Thursday, May 31, 2012

Author Interview: Holly Barrington, author of The Substitute

Hey guys!

Today we have the pleasure of talking to Holly Barrington, author of The Substitute. The Substitute is a vampire-thriller where humans and vampires live in peace and harmony... or so it seems.

“The Substitute” is set in an alternate Britain, where Vampires and Mortals co-exist more or less in harmony. However, that may soon be about to change . . .

Emily Brown starts her new job at Pathway Software, and at first everything goes well. She makes new friends there and her bosses are impressed so things are really looking up for Emily. Until her friend is killed. Murdered. The official account said it was a gang hit gone bad, and rumours suggest she had drugs in her possession.

However another, unofficial, report suggests that the bullet wounds were all post-mortem, and the drugs were planted on her in the morgue. It also says that she suffered multiple broken bones, cuts, contusions and…vampire bites. Everything suggests that her friend died a brutal and vicious death at the hands of a number of vampires.

Vampire and Mortal relations are, on the whole, very good. Ever since The Compact, there have been eighty five years of unprecedented peace between the two worlds. But there are some dissenters, the foremost of which are the sinister Circle of Ixiom. And Emily is about to become their bitterest enemy . . . ~ Courtesy of Goodreads

Tell us a little about yourself.

Hmmm. This is really hard! There's not all that much to tell as I've lead a pretty uneventful life. I started writing when I was fifteen, and it soon became a real passion. Ever since those early days, writing has taken up a lot of my time, although I do find time for other interests. As well as writing books (well, one book), I love to read them as well. Writing is a way to express myself, whereas reading is my favourite way of relaxing. My other great passion is animals, especially cats (I have 3). Curling up with a book and a cat is my idea of heaven. I volunteer at a local animal shelter, which I find very rewarding. I also love to hike, and it's great to be able to get away from it all and spend a day walking in the hills.

The Substitute is about vampires. I've always loved the idea of vampires. There is something scary yet intriguing about them. Why did you choose to write about vampires?

Like you, I've always been intrigued by vampires. Until relatively recently they were always portrayed as evil monsters, but I have always thought of them as being very similar to humans. Vampires are considered to be evil incarnate because they kill humans, but humans kill other species for food, so what's the difference? They are also often portrayed as being evil for trying to subjugate humans, but it's no different to the way humans treat other species, and even other humans. Vampires are essentially humans with sharp teeth.

Is there anything different about the vampires in The Substitute? Can you tell us a little about what caused them to get along with humans instead of hiding from them or just taking over and controlling humans, without giving too much away?

I think the main difference with the vampires in "The Substitute" is the fact that, for the most part, they are happy to integrate with humans. And not just in a superficial way either, because Vampires and Mortals work together, play together and become friends. Some even marry, although this is still quite rare. For the most part there is no real difference between the two groups. Vampires are stronger and have superior reflexes (and sharp teeth), but these differences have little meaning in everyday life. This co-existance has been made possible by removing the one element that has always ensured that vampires and humans are enemies - the vampire's need for human blood. I don't want to give anything away, so you'll have to read the book to find out how I got around this.

I know this contradicts what I said in my previous answer, but I came up with the idea as a result of living in a multi-cultural country (Britain) where the majority of people get on very well. I thought that this would make an interesting setting that would contrast with the events in the story. And just like in our society there are extremists, which is at the heart of the book.

Can you tell us a little about Emily Brown, the main character in The Substitute? What is she like? What should I expect if I was going to meet her in real life?

Emily Brown started off as an ordinary girl, nothing remarkable about her at all. Because of the path she chose, out of her love for a childhood friend, she is forced to live a life where danger is ever-present. This has brought out the best in her, and she is now a rather extraordinary young woman. She has shown great courage and fortitude, and has devoted her life to a cause.

However, if you met her you might be rather disappointed. She is a friendly, outgoing, rather personable young woman but there appears to be nothing remarkable about her. A far cry from the action woman with nerves of steel that you might be expecting.

What was your favorite thing about writing The Substitute?

My favourite thing was the way that the story evolved, and seemed to take on a life of it's own. I've not experienced this before, only previously having written short stories. At times it seemed like I was watching events unfold instead of creating them myself. Likewise, I felt as though I was actually getting to know Emily as a real person instead of just a character in a book. It was all rather strange at first, but it was amazing the way I became really immersed in the story. I found that I had more freedom to really let my imagination run wild than when writing short stories. I'm really looking forward to writing another book!

Thanks so much for talking to us today, Holly!

