Posts Categorized: Giveaway

The Reluctant Bachelorette by Rachael Anderson (Mini Book Review, Guest Post, and Giveaway)

October 8, 2012 Adult Fiction, Blog Tour, Book Review, Giveaway, Guest Post 2 ★★★★

The Reluctant Bachelorette by Rachael Anderson (Mini Book Review, Guest Post, and Giveaway)The Reluctant Bachelorette by Rachael Renee Anderson
Published by HEA Publishing on September 8, 2012
Genres: Contemporary, Contemporary Romance, Romance
Pages: 300
Format: eBook
Source: From the author
Amazon Add to Goodreads
4 Stars
Luke Carney has no idea what possessed him to move back to Shelter Springs, Colorado, to set up his veterinarian practice. His parents have long since left, the small farming community is on the brink of extinction, and only one close friend from his childhood remains--Taycee Emerson, his best friend’s little sister, who isn’t so little anymore.

Then there’s the matter of Shelter’s Bachelorette, an online reality dating show created to raise some much needed funds for the town.

Unwittingly cast as the bachelorette, Taycee wants out, especially when she discovers that Luke, her childhood crush, is back in town and will be one of the bachelors. To make matters worse, it's up to the viewers--not her--to decide which bachelors stay or go. And they all seem to like Luke.

Unwilling to let him break her heart again, Taycee launches a subtle attack on Luke’s good name with the hope of getting him voted off the show. But she’d forgotten that Luke's an eye-for-an-eye kind of guy, and when he discovers what she's up to, it means revenge.

I’m ready and willing to admit that I love The Bachelor and the Bachelorette. These shows make Mondays worth having. I know they are totally silly and the couples pretty much never stay together, but I don’t care! I even watch the show if I really REALLY dislike the people. It’s pure entertainment, and I love the drama. So, of course I was excited to read The Reluctant Bachelorette! It was a cute, cheesy read. Sometimes cheese is what you need. :)

Taycee was a likeable lead, and I really liked Luke. They are an adorable couple, and I enjoyed reading about the development of their relationship. I liked the idea behind the show: raising money for charity. I thought it was a fun way to raise money, and I would love to be in Taycee’s shoes! Give me 20 guys to date, and I’m all for it. The only thing that bothered me about this particular group of guys is that most of them were even likeable. I really felt for Taycee and laughed to myself as she went on some pretty bad dates, just because I’ve totally been there! There were a few I liked, though, and I had fun reading about those dates. There was also quite a bit of secrecy and drama, which I ate up.

Luke is my dream guy. I’d love to date him, and I loved reading about his and Taycee’s romance. One of my favorite scenes was when they went star gazing. I did that with a guy one time. He gave me his jacket, and we drove up into the mountains and the sky was on fire. He put his arms around me and rested his chin on my head as we watched the stars and whispered about random stuff. The scene in this book brought me back to that moment, and I totally remember feeling twitterpated and giddy like they did. It was a sweet moment. :) I also love when they spent the day at the swimming hole. So romantic!

This book is so happy and sweet! It’s one of those simple romantic contemporaries where everything makes you smile. Oh, and the ending… I got teary-eyed! This book had a downright amazing ending. We all need books like this. There was a lot of fluff, mixed in with some more serious issues that kept the story grounded. I liked the main characters, and even a few of the supporting ones.

Last of all, I really appreciate the clean content of this book. There was no steam, smut, or bad language, yet it was still sweet and romantic. Romance is possible without a bed in play, and Rachael did a great job proving that. Read on for her guest post on this exact topic of discussion.

The Author: Rachael Anderson
(Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Blog)

“I love to read, write, and do most anything outdoors, with the exception of rock climbing and sky diving. (I have serious height phobias.) If there’s something I can do within five feet of solid ground, count me in!”

Keeping it Clean for a Reason

I write unapologetic clean romance, and I always will. My favorite part of any love story is the falling in love part–all of the stuff that happens before sex. There’s something magical and special about that time, and for me, it’s the most romantic part. Take Pride and Prejudice, for example–the most beloved of all love stories. Jane Austin took two strangers, gave them a reason to think less of the other from the get-go, and then let the respect, friendship, attraction, and love grow from there. By the end of the book, there was no doubt in anyone’s mind that Mr. Darcy and Lizzy had so much more than chemistry. They had something real and lasting and sigh-worthy. And Jane Austin did it all without sex. They didn’t even kiss until the end of the book.

Yes, I realize the contemporary world we live in is a different place. In the movies and so many books these days, people meet, kiss, and fall into bed together in the blink of an eye. It makes me sad, because not only do I NOT want to read (or let my children read) about two characters having sex, but I feel like those writers clicked fast-forward on the most beautiful moments in any love story. I come away feeling shorted.

For me, true romance is in the initial connection, friendship, giddiness, excitement, noticing, frustration, fear, and insecurity. It’s in the first look, first touch, first kiss. It’s in the development of something real, something deep, and something lasting.  By the end of any book I write, I want my readers to know, without a doubt, that those two characters are a perfect fit, in more ways than just chemistry. That regardless of what comes their way, they will stay together for always. That’s the best kind of happily ever after there is.

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Owlet by Emma Michaels (Excerpt, Guest Post, & Giveaway)

October 3, 2012 Blog Tour, Book Excerpt, Giveaway, Guest Post 4

Hello! Welcome to my stop along the Owlet tour, hosted by Tribute Books! If you’re here for the readlong, say no more. Your excerpt is right here! Also, it’s my pleasure to have Emma on my blog today. After the excerpt, read on to find her thoughts on Elena’s garden. Finally, make sure to enter the giveaway to win your own copy of Owlet, the first book in the Society of Feathers series.

Title: Owlet
Author: Emma Michaels
Publisher: Tribute Books
Release Date: October 13, 2012
Buy It: Kindle | Nook | iBookstore | Smashwords | PDF
Add It: Goodreads

Summary: Somewhere between falling and flying… there is a girl.
Iris has a secret. She lost her memory eight years ago and never told a living soul. After an asthma attack one night she finds out that her dreams of a strange house on a snowy island may be a memory resurfacing but the more she learns about the past the more she realizes the life she has been living is a lie. As the façade her father has built starts to crumble around her she will have to decide which means more to her; the truth or her life.

