Saturday, November 30, 2013

Shuffle Saturday (49): Chocolate

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:

Chocolate by The 1975

I love the upbeat sound of this song, although I'm totally confused by the depressing vibe of the video. Still, this is one of my favorite songs at the moment and I can't seem to stop listening to it!

What are you listening to?

Friday, November 29, 2013

Guest Post: Sarah J. Pepper, author of Death of the Mad Hatter

Today we have a fun guest post from Sarah J. Pepper, author of Death of the Mad Hatter. She's telling us about her favorite Alice In Wonderland retellings! And, come on, who doesn't love Wonderland retellings? Also, Sarah's holding a giveaway over on her Facebook page! So make sure to GO ENTER!

If the king loses his head, then the Queen with a Bleeding Heart would rule the Red Court until Time ceased to move forward. When a second carried on for infinity, every creature in Wonderland would tip their Hat to the misfit girl with a Boy’s name (or was it a boy with a Girl’s name?) who’d end the Reign of Terror. However, it all hinged on the One-Eyed Hare being able to convince an uninspirable Heir that the impossible was indeed possible—like stopping time—and that Love was worth a Beheading.
Heads would Roll…

Hearts would Break…

In the end, would it matter who Reigned?

Top 3 Interesting Retellings of Alice in Wonderland:

I thought it would be fun to incorporate a few of the original Alice in Wonderland quotes to reference the most significant (to me) Wonderland retellings.

Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.

I’ve always been a little afraid of Alice’s story—okay, lame I know, but I blame Disney for my irrational fear of all things Wonderland. I watched the movie when I was a young girl, and being a food lover, I was petrified. Why? Because Alice ate some yummy food and then didn’t stop growing!! How could you hide the fact that you snuck a cupcake from Mom when you are ten feet tall? So eating a wonderous breakfast was out of the question. If a cupcake could make me a giant, then I wasn’t about to try the orange juice.

You would have to be half mad to dream me up.

Johnny Depp’s Alice in Wonderland would probably be my next favorite retelling. Any J.D. fan will love his performance. He gets so into his characters, becoming them through and through. Since Death of the Mad Hatter is focused mainly on the Mad Hatter, I was inspired by Depp and hope that is portrayed in the novel. Maybe I, me, and myself, am a little bit mad to dream up a character who is unapologetically insane.

Off with their heads!

“Wonderland was an intoxicating, magical world where the most farfetched dreams could come true and the impossible was possible. Conversely, it was a realm where the most daunting nightmares could haunt us until the end of time”—Death of the Mad Hatter. To me, Wonderland is a beautiful haunting place (probably because I have mixed feelings about their food). But to another person, the food might be the best part about the fantasy world. I just love how far the imagination can take you, which is why Alice in Zombieland is my third favorite retelling. The author took us to a completely different Wonderland than what most people imagine. So off with their zombie heads!

About the Author:

I specialize in dark, paranormal romance – think “happy ever after” but with a twisted, dark chocolate center. Real-life romance isn't only filled with hugs, kisses, unicorns, and rainbows. True-love can be more thoroughly described in times of darkness and tribulation. It’s in those harsh moments where you see what a person is truly capable of – both the good and bad. Sometimes prince-charming isn't always on time, and the glass slipper is a little snug. However, it doesn't mean Charming is not Mr. Right, and who says every shoe is the perfect fit?

For more about Death and the Mad Hatter check out these sites!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Teaser Tuesday (61): An Abundance of Katherines by John Green

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

This week's teaser is from An Abundance of Katherines by John Green. It's not as beautiful as The Fault In Our Stars was, but it is charming and clever in the way that seems to have John Green written all over it.

What's the point of being alive if you don't at least try to do something remarkable? How very odd, to believe God gave you life, and yet not think that life asks more of you than watching TV.

{An Abundance of Katherines, pg. 33}

Synopsis of An Abundance of Katherines:

Katherine V thought boys were gross

Katherine X just wanted to be friends

Katherine XVIII dumped him in an e-mail

K-19 broke his heart

When it comes to relationships, Colin Singleton's type happens to be girls named Katherine. And when it comes to girls named Katherine, Colin is always getting dumped. Nineteen times, to be exact.

On a road trip miles from home, this anagram-happy, washed-up child prodigy has ten thousand dollars in his pocket, a bloodthirsty feral hog on his trail, and an overweight, Judge Judy-loving best friend riding shotgun--but no Katherines. Colin is on a mission to prove The Theorem of Underlying Katherine Predictability, which he hopes will predict the future of any relationship, avenge Dumpees everywhere, and finally win him the girl. Love, friendship, and a dead Austro-Hungarian archduke add up to surprising and heart-changing conclusions in this ingeniously layered comic novel about reinventing oneself.

For more about An Abundance of Katherines check out these sites!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Spotlight: Into the Deep by Missy Fleming

Today we're spotlighting Into the Deep by Missy Fleming. The cover of this one is so pretty and I love that it's about mermaids! I haven't read very many mermaid books before. Check out the synopsis:

No one understands the fury of the ocean like Zoey.

Ten years ago, she lost her leg in a freak shark attack. The night after her sixteenth birthday, she has yet to accept her awkward prosthetic limb or the fact she will always be different. Wary of the sea, and its hidden threats, she ventures to a bonfire at the beach. She’s mesmerized by its awesome power, wondering what she ever had to fear, until a rogue wave sweeps her into the cool, salty water.

