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Stepping Out of my Comfort Zone for Research Guest Post! $10 Amazon International Giveaway with Swag Pack!!! Leave a Comment To Be Entered

Monday, April 30, 2012

Thank you so much, Krystal, for hosting me on Live To Read today.

While The Zurian Child is completely fictitious, there are some aspects which did require research, some of it simply on-line, but other parts required contacting professionals for additional information in order to give the story some accuracy.
Two of the heroes are RCMP officers in the drug section of “O” Division based out of London, Ontario. Because I do not know any RCMP officers personally, I had to throw myself out there, and contact a total stranger. At the time, I had nothing published, didn’t even belong to a critique group, so I didn’t know if anyone would believe me, that I was a writer needing information for my book. And I’m simply a very shy person. Luckily, Sergeant Marc LaPorte at “O” Division Headquarters was more than willing to answer question after question.

Near the beginning of the story, when Lindsay is shot, I needed information about how her injury would be treated, and how long it would take, so I contacted local Orthopaedic Surgeon, Dr. Pototschnik. He answered all of my questions as well.
At the end of the story, several characters must go into hiding, and they do that in an underground complex. Now, I knew a bit about the complex I wanted to use, from the stories my dad had told me my entire life. But having never actually been down there, he and I only knew so much. So, I put on my brave face, and contacted Leah Pierce, Public Affairs Officer at 22 Wing/CFB North Bay. I actually found her contact information through a Facebook group, and also connected to other who were willing to help me. While Leah could not answer all of my questions due to security reasons, she helped me to find as much information as possible.

Overall, I was completely shocked and very grateful that people were willing to help me with research. Without them, the story wouldn’t be what it is. And as I write the second book in the series, I continue to utilize the information I have obtained.


Here is the list of tour hosts!
Jessica will be awarding signed cover flats and a magnet at every stop, as well as a $10 Amazon GC plus swag package to one randomly drawn commenter during the tour. She will also give away a $15 Amazon GC to host with the most comments.

Mother's Day Giveaway Event!!!

Sunday, April 29, 2012
mothers day gift ideas

Everyone loves their mom and always wants to find the best gift to make her feel loved and appreciated. These are the gifts I have found and would love to share with you. After you enter my giveaway head over to Makobi Scribe to see her mothers day gift ideas worth over $3000. Then stop by Sason & Pobi to enter the grand prize drawing of a Toshiba 32SLV411U - 32" class 720p 60Hz TV/DVD Combo!

What can you win here?







a Rafflecopter giveaway





Toshiba’s SLV411U provides excellent HD viewing, outstanding sound and renowned Toshiba innovation—without the clutter. Discover all-you-want entertainment plus all-in-one convenience with Toshiba’s SLV411U LED DVD Combo HDTV. With its size—32" class plus its smart, ultraslim profile and built-in DVD player, this set is ideal for kitchen or bedroom settings where extra cables and components are a no-go. And a convenient PC input makes it easy to present home media or use the TV as a bigscreen monitor. Packing great Toshiba quality, reliability and innovation, the SLV411U offers excellent imagery and sound. While our exclusive DynaLight™ backlight control selectively punches up blacks and reduces highlights for a more balanced, true-to-life picture. Looking for a TV that plays DVDs as well as excellent entertainment? Choose Toshiba’s 32" class SLV411U LED DVD Combo HDTV.

  • DynaLight® - Automatically adjusts the backlight intensity based on the image content.
  • Gaming mode - Enjoy hair-trigger action on your Toshiba TV with a special setting that reduces game controller delay.
  • HDMI port - Scale up your gaming, movies and music on a home theater - with full 1080p high-definition video, and amazingly immersive surround sound.

Are you excited? Enter the giveaway for the Toshiba TV/DVD combo here.








Makobi Scribe Reviews, LLC or the Mother’s Day Gift Event Bloggers are not responsible for sponsors that do not fulfill their prizes.

Spring Fling Giveaway Hop!

What can you win?
In the end, all that's left is an echo...
Violet kept her morbid ability to sense dead bodies a secret from everyone except her family and her childhood-best-friend-turned-boyfriend, Jay Heaton. That is until forensic psychologist Sara Priest discovered Violet's talent and invited her to use her gift to track down murderers. Now, as she works with an eclectic group of individuals—including mysterious and dangerously attractive Rafe—it's Violet's job to help those who have been murdered by bringing their killers to justice. When Violet discovers the body of a college girl killed by "the girlfriend collector" she is determined to solve the case. But now the serial killer is on the lookout for a new "relationship" and Violet may have caught his eye....

Goodreads Summary

Some other giveaways:
Dark Days (Slide, Partials, The Last Echo to one USA winner)
Pretty Crooked $50 Amazon Gift Card (International)
RT Giveaway (6 winners, 3 USA, 3 INT; books, arcs, and swag)
$20 Amazon Gift Card (easy 1 comment entry, International)

My Jewelry Box Giveaway!

Coupontrade.com and My Jewelry Box are offering an AMAZING giveaway for Mothers Day! Mom is a girl, so who is her best friend? That's right, DIAMONDS!



