Monday, September 30, 2013

Review: Viral Nation by Shaunta Grimes

Title: Viral Nation
Author: Shaunta Grimes
Publisher: Berkley Trade
Publish Date: July 2nd, 2013

After a virus claimed nearly the entire global population, the world changed. The United States splintered into fifty walled cities where the surviving citizens clustered to start over. The Company, which ended the plague by bringing a life-saving vaccine back from the future, controls everything. They ration the scant food and supplies through a lottery system, mandate daily doses of virus suppressant, and even monitor future timelines to stop crimes before they can be committed.

Brilliant but autistic, sixteen-year-old Clover Donovan has always dreamed of studying at the Waverly-Stead Academy. Her brother and caretaker, West, has done everything in his power to make her dream a reality. But Clover’s refusal to part with her beloved service dog denies her entry into the school. Instead, she is drafted into the Time Mariners, a team of Company operatives who travel through time to gather news about the future.

When one of Clover’s missions reveals that West’s life is in danger, the Donovans are shattered. To change West’s fate, they’ll have to take on the mysterious Company. But as its secrets are revealed, they realize that the Company’s rule may not be as benevolent as it seems. In saving her brother, Clover will face a more powerful force than she ever imagined… and will team up with a band of fellow misfits and outsiders to incite a revolution that will change their destinies forever.

Viral Nation by Shaunta Grimes caught my eye from the moment I first saw the cover. A teenage girl standing on top of an abandoned car on the outskirts of an abandoned city with only a bulldog to keep her company? Um, yes please. Then when I started reading I realized that Viral Nation was a little more dystopian than post apocalyptic. In fact, it's actually more sci-fi than anything else.

Clover is the first autistic main character I've ever read about and I have to say, I loved her. She had her quirks, but being autistic was not a handicap for her, it was just a part of her. And I loved how the people around her, the people who knew her anyway, never treated her differently because of it. And I loved Clover's relationship with Jude. They are so cute together. Jude knows that he has to go slow with Clover, but after all of the things they go through together, you end up hoping things will pick up for their romance in the next book!

I especially enjoyed the dynamic between Clover and West. I always love a good sibling relationship in books, and West is just the sweetest. Since the POV changes between the two of them, you really get to see what they think of each other and how they depend on each other. West is so considerate of Clover's autism. He knows how to handle her when she gets worked up, but it's always constantly running through his head that he has to keep her calm, while not wanting to treat her like a small child. You can really tell that he's grown up taking care of her and he's incredibly mature for a twenty year old. I obviously have a bit of a crush on West!

I think the science fiction aspect of this book works so well because the characters are so real. They keep the story grounded, so even though there's this whole post-apocalyptic/time travel/dystopian thing happening, the characters and their reactions make it seem like it's something that could be happening right now.

Some of the time travel logic reminded me of Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure. It was kind of like "Okay in the future remember to put the keys behind this rock." Then they look behind the rock and woot! Keys! I've always loved time travel that works like that! But, unlike some other time travel stories, the plot never became convoluted or ridiculous. And I was left guessing until the very end.

If you love dystopians or science fiction, give Viral Nation a try. You won't be disappointed. In fact, you'll be waiting eagerly for the next book so you can find out what happens next!

For more about Viral Nation check out these sites!

Friday, September 27, 2013

Shuffle Saturday (42): Home

Every Saturday I'll be posting a random song off of my iPod. Everyone can feel free to join in, just leave a link to your Shuffle Saturday post in the comments! This week's song is:

Home by Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros

Home is one of those songs that just hooks me and I find myself humming it later on without even realizing it. I actually like a few of Edward Sharpe's songs, but Home is my favorite. This video is a bit of a headache though!

What are you listening to?

Spotlight: The Twilight Swimmer by AC Kavich

Today we're spotlighting The Twilight Swimmer by AC Kavich! Anyone who loves mermaid lore will want to give this one a closer look! Check out the synopsis:

One summer night, fifteen-year-old Brandi Vine is drawn to a rocky New England beach. The very spot where her sister's lifeless body washed ashore after a night spent swimming alone. Brandi mourns beside the cold water, unaware that the haunting gray eyes of the Swimmer are watching her from beneath the waves.

Soon after, Brandi attends a party that goes horribly awry. The very human Swimmer emerges from his hiding place to rescue her. She only sees him for a few moments, but the brief glimpse is enough to turn her world upside down. His translucent skin. His unnatural strength and grace. And the pale pink line beneath is jaw that flutters with every breath he draws. Who - and what - has just rescued her?

Brandi begins a quest to discover the nature of the young man from the sea, unaware that he is equally determined to find her. The allure of Brandi is so powerful that the Swimmer ignores his own safety to find her again.

Brandi finally yields herself to a forbidden romance with the Swimmer. And the deeper she falls into love, the closer she comes to unlocking the mystery of her sister's final swim.

For more about The Twilight Swimmer check out these sites!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Spotlight: Steel Lily by Megan Curd

Today we're spotlighting Steel Lily, a dteampunk dystopian adventure by Megan Curd! We have an excerpt from the novel thanks to Megan. Check out the synopsis:

AVERY PIKE is a commodity. No, more than a commodity. Her existence is guarded at all costs.

