Monday, March 31, 2014

Young Adult Review: London Eye

London Eye (Toxic City, 1) by Tim Lebbon, October 2, 2012. 228 pages. Published by PYR. Source: publisher.
Two years after London is struck by a devastating terrorist attack, it is cut off from the world, protected by a military force known as Choppers.

The rest of Britain believe that the city is now a toxic, uninhabited wasteland. But Jack and his friends, some of whom lost family on what has become known as Doomsday, know that the reality is very different.

At great risk, they have been gathering evidence about what is really happening in London, and it is incredible. Because the handful of Londons survivors are changing. Developing strange, fantastic powers. Evolving.
First Sentence:
Even though their movements describe a strange, hypnotic beauty, she is certain that the rooks are going to kill her. 

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Children's Book Review: Dewi and the Seeds of Doom

Dewi and the Seeds of Doom by Maggie Lyons, October 2012. 69 pages. Published by Halo Publishing International. Source: Author.
When Dewi is clobbered by a falling rat, the nosy Welsh dragon snoops his way into a challenging predicament. Helped by a toad with a passion for chemical wart cures, Dewi discovers that a megalomaniac baron is secretly breeding mutant corn at an unfriendly castle. To thwart the genetically modified-corn baron’s sickening plan, he must use moxie and firepower in a series of catastrophe-skirting capers.
First Sentence:
"Ouch!" Something hit Dewi's snout, bounced off, and flew over the rocks in front of him.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Wish List Wednesday

Assassin (Lady Grace Mysteries, 1) by Grace Cavendish, September 28, 2004. Published by Delacorte Books for Young Readers.
WHEN MARGARET CAVENDISH, one of Elizabeth I’s Gentlewomen of the Bedchamber, lost her life in a bungled attempt to kill the Queen, her daughter, Lady Grace, became a protégée to the monarch, who takes Grace under her wing. Now Grace, a spunky girl who romps through the gardens with the laundry maids and court tumblers and rolls her eyes at her fellow
ladies, chronicles the court intrigues that swirl around her. . . .

It’s the spring of 1569 and 13-year-old Lady Grace, the youngest lady-in-waiting to the Queen, finds herself at a glittering ball choosing amongst three suitors. But the Queen’s generosity turns deadly as threats, dark secrets, and even murder descend on the Tudor court. And it is up to Grace to use her intelligence, stealth, and curious nature to solve the mystery that threatens the very lifeblood of England.
Why: I actually just picked this up from my library, and the first few pages already have me wishing I owned a copy for myself. 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Teaser Tuesday

Teaser Tuesdays is hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. To participate, simply do the following: Grab your current read Open to a random page Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn't give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Monday, March 24, 2014

All About Middle Grade Review: House of Secrets


House of Secrets (House of Secrets, 1) by Chris Columbus, Ned Vizzini, April 23, 2013. 490 pages. Published by Balzer and Bray. Source: Library.
The Walker kids had it all: loving parents, a big house in San Francisco, all the latest video games . . . but everything changed when their father lost his job as a result of an inexplicable transgression. Now the family is moving into Kristoff House, a mysterious place built nearly a century earlier by Denver Kristoff, a troubled writer with a penchant for the occult.

Suddenly the siblings find themselves launched on an epic journey into a mash-up world born of Kristoff’s dangerous imagination, to retrieve a dark book of untold power, uncover the Walker family’s secret history and save their parents . . . and maybe even the world.
First Sentence:
Brendan Walker knew the house was going to be terrible. 

Saturday, March 22, 2014

All About Middle Grade Review: Loki's Wolves (ARC)


Loki's Wolves (Blackwell Pages, 1) by K.L. Armstrong and M.A. Marr, May 7, 2013. 358 pages. Published by Little Brown Books for Young Readers. Source: Won/Publisher.
In Viking times, Norse myths predicted the end of the world, an event called Ragnarok, that only the gods can stop. When this apocalypse happens, the gods must battle the monsters--wolves the size of the sun, serpents that span the seabeds, all bent on destroying the world.

The gods died a long time ago.

Matt Thorsen knows every Norse myth, saga, and god as if it was family history--because it is family history. Most people in the modern-day town of Blackwell, South Dakota, in fact, are direct descendants of either Thor or Loki, including Matt's classmates Fen and Laurie Brekke.

However, knowing the legends and completely believing them are two different things. When the rune readers reveal that Ragnarok is coming and kids--led by Matt--will stand in for the gods in the final battle, he can hardly believe it. Matt, Laurie, and Fen's lives will never be the same as they race to put together an unstoppable team to prevent the end of the world.
First Sentence:
Matt walked through the center of Blackwell, gym bag in hand, jacket thrown over his shoulder.

Friday, March 21, 2014

A Vintage Reads Review: Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging

Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging (Confessions of Georgia Nicolson, 1) by Louise Rennison, April 11, 2006. 247 pages. Published by HarperTeen. Source: borrowed from sister.
There are six things very wrong with my life:

1. I have one of those under-the-skin spots that will never come to a head but lurk in a red way for the next two years.
2. It is on my nose
3. I have a three-year-old sister who may have peed somewhere in my room.
4. In fourteen days the summer hols will be over and then it will be back to Stalag 14 and Oberfuhrer Frau Simpson and her bunch of sadistic teachers.
5. I am very ugly and need to go into an ugly home.
6. I went to a party dressed as a stuffed olive.

