Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Spring Fling Giveaway Hop

It's time for another hop! This one is the Spring Fling Giveaway Hop which is hosted by I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and Eve’s Fan Garden and runs from now through midnight on May 7th. 

We are giving away one ARC of Thorn Abbey by Nancy Ohlin. Our giveaway is open internationally. Here's the book:
Thorn Abbey by Nancy Ohlin
YA retelling/paranormal*Hardcover/eBook, 304 pages
Expected publication: May 7th 2013 by Simon Pulse

Nothing is as it seems in this darkly romantic tale of infatuation and possession, inspired by Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca.

Becca was the perfect girlfriend: smart, gorgeous, and loved by everyone at New England’s premier boarding school, Thorn Abbey. But Becca’s dead. And her boyfriend, Max, can’t get over his loss.

Then Tess transfers to Thorn Abbey. She’s shy, insecure, and ordinary—everything that Becca wasn’t. And despite her roommate’s warnings, she falls for brooding Max.

Now Max finally has a reason to move on. Except it won’t be easy. Because Becca may be gone, but she’s not quite ready to let him go…

Next up:
Next stop on the hop is Fiction Freak.
Find the complete list of participating blogs here.
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YA book review: Unraveled by S.X. Bradley

Unraveled by S.X. Bradley
YA contemporary mystery*Paperback/eBook, 276 pages
Published February 8th 2013 by Evernight Teen

Sixteen year old math whiz, Autumn, spends her days reading about serial killers and dreaming of becoming an FBI Profiler. She never dreams her first case will be so personal. Her world is shattered when she comes home from school and discovers her murdered sister’s body on the living room floor. When the initial evidence points to a burglary gone wrong, Autumn challenges the police’s theory because of the personal nature of the crime. Thinking that finding the killer will bring her family back together, she conducts her own investigation using her affinity for math and forensics, but her plan backfires and her obsession with the case further splinters her family.

When her investigation reveals the killer is someone she knows, Autumn offers herself up as bait and sets a dangerous trap to unmask his true nature and to obtain a confession for her sister’s murder.

 I read a lot of YA and I haven't come across a book like Unraveled before. Author S.X. Bradley has created a refreshing contemporary tale which is parts mystery and thriller with a touch of romance. Main character and heroine Autumn is outspoken, strong and independent from the beginning. She's a math whiz and is interested in forensic science. When she discovers her sister's body in their home, the scene is compelling and touching. We see the younger sister not wanting to admit her beloved sibling Celeste is dead. Viciously murdered. And no amount of bargaining with God will bring her back. 

Unraveled moves steadily along as Autumn becomes determined to find out who killed her sister. Things worsen when the police first suspect her. In true Autumn fashion, she asks for a lawyer, while figuring out how she'll prove her innocence. While our heroine employs her smarts, she also has the help of her family. Her cousin Eduardo is a huge supporter and even her papi trusts her to solve the mystery before the police. Along the way, Autumn has to deal with her own grieving, the way some classmates now treat her like Lizzie Borden, and accepting that her friend Caedon wants more than friendship from her. Her karate instructor understands her building rage and gives her private weekend lessons. 

There were touches the author tucked into this story that I really liked. The way Autumn employed mathematical equations while working, her ease with forensic terminology, even her private karate lessons (I really liked the whole part about the soul mentioned). Family was also monumental for Autumn, from Sunday dinners to helping her parents out in the bakery, seeing the support system she had was poignant and gave the story incredible realism. Even Caedon and Voss added nuances to an intriguing story.

My only comments are there were a couple of spots where we spent too much time in Autumn's head which slowed the pacing down. I also thought a certain development later on needed to be expanded upon. The climatic scene, though disturbing and well done, did seem rushed. I do want to applaud S.X. Bradley for creating such a remarkable character with Autumn. She is the type of young woman we need to see more of in today's YA.

An incredibly gifted teen takes it upon herself to solve the murder of her sister, learns to defend herself, embraces her intelligence and falls in love for the first time. Nancy Drew grows up into Veronica Mars while following in Clarice Starling's footprints in Unraveled, an intense contemporary YA murder mystery. Recommended.

Rating: 4

Cover comment:
For such a compelling story, this cover doesn't reflect the book at all. I don't get the soccer field in the background. Celeste was a track star and Autumn didn't play soccer. What's up with the rope? This could use a redesign.

Book source:
I received a complimentary copy in return for my honest review.

