Monday, December 23, 2013

Spotlight: Secret of the Phoon by Corinne Foster

Today we have an excerpt from Corinne Foster's fantasy novel, Secret of the Phoon! The cover is absolutely gorgeous, isn't it? Check out the synopsis:

Striding through the Black Woods, Avira becomes aware that she is being stalked by wolves. She knows she can’t outrun them. Her only choice is something she hoped she would never have to do – summon the Phoon. A lethal supernatural force that obliterates everything in its path.

Word would never had got out about it, had Shastia’s pride not been dented, leading her to exaggerate her own powers, saying that she could summon this deadly force. This sets in train a race between two opposing factions who chase her back to Domina, each craving the power of the Phoon to ensure victory over the other.

But bigger than this threat is the one that comes from within Avira’s own community of outcast girls. When will she recognize that challenge and can she withstand it?

Excerpt from Secret of the Phoon:

Shastia was restless. Carn had been back for three days and they still had not been to visit anyone. When at home he shut himself away in his study and the rest of the time he was meeting people or away on short journeys. She was getting bored with the sisters’ company – they seemed satisfied with their quiet lives, their greatest excitement being to go for sedate walks on their horses. Shastia had mastered riding quickly, and loved the speed of the gallop. She left the sisters far behind, careering over the hills and through the copses to the villages, scattering people and livestock as she went. But it was not enough. 
So when Carn came to her to say that they were going to a party she was overjoyed. 
“It’s a different group of people than we met before,” Carn explained. “They have some contacts that will be very useful to me, so I need to cultivate them.” 
Shastia was just happy to be going out again. How she would entertain them with her stories! 
These new people were not so easily impressed, however. Their talk was more of business than pleasure, which was of less interest to Shastia than the tales of travels and encounters that she used to enjoy. She could contribute little to discussions of negotiation and who was trustworthy or not. 
She tolerated it for the first few parties, thinking to herself that when people knew her better they would start to engage her in conversation more. But during their fourth gathering she had had enough and decided to take the initiative. 
At first she tried to steer the conversation towards a different topic, but was ignored. Then she made a light-hearted comment, to no avail. Changing tactic, she asked a question but received no answer.

Carn could see from her expression that she was put out and tried to bring her into the conversation. He saw an opportunity when Frim, a merchant with whom Carn had just started trading, mentioned that he was planning a trip to the south. 
“You should visit Demran while you are there,” Carn said. 
“Demran?” Frim replied. “Never heard of it.” 
“The place where Shastia is from is near there,” Carn went on. “The women sell a wide range of the things they make there. They are highly sought after.” 
“What sort of things?” Frim was not really interested. 
“Herbal remedies, cakes, wine, mostly. The quality is exceptional.” 
Frim was even less interested, dismissive. “I can get those anywhere.” 
Shastia was stung. “Not like these. These are secret recipes, developed over many years, from so long ago that no one can remember who invented them or how they knew what worked.” 
“Give me an example.” 
“That wart on your forehead – if I was at Domina I could give you a potion to remove that within two days.” 
The man sitting next to Frim laughed. “Perhaps you could do something about the rest of his face, too.” Frim scowled. 
“You’d be surprised what we can do,” Shastia replied. “We have many powers.” 
“Enough to keep yourselves safe? These are dangerous times.” 
“The Unloved have been through more dangerous times than most. It’s all documented. None have ever beaten us.” 
There was a roar of appreciation from the table. “There’s a challenge! What defence could a feeble group of women give against proper warriors?” 
“Maybe they could throw a few herbs at them!” Frim guffawed. 
Shastia’s dark eyes glittered and Frim’s smile faltered. “We have defeated ‘proper warriors’, as you call them, on many occasions in the past.” Shastia’s voice was quiet but something about her tone held everyone’s attention. “And herbs had nothing to do with it.” 
Carn took care to hide his curiosity. Ever since he had stood by the edge of the Black Woods he had been trying to make sense of what he had seen. He wondered if it was to this that Shastia was referring. Those strange lights! And a sound like a strong wind, although the trees were still like statues. He felt a chill run down his spine as he recalled it. He looked across at Shastia and thought, She grew up with that. Her expression was stony, far removed from her normal sociable countenance. He had never seen her cold and angry; it chilled him for the second time. 
Then he looked across at Frim. Carn was concerned that Frim would be unhappy, because he needed Frim’s co-operation to complete his deal with the Varg.

