Friday, October 25, 2013

Review of 'Haunted U (School Spirits)' by Jessica Gibson


Haunted U
by Jessica Gibson

Ezzie Lovegreen lives in a world where witches and ghosts are real. That doesn’t mean she’s not surprised when she’s suddenly being haunted by one at school.

With the help of her best friend Stella, her boyfriend Beau, and her grandmother Winifred, Ezzie must find out what happened to the ghost and set her free.

Secrets will be revealed that could change Ezzie’s life forever. Will Ezzie be strong enough to face the challenges set in her path?

**My thoughts**

I think this book is my favorite out of all of the books that Jessica has written. I was completely sucked into Ezzie's life as soon as I started reading. I love stories about witches who are trying to find their way as their powers are emerging, torn between family obligation and their heart's desires. With a spunky best friend and hottie football player boyfriend to boot, Ezzie is doing pretty well for herself, despite the secrets her family have been hiding from her. I also love tricky ghosts. So many of these elements may be prevalent in paranormal literature, but Jessica delivers the story in a way that makes this book stand out on its own to be a fun read. I can even see elements of her own personality within the characters, showing how invested she is in her world.

Relationships are just getting started in this first book of the series. The foundation for future installments has been laid and I can't wait to read more!
 

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About Jessica Gibson

Jessica Gibson is a recovering bookaholic, she’s down from four books a week to a more reasonable one. It was that love of words and creativity that made her dream about writing her first book. That dream was hidden for years, always put on the back burner, filed away in the “someday” section, until her husband Matt gave her the kick in the pants she needed to actually get off her butt and write.

Jessica and Matt live in Southern California and have a serious addiction to reality tv shows like Pawn Stars and American Restoration. They have one son and hope to add to the family in the near future.

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Thursday, October 24, 2013

Review of 'School of Ministry (The Windgate)' by Braxton A. Cosby



The School of Ministry (The Windgate)

by Braxton A. Cosby

"A fast-paced adventure featuring a secret society on a divine mission...a satisfying read: The characters steadily develop, goodness prevails, and there's even a touch of romantic intrigue. Gripping, action-packed." ---- Kirkus Review 
"A memorable, unpredictable journey of hope, identity and courage. The Cosby gift of storytelling lives on in this page turning adventure." ---- Bill Cosby, #1 New York Times Bestselling Author, Comedian, Philanthropist 
"Braxton Cosby delivers a thrill ride of suspense, fantasy, drama and fun in The School of Ministry. An unrequieted love story beats at the center of Ziv's journey to find peace, purpose and faith. You'll root for him as he claims his life and future in this wholly inventive and original novel with a message for all. I loved it." ---- Adriana Trigiani, New York Times Bestselling Author of The Shoemaker's Wife
Winner of The Readers’ Favorite Gold Medal Book of the Year Award for Young Adult - General

Read an excerpt:
I'm helpless as she continues to struggle for air. Then, an image flickers from the corner of my eye as a side door opens and Maxwell walks out, holding a staff of his own.

"Maxwell," I plead. "It's Miss Evans. Please help her!"

He shakes his head and lifts his staff in his hands, twirling it in a circle as he begins to slowly walk sideways, circling me like a predator, encasing me in a hedge of danger.

"Hold your ground. Make a choice: fight or flight," Maxwell bellows.

Miss Evans' banging on the glass behind me blends with the pounding of my heart. I lift my staff and spread my feet, turning my attention to Maxwell. As much as I'm afraid for my own safety, I find it impossible not to focus on Miss Evans. Her muffled scream comes from the tank and I look away from Maxwell to check on her. Her hands clutch her neck. Her face is bright red with a tinge of blue around her lips.

"No," I scream, stepping back away from the tank.

Raising my staff above my head, I crank back and rip it down, slamming it into the side of the tank, as I yell. The water explodes from the crack in the tank and glass shards crash to the floor below. I swing once more and this time the entire tank shatters, launching Miss Evans into the air toward me. I catch her in my arms and the force of the water propels us backward onto the floor. She coughs, gasping for air. I hold her in my arms and caress her head. Her sobbing brittles me and I'm relieved to see her skin color returning to its natural tanned shade.

We're here, an odd place, an unfamiliar place. But as I hold her delicately in my arms, it makes me feel like I'm heading back home. Not the place where I live now, but the place where I used to live, when mom and dad were still alive. The way she rests in my arms beckons me to a time when I used to hold my kitten, Priceless. She'd climb into my lap during the thunder storms. I was her comforter. Priceless would purr when I did it. And now, so many years later, I find myself feeling the same way as I hold Miss Evans. Her soft body pressing into my skin—warming me—calls me to hug her even closer with each passing second. The times when I needed someone to hold me reflect in my mind like a mirror as I stare at her. Her chest rises as her heart beat quickens, mixing evenly with her breaths. As warmth returns to her body, a subtle tremor comes over her; like a purr.

I can't resist. I have to do it. I must do it. I hug deeply, ignoring the senseless urge to pull away.

"Bravo!" praises Maxwell, exiting the room as the lights come back on.

Miss Evans resting in my arms and I comfort her, caressing her hair. She finally looks up at me and mouths, "Thank you."

"You're welcome. Are you all right?" I ask.

"Yes…better now," she replies.

"How did you get in there?" I ask.

"I don't know. Um, if you don't mind me asking, who are you?"

"What? It's Ziv of course. Miss Evans, are you feeling all right?"

"Miss Evans?" she asks with a puzzled look on her face. "Did you say your name was Ziv?"

