Saturday, May 31, 2014

Shuffle Saturday (67): Heaven Knows

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:

Heaven Knows by The Pretty Reckless

I really love the sound of The Pretty Reckless, all they're songs are pretty catchy. Plus, you know, who doesn't love grunged out Jenny Humphrey.

What are you listening to?

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Prologue Reveal and Giveaway: How to Get Ainsley Bishop to Fall in Love with You by T.M. Franklin

Today we get a sneak peek at How to Get Ainsley Bishop to Fall in Love with You - a sweet, fun YA romance, coming soon from T.M. Franklin. Don't forget to scroll down to enter the giveaway for a signed ARC, plus some other fun prizes!

Seventeen-year-old Oliver Wendell Holmes (Yes, his parents are just that peculiar, but his brother’s name is Sherlock, so it could have been worse) knows that he’s different. He’s quirky, awkward, and he’s okay with that. Oliver also likes making lists—meticulous procedures for achieving his goals, step-by-step. Whether it’s “How to Get an A in Chemistry” or “How to Get Accepted to MIT,” he has a process, and it’s worked for him so far. He doesn’t even care that the popular kids mock him. Oliver’s got his eye on the prize.

So when he decides it’s time to declare his feelings for Ainsley Bishop, the girl of his dreams, it’s only natural for him to make a list—a point-by-point strategy to win her heart. He knows it will take a grand gesture for her to see all he has to offer, and her approaching birthday provides the ideal opportunity for Oliver to put his plan into action.

Finding the perfect gift is a challenge Oliver meets with his usual dogged determination. He’ll need to watch her carefully for clues to pinpoint exactly what he should give her. And along the way, he might just learn that what Ainsley really needs is not quite what he expected.

Prologue Reveal:






Giveaway:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Trailer:


About the Author:

T.M. Franklin started out her career writing non-fiction in a television newsroom. Graduating with a B.A. in Communications specializing in broadcast journalism and production, she worked for nine years as a major market television news producer, and garnered two regional Emmy Awards, before she resigned to be a full-time mom and part-time freelance writer. Her first published novel, MORE, was born during National Novel Writing month, a challenge to write a novel in thirty days. MORE was well-received, being selected as a finalist in the 2013 Kindle Book Review Best Indie Book Awards, as well as winning the Suspense/Thriller division of the Blogger Book Fair Reader’s Choice Awards.

In addition to MORE and its sequel, The Guardians, Franklin penned the Amazon best-
selling short stories A Piece of Cake and Window, which also won a Blogger Book Fair Reader’s Choice Award for Short Story/Fantasy. Her new YA romance, How to Get Ainsley Bishop to Fall in Love with You, is Franklin’s first love story without a paranormal or fantasy element, although she believes love is the best kind of magic.

TWELVE, the final installment in the MORE Trilogy will be released in the fall of 2014.

For more about How to Get Ainsley Bishop to Fall in Love with You check out these sites!

AmazonB&NiBooks

KoboTWCS • Goodreads


Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Blog Tour Guest Post: Ley Hayley, author of The Fire's Princess

Today I'm excited to be a part of The Fire's Princess blog tour! You might remember we had Ley stop by back in March with a guest post about the first book in the Elemental Royals Trilogy, The Forest's Heir. Check out the synopsis:

Rose has lost everything she's ever known.

Her father has been murdered. She has fled her home in the Forested Land to take refuge with King Andrew Rivers in a foreign kingdom.

Her home is under the control of a tyrant king, one who will stop at nothing to see Rose and all of her family dead. She has to fight to stay hidden, stay alive, and find a way back home.

Now Rose must find a way to organize a rebellion to get back to her homeland, as well as win the hearts of a kingdom that doesn't know her. With lords scheming with hidden agendas and her own secrets threatening to be exposed, Rose must face enemies she never expected and find a destiny she never planned for.

In the stunning sequel to The Forest's Heir, Ley Hayley takes readers on a journey through court intrigue and matters of the heart. The Fire's Princess truly is a fiery ride!

Ley's Favorite Scene from The Fire's Princess:

I think my favorite scene that I wrote for this novel was the scene where Rose starts learning to fight. I've always been one of those writers who doesn't believe in the idea of writing "strong" female characters. I think that diminishes the fact that a woman on her own is strong and viable. I want to write real women, women who are just as strong as they are weak, who crave love and affection but can stand on their own two feet. I want a character who is well rounded. I'll take that over a "strong" female any day.

So that's what really drove me to write the scene where Rose decides to learn to defend herself, where she tricks Andrew into allowing her to travel with the army. Historically, it wasn't very unusual for women to travel with the army--after all, someone had to cook and serve as nurses while the men where fighting battles. (Not a very feminist statement, but it's historically true.) There are also historical examples of women who lead armies--Katharine of Aragon led the English army against the Scots while Henry VIII was in France, Joan of Arc led the French army to break the siege of Orleans, and Elizabeth I led the English against the Spanish armada. They're rare, but they happened. And I think Rose is a rare sort of breed of woman.