In this wildly funny journal of a year in the life of Georgia Nicolson, British author Louise Rennison has perfectly captured the soaring joys and bottomless angst of being a teenager. In the spirit of Bridget Jones's Diary, this fresh, irreverent, and simply hilarious book will leave you laughing out loud. As Georgia would say, it's "Fabbity fab fab!"
First Sentence:
Dad had Uncle Eddie round, so naturally they had to come and see what I was up to.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Young Adult Review: Lives of Magic (ARC)

Lives of Magic (Seven Wonders, 1) by Lucy Liederman, January 28, 2014. 384 pages. Published by Dundurn. Source: publisher.
Seventeen-year-old Gwen is settling into her new home in Oregon and looking forward to senior year when she is kidnapped by Kian, who warns her that she is in terrible danger. An ancient war was fought between magical Celtic warriors and three evil magicians. Those magicians are alive and well and need Gwen's magic to regain their power. If they succeed, they'll be unstoppable. To save the world, Gwen must unlock the magic trapped in her memories of a past life in Britannia.

As Gwen starts to recover her lost memories and awakens to her power, she suffers the consequences of a divided soul. Gwen and Kian travel to New York and then to England to find others of her kind. Gwen, Garrison, Seth, and Moira need each other to solve the puzzle of their last days in ancient Britannia. They are only as strong as what they remember, but a troublesome history threatens to doom the world. One way or another, a deadly showdown is inevitable, ready or not …
First Sentence:
I wasn't always doing exercises in the rain, jumping around with my feet submerged in mud.


Spring Cleaning Review-A-Thon (Updates)

So, today is the beginning of the Spring Cleaning Review-A-Thon. While I am getting a late start today on it, I have managed to finally finish a review I had been working on for nearly a month now.

I am hoping to write up between 5 and 7 review over the next couple of days. While It won't clear off my review writing pile, it will put me closer to being caught up (and that's what really counts). I'll be posting a few of the reviews during the review-a-thon, but will be scheduling the majority of them for the upcoming months.

I hope to review:
  1. Shadow by Michael Morpurgo (done)
  2. The Paladin Prophecy by Mark Frost
  3. Loki's Wolves by K.L. Armstrong and M.A. Marr (done)
  4. Lives of Magic by Lucy Liederman (done)
  5. Travel to Tomorrow by Angela Sage Larsen
  6. Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging by Louise Rennison (done)
  7. Dewi and the Seeds of Doom by Maggie Lyons (done)
  8. Vin and the Dorky Duet by Maggie Lyons (done)
  9. The Caged Graves by Dianne Salerni (done)
  10. The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan (done)
All updates regarding the Spring Cleaning Review-A-Thon will be posted here.

I definitely made more head-way in my "needs to be reviewed" stack then I thought I would. I am glad to say that in the end, I finished eight reviews. Three I have published, and the rest of them have been scheduled to go up anywhere from the next couple of weeks and a couple for May/June.

All About Middle Grade: Ben Fox: Squirrel Zombie Specialist at Your Service by Daisy Whitney (Cover Reveal)



About the author:
By day, Daisy Whitney is a reporter and ghostwriter. At night, she writes novels for teens and is the author of THE MOCKINGBIRDS and its sequel THE RIVALS (Little, Brown). Her third novel WHEN YOU WERE HERE releases in June 2013 (Little, Brown), and her fourth novel STARRY NIGHTS (Bloomsbury) hits shelves in September 2013.When Daisy's not inventing fictional high school worlds, she can be found somewhere north of San Francisco walking her adorable dog, watching online TV with her fabulous husband or playing with her fantastic kids. A graduate of Brown University, she believes in shoes, chocolate chip cookies and karma. You can follow her writing blog and new media adventures at DaisyWhitney.com.

You can haunt Daisy Whitney at-
Goodreads | Tumblr | Blog | Twitter |


Ben Fox: Squirrel Zombie Specialist at Your Service by Daisy Whitney, October 14, 2014. Published by Spencer Hill Middle Grade.
Ten-year-old Ben Fox has good friends, a great dog, and a lightning-fast little sister who drives him a bit batty. The only thing in the fifth grader’s life that’s truly annoying–well, besides having to wear braces on his feet every day–is the family’s wily Siamese cat, Percy. Ben has always suspected something was off about Percy...

But now he’s sure of it—Percy has raised an army of squirrel zombies in the backyard and they’re ready to take on Ben's beloved dog, Captain Sparkles.

Now Ben must figure out how to stop the dastardly cat, especially since Percy and his newly reanimated squirrel friends are gunning for nothing less than a full-scale Animal Zombie Apocalypse—when all the dogs start to behave like cats!