**My thoughts**

I was honestly surprised that this was a young adult book. While I think that teens are going to get a lot out of this book, I think it is important for adults to read, as well. It's very thought-provoking, especially as Ziv is in training and goes through all of his trials. I found myself often wondering what I would do in each situation. Which decisions would I make? Is what I think I would do when reading about it the same choice I would make if I were thrown into each of those trials? It took me longer than usual to read, because I found myself really chewing on the plot as I pondered it.

One of the things I really liked about this book, other than the adventurous excursions, was how the Christian themes were in the forefront of the book, but didn't dominate, nor did they seem preachy. Too often, Christian themes are overpowering and can detract from the book's message. I also think that a lot of great discussions and lessons can be had by reading this book and discussing the general ideas of good vs. evil, and becoming a better person in general, regardless of your religious beliefs.

I did have a slight Harry Potter vibe from it, but I think it is impossible for a story about an orphan with a destiny to not make one think of HP, even if the story is markedly different. It definitely stands on its own with its own identity.

It's a bonus that the author is related to the amazing Bill Cosby, but I think Braxton is going to forge his own way in the storytelling business.



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Meet the Author:


Multi-Award-Wining Author Braxton A. Cosby is a dreamer who evolved from concepts on pen and paper to pixels and keyboards. He tells stories that evoke emotions and stimulate thought. Protostar: Book 1 The Star-Crossed Saga and The School of Ministry: The Windgate are currently two Young Adult series he created. Braxton lives in Georgia with his wife, three children and a troop of crazy African Cichlids.

www.braxtoncosby.com www.theschoolofministry.com


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Sunday, October 20, 2013

'The Bloodlines Project (The Bloodlines Trilogy)' by J.A. Rogers


Blurb

Nena’s childhood in the workhouse is harsh but she hopes for the future that all the girls have been promised. An ordinary life. A home. And someone to love.

As she travels to the Heart, excited at the prospect of her new life, she is captured and taken prisoner by rebels. When they tell her that there are no boys born in the Bloodlands she doesn’t believe them. Can it be true?

Faced with the truth Nena is forced to put her dreams behind her.


She was raised to obey her superiors. Is she strong enough to stand alone against the cruelty of the Bloodlines Project?

Read the first two chapters
The Bloodlines Project

The best of their Bloodline, they were promised a perfect life…but was it all a lie?

By J. A. Rogers

Chapter 1

We clapped at the end of Mamie’s testimony. It wasn’t exactly original. It could have been any of us. She’d gone through the usual, the things we’re all promised; love, friendship, her own little bit of heaven. Sister Lola allowed our noise for a few moments then held her hand up for silence.

Thursday afternoon. And it was Scripture.

Identical to last Thursday’s Scripture and to next Thursday’s. Every single Thursday I could remember. And before me… every Thursday since the Flood. 
And that was over two hundred years ago.

The windows were high to stop us gazing out. It was important to listen. The air in the Reading Room was sweaty. Sister Lola knew her lines. The Flood. 

Stories of tragedy. Stories of courage.

A fly buzzed lazily across the room. My breed namesake. I imagined what he saw. Four rows, 6 girls in each, regulation cross-legged with hands folded neatly in laps. Did we look happy?

Next to me Bliss slid her eyes sideways trying to make me laugh. The nearer we got to leaving the Workhouse the more risks she took. Ready for a little freedom I suppose. It’s not that she’s not funny. In the dorm at night I had to stuff my mouth with the bed sheet when she imitated the Guardian Sisters. I didn’t want to be caught smiling this afternoon though. I wanted Sister Lola to see how serious I was, how ready for the future. How I appreciated the chance to play my part.

If I stared ahead… stopped blinking…I could keep a straight face.

I concentrated on the patterns in the heavy weave of the dress of the girl sitting in front of me. The same grey as the wall behind the Sister. We’d got to the bit when the waters had stopped rising.

All my life I’d been listening to this. Today though, was different. We would not have any more Thursdays. The thought gathered in my head. Exciting. Scary.

Sister Lola paused dramatically. It was hot in the room but she looked cool. Her white cap had been scrubbed by one of the Fleets in this room and it gleamed icily. I’d never felt close to the Sister, she wasn’t someone you could like. Still, I found myself wondering what it would be like not to see her.

I tried to listen.

“But what to do? How could our ancestors save those who were still alive?”

Nobody spoke. We were not expected to chant at this point.

Sister Lola answered her own question. This was her favourite part. She raised her chin, eyes shining. She looked so happy.

“And yes, the First Nations agreed with the Scholars. Only they could help us in this, our darkest of times. Our Leaders drew up their plans. So many had drowned or died of the water sickness. For those left there was limited shelter and less land to farm. The choices before them were difficult and they needed all their courage.”

It was our turn now. We all took a breath in and chanted.

“For us they planned. Their only thought was of us. Our survival. Our futures.”

Looking along the row as we recited our lines I felt sad to think I’d be leaving. At this moment I was content. We were all together. All believing. Ready to play our part in the Bloodlines Project.

Behind me a girl yawned. We snapped upright desperate not to be accused of disrespect. Thankfully Sister Lola’s zeal for the Scripture stopped her from noticing the yawner.

“The most important lesson… that the numbers of people should not outgrow the food supply. This became our law and our hope of salvation!” Her expression was serious.

“But who to choose?”

She waited for us to answer in unison.

“For the good of us all, the finest must be saved. The Fleets, the Brawns, the Bitzers and the Flies, the best of their breed.”

She smiled and nodded, pleased.

“Girls and boys to be separated until they are joined in bliss. When the time is right your ideal partner will be chosen for each of you. Your lives are safe; your futures guaranteed.”

Her gaze searched each row. I put on my most serious expression. This was always a tense moment. The Sister had to make sure that we were all believers in the project of the First Nations. The Bloodlines Project.