It was so much fun to do research on how to correctly shoot a bow and use a sword. I got to watch a lot of videos to see the correct movements and poses. And when I sat down to write the scene, I thought about how I would feel in a situation like this. One thing I love about the scene is that Rose isn't perfect. Even when Andrew and Phillip push her as far as she can go, she makes mistakes and she screws up and doesn't do what she's expected because she just can't. And I love how she gets frustrated and is scared by what she's got herself into.

It's in moments like this that Rose is real to me, when she lets her fears and mistakes show. Those are the moments that I love to write. And I hope those are the moments that my readers enjoy. Because that's when the real being of these characters shine through.

For more about The Fire's Princess check out these sites!

SmashwordsGoodreads


Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Teaser Tuesday (77): The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet by Bernie Su and Kate Rorick

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

This week's teaser comes from The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet by Bernie Su and Kate Rorick. It's a companion novel to the YouTube series, The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, a retelling of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. If you haven't watched that, it's awesome and you should! But also, this book was pretty adorable. If you're a lover of The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, this is a must read!

He frowned at us from beneath this ridiculously hipster newsboy cap. Although I can't even be sure it was a frown now. From what I saw of him that evening, his face just stays that way.

{The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet, 6%}

It's not that heavy."

"Which is why I offered," Darcy said, with what might have actually been a smile. "If it weighed a ton, you'd have been on your own.

{The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet, 78%}

Synopsis of The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet:

A modern adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice based on the Emmy Award-winning phenomenon, The Lizzie Bennet Diaries.

There is a great deal that goes into making a video blog. Lizzie Bennet should know, having become a YouTube sensation over the course of her year-long video diary project. The Lizzie Bennet Diaries chronicled Lizzie’s life as a twenty-four-year-old grad student, struggling under a mountain of student loans and living at home with her two sisters—beautiful Jane and reckless Lydia. What may have started as her grad student thesis grew into so much more, as the videos came to inform and reflect her life and that of her sisters. When rich, handsome Bing Lee comes to town, along with his stuck-up friend William Darcy, things really start to get interesting for the Bennets—and for Lizzie’s viewers. Suddenly Lizzie—who always considered herself a fairly normal young woman—was a public figure. But not everything happened on-screen. Luckily for us, Lizzie kept a secret diary.

The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet provides more character introspection as only a book can, with revelatory details about the Bennet household, including Lizzie’s special relationship with her father, untold stories from Netherfield, Lizzie’s thoughts and fears about life after grad school and becoming an instant web celebrity.

Written by Bernie Su, the series’ executive producer, co-creator, head writer, and director, along with Kate Rorick, the novelist, TV writer, and consulting producer on the series, the novel features a journal-entry format and design, complementing the existing web series, while including plenty of fresh twists to delight fans and new readers alike. The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet expands on the phenomenon that captivated a generation and reimagines the Pride and Prejudice story like it’s never been done before.

For more about The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet check out these sites!

AmazonB&NGoodreads


Watch The Lizzie Bennet Diaries HERE!

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

Monday, May 26, 2014

Quiz: What's Your Totem Animal? - Earth Drummer by Echo

Today we have an excerpt from Earth Drummer, book 2 in the Equilibria series, by Echo Fox which will be available for purchase on Amazon on May 30th! Even though Earth Drummer is the second book in the series, it is not necessary to read the first to enjoy this remix of classic Greek mythology. There's a fun personality quiz at the bottom so make sure you read the excerpt and then take the quiz to find out what your totem animal is!

Gentian, a young man approaching the time when he will have to get married and start behaving like an adult, is suddenly and unexpectedly drawn to an alternate life than the one his grieving father wants him to lead.

With the addition of powerful earth magic, his animal totem's guidance, the fact his mother's ghost keeps popping up to offer advice and a headstrong twin sister to protect, Gentian has choices to make before his whole world spirals out of control.

Excerpt from Earth Drummer:

Tarek entered the room, grinning from ear to ear. 
'Well done Adana! Beautiful babies!' 
Adana blushed and smiled, Jerrod grinned awkwardly and inclined his head with respect to the Shaman. 
'Now, no time like the present to get the spirits on side.' Tarek rubbed his hands together and produced a painted handheld drum. His dreadlocks waved through the air from the pile on his head, threaded with bright feathers and ceramic beads. Tarek stood thoughtfully gazing at the newly born twins, rubbing a knuckle bone necklace between finger and thumb. 
'Thank-you Tarek for coming all this way...' 
'Of course Adana, I wouldn't have made you carry them any further than you already have!' 
'We are grateful for your kindness, Shaman.' Jerrod spoke quickly. 'It all happened so fast, it seemed safer to have the birth here at home than in the Stronghold.' 
'Not a problem at all, I'm no invalid - it does me good to leave the Stronghold on occasion, you know.'