Carn could tell that Frim and Shastia were never going to be good friends, and he resolved immediately to get what he needed from Frim as quickly as possible, in case their relationship soured. And indeed Carn was right. Frim was feeling not only that Shastia had got the better of him in their discussion, but also that she had made him the butt of others’ jokes. How dare she be so presumptuous? She should know her place. He would look for his revenge.

About the Author:

Corinne lives in Buckinghamshire in the UK, with her husband and two dogs. Her two sons are now away at university. She wrote her first book on a spiral-bound shorthand notebook when she was twelve years old and hasn't stopped since, though much of her work has remained as first drafts left in a cupboard. She has written film scripts and plays – one short film script 'Peel and the Broken Boy' is in production and due for release in early 2014, and a one-act play 'Spirited' is being performed as part of the Supernova VI festival in Havant, Hampshire, UK in February 2014.

For more about Secret of the Phoon check out these sites!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Shuffle Saturday (51): Christmas Wrapping

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:

Christmas Wrapping by The Waitresses

Definitely my all time favorite holiday song, but I can listen to this one anytime of year!

What's your favorite Christmas song?

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Spotlight: No Alligators in Sight by Kirsten B. Feldman

Today I'm excited to share an excerpt from Kirsten Feldman's No Alligators in Sight! It's a dark, coming-of-age tale with a really interesting style that is sure to grab your attention. Plus the cover is just gorgeous! Seriously. Can I pet it? ;)

In this coming of age novel, Lettie and Bert squeak by in a tiny town on Cape Cod, one parent an alcoholic and the other absent. After a string of bad decisions on Lettie’s part, their father ships them to their barely remembered mother for the summer, where they will learn hard lessons about themselves, their family, and their future by way of the Florida swamp. Throughout Lettie keeps her biting humor flowing, her razor-sharp pen at the ready, and her eye on her quest for a “normal” life.

Excerpt from No Alligators in Sight:

“So. Let’s get started.” He squinted up at the sun, just approaching its height. “We’ve got a good eight to nine hours before it gets dark. Plan is to bushwhack our way around the island, look for the best spot to cut through to the center, and make a site for the tents and the latrine.” He reached into one of the moldy canvas bags he’d brought and pulled out four big knives with curved blades. He slung the bag over his head and behind his back. 
“Know what these are?” 
“Cool! Swords!” Bert was already reaching for one. 
I had seen them in the army/navy store in Provincetown. I didn’t know anyone actually used them, I thought they were more sort of decorative, or if you were a veteran remembering your days in Nam. “You’re giving an eight-year-old a machete. Isn’t there some law against that, child labor or something?” 
“Now you’re a joker, huh? You need to work on your delivery.” 
“Seriously, he can’t use that thing. He’ll cut off his leg.” 
“Yes, I can, I can. See?” Bert grabbed for a machete and then swung wildly to cut down a mass of green growth. I didn’t know what it was; all the plants were different down here and grew bigger overnight. I’d seen in the paper that some of the vines in Key West were so strong they pulled down telephone lines. 
“No blood, huh? All set then. We’ll go this way,” he put his leash hand on Gertrude’s shoulder, “and you two go that way. We’ll meet at that big tree in a couple hours, report our progress.” He waved vaguely at the great trees that crowded the central part of the island (like the whole island wasn’t covered in trees). “And you better have made some.” 
He put one of the big duffels over his other shoulder. 
“You look out for Bert, okay, Leticia?” Gertrude quavered. 
“Like I ever do anything else,” I muttered. “And don’t worry about me or anything. I’m all set for Jungleland here, plenty of preparation.”
“Clearly her mouth is her best weapon. Let’s go, True. Time’s a waitin’,” and then they were off. She didn’t even look back. 
“Wasting, you idiot.” 
“Is he serious?”

About the Author:

I grew up on Cape Cod and the Connecticut shoreline and now live outside of Boston, much too far from the ocean and the sand. Reading and writing have played a central part in my life both personally and professionally. I am rarely without a book in my hand. Brown University gave me my undergrad degree in comparative literature, and Tufts kindly did the same for my master's in English education. I have worked in a variety of school and museum education settings, including teaching 7th and 8th grade English. My graduate advisor once told me that if teenagers don't make you laugh then consider another career. To me the adolescent voice has such vibrancy and depth to it, whether funny or not; many of my favorite books have this point of view, including: The Fault In Our Stars by John Green, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith, Bastard Out of Carolina by Dorothy Allison, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, and Cat's Eye by Margaret Atwood. When I started writing No Alligators in Sight, it was unequivocally Lettie's voice that told me the story. May she speak to you as well!