As she turned to the screen to start the visual there was a tiny, silent shift amongst us as we stretched and twisted on the hard floor. The urge to move was so strong. By the time she swung back we were still.

The first short film showed what Sister Lola called, the ‘initial response’ to the Bloodlines Project. This clip always made me sad. We watched as the crowd protested. Of course I’d never seen any men or boys. Every Thursday I would watch this and think how strange to see the women and girls in the film jostling alongside them. One of the Fleets from our dorm, a girl called Sila 4914, was convinced that she saw a woman with a small child knocked to the ground at the back left of the screen. Bliss and I had tried hard but we hadn’t been able to spot them.

One of the boys was easier to see. He looked about our age. He stared straight at us from the left of the screen. His hair flopped across his face and he pushed it out of his eyes to stare angrily at the camera. All of us girls talked about him when we were alone. Bliss thought he looked sad but I was convinced he was just furious.

Sister Lola’s voice wobbled as it strained to express both her sympathy for the misguided rebels of the first response and more importantly, her pride in our ancestors’ determination to put the Plan into place. As if he could hear her, the boy in the film returned to the crowd. Her hands, open palmed seemed to guide him, her head tipped sympathetically to one side as she acknowledged those misguided voices of protest.

“Imagine the agonies of the First Nations as they debated the issue. They had to make some tough decisions.“

Sister Lola threw open her arms, as if welcoming us; this was the point where all our great-great-great grandparents joined the history.

“Your own ancestors were among the Chosen. They had been saved. They were the foundation stones of the Bloodlines Plan. The first Fleets, the first Bitzers, the first Brawns and the first Flies. Each breed suited for their purpose in the Bloodlands.”

I was always struck by this…the story of our origins, but this afternoon my eyes filled with tears at Sister Lola’s words.

This morning Bliss and I had been told we would be leaving to take our own place in the Plan. At fourteen we had reached maturity. We had been promised the happiness of a home and a partner chosen to be our perfect match. It seemed unbelievable but we would soon become mothers to a new generation of our breed.

Like all those girls who had gone before us we had been called on to do our duty.

“And we mustn’t forget the sacrifices made by all. “ Sister Lola said, her voice dipping gently. I stared at her, for a moment is seemed she had heard my thoughts and was speaking directly to me. But no, she was still preaching. The screen above her showed the processions of the Second Response Heroes. 

They walked, slowly and with purpose past the raised dais seating the Leaders.

“These were the real champions,” Sister Lola said proudly. “Thousands upon thousands of men, women and children preparing to give up everything to save us.” She pronounced the ‘us’ in capital letters. “Their sacrifice helped create the pure Bloodlines.”

We followed the swivel of her gaze. In the heat of the Reading Room the scene seemed unreal. The grainy film caught glimpses of these archaic and exotic people as they trooped towards their end. Their clothes were brightly coloured and none of them seemed to be wearing uniform. Holding hands and carrying smaller children they climbed the steps towards the Refrigeration Centre. One or two cast a glance towards the camera. For a second their eyes focussed into the lens. I imagined what it was to be one of these people. I always wondered if they had been told that they were being filmed.

Did the floppy-haired boy know that his might be one of the few faces known to us in the Reading Room in hundreds of years?

Maybe, like me and Bliss, he was not sure where he was headed.

Chapter 2

The buzzer signalled that it was my turn. I tried to read the expression of the girl coming out but she was looking down at the floor.

I had Sister Jas this week. The walls were windowless and the faded brown of the rug seemed to suck the colour out of the room. I seemed to be looking at everything as if for the last time.

“Come in, come in Nena 26612.” She had my notes open on her lap. Desks didn’t feature in tutorials, too impersonal apparently.

“And how are you?” she bent her head towards me, her pen still in her hand.

“Good thank you. Looking forward to the move.” I knew she expected that.

Her eyes flicked down to the file. “Ah, yes. Sunday.” She paused. “And, d’you feel prepared?”

“Of course!” I smiled bravely. I knew I was terrified but she didn’t need to know. All our life at the Workhouse had been leading to this.

“It’s important Nena 26612 to keep in mind all our teaching. You have been bred to serve the Bloodlands.”

I bowed my head expecting her to go straight to prayer but she continued.

“Is there anything you wish to ask me?”

I could feel my face getting warm with embarrassment. What I really wanted to know was about the boy chosen for me. What would he be like? And when would I meet him?

“Perhaps about… the…” She looked up at the ceiling fan as if she was searching for something. “The process?”

I was suddenly shy. I didn’t want to talk about this with Sister Jas, things that it seemed OK to discuss with Bliss were too personal to share with one of the Sisters. I shook my head.
"No, you’re quite right. Sometimes best to not over-think these things.” She seemed relieved too.

“Now, final review.” She went through the usual questions, testing my knowledge of the history and purpose of each Bloodline.

“And the features?”

I took a deep breath and recited. “The Bloodlines have built on the best. The strength of the Brawn. The speed of the Fleet. The precision of the Bitzer and the endurance of the Fly.”

“Well done. But then….” She hesitated and for an awful moment I thought she was going to cry. “I was going to say was that you have been reciting the features since you were small.”

“That’s true, Sister.” I couldn’t think what to say, conversation wasn’t usual in tutorial.

“You’ll do well Nena 26612. And to think…” she continued, “That your own children will come to a workhouse one day too.”


I bowed my head. This was just how it was.


Available on Amazon


Author info

When I was young I didn’t plan to be a writer. I was more interested in being a reader.

Somehow though the threads of all those books I read, twisted and wove their way into a new story. And this is it.

