Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Release Day Review: This Song Will Save Your Life

This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales

Age Range: 12 and up

Hardcover: 288 pages

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR) (September 17, 2013)

Genre: Young Adult contemporary

Source: Publisher via NetGalley (thank you!)

Rating: 3 of 5 stars

About the Book:

Making friends has never been Elise Dembowski’s strong suit. All
throughout her life, she’s been the butt of every joke and the outsider
in every conversation. When a final attempt at popularity fails, Elise
nearly gives up. Then she stumbles upon a warehouse party where she
meets Vicky, a girl in a band who accepts her; Char, a cute, yet
mysterious disc jockey; Pippa, a carefree spirit from England; and most
importantly, a love for DJing.

Told in a refreshingly genuine and
laugh-out-loud funny voice, THIS SONG WILL SAVE YOUR LIFE is an
exuberant novel about identity, friendship, and the power of music to
bring people together.

About the Author:

Leila Sales grew up outside of Boston, Massachusetts. She graduated from the University of Chicago in 2006. Now she lives in Brooklyn, New York, and works in the mostly glamorous world of children's book publishing. Leila spends most of her time thinking about sleeping, kittens, dance parties, and stories that she wants to write.


My Thoughts:

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

This is a tough review for me to write. First, let me say what I loved about the book.  It was well written, interesting, and addictive. I couldn't put it down. I fell in love with Elise and her story and I just had to see how things turned out for her. I felt like she was a very believable character and I became very invested in her.  I loved, loved, loved her interest in DJing and the way it affected her emotionally and socially.

I really enjoyed the way she tries to make herself over to fit in with everyone else, only to have it backfire.  Then she remakes herself over again, but the time, as herself. She discovers who she is and realizes that she's known it all along.  The writing, the plot, and the characters are all fantastic. 

I love the cover. Brilliant, gorgeous cover. I want to make a poster out of it and hang it on my wall so I can look at it every day.

So why 3 stars? Language.  I was shocked at how many F-words (among other words) were in these pages.  I kept thinking, good grief, this is a teen novel?  The other reason was the sexual content.  It's not overly detailed, and "it" doesn't technically happen, but I don't have a better word for what does happen.  I think that sometimes authors forget how young their audience really is.

While I loved this book for many reasons, I still have to say that it contains too much adult content for me to recommend it to a teen audience.  I would have doled out a whole-hearted 5 star rating if it hadn't been for the language and sexual content.

Content: graphic language and sexual situations.  

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Monday, September 16, 2013

Revenge of the Girl with the Great Personality - Review

Revenge of the Girl with the Great Personality by Elizabeth Eulberg

Age Range: 12 and up

Grade Level: 7 and up

Hardcover: 272 pages

Publisher: Scholastic, Inc (March 1, 2013)

Series: None

Genre: Contemporary

Source: Publisher via NetGalley

About the Book:

A hilarious new novel from Elizabeth Eulberg about taking the wall out of the wallflower so she can bloom.

Don't mess with a girl with a Great Personality.

Everybody loves Lexi. She's popular, smart, funny...but she's never been one of those girls, the pretty ones who get all the attention from guys. And on top of that, her seven-year-old sister, Mackenzie, is a terror in a tiara, and part of a pageant scene where she gets praised for her beauty (with the help of fake hair and tons of makeup).

Lexi's sick of it. She's sick of being the girl who hears about kisses instead of getting them. She's sick of being ignored by her longtime crush, Logan. She's sick of being taken for granted by her pageant-obsessed mom. And she's sick of having all her family's money wasted on a phony pursuit of perfection.

The time has come for Lexi to step out from the sidelines. Girls without great personalities aren't going to know what hit them. Because Lexi's going to play the beauty game - and she's in it to win it.

Amazon | Goodreads | Barnes & Noble

About the Author:

Elizabeth Eulberg was born and raised in Wisconsin before heading off to college at Syracuse University and making a career in the New York City book biz. Now a full-time writer, she is the author of The Lonely Hearts Club, Prom & Prejudice, Take a Bow, and Revenge of the Girl with the Great Personality. She lives outside of Manhattan with her three guitars, two keyboards, and one drumstick.

Website | Twitter | Facebook 

My Thoughts:

I thought this book was going to be funny, so I picked it up while I was in the mood for something humorous. Initially I was disappointed that it wasn't a laugh out loud type of book, especially since the blurb claims it is "hilarious", but it was still very entertaining.

Lexi is a sweet girl with a great personality, but she is tired of being stuck in the friend zone. Eventually, she accepts a friend's challenge to put more effort into her appearance. She then has to start navigating the tricky world of boys, jealous baby sisters, and insecure popular girls. The story itself is interesting, and the inclusion of beauty pageants and the behind-the-scenes look at the pageant families adds something fresh to an otherwise formulaic plot.

My biggest gripe with the story is Logan. This is a bit of a spoiler, so don't read this if you don't want to know anything. All through the book, Logan comes across as sweet, caring, and sincere. He is desperately clinging on to the last shreds of his relationship with his girlfriend, and he is super nice to Lexi. As soon as he and Lexi go out, he suddenly turns into a jerk. I just didn't find the way that whole thing played out to be very believable. I did love Taylor and I thought he was a great addition to the story. He was a good example of how a boy should treat a girl. I am interested to see if this will turn into a series.


Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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Monday, July 8, 2013

YA Review: The look by Sophia Bennett

The Look by Sophia Bennett

Age Range: 12 and up

Series: None

Genre: Contemporary

Hardcover: 336 pages

Publisher: Scholastic/Chicken House (March 1, 2013)

Source: Publisher via NetGalley (thank you!)

Rating: 5 of 5 stars 

About the Book:

Can she be a supermodel and a super-sister? She finds her answer in just one look.

Two sisters, both beautiful in different ways: Fifteen-year-old Ted has got "The Look." That's what the scout for the modeling agency tells her, and she can't believe her luck. But just as Ted's jet-setting off on her new career, Ava is diagnosed with cancer. Can Ted be a supermodel and a super-sister? Or will she have to choose between family and fame? With their worlds turned upside down, the girls have to look past appearances, look deep inside, to figure out what really matters.

About the Author:

Sophia Bennett won first place in the second annual LONDON TIMES/Chicken House Children's Fiction Competition with her debut, SEQUINS, SECRETS, AND SILVER LININGS, a novel that combines her long-standing obsession with fashion with her keen desire to write for young readers. Sophia lives with her husband and children in cosmopolitan London, England. 

My Thoughts:

This book is NOT what I was prepared for. I expected a light, fluffy, humorous story about a girl stumbling into becoming a model. And for the first few pages, that's exactly what it is. But there is so much more to the story. Even though cancer is mentioned in the synopsis, I was not prepared for it when it showed up.  As a result, I spent a couple of really late nights bawling my eyes out.

The characters are wonderful. I love them all. Ted is such a sweetheart and she develops such a wonderful relationship with her sister, Ava. I love the journey that Ted goes on, how she finds herself, and how she refuses to compromise her standards.

The book is well researched and it's obvious that the author has done her homework. I haven't read many cancer books, but modeling seems to be a very popular topic right now. Combining the two creates this amazing, tension filled world that Ted and her sister must learn to navigate. The sisterhood in this story is simply beautiful.

I loved it. I loved it. I loved it!


Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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Thursday, July 4, 2013

Review: The Rose Throne by Mette Ivie Harrison

The Rose Throne by Mette Ivie Harrison

Age Range: 12 and up

Series: The Rose Throne #1

Genre: Fantasy

Hardcover: 400 pages

Publisher: Egmont USA (May 14, 2013)

Source: Publisher via NetGalley (thank you!)

Rating: 4 of 5 stars

 About the Book:

Richly-imagined fantasy romance from the author of Princess and the Hound, a tale of two princesses--one with magic, one with none--who dare seek love in a world where real choice can never be theirs. For fans of Megan Whalen Turner, Catherine Fisher, and Cassandra Clare. 

Ailsbet loves nothing more than music; tall and red-haired, she's impatient with the artifice and ceremony of her father's court. Marissa adores the world of her island home and feels she has much to offer when she finally inherits the throne from her wise, good-tempered father. The trouble is that neither princess has the power--or the magic--to rule alone, and if the kingdoms can be united, which princess will end up ruling the joint land? For both, the only goal would seem to be a strategic marriage to a man who can bring his own brand of power to the throne. But will either girl be able to marry for love? And can either of these two princesses, rivals though they have never met, afford to let the other live?

About the Author:

My name is pronounced "Metty" like my mother's "Betty." It is Danish, and we were all named after ancestors. I guess by the time they got to number nine (out of eleven), it was getting tricky. So I got the funny Danish name no one knew how to prounounce. In Denmark, it should be "meta" like "metaphysical." It's from the Greek for "pearl." And no, it's not short for anything. Not even Mediterannean.

My first book, THE MONSTER IN ME was accepted for publication in 1999 and was published in 2002. My second book, MIRA, MIRROR was published in 2004. The latest book, THE PRINCESS AND THE HOUND , was published in 2007. A sequel, THE PRINCESS AND THE BEAR, came out in April of 2009.

I now live in Utah with my husband and 5 children, ages 5 to 14. I write during nap time, or at 4 in the morning, or while the broccoli for dinner is burning. Whenever I get a chance. I love to write the kind of books that I love to read. And I love to discover what is going to happen next, just like a reader would. I also do some racing in triathlon.


My Thoughts:

This is such an interesting book. There are many characters that hold a lot of sway in how the story turns out. It is a well developed fantasy with feminist undertones. It surprised me that I didn't get irritated by this. But the author weaves it into the story in such a way that it doesn't feel preachy or awkward. In fact, many of those aspects make the book more interesting and give the characters life.

The characters are diverse in their personalities, desires, and abilities. There are many different levels of danger, ambition, and motivation for each of them.  Generally, they are likable, with the exception of the ones you are supposed to dislike. While Ailsbet's self-pity party does get annoying, she grows into herself and learns to control her own destiny as much as she can.

The ending hints that this will become a series, and I can't wait to see where the story goes after this.


Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
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Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Review: Geek Girl by Holly Smale

Geek Girl by Holly Smale

Age Range: 12 and up

Genre: Contemporary

Series or Stand Alone: Stand Alone

Paperback: 378 pages

Publisher: HarperCollins Children's Books (February 28th 2013)

Source: Publisher via NetGalley (thank you!)

Rating: 4.5 of 5 stars!



About the Book:

“My name is Harriet Manners, and I am a geek.”