The battle won’t be easy though, because squirrel zombies are the most dangerous animal zombies of all…

Add Ben Fox: Squirrel Zombie Specialist at Your Service to your goodreads shelf.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Wish List Wednesday

Death Sworn (Death Sworn, 1) by Leah Cypress, March 4, 2014. Published by Greenwillow Books.
When Ileni lost her magic, she lost everything: her place in society, her purpose in life, and the man she had expected to spend her life with. So when the Elders sent her to be magic tutor to a secret sect of assassins, she went willingly, even though the last two tutors had died under mysterious circumstances.

But beneath the assassins’ caves, Ileni will discover a new place and a new purpose… and a new and dangerous love. She will struggle to keep her lost magic a secret while teaching it to her deadly students, and to find out what happened to the two tutors who preceded her. But what she discovers will change not only her future, but the future of her people, the assassins… and possibly the entire world.
Why: Well, because I enjoyed Mistwood and am curious to see what will happen. As well, as because I've heard mixed things about it and want to know what I'll think of it.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Teaser Tuesday

Teaser Tuesdays is hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. To participate, simply do the following: Grab your current read Open to a random page Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn't give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Monday, March 17, 2014

A Vintage Reads Review: Mistwood



Mistwood (Mistwood, 1) by Leah Cypress, April 27, 2010. 304 pages. Published by Greenwillow Books. Source: Library.
The Shifter is an immortal creature bound by an ancient spell to protect the kings of Samorna. When the realm is peaceful, she retreats to the Mistwod.

But when she is needed she always comes.

Isabel remembers nothing. Nothing before the prince rode into her forest to take her back to the castle. Nothing about who she is supposed to be, or the powers she is supposed to have.

Prince Rokan needs Isabel to be his Shifter. He needs her ability to shift to animal form, to wind, to mist. He needs her lethal speed and superhuman strength. And he needs her loyalty—because without it, she may be his greatest threat.

Isabel knows that her prince is lying to her, but she can't help wanting to protect him from the dangers and intrigues of the court . . . until a deadly truth shatters the bond between them.

Now Isabel faces a choice that threatens her loyalty, her heart . . . and everything she thought she knew.
First Sentence:
She knew every inch of the forest, every narrow path that twisted and wound its way beneath the silver branches.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Let's Talk About: Why I Re-Read


Alright, so, if you follow me on Twitter then you probably already know how much I enjoy revisiting a book I have already read. It doesn't matter if it's my second or twentieth time reading said tome. So, I decided that today, I want to talk about the pros and cons of re-reading and share my personal thoughts on re-reading; and get you to weigh in with why you do or don't re-read.

While there are always new books to be read and an never-ending TBR stack (or four) to be tackled, I cannot help but find myself going back every now and again to some of my favorite books. Maybe it's because I like knowing that I'll love it, or maybe I just enjoy going back to and world and characters that left an impression on me. Whatever the reason, I, personally, think we should do just as much re-reading as keeping up with the newest releases.


There's one thing I believe we forget when reading. That books, especially the good ones, are meant to be read time and time again. Because there is always something new to be discovered in that well loved book that you felt the need to re-visit yet again.
   Take Harry Potter and the Chronicles of Narnia, I have read both series countless times (usually every year) and there's always something new I notice about the world, plot line, characters, or world building that I missed in a previous pass. Or even something that just hits me either fin the heart or head and makes me think about how it could pertain to real life. I know, that last one sounds a little odd, but I have pondered upon, and had many a deep discussion with my sisters over different points in the books we read and how it relates to life.



Pros
  • You already know that it will not disappoint (always good, if you ask me)
  • There is always something new to discover within a book when reading it for the second or some time.
  • Experiencing again the magic of what made you love the book in the first place
  • Having a better perspective on the characters and what they're going through
  • Seeing how your thoughts on said book change, as well, as how things look different when you go back and read something you read when younger. Seriously, you will notice things you missed when you read it when your a little older.
  •  It is the perfect reset after a bunch of failed reads. Re-reading has gotten me out of a reading slump on more than one occasion, so, I'm pretty biased.


Cons
  • There's still man books you have yet to read and you don't want to waste time by going back instead of forward.
  • Sometimes you feel guilty by re-reading instead of staying "in the know" with the latest book
  • Your TBR pile(s) start to stare at you and wonder, "Am I not good enough?"
Now that you've seen my reasons for re-reading; and even my pros and cons for re-reading. I want to know your thoughts on re-reading?

Curious about which books I have read the most, other than Harry Potter and Chronicles of Narnia. Then I may just put together my most loved book list, so, y'all can check out and maybe read some of them too ...if y'all are interested that is.

I'm also considering doing occasional discussions posts here on the blog. I know, what is this madness!?! 

Friday, March 14, 2014

All About Middle Grade Interview: Lapo Melzi (Author of Horse Sense)

This week, I am excited to welcome middle grade author Lapo Melzi, author of Horse Sense, to the blog. Hope y'all will give him a warm welcome.

About the author:
Lapo Melzi is a poet, writer and filmmaker. He grew up in a little town in the north of Italy and went on to study writing and filmmaking in New York. He received his MFA from renowned NYU Tisch School of the Arts and now spends his time between the United States and Italy.