Writing has become a bit of an obsession. If I’m not writing then I’m thinking about what I’m hoping to write. Imagine me, swimming my twenty lengths in the morning, gliding smoothly through the water, to all intents and purposes just another middle aged woman putting in a little exercise before another day at the office. If you could just read my thoughts you might be a little surprised, the sparse landscapes of the Bloodlands and the threat of the unknown worlds beyond race through my mind.

There are two more books planned about Nena. We can see at the end of The Bloodlines Project that there is unfinished business. And anyway, Nena is just too wonderful a heroine to say goodbye to.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Review of 'Tokyo Dare' & a conversation with author Anne Van


Please welcome author Anne Van to Andi's Young Adult Books, as she lets us get to know her and her book 'Tokyo Dare' a bit better. Stay tuned for my thoughts, and be sure to add your questions and comments below!


What was the inspiration behind this book?
After getting back from living in Japan, I had so many stories to tell. My friends kept saying I should write them down. It wasn’t until I had been working for a several years that I realized I needed to finally sit down and put them to paper.
What was one of your favorite aspects of this book?
Even though I had my own experiences to draw on, the book took on a life of it’s own. It took me a while to make friends when I was living in Japan as I lived very far from central Tokyo. But when I began writing the book, I wanted my character to have a support system right up front. So I gave her two wonderful friends. It was a lot of fun to be able to make my characters experiences very different from my own.
What would you like readers to take away from reading your book?
I want readers to feel like they packed their bags and hopped the plane to Tokyo with my character Erin. I want them to experience seeing Japan for the first time through her eyes. To fall in love with Japan the way I did.
Will we see these characters again?
Yes, I’m working on book two of The Sushi Chronicles right now. It should come out in the summer of 2014.
On what other projects are you currently working?
I’m also working on a fantasy about a girl who inherits a vase after her grandmother dies and discovers a genie inside. I love the possibilities of having a genie come into your life. I’m plotting the story out at the moment. It’s going to be a fun book to write.
Please tell us about your other published works.
Besides writing novels, I also enjoy writing short stories. Last year I had a steampunk story, The Unseen Wonder, included in, Gaslight: A Golden Light Anthology. It was also published as its own stand-alone book in The Chimera Series. I also had a short story included in The Best Women’s Travel Writing of 2011. Going Underground won the gold Sola award for best cultural travel story.
You had the fortune of studying in Japan. What was one of your most memorable experiences?
I had so many it’s hard to pick just one. At the top of the list would be when I was riding the train to school and there was a major earthquake. I’ve lived in California for a long time and I could tell the quake was at least a six on the Richter scale. The train stopped and everyone picked up their feet and clutched their knees. A man kept shouting at me “Denki”. This happened when I was first in Japan and my language skills weren’t that great but I knew it meant, electricity. I quickly pulled my legs up off the floor. It turns out in an earthquake the eclectic cables that power the train automatically drop. Any residual electricity can be transferred to the train. When a buzzer rang we all got off the train and waited for inspectors to check the tracks and the lines before we could board again. After about an hour and half we got back on the train like nothing ever happened. I later found out that the earthquake was a seven on the rector scale yet the Japanese treated it like a three. That day I my respect grew for the way Japanese take living on very earthquake prone islands totally in stride.
What has been your favorite travel destination thus far?
Again, it’s hard to pick just one. I really love to travel and experience new places. Paris is amazing and I love the beauty of France. But in the end I choose the ancient beauty of the shrines of Ise, Japan. Even though the Shinto shrines, Naiku and Geku, are rebuilt every twenty years, they are constructed the same way it’s been done for centuries. The shrines are surrounded by an ancient forest that gives them an almost mystical quality. The place has an unforgettable haunting beauty.
Where do you dream of visiting?
I haven’t been to Eastern Europe yet. A friend just got back from living in Prague. She loved all the art nouveau architecture and design. As art nouveau is my favorite design style, I think Prague might be where I dream of going next.
What is your favorite sushi roll?
Hands down the Unagi roll. It’s filled with grilled eel. Sounds kind of gross but it’s really good. Here in the States they serve it with avocado. Many sushi bars have eel avocado rolls on their menus. If you never had one, try it!
What is the most unique kind you have tried?
A no-name roll a friend made me eat in Tokyo. He wouldn’t tell me what was in it, but I could taste fish roe, uni (sea urchin), and something else. When I asked what it was all my friends said was mystery meat. I had a feeling by how chewy it was the mystery meat was sea slug. Yuck.
You are an artist who has displayed in many places. Please tell us more about it.
I have a degree in fine art printmaking and started exhibiting as soon as I graduated. I entered a lot of competitions and had my work displayed in major cities in California, New York and internationally in Spain. It was fun to send my work off and get feedback from people and exhibitors. There’s nothing like walking into a galley on opening night and seeing your work hanging next to artists you admire. I really enjoy watching people’s reactions to my work. It’s very rewarding.
What is something readers may be surprised to learn about you?
I’m an historic preservationist. I live in a landmark district and I have individually landmarked two amazing homes. A Queen Anne Victorian from 1886, and a Neo-classical home from 1910. It takes a lot of research to prove the significance of a home. You also have to make a major presentation before the city council. It was a bit nerve wracking, but I love historic homes and want them to be persevered for the future.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Yes. I really appreciate you having me as a guest on Andi’s Young Adult Books. I’ve enjoyed being here!
Thank you so much for your time!