For more of The Substitute by Holly Barrington, check out Goodreads!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Author Interview & GIVEAWAY: R.H. Russell, author of Venture Untamed

Today we're talking to R.H. Russell, author of Venture Untamed. Russell has had years of experience in the world of professional fighting and now he has used that experience to write about Venture, a young man who will need to fight in order to make his dreams come true. Make sure to scroll to the bottom of this post to ENTER TO WIN a digital copy of Venture Untamed for yourself! Here's a synopsis of Venture Untamed:
Venture Delving is a bonded servant, a member of the lowest class in the world. Already fatherless, when he loses his mother, he veers from energetic to out of control. But when Venture's rage saves the life of Jade, his best friend and his master's daughter, Venture finds himself in the last place he ever expected—a center renowned for training young boys to be professional fighters. 
When Venture realizes he's fallen in love with Jade, he knows that the only way he'll ever have her, the only way he'll ever be free to live the life he's meant to live, is to defy convention, common sense, the trust of those he cares about most—and sometimes the law—and become the best fighter in the world, the Champion of All Richland. Venture must battle not only rival fighters, but the ghosts of his past and the members of a privileged warrior class who stand between him and his dream. ~ Courtesy of Goodreads

Tell us a little about yourself.

I grew up traveling the world as an army brat, and now travel the country as a coach with a non-profit judo team. I write the Venture Books, a YA / adult crossover series about a fighter. My upcoming middle grade series, Unicorns of the Mist, begins with Wonder Light (Sourcebooks 2013). I'm also the author of Linked, a young teen novel about a magic charm bracelet, written as Lisa Alden. I've been an active member of Verla Kay's Message Board for Children's Writers and Illustrators since 2009, and I blog at

Venture Untamed is about a young man who gets the opportunity to train to become a prize fighter. What motivated you to write Venture's story?

I've been involved in combat sports since I was a teen and my experience with fighters of all sorts fueled this story. The world of fighters is really fascinating, and I wanted to share it with readers in a unique way—a way anyone could identify with, because I truly believe there's a fighter in all of us.

Can you tell us a little about the world Venture lives in without giving too much away?

Venture Delving is a bonded servant, a member of the lowest class in his world—a world where unarmed fighting is the dominant sport, and where a champion's prize is fortune enough to change a man's life forever. Venture dares to believe that he can be the best fighter in the world, the Champion of All Richland. But Richland is rigidly divided by class, and the privileged Crested warrior class will do anything and everything to stop him.

What were some of the challenges you faced while writing Venture Untamed? What was the most rewarding thing about writing it?

I really enjoyed letting Venture and his friends loose to play on the page. I had a great time writing about brawls and big dreams, betrayal and camaraderie, and of course the forbidden love between Venture and his master's daughter, Jade.

But during the years I spent writing and revising material for this series and pursuing publication, there was some serious upheaval going on in my life. It was hard to write about characters who were struggling at the same time I was dealing with real-life grief. But I began to feel like these made-up characters were showing me some very real truths as they dealt with loss, failure, and frustration of their own. It was satisfying to see them through it, and I think writing was an important part of how I dealt with those difficult times.

Thanks to R.H. Russell for talking to us today and for giving us this awesome giveaway of Venture Untamed! Make sure you ENTER TO WIN the first book in The Venture Books!

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Find out more about Venture Untamed at these sites!

And be sure to check out!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Teaser Tuesday (9): Shadow and Bone

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading.

This week's teaser is from Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo. This book is fantastic! I can't say enough good things about it.

"How would I have said goodbye to Mal anyway? Thanks for being my best friend and making my life bearable. Oh, and sorry I fell in love with you for awhile there. Make sure to write!" {Shadow and Bone, page 76}

Goodreads Synopsis of Shadow and Bone:

Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee.

Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life—a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling.

Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha…and the secrets of her heart.

Find out more about Shadow and Bone at these sites!

*All quotes are from an unfinished ARC. Any quotations may differ from finished copy.*

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Review: Suffocate by S.R. Johannes

Title: Suffocate
Author: S.R. Johannes
Publisher: Coleman & Stott
Publish Date: May 21, 2012

For centuries, the world outside the Biome has been unlivable. Today, marks the first time anyone will attempt to leave the suffocating ecosphere. Eria is not worried because her scientist father has successfully tested the new Bio-Suit many times. It's a celebratory day until something goes horribly wrong. In the midst of tragedy, Eria uncovers a deep conspiracy that affects the very air she breathes.  
If those responsible find out what she knows, they won't stop hunting her until she takes her last breath. ~ Courtesy of Goodreads

Suffocate by S.R. Johannes is the first novelette in the Breathless series. Suffocate is an action packed thriller filled with twists and turns that are sure to keep you guessing. It's about a girl living in a dome sometime after the earth is declared unlivable. The air unbreathable. You step outside the dome, you die. Only, not everything inside the dome is as it seems...