Owlet Excerpt
She started to land and closed her eyes, not wanting to spoil that very first glimpse. She was so familiar with this dream that she didn’t need to see the ground to be able to land properly; she could just let herself drift and the wind would set her down. She waited until her feet were planted firmly in the snow and as it melted between her toes she opened her eyes. It was like magic each time she saw it. The snow falling like white feathers of all shapes and sizes before turning into the cold semi-liquid beneath her feet. It was perfect. The trees parted to reveal a road that would lead to the rest of her Never-Never, and revealed the view she knew so well.

A plain white house with many quirks sat before her; shingles from the roof were missing, black shutters framed the windows making them look like wide-open eyes, and empty planter boxes were attached to every window. When she saw the house she ran, placing her hand flat against the dark red door.

“Let me in. You are MY Never-Never—this is MY dream! Let me IN!” Iris gave the doorknob a sharp turn but it wouldn’t budge. She felt like a child throwing a fit and willed herself to calm down. She closed her eyes and when she opened them again she spoke.

The Author: Emma Michaels

Emma Michaels is the author of the ‘A Sense of Truth’ and ‘Society of Feathers’ series. Her goal with her latest YA novel ‘Owlet’ is to give others what she did not have growing up; a strong female protagonist with asthma.  While her previous aspiration was to be a lady knight she realized that not being able to run more than a few feet might become a hindrance so turned to writing instead. Her day jobs include being a cover artist, marketing consultant and silk screen designer.

Find Emma: Facebook | Twitter | Website | Goodreads

Elena’s Garden from Emma Michaels

While I don’t bring a focus point on Elena’s garden in the novel, it is one of the clearest settings in the novel in terms of how I imagine it in my mind. The island was Elena’s favorite place in the world because of her bedroom, her garden and the privacy/safety that is offered. The garden was her ‘special place’. You know when you are a child and you go somewhere and every time you leave you feel like you are leaving a part of you there because you belong there? Somewhere that feels more like magic than reality to you? That is what her garden is for her.

So while the book doesn’t give an in-depth description, if you want to know more about Elena that is the one place that could show you. The island is naturally covered in trees, especially alders, maple and pine but she had that section that had once been her mother’s garden cleared away and created from scratch. She knew she wanted her mother’s favorite birds, humming birds to visit so started by adding nectar plants like red sage and birds of paradise.

From there she realized why she wanted to create the garden anew, because it could be a paradise for birds. So keeping track of what birds could live in harmony she started compiling a list of what she wanted and found Joseph to help her out. She ended up with wild strawberry plants creeping along the sides of the path, manzanitas, dogwood and hemlock trees, madrone, holly, lilacs, sugar bushes, butterfly bushes, sunflowers, carnations, lavender and Irises. The one thing she had left untouched were the apple trees, she didn’t mind having them in her sanctuary because they fed the deer and were great for birds to nest in.

Her garden ended up attracting a wide variety of birds, though some of them she had imported to the island from rescue bird sanctuaries with her father’s help. Now in her garden you can find flickers, sparrows, waxwings, buntings, thrush, finch, thrasher, hermit thrush, wrens, hummingbirds, the amazing Lyre birds and more.

At the end of all of her hard work you have the garden that Iris got to see a portion of. Over time Elena had decided to add a pond with rose water lilies and koi (since koi go dormant in the winter but stay alive even with the cold temperatures) creating the garden you can read the description of in Owlet. I hope you enjoyed reading this little behind the scenes peak at Elena’s garden! If you haven’t read the novel yet, just wait and see what other wonders await!

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 For more information on the blog tour, visit these links: 

Frost by Kate Avery Ellison (Book Review and Giveaway)

July 23, 2012 Blog Tour, Book Review, Giveaway, Young Adult 12 ★★★★★

Frost by Kate Avery Ellison (Book Review and Giveaway)Frost by Kate Avery Ellison
Series: Frost Chronicles #1
Also in this series: Thorns
Published by CreateSpace on April 18, 2012
Genres: Dystopia, Paranormal, Paranormal Romance, Romance
Pages: 194
Format: eBook
Source: From the author
Amazon Add to Goodreads
5 Stars
In the icy, monster-plagued world of the Frost, compassion might get a person killed, and Lia Weaver knows this better than anyone. After the monsters kill her parents, she must keep the family farm running or risk losing her siblings to reassignment by the village Elders. With dangers on all sides, she can't afford to let her emotions lead her astray. But when her sister finds a fugitive bleeding to death in the forest, a young man from beyond the Frost named Gabe, Lia does the unthinkable. She saves his life.

Giving shelter to the fugitive could get her in trouble. The Elders have always described the advanced society of people beyond the Frost, the "Farthers," as ruthless and cruel. Lia is startled to find that Gabe is empathetic and intelligent-and handsome. And she might even be falling for him.

But time is running out. The monsters in the forest are growing bold and restless. The village leader is starting to ask questions. Farther soldiers are searching for Gabe. Is compassion-and love-worth the risk?

Welcome to my stop along the official blog tour for Frost by Kate Avery Ellison, hosted by AToMR Tours! I’m quite excited to tell you what I thought about this book! Basically, I loved it, and I was surprised that I loved it, just because I’d never heard of it book before I was given the opportunity to be a part of the tour. I am SO glad I got to read it! As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. When I say this book is refreshing, I’m being extremely literal. This is such a great read for a hot summer day, because this book takes place in probably the coldest place ever: The Frost. It’s cold and snowy and windy, with blizzards and fires in the fireplace and short days, with long nights. I loved it!

  • “It was cold, the kind of cold that made bones feel brittle and hands ache. My breath streamed from my lips like smoke, and my feet made wet, crunching sounds in the snow as I slipped through the forest.”
  • “The snow swirled around me, like fat white moths in the darkness.”