You can haunt Lapo Melzi at-
Website | Twitter | Goodreads


Interview

1. How did Jamie meet Acorn?

They grew up together. Jamie is not only Acorn’s best friend, but his godfather. He was the only one present when Acorn was born and he was the first to cheer him when Acorn first stood up and walked. Since then, they have grown up together and spent all their time together. They are basically brothers.

2. In Horse Sense, what is the most difficult thing Jamie will face as he enters adolescence?

The most difficult thing that Jamie will face as he enters adolescence is the recognition that not all people around him are good. In fact, many are bad, for different reasons, and will hurt him as soon as they have the chance. So, he must decide where he wants to stand in life: whether he wants to be true to himself and his best friend or to the people around him.

3. If you could tell Jamie just one thing what would it be and why?

I would tell him, “I am very proud of you.” There wasn’t anything anybody could do to make him avoid the pain he had to go through, but that brought out the best in him and for that, I am very proud of him.

4. What was the last book you read the left a big impression on you? What about it made it special to you?

It’s a nonfiction book: The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. Yeah, I know fun read, you think, but it was an amazing read. Written by a journalist that was eyewitness to many of the events of WWII it is the book that actually made me understand how WWII came to happen and the personalities of many of the people involved. History is one of my interests.

5. Three people or authors that inspire you and why they inspire you?

Tolkien was the author that at fourteen blew my mind away and probably ignited my desire for telling stories. The creativity, research and fun contained in LOTR are an inexhaustible source of inspiration. Hillebrand I love because of “Seabiscuit, an American Legend” and her amazing portrayal of equine and human psychology. Bill Watterson, because “Calvin and Hobbes” is the perfect combination of humor, philosophical pondering and keen psychological representation.

6. Time for a little finish the sentence fun: "When I'm not writing, I enjoy doing ________?  I enjoy it because ___________?"

I enjoy hiking and dancing tango. I’ve had the luck to grow up near the beautiful Alps, so I have always gone on hikes in the mountains and I love it. Being in touch with such splendor and life (and a tad of danger) makes me feel alive. Tango I was finally able to start a couple of years ago and I love it because it is a most complex dance that takes at least five/six years to master, plus it’s called the “art of the embrace” which pretty much sums up everything about it.

7. Alright, Lapo, since you split your time between living in Italy and the US, what would you say is the biggest difference when it comes to living in both countries? Is there one thing you like more about one than the other?

There is a pretty huge difference in the style of life between the two countries. I prefer the US when it comes to working with people, because people understand teamwork and want to get things done. Italy I prefer because your worth as a human being is not tied to how much you “work!” and therefore you can enjoy your time much more.

8. The world has fallen to a robot invasion and only one heroine/hero can possibly save the day, who do you choose?

I have a character that could totally save the day and nobody would see him coming. It’s an ex experiment rat that was manipulated to have human intelligence and escaped his own vivisection. Now hiding underneath a comic book store, he’s been experimenting for years with the superhero gear that he has seen in comic books. If he got hold of some robot parts of the invading army, he could probably wreck havoc and save the Earth. Just saying…


9. Care to tell us about your writing cave (include picture if you want)?

My writing cave in the winter is my bedroom and it thoroughly depresses me. My spring/summer/autumn cave instead is a nice park right on the shore of a beautiful lake nearby. My favorite spot is a bench surrounded by three lush trees that affords me just the right amount of shade and at the same time offers a nice view of the lake. That’s where I wrote most of Horse Sense.

10. Any upcoming projects that you can sure with us?

I am working on “Moonboy” right now, the tale of the last soon of the Moon who sets up on a quest to build a bridge to reach Eera, the planet around which the moon revolves, in order to find a friend. Next, I will write “Quigley”, the story of a pet flying squirrel in New York that escapes from his apartment and with the help of an ex-experiment rat strives to free the squirrels of Central Park from the tyranny of a band of hawks.

 Thanks so much for stopping by Lapo. It was a pleasure chatting about your book; also, way cool that you included Tolkien as one of your answers (he's definitely a great writer).




Horse Sense by Lapo Melzi, October 14, 2013. Published by Irbis Books.
There’s nothing easy about being an eleven year old boy, especially for Jamie. As he takes the unsteady steps into adolescence, his days of knowing who his friends are and trusting the adults in his life are numbered. The only thing Jamie can really count on in this changing world is the love of his best friend, a horse named Acorn. Jamie and Acorn’s friendship has a magic that comes once in a lifetime—but the bullies around them want to rip that to shreds. Can their kindred connection survive as Jamie strives to carve out his identity?

You can add Horse Sense to your Goodreads shelf.  

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Spring Cleaning Review-a-Thon


The interesting things I find when going through my inbox. when I saw this in the Booklikes email I knew I would have to join in. Why, because I still have some reviews that I'm trying to knock out and this seems like the perfect motivation to get it done.

The Spring Cleaning Review-a-Thon is hosted by Lenore @ Nocturne Romance Reads and Lori @ Romancing the Dark Side. For more information and to join in click banner.