Eria is a strong character who, despite the tragedies she goes through in such a short amount of time, is desperate to stop a larger conspiracy. She gets help from her friend Ash, her father's research assistant. Ash is a smart and sexy edition to the story. He's sure to intrigue you the same way he does Eria.

But as cute as Eria and Ash are, there are bigger things happening behind the scenes of the Biome, and they are on a mission to find out just what's going on. And the ending will have you reeling. I can't wait to read the next two editions to the Breathless series. Suffocate is a captivating short that will pull you in from the very first page. I recommend it to anyone who loves sci-fi or dystopian novels.

Find out more about Suffocate from these sites!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Review: The Girl in the Clockwork Collar by Kady Cross

Title: The Girl in the Clockwork Collar
Author: Kady Cross
Publisher: HarlequinTEEN
Publish Date: May 22, 2012
In New York City, 1897, life has never been more thrilling - or dangerous.  
Sixteen-year-old Finley Jayne and her "straynge band of mysfits" have journeyed from London to America to rescue their friend Jasper, hauled off by bounty hunters. But Jasper is in the clutches of a devious former friend demanding a trade-the dangerous device Jasper stole from him...for the life of the girl Jasper loves.  
One false move from Jasper and the strange clockwork collar around Mei's neck tightens. And tightens. ~ Courtesy of Goodreads

After falling in love with Kady Cross's The Girl in the Steel Corset last year, I was anxiously awaiting this sequel. And I'm going to tell you right now, it didn't let me down. That's always a fear with sequels. Can they live up to the original? But The Girl in the Clockwork Collar definitely does. While, at first, I felt the story was a little slow to get going (mostly because I was getting used to having the character's in a new enviroment) the book picks up a few chapters in, achieving all the action that made me love the first book so much.

Cross has created such a great cast of characters who all play off of each other so well. The characters relationships and attitudes have changed just enough from The Girl in the Steel Corset to allow you to grow with the characters. It's fun to see two people who disliked each other in book 1, begin to develop a friendly relationship in book 2. The characters are all so loyal, not just to their leader Griffin, but to one another. They would die, or at least take a bullet, for any of their friends. Cross does a wonderful job of making the reader feel what her characters are feeling. Suspicion, dislike, sympathy. I felt it all.

The technology was even more intriguing in The Girl in the Clockwork Collar then it was in the Steel Corset. Emily's brilliant mind and inventions were pretty awesome, but Nikola Tesla's Aether machines and Dalton's wicked devices were just so cool. I'll admit, I don't read much Steampunk, but I just love the idea of it. Of this sort of vintage technology. It's just so much fun to see characters in the nineteenth century able to communicate via a cell phone like device. And after seeing Cross's version of Victorian London, it was a treat to see her take on New York City.

Finley is such a strong, kickass heroine it's impossible not to love her. Now that her personality has merged together, I think I like her even more. Now it's not good Finley and bad Finley, it's just Finley and she needs to decide who she's going to become. That was one of my favorite things about The Girl in the Clockwork Collar. Finley wasn't quite sure who and what she wanted to be, and that sparked some mistrust between her and Griffin. But that mistrust sparked a lot of character growth in the both of them and their relationship.

The only thing I can possibly say that disappointed me about this book was that there wasn't enough Sam! Of course, Cross could write a book staring just Sam and Sam alone and I'd probably still say there just wasn't enough Sam. I love, love, love me some Sam!

I have to recommend this book to anyone who enjoys sci fi, historical fiction, paranormal romance... pretty much anything. If you enjoy reading, you'll enjoy The Girl in the Clockwork Collar! And if you haven't read The Girl in the Steel Corset yet, what are you waiting for?! You won't know what your missing until you give it a try, no matter how I praise it, so go!

Check out The Girl in the Clockwork Collar at these great websites!

Teaser Tuesday (8): Timepiece

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading.

 This week's teaser comes from Timepiece by Myra McEntire, book 2 of the Hourglass series. This book is hilarious. Hourglass was one of my favorites and this sequel definitely is not letting me down!

"That was a really impressive catch for a girl." 
She leaned over so far her nose almost touched the photo. "Your mouth is talking. You might want to look to that." {Timepiece, Chapter 13}

*All quotes are from an unfinished ARC. Any quotations may differ from finished copy.*

Monday, May 21, 2012

Suffocate by S.R. Johannes is out TODAY!

It is May 21st and guess what that means?

S.R. Johannes’ Suffocate is out today! Don't miss our review coming soon!