2. The writing is gorgeous, and it grabbed me within the first paragraph. Kate Avery Ellison has this amazing knack for presenting ideas like love, and the intense coldness of the Frost, in a beautiful way.

  • “Just thinking abut it took my breath away. I gazed at the world of snowy white around us, at the feathery pines and moonlit hollows. What forgotten secrets lay beneath this icy visage?”
  • “The wind blew, stinging my cheeks and carrying with it the taste of ice. I slogged down the hill to the porch. My legs were weak with relief.”
  • “He kissed me at first like he was afraid I’d break, and then he kissed me like it was the last thing he’d ever do.”
  • “He looked at me like I was made of unbearable light and I was blinding him.”
  • “Love is a perilous dance too, you see. And if we stop dancing, we’ll die. Don’t ever stop dancing.”

See? Beautiful! Don’t some of those quotes make you went to melt into a puddle?

3. I love the storytelling. We are given just enough information to not feel completely unaware, but not enough to make things predictable. I loved the mystery and the unknowns. Like the monsters (Watchers)… Why are they here? What do they want? When will the show up? We are given information as we need it, not as we want it. I was flipping through the pages SO fast. The creativity behind this work is amazing!

4. The characters are all so likeable. Lia is strong and sensible. Her parents are dead, and she has to take care of her crippled twin brother and younger sister. She brings to the story that maturity a person gains when they are all of a sudden a teenage parent to children their own age. He siblings are so sweet and protective of her, but never try and hold her back from doing what she knows she has to do. The villain jumps out at you from nowhere, and the guy you thought you hated ends up being nothing you thought he was.

5. Gabe is swoonworthy, which is why he needs his own bolded number. I mean, he’s got this brooding hardened exterior, and is a man of few words… but the words he actually does say are perfect. He says the most amazing things to Lia. I melted. And he’s from this forbidden people, so we’ve got the tension that goes with “I have a major thing for him, but I’ve been brought up to fear and loathe him.” situation. Also, there’s this slow build up with him. The romance is actually barely mentioned, since it’s in the beginning stages. I bet the next book will include more. There’s no instalove, though, so I am SO willing to wait longer. :)

6. The forest is a character all its own, and I loved it. It sounds so mystical and gorgeous, yet it freaked me out! Every time any person ventured into the trees, I got so scared for them. And as the sky grew darker and darker, and the monsters began to appear… OH MAN. Good stuff, I tell you!

7. The ending is amazing! It’s suspenseful, charged with romance, and ah-ha! moments. Again, you are given the info you need to understand, but there are so many things screaming from inside of me, begging for the sequel. I can’t wait!

This book is a hidden gem. Again, I love being a book blogger, because I get to find all these amazing lesser-known books and then tell you to buy them! I’d recommend this to dystopia lovers, people who believe that monsters lurk in the dark, and swoonworthy male leads!

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Stop by the other tour stops for more book reviews, excerpts, deleted scenes, interviews, & more!


On the Island by Tracey Garvis Graves (Excerpt & Giveaway)

July 20, 2012 Blog Tour, Book Excerpt, Giveaway 5

Hello! Welcome to my stop along the On the Island virtual blog tour, hosted by AToMR Tours.

You might remember back in March when I participated in another blog tour for this book (also with AToMR). Of course, I adored it, and have been shouting its praises from the rooftops for months now.

Since then, On the Island has taken the world by storm. 5-Star reviews went up all over the Internet, and the book gained a lot of publicity. Plume (an imprint of Penguin) snatched this book up, gave it a new cover, and re-published it! MGM has even bought the movie rights! During all of this, Tracey has become a great friend of mine, and I am SO excited for her. When I saw the opportunity to participate in another blog event for her book, I jumped at it immediately.

Make sure you read the book excerpt (haha. I was assigned one of my favorites!), and enter the giveaway to win one of ten signed copies of On the Island after this event announcement!

Here’s what you can expect throughout the tour. It sounds like so much fun!

  • In addition to reviews and promotional/celebratory posts, keep an eye out for key words in a special scavenger hunt! Select blogs will be hosting one word from two of Tracey’s favorite book quotes (one from each of the main characters in the book: Anna and TJ). Visit each stop and collect the words (they will be numbered, and I have Anna’s quote, word #6 at the end of the excerpt!). After July 22nd, submit your answers here. Random entrants will be selected to win books and swag. Those winners will be chosen and notified by July 29th.
  • On Monday, July 23rd, at 8:00 PM come join us as we live chat with the author on Savor Chat. You can sign in there with your Twitter or Facebook information.
  • Be sure to follow the Twitter hashtag, #ontheisland, to see random shout-outs to win books and swag. (@Tale_of_Reviews)
  • On the Island has been available in bookstores, both brick and mortar and online, since July 10th. If you happen to see it “in the wild”, take a picture and tweet it using the event hashtag (#ontheisland), or post it to Facebook). Make sure you also submit those tweets/posts here.

On the Island Book Excerpt

We were eating lunch when a chicken walked out of the woods.
“Anna, look behind you.”
She turned around. “What the heck?”
We watched as the chicken came closer. It pecked the ground, not in any kind of hurry.
“There was one more after all,” I said.
“Yeah, the stupid one,” Anna pointed out. “Although it’s the last one standing, so it’s done something right.” It came right up to Anna and she said, “Oh, hi. Do you not know what we did to the rest of your kind?” It tilted its head and looked up at her as if it were trying to figure out what she said. My mouth watered. I thought about the chicken dinner Anna and I would have. But then she said, “Let’s not kill this one, T.J. Let’s see if it lays eggs.”
I built a small pen. Anna picked the chicken up and put it inside. It sat down and looked at both of us like it was happy with its new house. Anna put some water in an empty coconut shell. “What do chickens eat?” she asked.
“I don’t know. You’re the teacher. You tell me.”
“I taught English. In a major metropolitan area.”
That cracked me up. “Well, I don’t know what it eats.” I bent down by the pen and said, “You better lay eggs because right now you’re just another mouth to feed, and if you don’t like coconut, breadfruit, and fish, you may not like it here.” I swear to God that chicken nodded its head. It laid an egg the next day. Anna cracked it into an empty coconut shell and scrambled it with her finger. She put the coconut shell near the flames and waited for the egg to cook. When it looked done, she divided it between us.
“This is fantastic,” Anna said.
“I know.” I finished my share in two bites. “I haven’t had a scrambled egg in so long. It tastes just like I remember.”
The chicken laid another egg two days later. “That was a good idea you had, Anna.”
“Chicken probably thinks so, too,” she said.
“You named the chicken, Chicken?”
She looked embarrassed. “When we decided not to kill it, I got attached.”
“That’s okay,” I said. “Something tells me Chicken probably likes you, too.”