Zoey believed mermaids were creatures of legend, characters in silly children’s stories, but it’s hard to ignore the captivating tail that’s suddenly appeared, or the sense of finally being whole. She abandons her life on land in search of answers about who she really is and where she came from.

What she discovers is a kingdom full of intrigue and danger, as well as a royal father she never knew existed. Settling into her role as a mermaid princess, she learns her family is under attack, both on land and in the water. Raging storms swell up, threatening coastal cities, and sea levels rise practically overnight, endangering the lives of everyone she loves. Determined to stop the strange phenomena, Zoey becomes caught up in the race to track down what, or who, is responsible for the catastrophic events.

But, Zoey possesses another secret, one born of legend and more powerful than any mer or human can imagine.

For more about Into The Deep check out these sites!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Fire & Flood Bonus Scene and Giveaway!

Today we have a bonus scene from Victoria Scott's upcoming fantasy adventure, Fire & Flood! This bonus scene introduces us to Harper Shaw, a minor character in the book that the main characters spend a lot of time with. Victoria is also giving away a signed ARC of Fire & Flood so make sure to enter below!

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?

Bonus Scene from Fire & Flood:

Harper Shaw, Minor Character
The Brimstone Bleed started four hours ago, give or take. I’ve traveled as far as necessary for now, put adequate distance between myself and the other Contenders. There will be plenty who travel without stopping, without making a plan.


Like the others, I don’t know anything about this race, only that I need the prize—the Cure—more than I need my own beating heart. I can still remember my mother’s words as I left our home.

“I don’t know where you think you’re going, Harper,” she said. “But you can’t just leave us like this. Not now.”

But I did leave. It’s not like I could tell her about the invitation. Or explain what would happen next. Because the truth was, I didn’t know. Two days ago, I was lounging on my bed, listening to Linkin Park and watching MTV on mute. Today, I’m here, in a jungle, fighting to save the most important person in my life.

A caw rips through the late afternoon, and the dense canopy overhead rustles. I breathe in the smell of rich, damp soil that is almost invigorating. The air is thick and damp and clings to my skin, and everywhere I look is a plant I’ve never seen before. The world is a canvas of purple vines and orange flowers and greenery that swallows the ground beneath my feet. It’s both horrific and captivating at once.

Every few seconds, I stop to swipe insects off my skin. It doesn’t bother me. I’m not the squeamish type. The only thing I’m worried about is the egg in my Brimstone Bleed issued bag.

A Pandora, the device said. An animal that will help me win this competition. My heart roars in my chest when the bag against my hip stirs once again.

Now that we’re alone, I drop to my knees and remove the egg. When I see a prominent crack down the side, my entire body buzzes with anticipation. I’ve never had a pet before. Not a dog, not a cat…not even a goldfish. And now I’m supposed to travel with an animal that could potentially save my life and Lillian’s? It’s hard to absorb.

The egg cracks again, and I freeze. My hands hover over the iridescent shell, unsure of what to do. But this Pandora doesn’t need my help. It’s eager to escape its prison, eager to fulfill its destiny. I admire its tenacity already, but my stomach churns wondering what my Pandora will be like. Will it be ruthless? Endearing? Will it make it so that I don’t feel utterly alone?

The egg burst open and I fall back, a gasp escaping my throat. I glance around to ensure we are alone. And when I look back, my hands shaking, my eyes widening, I see it— 
A feather.


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For more about Fire & Flood check out these sites!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Release Day Blitz: Deadly To Promise by Mia Hoddell

Today we're celebrating the release of Deadly To Promise, book two in the Elemental Killers series by Mia Hoddell! Make sure you enter the giveaway down below! And check out the synopsis for the book, along with a short excerpt:

Becoming an E.K isn’t a choice for Serena – it’s a necessity to survive. To destroy the Elementals she has to leave her old life behind. She has to train and follow a strict regime. But with time against her, she has only a few weeks to master the skills Kai spent his whole life perfecting.

The knowledge passed down from her ancestors is crucial to the Elementals demise and the success of their mission. However, the path they must follow is lined with riddles, each more confusing than the next. It doesn’t matter how close to succeeding they get, it’s never enough. The Elementals are one step ahead at every revelation and that can only mean one thing – the E.Ks have a traitor among them.

Top 5 Weirdest things found when researching Elemental Killers:

That’s a hard question to answer as there wasn’t much research involved in creating the series. I invented my own island on Earth and parts of the story are based on real life experiences. All I researched was mythical creatures when I decided I wanted a paranormal element and tiny details like weapons etc. I came across a lot of weird creatures so I’ll list those instead.

1. A dragon that has two heads but they are made out of plums. This was definitely the weirdest thing I came across.

2. A goat that is half fish so its bottom half is a tail rather than hooves.

3. Manticore – a lion’s body with a tail made from poisonous spikes (like on a porcupine). It can shoot these spikes when attacking. It also said to have a man’s face.

4. Phooka - an Irish goblin who are shape shifters. They often take the form of a horse or goat and known as pranksters. They also notorious kidnappers by breaking into houses Santa Clause style.

5. Barbegazi – A type of Swiss Gnome that live in the mountains. It means ‘frozen beard’ and its said they can dig themselves out of any depth of snow so like riding avalanches. Their call is also meant to sound like the wind.