Release Week Event & giveaway: Spirit (Elemental Series, #5) by Shauna Granger

Spirit (Book Five in the Elemental Series) by Shauna Granger
Young Adult/New Adult Urban Fantasy
Self-Published: April 30, 2013

Always careful to watch out for others, Shayna put too much trust her abilities to keep herself safe and has been cut down by crazed man. Now she is trapped in the land of the dead, watching as her two best friends suffer the consequences of her death; their powers are fading and soon they will too. Shayna is desperate to return to the land of the living to save them from a similar, cold fate. To save her friends Shayna must turn away from the Light and, in doing so, sacrifice her wings.

But the longer Shayna stays among the dead, the further she slips from sanity. If Shayna cannot find her way back she will be condemned and lost forever among the restless souls of the dead. With nothing left to lose, she will do whatever it takes to fight her way back, with or without her wings.

Traffic was still zipping up and down Main Street, life moving on without me. I kept close to the building, in the darker shadows, as I glanced up, down, and across the street. The last thing I needed was for my guardian angel to take me by surprise again. The sidewalk was clear, and from this distance, I couldn’t see anything by the park across the street, next to Anthony’s building. I had never really registered that he lived across the street from Cemetery Park, so named because it was an active cemetery up until the early 1940s.

Sometime in the sixties, the city decided to convert it into a park, but they never moved the bodies. The place always creeped me out, especially when I saw people playing fetch with their dogs or taking a picnic with their kids, knowing they were on top of hundreds of unmarked graves. But I wasn’t prepared for what I saw that night.

Dozens and dozens of spectral entities were all around the park, obscuring the finely manicured lawn. In the last few days, I had seen other ghosts’ fleeting forms, but none as tangible as me and none returned my gaze. Here though, when I crossed the street and stood in front of the park next to Anthony’s apartment building, no less than four spirits turned their deathly gaze upon me. For a moment, I felt as though I couldn’t move, like a mouse caught in a corner as the big angry cat hunkered down in front of it, just waiting.

Of the four staring at me, two were small girls who looked to be about nine and ten years old. They both wore plain white dresses that hung past their knees and cinched up to their necks. Their high-top black dress shoes were practically lost in the shadows. Another of the four was a war veteran. Of what war I couldn’t be sure, but he didn’t look much older than me as he glared my way. The last was an old, hunched over Chumash woman. Her bedraggled, dark hair swung down, obscuring her face from time to time as she swayed where she stood. Her face was a relief map of wrinkles, a testament to the long life she had before she died.

I wasn’t sure who to keep my eyes on; they were all glaring at me but spread out enough that I had to make an effort to look at each of them. The larger of the two girls tilted her head to the side, drawing my attention to her. Her large eyes looked black in the night. She blinked slowly, her mouth opening slightly, as she lifted one hand and crooked her pale finger, beckoning me to come. Absurdly, I felt the desire to step forward, to answer her call, just like the pull of the White Light.

I managed to keep my feet planted on the sidewalk, though my toes were dangerously close to the edge of the grass. I had the feeling that if I crossed the line of cement and desecrated ground, that tiny waif of a girl would be on me like a rabid dog on the last bone in the world. I shifted my weight and took one small step backward. I heard the howling of the lost souls milling about the grounds. The girl’s head snapped back, and her mouth opened into a terrible black maw. She screamed long and loud before she rushed for me.

Her fingers were crooked into claws and her hands stretched out as she flew across the ground in her mad rage. I flinched against the sounds she made, feeling something for the first time in days, and covered my ears. I panicked and scrambled backward, tripping over my own feet, and fell to the ground. She was nearly on top of me. I started to gather the shadows about me, ready to flee, but as she reached the edge of the grass, she slammed into an invisible wall, then bounced off and tumbled backward.

The milling mass of spirits began to shift toward us. The noise and reverberating energy drew their attention like moths to a flame. I pushed back, putting a little more distance between me and the edge of the cemetery, before I got to my feet. I dusted my hands off on my jeans out of habit and straightened my sweater. When I finally found the courage to look up again, the entire population of the cemetery was pressed close to the edge of the grass, practically looming over me. I clenched my hands into fists to keep them from shaking and lifted my chin. They couldn’t cross the line to get to me, and there was no way they would get me to do it for them. I was fine; I just had to stay on the sidewalk.

The soldier caught my attention, pulling it away from the still glaring, screaming girl in white. He stepped forward out of the crowd. A few tendrils of pale white slipped from his shoulders. He wasn’t quite at the grass line. His face was calm and sad. I watched as he inclined his head toward me in a nod, which I returned. One corner of his mouth lifted in a small half smile. I stepped forward.

