Saturday, July 4, 2015

Can you belive 2015 is halfway over?

 

First off, to all my fellow Americans, Happy Independence Day!  I was thinking I needed to do an end of the month wrap up to catch up on some of my goals and challenges for the year. Then, I realize, the year is half over, so why don't I do a halfway through the year update?  So that's what you're going to get today.

  • I've definitely been doing my two reviews a week, some weeks have been more than that.
  • I had planned to give my blog a new look, and it is in the process.  It is almost done.  Hoping to do the whole update in August as part of my blogoversary!
  • I've tried to do more on Instragram, even doing some of the 30 day challenges this year, unfortunately I never quite completed any of them.
  • As for my walking goal, I've definitely gotten closer to walking 20 miles a week, one week I even made 21, but haven't quite gotten back on track for every week.  I blame all the rain we've had, and then the heat of summer.  
  • I've not saved any money for ALA next summer, but I'm still thinking about it and trying to figure out how in the world I can do it.
  • I've had a few chapters of my NaNoWriMo story read by a friend and critiqued, and I'm putting those up on Wattpad as I get them changed from the suggestions. 
  • I also once again participated in the April A to Z Blogging Challenge and completed it.
  • I completed the Winter COYER Challenge, and have actually joined into one for summer that is going on right now.
  •  My Goodreads goal is doing pretty well.  Probably because it is summer and I'm able to get more reading done.
So those are my updates for the first half of June.  Seems like I'm doing pretty well for the most part!  One sad thing about this year, I've only been able to meet one author, and it is an author I'd already met last year at BEA, but the cool thing was that I got lots of time to talk to her.  That author was AG Howard, who wrote the awesome Splintered series that was the modern retelling of Alice in Wonderland.

Review: Exorcising Aaron Nguyen (The Millroad Academy Exorcists #1) by Lauren Harris

First I have to apologize to the author because I was late getting to this. And it is my own fault.  I forgot to put it in my reading schedule and didn't get to it until I remember in June.  I had emailed the author back in April about wanting to review the book, and she returned my email and said yes, and sent me an e-copy to read it.  The synopsis made it sound like a very good story.  It is just a novella, only like 68 pages, but it really tells as much of a story in that short number of pages as some books tell in much longer I think.  It was a very thorough and complete story.  I got to know so much about the main characters and even the side characters that it felt like I'd read a full length novel, in a good way!  I don't know when there might be more in the series, but I'm looking forward to finding out more about these characters and more ghosts!

The main character is Georgia.  She attends a private Catholic school.  She switched to that school after something big happened, but we don't know quite what it was, just that it has something to do probably with her being bullied maybe.  She doesn't have many friends, she's been teased for being overweight as long as she can remember.  Her best friend is a boy named Hiroki.  He has been friends with her since he first moved there.  He doesn't talk to many other people, and oh yeah, he sees ghosts.  In fact, a boy from the school, Aaron Nguyen, was found murdered.  He had his head bashed in among other things.  And since then, he's been haunting the school.  His hauntings have included setting a teacher on fire at one point.  While the priests at the school plan to exorcise Aaron, Hiroki knows that probably won't work, as Aaron wasn't actually Catholic.  Of course he and Georgia must figure out what or who caused his death, because as everyone knows who reads ghost stories, or watches ghost movies, that is usually why ghosts stay behind.  But to do this it will require skipping classes, dealing with an angry ghost, as well as with whoever might be responsible, who is obviously dangerous as well. 

I liked how flat out unapologetic Georgia was.  I feel like her attitude and way of behaving was very realistic for many teens that I have known as a teacher.  It was humorous as well.  As a chubby girl myself, I love that she knew to make use of her best feature(s) by wearing v-necked shirts, and she wasn't shy about it.  I also like how she grew by the end of the story, figuring out what kind of feelings she really had for Hiroki.  It was done in such a perfect, genuine, realistic way.  I look forward to reading more by this author.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Book Blitz: Evanescent by Carlyle Labuschagne (Giveaway)



EvanescentTitle: Evanescent 
Author: Carlyle Labuschagne 
Series: The Broken Series 
Release date: 19th May 2015 
Publisher: Fire Quill Publishing 
ISBN: 9780992244637 ASIN: B00XWAYBAA