Scavenger Hunt: Anna’s Quote, Word #6:
Underwear

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Dark Light (Ronald McDonald House Fundraiser Spotlight)

July 18, 2012 Blog Tour, Giveaway 5

I am so happy to be participating in this blog tour to help raise money for the Ronald McDonald House! Here’s the story behind this project. Oh, and make sure to enter the giveaway for a Kindle at the bottom of this post!

Carl Hose and his wife, Marcee, went through a very trying time during the pregnancy and birth of their daughter, Ireland Joy Hose. Complications arose during the development of their baby, so Carl’s wife was scheduled for a C-section just over two weeks before her due date. Normally, this is completely fine. Well, Ireland wanted to come six weeks early instead. The doctors could not stop Marcee’s contractions, and she started bleeding profusely. Ireland came out fine, but very tiny. Marcee had to have a hysterectomy if she wanted to survive. She pushed through and survived the surgery, regardless of all the blood loss. After the birth, Ireland was moved to the NICU at a different hospital than her mother, which was much further away. Carl and Marcee decided that Carl should move to be with Ireland. However, that meant leaving his wife alone during a very emotional and painful time. After much coaxing from the hospital staff, Carl moved into the Ronald McDonald House. Miraculously, Marcee joined him there the next day. She should not have been able to walk. They spent the next 3 weeks living in there, visiting their baby and watching her gain her strength and recover from coming into this world so early. Their entire family is doing so well today.

Ronald McDonald House played a huge part in this family’s happiness. They provided a place to live, food to eat, gifts, and even Valentine cards. They did not have to travel to see Ireland, nor did they have to sleep in her NICU room. They had a comfortable place close by where they could heal from this trauma together. RMH does this same thing for thousands of other families every year, and they do it solely from donations. Carl and Marcee are so grateful for the help that they received, that they want to give something back to the Ronald McDonald House. Here’s what they did:

Dark Light is the light that shines through when some of the finest writers in horror use the power of their words for something good. That’s the case with this anthology—42 writers coming together to help support the Ronald McDonald House Charities and all the good the organization does for families every day of the year.

Make no mistake, though. These are horror writers and the stories they’ve written are not pretty. Traditional and non-traditional horror, dark humor, ghosts, serial killers, alternate universes, magic, zombies, and other creatures of the night hide between these pages. Shadows move and dead fingers stroke unsuspecting flesh, razor sharp knives shimmer in the moonlight, and unknown things hide in closets and under the bed. The stories here are as varied as the writers themselves. If you’re a fan of horror, you will not be let down.

Despite the horrific nature of these tales, however, their very existence in Dark Light stands as proof there will always be a light at the end of every tunnel.

Turn the lights down low and enjoy the show.

Dark Light will be available in all digital formats, plus the printed version will be available wherever books are sold online, as well as in some brick and mortar stores. No matter where you buy it, the money goes to RMH. I think this is a wonderful way to make a difference, and I’m so happy I was contacted to help with this project!

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Check out the other stops on this tour for reviews of the book, guest posts, and book excerpts.  (Scroll through the list of current tours to get to the button for this tour, where all the stops are listed underneath.)


Celebrating 25 Years of Jana! (International Giveaway)

June 22, 2012 Giveaway 36

So… once upon a time, I turned 25. And it happened this very month! I think that’s worth celebrating! This giveaway is going to be a lot of fun, because in honor of my birthday, I get to surprise you! All you need to do is make a wishlist somewhere on the Internet (of 15-30 books), and link me to it. Here’s mine, if you need an example. Then, enter the giveaway as usual. Rafflecopter will decide who wins, and then I will visit the winner’s wishlist and send them something from it! You won’t know what you’re getting until it’s in your hands, so please keep your list updated throughout the giveaway. I’d hate to send you something you already have!

Rules: 

→ You must be 13 years or older to enter. Otherwise, ask a parent to enter for you. :)

→ This giveaway is International. If you live in the USA, your prize will be coming from Amazon. If you’re International, it will be coming from The Book Depository. Make sure they ship to you!

→  As part of Armchair BEA, I posted a survey asking for advice and book blogging in general. If you filled out that survey, you get an extra two entries in this giveaway. I will check, and if your name is not entered in the survey (it was question #1) then those two entries will not count.

→  I am more than willing to do pre-orders, so feel free to put those on your wishlist as well.

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Cicada by Belle Whittington (Book Review + Giveaways!)

June 18, 2012 Blog Tour, Book Review, Giveaway, Young Adult 5

Cicada by Belle Whittington (Book Review + Giveaways!)Cicada by Belle Whittington
Series: Cicada #1
Also in this series: Firefly, Monarch
Published by CreateSpace on September 13, 2011
Genres: Paranormal, Paranormal Romance, Romance, Science Fiction
Pages: 220
Format: eBook
Source: From the author
Amazon Add to Goodreads
Summertime for Blair Reynolds and her friends had always been carefree and fun... until the summer they happened upon something that was not human. As they band together in a fight for their lives, Blair's true love becomes something more than human. Something unnatural. And their survival depends entirely upon their ability to keep a secret.