My goal is to finish the stack of un-reviewed books sitting by my chair, as well, as the ones marked on Goodreads as "Need to Review" and schedule them up. That's around 15-20 books.

Come start of the Review-a-Thon, I'll post the titles here as I review them.

Finished Reviews:



Young Adult Review: The Savages (ARC)

The Savages (The Savages, 1) by Matt Whyman, March 6, 2014. 288 pages. Published by Overlook Juvenile. Source: publisher.
The Savage family is close-knit, but everyone has something to hide—from father Titus’s shady business dealings, to mother Angelica’s dangerously compulsive shopping habits, to 12-year-old Ivan’s increasingly lethal pranks. But teenager Sasha’s secret trumps them all: she is dating a vegetarian. This trait will never fly with the rest of the Savages, who are…uniquely carnivorous.
Problems start to pile up. Sasha’s boyfriend convinces her to try going vegetarian for a month, but then leaves her for a vegan vigilante. Angelica attempts to pay her mounting credit card bill by allowing commercials to film in the family home, until one of Ivan’s pranks leaves a model dead in their bathroom. A detective hired to investigate Titus’s predatory business affairs notices the model’s disappearance, and starts to think that there may be something more sinister to the perfect-seeming Savages.
He’s right, of course—they’re cannibals.  
First Sentence:
At the table, Titus Savage spotted his son picking his teeth with one finger.

This Crumbling Pageant by Patricia Burroughs: Cover Reveal + Giveaway



I'm excited to share the cover for THIS CRUMBLING PAGEANT, which is Volume One in the Fury Triad series by Patricia Burroughs. This is Epic Fantasy with romance and ya crossover appeal. The book is scheduled to release May 6, 2014 in Hardcover, Trade and Digital by Story Spring Publishing, LLC

About the Book:
Persephone Fury is the Dark daughter, the one they hide.

England, 1811. Few are aware of a hidden magical England, a people not ruled by poor mad George, but the dying King Pellinore of the House of Pendragon.

The Furys are known for their music, their magic, and their historic role as kingmakers. When Fury ambitions demand a political marriage, Persephone is drugged and presented to Society--

Only to be abducted from the man she loves by the man she loathes.

But devious and ruthless, Persephone must defy ancient prophecy, embrace her Dark magic, and seize her own fate.

Be swept away into the first book of a dark fantasy series combining swashbuckling adventure, heart-pounding romance, and plot-twisting suspense.



Excerpt

[Persephone Fury is the dark daughter, the one they hide from Society. But one night she is abducted and taken away to the most dangerous parts of London. Fierce and clever, she is able to rescue herself, only to collapse before she gets home. Fortunately for her, Sir Robin Fitzwilliam finds her. Even more fortunately for her family’s reputation, he believes her to be the young boy she’s masquerading as.]

Why would a child be out alone in the middle of the night?
Robin slid the slender youth’s body from the expensive saddle and staggered backward, not from the weight, for in truth, the boy weighed little, but from the reek of Shadows.
It was a miracle the gelding hadn’t tossed the stripling to rid himself of the Darkness on its back.
He eased the boy onto the ground.  The boy’s body was limp and his skin was hot and damp with sweat. Robin fumbled with the boy’s heavy jacket and grabbed the lapels to yank it open.
Thin fingers closed around his wrists. With a snarl, the boy heaved himself up and delivered a smart punch to Robin’s jaw, knocking him back on his heels in shock.
“Don’t touch me!” the boy rasped fiercely.
“You’re overheated. Let’s get that coat off—”
Two sharp-knuckled fists smacked into him at the same time, leaving both his cheeks stinging.
“Keep your hands off my coat!” The boy scrambled to his feet and leapt against the horse, attempting to mount.
“Gods damn it,” Robin spat, “you’re drowning in Shadows, boy, we need to—”
A foot caught him in the chest and he staggered back, then hurled himself forward, grabbed the boy by the collar, and yanked.
They both fell tumbling into the dirt. “You’d best pray it’s the Darkness that has driven you mad, boy, because if it’s not, you’ll pay for these bruises with some of your own!” He pinned the boy to the ground with one hand braced on a shoulder and continued, “I’m not going to hurt you. Just calm down and let’s see if we can relieve you.”
The boy relaxed, calming except for his heaving chest as he fought for air.
Robin’s mind raced through his options, coming up blank.
“Cat-mint...” the boy muttered. “Tincture of angelica. Blue chalcedony, jet, bronzite, amber—do you have any on you?”
“No,” Robin said, surprised.
The boy moaned. “Trifolium, then...” The boy’s head fell back into the dirt.
“Trifolium. I don’t know.”
Clover,” the boy ordered, scorn dripping from his voice. “I’m speaking of clover.”
Robin paced along the road looking for a clump of clover, unsure whether to laugh or snarl.
“Do you at least know your Greek sigils?” the boy muttered weakly. “The banishing sigil performed with clover...”
 “I know sigils,” Robin said, amending silently, if I can remember the Greek ones from the schoolroom. If he got the scamp past this spell of poisoning, he was going to thrash him.
“How long has it been since you were cleansed?”
Impertinent little brat. “My soul is not overburdened.”
“You evaded my question, which is answer enough, may the gods deliver me,” the boy retorted with equal venom.
At the moment, Robin just needed to come up with an acceptable prayer. He held his hands over the boy’s body and called, “Away, away, from your feet and from all your limbs... erm... Shadows and every muscular pain!” he finished with a wince.
“Did you just use the prayer to rid me of gout?” the boy asked incredulously.
“I said Shadows,” Robin muttered.
The boy let out a disgusted sigh. “I’m doomed.”