He lifted his hand, his fingers splayed as if he would intertwine them with mine. I lifted my hand, opening my fingers and began to reach for him. I took another half-step forward, a few blades of grass bending over the toe of my boot.

“Shayna, no!” a voice called out like a ringing bell in the still, silent night.

The Elemental Series:
Earth (Elemental #1) by Shauna Granger
Young Adult/New Adult Urban Fantasy
Paperback/eBook, 237 pages
Self-Published May 1st 2011

Shayna and her two best friends have the abilities to manipulate and control the four elements, earth, air, water and fire. While learning to hone their growing powers, they discover a new and malicious presence in their sleepy beach town. Someone is performing blood magic and threatens to expose their small magical community. So far only small animals have been slaughtered, but then the nightmares start.

Shayna suffers nightmares of being chased and sacrificed only to wake up bloodied and bruised. She thinks her magical blood is the ultimate target for the final blood rite. When an innocent girl, Tracy, is kidnapped Shayna knows it's only a ploy to draw her out; she can't let someone die because of her.

Air (Elemental #2) by Shauna Granger
Young Adult/New Adult Urban Fantasy
Paperback/eBook, 259 pages
Self-Published October 31st 2011 (first published September 26th 2011)
It was a rough start to the school year for Shayna and her friends, Jodi and Steven, but thankfully summer break is near. Trying to sort out her feelings for the new guy in town, Shayna agrees to let Jensen join her on a group date with her friends. While out they end up at a local coffee house where their classmate, social outcast Jeremy McCormick, is humiliated by his baseball star brother. 
When Jeremy runs away from the jeering crowd, Shayna and Jodi hear the unmistakable sound of a thousand wings chasing after him, but no one else seems to hear them. These are not like any air elementals that Shayna or Jodi have ever encountered before and they fear Jeremy has gotten himself tangled up in something too dangerous for him to handle. But when Shayna tries to help Jeremy control his magical abilities she realizes it might be the biggest mistake of her life.

Water (Elemental #3) by Shauna Granger
Young Adult/New Adult Urban Fantasy
Paperback/eBook, 218 pages
Self-Published June 19th 2012 (first published May 21st 2012)

Shayna's first surfing session of the summer is interrupted by the screams of a mother who has lost her little boy in the water. Without regard to her own safety, Shayna swims out, rescues the boy, but must escape the clutches of something far worse than she could have ever imagined – mermaids.

Compelled to answer the sirens' call, the boys of Shayna's town are drawn to the sea, but when they return are afflicted by an unknown illness, a sickness which is draining them of their life force. Unable to tell anyone about the mermaids, Shayna and her friends are forced to solve the mystery before it's too late, and in doing so, Shayna will finally have to face the full force of her powers. Whether she’s ready or not, she will have to face her true nature.

Fire (Elemental #4) by Shauna GrangerYoung Adult/New Adult Urban Fantasy
Paperback/eBook, 236 pages
Self-Published December 18th 2012

Demons, faeries, and mermaids. Claws, teeth, and nightmares.

They have been beaten and bruised, set on fire, and nearly drowned, but manage to always find their way home. Over their last Winter Holiday break before college, Shayna, Jodi, and Steven try again to put aside the magic in their lives for a little mundane fun. But Shayna's mother is having dreams of fire and death. A mysterious stranger by the name of Liam has just arrived in town. And Shayna's attempts to manage her new angelic powers are set back by Steven's insistence that the trio intervene in a riot outside of a concert, with disastrous consequences.

In her attempt to stop the riot, a man sees Shayna use her magical abilities – a man driven mad by watching his brother die at the hands of a black witch. He stalks Shayna, plotting to destroy her and her friends. With her mother’s warnings echoing in her mind, Shayna is now in the fight of her life against an unlikely foe: a human man.

About the Author
Shauna Granger
Like so many other writers, Shauna grew up as an avid reader, but it was in high school that she realized she wanted to be a writer. Five years ago, Shauna started work on her Elemental Series. She released the first installment, Earth, on May 1, 2011 and has since released four sequels, with the series coming to an end with Spirit. She is currently hard at work on a new Urban Fantasy series, staring a spunky witch with a smush-faced cat named Artemis. 