Hello! Thanks so much for stopping by my blog as I help kick off the AToMR blog tour for Belle Whittington’s Cicada, book #1 in an exciting and suspenseful young adult sci-fi trilogy (haha. Long sentence there!)! When you are finished reading my review, make sure to find the complete schedule of tour events at the bottom. Also, find the opportunity to win one of 12 ebook copies of Cicada and/or an electronic firefly in a jar in honor of the upcoming sequel to Cicada, called Firefly. Both Rafflecopters are at the bottom of this review. :)

Going into this book, I was not really sure what to expect at all. I mean… cicadas are bugs. And they are noisy little guys! I used to live in Louisiana, and every summer night was accompanied by the sounds of cicadas in the trees. One time I saw one and flipped out. I’m really against bugs in general. And then I read the book blurb, which does not tell you much, and saw the “not human” and thought: Oooo! Aliens! And sci-fi. And hopefully not huge bugs, because I would have a major problem with that. Cicada surprised me! I was not expecting such a suspenseful, romantic, creepy, mysterious, and exciting story. I’m a huge lover of reading conspiracy theories (I don’t believe most of them, but they are fun to think about!), so when crop circles and aliens and UFOs and secret government agencies came into play, I was up all night reading. This was a great story! As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. This is a way different kind of story than most sci-fi books I’ve come across lately. It’s kind of a mix of the movie Signs and the Wings series by Aprilynn Pike. Weird, I know. That sounds crazy. Seriously, though! You’ve got the aliens and the crop circles and the “I’m freaking out about the fact that you’re outside in the dark right now” feeling, mixed with the “my boyfriend, who I thought was normal, is not normal at all and is changing and becoming a new person, and I might not see him for a while, but I need to pull through this and be strong” kind of situation.

2. Welcome to a young adult romance without a love triangle! Do you know how much I loved the fact that the main story was not centered around two boys fighting over one girl? It was glorious! Everett, the geeky guy in the group is Blaire’s best friend, and things develop from that. It’s a natural, common kind of real life relationship and I was very happy to see that surface in a sea of books with love triangles.

3. The characters were a lot of fun, but Blair was not my favorite at all. She was kind of an ordinary heroine to me. Her brother Andrew, though, was so great to read about. He is this sweet big brother who has a whole bunch of secrets, and really adores and protects his sister. Blair’s mom kind of weirded me out. She spoke to Blair a lot in sing-sing rhymes, which I found… well, weird. Haha. David is a baseball stud, whose batting skills came in handy and made me like him a lot. He’s also a very caring friend. Then there’s Natalie… and her role in the story confused me. She and David have a thing for each other, but don’t act on it because college is coming up and they will have to part ways. But they are still cuddly and dependent on each other, and then all of a sudden, the relationship escalates, but we were given no clues that it was happening! That romance was a bit unconvincing, but it’s probably because they are supporting characters, so we don’t get much info on them.

4. The creep-factor in Cicada had this chicken quivering under every blanket she owned. There’s just something about people walking through really dark, dense woods in the middle of the DARK. Plus, as Blair and all her friends started to get more and more involved with this non-human situation at hand, they became targets of a very dangerous group of people who were out to kill them. Now me, I’d hide in my closet. Or I’d move. Join a convent. Flee the country. What did they do? They went searching for these people! They entered mysterious buildings with green lights inside in the MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT. Because surely, waiting until it’s light out is not at all practical. You know how you watch a movie, and the main character hears a noise outside, so they walk out to see what it is? And they’re all, “Hello? Is someone there?” And you’re like, “DUH! GETINSIDERIGHTNOW!” Yeah. Exactly. Would you go snooping around scary city in the middle of the night? No, I think not. I was so creeped out that I called my little sister at 2:00 in the morning and asked her to go with me when I brushed my teeth, so that I would not have to walk across the dark hallway alone (because I swear I heard an alien out there). Yes, I’m admitting this to you. And I’m a chicken. This might be something your mom would read as a bedtime story to a 7-year-old you. Don’t judge me if you read this and are not scared. Toast popping out of the toaster has me practically running in place.

5. I wish there was a bit more substance. There was a lot of riding around “in the darkness” and searching a building and four-wheeling and visiting a storage facility. I wish we had been given some more character development and a few different events. The story was relatively short, though, so maybe we’ll get more in book #2. :)

6. The main climax of the book moved really quickly. It took a while to build up, which I enjoyed, but then BAM! Crazy thing happens, and then crazy thing is somewhat resolved within a few pages. I would have liked a little more time between the crazy and the resolution. We are led to believe (through what the characters say) that fixing this major, major problem is going to be extremely hard, but they do it rather easily within just a few pages. I wanted to go through more turmoil and more worry. I wanted the characters to have to struggle more. This is really hard to explain without spoiling things. If you’ve read the book, you know what I mean.

7. The vague blurb was obviously written vaguely for a reason, so I’m not going to spoil anything for you. I find that sometimes a book’s back cover summary gives way too much away. This one leaves you with a lot of questions, which brings me to my next point: this book has left me with SO MANY QUESTIONS, which really frustrated me! Haha. I’m glad there’s a couple more books coming out in this story, and hopefully I’ll know what’s going on by the end of those. :P

This is a really nice debut from Belle Whittington. Of course, there is room for improvement, but isn’t there always? I’m excited to see what she does with the following stories, and it’ll be fun to watch her writing style and storytelling develop as her books continue. The sign of a great author is that each of their books are better than the ones before. I can see Belle being one of those authors. I enjoyed the story a lot, and am going to be on the lookout for the next one. I’d recommend this to lovers of sci-fi romances and conspiracy theories.
 

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Here’s a link to a video of what the electronic firefly looks like. Very cool!

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These giveaways include everyone on every stop of this blog tour, so there is no guarantee that one of my readers will win. Also, I’m not the one in charge of choosing the winners. They are. :)

Follow the tour! Here’s the schedule.


Armchair BEA 2012: BEA Books on My List + a Giveaway!

June 5, 2012 Giveaway 86

Armchair BEA is a fun online event that those of us who could not attend BEA in New York City can participate in! There’s ways to network with other bloggers, posts on blogging tips, giveaways, and happenings at BEA from people who are there. Visit the Armchair BEA blog to see a schedule of events!