Harriet Manners knows that a cat has 32 muscles in each ear, a “jiffy”
lasts 1/100th of a second, and the average person laughs 15 times per
day. She knows that bats always turn left when exiting a cave and that
peanuts are one of the ingredients of dynamite.

But she doesn’t know why nobody at school seems to like her.

So when Harriet is spotted by a top model agent, she grabs the chance to
reinvent herself. Even if it means stealing her best friend's dream,
incurring the wrath of her arch enemy Alexa, and repeatedly humiliating
herself in front of impossibly handsome model Nick. Even if it means
lying to the people she loves.

Veering from one couture disaster to the next with the help of her overly
enthusiastic father and her uber-geeky stalker, Toby, Harriet begins to realize that the world of fashion doesn't seem to like her any more than
the real world did.

As her old life starts to fall apart, will Harriet be able to transform herself before she ruins everything? 

Amazon | Goodreads | Facebook

About the Author:

Holly fell in love with writing at five years old, when she realized that books didn't grow on trees like apples. A passion for travel, adventure and wearing no shoes
has since led her all over the world: she has visited 20 countries, spent two years working as an English teacher in Japan, volunteered in Nepal, been bartered for in Jamaica and had a number of ear-plugs stolen in Australia, Indonesia and India.

As a teenager, she also did a little modelling in the hope that eventually she would be sent somewhere exciting.

She wasn't.

Holly has a BA in English Literature, an MA in Shakespeare, and currently lives either in London or @holsmale.

Website | Twitter

My Thoughts:

This is what a young adult novel should be. It's laugh out loud funny
with a quirky, totally adorable and geeky heroine that sees the world
differently.  Oh my goodness, I just love this book!

Harriet is a wonderful character to read about and she has some
fantastic light-bulb moments throughout the course of the story. She
learns to accept and love herself the way she is, no excuses and no
apologies.  The other characters are fun and quirky in their own way and
add to the humor and insight of the book.

There are a couple of mild expletives, but everything else is very
clean. If you like clean young adult humor, then this is a good choice.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 
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Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Review: Fallen Angel by Molly Snow

Fallen Angel by Molly Snow

Age Range: 12 and up

Publisher: Breezy Reads (May 17, 2013)

Publisher Website: http://www.breezyreads.com/

Genre: Young Adult romance

Source: Copy from author for review

Rating: 4 of 5 stars

About the Book:

Teen angel, Persephone, is the only one in all of Heaven who can’t sing. In fact, her name literally means “Voice of Destruction.” So diving down one of Heaven’s portals, straight into singer Taylor Hamilton’s bedroom, seems like a good idea at the time. Maybe, just maybe, he can help. Plus, he is sooo cute!

While it can be fun swooning over a mortal, it can also be frustrating. Angels aren’t supposed to fall for mortals. Then there’s Taylor’s guardian angel, who is ready to sabotage the budding romance at every turn. Will Persephone learn to sing before Heaven calls her back? And, most importantly, can love prevail for an angel who has fallen head-over-wings for a mortal?

About Molly Snow:

Molly Snow is a Top 10 Idaho Fiction Author, awarded by The Idaho Book Extravaganza. Her works include quirky teen romances BeSwitched and Fallen Angel. Also a speaker on writing, her school assemblies have been featured in The Contra Costa Times and The Brentwood Press. Snow is married to her high school crush, has a set of silly twin boys and a bobtail cat named Meow-Meow.

My Thoughts:

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

This book is precisely what it looks like. It is a light, clean romance about a teenage angel falling to earth to be with a mortal boy.  The romance is sweet and perfectly clean.  There are a couple of very chaste kisses that happen. The characters are a bit shallow, but generally likeable.  The plot is predictable yet still enjoyable.

I would have liked to see the writing and the characters a little more developed.  While the feel of the book was very light and breezy, it almost felt under-developed.  Almost.  I still enjoyed the story quite a bit and I plan on reading more of Molly's work.

If you are looking for something light, clean, and fun, this is a good choice. This is a good book to read on an afternoon when you just want a feel-good story.   This book will appeal to tween and teen readers.

Content: clean.

The Cover: So adorable! I love the colors and the placement of the girl. The title design is perfect for the book, too.

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Monday, June 3, 2013

Review: The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau

The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau

Age Range: 12 and up

Hardcover: 352 pages

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children (June 4, 2013)

Source: NetGalley (Thank you!)

Rating: 3 of 5 stars

Keep your friends close and your enemies closer. Isn’t that what they say? But how close is too close when they may be one in the same?

The Seven Stages War left much of the planet a charred wasteland. The future belongs to the next generation’s chosen few who must rebuild it. But to enter this elite group, candidates must first pass The Testing—their one chance at a college education and a rewarding career.

Cia Vale is honored to be chosen as a Testing candidate; eager to prove her worthiness as a University student and future leader of the United Commonwealth. But on the eve of her departure, her father’s advice hints at a darker side to her upcoming studies--trust no one.

But surely she can trust Tomas, her handsome childhood friend who offers an alliance? Tomas, who seems to care more about her with the passing of every grueling (and deadly) day of the Testing. To survive, Cia must choose: love without truth or life without trust.


"There is nothing standardized about this Testing. Charbonneau's imagination will surprise readers at every turn."