Tarek grinned at Jerrod's uncomfortably formal expression. Ignoring her husband's strait-laced behaviour, Adana fell into an easy conversation with the Shaman, a friend of hers since she had first moved to Karmenor Farm to marry Jerrod. Today was not for discussing their shared knowledge of herbs however, but for more important things. Her children needed to be blessed by the spirits and their totems needed to be located. 
Tarek settled himself on the floor, cross-legged and holding his drum closely to his chest. His eyes were closed and his lips moved soundlessly as he attuned himself to his spiritual duty. Jerrod backed off and left Tarek to his own devices, retreating to a chair in the corner of the room. Adana crooned to her babies, rocking them gently. 
Slowly, carefully, Tarek began to beat a rhythm upon the drum. Deep, reverberating, the sound carried over the room. It washed through the air and swept them all up in a deep, timeless echo. Jerrod twitched, feeling as if he could hear counter-tunes drumming out of the air to accompany the Shaman's beat. 
Tarek kept drumming, creating a music of the earth and of the goddess as he upped the tempo. The little girl woke up and stared in the direction the drumming was coming from, screwing up her face at the loud noise. Her brother started awake too, his eyes widening at the sound. He fixed his unfocused eyes on the point in the room where Tarek was seated and stared, unrelentingly. 
Jerrod felt the pressure in the room fluctuate slightly and he knew the spirits were here. He tried to stay calm and centered his thoughts on good things, hopes for the future and his love for his wife and children.

Adana saw her husband sit in the back of the room, his eyes closed and knew he would be feeling nervous. He took his religious duties very seriously. She watched Tarek as he used the beat of the drum to enter the shadow realm, to dream walk the otherworld and determine the names and paths of her babies. He would find them their animal guide, the totem that would accompany them through their lives.

Fondly, she glanced at the foot of the bed, where her own cockerel totem perched alert.
Abruptly, the drumming and the waves of sound it was creating ceased and Tarek slumped to the side.

Slowly, he shook his head and sat up again, pulling a piece of dried meat from a pouch on his belt to chew on while he mused over his dream walk. 
Holding her breath, Adana watched. All her hope for her children seemed to be clouding the room up like a fog.  
'The girl...Geanna.' Tarek pronounced. 'She shall be strong of heart and of mind, a nurturer. She has Demeter's gift for growing. Her totem is a swallow. The messenger spirit is waiting to guide her along her path.' 
Adana felt a surge of pride. A daughter with Demeter's own gift for growing! Her daughter's totem as well, the messenger spirit between heaven and earth. She hoped Tarek found a hatchling quickly.

'And the boy?' Jerrod spoke from the corner, eager and excited. 
'Gentian. A healer. Demeter's gift for repair and regrowth. He will have a difficult path, but one worth following.' 
Adana's lips quirked. Her son's path sounded much less straightforward than her daughters. 
'What of his totem?' she asked, hesitantly. 
'A lynx of the forest.' Tarek said. 'I shall work hard to locate one as soon as I can for his guiding spirit to occupy.' 
‘A forest creature? Not one of the fields?’ Jerrod asked, frowning slightly. 
‘All creatures fall under Demeter’s domain.’ Tarek reminded the farmer quietly. Adana grinned. 
‘A lynx Jerrod; he’ll be strong and wise with a totem like that.’ 
Jerrod looked proud and walked over to his wife, clasping her shoulder in a sign of affection. 
‘You are quite right, my wife. He will grow to be a fine man and a fine heir.’

Quiz: What's Your Totem Animal?

Discover which character from Earth Drummer you can identify with most and which animal would walk by your side as your spirit guide...

1. If you see someone being bullied, what do you do?
A. Step in, guns blazing.
B. Demand to know what they think they’re doing.
C. Walk on, not my business.
D. Go for help.
E. Get all your friends together to help stop it.
2. You get an unexpected day free to do whatever you feel like. You;
A. You get everyone involved in something exciting for the community.
B. Immediately start that new project that's been brewing at the back of your mind.
C. There is never a free day. There is always work to be done, things to achieve.
D. You spend some time with your family and friends. It’s nice to be with the one’s you love.
E. You and your friends play games, talk crushes and do makeovers. Sleepover!
3. How would your friends describe you, in three words?
A. Loyal, Daydreamer, Generous
B. Fiesty, Intelligent, Headstrong
C. Grumpy, Protective, Ambitious
D. Loving, Caring, Persuasive
E. Sociable, Playful, Sweet
4. You’re on holiday. Where are you?
A. I’d go to fiery Pyrrhos and start getting some answers. I need to know.
B. Right here, in Cerea, travelling between farmsteads for new ideas.
C. Holiday? What is ‘holiday’?
D. Thera, land of the Mer. I’ve always fancied seeing people with tails...
E. I hear in Aither, they can fly! I would love to see that.
5. What’s the first thing you do in the morning?
A. Try and clear my head, get ready to deal with the day.
B. Make the breakfast, do the chores. Try and note down ideas I had during the night.
C. Honour the gods. Then straight to work. No rest for the wicked.
D. Check everyone is alright, that they have what they need for the day.
E. I make my bed, I don’t want to get into trouble with my mum.

