May 28, 2013

2

So I've Been Thinking.... #6: Twilight

I'm sure that some of you probably read the title for this post, heaved a big sigh, and seriously considered tracking me down just so you could douse me in gasoline and light me up like a torch. And to that, I say thank you for showing a very impressive amount of self restraint. Others of you probably never even made it this far and turned away before you could read any more.

I mean, really, how dare I? I consider myself to be a pretty respectable blogger, yet here I am, talking about The Twilight Saga. Don't I know yet that these are the books that nobody will ever admit to reading out of free will and that not a single person in their right mind would ever in a million years confess to enjoying? If readers were to ever have a skeleton in their closet, it would be these books. We just don't talk about them, at least not favorably. They're unspeakable. They're taboo.

Well, that's the thing with me and taboos. I'm not so great at respecting them.

So here, on the Internet, for all the world to see, I'm going to admit it. I read The Twilight Saga, and I really didn't think it was all that bad.

Now, am I saying I've never read anything better, I think that these books are all beyond reproach, and we should pledge our firstborn's soul to Stephanie Meyer? No, no, and heck no. I've read much better, there are definitely flaws in the series (such as the anticlimactic ending in Breaking Dawn), and I'm pretty sure the souls of any of my future children are already spoken for by Stan Lee. Or Willy Wonka.

So why did so many people love them before they were no longer cool?

Well, for starters, it's a forbidden romance, and we all know how popular those get. Anna Karenina, Wuthering Heights, Romeo and Juliet. They have all survived centuries just off of the solid claim that people always want what they can't have. Not to mention that it focuses on two very popular paranormal creatures, even if they are well adapted.

Despite all of the criticism Stephanie Meyer gets for her writing style, I personally think she's very talented as well. I know that I never had any problems imagining what I was reading, and I could always find at least a few characters that I really liked. While it wasn't overtly comedic, there were a few funny parts, and I can't really say that I was ever bored reading them. I finished the whole series in a matter of days.

And I know that I'm not alone in thinking this, even now. While I'm sure that many people honestly never enjoyed them at all, many others also just refuse to admit it. Think back to a few years ago, before the movies all came out. Don't you remember how they were all anybody ever wanted to talk about? What happened to those people? Why did they suddenly give up on these books?

The answer to this question is not a pretty one, and I have to admit that I fall victim to it just as much as anybody else. While some people may not always want to stand out from the crowd, they don't want to drown in it either. They think that it doesn't make them special enough. So they decide to scoff at anything that's "popular" just so that they can prove to themselves that they're not like everybody else.

I didn't start reading Twilight until years after the whole series was published, and even though I don't want to admit it, that's exactly why.

So why did I decide to give those books a chance? I'd like to say that I made some huge breakthrough and decided that the views of others were not nearly as important as how I truly thought of myself. Yeah, I'd like to think that I'm that philosophical, but in reality I'm just stubborn. By that point, it was probably a matter of principle for me. There was no way I'd be willing to cave, even if I had wanted to read the books.

How did it really happen, you ask? It was a bet.

One of my friends had just finished all of the books, and she couldn't get over how much she loved them. For her, this was a really big deal. She never read anything she wasn't required to, and sometimes even that wouldn't be enough. She begged and begged and begged me to try to read these books too because they were just so good, but I still refused to do it out of stubbornness.

Finally, she offered me a deal I just couldn't refuse. She told me that if I read the entire Twilight Saga, she would read The Inheritance Cycle, which at that time was only the first three books. I had been trying to convince her to read them for years, and Christmas break was coming up for us, so I figured that it would be a perfect time. I could read her books in my family's annual Christmas car ride, and she should have mine done by the time we had to return to school in a few weeks.

I finished those books. As for my friend? Well, she read a whole twenty pages of Eragon and then decided to call it quits. Apparently old habits die hard.

I can't really say that I was mad at her, just a little annoyed. I knew that reading wasn't her thing, and she did try. It even turned out that she was right about her books after all. They may have been a little depressing for my taste, but I had a lot of fun reading them.

The point of that story was not just to demonstrate how all bets should be put in writing first, but something else as well. This friend of mine was obviously not a fan of books, but she still read and loved The Twilight Saga. That seems pretty miraculous to me, and I know that she wasn't the only one. I've seen tons of people who say that these books began their obsession with reading. They started with Twilight, got hooked, and haven't stopped since. Before, they were only used to those boring novels they were required to read and had never dreamed that there were actually books out there they could enjoy. The Twilight Saga made reading fun for so many people, and whether you say that they were a mistake or not, that fact alone makes it all worth it for me. So, to Stephanie Meyer, all I have to say is thank you.



May 26, 2013

0

Looking Back.... and Forward #2

Well, I'm two weeks in and I haven't given up yet! Maybe this won't turn out to be a complete failure. Here's to being optimistic!

In case you don't know what I'm talking about, I explained it a little bit over here on this post. It's my own little attempt at regularly posting something, and it will hopefully go up every Sunday. I plan on having it look at some of the books that released the past week and then spotlight the one that's going to release this coming week that I'm the most excited about.

Here it goes!

***


Starting off is the book I spotlighted last week as the one I'm the most excited to see coming out.


With her weak eyes and useless lungs that often leave her gasping for air, Nere feels more at home swimming with the dolphins her mother studies than she does hanging out with her classmates. Nere has never understood why she is so much more comfortable and confident in the water than on land until the day she learns the shocking truth—she is one of a group of kids who have been genetically altered to survive in the ocean. These products of the "Neptune Project" are supposed to build a better future under the waves, safe from the terrible famines and wars and that rock the surface world.

But there are some big challenges ahead of her: no one ever asked Nere if she wanted to be part of a science experiment; the other Neptune kids aren't exactly the friendliest bunch, and in order to reach the safe haven of the new Neptune colony, Nere and her fellow mutates must swim across hundreds of miles of dangerous ocean, relying on their wits, their loyal dolphins and one another to evade terrifying undersea creatures and a government that will stop at nothing to capture the Neptune kids ... dead or alive.

Fierce battle and daring escapes abound as Nere and her friend race to safety in this action-packed marine adventure.