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CouponTrade Diamond Earring Giveaway


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CouponTrade Diamond Earring Giveaway




Make this Mothers Day like NONE other- Entry is simple! Just fill out the Rafflecopter Form Below!


On Board with Tess Davies: Guest Post by Claudia Gray!!!

Saturday, April 28, 2012
Tess Davies is one of my favorite main characters; certainly she’s the one who “announced herself” the fastest. You see, for me at least, when I start writing a character, sometimes it takes a long while to get to know them. They need a lot of time and care before they become themselves.

But Tess? She was her own person from almost the second I started writing. I still remember taking my first crack at the first scene and thinking, “Wow, she’s already here.”

Partly that has to do with Tess’ role in life as the book opens. She is working in domestic service in England, a subject that I’ve long found fascinating. Lately, a lot of people are enjoying “Downton Abbey,” a TV show that features a few glimpses of what life was like for servants of the English aristocracy. For me, the real hook was “Upstairs Downstairs,” a British show from the 1970s that offered a very detailed look at working in service – from the early Edwardian era until after World War I, at which point that world began to collapse.

Nobody wanted to work in service after that, you see. The modern world had opened up so many more possibilities, particularly for young women. So the prospect of slaving away for 14 hours a day, in uniform, with little chance of real advancement and as little as one weekend off a month – well, it didn’t seem so appealing any longer.

Tess already understands that. She’s tired of the drudgery, even more tired of always being treated as something less than human. Like many other girls at that time, she knows she could get different kinds of jobs, earn better money and enjoy more freedom than any other generation before her in history. She’s ready to go for it!

(Researching Tess’ duties was made a lot easier by one of my friends, who is such an avid history buff on that subject that she has a larger collection of books about English domestic servants than most libraries do.  Tara’s interest began when she fell in love with the film “Gosford Park,” and that paid off for me, because I got to hang out at her house and read countless memoirs by people who had been in service – both the ones who loved it and the ones who were thrilled it was over.)

But Tess’ job is only one part of her personality. Probably what I love best about her is just how matter of fact and practical she is. Encountering werewolves on the Titanic – well, that would throw most of us, wouldn’t it? I know I’m not prepared.

Tess, though – she always meets a situation head-on. When the main antagonist, Mikhail, threatens her, she’s frightened … but she never backs down and quickly makes plans to protect herself and her friends as best she can. When the man she’s been captivated by turns out to have a terrible, and rather furry, secret … she doesn’t throw herself headlong into his melodrama but doesn’t abandon him, either. She always defends her family and her friends. She sizes people up well. And she never, ever gives in.

When FATEFUL begins, Tess knows her whole life is going to change. She doesn’t know exactly how much it’s going to change, or how fast – but she already knows. That’s not because of the events of the book; it’s because she’s already made that decision and is ready to take a huge chance. She’s betting on herself – her intelligence, her competence and her guts. Her courage always defines her, and that’s yet another reason Tess will always be a character very near to my heart.


******************************

Fateful Blog Hop Tour Guest Posts!

The Book Heist:  Sinking Into Titanic Research
Hippies Beauty and Books Oh My: Tip of the Iceberg: Climax Themes and Challenges
Songs and Stories: Switching from Port to Starboard – From Vampires to Werewolves
Live to Read: On Board with Tess Davies
The Book Cellar: On Board with Alec Marlowe
Bellas Novella: On Board with Secondary Characters
Mundie Moms Book Reviews: More on the Unexplained: Why Claudia Gray Always Loved the Titanic


**************************************

Fateful
A novel by Claudia Gray

Eighteen-year-old maid Tess Davies is determined to escape the wealthy, troubled family she serves. It’s 1912, and Tess has been trapped in the employ of the Lisles for years, amid painful memories and twisted secrets. But now the Lisle family is headed to America, with Tess in tow. Once the ship they’re sailing on—the RMS Titanic—reaches its destination, Tess plans to strike out and create a new life for herself.

Her single-minded focus shatters when she meets Alec, a handsome first-class passenger who captivates her instantly. But Alec has secrets of his own. He’s in a hurry to leave Europe, and whispers aboard the ship say it’s because of the tragic end of his last affair with the French actress who died so gruesomely and so mysteriously. . . .

Soon Tess will learn just how dark Alec’s past truly is. The danger they face is no ordinary enemy: werewolves exist and are stalking him—and now her, too. Her growing love for Alec will put Tess in mortal peril, and fate will do the same before their journey on the Titanic is over.

In Fateful, New York Times bestselling author Claudia Gray delivers paranormal adventure, dark suspense, and alluring romance set against the opulent backdrop of the Titanic’s first—and last—voyage.


AUTHOR INFO
Website / Blog / Facebook / Twitter

Excerpt from Enchanted by Alethea Kontis Read by the Author!!!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Fairy Tale Giveaway Hop!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012
For my fairly tales, I have always had three stand out for me: Ariel, Alladin, and Belle :)  To me, they were heroes!  I loved Ariel's independent mind and quick-thinking, even her bad decisions held charm.  Alladin was a favorite after he became my sister's favorite (such as it is with sisters).  His ability to survive in a harsh environment, perseverence, and hopeful personality made him one of my favorite male heroes.  Belle is easy to explain; she is a reader!  I loved the walls of books in her move, Beauty and the Beast, and her clear love for them. 