For more about No Alligators in Sight check out these sites!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Teaser Tuesday (64): The Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas

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

This week's teaser is from The Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas. I've been reading this one slowly in between review books, but it's got such an awesome fantasy feel to the writing that I just had to share. Plus I could look at that cover all day!

But they were no longer the kind of family whose members raged honestly at one another. Instead, they were strangers conducting themselves according to a peculiar set of rules: no reference to his addiction, no mention of the past, and no planning for any kind of a future.

{The Burning Sky, pg. 14}

Synopsis of The Burning Sky:

It all began with a ruined elixir and an accidental bolt of lightning…

Iolanthe Seabourne is the greatest elemental mage of her generation—or so she's being told. The one prophesied for years to be the savior of The Realm. It is her duty and destiny to face and defeat the Bane, the greatest mage tyrant the world has ever known. A suicide task for anyone let alone a sixteen-year-old girl with no training, facing a prophecy that foretells a fiery clash to the death.

Prince Titus of Elberon has sworn to protect Iolanthe at all costs but he's also a powerful mage committed to obliterating the Bane to avenge the death of his family—even if he must sacrifice both Iolanthe and himself to achieve his goal.

But Titus makes the terrifying mistake of falling in love with the girl who should have been only a means to an end. Now, with the servants of the Bane closing in, he must choose between his mission and her life.

For more about The Burning Sky check out these sites!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Book Blast: Forsaken by Sophia Sharp

Today we're happy to have an excerpt from Forsaken by Sophia Sharp! This book's cover is so pretty I could just stare at it for awhile. The synopsis sounds pretty good too ;) And be sure to check out the giveaway below!

Nora Colburn was perfectly content in life. A junior in high school, she had good friends, a great family, and did well in school. Nothing particularly exciting ever happened where she lived, and everything was stable.

But that all drastically changes when a new student arrives at Nora’s school. Wild rumors swirl about his past, and Nora becomes determined to find out the truth.

As she gets to know the mysterious student, he shares with her an ancient secret... one that may yet put both of them in grave danger.

And for the first time in her life, Nora is exposed to a completely unfamiliar world. She is swept away on an exhilarating journey that takes her to a place where romance and great destiny may yet await... and where supernatural powers run wild.

Excerpt from Forsaken:

Hunter cut off with a strangled sound, and in an instant, he was at the door. “They’re coming,” he hissed over his shoulder. 
“What? Already? You said we’d have until nightfall!” 
“I was wrong.” He shut the door quickly and rushed to the opposite wall. “You need to hide.” He pulled back a board to reveal a small cubby in the wall. “Quickly!”
Nora ran without arguing. 
“Get in,” he told her, “and don’t make a sound.” Nora nodded. Her pulse raced, and a jolt of adrenaline kicked through her. A mixture of fear and dread came over her as she pushed herself into the wall. There wasn’t much space, and splinters and rough pieces of wood pierced her skin and got caught on her clothing. She wedged herself farther in. Hunter replaced the board. 
Light scattered in from cracks along the wall. Nora pressed an eye to one of them. She could see the entire space between her and the entrance door. Hunter stood facing the door with his back to her. His feet were wide in a predatory stance. 
Anxious minutes passed. Only Nora’s ragged breaths broke the silence, and they sounded as loud as hammers to her ears. 
Slowly, the door started to move. Hunter tensed. 
It creaked all the way open, and a tall figure stepped into the entrance. Nora’s breath caught. It was the same man from the dream, the same one she saw at the school. 
“Where’s your friend?” the man asked Hunter crudely. He spoke with a harsh accent. 
If it were possible, Hunter tensed even more. The man took a step forward. He wore the same long coat from before, the same dark hat. He and Hunter were approximately the same height. Leisurely, he started to take off his coat. Hunter still hadn’t moved. 
The man dropped his coat in a pile at his side, and Nora saw that he was much thicker than Hunter. Bigger, more developed. 
“Don’t try to hide her. I can smell her stench from here. I know she is with you.” 
“You will not have her.” Hunter’s voice held a steely edge. 
The man laughed. “Oh? Is that so? And you think you’re going to stop me?” He laughed again. “You have broken the ancient creed by bringing her into our world. You will answer for your crime. As will she.” 
“You will not have her,” Hunter repeated, his voice filled with a deathly calm. 
The man waved dismissively and took a step toward Hunter. “You cannot stop me,” he said. “And I don’t intend to take only her. You’ll be coming along, as well.” 
“No,” Hunter growled. 
“Oh, yes, I will take you both.” The man stood only a pace away from Hunter, now. “You cannot imagine what they will do to you. You will be bound in chains, locked away to never again see the dark of night or feel the cool rays of the moon. You will grow weak and feeble, forever barred from taking blood. You will never feed again. 
“Your body will go first. Your muscles will wither to nothingness. Your bones will crumble. You will become a shadow of what you once were. A shadow of what you could have been. 
“But they will keep your mind sharp. Make no mistake, you will know you are suffering. An antidote will be administered, and it will stave off the madness that accompanies your deprivation. You will languish in misery, forever conscious of your mistake. That will be your sentence. To suffer, until the end of time.” 
The man took one last step, until he was nose-to-nose with Hunter. And he spoke just loudly enough for Nora to hear. “But that pales in comparison to what they will do to her.” 
Hunter snarled. 
“Yes, her. Your precious human.” He spat the word. Then he raised his voice. “I know you are here, little one. Listen well to what I have to say.” 
He returned his attention to Hunter. “She will suffer for your sin. A human mind and body is much weaker than that of our kind, and for that reason…she will be converted. And sentenced to suffer eternally alongside you. 
“You know of the savage bloodlust that overtakes a new member of our race, do you not? Oh, but I think you do. You were once one of them, were you not? You were born a human.” Again, he spat the word. “A despicable thing. A despicable creature to risk so much for, wouldn’t you say?” 
Hunter didn’t say a word, and the man continued. “I will give you one chance. One chance now, to repent. Give her up freely, and the punishment for your treason will be less severe. You will be bound for one century, before your freedom is returned.” He put a hand on Hunter’s shoulder. “You know you cannot win. Is she worth an eternity in hell?” 
Nora caught a furtive movement at the door. The other hunter. “No!” she screamed. It was a trap. 
On Nora’s cry, both newcomers looked in her direction. Hunter curled back from the man’s hand and smashed an elbow into his face. The thick man stumbled back. 
Then he laughed cruelly and flung himself at Hunter.