We are offering one reader (1) ecopy of their choice in the Elemental Series: EARTH, AIR, WATER, FIRE, or SPIRIT. Winner will receive a Smashwords code to download their book. Our giveaway ends on May 9th. 
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Unraveled Blog Tour: guest post and excerpt

Reader Girls is today's stop on the Unraveled Blog Tour hosted by Sizzling PR. Unraveled is an intriguing contemporary YA novel which is in parts mystery, thriller and romance. We will post our review later today. Welcome and thanks for stopping by.
Unraveled by S.X. Bradley
YA contemporary mystery*Paperback/eBook, 276 pages
Published February 8th 2013 by Evernight Teen

Sixteen year old math whiz, Autumn, spends her days reading about serial killers and dreaming of becoming an FBI Profiler. She never dreams her first case will be so personal. Her world is shattered when she comes home from school and discovers her murdered sister’s body on the living room floor. When the initial evidence points to a burglary gone wrong, Autumn challenges the police’s theory because of the personal nature of the crime. Thinking that finding the killer will bring her family back together, she conducts her own investigation using her affinity for math and forensics, but her plan backfires and her obsession with the case further splinters her family. When her investigation reveals the killer is someone she knows, Autumn offers herself up as bait and sets a dangerous trap to unmask his true nature and to obtain a confession for her sister’s murder.

“Autumn, yesterday you had told us that when you arrived home the front door was open. Is that correct?”

I leaned in toward the voice recorder on the table and said, “Yes.”

“Are you positive about that? We interviewed some of the neighbors, and none of them saw an open front door at your house?” No doubt Mrs. Jimenez had told them that. Now that she was retired, she had nothing better to do than watch her neighbors. I wondered if she had mentioned seeing anything to Detective Kasanoff. Maybe she saw something unusual that day, a stranger in the neighborhood, a suspicious car, anything.

“The door looked closed, but when I touched my key to the lock, it opened.”

“Do you know who was the last person to leave the house that day?” I looked over at my parents. Mami had her head buried in her hands. She shouldn’t be here, hearing about all of this. Papi had his arm around her and gave me an encouraging smile.

“I was.”

“What time did you leave that morning?”

“About 8:00 a.m.”

“Did you leave through the front door?” I didn’t like where this was going.

“Yes, and I locked it behind me,” I offered before he had a chance to ask the question.

“How can you be sure? Look, I know how it is. It’s easy to get on autopilot in the morning. You do the same thing every morning, you get into a routine.”

I looked him straight in the eye and said, “I don’t forget things, Detective. I know I locked the door that morning.” He studied me for a moment and flipped through his papers.

“That’s right. Here it is. You’re some kind of math genius. You almost made the US Math Olympiad Team last year.” I wanted to reach across the table and strangle him. Someone had butchered my sister in my own living room, and he was reading up on how I’d choked on a freaking geometry question during last year’s Math Olympiad final round and failed to make the team?

“I’m gifted, Detective. I’m not smart enough to be a genius.” He broke into a smile. The first I’d ever seen from him.

“Is there really a difference?”

“Yes, about five IQ points.” He wrote something down.

“Let’s move on. You said you had come home because you’d left your math questions on the kitchen table that morning. Is that correct?” “Yes.”

He lifted the folder up and produced some papers that were protected in a plastic bag. He placed them in front of me. “Are these the questions you were referring to?”

I looked at my parents, and both of them had their eyes glued to the plastic bag in front of me.

Without touching the bag, I looked at the front page and saw the first question. It was the Bernoulli equation question that Celeste had asked me that morning over breakfast.

“Yes, those are the ones.”

“Care to know where we found them?” What did he mean? I’d left them on the kitchen table when I went to brush my teeth after breakfast.

“On the kitchen table?” I asked, trying not to sound sarcastic.

“No. In your backpack. The backpack we found at the scene yesterday.” He looked over at my parents this time. My eyes grew wide, and my mouth fell open.

“Mr. or Mrs. Covarrubias, did either of you put these math papers back into Autumn’s backpack after breakfast?” Papi left for the bakery every morning at 5:30 a.m. so he wasn’t even home. Mami had left right after Celeste and I had eaten because she had a dentist appointment. Maybe Mami’d seen the papers and stuck them in my backpack. Celeste had left about ten minutes before me. Her boyfriend Voss had swung by to pick her up. He did that every day. 

“Mami, did you put the papers in my backpack?” Her eyes were swollen, and I swear she was two seconds away from passing out. Her gaze wandered around the room until it fell on me. She shook her head. My heart sank.

“Then it had to be Celeste. She must have put them in there.”

“Her fingerprints weren’t found on the papers.” How was that possible? The oils from her hands would have been transferred onto the paper if she’d stuck them in my backpack. It couldn’t have been her then. That left no one, and I had no answer. That wasn’t good.

“Autumn, look, I’m going to be honest with you. There are some things that just don’t add up here. We have witnesses that say you and your sister were arguing at school that morning and that she looked very upset. Care to explain what that was all about?”