Her fall has just begun. Only his touch can save her from the shift that could destroy it all. Within my blood runs a thing our kind calls the Shadowing Disease. It shadows over, and bends everything to its will. When the first blood-shift came, it tore through flesh and blood, threatening to bend me, break bone, shatter my mind and entrap my heart with its honeyed, seductive poison. It came with vicious intent, moving my thoughts and altering me forever. The shift has caused a rift within me. No one was safe when it entrapped me in its claws of foul lust. But I have the only antidote against the evil that becomes me- his touch alone has the power to release the spurs of sweet darkness that clung on for deal life.
I knew what I had to do; the desperation pulled my mind with the deep determination of a hungry predator. By the time the revelation raised me from the dark dungeon of my bounds – it might have been too late.
Purchase links:

About the Author:
Carlyle
Carlyle is an South African award winning author, with a flair for mixing genres and adding loads of drama to every story she creates. For now she is happy to take over the world and convert non Sci-fi believers.
Her goal as an author is to touch people’s lives, and help others love their differences and one another by delivering strong messages of faith, love and hope within every outrageous world she writes about.
“I love to swim, fight for the trees, and am a food lover who is driven by my passion for life. I dream that one day my stories will change the lives of countless teenagers and have them obsess over the world literacy can offer them instead of worrying about fitting in. Never sacrifice who you are, it’s in the dark times that the light comes to life.”
Carlyle used writing as a healing tool and that is why she started her very own writers support event – SAIR bookfestival.
 “To be a helping hand for those who strive to become full times writers, editors, bloggers, readers and cover artists – it’s a crazy world out there you don’t have to go it alone!"

Author Links:
Blog 

Read Below for an excerpt from the book:
Evanescent teaserMy makers would say I was created for revenge. I say, I was born to prove them wrong. I defied the Council and its Keepers. Fought back against the dark magic of our enemies, but I am afraid it had come at a cost. Inflicted with the dark disease, I was lost in every possible way; and they were wrong – death does not bring you your true purpose. After death, I am more misplaced than ever, but only because I am immune to guidance. I relive my darkest moments over and over again, just to remind myself of who I am. I am the destined one. The haltered. For me, there is no love and no release, only destruction; but I am on a path to be free of its burden. I do love and I will have it, absorb it and never, ever, let all its enchanting affections go. In order to be with love, there is only one path to lead me there; through this war. But nothing and no one knows what awaits on the other side, or what lies have been afflicted upon us about the after. Remorse is an infection I no longer want. I had made apocalyptic mistakes, and will probably keep on faltering forward. It has become my only direction in a reality where there is none. To him, there is no him, if there is no me. He is bound to me, and I hated it more than I will ever confess. His cross to bear is me, and to be that – to be this – is a curse I must fight. When the first true blood-shift came, it tore through flesh and parted blood, threatening to bend me, break bone, shatter my mind and entrap my heart to become its will. It comes with vicious intent, moving my thoughts and touching me with a cutting effect from the inside. It has many ways of bleeding out, and when it releases, there is nothing I can do to stop it. No one is safe when it entraps me in its claws of foul lust. Corrupt, damnable, depraved, destructive, hideous, demonic; your kind would call it many things. I have a weapon against the profane that becomes me – his touch alone has the power to release the talons of a sweet darkness that clings on for dear life. It has one trigger – my guilt. I can change it if only I can take the leap, surrender myself utterly. I am ready with all of me, for all of him. I know what I have to do, the desperation of it pulls my mind with the unfathomable determination of a ravenous predator. I let it sink in hard and true. I feel the swell of the fight fill me with a bitter sweetness, and with a glorious soothing pain that tears my mind from the disease which transforms me. My loss has become my fight as I watch it all wither away. But, I will never stop fighting. I am my own destiny; my destiny is to be with him. And the Truth-seekers of this prophecy will not take it lightly. Everything else becomes Evanescent. ~ Ava.
 
The Giveaway:
  • (5) ecopies of Evanescent
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Review: Sweet by Emmy Laybourne

First, thanks to Feiwel and Friends, along with Edelweiss for allowing me to read an e-galley of this title.  Now, I could have sworn that I had this downloaded a ways back, but maybe I had just picked it as a Waiting on Wednesday book one time, and was mistaken about that.  Then it was published, and I figured I'd have to wait to get a copy to read.  But it showed up on Edelweiss, at least I found it, and downloaded it.  I was really excited to read this one, not just because the synopsis sounded really good, but also because I really enjoyed the Monument 14 series by her as well.  While Sweet isn't a post-apocalyptic book really, I would definitely have to say that this author knows how to write a good "teens in a deadly crisis" story.  And in a way, both stories have their own zombie type of people, again, without being actual zombies in the most well known definition. 