Forever is a long time to be stuck in high school.

Seventeen-year-old Paige is dead, the victim of a freak fall from the roof during Physics class. Now she’s a ghost, permanently bound to the grounds of her high school. It isn’t all bad, she can find out everyone’s secrets, which can be amusing—for a while. But then Paige hears something that isn’t amusing at all: the rumor spread by the most popular girl at school that her death wasn’t an accident—that she supposedly jumped on purpose. Paige is desperate to stop the gossip, but what can a ghost do? Then Paige discovers something amazing. She can possess living people when they think of her, and she can make them do almost anything. Maybe, just maybe, she can get inside the girl who’s responsible for the stories. . . and have a little fun turning the tables while she’s at it.

Katie Williams’s second novel is a suspenseful page-turner full of eerie wit and a touch of the otherworldly.




 
Sometimes you can't help falling in love, even when you try to do the opposite...Successful fashion blogger McKenna Bell has spent far too long protecting herself after the way her ex-fiancé left her at the altar for a college chick he met the night of his bachelor party. Loving again, trusting again, well, that's just not in the cards. Especially now that her ex is back in town with his new woman, demanding custody of McKenna's favorite creature in the whole world--her dog. No effing way. 

McKenna's had enough of him, and she decides to even the score by finding her own hot young thing -- a Trophy Husband. Sure, she's only twenty-seven, but doesn't that make it even more fun -- and infuriating to her ex -- to pursue a younger man? 

When she declares her intentions on her daily blog, her quest quickly skyrockets in popularity, and that's when Chris enters the picture, and he’s got all the assets. He's handsome, successful, and turns her inside out with a kiss to end all kisses, the kind that makes you feel like a shooting star. But loving again could mean losing again, and it's so much easier to focus on getting even, isn't it? Unless, you just can't help falling in love. Which means McKenna will have to come face to face with what she really wants in life -- protecting her heart from hurt, or letting go of her fears of a new beginning.





The Walker family is good at keeping secrets from the world. They are even better at keeping them from each other.

Max Walker is a golden boy. Attractive, intelligent, and athletic, he’s the perfect son, the perfect friend, and the perfect crush for the girls in his school. He’s even really nice to his little brother. Karen, Max’s mother, is a highly successful criminal lawyer, determined to maintain the façade of effortless excellence she has constructed through the years. Now that the boys are getting older, now that she won’t have as much control, she worries that the façade might soon begin to crumble. Adding to the tension, her husband, Steve, has chosen this moment to stand for election to Parliament. The spotlight of the media is about to encircle their lives.


The Walkers are hiding something, you see. Max is special. Max is different. Max is intersex. When an enigmatic childhood friend named Hunter steps out of his past and abuses his trust in the worst possible way, Max is forced to consider the nature of his well-kept secret. Why won’t his parents talk about it? What else are they hiding from Max about his condition and from each other? The deeper Max goes, the more questions emerge about where it all leaves him and what his future holds, especially now that he’s starting to fall head over heels for someone for the first time in his life. Will his friends accept him if he is no longer the Golden Boy? Will anyone ever want him—desire him— once they know? And the biggest one of all, the question he has to look inside himself to answer: Who is Max Walker, really?


Written by twenty-five-year-old rising star Abigail Tarttelin, Golden Boy is a novel you’ll read in one sitting but will never forget; at once a riveting tale of a family in crisis, a fascinating exploration of identity and a coming-of-age story like no other.





Sophie May has a secret.

One that she’s successfully kept for years. It’s meant that she’s had to give up her dreams of going to university and travelling the world to stay in her little village, living with her mum and working in the local teashop.

But then she meets the gorgeous Billy – an actor with ambitions to make it to the top. And when they fall in love, Sophie is whisked away from the comfort of her life into Billy’s glamorous – but ruthless – world.

Their relationship throws Sophie right into the spotlight after years of shying away from attention. Can she handle the constant scrutiny that comes with being with Billy? And most of all, is she ready for her secret heartbreak to be discovered and shared with the nation?







When all signs point to heartbreak, can love still be a rule of the road? A poignant and romantic novel from the author of Bittersweet and Twenty Boy Summer.

Jude has learned a lot from her older sisters, but the most important thing is this: The Vargas brothers are notorious heartbreakers. She’s seen the tears and disasters that dating a Vargas boy can cause, and she swore an oath—with candles and a contract and everything—to never have anything to do with one.

Now Jude is the only sister still living at home, and she’s spending the summer helping her ailing father restore his vintage motorcycle—which means hiring a mechanic to help out. Is it Jude’s fault he happens to be cute? And surprisingly sweet? And a Vargas?

Jude tells herself it’s strictly bike business with Emilio. Her sisters will never find out, and Jude can spot those flirty little Vargas tricks a mile away—no way would she fall for them. But Jude’s defenses are crumbling, and if history is destined to repeat itself, she’s speeding toward some serious heartbreak…unless her sisters were wrong?

Jude may have taken an oath, but she’s beginning to think that when it comes to love, some promises might be worth breaking.







Plenty of teenagers feel invisible. Fiona McClean actually is.

An invisible girl is a priceless weapon. Fiona’s own father has been forcing her to do his dirty work for years—everything from spying on people to stealing cars to breaking into bank vaults.

After sixteen years, Fiona’s had enough. She and her mother flee to a small town, and for the first time in her life, Fiona feels like a normal life is within reach. But Fiona’s father isn’t giving up that easily.

Of course, he should know better than anyone: never underestimate an invisible girl.







Ashleigh's boyfriend, Kaleb, is about to leave for college, and Ashleigh is worried that he'll forget about her while he's away. So at a legendary end-of-summer pool party, Ashleigh's friends suggest she text him a picture of herself -- sans swimsuit -- to take with him. Before she can talk herself out of it, Ashleigh strides off to the bathroom, snaps a photo in the full-length mirror, and hits "send."