She’s a water Elementalist, the strongest of her dwindling kind. She creates steam to provide energy to fuel Dome Four: the only thing standing between humanity and an earth ravaged by World War III. No steam, no Dome. No Dome, no life.

Or so she thinks.

That is, until a mysterious man offers her a way out of having to donate steam. A way to escape the corrupt government of Dome Four. While the offer seems too good to be true, Avery is intrigued.

But when she arrives to her new home, she realizes the grass isn’t any less dead on this side of the fence. Instead, the lies are just hidden better.

…Which means digging deeper.

When Avery enlists the help of her friends to uncover the truth, she learns that while some secrets are better left concealed, humankind was never meant to live in a cage. And when you can control the most sought after resource, you can learn to control anything…including the fate of your world.

Excerpt from Steel Lily:

I’d never seen anyone like him in Dome Four. His jawbone was strong, his cheekbones set high. His nose was regal and straight and when my gaze reached his eyes, my breath caught. Stormy blue-grey eyes that reminded me of shale returned my gaze with seemingly genuine curiosity, if not a bit of humor. Strips of colored fabric were woven into his dreadlocked hair, giving it a wildly unique appearance that suited him. His smug expression made me realize he was enjoying this. 
“Are you finished checking me out? If you’re not, that’s okay; I allow every new woman I meet a free five-minute gawking period. After that, it’ll cost you.” 
Blood rushed to my face. I tore my eyes from his magnetic gaze and watched as he took a worn leather strap off his wrist. He pulled back his dreadlocks–deep brown streaked with blonde–into the strap. His devilish grin pulled his eyes tight at the corners.

He was trouble incarnate. Trouble I may very well want to get into, given the right circumstances. 
“You’re at five minutes and thirty seconds now,” he said in a purr as he leaned in toward me. I felt his breath against my cheek, and my heart raced. “I’m going to start taking payment, and I choose how that payment is issued. 
Before I could respond, Alice stirred groggily beside me. She rubbed her eyes as she sat up. “Where are we?” 
“Good question,” piped Jaxon. “One that your friend here failed to ask, but it could have been because I rendered her speechless with my good looks.” 
Alice moved to get a better look at him, but he emphatically covered his face, as though he were a vampire trying to block the sun. “Don’t look at me!” he cried, then grinned as he winked at me. “I don’t want to make two ladies swoon in such a short period of time. How would I entertain myself tonight?” 
“You’re not that handsome,” I argued mulishly. 
“There’s drool on your chin. Either you’re physically unable to keep your mouth shut, or I caused you to forget how. Since when I found you, you were drool free, I’m going with the assumption that it was me.” He fished in his pocket and offered me a piece of white silk. “Here, a handkerchief for your trouble.” 

About the Author:

Megan Curd is a graduate of Northwestern College in St. Paul, Minnesota. While having always enjoyed reading any books she could get her hands on, Megan didn't begin writing until a friend encouraged her to do so while in college. When not writing, Megan enjoys spending time with her family and friends. Traveling and snowboarding are hobbies she loves, and doesn't turn down the opportunity to play xBox with her brother and friends when it presents itself. Megan currently resides in Kentucky with her husband, son, and Great Dane named Dozer.

For more about Steel Lily check out these sites!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Teaser Tuesday (56): Pirouette by Robyn Bavati

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

This week's teaser is from Pirouette by Robyn Bavati. Remember The Parent Trap? Yeah, it's sort of like that, but with ballerinas. Are you as excited as I am? This one's still a few books down on my TBR, but I was flipping through it and decided to use it as my teaser!

Imagine how I felt," Hannah said. "I mean, this morning I didn't even know you existed, and by this afternoon I was pretending to be you. And everyone just assumed I was you. It was really weird.

{Pirouette, Chapter 8}

Synopsis of Pirouette:
Adopted as babies by two different families, Simone and Hannah have never known they are identical twins. Simone has been raised as a dancer, but she hates performing. Hannah loves nothing more than dance, but her parents see it as just a hobby. When the two girls meet for the first time at the age of fifteen, they decide to swap places to change the role dance plays in their lives. Yet fooling their friends and family is more challenging than either girl expected, and they’re both burdened by the weight of their lies.

How long can Hannah and Simone keep pretending? What will happen when the truth is revealed?

For more about Pirouette check out these sites!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Review: Stargazing From Nowhere by Isabel & Marilyn Thomas

Title: Stargazing From Nowhere
Authors: Isabel & Marilyn Thomas
Publish Date: July 22nd, 2013

Kristen Morgan's blog is about to get her into trouble. Deep trouble.

Online, she is known as "Stargazer" from the popular Stargazing from Nowhere blog, while in real life she is a regular fifteen-year-old high school student. This online anonymity is quite liberating, allowing her to be completely honest with her readers. Through a twist of fate, Rising Tide, the band she has bashed the most online, ends up in her small town, which sends Kristen into an excited panic. To continue gathering fresh material for her blog, she poses as a Rising Tide fan. After sneaking into the band's private party, she comes face to face with the band's drummer, Michael Stevens, who happens to be even more gorgeous in person than she cares to admit. Something unexpected also happens to her when she meets him: she becomes giddy, nervous, and inarticulate, leading Kristen to realize that her interest in Michael has nothing to do with her blog, but everything to do with her heart.