Suffocate is the first novelette in THE BREATHLESS series. It is a 15,000 word young adult thriller that combines the dystopic and science fiction genres.

Here's a little about the novelette...
“For centuries, the world outside the Biome has been unlivable. Today, marks the first time anyone will attempt to leave the suffocating ecosphere. Eria is not worried because her scientist father has successfully tested the new Bio-Suit many times. It's a celebratory day until something goes horribly wrong. In the midst of tragedy, Eria uncovers a deep conspiracy that affects the very air she breathes. 
If those responsible find out what she knows, they won't stop hunting her until she takes her last breath.”

The 2nd novella in the series, CHOKE, is scheduled for Fall 2012. The 3rd, EXHALE, is scheduled for Winter 2013.

You can purchase Suffocate for only 99 cents at Amazon HERE and B&N HERE.

Also you can add it on Goodreads HERE!

And in case you were wondering here is a bit about the author.

S.R. Johannes is author of the Amazon Bestseller Untraceable and a current nominee of the Georgia Author of the Year in the Young Adult category. After earning an MBA and working in corporate america, S.R. Johannes traded in her expensive suits, high heels, and corporate lingo for a family, flip-flops, and her love of writing. She lives in Atlanta Georgia with her goldendoodle Charley (notice he is listed first :), her British-accented husband, and the huge imaginations of their little prince and princess, which she hopes- someday- will change the world. You can find her hanging out online and visit her at

Twitter- @srjohannes

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Review: Of Poseidon by Anna Banks

Title: Of Poseidon
Author: Anna Banks
Publisher: Feiwel and Friends
Publish Date: May 22, 2012
Galen, a Syrena prince, searches land for a girl he's heard can communicate with fish. It’s while Emma is on vacation at the beach that she meets Galen. Although their connection is immediate and powerful, Galen's not fully convinced that Emma's the one he's been looking for. That is, until a deadly encounter with a shark proves  that Emma and her Gift may be the only thing that can save his kingdom. He needs her help--no matter what the risk. ~ Courtesy of Goodreads

Of Poseidon by Anna Banks is an amazing debut novel about mermaids, fish talkers, and royalty. It would lead me on into really believing one thing and then BOOM! Twist! You find out the thing you were believing is entirely wrong. It kept me on my toes the entire time. No exaggeration.

Emma is a hilarious heroine. She's funny and kind of rude. The first time Emma enters Galen's home, she gets into a fist fight with Galen's sister. Emma is a strong character who is very opinionated and doesn't like to be told what to do. She'll do what you tell her if you ask. But you have to ask. As Galen finds out later in the book.

And Galen! I liked every part of Galen. He was hilarious and I loved him. He's such a sweetheart! He's always contemplating kidnapping Emma, but not in a creepy stalker way. I promise! Just trust me there is a reason; read the book to find out. Galen and Emma were always bickering and teasing each other. It was cute and very entertaining to read.

As a thirteen year old who doesn't read very often, Of Poseidon was exactly the thing to get me reading without being distracted. I read it in a freaking day! It was amazing and I definitely recommend it to people who love to read as well as people who are reluctant to pick up a book.

Find out more about Of Poseidon at these sites!

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Friday, May 18, 2012

Author Interview: Teresa Lo, author of Hell's Game

Today we're talking to Teresa Lo, author of the YA horror novel Hell's Game. Here's a little about Hell's Game:

On Halloween night in Deer Creek, Kansas, Jake Victor, Ashley and Ashton Gemini, and Kristin Grace convince Ronnie Smalls to meet them at the town cemetery, which local folklore has always rumored to be the Gateway to Hell. Their intention was only to scare him, but soon the wicked prank becomes actual horror as the group learns the Gateway is all too real. After demons snatch Ronnie and drag him to Hell, the terrified foursome vow to keep what they had seen a secret. 
Two years later, the group receives a mysterious letter, an invite to play a high-stakes game in Hell. If they win, they release Ronnie’s soul as well as their own from eternal damnation. If they lose, they are stuck in Hell forever. Choosing to play, they face nightmare after nightmare as each level escalates in intensity and forces them to face the seven deadly sins. 
Inspired by the legends of the Gateway to Hell in Stull, Kansas, Hell’s Game explores the cruelty that teenagers can inflict upon each other as well as the horrors that exist amongst mankind. It is a dark, action-packed young adult novel that will both scare its readers and make them question the true meaning of evil. ~ Courtesy of Goodreads

Tell us a little about yourself.