But when Kaleb and Ashleigh go through a bad breakup, Kaleb takes revenge by forwarding the text to his baseball team. Soon the photo has gone viral, attracting the attention of the school board, the local police, and the media. As her friends and family try to distance themselves from the scandal, Ashleigh feels completely alone -- until she meets Mack while serving her court-ordered community service. Not only does Mack offer a fresh chance at friendship, but he's the one person in town who received the text of Ashleigh's photo -- and didn't look.

Acclaimed author Jennifer Brown brings readers a gripping novel about honesty and betrayal, redemption and friendship, attraction and integrity, as Ashleigh finds that while a picture may be worth a thousand words . . . it doesn't always tell the whole story.




 



When Sam's dad whisks him and his brother off to a remote beach town for the summer, he's all for it-- at first. Sam soon realizes, though, that this place is anything but ordinary. Time seems to slow down around here, and everywhere he looks, there are beautiful blond girls. Girls who seem inexplicably drawn to him.

Then Sam meets DeeDee, one of the Girls, and she's different from the others. Just as he starts to fall for her, she pulls away, leaving him more confused than ever. He knows that if he's going to get her back, he'll have to uncover the secret of this beach and the girls who live there.




***


 And I'm really looking forward to....


It’s been four years since I slept, and I suspect it is killing me.

Instead of sleeping, Parker Chipp enters the dream of the last person he’s had eye contact with. He spends his nights crushed by other people’s fear and pain, by their disturbing secrets—and Parker can never have dreams of his own. The severe exhaustion is crippling him. If nothing changes, Parker could soon be facing psychosis and even death.

Then he meets Mia. Her dreams, calm and beautifully uncomplicated, allow him blissful rest that is utterly addictive. Parker starts going to bizarre lengths to catch Mia’s eye every day. Everyone at school thinks he’s gone over the edge, even his best friend. And when Mia is threatened by a true stalker, everyone thinks it’s Parker.

Suffering blackouts, Parker begins to wonder if he is turning into someone dangerous. What if the monster stalking Mia is him after all?




I'm not too fond of the cover, but the description is awesome! I especially love the first line!




May 25, 2013

0

Review of Seal of Surrender by Traci Douglass

When I got the e-mail from Traci Douglass to review this novel, I was really excited! I just love it when authors contact me! I already thought highly of her after I read and reviewed her first novel in the Seven Seals series, Seal of Destiny, and thought it was great. (You can read that review here if you're interested.) So of course I agreed to read the sequel!


Seal of Surrender by Traci Douglass

War has shaped every aspect of Irena Soldan’s life—her childhood, her work, her DNA. Unaware she is the genetic host of the second Seal of the Apocalypse, Irena battles for those who cannot fight for themselves as a top human-rights operative for The Omega Consortium, whose charismatic, publicity-loving boss holds a deadly personal agenda.

Chago has always been the quiet one among his warrior Scion brethren—the brooding, combat expert with a hidden soft side. A member of Divinity’s covert special forces, he’s protected humanity for more than a millennium and now his goal is retirement. In exchange for his freedom, Chago agrees to protect Irena against his ancient enemy as his final mission. Expecting a cauldron of female whoop-ass, he instead discovers a harbinger of peace amidst a world of ever-increasing violence.

Despite the cataclysmic circumstances, an undeniable attraction ignites between Chago and Irena. Together, they must unravel the ancient puzzle of the Seals and discover a way to defeat an unstoppable evil before they both become casualties of War.


Amazon           B&N           Kobo           iTunes           Crimson Romance





Traci is the author of paranormal/urban fantasy and contemporary romances featuring a sly, urban edge, including her current Seven Seals series. Her stories feature sizzling alpha-male heroes full of dark humor, quick wits and major attitudes; smart, independent heroines who always give as good as they get; and scrumptiously evil villains who are—more often than not—bent on world destruction. She enjoys weaving ancient curses and mythology, modern science and old religion, and great dialogue together to build red-hot, sizzling chemistry between her main characters.

A storyteller since childhood, she began putting her tales down on paper in November 2011 after the idea for the Seven Seals Series occurred to her in a dream. She finished the first draft of what was to become Seal of Destiny in one month and decided to pursue a full-time writing career in January of 2012. Life has now been a rollercoaster, crash course in pursuing your dreams.

Traci is an active member of Romance Writers of America (RWA), Indiana Romance Writers of America (IRWA) and Fantasy, Futuristic & Paranormal Writers (FF&P) and is pursuing a Masters of Fine Arts degree in Writing Popular Fiction through Seton Hill University. Her stories have made the final rounds in several RWA chapter contests, including the 2012 Duel on the Delta, the 2012 Molly Awards, and the 2012 Catherine Awards. An earlier draft of Seal of Destiny won the paranormal category of the 2012 Marlene Awards sponsored by the Washington Romance Writers.

Other current projects include upcoming books in the Seven Seals series and a new futuristic detective series with hints of the paranormal and plenty of romance.


Website          Facebook          Twitter          Goodreads          Rebel Mouse




It didn't take me a very long time of reading Seal of Destiny to realize how cool Chago was. He was a pretty quiet dude, but there was no way he was letting anyone hurt his family, even if that meant putting himself on the line. He was your classic brooding, silent type with a dark past filled with too raw of a broken heart to open, but while he may have failed once, Hell would've had to freeze over for him to ever back down again.

Irena wasn't very different. She had lived through too much of war for it to ever truly leave her life, but instead of wanting to crawl away from it, she's willing to run right back in if it means saving someone else from the horror she had to live through.

Seal of Surrender is a fast-paced, action-ridden novel that takes us through a war torn land filled with people who will die to protect their home. Not as much time is spent on the issues that the Seal brings to its host as was done in the first novel, but I think that it's fitting for this storyline. I do wish that I could have spent more time with the Scions, though, because they are one of the things I love the most about this series.

I really enjoyed the ending of this novel, even if I felt that Irena and Chago's relationship could have used a little more development. It was great to see Mira again, and even more fun to read about Zoe and Xander. Hopefully I'll see more from them all soon!

My Rating:




A copy of the novel was provided for us in exchange for an honest review.




May 23, 2013

0

Timebound's a 2013 ABNA Finalist!