What can you win?
or a couple of romance novels...if you feel like it, tell me which you'd prefer in the comments below!

There are a few other contests you may be interested in:
Dark Days (Slide, Partials, The Last Echo to one USA winner)
Pretty Crooked $50 Amazon Gift Card (International)
RT Giveaway (6 winners, 3 USA, 3 INT; books, arcs, and swag)
$20 Amazon Gift Card (easy 1 comment entry, International)
Showers of Books Giveaway (books, USA/CAN)





a Rafflecopter giveaway

Dark Days Wrap-Up and Giveaway!

I was fortunate enough to be the blogger for the Anderson's Dark Days tour stop.  I loved hearing the authors read from and speak about their books.  I never knew Dan Wells had such a great sense of humor or that Kimberly's Derting's inspiration comes, in part, from her husband.  Jill Hathaway confirmed that there would be a sequel to the wonderful Slide!


Dan Wells was a riot.  The first thing I noticed, besides the awesome copies of Partials next to him, was his hat.  He admits to being identified by his hat, and I can see why! I can also commiserate with his hat sadness over a lost precious hat, the same thing happened to me a day before the signing! When I asked him what the inspiration behind his book was, I have to say I never would have guessed his answer.  He stated that he looked at his own children and realized that some high school students may not even remember 9/11 or acknowledge its huge impact on our nation.  In initially creating the world behind Partials, he never truly explains the events leading up to the dystopian world (now he said there will be a novella coming this Fall that will!).  He felt that the disconnect between society and certain extreme events that affected that society was an interesting concept to write about.  He mentioned that he wrote the last line of the book first; to me, that seems like an impossible thing to do, but the more I think about the meaning behind the last line, the more sense it makes.  To all the romance fans out there, Dan Wells has good news!  There will be more romance in the next book!  One of the most interesting explanations concerning Partials' characters was how Dan Wells approached writing from a girl's perspective.  Originally, he said he experienced difficulty writing from Kyra's perspective, but then realized that he needed to write about Kyra as a person, not just "some girl in a novel."  Overall, I loved talking to Dan Wells, he has to be the funniest author I've met. 

Kimberly Derting amazed me.  She writes so many books in such a short time.  As for fans of the Body Finders series, you will all be happy to know that there will be a fourth in the series!  Although the third book is titled The Last Echo, fans will be able to enjoy another book from this wonderful series.  I have always wondered how authors create their main characters.  Kimberly Derting explained that the main character in the Body Finders Series was most like her oldest daughter.  Kimberly admitted to being more like Chelsea, the best friend from the series.  Anyone wondering about the inspiration behind the series?  Kimberly Derting's husband pitches ideas to her which she takes into consideration.  One of those ideas turned into the Body Finders!  When I further probed the inspiration for the series, Kimberly's answer really surprised me.  Her husband had found one of the Green River killer's victims. His idea for a "thirteen year-old boy who can find bodies" may have originated from that experience.  I can see how everything ties together, but never would have guessed that that real experience would be the inspiration!  Anyone dying to read the next book in the Pledge series?  The second will be called The Essence!  The author says she has always been fascinated by language and how it can be such an effective barrier between people.  She was interested in the Indian caste system and began to think of Pledge's plot, in part, from that idea.  One of the most difficult transitions from The Body Finders series to the Pledge series was when the author had to transition from writing in the third person to the first.  I loved meeting Kimberly Derting and hope I will see her at another convention or signing soon!

The Last Echo


I loved finally talking to the author of Slide, one of my favorite debut novels!  Jill Hathaway is a teacher as well as an author.  Although she completed the manuscript for Slide in roughly 4-6 weeks, the book took a couple of years to come together.  I wanted to know how she decided upon her characters' names, some were so unusual while others seemed to have a story behind them.  For Silvia, Jill stated Silvia Plath was a large influence.  Zane's name was interesting because he was originally a "Gabe," but Jill decided that Gabe was a name that kept popping up in books and preferred a less common name.  Archibald Rowlings although unusual, made my day.  The author admitted to reading Archie comics and chose Archibald partially because of that (I love the Archie comics too, yay!).  Rowlings was more from J.K. Rowlings.  Looking for the next in the series?  Jill confirmed there will be a second, and it will be titled Impostor!  The inspiration behind the series was more of a unique idea.  Jill liked the idea of someone being able to touch an object that was cared for or particularly special and experience memories and emotions from that person.  The character who had this ability had to have a great deal of empathy.  A trait I think shines through in the main character of Slide.  Wondering about the love interest?  He wasn't created from Jill's past, but from her head; an interesting idea that grew into the love interest in the series.  I can't wait for Impostor, I loved Slide so much, and the idea of touching objects and feeling their history holds such excitement and mystery behind it! 


Slide


How about all you readers.  Do you have any questions for these authors or anything to say about these awesome books!?