Excerpt from Deadly To Promise:

“Have you ever been swimming here?” I asked moving my head to watch his reaction as I brought my feet up out of the water and folded them beside me. 
“Yeah, most summers when I came here. We all used to use it as a way to cool off or just have some fun in between training.” 
“How about skinny dipping?” I asked my grin growing due to the thoughts running through my head. 
“Why? You want to try it?” he challenged. 
“Only if you go first,” I laughed but stopped instantly when he removed his shirt and tossed it behind us. My eyes widened in surprise and I started to regret my words. “You’re not being serious are you?” I stuttered as he pulled off his shoes, throwing them over to where his shirt was crumpled. 
“You can’t chicken out now Rea. It was your idea,” he said smiling as he removed each sock, teasing me as they ended up with the rest of his discarded garments. 
I just stared at him, my lips moving but not making a sound as I tried to find an excuse. 
He laughed at me. “Relax Rea, I’m just teasing you. Well unless you’ve changed your mind. In that case I’m being deadly serious.” He had a cheeky grin on his face as he spoke and I pushed him hard, toppling him into the water below. 
There was a lot of splashing but Kai surfaced finally, taking a deep breath as he flicked the hair out of his eyes. I was clutching my stomach in fits of laughter as I bent over. The shock on his face was priceless. 
“Oh you are so dead Rea, so, so dead,” he said, his voice ragged as the cold water and shock affected his half naked body. I just continued to laugh as he floated in front of me, his head bobbing up and down in a comical way.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

About the Author:

Mia Hoddell lives in the UK with her family and two cats. She spends most of her time writing or reading and loves anything paranormal. Mia always had a love of writing but never reading. She was more interested in sports and hated sitting still - despite getting three poems published before the age of sixteen. Finally though, she found some novels that captured her interest and developed a love of reading which is now one of her favourite hobbies.

Mia began with poems before moving on to short stories. Although she enjoyed this, Mia found she had too much to tell with too little space, so later on she created her first series 'The Wanderer Trilogy' and from there other ideas have emerged. With a total of nine books planned at this moment, she is busy working on her second series 'Elemental Killers' before moving onto the next idea on her ever growing list.

For one week only, both Deadly to Love and Deadly to Promise are 99c / 77p!

Shuffle Saturday (48): Mix Tape

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:

Mix Tape by Brand New

I used to listen to Brand New all the time. I haven't listened to them in a while, but every once in a while I still have to break out this song.

What are you listening to?

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Review: The Fiery Heart by Richelle Mead

Title: The Fiery Heart
Author: Richelle Mead
Publisher: Razorbill
Publish Date: November 19th, 2013
                  times infinity!

In The Indigo Spell, Sydney was torn between the Alchemist way of life and what her heart and gut were telling her to do. And in one breathtaking moment that Richelle Mead fans will never forget, she made a decision that shocked even her. . . .

But the struggle isn't over for Sydney. As she navigates the aftermath of her life-changing decision, she still finds herself pulled in too many directions at once. Her sister Zoe has arrived, and while Sydney longs to grow closer to her, there's still so much she must keep secret. Working with Marcus has changed the way she views the Alchemists, and Sydney must tread a careful path as she harnesses her profound magical ability to undermine the way of life she was raised to defend. Consumed by passion and vengeance, Sydney struggles to keep her secret life under wraps as the threat of exposure—and re-education—looms larger than ever.

Pulses will race throughout this thrilling fourth installment in the New York Times bestselling Bloodlines series, where no secret is safe.

Holy hell. This book. I don't even know how to explain my emotions so I think I'll just rant. Am I happy? Really, really happy. Sad? Like one of Adrian's downswings sad. But mostly I just feel a pukey. The Fiery Heart by Richelle Mead is, by far, the most emotional book I've read in the whole Vampire Academy universe, and that's saying something.

I don't know how many times I can say it, but Sydney Sage is a badass. Sydney is an incredible heroine. The most incredible heroine I've ever had the pleasure to read, in my opinion. She's smart, loyal, strong, capable and incredibly romantic. Let's just say, it's not only Adrian dropping the swoon worthy lines in The Fiery Heart. Her character growth from beginning of the book to the end is huge, just like it's been with every other book in this series. Can't wait to see what other incredible things she'll accomplish before the end of this series rolls around.

And now for the Adrian Ivashkov love. Seriously. He just gets better and better, same as Sydney. Throughout the book I wasn't sure who's POV I enjoyed reading more. They were both so bittersweet. And the things that happen to Adrian, the things he does—not for Sydney like he did with Rose, but for himself—is incredible. His character has been taken to a whole different level after this book. I can only imagine after that cliffhanger that some very bad things are going to go down in his life, but after seeing him overcome so many things in this book, I have no doubt Adrian will pull it together in Silver Shadows.

There are so many things I want to say, about Jill and Eddie and Rose and Lissa, about every character we've come to love. So many emotions and events to discuss, but that will leave this review even more ranty and spoiler-ridden than it already is, so I'll keep all the things to myself. But I will say this. The Fiery Heart left me wanting to crawl out of my skin in the best possible way you can imagine. I don't know what to do with myself now. To borrow a line for Adrian in Bloodlines, "Jesus Christ, I'm climbing the walls." I guess, at some point, I'll have to pick up another book and immerse myself in another fictional world, but at the moment my heart is lost somewhere in Palm Springs. (Probably in a bar, sitting right next to a drunk and despairing—yet still remarkably alluring—green eyed boy staring at a small dragon figurine.)