Do you guys remember a few months ago when I went a little crazy over a new book I had just read? I hadn't been able to sleep much because I couldn't put the book down. At first I thought that everything was going swimmingly, but then I would just end my sentence with the wrong cranberry (anybody else seen Iron Man 3 yet?). So I decided that I had better spare you all, go to bed, and write my official review a little later. If you're interested in seeing what happens when I become sleep deprived, you can read my initial thoughts of the novel here, and my longer review here.

Well, my obsession hasn't changed one bit, but the title has! Now the amazing novel formerly known as Time's Twisted Arrow is called Timebound. And do you know what's even more incredible? It just won the Young Adult division for the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award!

I am so happy for Rysa right now. She definitely deserves all of this because her book is fantastic! But now she needs our help. She's already won the award for Young Adult novels, but she still has one more round of voting to go through before Timebound can earn its rightful place as the Grand Prize Winner.

So go over to Amazon and vote right now! Please! And just so my point comes across, you can cast your vote by clicking on the link right....

HERE

HERE

HERE

HERE

HERE!!!


Hey, I never said I was subtle.

If you don't trust my personal judgement (why not just rip my heart out?!) you can read the first few thousand words of the book here for free. Trust me, you won't regret it!





May 22, 2013

2

The Gatekeeper's Daughter Blog Tour: Review & GIVEAWAY!!!




The last book is finally here! It's been five months since I read book two, The Gatekeeper's Challenge (you can read my review here if you'd like), and I'm so glad that the story can now continue. The Gatekeeper's Challenge ended in a bit of an upsetting cliffhanger for me, but now I finally know what happens!

Even though this tour stop is just for book three, The Gatekeeper's Daughter, here are the summaries for all of the books in the series.








Amazon      B&N      The Book Depository      Smashwords







Amazon      B&N      The Book Depository      Smashwords






In The Gatekeeper's Sons, Therese and Thanatos, the god of death, met and fell in love. In The Gatekeeper's Challenge, they did everything they could to be together, even break an oath on the River Styx. But the Olympians don't tolerate oath-breakers.

In this final book in the trilogy, The Gatekeeper's Daughter, Therese may have finally succeeded in becoming a goddess, but if she wants to remain one, she'll not only have to discover her unique purpose, but also make some allies among the gods. Artemis sends her on a seemingly impossible quest across the world, while Than searches for a way to appease Ares. To make matters worse, her baby sister's life depends on the outcome of her quest.


Amazon      B&N      The Book Depository      Smashwords









Eva Pohler teaches writing at the University of Texas at San Antonio, where she lives with her husband, three children, two dogs, two rats, and her very large collection of books.

Website       Blog       Other Blog       Twitter       Goodreads






My Review

I have a bit of a love hate relationship with series ending books. Obviously, I almost never jump for joy whenever I see them because, like any dedicated book lover, I don't want to say goodbye to the characters. If I've made it this far in the series, it's probably partly because I've come to love the people I'm reading about, and I don't want to let these new friends go. Who would?

There are a few times, however, when reading the last page in the final book of a series brings a little bit of joy. Not because I'm glad for it all to be done with, but because I finally get that sense of closure that's been missing in the books that came before. Usually, the characters finally get their happily ever afters, and while I may be left with a few questions, the majority of the loose ends are tied up.

This is where The Gatekeeper's Daughter has left me now. I'm still wondering about a few things (like how the episode involving Ares and Atlas may or may not lead to what the Fates described to Therese and Than), but overall I'm happy with where all of the characters have ended up. I don't think that anything should be regretted, and, at least for the time being, there doesn't seem to be any immediate threats looming in anyone's future. While I feel like there are still a few places that this series could go (specifically more on the outcome of Hip's new relationship), I've been left with nothing so pressing that I feel any need to barge fully armed into Eva Pohler's living room. For now.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. There were quite a few moments when I started chuckling because of something that a character said that just nailed their personality for me. There are always those small moments that just feel so right that I can't help but react. The family mechanics of the Greek gods are always interesting to me, considering how someone's always getting married to an extended cousin, sometimes a sibling. You just never know with them.

Of the new characters, Dione was like freaking Wonder Woman, always swooping in to save the day. She was great, and her whole "don't screw with your mother-in-law" act was fantastic and always made me smile. Courtney, I felt, could have been developed a little more. I really didn't end up knowing that much about her as a person aside from her relationship with the Holts. But I was really glad that the issue between Jen and her father was addressed, albeit briefly. Child abuse is a big and scary topic to tackle, and I just feel like it wouldn't have been right to leave that one hanging.

Rating: 4 stars




 



The Giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Tour

May 1 - Introduction at Reading Addiction Blog Tours
May 2 - Interview at Laurie's Thoughts and Reviews
May 6 - Promo at Mythical Books
May 8 - Review & Guest Post at Book Lovers Report
May 9 - Review at Into The Wormhole
May 13 - Guest Post at Paulette's Papers
May 14 - Guest Post at Buffy's Ramblings
May 15 - Review & Guest Post at The Avid Reader
May 16 - Review at Getting Your Read On
May 17 - Guest Post at Sitting With a Book
May 20 - Review at My Cozie Corner
May 21 - Promo at Bunny's Reviews
May 22 - Review at Marked By Books
May 23 - Guest Post at Books and Tales
May 24 - Review at Hooked in a Book
May 25 - Guest Post at Wintry Words
May 26 - Review at Books, Books, and More Books
May 27 - Review & Interview at Addicted Readers
May 28 - Review at Books and Needlepoint
May 29 - Review & Interview at Pixie Dust Reviews
May 30 - Interview at Lisa's Book Lair
May 31 - Review at RABT Reviews



A copy of the novel was provided for us in exchange for an honest review.



May 21, 2013

2

Touching Melody Trailer Reveal

I've really come to fall in love with this book lately. I was first introduced to it when I participated in the cover reveal, and then I later jumped at the chance to reveal the trailer (which is really good, by the way!) as well. Then I saw what I had been waiting for: a reviews tour. I've probably checked the page for that tour at least once a week since I signed up to see if I got on. In the past few days, I've looked on that page about five times a day, just in case something changed. And do you know what? It did!

