, fire, or meld minds) are fierce leaders with little empathy for the Reds.

In school, we learned about the world before ours, about the angels and gods that lived in the sky, ruling the earth with kind and loving hands. Some say those are just stories, but I don’t believe that. The gods rule us still. They have come down from the stars. And they are no longer kind. (Aveyard 11)

So begins Victoria Aveyard’s sweeping tale of power, betrayal, and revolution. From page one, I was invested in Mare and her world. Aveyard wastes no time introducing readers to the brutal reality of life in The Stilts, where on First Friday, the villagers are “treated” to violent matches between Silvers, akin to the matches between Roman Gladiators. Ostensibly, these matches are to provide entertainment for the masses, but Mare knows it is really the Silvers’ way of showing their power and what could happen should any Red dare whisper of rebellion.

However, there is a revolution brewing. The Scarlet Guard, a band of Reds seeking to restore balance to the world are gaining strength. But Mare can’t be worried about that, she has family to take care of and her own conscription on the near horizon. With three brothers already at the war, Mare has resigned herself to a grim fate. Until her course is shifted and she finds herself in the middle of a power struggle she never could have never imagined. The Silvers’ have taken note of the Scarlet Guard and the dangerous Lady Titanos, both posing a threat to the monarchy’s choke-hold on the nation. In an attempt to save her best friend, Kilorn and protect her family, Mare has caught the attention of the cruel Queen Elara as well as that of the Scarlet Guard; she finds herself caught between two equally dangerous worlds with few allies.

Aveyard’s prose is careful, she unravels her secrets slowly, letting the reader think they’re a step ahead before throwing them around a bend at a hundred miles and hour. Her characters are strongly developed, multi-faceted, and disturbingly real. The double-dealing, the politics, the never-ending wars declared by the rich and fought by the poor — this is a tale told thousands of times, but never quite like this. I adored this book, and was sad to turn the last page, it has been a long while since I’ve found myself so utterly emersed in a world of fiction and so sad to leave that world behind. It’s going to be a long wait for the second book in the trilogy.

Reading Resolution 2015

In the past, I’ve set number goals for myself (mostly as part of the Goodreads challenges) and I realized last year, much of the fun of reading was getting lost in the shuffle of trying to meet an arbitrary goal. I missed the joy of getting lost in a book and letting it linger in my mind a bit before jumping right into the next one. I was on a roller coaster of literary speed dating and needed a change.

So, this year, I’m jumping on board the Pop Sugar Reading Challenge. What drew me to this challenge is that it focuses on variety of books read instead of simply logging numbers — it’s like a literary scavenger hunt.  I’ve already started my first read, Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard, which is releasing next month. So far, I’m loving the book and am looking forward to more great reads in 2015.

What are your 2015 reading resolutions?

http://www.popsugar.com/love/Reading-Challenge-2015-36071458

Review: Black Ice

21943246Synopsis from Goodreads:  Brit Pheiffer has trained to backpack the Teton Range, but she isn’t prepared when her ex-boyfriend, who still haunts her every thought, wants to join her. Before Britt can explore her feelings for Calvin, an unexpected blizzard forces her to seek shelter in a remote cabin, accepting the hospitality of its two very handsome occupants; but these men are fugitives, and they take her hostage. Britt is forced to guide the men off the mountain, and knows she must stay alive long enough for Calvin to find her. The task is made even more complicated when Britt finds chilling evidence of a series of murders that have taken place there and in uncovering this, she may become the killer’s next target. But nothing is as it seems, and everyone is keeping secrets, including Mason, one of her kidnappers. His kindness is confusing Britt. Is he an enemy? Or an ally?

My Thoughts:

I went back and forth between wanting to read and not wanting to read this book. The premise sounded like the plot of a Lifetime movie; but something kept pulling me back to it, so I took a chance.  The first chapter, technically a prologue, sucked me in immediately and I wish the rest of the novel had followed more in that tone. Now, after finishing, I still have mixed feelings. There was so much about the book that I loved and so much that made me want to scream with rage.

I’ll start with the good. Fitzpatrick has put together a great psychological thriller — more made for TV movie than Gone Girl — either way it was enough to keep my turning pages late into the night. Tension abounds in this story and there were many “will they make it?” moments throughout the book. Nobody is exactly who they seem to be and everyone seems to have ulterior motives. Scheming abounds and pieces of the puzzle are laid out for the reader with perfect timing. I did figure out some of the twists ahead of time, the clues are there if you’re paying attention, but this did not diminish the experience of reading for me.

On to the negative. The characters were, for the most part, unlikable. Britt’s best friend, Korbie, is such a throw-away character, at no point was I concerned about her and was kind of happy that she didn’t take up too much of the story line. Some of the decisions the characters made were wholly frustrating, as is often the case in stories like this. Britt’s bizarre obsession with her jerk of an ex-boyfriend Calvin is infuriating. The kidnappers make some pretty awful decisions, but they are first-time kidnappers, so I can forgive this. What was unforgivable was the lack of intervention on behalf of the park rangers, police, or even the kids parents. In the end, I did like the character of Mason, not all good, not all bad — to me, he was the most believable character in the book. Overall, this is a great popcorn read, one to keep you distracted and entertained on a rainy Saturday.

Fans of Fitzpatrick’s Hush, Hush series will enjoy this novel as will fans of thrillers like Reconstructing Amelia and Ashes.

Have you read the book? What are your thoughts?