Now for the giveaway!  One USA winner will receive the three Dark Days book above!



a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sweet Evil by Wendy Higgins Author or This or That!




1)Hamburger or Cheeseburger
Cheese, please!

2)Mountains or Beaches
This one’s hard…I LOVE both, but I’llgo with beaches.

3)Vanilla or Chocolate (there *is* a right answer to this one)
Chocolate. Did I get it right?!

4)Standalones or Sequels
*sighs* Sequels…although I detestcliffhangers. Then again, there’s something very satisfying about a standalone…probablythe lack of a cliffhanger.

5)Winter or Summer
Summer

6)Telekinesis or Teleportation
Teleportation

7)See, smell, touch, taste, or hear
In order for me: touch, see, smell,hear, taste

8)hand or leg
Er…hand?  lol

9)TV or Computer
Computer all the way!

10)red, blue, green, purple, orange, yellow, white, or black
Yellow


4/23 http://www.supernaturalsnark.blogspot.com/
4/24 http://imlovingbooks.com/
4/25 http://livetoread-krystal.blogspot.com/
4/26 http://livredeamour-booksoflove.blogspot.com/
4/27 http://myoverstuffedbookshelf.blogspot.com/


4/28 http://www.twochicksonbooks.com/
4/29 http://www.magicalurbanfantasyreads.com/


4/30 http://uniquelymoibooks.blogspot.com/
5/1 http://www.bookswithbite.net/
5/2 http://www.hookedtobooks.com/
5/3 http://www.latebloomeronline.com/
5/4 http://www.fiktshun.com/fiktshun/

What if there were teens whose lives depended on being bad influences? This is life for sons and daughters of fallen angels in Sweet Evil.
Tenderhearted Southern girl, Anna Whitt, was born with the sixth sense to see and feel emotions of other people. She’s aware of a struggle within herself, an inexplicable pull toward danger, but it isn’t until she turns sixteen and meets the alluring Kaidan Rowe that she discovers her terrifying heritage, and her will-power is put to the test. He’s the boy your daddy warned you about. If only someone had warned Anna.
A cross-country trip to meet her father forces Anna to face the reality that hope and love are not options for her kind. When she confronts her destiny, will Anna embrace her halo or her horns?

Goodreads Summary

Review:

 This book has a fresh, different look on the Nephilim, one that is heavily detailed in the novel.  The reader will meet Anna, the main character, right away. Anna doesn't know who her father is, she is cared for by Patti, her stand-in mother.  The prologue will draw the reader in right away and begin the mystery behind Anna's birth.  The last statement will have the reader wondering and be explained perfectly later in the book.  Although Anna's life has been relatively normal thus far, she has to be ready for change....according to a few, her destiny demands it.

Meeting hot, charismatic boys with weird ulterior purposes happens all the time, right?  Not really, but when Anna meets Kai her story takes off.  The reader may be taken with Kai at first, but as he/she sinks further into the story, Anna's choice is not so clear.  Kai can be impulsive, protective, rude, and angry.  He isn't the ideal boyfriend, but he knows what Anna is experiencing.  Anna was by far my favorite character. Through this book she is brave, determined, and kind. The reader can easily relate to and like her.  Her choices in the book are admirable; she has a couple of faults, the reader may want to shake her once or twice, but those faults serve to make her character more believable.  The other characters, particularly the other Nephilim, are fun to get to know.  They will probably take the reader by surprise, their personalities are not the "norm." 

If you are a reader looking for romance, mystery, intrigue, action, and fantasy, pick up this book!  Days after reading this one, I found myself remembering Anna and the surprising ending.  The author writes the scenes so that they flow perfectly.  With a fairly complicated, ever-changing plot, the reader could get confused, but the author provides more than enough detail to prevent this from happening.  This book is highly recommended to young adult/teen readers.

4 Stars

Find this book:
Amazon
Barnes and Noble
The Book Depository

Pretty Crooked by Elisa Ludwig and Giveaway!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012





Book Summary:


Willa's secret plan seems all too simple.

Take from the rich kids at valley prep and give to the poor ones.

Yet Willa's turn as Robin Hood at her new high school is anything but. Bilking her "friends"—known to everyone as the Glitterati—without them suspecting a thing is far from easy. Learning how to break into lockers and Beemers is as hard as she'd thought it would be. Delivering care packages to the scholarship girls, who are bullied just for being different, is more fun than she'd expected.

The complication Willa didn't expect, though, is Aidan Murphy, VP's most notorious ace-degenerate. His mere existence is distracting Willa from what matters most to her—evening the social playing field between the haves and have-nots. There's no time for flirting, especially with conceited trust-funders like Aidan. But when the cops start investigating the string of thefts at Valley Prep and the Glitterati begin to seek revenge, could Aidan wind up being the person that Willa trusts most?

Elisa Ludwig's Pretty Crooked is the first book in an adventurous teen caper series filled with mystery, humor, and heart.


Praise for Pretty Crooked:






“This should be an easy sell to fans of Sara Shepard’s Pretty Little Liars books.”

—Booklist
“This debut keeps readers zooming along as a formerly poor girl plays Robin Hood when she strikes it rich…. A solid debut.”