Touching Melody and RaShelle Workman will be back here on July 23rd! I just got the e-copy a few days ago, so I haven't gotten to read it yet, but trust me, I will!



Maddie Martin's first weekend at college is nothing like she's used to. It's wild, like the wilderness on which the University of Bellam Springs sits. Roped into going to a frat party, she literally runs into Kyle Hadley. The boy she's loved since she was nine. The boy she promised all of her firsts to. But that was before his father killed her parents.

Determined to stay away from him, she throws herself into her music. Practicing piano eases her heavy heart, calms the sadness, and pushes away images of Kyle's face.

Until it doesn't.

Her music professor asks her to play a duet for their annual Graduation Gala. Doing so means she'll be assured another full ride scholarship. It's an opportunity she can't pass up.

But Kyle is the other half of the duet. And that means hours and hours of practicing.

Days and months of seclusion - just the two of them. And it's more than just music. It's passion like Maddie never believed was possible.

The inevitable happens. She falls in love with him all over again.
But, will loving him be enough to erase all the hate in her heart for his father? Can she look at him, and not see the evil in his family tree?

And maybe it's all a set up. Maybe Kyle is only pretending to care so he can finish what his father started, and kill her too.

 

Touching Melody releases June 2013!



For When Words Just Aren't Enough






RASHELLE WORKMAN lives on a mountain with her husband, three children, and three dogs. From her back porch she can see the city lights and imagine... She's the bestselling author of the Dead Roses series (Sleeping Roses is being translated into Turkish, and will be available in print wherever Turkish books are sold in 2014), the Immortal Essence series, and the Blood and Snow series.

Website         Goodreads          Facebook          Twitter







May 19, 2013

0

Looking Back.... and Forward #1

Okay, so I've been thinking of starting a new weekly thing here on Marked By Books. Just kind of something that will remind me that posting every so often really isn't too much to ask of myself even when I am really busy. Even better, I can schedule these posts in advance. Really, I don't have any excuse not to.

Oh, trust me, I'll find one.

Basically, what I hope this will turn out to be is me spotlighting some of the books that were released in the past week that I obviously missed out on, and then choosing the one that I'm most excited to see in the next seven days. Doesn't sound too bad, does it?

Yeah, yeah, I know that it's not terribly original, but it's my first shot at being organized here, so I'd say that I have some room for error. I'm going to try to get one of these up every Sunday, but don't be surprised if it's a little late or I completely forget. It's bound to happen.

As for the name.... well I'm working on that one. My best option that I've come up with so far seems to be "Looking Back.... and Forward," but if I'm being completely honest here, it seems pretty cheesy. I'll probably end up changing it at some point in time, but for right now, it's all I've got.

Please let me know if you have any suggestions!

***


Abby Barnes had a plan. The Plan. She'd go to Northwestern, major in journalism, and land a job at a national newspaper, all before she turned twenty-two. But one tiny choice—taking a drama class her senior year of high school—changed all that. Now, on the eve of her eighteenth birthday, Abby is stuck on a Hollywood movie set, miles from where she wants to be, wishing she could rewind her life. The next morning, she's in a dorm room at Yale, with no memory of how she got there. Overnight, it's as if her past has been rewritten.

With the help of Caitlin, her science-savvy BFF, Abby discovers that this new reality is the result of a cosmic collision of parallel universes that has Abby living an alternate version of her life. And not only that: Abby's life changes every time her parallel self makes a new choice. Meanwhile, her parallel is living out Abby's senior year of high school and falling for someone Abby's never even met.

As she struggles to navigate her ever-shifting existence, forced to live out the consequences of a path she didn't choose, Abby must let go of the Plan and learn to focus on the present, without losing sight of who she is, the boy who might just be her soul mate, and the destiny that's finally within reach.




Seventeen-year-old Parker Frost has never taken the road less traveled. Valedictorian and quintessential good girl, she’s about to graduate high school without ever having kissed her crush or broken the rules. So when fate drops a clue in her lap—one that might be the key to unraveling a town mystery—she decides to take a chance.

Julianna Farnetti and Shane Cruz are remembered as the golden couple of Summit Lakes High—perfect in every way, meant to be together forever. But Julianna’s journal tells a different story—one of doubts about Shane and a forbidden romance with an older, artistic guy. These are the secrets that were swept away with her the night that Shane’s jeep plunged into an icy river, leaving behind a grieving town and no bodies to bury.

Reading Julianna’s journal gives Parker the courage to start to really live—and it also gives her reasons to question what really happened the night of the accident. Armed with clues from the past, Parker enlists the help of her best friend, Kat, and Trevor, her longtime crush, to track down some leads. The mystery ends up taking Parker places that she never could have imagined. And she soon finds that taking the road less traveled makes all the difference.




She’s been six different people in six different places: Madeline in Ohio, Isabelle in Missouri, Olivia in Kentucky . . . But now that she’s been transplanted to rural Louisiana, she has decided that this fake identity will be her last.

Witness Protection has taken nearly everything from her. But for now, they’ve given her a new name, Megan Rose Jones, and a horrible hair color. For the past eight months, Meg has begged her father to answer one question: What on earth did he do – or see – that landed them in this god-awful mess? Meg has just about had it with all the Suits’ rules — and her dad’s silence. If he won’t help, it’s time she got some answers for herself.

But Meg isn’t counting on Ethan Landry, an adorable Louisiana farm boy who’s too smart for his own good. He knows Meg is hiding something big. And it just might get both of them killed. As they embark on a perilous journey to free her family once and for all, Meg discovers that there’s only one rule that really matters — survival.




After a bizarre accident, Ingrid Waverly is forced to leave London with her mother and younger sister, Gabby, trading a world full of fancy dresses and society events for the unfamiliar city of Paris.

In Paris there are no grand balls or glittering parties, and, disturbingly, the house Ingrid’s twin brother, Grayson, found for them isn’t a house at all. It’s an abandoned abbey, its roof lined with stone gargoyles that could almost be mistaken for living, breathing creatures.

And Grayson has gone missing.

No one seems to know of his whereabouts but Luc, a devastatingly handsome servant at their new home.