RESULTS

Mostly As: Just like Gentian, you have a forest-dwelling creature as your totem, the lynx! Your head can feel full of secrets thanks to your keen insight and intuition. You are supremely loyal and trustworthy.

Mostly Bs: Like Geanna, you have a totem of the air, a swallow! You care about community and you’re determined. You love to create something from nothing and your nesting instincts keep you grounded.

Mostly Cs: You seem to be like Jerrod with his hedgehog totem. You know when to act with tenacity and strength. You’re great at getting things accomplished. Remember to stay confident and act with strength.

Mostly Ds: You are most like Adana, with her cockerel totem. You’re a keen observer of people and a protector of friends and family. You’re aware of the physical and spiritual, with a power of persuasion.

Mostly Es: Like Arana, you have a woodland totem, the Squirrel! You are sociable, playful and active. You need to work on balancing your energy and let people in to help you - it’s not a sign of weakness.

Earth Drummer by Echo Fox is available in the Amazon Kindle store from the 30th May 2014. You can talk to Echo Fox on Twitter @EchoFoxBooks, or find out about upcoming books at www.echofoxbooks.co.uk or www.facebook.com/echofoxbooks.

Trailer:


For more about Earth Drummer check out these sites!


Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Spotlight: My Fake Summer Boyfriend by Ann Herrick

Today I'm sharing Ann Herrick's latest YA novel, My Fake Summer Boyfriend. Who doesn't love a fake boyfriend story? Seriously, they amuse me more then they probably should. This one would be perfect for a day at the beach!

Sun, surf, sand and Alex--Katie was swept away!

Katie eagerly agrees to pretend she is Alex's girlfriend for the summer in order to protect his job. Amid sun-drenched waves, they develop a friendship that is on the verge of turning romantic, when who should arrive but Nicole, Alex's old girlfriend. In three days, Nicole ruins Katie's relationship with Alex. So Katie gets involved with Logan, Nicole's handsome older brother, though Alex is the one for her.

Soon enough Katie learns that fake romances can get out of hand and lead to complications she never imagined.





For more about My Fake Summer Boyfriend check out these sites!

AmazonGoodreads


Monday, May 19, 2014

Spotlight: Fissure Free by Shari J. Ryan

Today we're sharing Fissure Free, the sequel to Schasm, by Shari J. Ryan! Seriosuly, can we just talk about this series covers for a second? How beautiful is the cover of this book? I want to frame it and hang it on my wall! Anyway, check out the synopsis and the beautiful, beautiful cover below:

Author Shari J Ryan reunites the colorful cast of friends and family in Book 2 of the Schasm Series with a powerful tribute to the power of the mind and heart in this romantic, suspenseful, and engaging novel.

Chloe has come close to finding her ultimate escape—or, so she thinks on the vibrant streets of Paris. Finally in a relationship with Alex, a man she fell in love with in Schasm, Chloe thinks life is coming together. As she battles her own demons, she attempts to repair the damaged man she’s grown to love. But as his clouded past abruptly crashes into their lives and falls heavily upon their budding romance, Chloe must fight to save her relationship. Although even when the problems begin to subside, she comes to realize certain things cannot be escaped. Just as Chloe believes she might have sealed the doors of darkness once and for all, new questions, new findings and new inceptions arise. Whether or not Chloe wants to continue forward with the path her life seems to be taking, she quickly learns that any choice she makes will ultimately land her in a place she never knew she was destined to be.

About the Author:

Shari J. Ryan hails from Central Massachusetts where she lives with her hubby and two lively little boys. Writing has become Shari’s great escape from the real world over the past few years. After a bout of postpartum depression with her first child, Shari was determined to occupy her brain enough to eliminate some of the blue moments in life. When she found writing to help as a newfound therapy for postpartum depression, she started her first book. She just published Fissure Free book 2 in the Schasm series. When Fully Fused Book 3 will be published summer 2014. She is hard at work on a new adult book coming late summer 2014.

For more about Fissure Free check out these sites!

AmazonB&NGoodreads


Saturday, May 17, 2014

Shuffle Saturday (66) Unpredictable

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:

Unpredictable by 5 Seconds of Summer

This is just a fun catchy summer song, you know? I really like all of the songs I've heard by 5 Seconds of Summer. I'm definitely keeping an ear out for more by them!

What are you listening to?