About the Author:

I've been writing stories for as long as I can remember. Actually, that's a bit of a lie. I've been writing since the third grade, when a wonderful teacher asked everyone in class to write a fairy tale, and ended up picking mine as his favorite. He didn't tell the other kids, of course - but confided it in my parents. He said I have a natural knack for writing (his exact words! and I remember them to this day), and should never stop. So, I've kept going..

I've mostly been keeping it to myself, though. I've never really thought about becoming an "author," or a "writer" (quotations because those goals are still so far away!), so never had the need to share with anyone or publicize my stories. But, I'm just finishing up my second year in college, and have really started to think about careers and life goals and such other mysterious things. And while my friends were all busy trying to get internships for the summer this year, I just kept to myself with my writing hobby. I don't have an interest in going out and working professionally in the "real world" -- I want to keep writing forever, and I want to have time to do it. The only way I see myself having that time, though, is by becoming a published author.

So there you have it. That's the abbreviated history of one Sophia Sharp. I've been working on a few young adult paranormal/fantasy novels for the past few months, and I'm putting them all up as soon as they're done! Why young adult? Because it's what I love to read. And why paranormal/fantasy? Because that genre gives the greatest opportunities for creating a magical, romantic, quixotic world that I can fall in love with.

For more about Forsaken check out these sites!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Release Day Blitz: Twisted by Holly Hook

Today I'm so excited to be sharing an excerpt from Twisted by Holly Hook. I've always had a bit of an obsession with storm chasers and tornados (Twister was one of my favorite movies as a kid), so I'm sort of in love with this excerpt. Check it out!

Sixteen-year-old Allie isn’t like other girls. Instead of spending her summer break sitting around on the beach, she takes the epic vacation of a lifetime.

Tornado chasing.

And she’s not disappointed. Just a few miles from the town of Evansburg, Nebraska, Allie meets her dream of seeing a tornado. In person. She can’t wait to tell her friends back home. Never mind that her parents are going to kill her.

But her dream soon turns into a nightmare, and a strange event leaves her shocked. Confused. When she returns home to Wisconsin, something’s…different. Allie now bears a curse so awful, it could destroy everyone and everything she’s ever known.

With her best friend, Tommy, Allie must return to the plains to find a way to reverse it. She enters a world that she had never imagined, where she becomes a pawn in a fight to save the people of Evansburg from her fate…or to destroy them.