Fo more about The Fiery Heart check out these sites!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Teaser Tuesday (60): The Fiery Heart by Richelle Mead

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

This week's teaser is from The Fiery Heart by Richelle Mead and I'm so GAH! It's incredible, really. If you haven't gotten a copy yet, go. Go right now! There's just so many unexpected things.

This book I'd been waiting for had just come out, and the only thing I wanted to do was read it all night."

"My God," I said, touching the top of her nose. "You're adorable.

{The Fiery Heart, Chapter 19}

Synopsis of The Fiery Heart:

In The Indigo Spell, Sydney was torn between the Alchemist way of life and what her heart and gut were telling her to do. And in one breathtaking moment that Richelle Mead fans will never forget, she made a decision that shocked even her. . . .

But the struggle isn't over for Sydney. As she navigates the aftermath of her life-changing decision, she still finds herself pulled in too many directions at once. Her sister Zoe has arrived, and while Sydney longs to grow closer to her, there's still so much she must keep secret. Working with Marcus has changed the way she views the Alchemists, and Sydney must tread a careful path as she harnesses her profound magical ability to undermine the way of life she was raised to defend. Consumed by passion and vengeance, Sydney struggles to keep her secret life under wraps as the threat of exposure—and re-education—looms larger than ever.

Pulses will race throughout this thrilling fourth installment in the New York Times bestselling Bloodlines series, where no secret is safe.

For more about The Fiery Heart check out these sites!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Spotlight & Giveaway: Unbound by Georgia Bell

Today we have an excerpt from Unbound by Georgia Bell, a paranormal romance 1,500 years in the making! We're giving away 2 copies of Unbound to two lucky winners so make sure to enter below. Check out the synopsis:

After her father dies, Rachel realizes she is scared and stuck. Scared of heights, of cars, of disasters harming the people she loves. Stuck in a life that is getting smaller by the minute. Stuck with a secret she has kept all her life: Someone has been watching over her since birth. Someone who tends to show up when she needs him the most. Someone she believes is her guardian angel.

Eaden is a 1,500-year-old immortal who wants to die. Drained by a life stretched too thin, he has requested his final reward – a mortal sacrifice bred specifically to bring him death. But something went wrong. Rachel’s ability to grant death has mutated in ways that threaten to upset the uneasy alliance between mortals and immortals. And utterly beguiled, Eaden discovers that although Rachel is the key to his death, because of her, he no longer wants to die. And he will do anything to protect her.

Swept into a world of legends, caught between the warring political factions of immortals, and carrying the future of mortal kind in her flesh and bone, Rachel must risk everything to save her world and the man she loves.

Excerpt from Unbound:

“I know you’re there,” I said, pitching my voice towards the darkness. It echoed down the empty street. “We need to talk.” I waited, forcing myself not to move away, not to look away. My heart pounded in my ears and I took a deep breath to steady myself. A car moved down the road towards me and I watched it pass, the headlights glaring and then receding as it rounded the corner of the next street. 
His shadow stretched out before him as he moved on to the sidewalk under the glow of the streetlamp. He said nothing, only stared at me with a bemused expression. I wanted to say something else, but found that now I could only stare back. He wore the same long dark coat and gloves he always wore, his clothes tailored, but nondescript, his hair disheveled, but not untidy. The familiar feeling of tranquility settled on me as he moved closer and my head swam as if each of my thoughts was sinking slowly through deep water. Looking up at him, his stormy grey eyes were as sad and as haunting as I remembered them. 
We stood staring at each other silently, as if the other was something new and remarkable. I was puzzled by my lack of speech. After all of this time, there were so many things I had wanted to say to him. Why wasn’t I talking? Reaching up to touch my throat, I frowned, trying to remember how to voice the questions that waited patiently for articulation. Seeming to notice my confusion, his expression became strained and his eyes guarded. He stared down at his gloved hands as if he was unable to bear witness to my struggle for words. 
Minutes passed and neither of us moved. 
Distantly troubled, I watched as he confronted whatever demons were wrestling within him. Eventually, his shoulders slumped in defeat and he nodded to himself – an acknowledgement that a decision had been made. 
Moving slowly, he took off his gloves and placed them in his coat pocket, raised his hand towards my face with infinite care, and lightly touched my cheek. He let his fingers trace the line of my jaw, his expression now unfathomable as a shiver raced down my back. 
“Hello,” he said. 
I finally found my voice and my eyes locked on his. “Who are you? 
“My name is Eaden,” he said. 
I nodded. It was a start. 
“We need to talk,” I said again. It was unlikely that I had ever been guilty of such an understatement. 
He stepped closer, our bodies almost touching. I was aware of every inch of him, as if somehow he had become an extension of me, another limb once lost and now recovered. My heart rallied and sped up as I tilted my head to study him. Sighing, he raised his eyes to the sky and then closed them, shaking his head before looking back down at me, a hint of a smile dancing around his lips. 
“I’ll see you in the morning, Rachel,” he said and then turned and walked away. Within a few heartbeats he was hidden amongst the shadows once again. 
“Eaden,” I said quietly to myself and went inside.


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About the Author:

Georgia Bell was raised on a steady diet of science fiction and fantasy, courtesy of her father, a man who loved his family, fishing, scotch, and science (although not necessarily in that order). Georgia is an avid reader of young adult fiction, and a lover of good wine, music, children, and cats (although not necessarily in that order). She's currently working on Unknown, the second book in the All Good Things trilogy.