Friday, May 16, 2014

Books Like... Once Upon A Time

Have you ever just had a certain type of story you want to read, but have no idea where to start looking? Ever have someone say, "I want to read a book like this or that. Find it for me"? Yeah, me too. After reading a book, watching a movie, playing a video game, whatever, I always find myself craving more of the same, but they're not always easy to find. So, I've decided, I'll ask you guys and see what you have to say, while also providing a few examples I feel fit the bill!

I want to read something similar to Once Upon A Time.


Do you watch Once Upon a Time? It's been one of my favorite shows for the past three years and it just had it's third season finale, so the dreaded summer hiatus has me dying for something to sooth my Captain Hook withdrawal.

You're welcome ;)

I would love to read something with a similar tone to Once Upon a Time. Something that takes everything we think we know about fairytales and their characters and turns it on its head, or just develops those characters into three dimensional people. You know, interesting and intelligent characters with deep backstories and meaningful relationships.

Now, there are plenty of fairytale-ish books out there, but I'm looking for more than just a fairytale retelling. I've read quite a few fairytale retellings, or books that have a fairytale vibe to them, and I love them when they're well written, but more often than not I find myself less than impressed with them. Fairytales are usually shallow stories with a moral lesson to teach. And I appreciate that, but I also want rich, diverse characters that make me feel things! I want intricate stories that leave me wanting more!

Here are a few books that, while not all fairytales, have a definite fairytale tone and are similar to what I'm looking for:

Shadow and Bone (The Grisha Trilogy) by Leigh Bardugo:

The Shadow Fold, a swathe of impenetrable darkness, crawling with monsters that feast on human flesh, is slowly destroying the once-great nation of Ravka.

Alina, a pale, lonely orphan, discovers a unique power that thrusts her into the lavish world of the kingdom’s magical elite—the Grisha. Could she be the key to unravelling the dark fabric of the Shadow Fold and setting Ravka free?

The Darkling, a creature of seductive charm and terrifying power, leader of the Grisha. If Alina is to fulfill her destiny, she must discover how to unlock her gift and face up to her dangerous attraction to him.

But what of Mal, Alina’s childhood best friend? As Alina contemplates her dazzling new future, why can’t she ever quite forget him?

Glorious. Epic. Irresistible. Romance.

Shadow and Bone might seem more fantasy than fairytale, but I think it still has some similarities. Orphan girl taken in, given a makeover, and shown she's more than she ever could have imagined. It doesn't hurt that there are prophecies and villains and true love. And with the final book coming out on June 17th, now is the perfect time to read, or reread, this incredible story!

ReviewAmazonB&NGoodreads


The False Princess by Ellis O'Neal:

Princess and heir to the throne of Thorvaldor, Nalia's led a privileged life at court. But everything changes when it's revealed, just after her sixteenth birthday, that she is a false princess, a stand-in for the real Nalia, who has been hidden away for her protection. Cast out with little more than the clothes on her back, the girl now called Sinda must leave behind the city of Vivaskari, her best friend, Keirnan, and the only life she's ever known.

Sinda is sent to live with her only surviving relative, an aunt who is a dyer in a distant village. She is a cold, scornful woman with little patience for her newfound niece, and Sinda proves inept at even the simplest tasks. But when Sinda discovers that magic runs through her veins - long-suppressed, dangerous magic that she must learn to control - she realizes that she can never learn to be a simple village girl.

Returning to Vivaskari for answers, Sinda finds her purpose as a wizard scribe, rediscovers the boy who saw her all along, and uncovers a secret that could change the course of Thorvaldor's history, forever.

A dazzling first novel, The False Princess is an engrossing fantasy full of mystery, action, and romance.

It's been awhile since I've read The False Princess, but I still remember how incredible I felt after reading it. I love it when the book transports me to the world I'm reading about, and that's how this one was for me. Again, while not a fairytale, it's got that vibe to it, but in reverse. The main character discover's she's not a princess like she thought and has to find her place in the world all over again.


The Diamond Secret by Suzanne Wynn:

Nadya is a mischievous kitchen girl in a Russian tavern. Having nearly drowned in the Iset River during the turmoil of the Revolution, she has no memory of her past and longs for the life she cannot remember. Then two young men arrive at the tavern and announce that Nadya's long-lost grandmother has sent them to find her. Yearning for family and friendship, she agrees to accompany them to Paris for the joyful reunion. Nadya eagerly embarks on her journey, never dreaming it will be one of laughter, love...and betrayal.

I have a thing about Anastasia. I always have, and I've tried to read dozens of books about her, but this is the only one I've found that I really truly loved. This book is actually part of the Once Upon a Time collection, which retells fairytales, but this was the only one that I really, really liked.

AmazonB&NGoodreads


The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani:

The first kidnappings happened two hundred years before. Some years it was two boys taken, some years two girls, sometimes one of each. But if at first the choices seemed random, soon the pattern became clear. One was always beautiful and good, the child every parent wanted as their own. The other was homely and odd, an outcast from birth. An opposing pair, plucked from youth and spirited away.