—Jennifer M. Brown, children's editor, Shelf Awareness

"Action-packed and full of twists, The Testing will keep you guessing until the very last page—and desperate for the next book!" 

—Erica O'Rourke, author of the Torn Trilogy

"The rising tension, skillfully executed scenarios, and rich characterizations all contribute to an exciting story bound to capture readers' imaginations. . . . Charbonneau works action, romance, intrigue, and a plausible dystopian premise into a near-flawless

Publishers Weekly, starred review

"Charbonneau jumps into the packed dystopia field with a mashup of Veronica Roth's Divergent (2011) and Suzanne Collins' Hunger Games trilogy, but she successfully makes her story her own."


About the Author:

I am a storyteller at heart. I have performed in a variety of operas, musical theatre and children's theatre productions across the Chicagoland area.

While I'm happy to perform for an audience, I am equally delighted to teach private voice lessons and use my experience from the stage to create compelling characters on the page. I am the author of the Rebecca Robbins mystery series (Minotaur Books), The Paige Marshall Glee Club mysteries (Berkley) and The Testing YA triology (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt).


My Thoughts:

I've never been a huge fan of dystopian novels, but there are some good ones out there. The Testing is okay. It's nothing new, and most of it is very generic.  While the plot and premise are both interesting, the characters aren't developed very well.  The writing lacks a distinctive voice, and most character interactions feel forced. I am not in love with the book, but I don't hate it either.  It falls right in the middle for me.  That being said, it is still a well planned novel that most dystopian fans will enjoy.

Content: violence and disturbing scenes.

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Thursday, May 16, 2013

Cover Reveal: Fallen Angel by Molly Snow

Fallen Angel by Molly Snow

Teen angel, Persephone, is the only one in all of Heaven who can't sing. In fact, her name literally means "Voice of Destruction." So diving down one of Heaven's portals, straight into singer Taylor Hamilton’s bedroom, seems like a good idea at the time. Maybe, just maybe, he can help. Plus, he is sooo cute!

While it can be fun swooning over a mortal, it can also be frustrating. Angels aren't supposed to fall for mortals. Then there's Taylor's guardian angel, who is ready to sabotage the budding romance at every turn. Will Persephone learn to sing before Heaven calls her back? And, most importantly, can love prevail for an angel who has fallen head-over-wings for a mortal?

 About Molly Snow:
 Molly Snow is a Top 10 Idaho Fiction Author, awarded by The Idaho Book Extravaganza. Her works include quirky teen romances BeSwitched and Fallen Angel. Also a speaker on writing, her school assemblies have been featured in The Contra Costa Times and The Brentwood Press. Snow is married to her high school crush, has a set of silly twin boys and a bobtail cat named Meow-Meow.

Author's Blog: http://www.mollysnowfiction.blogspot.com/

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Friday, March 29, 2013

Official Release Day

The Betrayed is now available for sale at these online retailers:

CreateSpace (print)
Smashwords (ebook version for every reading device)
Amazon (print)
Amazon (Kindle)
Barnes and Noble (Nook)

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Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The Betrayed by Deborah Andreasen

The nice thing about having my own blog is that I can post about my own books. :)

The publication of The Betrayed is a little over two weeks away. That's coming right up! And here is the official cover of The Betrayed:

 Am I in love with this cover? Absolutely! I'm thrilled with the way it turned out. My poor designer sent me like six versions and I kept saying, "I like it, but..." Ultimately, I didn't love any of the drafts she sent me. The night before we were supposed to wrap it up, she texted and said she had one more draft and she thought I was really going to like it.

I was so nervous! What if I didn't? We were pushing up against a deadline and I needed that cover! But, one look and I went, "That's it. That's the one." What a relief!

Here's the back cover with the synopsis:

Is that amazing, or what? Sounds like a great book to me. I can't wait until it's released. 

It's now on Goodreads! Go, add it to your shelves and make me feel awesome. ;)

Starting this Friday, I'll post one quote a day from the book on my website: http://www.deborahandreasen.com

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Saturday, March 9, 2013

Book Review and Tour and Giveaway!: Shadow Eyes by Dusty Crabtree

Iris Kohl lives in a world populated by murky shadows that surround, harass, and entice unsuspecting individuals toward evil. But she is the only one who can see them. She’s had this ability to see the shadows, as well as brilliantly glowing light figures, ever since an obscure, tragic incident on her fourteenth birthday three years earlier.

Although she’s learned to cope, the view of her world begins to shift upon the arrival of three mysterious characters. First, a handsome new teacher whose presence scares away shadows; second, a new friend with an awe-inspiring aura; and third, a mysterious and alluring new student whom Iris has a hard time resisting despite already having a boyfriend.

As the shadows invade and terrorize her own life and family, she must ultimately revisit the most horrific event of her life in order to learn her true identity and become the hero she was meant to be.


Shadow Eyes was ultimately a good read. For the first 3/4ths of the book, I just took my time. Reading it here or there, whenever I felt like it. It was an interesting but slow read.

For the last quarter of the book, I had to sit down and read it in one sitting. I felt like I was finally getting to the good stuff. Pieces started to click, mysteries were revealed. At one point, I even felt my heart racing a bit. That's always a good sign.