Today’s post consists of a few of the titles from the BEA 2012 Catalog that I would move Heaven and Earth to get if I were at the Javits Center. There are so many pretty covers and amazing sounding books! I can’t wait to get my hands on all of these! Scroll down to the bottom of this post for a giveaway I’m hosting in honor of amazing books everywhere!

Black City by Elizabeth Richards

In a city where humans and Darklings are now separated by a high wall and tensions between the two races still simmer after a terrible war, sixteen-year-olds Ash Fisher, a half-blood Darkling, and Natalie Buchanan, a human and the daughter of the Emissary, meet and do the unthinkable–they fall in love. Bonded by a mysterious connection that causes Ash’s long-dormant heart to beat, Ash and Natalie first deny and then struggle to fight their forbidden feelings for each other, knowing if they’re caught, they’ll be executed–but their feelings are too strong. When Ash and Natalie then find themselves at the center of a deadly conspiracy that threatens to pull the humans and Darklings back into war, they must make hard choices that could result in both their deaths.

A Gift from Tiffany’s by Melissa Hill

When Ethan Greene lost his wife to cancer, he never thought he would be able to replace her… until one woman stepped in and showed him how to be happy again.  Now, on a romantic Christmas trip to New York City, he has a plan to show Vanessa just how important she is to him, and maybe even give his daughter, Daisy, a complete family again. He’s going to propose with a perfect ring from Tiffany’s.Gary Knowles and his girlfriend Rachel are on the trip-of-a-lifetime in New York, at the most magical time of year. The only thing missing is Gary’s gift for Rachel. On a last-minute Christmas Eve visit to Tiffany’s, he quickly picks out a charm bracelet for her, and heads back to their hotel. But, in a moment, one small mistake changes everything.

Reached by Ally Condie

After leaving Society and desperately searching for the Rising—and each other—Cassia and Ky have found what they were looking for, but at the cost of losing each other yet again: Cassia has been assigned to work for the Rising from within Society, while Ky has been stationed outside its borders. But nothing is as predicted, and all too soon the veil lifts and things shift once again.

 

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue herself never sees them—not until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks directly to her.

His name is Gansey, and Blue soon discovers that he is a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.

But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He has it all—family money, good looks, devoted friends—but he’s looking for much more than that. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents all the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul who ranges from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher of the four, who notices many things but says very little.

For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She never thought this would be a problem. But now, as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.

Crewel by Gennifer Albin

Incapable. Awkward. Artless.

That’s what the other girls whisper behind her back. But sixteen year-old Adelice Lewys has a secret: she wants to fail.

Gifted with the ability to weave time with matter, she’s exactly what the Guild is looking for, and in the world of Arras, being chosen as a Spinster is everything a girl could want. It means privilege, eternal beauty, and being something other than a secretary. It also means the power to embroider the very fabric of life. But if controlling what people eat, where they live and how many children they have is the price of having it all, Adelice isn’t interested.

Not that her feelings matter, because she slipped and wove a moment at testing, and they’re coming for her—tonight.

Now she has one hour to eat her mom’s overcooked pot roast. One hour to listen to her sister’s academy gossip and laugh at her Dad’s stupid jokes. One hour to pretend everything’s okay. And one hour to escape.

Because once you become a Spinster, there’s no turning back.

For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund

Generations ago, a genetic experiment gone wrong—the Reduction—decimated humanity, giving rise to a Luddite nobility who outlawed most technology.

Elliot North has always known her place in this world. Four years ago Elliot refused to run away with her childhood sweetheart, the servant Kai, choosing duty to her family’s estate over love. Since then the world has changed: a new class of Post-Reductionists is jumpstarting the wheel of progress, and Elliot’s estate is foundering, forcing her to rent land to the mysterious Cloud Fleet, a group of shipbuilders that includes renowned explorer Captain Malakai Wentforth—an almost unrecognizable Kai. And while Elliot wonders if this could be their second chance, Kai seems determined to show Elliot exactly what she gave up when she let him go.

But Elliot soon discovers her old friend carries a secret—one that could change their society . . . or bring it to its knees. And again, she’s faced with a choice: cling to what she’s been raised to believe, or cast her lot with the only boy she’s ever loved, even if she’s lost him forever.

Inspired by Jane Austen’s Persuasion, For Darkness Shows the Stars is a breathtaking romance about opening your mind to the future and your heart to the one person you know can break it.

The Lost Code by Kevin Emerson

The ozone is ravaged, ocean levels have risen, and the sun is a daily enemy. But global climate change is not something new in the Earth’s history.

No one will know this better than less-than-ordinary Owen Parker, who is about to discover that he is the descendant of a highly advanced ancient race—a race that took their technology too far and almost destroyed the Earth in the process.

Now it is Owen’s turn to make right in his world what went wrong thousands of years ago. If Owen can unlock the lost code in his very genes, he may rediscover the forgotten knowledge of his ancestry…and that less-than-ordinary can evolve into extraordinary.

So, what do you think? Are any of these on your list? Which books am I missing?

Now, on to the giveaway! I recently acquired an extra copy of Across the Universe, signed by Beth Revis (thanks to Tiffany Schmitt’s Breathless Reads Giveaway)! Interested? You should be! Sadly, I can only send this to US residents. I’m sorry. :)

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Author Interview with Anna Banks & an Of Poseidon Giveaway!

June 2, 2012 Author Interview, Blog Tour, Giveaway 38

Hello! Welcome to the final stop on the official Of Poseidon blog tour! So nice of you to stop by. :) If you’re late joining in on the fun, here’s the tour itinerary. Definitely visit the other stops if you haven’t. There’s lots of great stuff at each one.