This year, best friends Sophie and Agatha are about to discover where all the lost children go: the fabled School for Good & Evil, where ordinary boys and girls are trained to be fairy tale heroes and villains. As the most beautiful girl in Gavaldon, Sophie has dreamed of being kidnapped into an enchanted world her whole life. With her pink dresses, glass slippers, and devotion to good deeds, she knows she’ll earn top marks at the School for Good and graduate a storybook princess. Meanwhile Agatha, with her shapeless black frocks, wicked pet cat, and dislike of nearly everyone, seems a natural fit for the School for Evil.

But when the two girls are swept into the Endless Woods, they find their fortunes reversed—Sophie’s dumped in the School for Evil to take Uglification, Death Curses, and Henchmen Training, while Agatha finds herself in the School For Good, thrust amongst handsome princes and fair maidens for classes in Princess Etiquette and Animal Communication.. But what if the mistake is actually the first clue to discovering who Sophie and Agatha really are…?

The School for Good & Evil is an epic journey into a dazzling new world, where the only way out of a fairy tale is to live through one.

Friendship, love, and saving the world? Isn't that what fairytales are made of? While this book isn't a fairytale, it's about fairytales and that's just as good! The characters are relatable and the story is intriguing and fun. And I always love it when a girl/girl friendship takes center stage in a novel.

Review • AmazonB&NGoodreads


Beastly by Alex Flinn:

I am a beast.

A beast. Not quite wolf or bear, gorilla or dog but a horrible new creature who walks upright--a creature with fangs and claws and hair springing from every pore. I am a monster.

You think I'm talking fairy tales? No way. The place is New York City. The time is now. It's no deformity, no disease. And I'll stay this way forever--ruined--unless I can break the spell.

Yes, the spell, the one the witch in my English class cast on me. Why did she turn me into a beast who hides by day and prowls by night? I'll tell you. I'll tell you how I used to be Kyle Kingsbury, the guy you wished you were, with money, perfect looks, and the perfect life. And then, I'll tell you how I became perfectly . . . beastly.

Beastly isn't the deepest, most intricate of the novels on this list, but it's one of my favorite retellings. I think I love it so much because it's told from a male point of view, which does add depth to the characters and story, even if it's not intricately written. We do get to see Kyle's growth and I'm always a sucker for character development. Alex Flinn writes tons of fairytale retellings, but this is the only one I really like.



What do you like in a fairytale and do you have any recommendations that you think would keep me occupied until Once Upon a Time comes back in the fall?


Thursday, May 15, 2014

Release Day Blitz: The Luthier's Apprentice by Mayra Calvani

Today I'm happy to announce the release of The Luthier's Apprentice by Mayra Calvani. Vanishing violinists, a Sherlock Holmes-loving boy, and a pact with the devil? This book sound absolutely unputdownable. And it's only $3.99! Check it out:

Niccolò Paganini (1782-1840), one of the greatest violinists who ever lived and rumored to have made a pact with the devil, has somehow transferred unique powers to another…

When violinists around the world mysteriously vanish, 16-year-old Emma Braun takes notice.

But when her beloved violin teacher disappears… Emma takes charge. With Sherlock Holmes fanatic, not to mention gorgeous Corey Fletcher, Emma discovers a parallel world ruled by an ex-violinist turned evil sorceress who wants to rule the music world on her own terms.

But why are only men violinists captured and not women? What is the connection between Emma's family, the sorceress, and the infamous Niccolò Paganini?

Emma must unravel the mystery in order to save her teacher from the fatal destiny that awaits him. And undo the curse that torments her family—before evil wins and she becomes the next luthier's apprentice…

About the Author:

Mayra Calvani writes fiction and nonfiction for children and adults and has authored over a dozen books, some of which have won awards. Her stories, reviews, interviews and articles have appeared on numerous publications such as The Writer, Writer’s Journal, Multicultural Review, and Bloomsbury Review, among many others. When she’s not writing, reading, editing or reviewing, she enjoys walking her dog, traveling, and spending time with her family. Represented by Serendipity Literary.


For more about The Luthier's Apprentice check out these sites!

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Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Spotlight: The Cinderella Theorem by Kristee Ravan

Today we have an excerpt from The Cinderella Theorem by Kristee Ravan. If you're a lover of all things fairytale, you might want to check this one out!

Fairy tales are naturally non-mathematical. That is a fact, and fifteen-year-old Lily Sparrow loves factual, mathematical logic. So when her mother confesses that Lily’s deceased father is (a) not dead, (b) coming to dinner, and (c) the ruler of a fairy tale kingdom accessible through the upstairs bathtub, Lily clings to her math to help her make sense of this new double life (1 life in the real world + 1 secret life in the fairy tale world = a double life).