About the Author:
Award-winning screenwriter and best selling novelist Patricia Burroughs loves dogs, books, movies, and football. A lifelong Anglophile, she treasures her frequent travels in the British Isles researching The Fury Triad, the epic fantasy that has taken over her life and heart. She and her high school sweetheart husband are living happily ever after in their hometown of Dallas, Texas.

Website | Planet Books Website | Mailing List | Facebook | Twitter




Giveaway:
Autographed Paperback ARC of  This Crumbling Pageant.
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Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Wish List Wednesday

Feral by Holly Schindler, August 26, 2014. Published by HarperCollins.
It’s too late for you. You’re dead.
Those words float through Claire Cain’s head as she lies broken and barely alive after a brutal beating. And the words continue to haunt her months later, in the relentless, terrifying nightmares that plague her sleep. So when her father is offered a teaching sabbatical in another state, Claire is hopeful that getting out of Chicago, away from the things that remind her of what she went through, will offer a way to start anew.

But when she arrives in Peculiar, Missouri, Claire quickly realizes something is wrong—the town is brimming with hidden dangers and overrun by feral cats. And her fears are confirmed when a popular high school girl, Serena Sims, is suddenly found dead in the icy woods behind the school. While everyone is quick to say Serena died in an accident, Claire knows there’s more to it—for she was the one who found Serena, battered and most certainly dead, surrounded by the town’s feral cats.

Now Claire vows to learn the truth about what happened, but the closer she gets to uncovering the mystery, the closer she also gets to discovering a frightening reality about herself and the damage she truly sustained in that Chicago alley. . . .
Why: Now this sounds like an excellent read with a dark mystery. Definitely curious to see what the answer will be at the end of the book.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Teaser Tuesday

Teaser Tuesdays is hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. To participate, simply do the following: Grab your current read Open to a random page Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn't give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Review: A Draw of Kings (Blog Tour)



A Draw of Kings (Sword and Staff, 3) by Patrick W. Carr, February 18, 2014. 464 pages. Published by Bethany House Publishing. Source. Chapter by Chapter Blog Tours.
Their journey to Merakh should have made Errol and his companions heroes of the realm. Instead, much is changed on their return. In the wake of the king’s death, Duke Weir is ruling the country–and his intentions are to marry Adora to bring an heir.
With Errol and the others imprisoned and the identity of the rightful heir to the throne still hidden in secrecy, Illustra is on the verge of civil war–and at growing risk from the armies of Merakh and Morgol.
A dangerous mission to free Errol succeeds, but the dangers facing the kingdom are mounting with every passing moment. The barrier has fallen, ferals are swarming toward the land, and their enemies draw near. Will the revelation of Illustra’s next true king come in time or will all be lost?
First Sentence:
Deep within, Adora continued to harbor the possibility that her uncle, King Rodran, might still live, but the pallid faces of those on the ship, especially Errol's, refuted all hope.


While I enjoyed the writing and world building of A Draw of Kings, I wish I had been more familiar with the world and how things got to where they are in the third installment of the series. So, while there are many good qualities to Patrick Carr's book, make sure you read all of them to avoid the confusion I felt.

So, even though I really enjoyed reading A Draw of Kings, like I enjoyed the story, plot, and author's writing, there were a couple times that I just did not care for the characters. I felt a disconnect with each of them because I, guess, just wasn't invested in what happened to them since; although, the further I read the more I invested I became (guess it just took me some time to warm up to them).

The two things I really enjoyed about A Draw of Kings would have to be the world-building and how the story played out at the end. I thought Patrick Carr did a great job weaving the the darkness of the opposition and their quest to destroy Illustra with that of the heroes' quest to regain the barrier that protected them for years. It was just so interesting to see the differences between both sides, and, seeing the way things played out was quite interesting because one step either way would have changed things tremendously.
     Based on what I read in the third installment, I would recommend this to fans of high fantasy because there are so many things to enjoy between the actual story and the writing.

While I enjoyed reading A Draw of Kings, there is one reason I did not enjoy it as much as I hoped I would have. That being that I felt like I was missing so much to the whole story-line by jumping in at the third book. There were so many things I wanted to know, like, what happened leading right into the first chapter and how the previous plot-lines got the story to this point.
     Sure, there were a few tidbits thrown in from the previous two books, but it really made no sense because it doesn't give the full story of what happened and how it affected the various characters. So, again, this is an enjoyable book, but I definitely recommend reading all the installments before tackling this one.

Final Verdict: A Draw of Kings- Good world building and writing make this an interesting read for fantasy readers.