Excerpt from Twisted:

My very first tornado touches the grass of the plains. 
I stand next to the van, mouth dropping open, heart pounding. It’s the moment I’ve been waiting for, saved money for, begged my uncle to book us for the Wild Weather Storm Chasing Tours for. 
Uncle Cassius swears next to me, equally in awe. It barely cuts over the wind rushing towards the distant funnel. Waves of grass bow down to the twister, whipped down by the surrounding air flying in to feed it. The perfect white cone stands out against the coal sky, slim and graceful. A skirt of dust spins around its base, signaling its dance through a field a few miles away. 
“Beautiful!” Kyle, our storm chaser guide, snaps a photo for his website. He steals a glance at me and smiles. He’s all enthusiasm, joy that we’ve found our prey. “Don’t worry. We’re safe. It’s heading to the east. It’ll pass no closer than a couple of miles to our north.” 
I want his job someday. 
“I’m not scared,” I said, but my shaky voice betrays me. Who am I kidding? Kyle’s an experienced chaser–twenty years–but this is a real tornado. In person. Live. I never realized it would be this intense, this breathtaking. A hollow feeling fills my stomach like I’m plunging down the first hill of a roller coaster. 
The tornado curves, almost like it’s leaning to the side for a better look at something. At us? It’s a silly thought, one that makes me laugh. The thunderstorm spins slowly above it, low and menacing. Thunder claps. 
It’s enough to remind me that the storm in front of me isn’t just beautiful. It’s a predator, entrancing like a cobra and ready to strike. 
Good thing there’s no houses or buildings in its way. Only farmland stretches from horizon to horizon. 
“Allie. Forget your camera?” Uncle Cassius slaps me on the arm, smiling. It’s a tense smile. So I’m not the only one with some nerves going. 
Yes. Duh. 
I pull it out of my pocket and fumble with the slim case, fingers hunting for the button. The camera zings to life. 
Behind it, the tornado looms a bit larger, gaining strength and racing across the ground. 
More dust kicks up around the perfect white of the twister. 
“Now I can really prove to everyone at school how crazy I am.” I give Uncle Cassius a nervous chuckle. The camera trembles in my hands as I catch the tornado in my view, click, and seal it in my memory forever. 
I’m having the most insane summer vacation of my entire high school. 
I lift the camera for another shot, backing up to squeeze the tornado into the viewport. I click another picture and lowered the camera again for another look. 
My heart jumps. 
The tornado looms larger, taller. Kyle holds his hand up to his face, squinting for a better view. Even Uncle Cassius goes quiet, stiffening and taking a step back towards the tour van. 
All at once I understand. 
The tornado has changed course. 
Kyle turns. Real fear widens his features. 
“Get in the van,” he shouts. 
* * * * * 
The one big thing I can recall from those first ten seconds is the roar, like a distant train growing closer. The wind whips my hair back, trying to pull me back out of the van. It feels like the twister’s right behind me already, coming down for the kill. 
I slam the door on it. The funnel’s much bigger behind the glass, so much that I can’t see the top of it anymore. 
Uncle Cassius snaps on his seat belt next to me. Kyle starts it up, punches the gas, and gets us back on the road to nowhere. 
I toss my camera to the floor. My hands fumble with the seat belt. The van speeds up, slamming me into the seat. The specter of the tornado closes in, whipping across the field towards us. I’ve heard of tornadoes making sudden turns like this but I never realized it could happen this fast. It rips across the field, coming straight at us. My heart beats on a runaway course. My mind locks into overdrive. I feel like that news crew they always have on tornado shows, that one that survived by hiding under that overpass. Will Kyle make us get out and climb under one? They’re actually bad places to hide. That news crew got off lucky. Kyle knows better. He’s been chasing storms longer than I’ve been alive. 
Only green and yellow spreads out ahead. No shelter for miles. Worse, no ditches. The radar on Kyle’s laptop is covered in ugly red and orange blotches like Nebraska has sores. 
A hole of panic opens up inside me and for the first time, I regret coming on this vacation. 
“Can’t you go faster?” Uncle Cassius leans forward in his seat, gaze hard, arms trembling. 
Uncle Cassius never loses his cool. 
Not even when I accidentally set his Persian rug on fire when I was seven and broke my arm at the age of nine. 
Outside, the tornado grows so close that I could only see the bottom half of the funnel. The van bounces along every speed bump on the highway, every uneven spot. My stomach heaves. I’m going to be sick right here. 
It’s my stupid fault we’re in this mess. 
“I don’t understand.” Kyle punches the gas harder, making the van jump. He turns his head like Linda Blair in the Exorcist, eyes widening. “The tornado should not be moving this way.” 
He’s right. It shouldn’t. But it is. 
The funnel reaches the road behind us, twisting harder, kicking up earth higher and higher. We’ve gotten out in front of it. I breathe a sigh of relief. Kyle and Uncle Cassius do the same. It’ll cross the road and forget all about us. 
Kyle lets off the gas a little and the whine of the engine calms some. “We’re safe now. That was highly unusual. I’ve never seen a tornado turn like that in my career.” There’s a hint of an apology in his voice. 
“Well, that was a close one, wasn’t it, Allie?” Uncle Cassius hugs me from the side. 
“Yeah,” I say, willing my heart to slow down. At least I can think straight now. Can I even do another two days of this? 
Wow, what a dumb idea this was. 
But I still can’t resist another look at the storm. I turn as far as my seat belt allows. 
My guts fall out of me all over again. 
The tornado’s still on the road, bigger than ever. It can’t be. 
The twister has turned again. It’s coming right up behind us. Rolling dust eats the entire highway. 
There’s tornado taking up the whole view of the back window. Dust rips to the sides. The bottom of its funnel spins with fury, big enough to swallow a house whole. Its roar screams against the outside of the van, shaking the seat, pushing the whole van to the side. 
It’s no longer beautiful. 
“Ohmigod,” I say, sucking in a breath. “Um…Kyle? Stomp on the gas. Just saying.” 
“I know!” he snaps. His knuckles turn white on the steering wheel. The van lurches again but he maintains control. 
“Allie, get down!” Uncle Cassius puts his huge hand on my back and pushes me towards the floor. 
The seat belt cuts into my throat. 
What good is it going to do? If the tornado lifts the car– 
I’m going to die. 
I begged to go on this trip and now Uncle Cassius is going to die too. 
The windows shatter with a deafening boom and the wind screams in my ears. AllieAllieAllieAllie… 
I can’t breathe. 
We’re floating. 
Uncle Cassius shouts something. Kyle yells. If I’m screaming, I can’t tell. The storm’s sucking it right out of me. Windy hands seize my arms, my legs. 
They pull. 
My safety belt snaps, whipping against my leg. I cry out with the sting.The seat disappears under me. 
I’m flying. 
The tornado’s ripping me right out of the van.