For more about Unbound check out these sites!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Blog Tour Review: The Lair by Emily McKay

Title: The Lair
Author: Emily McKay
Publisher: Berkley
Publish Date: November 7th, 2013

In the battle against the vampiric Ticks, humanity was slowly but certainly headed for extinction. For months, twin sisters Lily and Mel had been “quarantined” with thousands of other young people being harvested for their blood—food for the Ticks. Finally escaping with a few friends, the twins are separated—and must continue the fight on their own . . .

After making it to a resistance base camp in Utah, Lily learned to survive at all costs. But when a Tick attack decimates the fighters, Lily and her pregnant friend, McKenna, decide to make the hard trek north to Canada—and safety.

Meanwhile, Mel is being taught how to survive by the very vampire that turned her. Living without her sister is hard, but dealing with the fact that her autism was cured by the vampire bite is an even bigger challenge.

But when a monstrous betrayal places Lily in mortal danger, Mel must set out to find her, save her, and begin to unravel the empire of destruction that the Ticks have built.

The Lair by Emily McKay picks up right where The Farm leaves off and thrusts you back into Mel's head, whom, if you've read The Farm, you'll know had something huge happen to her in the last few chapters. It's nice to be able to pick up right where we left these characters because their journey through a Tick (half vampire/half zombie-like creatures who crave blood) infested world to battle an evil vampire set on world domination is just getting started.

This time around Mel and Carter are the focus, and Lily, main character of The Farm, has been booted to the third person chapters, just as Carter was in book one. Two first person POV's and one third may seem like an odd set up, but it worked in The Farm and it continues to work in The Lair. The difference between the POV's really helps keep track of which character is speaking, especially towards the end of the novel. I won't spoil anything, but Lily having the third person POV makes a lot of sense at the end.

I'll admit, for a little bit in the first hundred pages or so, switching between Carter and Lily with barely any Mel was a little hard to sit through. Don't get me wrong, I adore Carter and Lily and their storylines had a lot of action in them, but in the beginning of the book all either one talks about is their relationship. For a few pages I was certain this was a sign of second book syndrome, but I kept reading because I wanted to find out about Mel. If there had been a little bit more Mel POV thrown in here and there it might have made it easier to get through that first hundred pages. But, not to worry! McKay gets through the teen angst quickly enough and, once the characters have too much going on to think about their love lives, the story really picks up.

One of the most interesting aspects of The Lair is that it focuses so much on Mel's changing personality. In The Farm, Mel is a sweet and intelligent girl, but is perceived as less than her sister Lily because of her autism. We get to see how her mind works in The Farm, get to see how she communicates through nursery rhymes and hears music in the world around her that other people can't. But in The Lair, Mel's music has been ripped away from her. Slowly, we get to see how her perception of the world around her changes, as well as the way she thinks. Her autism fades, but, what I find so interesting is, she's not happy about it. She misses her rhymes and her music. Most people would assume that being able to be "normal" would be better than what she used to have, but Mel is inspiring because she longs for her old life. She was happy with who she was and Sebastian, her vampire mentor, understands that. He didn't see her as less before, but he needs to get her ready to survive now. And that's what makes Mel's POV so much fun. I love how you can slowly see her personality come out and, when it gets right down to it, how much like Lily she really is. Plus Sebastian is Grrrrrr ;)

Question. And this is a total spoiler if you haven't read the book so CAUTION!!!, but (highlight to read spoiler) does anyone else want Sebastian to totally redeem himself in book three and live happily ever after with Mel because they're just too adorable? Because I do!

I highly recommend The Farm and The Lair to fans of Julie Kagawa's Blood of Eden series. These books aren't for the squeamish, so be ready for some gore, but Emily McKay delivers more than just a little blood and guts. The Lair might start off angsty, but once the action starts it doesn't let up once.

For more about The Lair check out these sites!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

FREE for Kindle: The City of Worms by Roy Huff

Just wanted to let you guys know that The City of Worms (Everville Book Two) is free on Amazon through November 18th. This series has some of the most amazing covers I've ever seen on a young adult fantasy series. Check out the synopsis:

College freshman Owen Sage has just started to understand the darkness trying to overtake Everville and the earthly realm. With the help of The Keeper and the Fron army, Owen has managed to buy some time, but new problems have already emerged, new secrets need to be revealed, and the race against time to stop Them from conquering both dimensions has only just begun. The Keeper, Owen Sage, and his friends at Easton Falls University must now battle threats from within. To do it, they must reunite with familiar creatures and join forces with new ones as they navigate their journey to the truth that awaits them in Everville.

Or add it on Goodreads.

For more about book one, Everville: The First Pillar, check out these sites!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Shuffle Saturday (47): Brave

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:

Brave by Sara Bareilles

This video is so adorable. Sara Bareilles is so adorable. And this song is so fun to listen to! I love it.

What are you listening to?

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Guest Post: Top 5 Favorite Vampires by Carys Jones

Today I'm excited to have Carys Jones, author of Sunkissed, stopping by to discuss a few of her favorite vampire bad boys! Who doesn't love talking about that? Check out the synopsis of her vampire novel, Sunkissed, while you're here:

Dawn Summers is dying. It’s 1853 and as the seventeen year old continues to fade away she has visions of the father she never knew, urging her to fight for her life.