A Draw of Kings earns 3.5 griffins out of 5

You can follow the rest of the blog tour-> HERE <- a="">



About the Author:
Patrick Carr was born on an Air Force base in West Germany at the height of the cold war. He has been told this was not his fault. As an Air Force brat, he experienced a change in locale every three years until his father retired to Tennessee. Patrick saw more of the world on his own through a varied and somewhat eclectic education and work history. He graduated from Georgia Tech in 1984 and has worked as a draftsman at a nuclear plant, did design work for the Air Force, worked for a printing company, and consulted as an engineer. Patrick’s day gig for the last five years has been teaching high school math in Nashville, TN. He currently makes his home in Nashville with his wonderfully patient wife, Mary, and four sons he thinks are amazing: Patrick, Connor, Daniel, and Ethan. Sometime in the future he would like to be a jazz pianist. Patrick thinks writing about himself in the third person is kind of weird.

You can haunt Patrick Carr at-
Goodreads | Website |
You can purchase A Draw of Kings, as well, as the first two books, A Cast of Stones and A Hero's Lot, at-
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | The Book Depository | IndieBound


Giveaway:
Open to US and Canadian residents

The Dragon's Egg by H.B. Bolton: Cover Reveal + Giveaway


My name is Heidi Bolton, but I use my initials for my writing name, H.B. Bolton. I’m the author of the middle-grade fantasy series, Relics of Mysticus. The Dragon’s Egg (Book Three) is in the final stages of development and is almost ready for its May release date. Today I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to share my newest book cover with you.

Cover artist, Elisabeth Alba, offered an inside peek of her work’s progression through her photographs and commentary. I’m extremely fortunate to know this Scholastic Book illustrator and have had the privilege to benefit from her talents for all three of my covers. In fact, we’ve already started talking about The Mummy’s Amulet (Book Four).

I met Elisabeth about 14 years ago through one of my drawing classes. From her high school freshman year through senior year, she was one of my students (a favorite one, at that). I taught advanced-placement art, which was before having children of my own and creating worlds with unlikely heroes for my mythical stories.

Thank you, Elisabeth, for helping to bring my characters to life!

As a bonus, I’m offering a free eBook version of The Serpent’s Ring (Book One) through Amazon from March 10-13.
Grab it on Amazon!



~H.B. Bolton (Author)




Progression of a Book Cover Illustrator by Elisabeth Alba 



This is a progression of The Dragon’s Egg book cover from sketch to final drawing. Truth be told, I haven’t illustrated many multi-figure images before, and then add a ton of stuff happening around them, so I was in for a challenging composition — a fun challenge! You can see how I gradually worked out and tightened the image. In the beginning, I had planned to make the background darker but then realized if the glowing fog was everywhere, then it wouldn’t be so dark. It framed the floating castle better as well.
Once I figured out the drawing, which I did digitally, I worked on a color composition to figure out how I would paint it. This was an important step — especially since watercolor is really hard to fix if you make a mistake.


At this stage, I printed the line drawing onto watercolor paper and got to work. I painted with Dr. Ph. Martin’s Hydrus fine-art liquid watercolors to start. I painted the base color first, which in this case was greenish.


After painting more of the base colors, I decided to do some line work with pen and ink to solidify the shapes.


Once the base colors were done, I sealed the image with matte medium. The Hydrus watercolors can be difficult because they are not like normal watercolor. Once they’re down on paper, you can’t wipe them away, but sealing with matte medium helps them not to smear — which is nice! You can also see how my desk lamp caused some glare over the castle when I took the photo.
On top of the matte medium, I painted with acryla gouache to darken and saturate the colors, and to do any highlights like the edge lighting around the figures. Finally, once the painting was done, I sealed the entire image with Kamar varnish. It brought out the colors even more, because once the acryla gouache dried, it became matte and the colors faded some.


Once I scanned the image, I worked on any digital touch-ups (some things are hard to do in watercolor, like getting colors really dark, and also the colors sometimes don’t scan well). This was how it looked once scanned, before any touch-ups. It was a more faded and less vibrant version of the original painting. I also lost the highlights.


Finally, after all of the digital work was complete, the cover was ready for text.


For the typography, I added a dark-blue gradient around the edges to frame the image and help the text stand out. I’ve used the same font for all three books, but in this one, I replaced the “O” in “Dragon’s” with the actual Dragon’s Egg relic.


Official Blurb

The Dragon’s Egg (Book Three)

Sure, the glass castle floating over Evan’s head makes him uneasy, but that’s the least of his worries. With each step inside the Dungeon of Dreadful Dreams, he must battle against his worst nightmares. One after the other, wispy smoke-filled bull sharks come at him — he must remember they’re only illusions pulled from his imagination by those dreaded shadowlike hands. If only the vengeful dragon circling above was also an illusion and didn’t have his mind set on destroying the one person who can control him: Emrys.

Inside the castle’s glass tower, Emrys sleeps in an eternal slumber, and Evan’s uncertain whether he can save the great wizard. Especially now that Emrys’ former student, the Lady of the Lake, has joined forces with the cunning immortal Alamaz. Together they have already stolen the Dragon’s Egg, but their greed doesn’t end there. The Siren’s Pearl calls to them, and that means only one thing … Atlantis is in trouble.