I grew up in Coffeyville, which is a very small town in southeast Kansas. I had always been an introvert, and when I wasn’t at school or working, I spent the majority of my time reading, writing, or watching movies and television. My parents owned a Chinese restaurant, which I started working at from the age of twelve, and I saw firsthand how they struggled to provide for our family. They encouraged me to go into law or medicine, (which is a very traditional thing for Chinese parents to do), but I wanted to write. It was a battle for me to go against my parents’ wishes and pursue writing, but when they saw I was serious, they were nothing but supportive. I feel very lucky.

I've never heard of the Gateway to Hell, the legend that inspired Hell's Game. Can you tell us a little about it and what inspired you to write about it?

The Legend of Stull is that on Halloween night the Gateway to Hell opens, and demons can enter Earth through it and humans can fall into Hell from it. The Gateway was located in a church in the middle of Stull’s cemetery, very much like the Gateway in Hell’s Game. In fact, I named the town in Hell’s Game “Deer Creek,” which was actually the name of Stull before it became Stull.

Since the Midwest influences my writing so much, I really wanted to tell a good story that centered on a local legend. I had been kicking around ideas about how to incorporate Stull’s legend in a unique way, and there were a lot of different versions before I came up with Hell’s Game.

Can you tell us a little about the characters in Hell's Game without giving too much away?

Hell’s Game is about a group of popular teenagers who are forced to play a high-stakes game in Hell after participating in a cruel prank. I wanted to write characters that were authentic to the Midwest, and I drew upon my memories to create Ashley Gemini, Jake Victor, and Kristin Grace, the three who play Hell’s Game.

Ashley is the typical high-school queen bee. She’s beautiful, wealthy, and popular, and she gets away with being mean. She’s the leader of the group, and she’s the one who coerced Ronnie into entering the old church in the cemetery, which was the reason they had to play the game in first place. I think that anyone who has ever been to high school knows an Ashley Gemini, but I wanted to make her more than a one-dimensional high school villain.

Jake is the town golden boy because he’s the star high school quarterback, and he really has a shot at going pro. Yet, in the story, he isn’t completely innocent. Although he’s a nice person, he doesn’t stick up for Ronnie when he should have, and that is the reason he is forced to play the game.

The final player, the meek follower Kristin, is someone I really identify with because I was very insecure when I was her age. She goes along with Ashley’s schemes not because she is cruel but because she is too weak to stand up for herself and what is right. Kristin isn’t comfortable in her own skin, but as the story progresses, she finds her strength.

In Hell's Game, a group of teenagers take Ronnie Smalls into a cemetery to pull a prank on him. What inspired you to write about teenagers, in essence, bullying their peers?

Bullying has become a recent hot topic in the news, but it has been going on forever and I think most people have been a victim of a bully at some point in their lives. When I was in high school, I had a big crush on one of the popular boys at school, and I thought he was my friend because we chatted a lot in class. However, one day, I was standing outside, and I saw him with a group of his friends and they were pointing and laughing at me as they made really offensive remarks about my race. The ring leader was this boy who actually bullied me for years, but I’ll never forget how I felt seeing my crush laugh at the ring leader’s jokes. That incident wasn’t the catalyst for me to write Hell’s Game, but bullying in general is a theme that I often address in my writing.

It seems like there is a deeper meaning bubbling under the surface of your novel. What message would you like your reader's to take away from Hell's Game?

Every character in Hell’s Game is affected by some form of evil, whether it’s harm inflicted by another person or harm inflicted by a supernatural force, and those evil acts create a negative ripple effect in everyone’s lives. The main message I wanted to share was that those who see or know of evil acts and do nothing are just as guilty as those who committed the crime. This could apply to anything, from bullying to violence.

Thanks, Teresa, for sharing a little about yourself with us today. It just makes me want to read Hell's Game that much more!

Be sure to check out Hell's Game at these great sites!

And find out more about Teresa Lo at her website:

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Review: Spectral by Shannon Duffy

Title: Spectral
Author: Shannon Duffy
Publisher: Tribute Books
Publish Date: April 10, 2012

Convinced she’s a part of the witness protection program, sixteen-year-old Jewel Rose is shuffled around the globe with her family like a pack of traveling gypsies. After arriving at lucky home twenty-seven, she stumbles upon a mysterious boy with magical powers claiming to be her guardian . . . and warning of imminent danger. Despite the obvious sparks between them, Jewel discovers a relationship is forbidden, and the more she learns about dark, brooding Roman, she begins to question who she can even believe—the family who raised her, or the supposed sworn protector who claims they’ve been lying to her all along.  
As she struggles to uncover who her family has really been running from, she is forced to hide her birthmark that reveals who she is. With new realities surfacing, unexplained powers appearing, and two tempting boys vying for her heart, Jewel battles to learn who she can trust in an ever growing sea of lies, hoping she’ll make it through her seventeenth birthday alive. ~ Courtesy of Goodreads
Spectral by Shannon Duffy is a supernatural romance that held my attention to the very end. It was a fun read, but it was very predictable. From the very beginning it was obvious Jewel would end up in a love triangle with the cute boy, Chase, who she is instantly attracted to, and the dark, mysterious Roman, who she feels an intense connection with. But, even though Spectral may be a little cookie cutter to begin with, as the story progresses I felt it morphed into something all it's own.