Tokyo Dare (The Sushi Chronicles)

by Anne Van

~~~~~~~~~~~~~


BLURB:

Sixteen-year-old artist, Erin Van Horn, doesn’t know an Unagi Roll from a Kaiser Roll. But on a dare from her best friend, Tori Mukigawa, she wins a spot as an exchange student at a prestigious Tokyo high school. Once in the land of the rising sun, Erin struggles to learn the culture and deal with a host family from hell. Otosan, the father, stops speaking to her after she “murders” his favorite bonsai tree. The mother, Okasan, believes Erin’s evil because she’s left-handed and their son is an Elvis impersonator who is convinced Erin’s the spitting image of Priscilla if only she’d dye her blonde hair black, and become his child bride.

But Erin has a bigger problem than her crazy host family when she faces the ultimate dare from Tori—a to-do list.Racked with guilt for winning the spot that should have gone to her best friend, Erin is determined to complete the list. All she has to do is find a rock star boyfriend, (sure, there’s one on every street corner), apprentice under a famous Japanese artist, (no problem, they’ll be listed in the Tokyo Yellow Pages) and visit Tori’s long lost relatives to find out what’s hidden in the family closet. So what if the only words she knows in Japanese are, “Excuse me eat pretty idiot.” How hard could it be?

Read an excerpt:
“What is wrong with me? I’m itching everywhere and I have small bumps all over my stomach. My throat is dry, my muscles ache and I think I have a fever. There’s more but I’m too tired to go on.”

Aki showed no sign of concern. “Can I see your stomach?”

I slowly pulled up my pajama top.

Aki’s eyes grew wide. “Oh.”

Hmm…that didn’t sound good. She ran past me and called for Mamasan. Next, she went to Hiroshi’s room and woke him. Within a minute they had a family meeting. I nervously fidgeted with my hands as their whispering took on a more urgent tone.

Aki stood some distance from me. “You have Kotsu. Hiroshi had it a few weeks before you came to live with us. Papasan and I have never had it so we must go.”

What great news. I had something so horrible Aki and Papasan had to leave the house.

Aki pointed towards my stomach. “Don’t scratch your bumps. They can get worse and you can get bad scars. Whatever you do, don’t touch your face.”

My knees were shaking. “How…long will I be sick?”

“You’ll run a high fever for the next few days. Don’t worry, only babies die from it…but I’m not sure about Americans.”

**My thoughts**

Erin's adventures in Japan as an exchange student are so unbelievable that many of them have to be rooted in truth. You know how truth is stranger than fiction? I had a few misadventures of my own when I was an exchange student in France at the same age, but nothing compared to hers! Maybe it's because I wasn't there as long?

From getting plastered on YouTube to routinely pissing off her Mamasan and getting into trouble at school, Erin's craziness will make you shake your head while also snickering out loud in some parts. Her descriptions of the culture and the scenery make me cautiously want to check it out for myself some day. Erin has a list from her best friend Tori that she needs to fulfill. She does manage to make do on much of it, but at some cost. It was like one of those situations in which you say to be careful what you wish for. She definitely seems to show some growth in this installment and should continue to do so.

This is the first book in a series, with the second installment due out next year. I need to read it!

Book links


AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Anne Van is an artist, fashionista, turned writer. She has a Masters Degree in Fine Art and attended Waseda University in Tokyo Japan on a scholarship. She has exhibited her artwork all over the United States and one of her works was displayed in a museum in Picasso’s hometown of Malaga, Spain. After several years toiling as a fine artist, she switched gears to pursue another passion, fashion. Anne graduated from FIDM in Los Angeles and designed sportswear for major retailers. All the while she heard stories in her head. So one day she quit fashion and finally put her stories on paper. Since then Anne has published an article in a national magazine and an award winning travel story about her time living in Tokyo, Japan. She has also published short fiction. Anne continues to write the stories that fill her head. She lives in a Victorian home in a historic landmark district in Pasadena, California along with three rescue cats, including one that has six toes, and her TV composer husband who thankfully doesn’t.

Website: www.annevan.net

Blog: http://annevan1111.blogspot.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Author.Anne.

Twitter: https://twitter.com/AnneVanWrites

Tumblr: http://www.tumblr.com/blog/annevanwriter

Anne will be awarding a box filled with Japanese Chocolates (The main character in the book loves them.) to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour (US ONLY). Remember to also follow the tour!

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Wednesday, October 16, 2013

'Adela Arthur and the Creator's Clock (The Chronicles of A)' by Judyann McCole



Adela Arthur and the Creator's Clock

by Judyann McCole


This is book 1 of 5 for The Chronicle of A

Genre: Fantasy

To Who Ever This May Concern;

I wish I could tell you the contents of this book were purely fictional. That I, Adela Arthur, was just a normal sixteen year old from Portland and that dragons, giants, elves and mermaids were just myths. I wish these were legends shared from crazy old grandparents to crazy old grandparents around campfires. After all, that is what I used to believe.I never would have thought they lived on the other side of our mirrors in a world called Cielieu. But they do…I never would have thought there were humans, better known as Volsin that lived among them with the ability to create light from a single thought. But there are…I never would have thought I was one of them… But I am… I am the last Arthur and I was brought to the human world after a Volsin, filled with greed, began to strip the light from our kind.The human world was supposed to be a safe haven… but he’s found us and the only way to stop him is to go back to Cielieu and begin training as a student in the Elpida Castle of Light.Like I said I wish the contents of this book were purely fictional and not my life…

Adela Arthur is now on amazon on Paperback | Kindle


About the Author:

JUDYANN MCCOLE was a senior in high school when she started working on Adela Arthur and the Creator’s Clock during her history class. It started off as short story for a group of young kids she babysat for and grew into an adventure she herself wanted to go on. She is currently attending college in Virginia. Where she hopes to finish the next adventure in Adela Arthur’s life. She begin writing when she was in middle school most of it was just simple poetry but she was inspired by Maya Angelou and even a little of Dr. Seuss.




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Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The Appeal of Apocalyptic Novels by M. Kircher, author of 'The War Inside'


Author M. Kircher shares her thoughts on the appeal of apocalyptic novels. Why do you like them? Share your thoughts and ask her your questions below.


I think that apocalyptic novels appeal to readers for many reasons, but I think the strongest and most direct reason is that we’re all fascinated by the end of the world. The decimation of our planet and the annihilation of the human race is something most people fear. But we fear it in a way that interests us because it’s so otherworldly to imagine it actually happening - even though we do have the power to obliterate ourselves with today’s advanced chemical weapons and nuclear bombs.

Mortality is something that most people have a hard time dealing with. I mean, who really likes to think about death? But when you read about it in a book, it takes away a bit of the harsh reality. Reading about a fictional apocalypse not only grabs our attention the way a horrific car crash on the side of the road does, it helps us process what’s really important in life. Apocalyptic novels make us think about where we could go horribly wrong as a society and also how we could make things right.

So readers are sucked into these terrifying/thrilling scenarios and then they start to care about the doomed characters. But out of all this mess a hero or heroine usually emerges. This person, or group of people, discovers that they have the ability, courage, or special gifts to prevent the destruction of the world and save human kind.

We like to consider death, but then we want to feel like we have the power to beat it.

And this is where the immense popularity of apocalyptic novels comes in. It allows readers to consider that humanity (and each unique individual) might be faced with insurmountable odds, but will always come out the victor. In our heart of hearts we want to be that hero or heroine who saves the world. And we love the idea of people of every walk of life coming together and working toward a common, worthy goal. We want to fight the good fight and save the day. It’s a timeless story plot that while it might trend in and out over the years – will ultimately stand the test of time.

Thank you so much for having me and I hope you enjoy, The War Inside: Book One of the Horizons Trilogy! – M. Kircher

The War Inside: Book One of the Horizons Trilogy
by M. Kircher