I could feel the cell doors closing in around me. This was a witch hunt, and I was about to be burned at the stake.

My parents were staring at me, begging me with their eyes to explain what was going on. The question mark stabbed my heart. They knew that Celeste and I hardly ever fought. The last time had to have been when I’d accidentally given her a black eye when I was five and was trying to learn to hit a baseball.

I looked at the detective and said the only thing I knew to say. “Detective Kasanoff, I want a lawyer.”

Character Guest Post - Autumn

What Makes a Great FBI Profiler and what does she expect to gain from becoming one?

Thanks to the Reader Girls for having me on their blog today. I’ve read a ton of books on the FBI and can’t wait to talk about it.

I knew I wanted to be an FBI agent after attending math camp where we got to work on a real cold case. It was amazing to break down the clues and evidence, but it was even better to try and figure out the ‘why’.

After camp, I started reading books about the FBI and discovered John Douglas. He’s written novels such as Mindhunter, Journey into Darkness, and the Anatomy of Motive. Even though I was reading the words on the page, it was so hard for me to imagine anyone truly being that evil. Until it happened to my sister.

During the early days of Celeste’s murder investigation, I couldn’t understand why anyone would hurt her. She was smart, popular, and talented. As the days turned into weeks, then months, the why consumed me. I was convinced that if I could figure out the motive, I could figure out the identity of her killer.

That’s what great FBI profilers do. They begin to piece together not only a character description of the person, but an emotional profile as well. They need to learn what drives the criminal, what satisfaction do the crimes give them? The criminal’s motivation is their best way of getting caught.

The FBI has a Behavioral Analysis Unit (BAU). You’ve seen it on shows like Criminal Minds, and Hannibal, and of course, in the Silence of the Lambs movie. First you must become an FBI agent, and then work into getting into the BAU. It’s a department within the FBI, so experience and education matter. I’m already racking up the experience and I think my personal story will help me empathize with the victims. I’ve been in their shoes, and lived through their pain.

If I can stop just one family from having to live the rest of their lives with the void their murdered loved one left behind, then I will consider myself a great FBI Profiler.
About the author: 
S.X. Bradley

Susan grew up in South Texas, about ten miles from the U.S.-Mexican border. As a child she spent the summers in Mexico with her grandparents and extended family. During these vacations, she frequently created mysteries for her siblings and cousins to solve. These mysteries were her first stories. Nancy Drew soon became her childhood hero and inspiration to write mysteries for young adults.

Her greatest joy is her daughter who is quite the storyteller and likes to come up with the characters’ names for mom’s stories.

When she’s not writing or studying, you can find her looking after her personal mini-zoo which consists of two fish, one thief of a dog, and some hermit crabs.

Susan loves estates sales, traveling, spending time with her family, and discovering new books at the Columbus Metropolitan library.

Susan graduated from the University of Texas, is currently pursuing an MFA from Seton Hill University, and dreams of one day owning a touch screen murder board like the one on her favorite TV show, Castle.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Belonging blog tour: guest post, review & giveaway

Welcome to our blog! We are today's stop on the Belonging Blog Tour hosted by Kismet Book Tours. Author Karen Ann Hopkins has written a guest post on the dangers of Amish life, we have our reviews of this series, and there is a giveaway.

Belonging (Temptation #2) by Karen Ann Hopkins
YA contemporary*Paperback/eBook, 408 pages
Expected publication: April 30th 2013 by Harlequin TEEN
Purchase: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Indiebound

I left everything I knew behind. 

But it was worth it. He was worth it. 

No one thought an ordinary girl like me would last two minutes living with the Amish, not even me. There are a lot more rules and a lot less freedom, and I miss my family and the life I once had. Worst of all, Noah and I aren't even allowed to see each other. Not until I've proven myself. 

If I can find a way to make it work, we'll be NOAH & ROSE together forever. 

But not everybody believes this is where I belong. 

Book #1:
Temptation (Temptation #1) by Karen Ann Hopkins

YA contemporary*Paperback/eBook, 383 pages
Published June 26th 2012 by Harlequin Teen

Your heart misleads you. 
That's what my friends and family say. 
But I love Noah. 
And he loves me. 

We met and fell in love in the sleepy farming community of Meadowview, while we rode our horses together through the grassy fields and in those moments in each other's arms. 

It should be 
forever, easy. 
But it won't be. 
Because he's Amish. 

And I'm not. 

The Dangers of Living Amish
Most people don’t realize how dangerous living the Amish lifestyle is. They assume that the Plain people’s simpler lives translate to a cozy and safe existence, which isn’t the case at all.