As Kristen and Michael grow closer, does she have to make a choice between blog or boyfriend... Or is the choice made for her?”

Stargazing From Nowhere by Isabel and Marilyn Thomas is a really cute story of ordinary girl meets rockstar boy and falls in love. It's very funny and had me grinning the whole time I was reading it. The main character, Kristen, gets herself into the oddest, funniest, and often most humiliating, situations. It reminds me of watching an episode of I Love Lucy!

Kristen is a bit of an odd character. She's very easy to like with all of her good natured scheming, but she's a sensitive character who is heavily influenced by others. Kristen's mother, while meaning well, spends most of the novel trying to force Kristen to do things against her will and Kristen does nothing to stop her! She does the same when Peter, a friend of her's, just decides that she's his girlfriend. She's basically like, "Well, I don't want to do this, but it's what everyone expects so maybe I should." All I wanted was to see this girl put her foot down, just once. The caged feeling Kristen has thought the book is translated beautifully to the reader, but Kristen won't get angry when the people she loves most help contribute to it. Even when her own mother has the gall to tell her that her place is to settle into a life she doesn't want and to marry a boy she doesn't love. Kristen just sits there and takes it without ever telling anyone what she wants. Sure, things work out okay, but that isn't the point. The point is that I would have loved to see Kristen use her voice to make people see her opinion of things, especially since she wants to be a journalist.

Kristen, as a narrator, just doesn't have a unique voice. She switches back and forth between sounding like a teenager and an adult. And she repeats herself, a lot. A good chunk of the book could be completely eliminated and it would have no effect on the plot itself because it's all repeated thoughts and ideas. But the thing that annoyed me was how the teen characters spoke too formally. I know that grammar is something a lot of people look for when reading, but I feel, when reading a novel at least, that perfect grammar is not realistic, especially for teenagers. Here's an example from a conversation Kristen had with Evangeline about a necklace she received for her birthday:

Was it a birthday gift?" she asked suspiciously.

I placed a hand protectively over it. "Yes."

"From whom?

{Stargazing From Nowhere, pg. 215}

I don't know about you, but From whom? sounds so out of place coming from a teenage girl's mouth. I've always felt dialogue should sound realistic to the way people actually speak and not just grammatically correct. Or this one:
He studied me. "I really like you." 
"I really like you, too," I said shyly. 
He smiled at me, and I at him. 
{Stargazing From Nowhere, pg. 224}
And I at him? That just sounds so forced it's almost painful. But maybe that's just something that bothers me, I don't know. It wasn't something that prevented me from enjoying the story, at any rate.

There's a running theme throughout Stargazing From Nowhere about online anonymity and negativity. It really resonated with me because I can see how a person could start out blogging because they love something and are excited about it and end up in a downward spiral of pessimism. I've seen it happen to more than a few blogs I've visited. It's easy to start out sharing your love of books and before long get caught up in the jealousy and negativity that comes along with it. You want to be bigger than other bloggers so you'll get all the best books, you review so many books that eventually you barely even enjoy reading them anymore, your negative reviews begin to outweigh your positive ones. Isabel and Marilyn Thomas shine a light on the idea that negativity can be contagious and once you get caught up in it, it's hard to pull back. And that goes for all things in life, not just blogging. I think it's a really great idea that I haven't seen discussed much in other books.

All in all, Stargazing From Nowhere was a cute read with an interesting message that I would recommend to anyone who likes light contemporary romances. Especially ones with cute rockstar boys!

For more about Stargazing From Nowhere check out these sites!

And make sure to stop by to check out all the deliciously juicy extras!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Shuffle Saturday (41): Circle the Drain

Every Saturday I'll be posting a random song off of my iPod. Everyone can feel free to join in, just leave a link to your Shuffle Saturday post in the comments! This week's song is:

Circle the Drain by Katy Perry

I really love this song because I feel like it's Katy Perry's most emotional song. You can really tell that this song meant something to her and she really sings her heart out in it.

What are you listening to?

Friday, September 20, 2013

Spotlight: The Hidden Chamber in the Great Sphinx by Linda A. Cadose

Today we have an excerpt from The Hidden Chamber in the Great Sphinx by Linda A. Cadose, an adventure set in Egypt! Check out the synopsis:

American archeologist Dr. Cliff Post and his friend Egyptian archeologist Dr. Abdul Saad discover a hidden chamber in the right paw of the Great Sphinx. Inside they find an ancient supercomputer left there thousands of years ago by ancient aliens. A terrorist group seeks to obtain possession of this supercomputer. The Hidden Chamber in the Great Sphinx is the first in a series featuring the adventures of American archeologist, Dr. Cliff Post. Be sure to read the second in the series, The Underwater Pyramid in the Bermuda Triangle.