Even though it’s not mathematical, Lily finds herself being pulled into a mystery involving an unhappy Cinderella, a greasy sycophant called Levi, and a slew of vanishing fairy tale characters. Racing against the clock, with a sound mathematical plan, can Lily save her fairy tale friends before they vanish forever?

Excerpt from The Cinderella Theorem:

My mother is a famous writer (in this equation, famous = distracted). For some reason, that I have not been able to calculate, being a famous writer makes it difficult to focus on any one thing for extended periods of time, including daughters’ birthdays. Writing is not as exact as math. 
To combat her distraction, I mark my birthday on every calendar in the house. It’s not so much that Mom forgets my birthday. It’s that she gets distracted while planning. This year, I took an additional precaution: I changed her screen saver to “LILY’S BIRTHDAY IS THURSDAY!!!!!” 
So, having solved the problem of the distractedness, we are usually ready to proceed with normal birthday celebrations. I say usually because there are occasionally book signings or tours that cause further issues. This year, however, there were none of these kinds of complications. 
That is not to say that there were no complications. 
There was, in fact, a huge one. 
I came home from school intending to go out to dinner with my mother. That is a normal, mathematical way to celebrate a birthday. I grabbed a handful of pretzels from a bowl on the counter and popped my head into Mom’s office to say hello. (Mom’s office = a cluttered, messy room full of unorganized paper scraps that contain notes about her stories.) 
Mom smiled at me. “How was school?” 
“Not enough math.” I munched a pretzel. “What time are we going out tonight?” 
“Going out?” Mom’s voice was quieter, distracted. She was sinking back into her novel. 
“For dinner? For my birthday?” 
Eyes fixed on her computer screen, she answered, “No. Matt is bringing dinner.” 
“Matt? Matt who?” I quickly ran a mental index of my mother’s friends, acquaintances, and contacts for a Matt. 
Mom gasped, covered her mouth with her hand, and mumbled, “Oh! It was supposed to be a surprise! What am I—” 
“Mom!” I grabbed her shoulders, crushing a pretzel in my palm. “Stop. Who is Matt? Explain logically.” 
She nodded. “Okay. Let’s sit down.” She led the way to the living room, and sat beside me on the couch, patting me on the back. “The thing is, Lily, I don’t want to explain too much without your father. He—” 
“Wait. What?” I interrupted. “My father?” 
“Oh! Fiddlesticks! I did it again! Matt’s going to kill me. I do fine for fifteen years and blow it on the last day. Why am I—” 
“Mom!” 
“Right. Well,” she took a breath. “To begin, I should say that your father is not dead.” 
“But, he is dead. You told me that he died–that the train he was on hit a cow.” 
“No, Sweetie.” She patted my knee. “He’s not dead. He is alive and he’s coming to dinner.” 
“I don’t understand. The train wrecked, the cow died, Dad died. You showed me the news story.” 
Mom sighed. (Why is she sighing? Did she think that I would automatically understand? Did I miss the Lily, your dad is not dead memo?) “There was a train wreck, a cow did die. And it was on the news. But your father was not on the train.” 
I took a deep breath. “Okay. Where was he?” 
“He wants to explain all this to you, and he should be the one to do it. Can we just leave it at: he’s not dead, and he’s coming to dinner tonight?” 
“Why did you tell me he was dead?”  
“It was safer for everyone if you thought that. But, Lily, your father can explain this a lot better than me.” She stood up. “Now, I need to work on getting the prince to fall in love with the princess, and you should probably get your homework done before dinner. I’m sure you’re going to have a lot to talk about with your dad.” She turned to go back to the office. 
Are you kidding me? That’s the end of the conversation?

For more about The Cinderella Theorem check out these sites!

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Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Teaser Tuesday (76): Revenge of the Flower Girls by Jennifer Ziegler

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

This week's teaser comes from Revenge of the Flower Girls by Jennifer Ziegler. I don't usually read middle grade, but this one just seemed too cute not to give it a try. I've just started it, but it does seem really cute so far. I'm rooting for these girls and their plan to get their sister back with her ex already!

It started to seem like we were going to end up related to a sneezy, squinty, Franklin Pierce-loving armadillo. Then, on Monday, Delaney saw Alex downtown and everything changed....

{Revenge of the Flower Girls, Chapter 1}

Synopsis of Revenge of the Flower Girls:

In this middle-grade Bridesmaids, hilarity ensues as triplets have to stop a wedding!

One bride. Two boys. Three flower girls who won't forever hold their peace. What could go wrong with this wedding? Everything!

The Brewster triplets, Dawn, Darby, and Delaney, would usually spend their summer eating ice cream, playing with their dog, and reading about the US Presidents. But this year they're stuck planning their big sister Lily's wedding. Lily used to date Alex, who was fun and nice and played trivia games with the triplets, and no one's quite sure why they broke up. Burton, Lily's groom-to-be, is not nice or fun, and he looks like an armadillo.