The story was interesting and strong. Iris was pretty likeable, if somewhat a little lacking in confidence. There were a few times when I wanted to say, "Really? You just walked away from that?" She has the unique ability to help people and she completely avoids the situation rather than even contemplating how she can help at all. I would have liked to have seen her ease into it, even if she only did one or two good deeds through the whole book.

Patrick, the off limits love interest, was a gem. He was suspicious, and I had my preconceptions about him being a bad guy. But by the end of the book I was hoping there was some way he and Iris could be together.

There were a few things I didn't love. The dialogue between Iris and her friends sometimes felt forced, possibly fake. Occasionally, the similes left me scratching my head.

I liked that the characters were put in believable situations; things that young adults today actually face. There was no swearing and a few scenes of intense romance, though nothing explicit.

The ending was a pleasant cliffhanger that makes me anxious to find out the rest of the story.

**Don’t forget to enter the rafflecopter below for a chance to win a print copy of Shadow Eyes, your full name in the sequel, and a KINDLE FIRE!**

Author Bio:

Dusty Crabtree has been a high school English teacher at Yukon High School in Oklahoma since 2006, a challenge she thoroughly enjoys. She is also a youth sponsor at Cherokee Hills Christian Church in Oklahoma City and feels very blessed with the amazing opportunities she has to develop meaningful relationships with teens on a daily basis.  Her passion for teens has poured into her writing as well.  She is the author of the young adult urban fantasy, Shadow Eyes, through Musa Publishing, which she wrote in order to give teens an intriguing and provocative book series that promotes moral messages.  She lives with her husband, Clayton, in Yukon, Oklahoma, where they often serve their community as foster parents.

Check out Dusty’s blog at http://dustycrabtree.wordpress.com/
Find her on facebook at https://www.facebook.com/dusty.crabtree.1
Follow her on twitter at https://twitter.com/dustycrabtree
Buy Shadow Eyes at http://musapublishing.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=176 (also available at all major online bookstores)

*The author provided me with a copy of Shadow Eyes in return for an honest review. All opinions are my own, and I received no compensation for my review.

And now for the Giveaway!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
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Friday, March 8, 2013

Book Review: Strands of Bronze and Gold, by Jane Nickerson

Strands of Bronze and Gold, by Jane Nickerson
The Bluebeard fairy tale retold. . . .

When seventeen-year-old Sophia Petheram’s beloved father dies, she receives an unexpected letter. An invitation—on fine ivory paper, in bold black handwriting—from the mysterious Monsieur Bernard de Cressac, her godfather. With no money and fewer options, Sophie accepts, leaving her humble childhood home for the astonishingly lavish Wyndriven Abbey, in the heart of Mississippi.

Sophie has always longed for a comfortable life, and she finds herself both attracted to and shocked by the charm and easy manners of her overgenerous guardian. But as she begins to piece together the mystery of his past, it’s as if, thread by thread, a silken net is tightening around her. And as she gathers stories and catches whispers of his former wives—all with hair as red as her own—in the forgotten corners of the abbey, Sophie knows she’s trapped in the passion and danger of de Cressac’s intoxicating world.

Glowing strands of romance, mystery, and suspense are woven into this breathtaking debut—a thrilling retelling of the “Bluebeard” fairy tale.

Reading level: Ages 14 and up
Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers (March 12, 2013)

SLJ Teen, February 5, 2013:
Jane Nickerson adroitly weaves the threads of the 'Bluebeard' story into Strands of Bronze and Gold to create a spellbinding tapestry of mystery, romance, and suspense...A grippingly gothic tale, with a lavishly described and lushly atmospheric setting and likable heroine."  

About the Author:
For many years, JANE NICKERSON and her family lived in a big old house in Aberdeen, Mississippi, where she worked as the children's librarian at the local public library. She has always loved the South, "the olden days," gothic tales, houses, kids, writing, and interesting villains. She and her husband now make their home in Ontario, Canada. 


My Thoughts:
If I was given only one word to describe this book, this would be it: captivating.  From the moment I picked this book up, I could not set it down.  I dragged it around with me for an entire day, reading while I cooked dinner and pretended to vacuum.  I must admit that I didn't get much sleep in that 24 hours because I was glued to the page.  

I loved this book!  It was beautiful and mysterious and dark and thrilling all at the same time.  Bernard is so seductive and so creepy.  He was fantastic.  I found Sophia to be a very believable teenage girl.  She chose to ignore the signs and feelings she had as she continued to make excuses for Bernard's wacky behavior.

I'm giving this book 4 stars.  The only drawback for me was that some of the descriptions got a little too long. Seriously though, if you are looking for a good young adult novel, I would recommend this!

Parents: Some innuendo throughout the book, a bit of kissing, and one instance of attempted rape.  It is pretty dark, but not over the top.

The Cover: Love this cover!  It caught my eye immediately and I was instantly intrigued.  I have to admit that I am a sucker for a pretty cover.

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Monday, March 4, 2013

Book Review: Wish, by Michael Tolkien

Wish, by Michael Tolkien
Farmers in their alpine valley are haunted by Fængler, a cunning old enchanter, who ruins their lives by using an ancient wishing chain of powerful stones to spoil crops and steal children, cows and goats.

Young Berwald and his sister Clara set out, without their parents knowing, to climb into the next valley, seize the chain, free their neighbourhood of fear, and wish for whatever they want. But they soon learn that the wild world beyond their home is full of strange forces – some good, some dark and twisted – and almost every wish they make adds new complications and disagreements.