Jewel is an alright heroine. She wasn't very strong or smart or special, besides her spectral powers, but she sort of starts to grow on you as the story progresses. Really, my only complaint is that Jewel is a little on the whiny side. She's one of those characters who depends on other people to help her instead of helping herself, even though she's about to become an insanely powerful witch. But I do think she's got the potential to become a serious butt kicker in the future, what with being the spectral and all.

There was a part within the first few chapters that bugged me. Jewel goes to a bar with her friends and both sides of her love triangle, Roman and Chase, are there. She hangs with Chase for a bit, but then she notices Roman there and waves to him. She doesn't run across the room and leap into his arms, just waves politely from her place across the bar. But Chase doesn't like that very much. He doesn't yell at her, but he shows his displeasure that she might like another guy. Then, Jewel proceeds to say something completely idiotic in the vein of, "He's just a friend, don't be mad at me." Whoa, whoa, whoa! Wait up a minute here! She just met this dude the day before. Both dudes, actually. Chase has no claim on her, he's not her boyfriend, he's not her date for the night, she just happened to run into him at the bar, where she was actually going to see Roman play guitar. So, technically, she was meeting Roman at the bar, which means she owes Chase absolutely ZERO explanation as to why she's waving at Roman. I'm sorry, but this situation seemed very "possessive boyfriend" to me, and, like I said, she's known both guys exactly one day. Don't be mad at me? That's absolute crap and Jewel should be ashamed of herself for letting some guy she doesn't even know make her feel like she has something to apologize for. I started off thinking I might be Team Chase, but this scene immediately sent me over to Team Roman. But, honestly, I would've ended up Team Roman anyway. He's hotter. And not a possessive jerk!

All in all, I enjoyed Spectral. It's got this Disney Original Movie vibe to it. At least, that's the vibe I was getting from it. I liked it. It's a fun book about witches, high school, and hot boys. I recommend it to anyone looking for a light and cute supernatural story that will make them smile.

Check out Spectral at these great sites!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Teaser Tuesday (7): Spectral

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading.
This is SUCH a gorgeous cover!

Hey guys!

This week's teaser comes from Spectral by Shannon Duffy. Watch out for our review for the Spectral Blog Tour coming this Thursday (May 17).

"'What are you doing?' I asked in a whisper. 'Can you fly too?' 
Roman pointed to the ladder he stood on, which I'd not noticed until then. 'Flying's not my strong suit. A ladder, ya know? I'm not a levitator.'" {Spectral, Chapter 9}

Friday, May 11, 2012

Review: The Weepers: The Other Life by Susanne Winnacker

Title: The Weepers: The Other Life
Author: Susanne Winnacker
Publisher: Marshall Cavendish
Publish Date: May 12, 2012

The Weepers: The Other Life by 
Susanne Winnacker is a post-apocalyptic zombie tale, one that's been done many times before. The story isn't bad, it's just not very unique, other than the Weepers themselves. Although there were a few twists I didn't seem coming, I had seen the same twists in other zombie stories.

The writing was dry, not very emotional. Even when something terrifying happened, it was written almost stiffly. The writing style didn't help me connect to the emotional impact of the story. Or to the characters. It was like the characters were just going through the motions, with no emotion behind their actions.

Joshua seems like a capable guy. He's nice and helpful and knows his way around the Weepers. But there was nothing special or alluring about him. Nothing that would make me remember him once I finished the book.

And Sherry comes off as a small child, following Joshua around like a lost puppy, while they search for her missing father. She doesn't do much to help. She just thinks about her father and how much she wants to find him, with random mini flashbacks thrown in occasionally. Sherry talking to her friend, or goofing with her brother. But still, it comes off stiff, forced. There was the telling of emotions — she was worried about her dad, scared for herself — but there wasn't much showing of emotions. Not once did I read a line from the book and say, "Wow. I get exactly how she feels right now."