The story is told in alternating chapters by two main characters.  One is Laurel, a pretty normal girl.  You might call her a bit of a wallflower.  Her favorite clothes include boots.  Nothing really dressy or trendy.  Her best friend, Viv(actually her rich, divorced father), got them tickets to be on a really big cruise event.  The premiere of a new weight loss fad.  It is as diet sweetener called Solu, and it is supposed to be a miracle, possibly solving the obesity problem by helping the user drop a ton of weight in no time, with really nothing else needing to be done!  Laurel isn't really worried about losing weight, she's find with her curves, and once the ship gets started moving, there's no way she can take it at first, because she's experiencing seasickness to an extremely embarrassing degree.  And that's where our 2nd main character comes in.

Tom Forelli is a former child star.  He's now trying to get his career going again after a horrible movie choice, as well as trying to get out from under his child start personal of "Baby Tom-Tom".  He was a chubby kid, but now he's grown up and has really started taking care of himself.  He eats right, and works out every day. All according to what his personal trainer, and best friend, advises him to do.  His publicists booked him the gig of being the host for this cruise, interviewing the passengers, promoting the Solu, etc.  He also doesn't really try the sweetener, as it doesn't really fit his eating plan, since it is in the desserts on the boat, ones that he doesn't really plan to eat.  While the plan is for him to "hook up" with a beautiful celebrity reality star, think Kardashian with a little exotic-ness thrown in, he feels a tug toward the cute, normal girl, who he meets when she throws up on his shoes.  You guessed it, that was Laurel. 

The two will meet again in a few mishaps, and then seek each other out as they both are attracted to each other, as well as feeling that the other passengers taking the Solu begin to get a little wild.  Not just a little wild, but obviously addicted in a short time to the substance.  It all goes horribly wrong with the Solu, leading to deaths, and even killing just to get more.  And once Tom finds out it isn't all it was hyped up to be, he wants to do an expose report, even against the advice of his publicist, who is herself addicted to the Solu.  All of this has to be done, hoping that they can survive the mass hysteria and melee caused by the Solu addicts. 

It was a fun story, funny, yet suspenseful. Some surprises on where it would go, and what was actually causing the problem.  I didn't even get what was the final turning point at the end ahead of time, and I like it when an author can surprise me like that.  I highly recommend another Emmy Laybourne book, a standalone I would think this time. Even though there is that little comment at the end, that makes you say, "uh-oh!"

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday: Tell the Wind and Fire by Sarah Rees Brennan

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine where we spotlight upcoming releases that we're eagerly awaiting.   I've actually picked a standalone book this week, or at least it is not a sequel, not sure if it will be the first in a new series or anything.  I picked it by the fact that it is by an author that I just adore, Sarah Rees Brennan.  I loved her Lynburn Legacy series, and I got to meet her at the Romantic Times convention in Kansas City in 2013.  And let me tell you, she is just so much fun to watch and see how she interacts with the other authors and fans.  So I am pretty much into any book she writes these days, and I was thrilled to find this one one Goodreads.  Here is the blurb, which isn't much for now, but enough:

Tell the Wind & Fire is about a young girl called Lucie who lives in a New York very different from the New York we know: the city is torn between two very different kinds of magic, and Lucie’s own family was torn apart years ago by that conflict. Lucie wears magic rings and carries a burden of guilt she can’t share with anyone.

The light in her life is her sweetheart boyfriend Ethan, but it turns out Ethan has a secret too: a soulless doppelganger created by dark magic, who has to conceal the face identical to Ethan’s with a hood fastened by a collar nobody but a Light magician with magical rings can take off… and who introduces himself to both of them by, for reasons nobody can understand, saving Ethan’s life…



Hmm, I think it sounds interesting.  A soulless doppelganger boyfriend?  Magic, etc., New York, two different worlds.  I'm all in, especially for the wonderful characters and dialogue that I know Sarah Rees Brennan will create.  The bad thing?  It's not expected publication until 2016!!!

So, how about you, what are you eagerly anticipating this week?  

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Review: The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin (TBR Challenge #10)

Yes, I'm late to this fandom, but now that I've read this book, I can totally see why everyone loves it.  I got this book a while back from a giveaway, but now I'll have to buy or check out the rest so I can see what happens next.