Excerpt from The Hidden Chamber in the Great Sphinx:

Chapter 5
The rest of the school year crept by for Cliff. He hadn't realized how much he was looking forward to his upcoming sabbatical until he got back from Cairo and went back to work. Talking about Egypt and being in Egypt were a far cry from one another, and the short time he'd spent there made him want to be back immediately.

He was in one of his afternoon classes giving a lecture, and he kept glancing at the clock.

"The Giza plateau is a mile square and was leveled by human hands. The plateau is 130 feet above the Nile Valley. It is only half a degree off from being perfectly level. Any questions so far?" Cliff asked his students as he paused in his lecture to make sure he wasn't losing them. A student raised his arm, and Cliff pointed to him.

"Professor, I understand why the Egyptians made the pyramids, but what was the purpose of the Great Sphinx?"

"That's a good question, Peter. The Great Sphinx guards the pyramids of Giza," Cliff told the student and pointed to another student who had her arm in the air.

"Dr. Post, what exactly is a sphinx? I've always thought it was, like, a cat," the young lady wanted to know. Some of her classmates giggled.

"Settle down, guys. That's a good question, too. Does anyone know the answer to Stephanie's question?" Cliff looked pointedly at some of the students who'd giggled when

Stephanie asked her question. "You, there. Thomas. You seemed to be very amused by Stephanie's question. Should we take it that you know the answer?"
"Well, isn't it, like, I mean, doesn't it have the body of a lion and the head of a man? I think it's something like that," Thomas said and the smile was gone from his face now that he found himself in the hot seat.

"Correct," Cliff told Thomas. "The word sphinx comes from an Egyptian phrase which means 'living image' or statue. It is a sculpture carved out of a sandstone knoll. The Great Sphinx is 240 feet long, just a little under 14 feet wide and stands 66 feet high. It wears a Pharaoh's headdress, which is denoted by the cobra on the forehead.

"The Sphinx's nose was shot off with a cannon by Napoleon's troops and is now housed in the British Museum. At one time, the Great Sphinx was painted dark red. The eyes were painted black, and the headdress was painted white. The Sphinx is situated so that it faces the rising sun on June 21st, the summer solstice.

"The face of the Great Sphinx was analyzed and compared to the face on the Louvre sphinx of pharaoh Amenenhet II. The similarities were said to be profound. Both faces are full and broad and slope downward over the cheekbones. Subsequently, the face on the Great Sphinx is believed to be the likeness of Amenenhet II. Are there any questions?"

Cliff looked around the room and realized that many of the students weren't paying attention to his lecture. Some were doodling and a few in the back of the room had their heads down on their desks. He was grateful that at least Stephanie, Thomas and Peter seemed to be interested in what he was talking about, and he smiled at each of them in turn. Cliff continued his lecture.

"There is a theory that the Great Sphinx was a statue of the Egyptian God Anubis in the Old Kingdom. Anubis was the god of the dead and mummification. He was placed on the Giza plateau to guard the Giza necropolis. The proponents of this theory believe that the body of the Great Sphinx is the body of a dog and not the body of a lion.
"There is evidence that the Sphinx was recarved in the Middle Kingdom by the pharaoh Amenenhet II in his own image. The head of the Sphinx is disproportionate to the body of the Sphinx. It is believed that the head of the Great Sphinx was much larger than it is now. Behind the Great Sphinx lies the Great Pyramid. Yes, Stephanie," Cliff said when he saw the young lady's arm in the air.

"Which pyramid is the biggest, Dr. Post?" Stephanie asked.

"The largest of the pyramids on the Giza plateau is the Great Pyramid of Pharaoh Kheops (Khufu). It is almost 486 feet tall. The pyramid's base occupies 13 acres and is said to represent the Equator. The apex of the pyramid deviates a half a degree from True North and is said to represent the Northern Hemisphere. The Great Pyramid was built with two and a half million blocks of limestone, some of which weighed 15 tons. That is more stone than can be found in all the churches, chapels and cathedrals built in England since 33 A.D.

"It is postulated that four mud ramps were erected to build the pyramid, and it took 2,500 men to construct it. The king's sarcophagus is one inch wider than the Ascending Corridor which leads to the King's Chamber toward the center of the pyramid. The King's Chamber, which is 19'1" high, 34'4" long and 17'2" wide, was to be the interment location of the pharaoh. It, however, is empty except for a large sarcophagus of rose granite. Archeologists believe that since the sarcophagus is wider than the chamber it must have been built in. Who can tell me how many sides there are to the Great Pyramid?"

"Four," Peter answered quickly.

"Ah, one would think that, wouldn't they, Peter? However, the Great Pyramid's core is concave which makes the Great Pyramid an eight-sided figure. This concavity divides each of the four faces of the pyramid in half. This feature can only be seen from the air, and the first person to record seeing it was a British Air Force pilot by the name of P. Groves, who flew over the Great Pyramid in 1940. Yes, Thomas?" Cliff paused to acknowledge Thomas who had raised his arm into the air.