~~~~~~~~~~~~~


BLURB:

The end of the world is only just the beginning. So eighteen-year-old Thea discovers when her solitary life on a dying Earth is shattered by a mysterious dream, a devastating choice, and a strange gift that propels her on a journey towards the restoration of all mankind.

Thea is bitter and alone; eking out her miserable life on the sunless, cloud-covered Earth she inhabits. A terrifying dream convinces her to save the life of an injured girl, and despite her misgivings, Thea decides to rescue sixteen-year-old Viviana. She soon learns that gentle Viv has a life-threatening infection, as well as a freakish patch of glowing skin over her heart. When this light spreads to Thea, causing her palms to glow, she is forced to trust Caden, an arrogant, lazy, and annoyingly handsome boy she despises. Caden has a map to the last city on Earth, and the only place that might have a cure for both Viv's infection and the strange light on Thea's hands. As the trio embark on a journey through the barren wilderness, Thea and Caden discover, and try to fight, their mounting attraction to each other. Along the way they are joined by Rain, Naomi, and Enoch who explain that the light is not a curse, but a powerful gift meant to heal the polluted Earth and reconnect the remnants of humanity. When the group learns that Viv is the key to this planet-wide redemption, and that there are deadly shadows who will do anything to keep humans in the darkness forever, they each must make the difficult decision to help Viv fulfill her destiny...and save the world.

Don't miss THE WAR INSIDE, an exciting young adult dystopian/fantasy novel by debut author M. Kircher.

Read an excerpt:
The War Inside
© 2013 By M. Kircher

“It’s real. All of it. And Viv. She changed me, even before I left, I think. I started to feel things, and it scared me. Is that what you want me to say, Thea? I was scared; I admit it.”

Thea hunched her shoulders, knowing Caden was right. If she had been in his place, she would have walked away. Without a second thought.

Caden stepped closer and pulled Thea to her feet. “I’m sorry I left. I’ve never cared about right or wrong before now. But somehow I knew I had to come find you.”

He took her hands, and Thea felt a tingle of sensation run up her spine. She knew she should pull away, but she stood frozen, unable to break the contact. Caden slowly unwrapped the strips of cloth that still covered her palms. When they fell to the floor, he took his thumbs and rubbed them in circles over her shining skin. It felt very warm.

“What do you want from me?” she whispered.

Caden ran his palms over hers. “A second chance,” he said softly, and Thea felt her heart jump.

“Ahem!” Rain cleared his throat loudly, and Thea and Caden leaped apart. “I hate to break up this touching scene.” Rain grinned mischievously. “But Enoch wants us to go with Naomi. He says we need to practice. Whatever that means.” He looked from Thea to Caden. “Unless you two have other plans….”

“No!” said Thea quickly, her heart still pounding in her chest. She couldn’t even look at Caden. How had she let herself be drawn in like that? Ugh, no wonder he’d been with almost every girl in the Valley. The guy could turn on the charm, but she wouldn’t let him get to her. She could never forget what he had done.

“We’re coming,” she told Rain briskly.

Available on Amazon


AUTHOR Bio and Links:

M. KIRCHER graduated with a B.A. in Fine Arts from Gordon College and is currently an author and artist. "The War Inside" is her first novel, but there are more to come including the second book in The Horizons Trilogy, "The Gray Horizon" and "Dreamcatchers", a futuristic twist on the legend of Rip Van Winkle. She devours YA, science fiction, fantasy, and romance on a regular basis and is immensely happy to pour her time and energy into creating stories for other people to enjoy. Bob Ross and J.R.R. Tolkien tie for her two favorite people of all time.

She and her husband write regularly for Relevant Magazine (www.relevantmagazine.com) and Simply Youth Ministry (www.youthministry.com). They also just had their first book published called "99 Thoughts on Marriage and Ministry", by Group Publishing.