And she is far too concerned with avoiding violence. There are murderous zombie creatures coming to kill you and everyone you know, stop feeling bad when you need to shoot one! Or, at least, wait until after you've killed it to get all emotional. Seriously, how is this girl not dead by the middle of the book?! She freezes up every time she has to pull the trigger. Besides, it's not like she's got good enough aim to actually kill a Weeper, anyway (even though a big deal is made about how her dad had taught her to shoot).

All in all, The Weepers is a light read. Short, easy and not too intense for people who want to read about zombies without getting nightmares afterward. But if your looking for a good scare, there are far better books out there.

Check out The Weepers: The Other Life at these great websites!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Spotlight: Knee Deep by Jolene Perry

Hey guys!

Today we're putting the spotlight on Jolene Perry's new book, Knee Deep. We have a guest post by Jolene AND an excerpt from Knee Deep. Here's a little more about the book:

Shawn is the guy Ronnie Bird promised her life to at the age of fourteen. He's her soul mate. He's more uptight every day, but it's not his fault. His family life is stressful, and she's adding to it. She just needs to be more understanding, and he'll start to be the boy she fell in love with. She won’t give up on someone she’s loved for so long.

Luke is her best friend, and the guy she hangs with to watch girlie movies in her large blanketopias. He's the guy she can confide in before she even goes to her girlfriends, and the guy who she's playing opposite in Romeo and Juliet. Now her chest flutters every time he gets too close. This is new. Is Ronnie falling for him? Or is Juliet? The lines are getting blurry, but leaving one guy for another is not something that a girl like Ronnie does.

Shawn’s outbursts are starting to give her bruises, and Luke’s heart breaks as Ronnie remains torn. While her thoughts and feelings swirl around the lines between friendship and forever, she’s about to lose them both.

Guest Post: How Knee Deep Came To Be 

Sometimes a story is more personal than you expect it to be.

I read an article in an online newspaper that talked about the YA books coming out that year which dealt with abusive relationships.

I'd part mapped one out a while back, and thought maybe I'd work on it - all evidence that the market had just gotten an influx of them didn't sway me the way it should have…

The more I wrote in the story, the more personal it became.

I was not ever hit by my boyfriend in high school. He never screamed and yelled at me - though I heard him trashing his room a few times when I left after an argument, and he didn't hesitate to show me when he was pissed about something.

He'd pick fights with me over the phone and hang up, knowing it meant I'd sneak out to "straighten things out."

There was one really horrible night with him that I'd blocked from my mind for a long time, that I remembered when I was writing, so I used it.

I see these cases my husband talks about with women who are beaten and bruised and making up excuses and going back over and over. One ended in murder a couple of weeks ago. A case my husband will be prosecuting when it goes to trial.

The abuse story I told is nowhere near that dramatic, but so much of Ronnie's story was mine. WAY more than I realized while I was writing it. When I got to the end, and started writing down the parts of her story that were real (I always do this for my author site), I realized more and more how much of me was in that girl.

I stared at my computer screen in shock.

I had one of my best friends, who was a guy, who I shared more with than I probably did to most of my girlfriends - (like Luke from Knee Deep) and a boyfriend I'd known since I was a kid (like Shawn from Knee Deep) And I felt this draw to my boyfriend, only because I'd known him for so long, not because we really had anything left in common.

I felt more like I was stuck in this relationship, and didn't even realize I didn't want to be there until I visited a friend in college and saw how much more LIFE was out there. It was just that the idea of this one person had been in my head for way too long.

And where did I end up? Married to the best friend.

People talk about writing what you know, and then talk about keeping yourself out of your books. But you know what? I KNEW that situation - and I know I'll get some bad reviews (like you always do - ESPECIALLY when you tackle a tough topic) that are going to say that Ronnie's actions weren't believable.

But here's the thing - I told her story, the best way I knew how. Ronnie's reactions with pieces of my truth. And there are some drastic differences, but there are also some startling similarities. So, to me, Ronnie's actions were completely and totally understandable.

And that's the story of how Knee Deep came to be. 

Knee Deep Excerpt 

My front door opens. “Hello?” Shawn calls.

“In here!” I say back. Suddenly this feels weird. Why would this feel weird? This is just what happens when one of us is stuck at home. Why would today be any different? But my heart’s beating against the inside of my ribs, trying to tell me this is different.

Luke scoots away from the couch. Does he feel it too? That maybe him and me hanging out alone for the day might not have been the best idea?

Shawn steps through the hallway and scowls when his eyes meet mine and then pass to Luke. This shouldn’t be a big deal. Except...I’m so stupid. I was just thinking how I needed to make Shawn’s life outside of his house less stressful, and part of me knew it was weird that Luke was here without Shawn. I thought it, and did nothing. But again, it is just Luke.