"Dr. Post, I read something odd in the book, and it didn't make much sense to me. It said something about a Queen's Chamber that was built, too, but am I mistaken that it wasn't actually for burying the queen of the Pharaoh?" Thomas' brow was furrowed as he asked the question.

"You're correct, Thomas. It wasn't for the burial of the queen. The name is somewhat misleading. The Queen's Chamber in the Great Pyramid was built as an alternative
resting place for the pharaoh in the event that the King's Chamber was not completed at the time of the pharaoh's death. If the King's Chamber was completed on time, then the Queen's Chamber would be used to house a statue of the pharaoh's ka. Does anyone know what that is? Yes, Jacob?" Cliff pointed to another student who had finally decided to start paying attention.

"The ka was the pharaoh's essence," Jacob said confidently.

"That is correct, Jacob. After death, the pharaoh's khat (corpse) was mummified. The ka or spiritual double can be thought of as the personality or life force of the pharaoh. The ba was another part of the total person. The khaibut was the pharaoh's shadow, and it was associated with the ba. The ren was a person's name. You should be writing these terms down, class. It's possible you may see them on the final exam." Cliff paused as there was pronounced movement among the students as they took out paper and began to write. Cliff chuckled inwardly. He knew the mention of the final exam would make his lecture more interesting to his students.

Before continuing, Cliff took a few moments to repeat the information he'd just shared with his class, so the stragglers could write down all the terms. Once he was satisfied that they'd all had a chance to catch up, Cliff continued his lecture.

"The story goes that after his death, the ka of the pharaoh was put on a scale and weighed against an ostrich feather by the god Maat. If the pharaoh's heart was lighter than the ostrich feather, it meant that the pharaoh could enter the afterlife. Even in death, the ka would continue to need sustenance, so the family left behind by the deceased pharaoh would continue to nourish it with food and water. Are there any questions about the Great Pyramid of Pharaoh Kheops?" Cliff paused but no one raised their arms to ask questions.

"Before we run out of time today, let me quickly talk about the other pyramids. Again, you need to be writing down the terms I mention, because you'll probably see them on the final examination. Now then... The Second Pyramid was built for the Pharaoh Khephren (Khafre) and is 446 feet tall. It is made of massive limestone blocks faced inside and out with slabs of red granite. It is easily identifiable by its layers of casing stones. The Second Pyramid measures 78 million cubic feet.

"The Third Pyramid of Giza was built for the Pharaoh Mykerinus (Menkaure). At 215 feet tall, it is much smaller than the other two pyramids. The first 15 meters of this pyramid are pink granite, and the rest is limestone. Menkaure's sarcophagus was made of basalt and was lost at sea while being transported to the British museum.

"The Pharaoh Menkaure was a much more beneficent ruler than his two predecessors, Kheops and Khafre. Menkaure was known as a good king with a mild mannered disposition. Kheops and Khafre were resented by their subjects, because they enslaved their citizens and required them to labor at massive building projects.

The three pyramids form a Pytharean triangle and are aligned with the three stars in Orion's belt. Moreover, the three pyramids and the Great Sphinx are actually parts of a whole which are connected by interlocking golden angles. These golden angles measure 26 degrees, 33minutes and 54 seconds. The golden angle is found in all four corners of the Great Pyramid, all four corners of Khephren pyramid and in two corners of the Mykerinus pyramid," Cliff said as he paused and looked at the clock. He was out of time.

"That's all we have time for today, class. Make sure you finish reading chapters 23 and 24 in the book, and I'll pick up where I left off in the next class."

When all the students had left the room, Cliff released a long sigh. He stuffed his notes in his briefcase and walked out of the building. Out of a class of 45 students, only four had bothered to participate in today's class.

Yes, he was looking forward to his sabbatical, and the end of school year couldn't come quick enough.

About the Author:

Linda Cadose is a retired respiratory therapist who is now a children's book author. She likes to travel, enjoys reading, and loves history. She has been to Egypt and has visited all of the historical sites she discusses in her book. Linda currently resides in Carver, MA. For more information, visit

For more about The Hidden Chamber in the Great Sphinx on these sites!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Spotlight & Giveaway: The Phoenix Rising: Destiny Calls by Phenice Arielle

Today we have an excerpt from The Phoenix Rising: Destiny Calls by Phenice Arielle as part of The Phoenix Rising Blog Tour! There's also an awesome giveaway so make sure you enter down below! Check out the synopsis:

Sure, Kay’s parents didn’t think twice about sending her to therapy.

After all, Kay fully believes that she just narrowly escaped an explosion, watched a handsome co-ed walk through fire for her—oh, and that she battled an extremely skilled foe to the death—all before her 10 AM class!

They’re just dreams of course, but when this talented NYU student wins a coveted trip to South Africa, she soon finds out the truth—that everything her parents TRIED to convince her wasn’t real actually lies HIDDEN deep in a jungle Kay once assumed was paradise.

Now, if Kay can survive the hand-to-hand combat and the one with the ivory dagger who wishes her death, Kay may just get the answers that unlocks her dreams. Kay might even fall in love. On the other hand, our brave girl may get an answer to something she never wanted to know the answer TO:

What happens… when you die.