Putting aside automobile-buggy accidents, which are common in Amish settlement areas, just handling and training equines on a daily basis can present safety problems. There are inherent dangers working with horses, but when you figure in that the Amish spend much more time around them, relying on them for transportation, the accidents involved are greater than the average hobby rider.

In the Amish world, it isn’t uncommon for a seven or eight year old child to be harnessing up a pony or horse and taking the animal up the road—BY THEMSELVES. The Amish kids grow up quicker than other children and I’ve witnessed youngsters on the roadways many times with the control of a horse in their hands. Since the children don’t have the same quick decision making skills that an older person would have, they sometimes make mistakes that result in injury while handling their steeds.

Just a couple of months ago, I discovered my mailbox was torn down one morning. My first thought was that some non-Amish teens must have hit the box in the night, but that day, a young Amish man came to my house and apologized for running over my mailbox with a new horse he was training. The horse acted up and he lost control. He replaced my box, but the incident is another example of the safety concerns for the Amish when working with horses on a daily basis.

Adding to the dangers for Amish youth is the fact that they oftentimes do work meant for adults, such as butchery, building, fencing and farm work. In my own neighborhood, a girl lost part of a finger working in the butcher shop, another girl poked her eye with a fence wire and lost sight in that eye, and several boys have been injured doing carpentry and farm work.

When I moved to the northern Kentucky Amish settlement, I was immediately surprised by the number of accidents and injuries occurring to my neighbors and their children, but the Amish take it in stride. They have a Calvinist approach to the dangers in their world, believing that if God means it to happen, then it’s a done deal anyway.

About the author:
Karen Ann Hopkins 

A native of New York State, Karen Ann Hopkins now lives with her family on a farm in northern Kentucky, where her neighbors in all directions are members of a strict Amish community. Her unique perspective became the inspiration for the story of star-crossed lovers Rose and Noah. When she’s not homeschooling her kids, giving riding lessons or tending to a menagerie of horses, goats, peacocks, chickens, ducks, rabbits, dogs and cats, she is dreaming up her next romantic novel.

Attraction. Connection. Forbidden. I've read novels about forbidden love but none have featured an Amish person as part of the couple. In Temptation, we watch English teen girl Rose, 16, and Amish teen boy Noah, 18, fall in love. She moves with her family to a house next to his farm. From the moment they meet, their attraction is instant. Coming from two different worlds it was imperative readers understood both sides of this blossoming relationship and author Karen Ann Hopkins gave us both character's points-of-view. Rose is wild, fights with her brothers, has mobility to do what she wants while Noah has a more rigid life with responsibilities and ways of living, believing, behaving. He is accustomed to the males being in control, the female more subservient. Rose gets what she wants from her dad and is not used to waiting on or standing behind anyone.

As they grow closer there are some clashes of backgrounds but love is a very powerful motive which can help sway one's mind. Both acted out at times infuriating me with their behavior and ultimately it's Rose who seems to make the bigger concession because she loves Noah. The author's style of writing was smooth and the pacing fluid. I understood these characters and what they're experiencing. I did find some of the dialogue of the Amish youth in some scenes sounded too contemporary for a people who don't have access to the conventions of popular society. I also felt Rose was vulnerable at this time after the death of her mother and Noah was her first crush/love which helped sway her. First she was adamant in her belief of starting a family later in life, then switches to thinking having kids with Noah soon was okay. Her frustrating sudden change took some getting used to. 

Decisions. Acceptance. Responsibilities. Adjustments. In Belonging, we now see how Rose  has to adjust to a new life after the decision she made. The Amish may welcome her but it's not that easy. She has to prove she belongs with Noah, can be a part of their community and there are some members who are not so accommodating, they believe she isn't one of them. But author Karen Ann Hopkins doesn't stop there--she also gives us Sam and his feelings for the Amish girl Summer. This addition merely strengthens the story, enriching it with multiple arcs which provide texture and quite a few surprise twist'n'turns. The complex dramas revealed combined with the tense pacing made for quite an exhilarating reading experience. 

I enjoyed Temptation and loved Belonging. The life of the Amish is fascinating and scary for outsiders like myself and the portrait this series portrays is elegant and respectful. I'm anxiously awaiting the next book.

Ratings: Temptation, 3.5

Belonging: 4
Cover comments:
The cover for Temptation displays the newness of first love, captures the feel of the story. I really like it and find it romantic. I LOVE the cover of Belonging, the way their hands aren't touching, there's that amount of space between them. Perfection.