About the Author:

Holly Hook is the author of the Destroyers Series, which consists of five young adult books about teens who are walking disasters... literally. She is also the author of the Rita Morse series, a young adult fantasy series still in progress, and After These Messages, a short YA comedy. Currently she is writing Twisted, a spin off of the Destroyers Series due out in December. When not writing, she enjoys reading books for teens, especially YA fantasy and paranormal series with a unique twist.

For more about Twisted check out these sites!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Best Books of 2013!

I haven't read many books this year. At this point I have a total of 37 under my belt. Unfortunately it's been a reading slump kind of year and that makes me very sad. But out of those 37 books, most have been incredible stories, and some of them have even become my favorite stories I've read in a long time, so on that point I'm happy with my meager list. Most of my favorite books this year turned out to be sequels, which really surprised me because part of my reading slump had me turning away from some of the series I've truly loved in the past. But still, I've wrangled together a list of the ten Best Books of 2013, according to me.

* This list is in order of date read. *

1. The Indigo Spell by Richelle Mead

Now, as you probably know, I'm very enthusiastic about Richelle Mead's Vampire Academy spin off, Bloodlines. I waited very impatiently for The Indigo Spell to be released this year and oh man. Was it worth every second of the torture! The Indigo Spell prepared us for a journey that would take this series through to the end. It gave readers (aka me!!) everything we'd been waiting for since the start of this series. And there's even a (mostly) happy ending to boot!


2. The Eternity Cure by Julie Kagawa

The Eternity Cure took Kagawa's Blood of Eden series further than I could have hoped for after The Immortal Rules. Somehow it made me love Allison even more than I did in the first book. And it even made me fall head over heels for the baddie of book one, the snarky, cynical, self centered Jackal. Oh, how I love me some Jackal! Now I'm only wishing for a little shake up in the romance department, because I'm not a huge fan of Allison's love interest Zeke, but I'll deal if it means getting more of these incredibly badass vampires!


3. The Heartbreak Messenger by Alexander Vance

I don't usually read middle grade novels, and while this one is probably meant for the younger YA crowd, it still felt a little MG to me. But, for some reason, I was able to look past my hangups about MG and really enjoy The Heartbreak Messenger. Well, actually, I know the exact reason. It's because Vance's story is a delightful read that I couldn't put down for eve a second! There's something so adorable about Quentin and the way he tries to do the right thing by his single mom by getting a job. And how does he do that, you ask? By being the bearer of bad news in matters of the heart, of course! While it may be unconventional, and more than a little morally ambiguous, he gets the job done, even if it means getting slugged by a girl or two.