The main character is Mara Dyer of course.  She recently lost her best friend and her boyfriend in a terrible accident that she almost didn't make out of either.  She feels guilty for surviving, and has hallucinations of her dead friends.  It gets so bad that her mother starts talking about putting her in a mental institution. She is able to convince her family to move instead, saying that the house will only make her remember her best friend and make it harder to move on.  In the new town Mara and her two brothers, one older named Daniel, and a younger one named Joseph, got to a private school.  And on her first day at the school she meets a mysterious and frustrating boy named Noah.  She also meets the "queen" of the school and her best friend, and has a not so great run in with them.  And she meets a boy named Jamie, who will become a good friend.  But she doesn't seem to be done with the hallucinations, including one on the first day where she walks into a class and all of a sudden sees what she remembers of the building she'd been in with her friends as it is falling down around her.  Soon her problems seem to be more than just hallucinations.  She sees a dog that looks abused and neglected near the school one day, and when she's trying to be nice to the dog, its owner comes out and yells at her, and then she sees him do something terrible to the dog.  As she walks back to school she has thoughts about how the dog's owner should die horribly for what he's doing to the dog.  She goes by later and finds out that the man is dead.  And pretty similar to how she'd pictured it.

Other things happen, alligators disappear/die when she has thoughts about them, other people die as well.  She also starts remembering bits and pieces of the night she lost her best friend Rachel and boyfriend Jude.  Turns out that maybe Jude wasn't quite the boyfriend you'd think.  And maybe she might have thought or wished something would happen to him right before the building crashed down on them.  And then there's Noah.  His interest in her is part of what sparked the conflict between Mara and the popular girl Anna.  And while he seems to be very interested in her, he's got quite the reputation for loving and leaving all the girls.  But he seems to be really interested, even as he makes her annoyed.  There's something about him that she can't quite put her finger on though.  She learns more about him because he lets her in, something he hasn't done with anyone else it seems.  But every once in a while he'll leave her for a minute or two, with no explanation.  Or he doesn't show up to school with no explanation.  All of this is going on, and Mara is trying to figure out if she's crazy, or if she's still just trying to heal from the big tragedy.

I loved the relationship between Mara and Noah.  I always feel like any real relationship I might have would be full of sarcasm and annoying things.  The story was great, while I kind of had an inkling of what might be happening in different parts of the story, I was always pleasantly surprised to find I hadn't quite guessed it, and what happened was a really neat way to meet that detail of the story.  While for the most part the story kind of wrapped up at the end, there was a bit of a big cliffhanger or WHAT?! moment at the end.  Definitely leading in to make me so eager to read the next book and see just what is going on.  Great, great story.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Review: Mania (The Night Walkers #3) by J.R. Johansson

First, I have to thank the author, as well as Netgalley and Flux publishing.  I first came to love this series back in January of 2014 when I read Insomnia, the first one, after winning it in a giveaway.  I got the 2nd book, Paranoia, as an egalley from Netgalley last summer, when I was not fortunate enough to get to meet the author on the last day of BEA.  A couple weeks ago I got an email from the author asking if I was still interested in reading and reviewing this third and final book in the series.  Of course I hopped on the chance!!  She emailed me a copy, and right about the same time I remembered that I'd also seen it on Netgalley and requested it there as well.  And I have to say I loved this book as much as I loved the first two, which if you click on their titles, you can go to my reviews.  Obviously if you haven't read those two, most of what I say her won't make sense, and will be spoilery. But if you have read the first two, then I shouldn't be giving anything away with my summary.

This book not only is back in Parker's life, but we get to also see from his brother Jack's viewpoint.  When the last book ended, the Takers' headquarters had been destroyed by Parker's and Jack's father.  Unfortunately their father also died.  The good news is that supposedly their father had figured out a new type of vaccine that would help the Takers to be able to dream and sleep.  So that they wouldn't have to take over people's lives like they did.   Unfortunately the leader of the Takers, Cooper now that his father is dead, still wants the elixir they had been given that would help them to be able to take over people for good and as they put it, be gods.  Chloe, Cooper's sister, also a Taker, has now started to go along with Jack and Parker and Finn. When she let Finn go, her family basically disowned her.  And now all she wants is to help make the serum that will give her a normal life.  But their dad didn't just leave instructions.  He left clues to get to bits and pieces of it until they had it all added together.  And along the way they get one more thing to deal with, Parker gets kidnapped and taken by Cooper and his group.  Once there the scientists start injecting him with all kinds of things that make his life miserable, to the point where he can only hope to die.  Jack is given 10 days to make the original serum, which his dad didn't leave any instructions for.  So of course the time is spent doing their best to find all that is needed for the new "cure" in time to save Parker.

Another great story.  I like both viewpoints, really helped to see just what was going on, as well as getting a look inside some of the characters you might not otherwise have had time to learn about.  And it was so great getting back to Finn.  I love Finn.  His funny t-shirts, all of it.  So it was really fun to have him back.  There is lots of danger in this.  Times we don't know for sure if someone has betrayed the group.  Or if someone else might be able to help even though they are on the wrong side.  I liked all the different/new ways they were able to do things in dreams, and even finding more about what started all of the different things they're dealing with.  The ending was pretty set, although I can see that maybe, some day, there could be another book, and I would not be opposed to that!  A great finish to a favorite series of mine.   