Book source:

 Tour Schedule: 
Monday, April 22th - Ashley loves books 
Tuesday, April 23th - A Little Shelf of Heaven 
Wednesday, April 24th - One Day YA 
Thursday, April 25h - Fic Talk 
Friday, April 26th - Bittersweet Enchantment 
Monday, April 29th - Reader Girls 
Tuesday, April 30th - Bumbles and Fairy Tales 
Wednesday, May 1sh - The YA Bookworm 
Thursday, May 2nd - The Book Heist 
Friday, May 3rd - Page Turners 
Monday, May 6th - Books Complete Me 
Tuesday, May 7th - Bookish Escape 
Wednesday, May 8th - Book Sp(l)ot Reviews 
Thursday, May 9th - Irish Banana 
Friday, May 10th - The Cozy Reader 

Enter for the chance to win a signed copy of Belonging.

January Black blog tour: Tens list & giveaway

Tour Schedule
January Black by Wendy S. Russo
YA fantasy*Paperback*
Published January 15th 2013 by Crescent Moon Press

January Black Sixteen-year-old genius Matty Ducayn has never fit in on The Hill, an ordered place seriously lacking a sense of humor. After his school’s headmaster expels him for a small act of mischief, Matty’s future looks grim until King Hadrian comes to his rescue with a challenge: answer a question for a master’s diploma. More than a second chance, this means freedom. Masters can choose where they work, a rarity among Regents, and the question is simple. What was January Black? It’s a ship. Everyone knows that. Hadrian rejects that answer, though, and Matty becomes compelled by curiosity and pride to solve the puzzle. When his search for an answer turns up long-buried state secrets, Matty’s journey becomes a collision course with a deadly royal decree. He's been set up to fail, which forces him to choose. Run for his life with the challenge lost...or call the king’s bluff.

Refreshingly intelligent and loads of fun! I lost a few hours as I read this book. It's a Young Adult novel that is refreshingly and astonishingly intelligent, and the love story is perfectly played out. ~Christine Ashworth, Amazon Review 

The mystery was intriguing - I loved how Wendy Russo weaved in all her secrets throughout the book, how she incorporated just enough to keep you reading, while never actually divulging much of anything. I was guessing for most of it and that's pretty hard to make me do. ~Julie, Clean Teen Reads 

Wendy Russo has created a masterpiece. ~Ivan Amberlake, Author 

Ten Things about Matty:

1. Matty is a genius. His brain is math and science oriented, but he enjoys history.

2. He plays chess very well.

3. He was born on a ranch and spent his childhood helping his grandparents outside. This gives him a love of getting dirty that will get him into trouble when he's older, and also help him catch the eye of a pretty girl.

4. He loves his mother, dearly, though she torments him once a year with a frank conversation about sex. His relationship with his father is chilly.

5. He's a social pariah on The Hill (where he lives). His schoolmasters have branded him a troublemaker. When kids talk to him, it's usually to make fun. His only friend ever was kicked out of school for cheating off Matty in physics. 

6. He kisses a girl for the first time at seventeen, at the stroke of midnight on New Years Day. 

7. Matty is aroused by the scent of old books. During the novel, he spends months in the king's library and that response mostly goes away. Mostly.

8. He's fond of artifacts. Older the better.

9. He makes a lot of assumptions, and often those assumptions turn out to be wrong. 

Having lived a sheltered life, Matty's naive, but he wakes up quickly.

Book Trailer

About the author:
Author Wendy S. Russo Wendy S. Russo got her start writing in the sixth grade. That story involved a talisman with crystals that had to be found and assembled before bad things happened, and dialog that read like classroom roll call. Since then, she’s majored in journalism (for one semester), published poetry, taken a course on short novels, and watched most everything ever filmed by Quentin Tarantino. A Wyoming native transplanted in Baton Rouge, Wendy works for Louisiana State University as an IT analyst. She’s a wife, a mom, a Tiger, a Who Dat, and she falls asleep on her couch at 8:30 on weeknights.
More Information:
Blog Tour Giveaway 
 $25 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash Ends 5/8/13 
 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.  

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Demons tour: review & giveaway

The weekend is almost over but we still have time for one more blog tour to share. If you like angel stories, this series may be the one for you. We host the Demons Blog Tour today. Demons is the second book in the Seers Trilogy by Heather Frost. We are posting our review and there's a giveaway. Thanks for spending part of your Sunday with us. The entire tour list can be found here.