4. The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

Is there really anything about Yancey's The 5th Wave that doesn't shout "Best of! Best of!"? I mean, seriously. Alien invasion, post apocalyptic setting, mystery, action, romance? It's got everything and then some. Cassie's story dragged me in, but Ben and his group of kid soldiers had me holding onto the edge of my seat! Honestly, it's no wonder this book has already been optioned for a movie.


5. The Heavens Rise by Christopher Rice

I almost never read adult horror, but Christopher Rice has definitely give me reason to start. The Heavens Rise flashes back and forth between the teenage years and mid twenties of a group of childhood friends who have inadvertently released all kinds of evil (I'm talking really evil) on New Orleans. Swampy parasites that give people the power to control other's minds is definitely not a good thing when the one wielding that power I'd a psychopath (in the truest sense). Marshall is one of the creepiest bad guys I've ever come across in a book. So if you're all about horror, The Heavens Rise is not to be missed.


6. Endless Knight by Kresley Cole

What comes to mind when I think about Cole's Arcana Chronicles?


Jackson, Jackson, Jackson, Death, Jackson, Jackson!

Oh, and the zombie apocalypse. And twenty two teenagers waging a never ending war between the forces of good and evil. And crazy abilities like controlling plants, talking to animals, predicting the future, flying! It's like a group of super heroes battling it out on Survivor! Who could say no to that?


7. Inhuman by Kat Falls

Kat Falls gave me the biggest surprise of the year when I started reading Inhuman. I went in thinking it'd be all post apocalypse of the infectious variety, but what I got was so much more. Inhuman was a fantasy hidden in a dystopia and I couldn't be more happy about that! With a crazy cast of characters, a love triangle that didn't make me want to kill all three characters involved, and an adventure that made me wish I was there, Inhuman was definitely one of my favorite books of 2013.


8. The Lair by Emily McKay

If you're a fan of Julie Kagawa's Blood of Eden series, allow me to introduce you to Emily McKay! After McKay's The Farm left me wanting more vampire apocalypse, it's sequel, The Lair, most definitely delivered. After a wee bit of a bumpy start, The Lair quickly won me over with non-stop action, even more gruesome vampire goodness, and an ending I never saw coming.


9. Across A Star Swept Sea by Diane Peterfreund

Do you like romance? How about science fiction? Dystopian? Retellings? If you've answered yes to any of these questions than Across a Star Swept Sea is sure to sweep you right off your feet! Although it is a companion novel to Peterfreund's For Darkness Shows the Stars (which was just !!!!), you don't need to read that one first in order to fall in love with this magical retelling of The Scarlet Pimpernel.

10. The Fiery Heart by Richelle Mead

Yes, Mead's series is so good it gets two books on my Best of list! The Fiery Heart took the Bloodlines series to a whole new level, starting us off on a long, twisty road to the end of the series. It's the beginning of the end, people, and it's painful, but somehow still agonizingly delicious. This one leaves off on a cliffhanger that anyone who's ever picked up the series had known was coming since book one, but even knowing it was coming didn't stop me from crying my eyes out about it. I'm still so speechless about this book, and all of the amazing things that happened within, that I can barely gather my thoughts enough to write this, but I'll try. The Fiery Heart most definitely deserves a spot on my Best of 2013 list. In fact, I'm going as far as to say it was, by far, my favorite book of the year. (And of the series!)


Honorable Mentions

The Georgetown Academy series by Jessica Koosed Etting and Alyssa Embree Schwartz

I fell head over heels in love with Etting and Schwartz's Georgetown Academy series this year. It's sort of like Gossip Girl, but the motivations are political instead of social. In fact, everything these kids do (and don't do) is motivated by political affiliations. Its a guilty pleasure read, one that I'm not willing to give up any time soon. I honestly wish it would get picked up by the CW already. Then I could have the pleasure of watching Brooks Madison every week ;)


A Trick of the Light by Lois Metzger

I very rarely read such heavy books, but once I read the first chapter of this one I knew I needed to read it immediately, proceeded to read it in one sitting and then immediately have it to my neighbor and said read it now! She did read it and basically had the same reaction that I did. Metzger's message is poignant and her telling is creative. And without a doubt, A Trick of the Light deserves an honorable mention on my Best of 2013 list.


What were some of your favorites of 2013?