—Kirkus
“Packed with romance, humor, and adventure, PRETTY CROOKED will steal your heart.”

Sarah Mlynowskiauthor of Ten Things We Did (But Probably Shouldn’t Have)
“Intriguing characters, high adventure, good-hearted heists, and plenty of romance. PRETTY CROOKED has me pining for Willa’s next adventure!”

Jennifer Echolsauthor of Forget You and The One that I Want
Book Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JGm3W8AOX_Q&list=PL735B9DFF6D053EAE











About the Author:

My debut young adult novel PRETTY CROOKED (Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins) was released in March 2012. Even though I had to extensively research pickpocketing techniques, I am a law-abiding citizen. I live in Philadelphia with my husband Jesse. I'm a proud member of The Apocalypsies, a group of children's book authors debuting in 2012.












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Pretty Crooked Book Blast!

Book Summary:
Willa's secret plan seems all too simple.
Take from the rich kids at valley prep and give to the poor ones.
Yet Willa's turn as Robin Hood at her new high school is anything but. Bilking her "friends"—known to everyone as the Glitterati—without them suspecting a thing is far from easy. Learning how to break into lockers and Beemers is as hard as she'd thought it would be. Delivering care packages to the scholarship girls, who are bullied just for being different, is more fun than she'd expected.
The complication Willa didn't expect, though, is Aidan Murphy, VP's most notorious ace-degenerate. His mere existence is distracting Willa from what matters most to her—evening the social playing field between the haves and have-nots. There's no time for flirting, especially with conceited trust-funders like Aidan. But when the cops start investigating the string of thefts at Valley Prep and the Glitterati begin to seek revenge, could Aidan wind up being the person that Willa trusts most?
Elisa Ludwig's Pretty Crooked is the first book in an adventurous teen caper series filled with mystery, humor, and heart.





Enter on this post for the awesome giveaway!

Supergirl Mixtapes by Meagan Brothers

After years of boredom in her rural South Carolina town, Maria is thrilled when her father finally allows her to visit her estranged artist mother in New York City. She’s ready for adventure, and she soon finds herself immersed in a world of rock music and busy streets, where new people and ideas lie around every concrete corner. This is the freedom she’s always longed for—and she pushes for as much as she can get, skipping school to roam the streets, visit fancy museums, and flirt with the cute clerk at a downtown record store.

But just like her beloved New York City, Maria’s life has a darker side. Behind her mother’s carefree existence are shadowy secrets, and Maria must decide just where—and with whom—her loyalty lies.

Goodreads Summary


Maria has led a safe life so far.  She doesn't know why her mother up and left when she was younger, but she knows she has a reliable, dependable dad.  When she is finally allowed to live with her mother, Maria decides to use her newfound freedom to the fullest.  With her mother there, but still acting a little odd and a little absent, Maria does not have any guidance.  Her life with her mother is the majority of the story.  Maria meets her mother's very young and very good-looking boyfriend as well as a possible boyfriend of her own.  She makes a few friends and slowly begins to unravel the past...but will she like what she discovers?

Maria's character is easy to relate to for a younger reader.  She makes mistakes and learns, she is a tad on the impulsive side and tends to push her limits.  The reader will get to know Maria and read from her perspective, she is easy to connect to within the first couple of chapters.  The other characters are so-so.  The reader will probably find fault with a lot of them, but they each have merit as far as the story goes. 

The plot is easy to follow and actually reasonable, the reader could likely see this happening in real life.  Music plays a large part in both the story and Maria's life, the reader will love how the author wove music into the plot and the characters.  Overall, this book is great for young adult/teen readers.

4 Stars


Find this book:
Amazon
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The Book Depository

This product or book may have been distributed for review, this in no way affects my opinions or reviews.

Storm by Brigid Kemmerer

Earth, Fire, Air, Water – they have more power than you dream.
Ever since her ex-boyfriend spread those lies about her, Becca Chandler is suddenly getting all the guys—all the ones she doesn't want. Then she saves Chris Merrick from a beating in the school parking lot. Chris is different. Way different: he can control water—just like his brothers can control fire, wind, and earth. They’re powerful. Dangerous. Marked for death.

And now that she knows the truth, so is Becca.
Secrets are hard to keep when your life’s at stake. When Hunter, the mysterious new kid around school, turns up with a talent for being in the wrong place at the right time, Becca thinks she can trust him. But then Hunter goes head-to-head with Chris, and Becca wonders who’s hiding the most dangerous truth of all.

The storm is coming . . .

Goodreads Summary

How great would it be to be surrounded by four hot guys who are able to control wind, water, fire, and earth?  Would you still want to be around them if knowing their secret marked you for death?  Before I rave about how great this book is, I must first talk about the epic main character, Becca Chandler.  She is a great heroine for many reasons.  Becca tries to defend and standup for herself and others.  I really admire her and enjoy reading from her perspective.  Four other reasons I loved this books are the amazing, gorgeous, brothers.  Their relationships are fun to read about and Kemmerer did a great job allowing the reader to learn about the brothers with Becca.  One other guy is in this book, however.  Hunter is mysterious and compelling.  Love triangle?  Yes!  Regular, overdone love triangle?  NO!  Kemmerer does not allow herself to fall into this overused trap that so many talented author ensnare themselves in.  She takes the idea of confused romance and makes it her own. 