Join Evan, Claire, and Dunkle — along with a few other unlikely heroes — as they travel across the realm of Medieval Legends, float through the Ancient Isle of Avalon, plunge inside the Dungeon of Dreadful Dreams, and be there when Atlantis rises once again.

You can see more artwork by Elisabeth Alba and keep up with her future creations through her sites:


Elisabeth is a Queens-based illustrator whose work focuses on fairy tales, fantasy, and historical subjects. She earned her MFA in illustration at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. Her clients include Scholastic, Simon & Schuster, and Henry Holt Books for Young Readers. Elisabeth wants to thank Heidi for being the best high school art teacher ever, and setting her on the path to becoming an illustrator!


Connect with H.B. Bolton here:


Giveaway:
Signed copies of The Serpent's Ring and The Trickster's Totem (US)
ebook of The Trickster's Totem (you can grab the first book for free!)
 
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Review: Sacred Fire + Giveaway

Sacred Fire: A Vision for A Deeper Human and Christian Maturity by Ronald Rolheiser, March 11, 2014. 368 pages. Published by Image. Source: Blogging for Books/publisher.
When one reaches the highest degree of human maturity, one has only one question left: How can I be helpful?—TERESA OF ÁVILA
Beloved author Ronald Rolheiser continues his search for an accessible and penetrating Christian spirituality in this highly anticipated follow-up to the contemporary classic, The Holy Longing. With his trademark acuity, wit, and thoughtfulness, Rolheiser shows how identifying and embracing discipleship will lead to new heights of spiritual awareness and maturity.  In this new book, Rolheiser takes us on a journey through the dark night of the senses and of the spirit.  Here, we experience the full gamut of human life, pleasure and fervor, disillusionment and boredom.  But, as Rolheiser explains, when we embrace the struggle and yearning to know God we can experience too a profound re-understanding to our daily lives.

“What lies beyond the essentials, the basics?” Rolheiser writes. “Where do we go once some of the basic questions in our lives have been answered, or at least brought to enough peace that our focus can shift away from ourselves to others? Where do we go once the basic questions in our lives are no longer the restless questions of youthful insecurity and loneliness? Who am I? Who loves me? How will my life turn out? Where do we go once the basic question in life becomes: How can I give my life away more purely, and more meaningfully? How do I live beyond my own heartaches, headaches, and obsessions so as to help make other peoples’ lives more meaningful? The intent of this book is to try to address exactly those questions: How can we live less self- centered, more mature lives? What constitutes deep maturity and how do we reach that place? And, not unimportantly, what constitutes a more adult, Christian discipleship? What constitutes a truly mature following of Jesus?” 


I would be lying if I did not mention this. But I'm pretty sure that Sacred Fire is one book I'll have to re-read at a later date because I feel that, perhaps, I am not in the proper time in my life to find it completely relevant to my spiritual needs. While I feel that this would have been better if I were older, there were still a lot of things that I was able to take away from it.

One of the things that was pretty eyeopening, for me, was the correlations that Ronald Rolheiser made between the crucifixion of Jesus and how he transformed all the hatred being sent his way into love. It was interesting because I had never really considered the passivity that he showed and how he gave back love from such a humiliating situation. It definitely gave me pause, and made me inspect my own life to see if I could/have been able to do that (verdicts still out on that). It has also left me thinking that in the conflicts that we/I face between our different beliefs is an opportunity for everyone to listen and show compassion, even when we don't see eye-to-eye.
    Just this one aspect of Sacred Fire, has me wanting to try even harder to not perpetrate hate and discord in our already strife filled world.

While that is just one of the things I enjoyed and found something of important, there were many other reasons to enjoy this book as a whole for what it offered. There were also a few other things that definitely had me thinking and pondering whether or not I could try to be better (which, I'll be the first to say how imperfect I am).
    The other thing that stuck with me after finishing Sacred Fire, would have to be the chapter of Its Crowning Glory, Blessing Others. Why, because how many times have we inadvertently "cursed" another because they were better at something them we ourselves were. Personally, I had never really considered my annoyance at someone for being to loud to in fact be a form a cursing them, rather than blessing them. It just gave me so much to think upon, especially as I embarked on reading this during the first few days of Lent.

As to why I believe I be needing to re-read this at later point in life, well, that's easy. I just feel that this was perhaps aimed at someone who is more established in life and looking to continue giving of their life. While that's not to say that I'm not giving (I try), I still feel like I am still working towards that point. So, yeah, you could say I read this prematurely, but there was still so much to glean from this one.

Final Verdict: Sacred Fire- An excellent read for those looking to deepen their spirituality in both a Christian and human centered way.

Sacred Fire: A Vision for A Deeper Human and Christian Maturity earns 4 out of 5 griffins


Thanks to Blogging for Books and Image books, one lucky winner will receive both Sacred Fire and The Holy Longing by Ronald Rolheiser.

Rules:
Open to residents of the US (I'm afraid that I can only afford to ship within the US, sorry to all the amazing CA and INT people)

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