I’m so excited to have Anna Banks, author of Of Poseidon (a book I just so happened to LOVE) here on the blog to discuss her new book and to tell us a little bit about herself. Don’t forget to enter the giveaway (USA/Canada only… sorry!) for a chance to win a bound copy of Of Poseidon! You can find it at the bottom of the interview. :)

1. Tell us 5-10 quintessential Anna-isms. What should we know about you? 

– I believe in Sasquatch.
– I don’t get the hiccups. Just one big hiccup that hurts the deepest parts of me, then I’m done.
– I love love love to scare pedestrians. Beeping, screaming, swerving, etc.
– I can shoot a sling shot (which also applied to scaring pedestrians, in my teen years…)
– My body is comprised of approximately 13% fried chicken, 7.567% chocolate, and _________% wine (completely dependent on the strength of the wine at that moment)

2. If you’re not writing, where are you?
I’m watching The Walking Dead or Game of Thrones or I’m reading someone else’s brilliant book and getting jealous about it (Right now I’m giving John Green the stank eye). Or I could be pedestrian-hunting…

3. Did you always imagine being an author? What were your back-up plans? (And please include any extraordinary childhood dreams like a princess or professional cake sampler… or a mermaid.)Yes I did always want to be an author, ever since I read Anne of Green Gables, but I never thought I could do it. I really thought somehow that I would save the world in some epic way (from what, I’m not sure, but it felt like destiny when I was twelve). If the world didn’t need saving, then certainly Prince William and I would have a chance meeting and fall instantly in love and get married (though I do think Kate is handling that much better than I could have, so all is well). I also really really wanted to be an actress (and still secretly do).

4. I liked mermaid books before they were popular, so thanks for writing Of Poseidon for me! I really appreciate it. Other than wanting to please me… what made you choose mermaids and mythology? Okay, so I never actually read a mermaid book before I started to write one. I was looking for something to write besides vampires, weres, etc. Then I watched this documentary about how they’d found a giant squid—something scientists had long written off as myth, fishermen’s lore. Then I wondered what else could be out there that we don’t know about? Could mermaids exist? BTW, after doing so much research, I believe in my heart of hearts that mermaids *could* scientifically exist…

5. Tell us where “ohmysweetgoodness” comes from! I laughed every time I read that!
You know how you stub your toe and you almost cuss but then you save it like “Fuuuuuudge.”  Well, that’s what I did one day. Only, I was annoyed and it started out like, “Oh my _______” and it was going to end badly but I saved it before I shamed myself. Then I thought it was a cool word, so certainly if it was a cool word then Emma should say it…

6. Speaking of laughing, you are so funny! I giggled a lot throughout this book. Emma’s inner dialogue is hilarious. Is this a true testament to your personality? I just know we’d have fun sitting and talking.
Yes, I’m almost exactly like Emma in that regard. I apologize in advance for things that I may say or do on tour. I know at the different stops there will be readers that are more stoic, more serious, more respectable than I am and who like books that are serious stoic and serious and respectable.

They won’t “get” me and I just know there will be that awkward silence after my jokes, like when someone farts and everyone in the room absolutely knows who it was but no one will tell because you’re at a funeral, for crying out loud, and the dilemma isn’t only that it’s inappropriate to fart at a funeral but it may well be inappropriate to chastise someone who farts at a funeral because bigger things are going on at the moment and the person who farted might be having a hard time emotionally and it just kind of debuted physically. That kind of “OMG did that really just happen and how should I react?” awkward silence, you know?

7. Emma is incredibly quirky and a bit of an accident waiting to happen. And Galen is completely swoon-worthy. Oh, and Toraf. I LOVE him! Where do you find your inspiration for characters? They all seem so real.
I write characters that offset each other. You know, opposites attract and such. I really have always loved bickering couples, like Anne and Gilbert, Lizzy and Mr. Darcy, Scarlett and Rhett.

And I’m glad you love Toraf. He’s my favorite character, hands down. He’s incredibly fun to write because nothing is off limits with him. He’s simply capably of incomprehensible mischief.

8. If you were to write yourself into Of Poseidon, who would you be? An existing character, or would you write a new one for yourself?
I would write myself as that intelligent outsider who figures out that something is amiss and starts asking all the right questions and makes the other characters tell me what’s really going on—and I haven’t decided if they would trust me or if Rachel would have to off me…

9. Of Poseidon alternates back and forth between Emma and Galen’s perspectives. How was it taking on the story from Galen’s point of view? Did you find it challenging jumping into a guy’s head?
I don’t think it was challenging. I knew the story simply must be told this way. I even turned down an agent’s offer of rep because (not only because) he wanted me to remove Galen’s point of view and just go with Emma’s. Turns out I was right—Galen’s point of view seems to be the favorite one, out of the two.

10. You wrote some amazing underwater scenes. Your descriptions of the world down there are gorgeous. What kind of research did you do? Snorkeling? Scuba diving? Glass-bottom boats? Lots of The Little Mermaid? Haha. Or did you just pull this all out of your imagination?
There is really no way to explain myself other than this: I. Am. A. Nerd. I watch the heck out of some documentaries, and I must have recorded every episode of Blue Planet. I also did internet research, but a lot was imagined. Ooops?

11. What’s next? I hear there’s a sequel in the works! YAY! That cliffhanger nearly killed me. Can you tell us anything about it? What are your plans after that?
I can tell you that the Gift of Triton makes an appearance in the next one, in a big way.  After Of Triton is signed sealed delivered, I’m working on a top secret project I’m calling Nemesis at the moment and I lurve the idea but I’m not sure if I can pull it off just yet, so that’s all I really wanna say about it, in case I chicken out.

Thanks again for stopping by, Anna! I’m so excited for Of Triton, and am also quite curious about your top secret project after that! Everyone, go out and buy Of Poseidon right now! Or… try your luck at this awesome giveaway instead (offered by Anna and Macmillan Publishing). Either way, I hope you’ll love it as much as I did, and as much as I’m sure Anna loved writing it!