Excerpt from The Phoenix Rising:

“What do you remember?” 
I could barely make out the unfamiliar voice through the blinding light. I could barely even catch my breath, before being shoved back down into the piercingly cold water—a hand over my face—my arms and legs strapped down in the clear water-filled contraption. 
I gasped for dear life when the hand finally let me come back up for air. The voice wanted to know something I couldn’t remember. I was going to be killed for something I couldn’t remember. And, I had a feeling, it was something I didn’t want to remember. But my life was at stake. “Nanyamka, please remember!” I screamed at myself inside of my head. 
Boom! The explosion sent two guards flying. I knew I should help, but it was my only way out—my only way back—back to the land that I once called home. So I took my advantage and made a dash for the door. But it had found me even here.

I thought I should run—again—but the low warning roar stopped me. There was no time left. I quickly turned around, and took out the ivory-white dagger that was handed down to me. There was no tribe—and no crown—but I braced myself for the battle that was upon me. Because I had made my choice—destiny or not.

I then prepared for the worst, and hoped my loved ones knew—that no matter the outcome; when the sun had set, and the wounds had healed, the phoenix would rise, and I would return again.


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For more about The Phoenix Rising: Destiny Calls check out these sites!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Teaser Tuesday (55): Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein

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

This week's teaser comes from Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein. I haven't read Code Name Verity yet, but I recently won an ARC in a giveaway over at Born Bookish and couldn't wait to jump in, since it's a companion novel and not an actual sequel. I only just started it, but I'm already so intrigued by it! And the cover! This cover is so absolutely gorgeous in person!

Now I am upset all over again, remembering the crash. It took me by surprise, watching–I knew something was wrong, of course, but I never expected her to lose control like that, that close to the ground. It happened so suddenly.

{Rose Under Fire, pg. 11-12}

Synopsis of Rose Under Fire:

While flying an Allied fighter plane from Paris to England, American ATA pilot and amateur poet, Rose Justice, is captured by the Nazis and sent to Ravensbrück, the notorious women's concentration camp. Trapped in horrific circumstances, Rose finds hope in the impossible through the loyalty, bravery and friendship of her fellow prisoners. But will that be enough to endure the fate that’s in store for her?

Elizabeth Wein, author of the critically-acclaimed and best-selling Code Name Verity, delivers another stunning WWII thriller. The unforgettable story of Rose Justice is forged from heart-wrenching courage, resolve, and the slim, bright chance of survival.

For more about Rose Under Fire check out these sites!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Excerpt: Fire & Flood by Victoria Scott

Today we're featuring an excerpt from Victoria Scott's new fantasy/dystopian Fire & Flood! Personally I can't wait until February 2014 to get my hands on a copy of this one. The cover is absolutely gorgeous and the plot sounds amazing! Check out the synopsis:

A modern day thrill ride, where a teen girl and her animal companion must participate in a breathtaking race to save her brother's life—and her own.

Tella Holloway is losing it. Her brother is sick, and when a dozen doctors can't determine what's wrong, her parents decide to move to Montana for the fresh air. She's lost her friends, her parents are driving her crazy, her brother is dying—and she's helpless to change anything.

Until she receives mysterious instructions on how to become a Contender in the Brimstone Bleed. It's an epic race across jungle, desert, ocean, and mountain that could win her the prize she desperately desires: the Cure for her brother's illness. But all the Contenders are after the Cure for people they love, and there's no guarantee that Tella (or any of them) will survive the race.

The jungle is terrifying, the clock is ticking, and Tella knows she can't trust the allies she makes. And one big question emerges: Why have so many fallen sick in the first place?

Excerpt from Fire & Flood:

I drove across the US of A, left my family without an explanation, and now I’m either too late or there was never anything here to begin with. F my life. Rearing back, I kick the door as hard as I can. Then I wrap both hands around the door handles and release a noise like a wild banshee as

I pull back.

The doors swing open.

I’m not sure whether to celebrate or freak out. I decide to do neither and slip inside. As I walk around the inside of the museum, listening to the sound of my footsteps echo off the walls, I imagine I am moments from death. It’s sad, I think, that this is all it takes to break my sanity.

Two curling flights of stairs bow out from the first-floor lobby, and red and white tiles cover the floors. There are gilded picture frames everywhere. So many that I think the placement of the frames — and not their contents — is the real art. Everything, absolutely everything, smells like wax. I mosey up to an abandoned reception desk and leaf through the glossy pamphlets littering the surface. I hold one of the pamphlets up to my nose. Yep, wax.

I glance around, having no idea what to look for. Will there be a sign like at school registration?

Students with last names A–K this way? 
On my left, I notice a long hallway dotted with doors on either side. Nothing looks particularly unusual. But when I glance to my right, I spot something. There’s a door at the end of the corridor that has a sliver of light glowing beneath it. I’m sure it’s just an administration office, one where someone forgot to flip the switch. But I’ve got nothing better to go on, so I head toward it.

I pause outside the door, wondering if I’m about to get busted for B&E. Then I turn the handle and find myself at the top of another winding staircase.