The triplets can't stand to see Lily marry someone who's completely wrong for her, so it's up to them to stop the wedding before anyone says "I do!" The flower girls will stop at nothing to delay Lily's big day, but will sprinklers, a photo slideshow, a muddy dog, and some unexpected allies be enough to prevent their big sister - and the whole Brewster family - from living unhappily ever after?

For more about Revenge of the Flower Girls check out these sites!

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

Monday, May 12, 2014

Cover Reveal: This is Sarah by Ally Malinenko

Today I'm excited to help share the cover for Ally Malinenko's new book, This is Sarah. Ally has also gathered some really amazing writing advice from some really amazing people so make sure you check that out below as well!

When Colin Leventhal leaned out his bedroom window on the night of May 12th and said goodbye to his girlfriend, he never expected it would be forever. But when Sarah Evans goes missing that night, Colin's world unravels as he is transformed from the boyfriend next door to the main police suspect. Then one year later, at her memorial service, Colin makes a phone call that could change everything. Is it possible that Sarah is still alive? And if so, what is Colin willing to do to bring her back?

And as Colin struggles with this possibility, across the street, Sarah’s little sister Claire learns how to navigate the strange new landscape that is life without her sister. Even as her parent’s fall apart, Claire is determined to keep on going. Even if it kills her.

THIS IS SARAH is a meditation on loss, love, and what it means to say goodbye.


Cover design by Anita B. Carroll at Race-Point.com

I love how simple this cover is and the colors. It does feel a little depressing, but I think it fits the plot of the book nicely.

What do you think of the cover?

Writing Advice:

Here are my top five bits of writing advice from some really great writers all of whom know a heck of a lot more than I do about this writing game. Read and be wiser!

5. Garret Freyman-Weir – Author of My Heartbeat, Stay With Me, When I was Older and The Kings are Already Here
Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

Read. Really, I cannot begin to describe all the times I’ve met people who tell me that they would love to write, if only they could find the time (as if writing were a hobby, although given the quality of much of what is published, I sometimes think it is!), but if I talk to them at length it quickly becomes clear they do not read. That’s like wanting to run a marathon, but not wanting to run. Reading is the only way to learn how to write. It can’t be taught, exactly. It has to be absorbed.

4. Rebecca Stead – Author of When You Reach Me and Liar and Spy
What tips or advice can you share with young students who hope to start writing?

First: Read. It’s been said over and over, but reading is the most important thing an aspiring writer can do. Read what you love. Read something you think you won’t like at all. Experiment with your reading, but don’t stop reading.

Second: Don’t be discouraged by your first draft. For many writers, the first draft is a pretty terrible translation of what might be a terrific idea. Don’t stop and think, “this is awful.” It doesn’t help. Revision is just as much a part of the job as the first draft. If you aren’t willing to revise, you can’t be a writer.

3. Daniel Handler (a.k.a. Lemony Snicket) – Author of The Series of Unfortunate Events, When We Broke Up and All The Wrong Questions Series
What’s the greatest or most memorable piece of advice on writing that you have ever received? 
“Read everything out loud.”

2. Laini Taylor – Author of Daughter of Smoke and Bone and Days of Blood and Starlight
“Be an unstoppable force. Write with an imaginary machete strapped to your thigh. This is not wishy-washy, polite, drinking-tea-with-your-pinkie-sticking-out stuff. It’s who you want to be, your most powerful self. Write your books. Finish them, then make them better. Find the way. No one will make this dream come true for you but you.” 
1. Neil Gaiman – Author of (tons of other stuff but also) Coraline, The Sandman Series, The Graveyard Book
Be wise

Make amazing mistakes

Break rules

Leave the world a more interesting place, and 
Make good art

And he said it all quite well here in a now pretty famous commencement speech.

So there you guy. Easy right? Read. Write. Believe. Don’t give up.

Read more. Write more. Believe more. Don’t give up more. I don’t think there’s much that I could add to this. I mean, let’s be honest – these are all big fish writers and I’m a bottom feeder – happily and joyfully – but still a bottom feeder. But I will say this:

When you do start writing don’t give up. Just write. Keep writing. When it’s good keep writing. When it’s bad keep writing. When someone tells you it’s terrible and you should stop, keep writing. When someone tells you it’s perfect don’t change it, keep writing. You know in your heart what you are striving for. One day you’ll wake up and you’ll have found your voice. But it takes work. Be ready to do the work.

About the Author:

Ally Malinenko is the author of the poetry collection, The Wanting Bone (Six Gallery Press), and the children’s novel Lizzy Speare and the Cursed Tomb (Antenna Books). This Is Sarah is her first YA book. Ally lives in Brooklyn with her husband and a very ridiculous tabby cat. She blogs at allymalinenko.com and you can follow her on twitter at @allymalinenko.


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