Ingrid is sure her twin isn’t dead—she can feel it deep in her soul—but she knows he’s in grave danger. It will be up to her and Gabby to navigate the twisted path to Grayson, a path that will lead Ingrid on a discovery of dark secrets and otherworldly truths. And she’ll learn that once they are uncovered, they can never again be buried.

***


And here's the book I'm most excited to see released next week!


With her weak eyes and useless lungs that often leave her gasping for air, Nere feels more at home swimming with the dolphins her mother studies than she does hanging out with her classmates. Nere has never understood why she is so much more comfortable and confident in the water than on land until the day she learns the shocking truth—she is one of a group of kids who have been genetically altered to survive in the ocean. These products of the "Neptune Project" are supposed to build a better future under the waves, safe from the terrible famines and wars and that rock the surface world.

But there are some big challenges ahead of her: no one ever asked Nere if she wanted to be part of a science experiment; the other Neptune kids aren't exactly the friendliest bunch, and in order to reach the safe haven of the new Neptune colony, Nere and her fellow mutates must swim across hundreds of miles of dangerous ocean, relying on their wits, their loyal dolphins and one another to evade terrifying undersea creatures and a government that will stop at nothing to capture the Neptune kids ... dead or alive.

Fierce battle and daring escapes abound as Nere and her friend race to safety in this action-packed marine adventure.



So what do you guys think? Is this going to work?




May 13, 2013

2

The Photo Traveler Blog Tour: Review & GIVEAWAY




Welcome to our stop on Arthur J. Gonzalez's tour for his debut novel, The Photo Traveler! Arthur is so unbelievably incredible. You should all bask in his glory. Do you know what my first interaction with him was? Okay, so I had just seen this tour put up on Xpresso Book Tours, and I knew that even if I didn't get on it, I should still try to read it. So I go onto Goodreads and see that there is a giveaway up there for the book. I sign up and assume that's the end of that.

Nope.

I don't even think it was an entire day later before I got a message on Goodreads from a very excited Arthur J. Gonzalez, thanking me for signing up for his giveaway. Don't believe me? Here it is.



Seventeen-year-old Gavin Hillstone is resigned to being miserable for the rest of his life. Left alone in the world after his parents died in a fire when he was four, he was placed in foster care, which for him meant ending up in an abusive home with an alcoholic adoptive father.

Gavin’s only escape is in taking and creating images. His camera is his refuge from the unending torture and isolation of daily life in his  “family.”

Until he learns by accident that he isn’t alone in the world after all. His father’s parents are still alive and living in Washington DC.

When he takes the plunge and travels 3,000 miles to find his grandparents, he learns that they—and he—are part of something much bigger, and more dangerous, than he could ever have imagined. Something that has always put his family at risk and that will now threaten his own life, while forever changing it.

He learns that he is one of the last descendants of a small group of Photo Travelers—people who can travel through time and space through images. But his initial excitement turns to fear, when he soon discovers that he and his grandparents are being pursued by the fierce remnants of a radical European Photo Traveler cult, the Peace Hunters. What Gavin has, they want!

His adventure will take him to past eras, like The Great Depression and the Salem Witch Trials. Gavin will have to discover who he really is and must make choices that spell the difference between life and death for himself, for the relatives he now knows and loves, and for the girl he will come to love.

For Gavin Hillstone, life will never be the same.

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My name is Arthur J Gonzalez.  I’m 28 years old, born and raised in Miami, FL.  I graduated from the University of Florida.  I am currently releasing my debut novel, The Photo Traveler.  The premise surrounds 17 – year old Gavin, who discovers he is part of a small group, called Photo Travelers, who can time travel through photos and images.

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I would just like to point out that his website is really, really cool. You should go look at it.



My Review

The concept for this book is pretty incredible. A group of people called photo travelers have the ability to travel through time and space via images that they find. So let's say that you have this newspaper clipping with a picture on it. You say a few fancy words, and then suddenly you're sucked into this vortex-like thing, and next thing you know, you're standing right in the middle of the image you were looking at in the time it was created. Sounds pretty cool, right?

Well, yeah. That's because it is.

This is the life that Gavin suddenly finds himself in after he leaves his abusive foster home in search of the grandparents he never knew existed. His original plan is to figure out why they never took him in after his parents passed and to hopefully stay far, far away from his "family" and all of the pain it causes him.

I feel kind of awful saying this, but the Hillstone family was one of my favorite parts of the novel. Yeah, yeah, the ones that are left are pretty awful human beings (though Dina's not really that bad once she comes to her senses), but I found the mechanics of this extremely screwed up family to be very interesting. They are so much a part of Gavin already, even in their worst moments, that he would definitely not be the same person without every single one of them.

I also really liked his new family, Bud and Estelle. They were great people, and it was obvious how much they both cared about him, even when they weren't able to be anywhere near him. Out of all of the characters, they probably felt the most real to me.

In general, this book ranks pretty high on the adventurous scale, considering that there are no limits to any sort of setting for the novel. Except, apparently dinosaurs. Darn. Just so we're clear, though, I would have tried it too, Gavin.

Really the only things that I wasn't immensely fond of were the rhymes that they had to recite before they could travel anywhere. Seemed a little too much like magic words to me. Kind of cheesy. Also, the story tended to seem rushed at times, and it would have been nice if Gavin was willing to stop and smell those proverbial roses. Wherever they are.

Aside from that, this book left me in a pretty good place. I obviously had a lot of questions (gee thanks, cliffhanger!) like what happens to a certain few somebodies that I'm not allowed to mention for fear of ruining everything for you guys. Sorry!

Something that I was interested in figuring out is what it would look like to an outside observer when the photo travelers do their thing. Do they get sucked into the image? Or is it just more of a poof! and they're gone kind of deal? That might be fun to explore.

One more thing, though, and this is really just out of personal curiosity. I understand that when you go back in time to the same picture twice, the people there won't remember the first visit because it technically hasn't happened. Well if that's true, then why don't the photo travelers just go back again every time they screw up the timeline, so it would be like their mistakes never happened? I don't know, would that work?