In the small village of Fandova the only medical care is in the form of the mysterious Dr. Moralus who has a known penchant for bloodletting. Thomas, Dawn's fiancĂ©, is warned against inviting his intervention, but feels he has no choice, he pleads with the doctor to save Dawn’s life…whatever it takes.

Whatever it ‘takes’ has some consequences neither of them expected. Now, it’s a hunt to the death, with both Dawn and Thomas determined to win.

Top 5 Favorite Vampires by Carys Jones:

In honour of my new vampire themed novel, Sunkissed, I thought I’d put together a list of my five favourite vampires!

It was a tough job picking between all the sexy vamps out there but here is my list, let me know if you think I’ve missed anyone out or if you agree…

1. Damon Salvatore
My number one simply has to be the sexiest Salvatore brother! He’s broody, he’s gorgeous, misunderstood but with a heart of gold. I adore Vampire Diaries but Damon is my stand out character.

At the start of season 4 when he visits Alaric’s grave to pay his respects and says how much he misses him, I literally cried. He’s the hot, troubled guy who is sensitive and deep, in other words, the perfect package! He could bite me any day!
2. Eric Northman
Another misunderstood vampire is True Blood’s Eric Northman, the ultimate vampire Viking. He’s viscous and brutal yet his love for Sookie is undying. How she could ever choose Bill over him I’ll never know. Then again, how could Elena ever even consider Stefan when Damon is around…
3. Blade
I’ve always liked Blade though he is sort of an anti-vampire character since whilst being half vampire, he also hunts and kills then and he’s pretty effective at it! If you were ever in a tight vampire related spot he’s the guy you’d want on your side!
4. Klaus Mikaelson
It took me a while to warm to Klaus from Vampire Diaries. I find his intense love for Caroline heartbreakingly endearing. If only he could stop being so bad all the time, like when he killed Tyler’s Mom.

Still, he’s intense and brooding and I love him! Plus he’s from Wales, bonus!
5. Thomas Weeville
I had to include one of Sunkissed’s own vampires and personally, I quite like Dawn’s fiancĂ©, Thomas. A lot of readers have found him ruthless and cruel, but like Klaus, Damon and Eric his motivations lie within a deep rooted love for the one that got away and for that reason I’ll always like him, no matter how bad he gets! And in the second book he gets pretty bad…

Who's your favorite vampire?

For more about Sunkissed check out these sites!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Book Blitz: Branded Abi Ketner & Missy Kalicicki

Today we're excited to have an excerpt from Branded by Abi Ketner and Missy Kalicicki. I fell in love with the cover of Branded and the synopsis was more than enough to win me over! There's also a giveaway down below so you can win a coy of Branded for yourself. Check it out:

Fifty years ago the Commander came into power and murdered all who opposed him. In his warped mind, the seven deadly sins were the downfall of society. He created the Hole where sinners are branded according to their sins and might survive a few years. At best.

Now LUST wraps around my neck like blue fingers strangling me. I’ve been accused of a crime I didn’t commit and now the Hole is my new home.

Darkness. Death. Violence. Pain.

Now every day is a fight for survival. But I won’t die. I won’t let them win.

The Hole can’t keep me. The Hole can’t break me.

I am more than my brand. I’m a fighter.

My name is Lexi Hamilton, and this is my story.

Excerpt from Branded:

Chapter One
I’m buried six feet under, and no one hears my screams. 
The rope chafes as I loop it around my neck. I pull down on it, making sure the knot is secure. It seems sturdy enough. 
My legs shake. My heart beats heavy in my throat. Sweat pours down my back. 
Death and I glare at each other through my tears. 
I take one last look at the crystal chandelier, the foyer outlined with mirrors, and the flawless decorations. No photographs adorn the walls. No happy memories here. 
I’m ready to go. On the count of three. 
I inhale, preparing myself for the finality of it all. Dropping my hands, a glimmer catches my eye. It’s my ring, the last precious gift my father gave me. I twist it around to read the inscription. Picturing his face forces me to reconsider my choice. He’d be heartbroken if he could see me now. 
A door slams in the hallway, almost causing me to lose my balance. My thoughts already muddled, I stand, waiting with the rope around my neck. Voices I don’t recognize creep through the walls. 
Curiosity overshadows my current thoughts. It’s late at night, and this is a secure building in High Society. No one disturbs the peace here—ever. I tug on the noose and pull it back over my head. 
Peering through the eyehole in our doorway, I see a large group of armed guards banging on my neighbors’ door. A heated conversation ensues, and my neighbors point toward my family’s home. 
It hits me. I’ve been accused and they’re here to arrest me. 
My father would want me to run, and in that split second, I decide to listen to his voice within me. Flinging myself forward in fear, I scramble up the marble staircase and into my brother’s old bedroom. The door is partially covered, but it exists. Pushing his dresser aside, my fingers claw at the opening. Breathing hard, I lodge myself against it. Nothing. I step back and kick it with all my strength. The wood splinters open, and my foot gets caught. I wrench it backward, scraping my calf, but adrenaline pushes me forward. The voices at the front door shout my name. 
On hands and knees, I squeeze through the jagged opening. My brother left through this passage, and now it’s my escape too. Cobwebs entangle my face, hands, and hair. At the end, I feel for the knob, twisting it clockwise. It swings open, creaking from disuse. I sprint into the hallway and smash through the large fire escape doors at the end. A burst of cool air strikes me in the face as I jump down the ladder. 
Reaching the fifth floor, I knock on a friend’s window. The lights flicker on, and I see the curtains move, but no one answers. I bang on the window harder. 
“Let me in! Please!” I say, but the lights darken. They know I’ve been accused and refuse to help me. Fear and adrenaline rush through my veins as I keep running, knocking on more windows along the way. No one has mercy. They all know what happens to sinners. 
Another flight of stairs passes in a blur when I hear the guards’ heavy footfalls from above. I can’t hide, but I don’t want to go without trying.
Help me, Daddy. I need your strength now. 
My previous desolation evolves into a will to survive. I have to keep running, but I tremble and gasp for air. I steel my nerves and force my body to keep moving. In a matter of minutes, my legs cramp and my chest burns. I plunge to the ground, scraping my knee and elbow. A moan escapes from my chest. 
Gotta keep going. 
“Stop!” Their voices bounce off the buildings. “Lexi Hamilton, surrender yourself,” they command. They’re gaining on me. 
I resist the urge to glance back, running into what I assume is an alley. I’m far from our high-rise in High Society as I plunge into a poorer section of the city where the streets all look the same and the darkness prevents me from recognizing anything. I’m lost. 
My first instinct is to leap into a dumpster, but I retain enough sense to stay still. I crouch and peek around it, watching them dash by. The abhorrent smell soon leaves me vomiting until nothing remains in my stomach. Desperation overtakes me, as I know my retching was anything but silent. My last few seconds tick away before they find me. Everyone knows about their special means of tracking sinners. 
I push myself to my feet and look left, right, and left again. Their batons click against their black, leather belts, and their boots stomp the cement on both sides of me. I shrink into myself. Their heavy steps mock my fear, growing closer and closer until I know I’m trapped. 
Never did I imagine they’d come for me. Never did I imagine all those nights I heard them dragging someone else away that I’d join them. 
“You’re a sinner,” they say. “Time to leave our society.” 
I stand defiant. I refuse to bend or break before them even as I shiver with fear. 
“There’s no reason to make this difficult. The more you cooperate, the smoother this will be for everyone,” a guard says. 
I cringe into the blackness along the wall. I’m innocent, but they won’t believe me or care. 
The next instant, my face slams into the pavement as one guard plants a knee in my back and another handcuffs me. A warm liquid trails into my mouth. Blood. Their fingers grip my arms like steel traps as they peel me off the cement. The tops of my shoes scrape along the ground as I’m dragged behind them until they discard me into the back of a black vehicle. The doors slam in unison with one guard stationed on each side of me, my shoulders digging into their arms. The handcuffs dig into my wrists, so I clasp them together hard behind me and press my back into the seat, unwilling to admit how much it hurts. My dignity is all I have left. 
Swallowing hard, I stare ahead to avoid their eyes. 
Did they need so many guards to capture me? 
I’m not carrying any weapons, nor do I own any. I don’t even know self-defense. High Society frowns on activities like that. 
The driver jerks the vehicle around and I try to keep my bearings, but it’s dark and the scenery changes too fast. Hours pass and the air grows warmer, more humid, the farther we drive. The landscape mutates from city to rolling hills. They don’t bother blindfolding me because they escort all the sinners to the same place—the Hole.