Who can rescue them from this fearful and dangerous adventure? Before Adam, their angry and worried father, can reach them, he must learn to follow seemingly useless leads, and to listen carefully to the tale that lies behind the villain’s bitterness.

A timeless fantasy tale given new life and enchantment in this vivid retelling in verse.

Age Level: 9 and up
Hardcover: 124 pages
Publisher: Thames River Press (March 1, 2013)

My Thoughts:
Wish is similar in many ways to Michael Tolkien's other book, Rainbow.  The children can speak to flowers, birds, and insects through a language they forget as they grow up.  It is also similar to Tolkien's grandfather's series, The Lord of the Rings in a few ways.  The children embark on a journey to recover a magical piece of jewelry (in this case, a necklace) that will give the owner power and wealth.  This necklace was discovered at the bottom of a pond by Faengler, a miserable, ugly old man.  It reminds me of Gollum and the Ring.

In spite of these similarities, Wish is a unique fairy tale of the heart. Through the children's journey, we learn that only true kindness and selfless desires will bring about the defeat of their enemy.  Their father eventually comes after them and learns this lesson quickly.  He must relearn the language of the forest and follow the guidance given to him by seemingly less than reliable sources.

Since I read both Rainbow and Wish, I can't help but compare the two a little bit.  They are both retellings of Florence Bone's old stories and both written in narrative verse, but I must admit that I enjoyed Wish a bit more.  There is more adventure and action, and Tolkien's writing shines through.  While Rainbow seemed to be directed at an older audience, I think Wish appeals to a broader audience.

About the Author:
Born in Birmingham in 1943, Michael Tolkien grew up in South Oxfordshire and North Yorkshire. He studied classics and English at St Andrews and Oxford. He has lived in Rutland since 1968 and was a secondary school teacher until early retirement in 1994. Since 1998 his verse has been published in two booklets and five full collections, most recently in 2012. His work has been widely and favourably reviewed. Two of his major themes are deceptive appearances and the conflict of active and contemplative approaches to life. This is also apparent in his recent narrative verse adaptations of Florence Bone’s now largely forgotten fantasy fiction for children.

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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Blog Tour and Giveaway! The Ugly Stepsister Strikes Back, by Sariah Wilson

The Ugly Stepsister Strikes Back, by Sariah Wilson

Everyone knows how all those fairy tales go. The princess gets beautiful, nabs her prince, falls instantly in love, lives happily ever after and leaves her evil stepsisters in the dust.

But what happens when you’re the ugly stepsister and your obnoxiously perfect—read pretty, smart, and, worst of all, sickeningly nice—stepsister is dating the charming, tall, devastatingly handsome guy you’ve had a thing for since you were nine years old?

Quirky, artistic and snarky Mattie Lowe does not lead a charmed life. Her mother is constantly belittling her on Skype. Mercedes, the school mean girl, has made it her personal mission to torment Mattie. But worst of all? Her stepsister Ella is the most beautiful, popular girl in school and is dating Mattie’s secret longtime crush, Jake Kingston.

Tired of being left out and done with waiting for her own stupid fairy godmother to show up, Mattie decides to change her life. She’ll start by running for senior class president against wildly popular Jake.

Ella can keep her Prince Annoying. Mattie’s going to rule the school.

And no one, not even a cute and suddenly flirty Jake, is going to stop her.

Print Length: 194 pages
Publisher: Fire & Ice Books (August 15, 2012)


My Review:
This book is hilarious.  It is a contemporary teen romance told from the viewpoint of the "ugly" stepsister. 

Mattie is your very not-so-typical teenage heroine.  She wears heavy black eye makeup, has fuchsia hair, and likes to draw manga.  She is surly, irritable, and has a long List of Grievances against her oh-so-perfect stepsister, Ella.  Mattie's voice is very fun to read.  She is full of wit and sarcasm that will make you laugh.

One of the things that I like the most about this book is that even though she has self esteem issues, Mattie won't allow Jake to use her.  She refuses to lie for him, even though he makes her knees buckle.  She doesn't let him get away with skipping out on detention or not doing their project, even when he flashes his dazzling smile at her.  I love the way she sticks to her guns and does what she knows is right even if it means she loses her chance with the boy she adores.

I love the way her relationship with Ella evolves over the course of the story.  She starts off being bitter and jealous of her perfect stepsister to being appreciative and understanding.  The charactes are all well developed with strengths and weaknesses that make them believable and fun to read about.

Given the title, I had expected this to be a modern fairy tale, but there is no magic in this book (other than flying sparks and a few makeup brushes).  It is an adorable and humorous story of two stepsisters trying to figure out their place in the world.  And it is a love story.  A very funny and sweet love story.

Tens List:
What are ten things your readers probably don't know about you?

10.  That until recently I was really into World of Warcraft and was a raid tank.

9.  I watch a lot of television.  A Lot.  My DVR is my friend.

8.  My husband is the first guy I Seriously Kissed (which means not a spin-the-bottle type way).  What?  I was picky.

7.  I used to write fanfic.

6.  I skipped first grade, which meant I was always the youngest person in my class.

5.  Until a couple of years ago, I had never gone out of the country.

4.  I met Stephenie Meyer in person once and took a picture of her with my plastic frog, who was my blog mascot at the time.