You’ve got to be kidding me. What is this, Dracula’s bachelor pad? 
I’ve watched a lot of scary movies, and I’ve learned nothing good is ever at the bottom of a winding staircase. Pulling in a breath and preparing myself to be eaten alive, I head down. My shoes are loud against the steps. So loud, I imagine they are intentionally trying to get me killed.

When I reach the final few stairs, I ready myself to look around the bend. My heart is racing, and I secretly pray the worst I encounter is an angry janitor with a wax addiction. I turn the bend — and my eyes nearly pop from my skull.

The enormous room is perfectly circular, dotted with candles to light the space. Surrounding the walls are rows and rows of dark, rich mahogany bookshelves. A large round table stands in the center of the red-and-white-tiled floor. The room is spectacular, but what it holds is so jarring, my ears ring.

Across every shelf, every spot on the table, every tile on the floor — are small sculptures of hands. And in a few of those hands — the ones still performing their duty — are eggs. There are only nine eggs left, it seems. For a moment, I imagine how amazing it would have been to see each hand holding an egg, but it’s enough just to see these nine.

The eggs seem to dance in the candle flame, and as I move closer, I realize why. The surfaces of the eggs are almost iridescent, their colors changing depending on how you look at them. They are different sizes, too; some as big as a basketball, others as small as a peach.

I don’t need the device in my pocket to tell me what my gut already knows.

This is the Pandora Selection Process.

For more about Fire & Flood check out these sites!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Shuffle Saturday (40): Little Games

Every Saturday I'll be posting a random song off of my iPod. Everyone can feel free to join in, just leave a link to your Shuffle Saturday post in the comments! This week's song is:

Little Games by The Colourist

I just discovered this song because it's iTunes Free Song of the Week, and I'm sort of in love with it. The video is pretty interesting too!

What are you listening to?

Friday, September 13, 2013

Review: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Title: The Fault in Our Stars
Author: John Green
Publisher: Dutton Books
Publish Date: January 10th, 2012

Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel's story is about to be completely rewritten.

How do you judge a book that puts on full display all of your deepest worries and fears? You don't. Not really. All you can do is just sit back and let it move you and then try to accurately explain the experience. So here it goes: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green is brilliant and intelligent, but mostly, it's just honest.

There's something so... connected about The Fault in Our Stars. It makes you look at death in a realistic way, in a way that says this happens to everyone and will one day happen to you and how are you going to deal with it? Death is the one thing that connects every living thing. It doesn't matter who or what or where we are, we will die one day, no matter what. And it's sad and horrible, but, reading this book, death's not brushed over, it's not swept under the rug so we can have our fantasy of happily ever after, but it's also not as tragic as one would think. It's actually quite beautiful.

The funny thing about The Fault in Our Stars is that it's full of this suspense. Not knowing whether a character will succumb to their body's illness is possibly the most suspenseful suspense can get. And then adding the whole Peter Van Houten mystery and its just so much. All I wanted was for Hazel and Gus to meet this guy, a guy who I could care less about, but they were so enthusiastic about it they made me enthusiastic for them. I couldn't wait to see their reactions.

I have to say, in the beginning I was a little put off by some of the vocabulary used in this book. I mean, I have a pretty decent vocabulary, but there were times when I had to look up the definition of the words in the definition of the word I just looked up. Seriously! It's not a huge deal, but if I had to say one thing detracted from my enjoyment of the book, that was it, at least at first. It's something that grows on you as you read until eventually you can't imagine the book any other way. I'll say this though, John Green doesn't talk down to his readers. He expects them to keep up.

There's something so odd about this book, because, unlike the hundreds of other books I've loved and then tried to push on people, I don't want to push this one on anyone. It's like Green says in the book, some books give you an evangelical zeal while others make you wish that no one but you knew of them at all. And I think it's because the beauty of John Green's words will not be felt by all who read them. I know so many people who wouldn't have this book touch them the way it touched me and there's something so sad about that. It's like commenting on how beautiful the stars are and having the person you're with shrug and say, "Yeah, sure." It's like you're trying to share this piece of your soul with them and they can't see it. That might be a little bit dramatic, but it's how this book made me feel. It moved me in a way you can't always make other people understand. There are some things that are ruined when we try to share them with others. Some things that are better off kept to ourselves. The Fault in Our Stars is one of those things for me.

For more about The Fault in Our Stars check out these sites!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Book Blitz: American Girl on Saturn by Nikki Godwin

Today we're excited to have an excerpt from American Girl on Saturn by Nikki Godwin for the YA Bound Book Tour! This book sounds like a hilarious girl-meets-rockstar romance and I can't wait to read it! There's a really cool giveaway below so make sure you enter. Check out the synopsis:

The summer after graduation is supposed to be that first real taste of freedom - but not for eighteen-year-old Chloe Branson. Just as that breeze of freedom is making its way into her galaxy, her secret-service-agent dad drops a meteor-sized bomb of bad news on her and her sisters. An attempt has been made on the lives of Canadian boyband, Spaceships Around Saturn, during their USA tour, and the guys have to go into hiding ASAP. The only problem?

In the midst of the crisis and media frenzy, their dad volunteered to hide the their house.