Rating: 4 stars




Here's my favorite quote, only because it brings up an interesting topic:

""Whoa!" Estelle exclaims. "Slow down, sweetie! What's the rush?"

I spring up and sprint past them. "I'm going to be upstairs. Need to take care of something-"

"Have you even eaten?" she persists.

"Pizza."

"Pizza's not real food," she counters."


Oh no she didn't.

I really like Estelle, but that's just not okay with me. Pizza is definitely real food! You know what, never mind. Maybe she's right. Pizza's not real food. It's better. It's like happiness baked into one incredible gift from the heavens. I'm standing by that one no matter what anybody else tells me.








The Giveaway

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A copy of the novel was provided for us in exchange for an honest review.


May 10, 2013

5

Escaping Darkness Book Blast: Excerpt & GIVEAWAY

Hello, everybody! Okay, so I just scanned over the list of posts I've written lately, and it's pretty pathetic. Sorry about that! The real world has kept me extremely busy lately, so I've kind of slacked off when it comes to writing here. My apologies!

But here, to pull me out of my funk, is the lovely Theresa McClinton! Does that name sound familiar to any of you? It should! She was over here a few months ago for book number one in The Stone Legacy series. You can see that post with her interview here. She was so much fun to talk to when I was getting ready for her tour and even afterwards when she stuck around to comment. It was great!

***


Okay, so the Escaping Darkness novella is book two in The Stone Legacy series, with The Stone Guardian being book one (you can find out more about that at the bottom of this post). From what I understand, this book focuses more on Tara than Ashley, but I could be wrong since I haven't read it yet. I will, though! I promise! It's right next up on the list!



Escaping Darkness by Theresa McClinton

She may have spent years in an asylum, but that didn’t make her crazy–just fearless.

Dropped in Moscow with her friends on an impossible mission against underworld forces, Tara is left to her feelings of overwhelming inadequacy. Her boyfriend is a healer, her best friend is “the Guardian,” and everyone else is a powerhouse of awesome strengths. The only thing she has been able to contribute are her memories, which has left her with nightmares of her time spent at the mercy of the evil Sarian–who everyone has gone to fight.

Alone with her emotions, Tara finds herself falling into a city of depravity and corruption. And amidst all this evil is a young man with an agenda of his own, who leads her down a road that will either prove she is a hero at heart, or drag her into a world she’s always feared.

He wants revenge, she wants redemption. And in an underground rings of missing girls and bloody sacrifices, only the fearless can survive…


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The Paranormal Romance Guild gave Escaping Darkness 4 stars! You can read their review of the novella and book one here.



A long time enthusiast of things that go bump in the night, Theresa began her writing career as a journalism intern—possibly the least creative writing field out there. After her first semester at a local newspaper, she washed her hands of press releases and feature articles to delve into the whimsical world of young adult and new adult paranormal and contemporary romance.

Since then, Theresa has been married, had three terrific kids, moved to central Ohio, and was repeatedly guilt tripped into adopting a menagerie of animals that are now members of the family. But don’t be fooled by her domesticated appearance. Her greatest love is travel. Having traveled to over a dozen countries and explored dozens of U.S. states—including an extended seven-year stay in Kodiak, Alaska—she is anything but settled down. But wherever life brings her, Theresa will continue to weave tales of adventure and love with the hope her stories will bring joy and inspiration to her readers.




Rays of morning sun crept through the windows of Tara’s hotel room. She was already awake, frozen in bed and staring at the entrance. Harsh whispers echoed from the hall paired with rushed footsteps on the carpeted floors beyond the door. She gripped the blanket, her heart pounding in anticipation.

She flung the covers aside and hurried across the room. The knob rattled followed by several sharp pounds. She peered through the peephole before swinging open the door. Renato rushed in with a limp Hawa hanging in his arms.

“Oh my god! What happened?”

Renato laid Hawa on the bed. Black hair spilled over her face as she moaned.

Peter stumbled into the room, his eyes glossed over with sleep. Renato glanced over his shoulder and waved him over. “We need your help.”

Tara’s chest tightened while she stared at them. “Where’s Ashley?” Renato glanced at her and then back to Hawa without a word. Tara stepped forward, a knot forming in her stomach. She gripped the bedpost, her legs beginning to feel like mush. “Mr. Renato, what happened to Ashley?”

“She’ll be fine,” Peter said while examining Hawa’s bandaged leg. “I don’t sense any breaks or fractures. No lesions.” He stared up at Renato. “What the hell happened?”

Renato paced, rubbing the five o’clock shadow that darkened his chin and jawline. “Sarian was much stronger than we anticipated. When Ashley tried to retrieve the stone, he somehow sensed her, even with the masking spell.”

Figures. Tara knew it was bad news when that witch offered to help. She hated the idea from the start, but being outnumbered and a girl with no abilities to contribute, she thought it better to keep her mouth shut and let Renato and Ashley make the final decision. The masking spell could have been a dud. For all they knew, Contessa might have wanted Ashley dead to take her stone. The witch only helped to get revenge on Sarian in the first place. Who knows what other motives she had. Tara still wasn’t sure of the extent of the stone’s power, but since every underworlder seemed to want to get their hands on it, it had to be capable of some unworldly things.

“Who healed Hawa?” Peter asked.

“Contessa. At her home.” Renato glanced at his watch. “We arrived back less than an hour ago.”

“Well, it looks like she did a decent job.” Peter laid the back of his hand against Hawa’s forehead. “No fever. I think she’s just exhausted. We should let her sleep.”

Tara let go of the bedpost, anger peeling away her layers of patience. There was no way she’d let them keep ignoring her. With her fists perched on her hips, she glared at them. “If someone doesn’t answer me in the next two seconds, I swear I’m going to flip the hell out.” They both stopped and stared at her. Tara swallowed. “Where’s Ashley?”

Anger was as good as any other emotion right now—better even, since it kept her blood rushing fast enough to prevent her from passing out if the news was grim.

Renato gave a deep exhale. “Tara.”

The way he said her name sucked the heat right out of her body.

She wound her fingers into her mess of red curls. “Oh God. What?”