This book is definitely mean for teenage girls and young women.  This audience can relate to Becca and will love the other aspects of this novel.  I give Storm five stars, but am not pleased that Kemmerer raised my dating standards.  At this rate, I will never find a guy to meet my ridiculously high, unrealistic expectations!

5 Stars

*Reviewed by Kristen*

Find this book:
Amazon
Barnes and Noble
The Book Depository



This product or book may have been distributed for review, this in no way affects my opinions or reviews.

The Caves of Etretat by Matt Chatelain *Leave a comment on this post to be entered to win a $20 Amazon Gift Card!!! International Giveaway!*

Monday, April 23, 2012
*Leave a comment for a chance to win a $20 Amazon Gift Card-INTERNATIONAL GIVEAWAY*


 BLURB:
In 2007, Canadian bookstore owner Paul Sirenne is suddenly thrust into a quest for answers, when his parents are found brutally murdered, their bodies cut up and shaped into the letters H.N. Finding a note inside his father's copy of 'The Hollow Needle', by Maurice Leblanc, Sirenne is determined to uncover the roots of his long-forgotten family secret.
He heads to the town of Etretat, France, on the trail of a hundred year old mystery hidden in the pages of the 'Hollow Needle'. Falling in love with Leblanc's great-granddaughter, he deals with puzzles, theories, codes and historical mysteries, leading him to believe that Leblanc held a secret war against Adolf Hitler, fighting for the control of an incredible complex of caves hidden in Etretat's chalk cliffs.
'THE CAVES OF ETRETAT' is the first in a four-book epic adventure following Paul Sirenne, an average man unknowingly manipulated into becoming the key in the final phase of a complex conspiracy spanning millennia. Inextricably woven into history, the series re-writes everything we know in a non-stop rollercoaster of a ride where nothing is ever as it seems.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~
EXCERPTS (Please choose only ONE to use with your post):
Excerpt one
While I drove toward my father's place, my rear view mirror allowed me the occasional glimpse of a familiar vehicle and its driver, Norton. His companions were nowhere to be seen. Perhaps he was intent on protecting me but I doubted it. His comments had seemed disjointed to me, despite the circumstances. Everything he said had come across insincere, as if he were following another agenda. I resolved to ignore him for the time being. Let him do his watching.
To some, police protection might seem comforting. To me, it felt like an irritant. I preferred to mind my own business and for others to do the same, even in dire circumstances. That way I hurt no one and no one got hurt. I almost changed my opinion when I arrived at my father’s house. Even Norton's company would have been preferable to that of my own thoughts. I hurried up the entrance staircase and stopped in front of the door, taking a deep breath. I felt frozen in place, unable to open it.
Breaking the spell and forcing myself to move, I removed the police tape with a trembling hand and entered, closing the door behind me. I looked around the entrance hallway. Everything looked normal but it felt wrong, empty, too quiet. I walked into the living room and there it was: the bloody outline of the H and the N. I was horrified by the bloodstained dots after each gruesome letter, knowing what had left those imprints.
Seized by a sudden, irresistible impulse, I ran to the kitchen, filled a large bucket with hot water and picked up a heavy bristle brush.
Those stains had to go!
I returned to the living room, trying to stay calm, to think nothing about what the stains represented. I knelt down, splashed some water on the floor, and began scrubbing the dark stains. I didn’t care if I scratched the wood. At some point, I started crying in great, wracking sobs, the tears streaming down my cheeks, dripping onto the bloodstains on the floor.
By the time I was done, my tears had dried, evaporated by a burning resolve unlike any I had before. I did not know how, I did not know when, but I would catch that monstrous killer. He would pay for what he had done.

Excerpt Two
Entering my room, I approached the small shelf above my bed. I scanned the titles, finding the book easily, to my relief. Removing it from the shelf, I opened it from the back, finding my father’s original note, an old piece of Vellum paper. The tape holding it in place had dried out and yellowed, the glue having become crusty over time. I wondered why my father had done that, knowing we held the same reverence for books.
The thought slipped away when I read the note he had written so long ago:
Dear Paul:
 On the occasion of your ninth birthday, I give you the same book my father gave to me when I was nine. It’s a wonderful story but it is also so much more.
It is the beginning...
The beginning and the end,
Follow the circle, it bends.
The end and the beginning
The answer in the connecting
Your Father
PS:
A real story ends near Etretat
Lost until Paul infers new ideas subtly
You ought understand responsibility,
Necessarily after moiling Etretat
When I had read this note at age nine, I had not grasped my father’s true intent. Today, it seemed obvious that he was signalling the start of a hunt. Something was going on in the town of Etretat and it was connected with this book.