About Seers Trilogy:

Demons (Seers #2) by Heather Frost
YA paranormal*Hardcover/eBook, 432 pages
Published September 11th 2012 by Cedar Fort Books
Purchase: Amazon | B&N
Read the prologue of Demons

Kate's life is far from normal. She can see Auras, her boyfriend is immortal, and her powers make her a target. But now that the Demon Lord is hunting her, things are about to go from dangerous to truly deadly. Packed with action, mind-blowing plot twists, and characters you can't get enough of, this is a fast-paced, heart-pounding read from cover to cover.

Seers (Seers #1) by Heather Frost 

YA paranormal*Hardcover/eBook, 330 pages 

Published October 4th 2011 by Bonneville 
Purchase: Amazon | B&N
Read the prologue of Seers

For Kate Bennett, surviving the car wreck that killed her parents means big changes — and even bigger problems. As she begins to see auras and invisible people, Kate must learn to trust Patrick O'Donnell, a handsome Guardian, or risk her life being overrun with Demons. She soon realizes that both she and her heart are in big-time trouble. 
Coming July 9th:

Guardians: Book 3 of the Seers Trilogy 

About the author:

Heather Frost

Heather Frost was born in Sandy, Utah, and raised in a small Northern Utah town. She is the second oldest of ten children, and she loves her family very much. She is currently pursuing her bachelor’s degree in English at Utah State University. Heather has always been an avid reader, and reading and writing are among her favorite things to do. She also enjoys playing the flute, listening to all types of music, and watching a wide variety of movies. Guardians, the final book in the Seers Trilogy, will be released July 2013. 

Color me impressed with the prologue of Seers. I hear at many conferences and read online that prologues are dead. I disagree, I always have. When they are as tightly written as the one in Seers, prologues are effective. They work. They give insight into a story. Here we witness what happened to Patrick when he was a teen, the oldest living with his family in Ireland in 1798 and how he expired. Emotional and gripping, I immediately felt sympathetic and understood him. When the story jumps to the present and we meet Kate I found myself anxiously waiting to see Patrick again. 

Kate is a really nice girl, a refreshing change from some of the angt-ridden girls of YA. She is now living with her younger sisters and their grandparents after her parents were killed in a car accident. We feel her pain and how she fights to keep it locked away so she can present a normal facade. I found that trait alone admirable. She's changed after the accident--she can see auras but doesn't admit it anymore, letting others think her admission at the hospital was a residual effect of the trauma. Smart girl. I liked her even more. Her new talent also makes her a target for demons as she soon learns from the new boy at school, the new guy who happens to have a silver aura. Drum roll, please. Patrick's here!

Patrick also narrates (thank you Ms. Frost for that) and along with another silver aura boy, Toni, they tell Kate she's a "Seer" and they're Guardians (yep, like the class of angels but they don't like that title). They are there to protect her from demons. These two immortals are a comical team at times, Toni with his colorful past and Patrick the caring older brother type. These guys play well off each other and add some tension to the plot.

As Kate learns more about this new paranormal world, she develops feelings for Patrick. Problem is, she has Aaron, her boyfriend. What can she do? Especially when she's threatened and spends even more time with the young man with the brogue? You'll have to read Seers to find out. Like I said, I found the story impressive. All of the characters, from main to secondary, were well written and convincing. From Kate's friend Lee to Toni to her grandparents, I liked them all. 

As for the story itself, I did find parts formulaic (girl develops powers/meets immortal guy has appeared in YA many times in books like Twilight, Hush, Hush, Evermore). Yet in this book's defense I have to say I enjoyed Seers primarily due to the writing and the voices of the two main characters. Kate isn't weak, she's strong, and Patrick (for an old immortal) doesn't mistreat her (as I've seen done so many times before in this market). The book's title  did confuse me since I've always regarded the word "seer" as someone who can see passages of time (as evidenced in many fantasies). A play on the word "auras" could have been effective and made a fun title. There were instances where I spent too much time in Kate's head (especially when thinking about Patrick)--some parts slowed down the pace and could've been trimmed. I'm glad the author had an "adult presence" in the book. Kate's grandparents take an active role in her life and do not disappear two chapters in on some trip. There are some surprising plot twist-n-turns which kept me hooked. And Kate's feelings for Patrick grew over time (days, not seconds, so cross off insta-love from this book).

Aura-seeing humans paired together with guardian-like angels to battle escaped demons is what can be found inside the pages of Seers. And a lot more.

Rating: 4

Cover comment:
I think this cover is kinda cool. 

Book source: 
I received a promotional copy in return for my honest review.

 We are giving away one eBook set of Seers & Demons to one winner. Our giveaway ends at midnight on May 12th and is open internationally.
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