Six-year-old Emery is as ecstatic as any self-proclaimed Saturnite would be, but Chloe and her seventeen-year-old sister Aralie watch their summer plans crash and burn like a falling star. The SAS guys aren't happy with the situation, either. Bad boy Jules picks fights with Aralie about everything from his Twitter followers to his laundry, and heart-throb Benji can't escape Emery's fangirlisms for more than three minutes.

But after the super-cute Milo kisses Chloe during a game of hide-and-seek, she finally understands what Emery means when she talks about SAS being "out of this world." If this is what Saturn feels like, Chloe doesn't want to come back to Earth.

Excerpt from American Girl on Saturn:

I push him back. “You cheated!” 
“Milo wins!” Noah shouts out. “I really thought you had it too, Chloe. I can’t believe you just crumbled like that.” 
“He cheated,” I repeat.

Milo shakes his head in protest. Noah has the audacity to agree with him. And thanks to Emery’s lost spinner in the grass, the plastic is my only other witness. Noah saunters over to us like a rapper trying to pull off a classic swagger.

“Good job, Milo,” he says. “You know how clumsy girls can be. I knew you’d take her down.” 
I peel myself off of the plastic, grab my flip flops, and head back toward the house. I’ve had enough exhilaration and angst for one afternoon. The video premiere was enough. PornoPosed-Twister with Milo was too much. But I can’t escape Spaceships Around Saturn even if I try.

Milo and Noah come up behind me like a black hole engulfing a shooting star.

“Whoa, where are you going?” Noah asks. “I need you to work some Sharpie magic for I spin around by the pool. The blue water glistens behind him.

“Why don’t you ask your Canadian brother to help you out? I’ll even lend you the Sharpies, traitor,” I say. 
Noah attempts a jaw-dropped shocked expression, but his dimples pierce through and make it impossible for him to look appalled. He moves closer to me.

“If you wouldn’t keep secrets from me then I would’ve backed you up,” he says through his teeth. “I need to be in the loop.” 
An evil thought crosses my mind, and I instantly do what I can to erase it. But it’s sort of like typing an English essay. You type a line. You think it sucks. You slowly backspace. Then you realize it helps meet that three-and-a-half-pages criteria, so you keep it. This evil thought is too good for the backspace button.

“You want in the loop?” I ask.

He nods rapidly, and his smile bounces up and down.

“Okay,” I say. “Spell ‘loop’ backward, and you’ll totally be in it.” 
I wait half a second for the word to click in his brain before I push him with all my energy into the cold water behind him. A splash of H2O floods the poolside concrete and splatters over my feet as Noah bobs to the surface. I rush to the patio door before he has a chance to climb out and throw me in.

But Milo blocks my escape.

“Are you free tonight?” he asks.

“As free as I can be on a lockdown,” I reply. 
He slides the patio door open and motions me inside. “I’ll hold Noah back,” he says. “As long as you promise to meet me out here at midnight.”


a Rafflecopter giveaway

About the Author:

Nikki Godwin is a Young Adult author from the southern USA. She is a city girl who can't live without Mountain Dew, black eyeliner, Hawthorne Heights, and candles from Bath & Body Works. When not writing, she's not-so-secretly internet-stalking her favorite bands. She is slightly obsessed with rock stars and surfers. She no longer hides her love for One Direction.

For more about American Girl on Saturn check out these sites!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Teaser Tuesday (54): Inhuman by Kat Falls

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

This week's teaser is from Inhuman by Kat Falls. This book has one of the coolest covers I've ever seen, plus anything about a giant wall keeping out some sort of post-apocalyptic mutation? Yes! I flipped through the first few pages and I think I'm going to have to bump this one up my To Read a little bit.

Now that I was actually on the roof of the skyscraper, I was having second thoughts. Maybe it was the spotlights sweeping the streets below, or the patrol planes flying in pairs along the top of the Titan wall, or maybe it was just my good sense reasserting itself.

{Inhuman, Chapter 1}

Synopsis of Inhuman:

In a world ravaged by mutation, a teenage girl must travel into the forbidden Savage Zone to recover lost artifacts or her father’s life is forfeit.

America has been ravaged by a war that has left the eastern half of the country riddled with mutation. Many of the people there exhibit varying degrees of animal traits. Even the plantlife has gone feral.

Crossing from west to east is supposed to be forbidden, but sometimes it’s necessary. Some enter the Savage Zone to provide humanitarian relief. Sixteen-year-old Lane’s father goes there to retrieve lost artifacts—he is a Fetch. It’s a dangerous life, but rewarding—until he’s caught.

Desperate to save her father, Lane agrees to complete his latest job. That means leaving behind her life of comfort and risking life and limb—and her very DNA—in the Savage Zone. But she’s not alone. In order to complete her objective, Lane strikes a deal with handsome, roguish Rafe. In exchange for his help as a guide, Lane is supposed to sneak him back west. But though Rafe doesn’t exhibit any signs of “manimal” mutation, he’s hardly civilized . . . and he may not be trustworthy.

For more about Inhuman check out these sites!

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