Excerpt three
The moment his eyes dropped, I took off running, knowing exactly where I was going thanks to Coulter’s map. I had never broken any speed records before but, at that moment, I felt as if I were moving like a train, barrelling non-stop across the landscape, increasing my momentum and distance with every second. His pistol's barrel was too short for any type of accuracy. If he wanted to shoot me, he would have to catch me and I wasn’t planning to give him the chance!
Coulter kept scrolling the map on the screen, showing me exactly where I had to go, cheering me on all the while. I heard Norton yelling and risked a single glance backwards. He was hobbling after me at a decent pace, using his cane to lop forward, his pistol waving around with every step.
He looked angry.
I heard some car doors slam and more screaming in the distance. The Vallin brothers were in the parking lot, running all out toward Norton. They were both brandishing bats and waving them madly. I kept running, aiming directly for the cleft. I headed down, mostly sliding on one foot, dangerously out of control. Norton was closer behind me than I would’ve liked.
“Watch it, you’re going to lose it, you’re going to lose it... No... You’re fine, doing good, now be careful, here’s the stairs...” Coulter yammered on in my ear, keeping up a running commentary. I had to slide to a desperate stop right above the rusty steps. They were clogged with silt and sand that had come down from the cleft. I saw signs warning tourists off and bars blocking the staircase. Coulter screamed:
“Just go for it, Norton’s right behind you.”
Incredibly, Norton was sliding down the cleft on his good foot, using his branch to balance himself. He was coming down fast, still holding his gun, determined to catch me.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Born in Ottawa, fifty-two years ago, I have been the owner of a used bookstore I opened in Ontario, since 1990. I have been writing since I was ten. Beginning with poetry, I quickly moved on to short stories and non-fiction pieces. I stayed in that format for many years, eventually self-publishing a franchise manual (How to Open Your Own Used Bookstore), as well as a variety of booklets, such as 'How to Save Money at Home', 'Build a Greenhouse with Style' and the ten booklet series of Eddy Brock, Brockville Detective.
Having semi-retired from the bookstore, I embarked on the project of writing my first serious novel, which I expanded to a four book series after discovering an incredible mystery hidden within Maurice Leblanc's books.
My interests are eclectic. I like Quantum Physics, Cosmology, history, archaeology, science in general, mechanics, free power, recycling and re-use. I'm a good handyman and can usually fix just about anything. I'm good with computers. I love movies, both good and bad, preferring action and war movies. I can draw and paint fairly well but am so obsessed with perspective and light that I cannot think of much else. I am too detail oriented. Takes too long to finish anything.
Website:   http://www.mattchatelain.com/
Facebook page:   http://www.facebook.com/#!/profile.php?id=100003486781507


Review:

Looking for a good mystery?  Paul, a bookstore owner, has it rough right from the get-go.  His parents are murdered and etched into their skin are the mysterious letters H.N.  Paul isn't one to take things lying down and his parents' murders hit him hard.  When he stumbles upon some family secrets, he decides to try to solve the crime.

Paul's character was nice.  He wasn't particularly forceful or weak, the reader will probably like how much he seems to care for his family.  Paul will impress the reader with his ability to discover clues and uncover long-held secrets.  The other characters were interesting enough, they were all generally nice to meet (except the antagonist, of course!).  What was great about this book was that the antagonist, someone the reader may or may not guess, wasn't really likable at all...the reader will probably not feel too much sympathy. 

The plot itself was fast-paced, the reader will never have to wait too long for the scenes to fly by and evidence to mount up.  The ending will be somewhat of a surprise, which is always great with a mystery.  This book is recommended to adult readers.

4 Stars


This product or book may have been distributed for review, this in no way affects my opinions or reviews.

Matt will be awarding a $20 Amazon GC to one randomly drawn commenter during the tour as well as to the host whose post receives the most comments (excluding his or the host's) during the tour.

Follow the rest of the tour here!

Guest Post by Author Jess C Scott


Inspiration Behind the Novel: The Other Side of Life


Thanks for hosting me today, Krystal!

SUMMARY (The Other Side of Life / Book #1, Cyberpunk Elven Trilogy):
A thieving duo’s world turns upside down when an Elven rogue uncovers the heinous dealings of a mega corporation.
** *
The Other Side of Life is the first book in my trilogy featuring cyberpunk elves (as of the time of this posting, I’ve completed a first draft of the second book...though it’s far from finished in terms of a final polished draft!).
The impetus to create the story was because I thought the concept of “cyberpunk elves” was a cool one (that’s really all there is to the “short version” of the inspiration behind this project).
Once I’d committed myself to creating some kind of story for the project (for the first book, at least), I began to see some of the potential difficulties with regards to plot development.
Because cyberpunk is set in the near future, it is usually set in a dystopian setting (with corporations and governments looming over every citizen’s thought, movement and action).
At the same time, I’m mostly an optimistic person at heart, and have always liked inspiring others to find some kind of lasting happiness and satisfaction in their lives too.
Relationships have always been on my mind since I was in my early to mid teens. Ididn’t have to go on many dates for the subject to be on my mind very often (astrologically-speaking, I have a Venus Scorpio in between the 7th and 8th houses -- Venus being the “planet of love”with the 7th house being the house of relationships).
Dystopian settings can make bringing in a love story very tricky (people are jaded; the two themes of dystopia and romance don’t exactly go naturally well together).
I think it’s that tension and conflict between the two themes that make it challenging and interesting/engaging to work with (a bit like the tension between balancing art and business, or any themes that are “opposite” in nature).
In both real life and fiction, I’ve stayed focused on taking a more serious than frivolous approach to love.
Sometimes,I think the world gets more and more dystopian the more “advanced”the human species becomes. The human spirit (which includes the fundamental themes of love and sex) is the only thing that gives a glimmer of hope with regards to fighting the all-pervasive corporate and/or governmental control over society.
That’sone of the key focuses of the project (as relayed through the romantic slant in the plot), one that I will “take my time” to get right as best I can, for a story/message that can be remembered.
=====
Jess is a professional non-conformist with a fresh, youthful world view.She is an author of relationship-based erotic fiction (and other unique projects, including a series that features “cyberpunk elventhieves”). She’s cool, supportive, and writes with both intellect and a lot of emotion.
She has most recently co-authored Teen Guide to Sex and Relationships with Matt Posner (Spring 2012). For more info, please visit http://jessink.com/teenguide.htm
Jess can also be found on jessINK, Facebook, and Twitter.