Twenty-foot cement walls encase the chaos within. There’s no way out and no way in unless they transport you. They say the Hole is a prison with no rules. We learned about it last year in twelfth grade. 
To the outside, I’m filth now. I’ll never be allowed to return to the life I knew. No one ever does. 
“All sinners go through a transformation,” one of the guards says to me. His smirk infuriates me. “I’m sure you’ve heard all kinds of stories.” I don’t respond. I don’t want to think about the things I’ve been told. 
“You won’t last too long, though. Young girls like you get eaten alive.” He pulls a strand of my hair up to his face. 
Get your hands off me, you pig. I want to lash out, but resist. The punishment for disobeying authority is severe, and I’m not positioned to defy him. 
They’re the Guards of the Commander. They’re chosen from a young age and trained in combat. They keep the order of society by using violent methods of intimidation. No one befriends a guard. Relationships with them are forbidden inside the Hole. 
Few have seen the commander. His identity stays under lock and key. His own paranoia and desire to stay pure drove him to live this way. He controls our depraved society and believes sinners make the human race unforgivable. His power is a crushing fist, rendering all beneath him helpless. So much so, even family members turn on each other when an accusation surfaces. Just an accusation. No trial, no evidence, nothing but an accusation. 
I lose myself in thoughts of my father. 
“Never show fear, Lexi,” my father said to me before he was taken. “They’ll use it against you.” His compassionate eyes filled with warning as he commanded me to be strong. That was many years ago, but I remember it clearly. My father. My rock. The one person in my life who provided unconditional love. 
The vehicle stops, and I’m jerked back to reality. “Get out,” the guard orders while pulling me to my feet. The doors slide open and the two guards lift me up and out into the night. A windowless cement building looms in front of us, looking barren in the darkness. 
The coolness of the air sends a shiver up my spine. This is really happening. I’ve been labeled a sinner. My lip starts to quiver, but I bite it before anyone sees. They shove me in line and I realize I’m not alone. Women and men stand with faces frozen white in fear. A guard grabs my finger, pricks it, and dabs my blood on a tiny microchip. 
I follow the man in front of me into the next room where we’re lined up facing the wall. 
Glancing right, I see one of the men crying. 
“Spread your legs,” one of the guards says. 
They remove my outer layers and their hands roam up and down my body. 
What do they think I could possibly be hiding? I press my head into the wall, trying to block out what they’re doing to me. 
“MOVE!” a guard commands. So I shuffle across the room, trying to cover up. 
Five of us sit in the holding room. One by one, they pull people into the next room, forcing the rest of us to wonder what torture we’ll endure. An agonizing amount of time passes. I lean my head back and try to imagine a place far away. The door opens. 
“Lexi Hamilton.” 
A guard escorts me out of the room, and I don’t have time to look back. As soon as the door closes, they pick me up and place me on a table. It’s cold and my skin sticks to it slightly, like wet fingers on an ice cube. Then, they exit in procession, and I lie on the table with a doctor standing over me. His hands are busy as he speaks. 
“Don’t move. This will only take a few minutes. It’s time for you to be branded.” 
A wet cloth that smells like rubbing alcohol is used to clean my skin. Then he places a metal collar around my neck. 
Click. Click. Click
The collar locks into place, and I struggle to breathe. The doctor loosens it some as I focus on the painted black words above me. 
The Seven Deadly Sins: 
Lust ⎯ Blue
Gluttony ⎯ Orange
Greed ⎯ Yellow
Sloth ⎯ Light Blue
Wrath ⎯ Red
Envy ⎯ Green
Pride ⎯ Purple 
“Memorize it. Might keep you alive longer if you know who to stay away from.” He opens my mouth, placing a bit inside. “Bite this.” 
Within seconds, the collar heats from hot to scorching. The smell of flesh sizzling makes my head spin. I bite down so hard a tooth cracks. 
“GRRRRRRRRR,” escapes from deep within my chest. Just when I’m about to pass out, the temperature drops, and the doctor loosens the collar. 
He removes it and sits me up. Excruciating pain rips through me and I’m on the verge of a mental and physical breakdown. Focus. Don’t pass out. 
Stainless steel counters and boring white walls press in on me. A guard laughs at me from an observation room above and yells, “Blue. It’s a great color for a pretty young thing like yourself.” His eyes dance with suggestion. The others meander around like it’s business as usual. 
I finally find my voice and turn to the doctor. 
“Are you going to give me clothes?” A burning pain spreads like fire from my neck to my jaw, making me wince. 
He points to a set of folded grey scrubs on a chair. I cover myself as much as I can and scurry sideways. Grabbing my new clothes, I pull the shirt over my head and try to avoid the raw meat around my throat. I quickly knot the cord of my pants around my waist and slide my feet into the hospital-issue slippers as the doctor observes. He hands me a bag labeled with my name. 
“Nothing is allowed through the door but what we’ve given you,” he says. 
I hide my right hand behind me, hoping no one notices. A guard scans my body and opens his hand. 
“Give it to me,” he says. “Don’t make me rip off your finger.” He crouches down and I turn to stone. I don’t know what to do, so I beg. 
“My father gave this to me. Please, let me keep it.” I smash my eyes shut and think of the moment my father handed the golden ring to me. 
“It was my mother’s ring,” he’d said. “She’s the strongest woman I ever knew.” With tears in his eyes, he reached for my hand. “Lexi, you’re exactly like her. She’d want you to wear this. No matter how this world changes, you can survive.” I turned the gold band over in my palm and read the engraving. 
You can overcome anything… short of death. 
“You’re going to take the one thing that matters the most to me?” I say, glaring into the guard’s emotionless eyes. “Isn’t it enough taking my life, dignity, and respect?” 
A hard blow falls upon my back. As I fall, my hands shoot out to stop me from smashing into the wall in front of me. The guard bends down and grabs my chin with his meaty fist. 
“Look at me,” he commands. I look up and he smiles with arrogance. 
“What the hell?” He staggers a step backward. “What’s wrong with you? What’s wrong with your eyes?” 
“Nothing,” I respond, confused. 
“What color are they?” 
“Turquoise.” I glower at him. 
“Interesting,” he says, regaining his composure. “Now those’ll get you in trouble.” 
Reality slaps me across the face. I have my father’s eyes. They can't take them from me. I twist the ring off my finger and drop it in his hand. 
“Take the damn ring,” I say. I walk to the door. He swipes a card and the massive door slides open to the outside. 
“You have to wear your hair back at all times, so everyone knows what you are.” He hands me a tie, so I pull my frizzy hair away from my face and secure it into a ponytail. 
My neck burns and itches as my hand traces the scabs that have already begun to form. Squinting ahead into the darkness, I almost run into a guard standing on the sidewalk. 
“Watch where you’re going,” he says, shoving me backward. His stiff figure stands tall and I cringe at the sharpness of his voice. 
“Cole, this is your new assignment, Lexi Hamilton. See to it she feels welcome in her new home.” The guard departs with a salute. 
“Let’s move,” Cole says. 
I take two steps and collapse, my knees giving out. The unforgiving pavement reopens the scrapes from earlier and I struggle to stand. A powerful arm snatches me up, and I see his face for the first time.


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About the Authors:

Abi and Missy met in the summer of 1999 at college orientation and have been best friends ever since. After college, they added jobs, husbands and kids to their lives, but they still found time for their friendship. Instead of hanging out on weekends, they went to dinner once a month and reviewed books. What started out as an enjoyable hobby has now become an incredible adventure.

For more about Branded check out these sites!

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