“What’re you doing here?” Shawn asks. His dark eyes fix on Luke.

“I figured you’d be here, man.” Luke stands up. “It’s like we always ditch together, right?”

Romeo and Juliet kissing in the pool on the TV screen probably isn’t helping anything. Maybe Shawn won’t notice, or maybe it’s just sending my heart into crazy flutters because this tension between Shawn and Luke and, I guess, me, is happening during the most romantic scene of the movie.

“Uh, I don’t know.” Shawn’s still scowling, his brows pulled low and his jaw tight.

“You would’ve hated it,” I say. My eyes catch his, but his are as black as his mood seems to be. I’m so stupid. Why did I have to let Luke stay?

“Yeah, maybe.” Shawn’s narrowed eyes go from Luke to me, back and forth, as if judging the situation. Really? What did he think could possibly happen between Lukeand I? Even if this is suddenly on my top three ‘most awkward moments’ ever. I can’t even think about what the other two might be. Maybe I’ve just found number one.

“Romeo and Juliet all day.” Luke laughs, but I know him well enough to see he’s trying really hard to be relaxed. His shoulders are too stiff, and his normal stance is too rigid. I wonder if Shawn sees it too. “Guess I’ll leave you two alone.” Luke’s trying hard to keep his voice light.

“Yeah.” Shawn has yet to return Luke’s smile. “I almost never see my girl anymore.”

It’s like I’m on the edge of my seat, tension pinpricking every part of me. I’ve never seen Shawn like this.

“Well, I should get my ass to rehearsal anyway.” Luke gives Shawn a friendly pat on the shoulder before heading outside.

I don’t watch him go. My eyes are on Shawn, trying to figure out what to expect next.

“What the hell was that?” His sharp gaze is now pointed directly at me.

I stand up and lean to the side, trying to be relaxed. “It didn’t seem like a big deal this morning.” Maybe if I play it off as nothing Shawn won’t be so mad. He knows Luke and I are friends. No big deal, I tell myself again. But I don’t know if I’m trying to convince myself or Shawn.

“Was he here when we were texting?” he asks. His voice may be low, but not in a good way. It’s low in a way that makes him sound like he’s past the edge of reasonable anger.

My body’s screaming for me to take a step back, which makes no sense. This is Shawn. My Shawn. “No.” But I’m weakening by the second, almost shaking inside. His jaw tightens again.

My eyes close as I remember, and dread fills my chest. “He got here as I sent my last one.” Is that bad? Good?

“And you didn’t think to tell me? What the hell is that?”

I jump at the sharpness of his voice. Shawn doesn’t need this stress. I know this. I reach forward to put my arms around him. We just need to hold one another for a minute, then it’ll all be fine.

He stops me, grabbing my arm—hard—just above my wrist.

“This is not okay.” His jaw is set.

“Hey.” My voice shakes. My body shakes. I’m actually scared of Shawn for the first time ever. I jerk my hand once, but he tightens his grip...impossibly tight. My lungs can’t pull in a breath; there’s just not enough air in the room anymore. “Shawn, you’re hurting me.” He can’t mean to hurt me. He can’t.

His face is stuck in a sharp scowl.

“He’s your friend.” My voice is crying. I want to try and pull my shaky arm out of his grasp again, but I’m afraid to; he’s squeezing so hard. Tears are hot against the back of my eyes, threatening to spill over.

“How would you feel if I spent all day with some chick?” The words come out as angry spit from between his teeth.

I open my mouth to answer but can’t, the lump in my throat has taken over. All I can think about is that I need to find something to say so he’ll let me go. Some way to get the air through my throat to form words. “It’s just Luke,” I plead, sucking in a breath.

“Whatever.” He throws my arm back at me, turns, and walks out the door, slamming it hard behind him. My body jumps at the sound.

I stumble backward onto the couch. I’m like a leaf battered about in the wind. Nothing’s working right. I need to sit. Normally I’d run after him, but I have no idea what to expect. And I’m afraid. Of Shawn.

He’s never been that way before. Ever. He’s moody and particular, but this seems...extreme. I’m cradling my wrist with my other hand, afraid to look at any possible damage. It hurts to move it. What just happened here? How did it happen?

It’s like there suddenly must be something fundamentally wrong with the universe. But the TV’s still on. My house looks normal and quiet. I’m still breathing, but Shawn,my Shawn, just hurt me. Lying down seems so anti-climactic, but I can’t bring myself to do anything else.

When Juliet realizes Romeo’s dying the sobs take over, and I pull my knees to my chest as if making myself smaller will somehow dull the pain.

It doesn’t. 

You can check out Knee Deep at these great websites!

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