Book Blitz: Dream Casters: Light by Adrienne Woods


Book Details
Title: Dream Casters: Light
Author: Adrienne Woods
Series: The Dream Caster Series
Publisher: Fire Quill Publishing
Release Date: May 2015
ISBN: 978-0-9946641-2-9

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Dream-Casters-Light-Series-Book-ebook/dp/B00YBBTBYU

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/546067




Mr. Sandman, send me a dream, ta da da da…..Seventeen year old Chasity Blake knows the Sandman is just a silly children’s story parents tell their children to get them to sleep. At least she thought it was, until the day a mysterious, light golden sand appeared in her hands during a high school prank that went horribly wrong. A sand that has the power to send anyone it touches into a deep, sound sleep.

Fearing she had lost her mind, Chasity soon discovers the shocking truth of her heritage- she is a Dream Caster. Chasity was never supposed to be raised on the Domain, or what humans call Earth and she is forced to return to her true birth place, Revera – the world of Dreams.

However, in Revera there is no balance between good, the Light Casters, and darkness, the Shadow Casters, and Chasity is caught square in the middle. She soon learns that there is no place for anyone containing both the light and the darkness within them, and the shocking truth that if anyone in Revera ever discovered her shadow self, Chasity would be thrown into the Oblivion – the world of Nightmares.

Dreams are always more than they seem, and this time Chasity is going to discover just how different they can be.

About the Author
Adrienne Woods was born and raised in South Africa, where she still lives with her husband and two beautiful little girls. She always knew she was going to be a writer, but it only started to really happen about four years ago. In her free time―if she gets any because moms don’t really have free time―she loves to spend it with friends, whether it’s a girls night out, or just watching a movie. She’s a very chilled person. Her writing career started with Firebolt, book one in the Dragonian series. There will be four books in total, including a further two to three books, which will be stories that take place within the Dragonian series. Her other series, Dream Casters, will be released mid 2015. She also writes in different genres, and her woman’s fiction, The Pregnancy Diaries, will be published under a pseudonym. And then, she has a paranormal series by the name of the Aswang series, which will consist of about ten novels. And if that wasn’t enough, there is another series, Guardians of Monsters, which will be released in 2016.

Author’s Links
Blog
Facebook Book Series Page
G+
Twitter
Website
Fire Quill Publishing

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  • (5) ecopies of Dream Casters: Light by Adrienne Woods

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Sunday, June 28, 2015

Review: Waterfall (River of Time #1) by Lisa Tawn Bergren (COYER Summer Challenge #1)

This is a book I downloaded for free quite a while ago.  I think it was one of the first books I downloaded for my Nook that wasn't an e-galley.  Now that I've read it, just as with other books like this I read for the last COYER challenge, I can't believe I waited for so long!

The main character is Gabi.  Her mother is an archaeologist, and so she and her younger sister Lia are spending their summer on a dig site in Tuscany.  But as the girls have been doing this their entire life, they know this isn't as glamorous as it seems.  They'll be stuck in a small town, away from anything that other kids their age will be doing.  When they get to this site there is a bit of an issue with a local official, which gives Gabi and Lia the chance to sneak off to get a look at the artifacts before everything is cleared out, something they normally have to wait for.  When they find these interesting handprints on the wall of the tomb, they each put one of their hands on the print that fits them, and when the stone becomes warm instead of how a stone is normally cool, things start to get weird.  Gabi pulls her hand away first, and lands in the past, 14th century Italy, where there is a fight going on for the land.  Her sister doesn't seem to be there. But she knows that she must find her sister.  She will have to learn how to live and speak with the people of this time, fortunately she knows Italian, and also figure out how to get their help to find her sister.  Of course there will be love, not only is it a love she shouldn't have because of the years of time between when they live, but he is also taken. There will also be bad guys out to take over the castello where she has been helped, and grown to feel a part of the family, as she helps them in ways she can as well  There is family intrigue, forbidden romance, and some interesting history woven in. 

While it is a Christian book, it is in a way that I totally liked. The main girl was not really religious but began to wonder in the book what was really out there. And I like the way it was done.  As someone who grew up very religious, attending a religious school from 1st-8th grade, but now questioning what I believe, it was done very realistically.  While I'm now not sure if I believe, I do still find myself praying for help, etc., just like Gabi did. 

I now have to wait until I can get a copy of the 2nd book to read.  Definitely a good read, a quick read, and highly recommended.