Review: Black Ice

21943246Synopsis from Goodreads:  Brit Pheiffer has trained to backpack the Teton Range, but she isn’t prepared when her ex-boyfriend, who still haunts her every thought, wants to join her. Before Britt can explore her feelings for Calvin, an unexpected blizzard forces her to seek shelter in a remote cabin, accepting the hospitality of its two very handsome occupants; but these men are fugitives, and they take her hostage. Britt is forced to guide the men off the mountain, and knows she must stay alive long enough for Calvin to find her. The task is made even more complicated when Britt finds chilling evidence of a series of murders that have taken place there and in uncovering this, she may become the killer’s next target. But nothing is as it seems, and everyone is keeping secrets, including Mason, one of her kidnappers. His kindness is confusing Britt. Is he an enemy? Or an ally?

My Thoughts:

I went back and forth between wanting to read and not wanting to read this book. The premise sounded like the plot of a Lifetime movie; but something kept pulling me back to it, so I took a chance.  The first chapter, technically a prologue, sucked me in immediately and I wish the rest of the novel had followed more in that tone. Now, after finishing, I still have mixed feelings. There was so much about the book that I loved and so much that made me want to scream with rage.

I’ll start with the good. Fitzpatrick has put together a great psychological thriller — more made for TV movie than Gone Girl — either way it was enough to keep my turning pages late into the night. Tension abounds in this story and there were many “will they make it?” moments throughout the book. Nobody is exactly who they seem to be and everyone seems to have ulterior motives. Scheming abounds and pieces of the puzzle are laid out for the reader with perfect timing. I did figure out some of the twists ahead of time, the clues are there if you’re paying attention, but this did not diminish the experience of reading for me.

On to the negative. The characters were, for the most part, unlikable. Britt’s best friend, Korbie, is such a throw-away character, at no point was I concerned about her and was kind of happy that she didn’t take up too much of the story line. Some of the decisions the characters made were wholly frustrating, as is often the case in stories like this. Britt’s bizarre obsession with her jerk of an ex-boyfriend Calvin is infuriating. The kidnappers make some pretty awful decisions, but they are first-time kidnappers, so I can forgive this. What was unforgivable was the lack of intervention on behalf of the park rangers, police, or even the kids parents. In the end, I did like the character of Mason, not all good, not all bad — to me, he was the most believable character in the book. Overall, this is a great popcorn read, one to keep you distracted and entertained on a rainy Saturday.

Fans of Fitzpatrick’s Hush, Hush series will enjoy this novel as will fans of thrillers like Reconstructing Amelia and Ashes.

Have you read the book? What are your thoughts?

Release Day Blitz & Giveaway from T.G. Ayer

Dead Wrath (Valkyrie #4)
Ragnarok is upon the worlds, and the time to fight is now. They come from all of the Nine Realms. Dark Elves, Dragons, Frost Giants, Elves … They all come to fight for Odin.
And they answer to Valkyrie Brynhildr.
While Bryn grieves, struggling to cope with Sigrun’s death, she knows too there is no time for tears. Odin is still a shade of himself and though there is no sign of Loki in all of the Nine Realms – Thor knows he is hiding in Midgard. As the Warriors gather, Bryn must head the offensive and enter the Human Realm in search of the Trickster and his henchman.
The war is silent and it rages all across the planet.
Ragnarok is here …
In this, the 4th thrilling instalment in the Valkyrie series, Bryn takes the war to home turf. From New York to London, Interpol to CIA, Bryn and her team risk their lives to save their families, to the All-Father. And to prevent the end of the world.
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I have been a writer from the time I was old enough to recognize that reading was a doorway into my imagination. Poetry was my first foray into the art of the written word. Books were my best friends, my escape, my haven. I am essentially a recluse but this part of my personality is impossible to practice given I have two teenage daughters, who are actually my friends, my tea-makers, my confidantes… I am blessed with a husband who has left me for golf. It’s a fair trade as I have left him for writing. We are both passionate supporters of each others loves – it works wonderfully…
My heart is currently broken in two. One half resides in South Africa where my old roots still remain, and my heart still longs for the endless beaches and the smell of moist soil after a summer downpour. My love for Ma Afrika will never fade. The other half of me has been transplanted to the Land of the Long White Cloud. The land of the Taniwha, beautiful Maraes, and volcanoes. The land of green, pure beauty that truly inspires. And because I am so torn between these two lands – I shall forever remain cross-eyed.
I love talking to my readers so email me if you have any questions or even if you just want to chat…
Keep up to date with news, release dates and giveaways by subscribing to Tee’s newsletter HERE.
Book 5 in the Valkyrie series releasing early 2015Ragnarok is upon the worlds, and the time to fight is now. They come from all of the Nine Realms. Dark Elves, Dragons, Frost Giants, Elves … They all come to fight for Odin.
And they answer to Valkyrie Brynhildr.
Tricked by Loki, Bryn is now imprisoned and finding a way out is harder than it seems. Time is running out for those who fight for Odin and while Aidan’s absence is felt by all, Bryn and her team know there is no time to waste.
But Bryn is determined to find him, and stop him using every means necessary. From poisoned water to black goo, to an electronically monitored Bifrost, Bryn will use all the tricks up her sleeves to save Odin and the Nine Realms.
The war is nature and there is disaster all across the Nine Realms.
Ragnarok is here …In this, the 5th, and final, exhilarating installment in the Valkyrie series, Bryn takes on Loki with her eye on bringing him to the Vigrid Plains, the site of the final battle of Ragnarok. From all across the world, Bryn and all her teams do all they can, battling naturals disasters and murderous attackers to prevent the end of the world.
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