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On the Island by Tracey Garvis Graves (Review & Intl Giveaway)

March 5, 2012 Adult Fiction, Blog Tour, Book Review, Giveaway 16 ★★★★★

On the Island by Tracey Garvis Graves (Review & Intl Giveaway)On the Island by Tracey Garvis Graves
Series: On the Island #1
Also in this series: Uncharted
Published by CreateSpace on October 11, 2010
Genres: Contemporary, Contemporary Romance, Romance, Survival
Pages: 329
Format: eBook
Source: From the author
Amazon Add to Goodreads
5 Stars
When thirty-year-old English teacher Anna Emerson is offered a job tutoring T.J. Callahan at his family's summer rental in the Maldives, she accepts without hesitation; a working vacation on a tropical island trumps the library any day. T.J. Callahan has no desire to leave town, not that anyone asked him. He's almost seventeen and if having cancer wasn't bad enough, now he has to spend his first summer in remission with his family - and a stack of overdue assignments - instead of his friends.

Anna and T.J. are en route to join T.J.'s family in the Maldives when the pilot of their seaplane suffers a fatal heart attack and crash-lands in the Indian Ocean. Adrift in shark-infested waters, their life jackets keep them afloat until they make it to the shore of an uninhabited island.

Now Anna and T.J. just want to survive and they must work together to obtain water, food, fire, and shelter. Their basic needs might be met but as the days turn to weeks, and then months, the castaways encounter plenty of other obstacles, including violent tropical storms, the many dangers lurking in the sea, and the possibility that T.J.'s cancer could return. As T.J. celebrates yet another birthday on the island, Anna begins to wonder if the biggest challenge of all might be living with a boy who is gradually becoming a man.

I was pretty leery of this book. A 33-year-old woman and a 17-year-old boy? I was worried it would be written in a tasteless way, or that it would seem creepy. I was also worried that this book would be as boring as the movie Castaway. Nothing against the movie, but only so much can happen on an island. Gilligan’s Island was entertaining, but it was because of all the shenanigans. I was worried this would be either boring or cheesy. It definitely was not either of those things. As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. The age difference is not weird, nor is it a big deal. Nothing happens until TJ is almost 19, so don’t worry. He has been through and conquered cancer, and he’s surviving on an island. He is very mature and has a lot of life experience. You will not be weirded out by this concept. I’m mentioning this first because it was the first thing that scared me about this book. Haha.

2. I was hooked from the first page and read over half of the book in one sitting. The beginning is particularly intense, as the plane crash and the process of making it to shore is pretty crazy. The whole book is intense, to be honest. I mean, these two went through everything! Health issues, vicious wildlife, constant worry, depression, etc. I seriously was hooked. I kept saying to myself, “Just one more chapter. Then I’ll go to sleep.”

3. I really liked the two main characters. They strengthened each other and became very close. Anna is smart and caring. She was a mother figure to TJ until he grew up. TJ is strong and incredibly mature. He really takes care of Anna. Their relationship was really very sweet, as it formed from a bond that most people will never understand. I appreciated that they waited on being intimate until TJ was the proper age. If it had happened when they first crashed and he was 16, I would have probably quit reading. I’m not going to spoil anything for you, but let me just say that some of the biggest obstacles they dealt with were not on the island. But they stuck together and pulled through. I love a strong set of characters, and these are probably some of the strongest I’ve ever read about.

4. The narration alternates back and forth between the two characters, allowing us to read what’s going on through both their minds. I loved that.

5. The descriptions of the island and the weather were very detailed and well done. I felt like I was there. Also, the intense moments (like animal attacks) were so intense that I almost quit blinking. I loved how the author took me to the exact moment and dropped me in the middle of it.

6. Remember how I said, “Only so much can happen on an island?” I was wrong! I read through years of these two and their island happenings, and I didn’t get bored once. That takes extreme talent on the author’s part. When over half the book consists of two people, an island, and nature, you would think there’s not much to work with. Things could get boring and repetitive really fast. The conversations and critical events kept me wondering what was going to happen next, and I actually wished that more of the book took place on the island.

7. The writing is flawless. I can’t believe it’s Tracey’s first book! Really, it was beautiful.

8. This book pulled intense emotions out of me. I was scared for these two, and I felt the love they had for each other. Their story is very moving–how they relied so heavily on each other, how they could not think of losing one another, how as long as they were together they would be ok. I mean, they were each others’ reasons for surviving. Talk about intense emotion. If someone got sick or hurt, the other one immediately dreaded life. And I was there for the whole thing. I felt all of it, and it was powerful.

9. There were funny moments too, don’t get me wrong. I laughed at some of the things they said to each other. I laughed at the chicken named “Chicken” who they adopted as a pet. I mean, the little guy curled up in Anna’s lap! How whimsical! They played with dolphins in the lagoon almost every day. And before they acted upon it, the sexual tension and the things they said to each other were hilarious.

10. I appreciated the authenticity of the story. Tracey did not sugarcoat anything. She made things seem believable. I mean, if you’re stranded on an island for a few years, you’re going to deal with gross hygiene, bad diet, crummy weather, sickness, and other dangers. This could really happen, and I think that’s part of why I loved it so much.

11. Everything was resolved. Have you ever read a book and flipped out because the ending just sucked? This ending did not suck at all. I loved it. You will too.

Overall, I am so glad I took a leap of faith with this book. I loved it. The writing was amazing, the story inspiring, and the characters well-rounded and loveable. It’s during instances like this one when I realize how truly grateful I am to be a book blogger. I’m exposed to lesser-known novels all the time, and most of them (like this one) deserve much more recognition. It’s an honor to be able to help spread the word when a book is this good. I’d recommend this to anyone who enjoys a good romance mixed with a ton of action, excitement, intrigue, and exotic places.

EDIT: I just noticed how many times I said “intense”. Oh. My. Gosh. 


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This tour runs through March 9th. To follow the other tour stops, which include author interviews, book excerpts, giveaways, and more reviews, click here.

Edit (June 13, 2012) – Tracey has announced on her blog, that Plume (an imprint of Penguin) bought On the Island, designed a new cover, and are publishing it! Her next novel was also bought up. She’s no longer a self-published author! I am SO excited for her, and so happy I was able to help get the word out about this book so many months ago. I love, LOVE this story and am SO excited about what’s in store for Tracey as a result!