3.  I am deathly afraid of eels and crocodiles.  They freak me the freak out.

2.  That my favorite actor of all time once called me on the phone and we had an actual conversation until my husband picked up the extension and ruined the whole thing.  I’m still a little bitter over that one.
1.  That I am the most introverted introvert who ever introverted, but I love giving speeches and talks and teaching class.  Yes, I am aware of how weird this is. 

“My top pick of 2012 YA… This book is just. plain. fun.”

~Jordan McCollum, author of Saints & Spies and I, Spy

“Sariah Wilson's new book, The Ugly Stepsister Strikes Back, is hilarious…What follows is a story of fun and romance with some good non-preachy life lessons thrown in.  The voice in the main character, Mattie, makes the whole thing.  I thought it was definitely a book I'd recommend to anyone with teenagers or who just want to read a good teen romance.”
~Julie Coulter Bellon, author of All Fall Down and All’s Fair

“Sariah [Wilson] has written one of the funniest stories I've read in such a long, long time. I literally couldn't put it down. Yes, my poor Kindle's battery died and I was attached to a short power cord, contorted in a very uncomfortable position while I read to the end…. Sariah Wilson captured the back-biting, insecure, hormone-driven, clique-riddled high school atmosphere so perfectly you'd think she never grew up. I dare you not to laugh as you read this witty and oh, so, romantic story.”
~Debra Erfert of Windows into Writing

“Sariah Wilson writes like the best of/most popular YA teen fiction/teen romance authors - Sarah Dessen, Jennifer Echols, Susanne Collins, Cassandra Clare.  She sucks you in and never lets you go.  I finished the ~194 novel in one night because I just couldn't go to sleep without knowing the ending!  I hope that Sariah comes out with more novels, I know I'll be re-reading this one all the time!  She's extremely talented and needs to be talked about.  I highly recommend The Ugly Stepsister Strikes Back! to anyone (over the age of 12) who wants a YA novel that's a real modern-day fairy tale.”

~Hilary at Novel d’Tales

“This was such an entertaining story! I shouldn't have started reading it so late in the evening, because I didn't want to put it down to go to sleep…This is a book I can see myself reading several times. It's a fast, clean read with great characters, and I highly recommend it.”
~Andrea of Literary Time Out

The book is wonderful.  It’s quirky and fun.  The story makes you laugh and you fall in love with the characters right from the beginning…This is a well-written book.  It is one that will make you smile and sigh as you remember your first love.  And it has a moral…be yourself, believe in yourself and maybe, just maybe, your fairytale will come true.  Pick up this book.”
~Ana of The Book Hookup

Author Sariah Wilson

Sariah Wilson has never jumped out of an airplane, never climbed Mt. Everest, and is not a former CIA operative. She has, however, been madly, passionately in love with her soulmate and is a fervent believer in happily ever afters—which is why she writes romance. The Ugly Stepsister Strikes Back is her fourth happily ever after novel. She grew up in southern California, graduated from Brigham Young University (go Cougars!) with a semi-useless degree in history, and is the oldest of nine (yes, nine) children. She currently lives with the aforementioned soulmate and their four children in Utah, along with three tiger barb fish, a cat named Tiger, and a recently departed hamster that is buried in the backyard (and has nothing at all to do with tigers).

Tour Giveaway

$25 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash

Ends 3/10/13

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader, Not A Writer http://iamareader.com and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Friday, February 22, 2013

Blog Tour: Writing Scary Scenes, by Rayne Hall

Writing Scary Scenes, by Rayne Hall

Are your frightening scenes scary enough? Learn practical tricks to turn up the suspense. Make your readers' hearts hammer with suspense, their breaths quicken with excitement, and their skins tingle with goosebumps of delicious fright.

This book contains practical suggestions how to structure a scary scene, increase the suspense, make the climax more terrifying, make the reader feel the character's fear. It includes techniques for manipulating the readers' subconscious and creating powerful emotional effects.

Use this book to write a new scene, or to add tension and excitement to a draft.

You will learn tricks of the trade for "black moment" and "climax" scenes, describing monsters and villains, writing harrowing captivity sections and breathtaking escapes, as well as how to make sure that your hero doesn't come across as a wimp... and much more.

This book is recommended for writers of all genres, especially thriller, horror, paranormal romance and urban fantasy. It is aimed at advanced-level and professional authors and may not be suitable for beginners. 

File Size: 292 KB
Print Length: 143 pages
Publisher: Scimitar Press (July 6, 2012)


1. Flavours of Fear
2. Instant Hooks
3. What Lurks Behind That Door?
4. Dark and Dangerous
5. Sounds Build Suspense
6. Total Isolation
7. Strip to Tease
8. Keep the Clock Ticking
9. Feel the Fear
10. Pacing
11. Euphonics
12. Peaks and Troughs
13. Structuring a Scary Scene
14. Choosing the Location
15. Using the Senses
16. Cliffhangers
17. Villains and Monsters
18. Captivity
19. Chases and Escapes
20. Violence And Gore
21. Humour
22. Backloading
23. The Story's First and Final Scenes
24. Black Moment And Climax Scenes
25. Genres
26. The Wimp Effect
Sample Story: Druid Stones
Sample Story: Through The Tunnel
Sample Story: Only A Fool

Book Trailor:

My Review:
Who knew there could be so much information on how to create a scary scene?  Apparently Rayne Hall does, and she spills it all in this writing guide.