“Please don’t panic,” he continued. “She is not hurt.”

Tara exhaled a calming breath and gestured toward the door. “I’m gonna go talk to her.” When she took a step forward, Renato stepped to the side, cutting off her path. She stared up at his tight face. “I’ll be right back. I just want to go see how she’s holding up.”

“Tara.” But when he said her name the second time, his tone hadn’t changed, and the look in his eyes told her something was wrong. He ran his fingers through his hair, smoothing it down. “She’s not here.”

“What do you mean she’s not here? You said she’s all right.”

“Yes, that’s true.”

Tara shifted her weight. “Well, where is she?”

“She and Arwan left to get Jayden back.”

“Back?” Tara scanned the room. In all of the chaos, she hadn’t noticed Jayden wasn’t there. “Is he pulling another stunt to win Ashley over?”

“I don’t think that’s what’s going on this time,” Peter said.

“Sarian is stronger than we realized.”

“But…” Tara shook her head. “I don’t understand.”

“Jayden was killed in battle.”

She felt like someone had kicked her in the chest. “What?” She gasped, her bottom lip quivering with her voice. She had known Jayden almost as long as Ashley, and even if they weren’t as close, he was her friend. She swallowed past the ache in her throat.

Peter took her hand.

“She and Arwan rushed to Guatemala,” Renato continued. “To the caves of Naj Tunich.”

She tightened her grip on Peter’s hand while suspicion crawled over her. “Ashley hates caves. Why would she want to go there?”

“Ashley was determined. I attempted to convince her it was a dangerous, reckless idea, but she insisted. She and Arwan traveled to the caves to find Houn—the Guardian of Souls. She has the insane thought that they can get Jayden’s soul back in time.”

Tara pulled away from Peter, grabbed Renato’s collar, and jerked him forward. “Are you trying to tell me that my best friend is going to meet up with the Grim Reaper?”

Renato stared down at Tara’s fingers clenching his shirt.

She let go of his collar. “I want proof. Ashley wouldn’t just take off like that. Not without telling me first.”

Renato straightened his posture while smoothing out the wrinkles in his clothes. “I managed to rent a cold chamber for Jayden’s body in the local morgue.” He paused, watching her skeptical stare. His lips pressed tightly together. “If escorting you to see his body is the only way to convince you I am being honest, that is certainly an option.”

Tara took a step back. “Oh my God. You’re serious.”

“Unfortunately, yes. If Ashley and Arwan cannot retrieve his soul before Houn places it, the morgue is where Jayden’s body belongs. Either way, we need to preserve it the best we can.”

“Preserve?” She choked on the word and slowly lowered herself to the mattress beside Hawa’s feet.

Peter tucked a curl behind Tara’s ear. “It’ll be all right.”

She wanted to believe him, but something in her gut told her it wouldn’t be that simple. “Jayden’s dead and…Ashley didn’t even say goodbye. What if—” Her breath caught in her throat. “What if I never see her again?”






And here's a little bit about book one! You can read my review of it here.


The Stone Guardian by Theresa McClinton

When myth becomes reality, reality becomes a nightmare.

Like any other teenager in America, Ashley just wants a normal life. But growing up in an orphanage for the insane is anything but normal. After endless therapy and increasing medication, her nightmares have only gotten worse.

Probably because they’re not nightmares.

When Ashley’s mysteriously abducted, she finds a reality even less normal than the orphanage. And she discovers something else—she’s no ordinary orphan. Faced with enemies thought to only exist in fairy tales, Ashley discovers she possesses a powerful Maya bloodline. She’s the daughter of an ancient Maya Guardian, whose duty is to protect the Stone of Muuk’ich, an enchanted relic blessed by the gods. But first she must get it back from Sarian, a power-hungry demigod who slaughtered the last guardian—Ashley’s mother. Without the stone, all will be lost.

When she meets Arwan, a hot Belizean time bender, his delicious olive skin and dark eyes make her feel a little less alone. But his gentle whispers and reassuring touch might not be all they seem. How can she balance love and duty when it’s up to her to prevent the rising of the underworld? Especially when the guy she loves might be its crown prince…

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May 6, 2013

0

Losing Francesca Cover & Trailer Reveal




I'm so excited to be part of this cover reveal! I fell in love with the story right when I read the synopsis, and as soon as I saw that the cover was being designed by Claudia from Phatpuppy Art, I jumped at the chance. This artist.... there are no words. Absolutely incredible doesn't even come close to describing her talents, and this cover is only a small part of what she does. Make sure you check out her website, everything there is amazing!



Francesca Sabatini came to America to take in the sights, celebrate her high school graduation, and have fun wasting time before college starts in the fall.

That’s not what happens.

Fresh off the plane and barely on American soil more than a handful of minutes, Francesca’s face is recognized by TSA scanners to be a match for a child who was kidnapped twelve years ago.

Brody Mason remembers the day Fiona Sullivan went missing during a family vacation in Italy and it’s haunted him his whole life. So when Francesca shows up at the Sullivan farm down the road, he’s compelled to figure out if this girl really is his long lost friend.

But Francesca knows she’s not Fiona Sullivan. She knows exactly who she is. At least she thinks she knows – until Brody Mason relentlessly pursues her and she begins to have feelings for him. Maybe being Fiona isn’t so bad?

Reality becomes blurred, secrets are revealed, and life will never be the same when the final questions are answered: is she Francesca or Fiona? And where does she really belong?

Losing Francesca releases July 1st!



For When Words Just Aren't Enough





J. A. Huss likes to write new adult books that make you think and keep you guessing. Her favorite genre to read is space opera, but since practically no one reads those books, she writes new adult science fiction, paranormal romance, contemporary romance, urban fantasy, and books about Junco (who refuses to be saddled with a label).

She has an undergraduate degree in horses, (yes, really–Thank you, Colorado State University) and a master’s degree in forensic toxicology from the University of Florida. She used to have a job driving around Colorado doing pretty much nothing but shooting the breeze with farmers, but now she just writes, runs the New Adult Addiction and Clean Teen Reads Book Blogs, and runs an online science classroom for homeschoolers.

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The Giveaway

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