M. Kircher lives in Connecticut with her husband, one energetic son, and a new baby girl.

Website: www.mkircher.com
Blog: http://mkircher.com/blog/
Twitter: @MKircher83
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mkircher83
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7202354.M_Kircher
Amazon Author Profile: http://www.amazon.com/M.-Kircher/e/B00E8AKEGI

The author will be awarding a $25.00 Amazon.com gift card to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour. Follow the tour for more chances to win!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Cover Reveal! 'Best Served Cold' by Tawdra Kandle

Releasing soon: BEST SERVED COLD, a new adult contemporary romance by Tawdra Kandle!

Julia worked for weeks planning the perfect surprise birthday party for her boyfriend, Liam, but that night, she was the one who got the biggest shock. He broke up with her in front of all their friends, humiliating her in the process.

Clearly revenge was in order.

The plan is simple. Make him jealous, win him back, and then crush his heart. Fair is fair. However, there is one little hiccup—and he has curly brown hair and dimples.

Jesse is everything she wants. With him, she could almost forget her bruised heart. Almost. Julia has one choice: let Liam walk away after everything he did, or lose a chance at love in pursuit of payback.

The beautiful cover for this book was designed by Stephanie Nelson of Once Upon A Time covers. She's an artist. . .and here it is.


Best Served Cold - Tawdra Kandle

Stay tuned for a release date and other updates from Tawdra!

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Monday, October 7, 2013

Meet Chris O'Guinn, author of 'Fearless'


Please welcome author Chris O'Guinn to the blog today!


What was the inspiration behind this book?
Mainly, the impetus for Fearless was a desire to write about a boy crippled by fear and self- doubt who meets someone who teaches him that facing your fears makes you stronger. It’s one of the toughest lessons we have to learn in life.

I also really wanted to write a story that talked about stereotypes and how limiting they are. It’s so easy to assume you know a person’s whole story just by looking at them, but the real truth is always more complicated.
What message do you hope readers will take from it?
The theme of this book is a phrase I once heard years back, “the only thing worse than fear is regret.” And I really hope that is something that readers will take away from it. It’s so hard to face the things that scare us, the things that can hurt us. But facing those things makes you powerful in ways that are impossible to describe.
What is your favorite thing about this book?
For a long time, I have wanted to write a book with a gay character that wasn’t really about them being gay. Which is to say, I wanted the story’s central drama to not be about the character’s orientation. I feel I accomplished that here. I really believe Fearless is a story that will resonate with gay and straight teens alike.
The LGBT category is growing in the YA genre. Why is this so important? How do you make yourself stand out?
Representation is so very important. Any minority group will tell you that. Working on TheBacklot.com has made this even more crystal clear to me. So it’s absolutely critical for there to be YA books to begin with—books that talk about the young adult experience without lecturing or patronizing. But for LGBT youth, who are ignored in such vastly popular works like Harry Potter and Percy Jackson, it’s important for them to read books where they are seen. It’s great that the YA genre is exploding, but we need a lot more. Even if it’s not as a main character, it’s not so much to ask J.K. Rowling, Rick Riordan and other big names to include a gay student. It tells LGBT youth, “you are a part of the world and you are welcome.”

Standing out almost seems like a bad thing. I am extremely proud to have had my readers compare me favorably to the likes of Brent Hartinger (Geography Club) and Brian Sloan (Tale of Two Summers).

But if the question is, “how does my work differ?” then that just comes down to the types of stories I want to write. My previous book Exiled to Iowa. Send Help. And Couture. was about a fey gay teen because I feel that effeminate gay teens have sort of been shunted aside or worse, overly feminized for the purposes of a romance trope. In Fearless, I told a love story that was entirely platonic, which really confused my readers. And in my upcoming Hybrids series, I’m hoping to create a Harry Potter type epic adventure that just happens to have a gay teen, a gay alien, a lesbian teen and a straight teen as the heroes.
Please tell us about your other published works.
Exiled to Iowa. Send Help. And Couture. was my first attempt at YA. I was inspired by Geography Club by Brent Hartinger and Getting It by Alex Sanchez, among others. What I noticed in gay YA fiction was a distinct lack of fey gay teens. This has come about because effeminate gay men were used as the sole representation of gay men in TV and movies so when gay writers started publishing books, they rebelled against this stereotype.

But effeminate gay men exist and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. I wanted to write about a gay teen who was far too obvious to hide it finding himself moved to a small town. I had recently moved to much smaller community myself, after living in Southern California my whole life. I thought it would be entertaining to take a hip, fashionable Los Angeles teen and plunk him in the middle of Small Town America.

Collin is the opposite of Justin in Fearless. He has a fighting Irish spirit. I loved taking the stereotype that effeminate gay men aren’t good for anything other than helping you decorate your home and throwing it in the shredder. Collin has to deal with bullies and intolerance, but he refuses to be ashamed of who he is and he won’t back down—even when he should.

His strength comes from his incredibly supportive family. That was another thing I wanted to put into my YA books. My own parents were barely a presence in my life, but they were still there. So I have had problems with YA books where the parents don’t ever make an appearance. Collin’s family was my response.

The story is about him getting over himself and realizing that Los Angeles wasn’t nirvana and his new home is not the eighth circle of Hell. Small town folk can be really good folk if you give them a chance.
On what other projects are you currently working?
The first book of Hybrids is (finally) coming out. I’ve been working on this book for years now.

I stopped and started several times before I finally got a draft done. I put it on a shelf and went on to other things because I wanted to have a second book finished before I released it and I wanted to give it time to simmer. I often find a book improves if I give it a cooling off period. Only once I went back to it, I realized it needed a massive rewrite. And that merry-go-round lasted way too long.