Whether you are writing thrillers, mysteries, romance, or children's books, there is good information in here for you.  Hall breaks down the different types of fear and goes into detail on how to achieve each emotion.  She shares excellent information on the use of euphonics, senses, and sentence structure and how to temper your descriptions to match the genre you are writing for.

I had never heard of most of the issues she talks about, and I eagerly gobbled up every word.  She clearly explains each concept and provides helpful examples.  I can easily see how best selling writers utilize these tools to manipulate the emotions of their readers.  It also made me rethink some of my own writing and wonder if I had unknowingly made one (or many) of the mistakes she points out.

I would recommend this book to anyone writing a novel, middle grade on up.  The information in this book is mostly universal and can be applied to any writing style and genre.

* Side note: Hall writes in British English, so some of her spellings and vocabulary are slightly different than what you may be used to.

Guest Post:

Does your novel-in-progress contain a scene where the heroine escapes from danger, with the villain chasing after her? Excellent. Readers love the these scenes.

Here are some techniques to make your escape scene exciting.

1. Point of View
Stay in deep Point of View. If possible, write the scene from the fleeing person's point of view. This means showing only what this person sees, hears and feels. If the PoV character runs for her life, she won't pause to watch her pursuer, so don't describe what the pursuer looks like, or how the distance between gradually closes. However, you can describe the sounds the pursuer makes: boots thudding on the asphalt, clanking armour, yells, curses.

2. Pacing
Chases are fast-paced, so use fast-pace writing techniques: short paragraphs, short sentences, short words. But if the chase or escape spreads over more than a few paragraphs, try to vary the pace. This will make it more exciting. When she runs fast, use very short sentences - even sentence fragments - and mostly single-syllabic words. They create a sense of breathlessness and fear. When she's hiding, when she's struggling to climb up a facade inch by inch, when the pursuers have trapped her and when the policeman handcuffs her, use medium-length sentences and words.

3. Reader Sympathy
The reader's sympathy always lies with the fleeing person. You can increase this effect if several people are hounding the refugee. Nothing stirs reader emotion more than a situation of many against one. If possible, build tension by introducing the other pursuers gradually. At first, she runs only from one foe. Just when she thinks she may get away, one of the villain's henchmen comes from another alley. And then a third. In addition, you can give the pursuer advantages over the refugee: physical health, weapons, technology.

4. Danger from the Surroundings
Increase the tension by shifting the action to increasingly dangerous ground. As your heroine flees from the evil villain, she moves towards quicksand, a crumbling bridge, a cliff edge or a ravine. Now she must decide rapidly which poses the greater danger – pursuer or location – and take the risk.
5. Stumbling
When a person runs from danger, a cocktail of chemicals gets released in the brain. It includes adrenalin and other substances which dull pain and give stamina but also impair motor skills. Your heroine's movements won't be as coordinated as they usually are, so she may miss her footing, stumble or slip. This is all the more likely because in her hurry, she won't examine the ground where she's treading.

6. Physical Symptoms
The running person is probably out of breath, struggling to get enough oxygen. Her chest may feel like it's about to burst. Her heart thuds loudly, not only in her chest but in her head. This thudding continues even when she stops running, and while she's hiding, the heartbeat in her head may be the loudest noise she hears.

7. Put up a Fight
When the pursuer catches up with her, she puts up a fight. She does not need to win, but readers will respect her if she manages to inflict some hurt on him before he overpowers her. This is better than if she surrenders meekly, or if she faints and comes to again in the dungeon.


If you're a writer and planning or revising a scene in which your protagonist flees from danger and want to discuss your ideas, please leave a comment. I'll be around for a week and will respond. I love answering questions.

To Buy:
Kobo: http://www.kobobooks.com/ebook/Writing-Scary-Scenes/book-r47obySnr0uGXL9C8OTcLA/page1.html?s=kXLWOl4EN0CJJOcLRi3feA&r=1

Amazon com: http://www.amazon.com/Writing-Scary-Scenes-ebook/dp/B008IEJTSE


Barnes&Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/writing-scary-scenes-rayne-hall/1112219888

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/writing-scary-scenes/id546105761?mt=11

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/179899

About the Author: 
Rayne Hall writes subtle horror and outrageous fantasy fiction. Currently, she tries to regain the rights to her out-of-print books so she can republish them as e-books.

She is the author of thirty books in different genres and under different pen names, published by twelve publishers in six countries, translated into several languages. Her short stories have been published in magazines, e-zines and anthologies.

After living in Germany, China, Mongolia and Nepal, she has settled on the coast of southern England in a small dilapidated seaside town of former Regency grandeur.

Rayne holds a college degree in publishing management and a masters degree in creative writing. Over three decades, she has worked in the publishing industry as a trainee, investigative journalist, feature writer, magazine editor, production editor, page designer, concept editor for non-fiction book series, anthology editor, editorial consultant and more. Outside publishing, worked as a museum guide, apple picker, tarot reader, adult education teacher, trade fair hostess, translator and belly dancer.

She edits a series of themed short story anthologies and teaches online classes for writers ('Writing Fight Scenes', Writing Scary Scenes', 'Writing about Magic', 'Edit your Writing' and more).
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