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Teaser Tuesday (63): Something Real by Heather Demetrios

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

This week's teaser comes from Something Real by Heather Demetrios. It's really hooked me and I'm liking all of the drama so far, but I think it could still go the wrong way and quick if the drama gets out of hand. I have mixed feelings about the main character Bonnie. And the use of ™every time one of the Baker children's names comes up. It trips me up when I'm reading, but is easy enough to forgive since it's how Bonnie sees herself and her family.

I grab my pen and underline Nothing was your own except the few cubic centimeters inside your skull. I bet I'm the only person here who really understands this.” 

{Something Real, Ch. 4}

Synopsis of Something Real:

There’s nothing real about reality TV.

Seventeen-year-old Bonnie™ Baker has grown up on TV—she and her twelve siblings are the stars of one-time hit reality show Baker’s Dozen. Since the show’s cancellation and the scandal surrounding it, Bonnie™ has tried to live a normal life, under the radar and out of the spotlight. But it’s about to fall apart…because Baker’s Dozen is going back on the air. Bonnie™’s mom and the show’s producers won’t let her quit and soon the life she has so carefully built for herself, with real friends (and maybe even a real boyfriend), is in danger of being destroyed by the show. Bonnie™ needs to do something drastic if her life is ever going to be her own—even if it means being more exposed than ever before.

For more about Something Real check out these sites!

*All quotes are taken from an uncorrected ARC. Quotes may not match the finished copy.*

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Soho Teen Book A Month Club & Mystery Box Giveaway!

Looking for a great gift for a friend who loves books as much as you do? Or maybe for yourself? Check out the Soho Teen Book A Month Club! Every month one book will be delivered to your door (or your e-reader if you prefer) along with free swag and discounts! Sounds great, right? Click on the picture below to learn more!

And enter below to win a mystery box of books from Soho Teen!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Shuffle Saturday (50): Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays

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:

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays by N*SYNC

I really don't listen to Christmas music very often, but this is one of the few that I just have to hear during the holidays!

What are you listening to?

Friday, December 6, 2013

Review: An Abundance of Katherines by John Green

Title: An Abundance of Katherines
Author: John Green
Publisher: Dutton Juvenile
Publish Date: September 21st, 2006

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.

What can I say about John Green? He's really very clever. The way he connects seemingly random details always amazes me (and usually makes me laugh). I know it's unfair of me, because this book's subject was nowhere near as emotionally distressing as The Fault in Our Stars, so I should not be comparing the two, but my brain won't let me not. So, no. An Abundance of Katherines did not have the same emotional impact on me that TFIOS did, but it couldn't possibly have, so that's not really a negative.

I loved the characters in An Abundance of Katherines. Colin and Lindsay and Hassan are some of the funniest characters I've read in a while. They are the reason An Abundance of Katherines has been described so many times as laugh out loud funny, because they are unapologetic about their sense of humor. They connected so well at their first meeting, but there is no such thing as instalove in Gutshot, Tennessee, that's for sure. Colin is no more interested in Lindsay when he first meets her than a marine biologist is in looking at a new species of fish. She's different and pretty, but he's not the kind of guy to let looks figure into romantic decisions. But, since An Abundance of Katherines is a coming of age story, Colin grows and learns and figures out somethings he'd been missing in his friendships and relationships. And the best part is that it's so relatable nearly everyone's had similar thoughts at one point or another.

I think the biggest problem I had with the book was that I didn't connect to the characters the same way I did with Gus and Hazel in TFIOS, which is a totally unfair statement. I mean, don't get me wrong, I enjoyed reading about Colin and Hassan and Lindsey. I believe I just ranted a little about how I loved them and their problems were so relatable. But they were characters with relatable problems, not people. They weren't whole, functioning human beings that I cried and lost sleep over. Colin's existence on the page did not change me in any fundamental way, the way that Hazel's existence did. But it was still a good, solid story. Colin was entertaining and clever and did make me think about things in ways I never had before. So on a scale of 1 to TFIOS, it's not a stunning 10, but it still rates pretty high.

I think my favorite part about the book, however, is all of the math! Crazy, right? I would just like to point out that I don't understand math on a level that is in any way, shape or form on par with Colin's understanding of math. But I did enjoy reading about his Theorem and I even enjoyed reading the Appendix, in which an actual mathematician explains the math the theorem is based on. It went straight over my head, but still. It's awesome that it exists!

If you're looking for a great contemporary then An Abundance of Katherines won't let you down. But if you're looking for the same emotional heartbreak that was The Fault in Our Stars you might be disappointed. Just go into it knowing it's not the same and you should be alright!

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

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