Arrival was meant to be a super-hero type book, but it tricked me and turned into a Sci Fi story when my back was turned. The main character, Joaquin, encounters an alien named Thrace who is on Earth for completely innocent reasons. However, it’s not long before Joaquin and Thrace realize that Earth is actually in danger from Thrace’s own people.

I have high hopes for this series. It’s very different from other YA action stories. I think readers will really enjoy the twists and turns I have planned.
You used to write more fantasy. Would you ever go back to that genre?
Someday…. I have an extremely ambitious Fantasy series that I tinker with when I have the time. I sort of feel at this point I want to wait until I have the time to give it my full attention before I get down to writing it. But it’s always there in the back of my mind.
What is something readers may be surprised to learn about you?
That I’m not actually gay, but bisexual. It’s not too hard to figure out and I certainly don’t hide it, but given the topics I write about, it would be easy to assume I’m gay. I do really want to write a bisexual character, but I haven’t really come up with an idea I like yet.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Really, just a heartfelt, sincere thank you to all my readers out there. So many people have taken a gamble on me and read my work and then made such wonderful comments on it. As an independent author, it’s hard to get people to push that “buy” button and it’s even harder to get feedback, so I am grateful for every review, every comment, every email.
Thank you so much for your time!
And thank you!

FEARLESS

by Chris O'Guinn


Blurb: 

At fifteen, Justin is already a cynic. He’s experienced too many betrayals, too many disappointments. He doesn’t want to be involved in anything. He doesn’t want to be popular. He doesn’t even want friends anymore, since they only ever let you down. He just wants to get through high school and the best way he can come up with to accomplish that goal is to simply be invisible.

His self-imposed exile from high school life is threatened when Liam, the scary stoner, reaches out to him. What starts out as a strange and unsettling encounter with the unnerving, pot-smoking teenager evolves into the sort of friendship that changes the course of a person’s life.

But as Liam drags the reluctant Justin out of his shell, Liam’s own secret is revealed. Fearless is the story of the myriad shades of love, how to find one’s courage and the transformative power of friendship.

Read an excerpt:
“Man, I can’t believe we’re stuck at home instead of at the Homecoming Dance.”

“Trust me, this is better,” I told him. “At least for me. My dance moves are outlawed in twelve states.” Liam cracked a smile. “I got to see that.”

I frowned at him. “No.”

Liam’s eyes lit up with mischief. “Uh uh, you can’t keep claiming to be bad at everything without proof. You have to show me.”

“I really don’t.”

He went over to my laptop and called up the music player. “Hmm, let’s see, what do we have for playlists? ‘Life sux?’ ‘Love sux?’ I’m sensing a theme here.”

“At least I’m consistent.”

“True. Hey, ‘OMG the 80’s’ I think we have a winner.”

“I’m not dancing,” I told him.

I thought my tone was pretty firm. That didn’t prevent him from yanking me to my feet, though, with a strength I didn’t think he had. As the familiar beat of one of my favorite classics warbled out of my laptop’s crappy speakers, I folded my arms and backed away from the crazy guy with the infectious smile.

“Come on, feel the beat,” Liam coaxed.

I just couldn’t hang onto my glower, not with him gyrating and flailing like a fish out of water. It didn’t seem possible, but somehow he was actually as bad or worse than me.

“Oh girls just want to have fun,” he sang—badly—and danced (if one could call it that) over to me. “You really don’t get the whole ‘no’ concept, do you?”


Available on Amazon


AUTHOR INFORMATION:

I’ve been writing since I was fifteen, not that those stories will ever be allowed out of the dark hole I buried them in. I focused primarily on the Fantasy genre for the first two decades, occasionally diverting into modern fiction. In 2010, I embarked in a self-publishing career, focusing on the young adult novel genre. When I’m not writing, I am contributing to TheBacklot.com, a gay entertainment website. You can follow me on Facebook and you can keep up to date with my works via Lightbane.com.




Chris will be awarding a $100 Amazon gift card to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour. Follow the tour for more chances to win!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Cover Reveal! 'Knight of Wands (Devices of War Trilogy Book 2)' by S.M. Blooding


Coming soon...

Knight of Wands

Book 2 of the Devices of War Trilogy

Genre: New Adult Fantasy Steampunk Adventure

Publisher: Blooding Books

Date of Publication: November, 2013

Cover Artist: Ravven’s Glass

Book Description:

Return to a world of mind blowing visuals, heart stopping action, and ships that sail the skies.

Nix, Queen of Wands, has exactly what she wants—Synn El’Asim, the greatest Mark the world has ever seen. Even though she bound his soul to hers, he is not easily controlled. If she wants him, she must do the one thing that pains her most. Let him go, and give him what he desires. Peace.

Armed with a treaty bearing Nix’s seal, Synn sets off to bridge the gap between the world’s two reigning tyrants—the Hands of Tarot and the Great Families. He struggles to trust Nix as he fights for control of his soul. He’s going to need every ounce of restraint when dealing with his mother, leader of the Great Families. She will not give up her power without a fight. Nix will honor her treaty only if Synn agrees to become her knight. His mother refuses to sign the peace agreement if he falls into the queen’s control.

Frustrated, Synn does the one thing neither woman saw coming. He invites all the tribes, currently voiceless in the war between these two ruling tyrants, to partake in the treaty negotiations. All they have to do is prove their worth in his Peace Games. As Synn’s influence and subsequent power grows, a new fight begins.

Who will control Synn’s League of Cities? Can he protect more people as a leader of the Great Families, or as the Knight of Wands?

Goodreads

Purchase Book 1 on Amazon