Excerpt of Playing the Genetic Lottery by Terri Morgan

Prologue


Every morning when I first wake up I wonder and I worry. Before getting out of bed, before registering my full, aching bladder, before remembering what day it is and what responsibilities await -- I assess myself for signs of the disease. I roll my eyes around the room, looking for phantoms that may have appeared while I was sleeping. For odd, moving sights, like my dresser transformed into a rolling automobile or roaring lion. To make sure that the clock radio on my nightstand or the framed photos on the bookshelves haven't cloned themselves overnight and morphed into twins or even triplets.
Then I listen carefully. I hear Jason snoring lightly beside me. I hear the ticking of the living room clock. I hear the jangle of Rosco's tags as he rolls over on his bed in the corner of our room. I hold my breath and listen for mysterious voices or alien noises. Then, once I'm sure I'm not hearing any unusual, strange sounds, I ask myself---silently so not to wake my sleeping husband----a series of questions.
 Who am I? What's my address? Where do I work? How old are my children? What's my husband's name? Who's the president? Only after the correct responses to the first five pop into my mind, and I chuckle to myself after answering "Calvin Coolidge" to the sixth question because I know good and well that Barack Obama currently resides in the White House, do I know I'm safe for another day. If I still have my sense of humor, and apparently my faculties, I've still escaped it.
Escaped the mental illness that afflicted and consumed my mother, my father and my brother. Escaped the schizophrenia that robbed them of their minds and me of a childhood.
 I know that at 32 my chances of developing schizophrenia are miniscule and keep shrinking with every passing month. Despite that, I'm still obsessively terrified of developing the devastating mental illness that was an ever-present part of my formative years. It's shaped who I’ve become, and I've worked for more than half my life to recover from its impact. My father, mother and brother all lost the genetic lottery, and their misfortune continues to ripple through my life even today.
 My name, at least the name I go by now, is Caitlin. That's the name I chose for myself 18 years ago when I fled my childhood home of horrors. I cast off the name on my birth certificate for the new one in hopes of casting off the madness that was my family.

Chapter 1


 There are a lot of popular misconceptions swirling around about schizophrenia. Some people, especially those who are fortunate enough not to have had first-hand experience with this devastating, disabling mental illness, think schizophrenics suffer from a split, or two vastly different personalities. I imagine they picture someone like a benevolent, beloved school teacher who bakes cookies for the neighbors in her spare time turning into a vicious profanity-spewing crone who butchers small cuddly animals with her bare hands during episodes. Others, who are steeped in popular culture, believe all schizophrenics are geniuses, like the Nobel Prize-winning mathematician John Nash. These kinds of misconceptions are annoying, but not surprising, considering there are so many mysteries about schizophrenia that have yet to be solved.  Despite billions of dollars worth of research, scientists have not yet pinpointed the causes of schizophrenia, although they believe a combination of genetics, brain chemistry and brain abnormality are involved. They do know that there is a hereditary basis for the susceptibility of the disease, meaning that schizophrenia often runs in families. Unfortunately, it runs in mine.
 My father, Keith, was 16 or 17 when he began changing from an outgoing, straight-A student and angelic-voiced singer who performed each Sunday in the church choir into a foul mouthed chain-smoking punk who was afraid to leave his room for days on end except to steal cigarettes or use the bathroom because "they" were out to get him.  My mother, Lisa, was diagnosed with schizophrenia when I was 2, although I suspect she was afflicted long before that. After all, she named my brother, who was born 3 years before I was, Jondalar, after one of her favorite characters in Jean Auel's “The Children of the Earth” book series. Although she was young, just 21 when she had my brother, and impulsive like many young adults, saddling your newborn with a moniker that would ensure he'd be the subject of relentless teasing throughout his school years isn't what I consider to be the actions of someone fully steeped in reality. Our father would sheepishly shrug his shoulders whenever my brother demanded to know why he didn't stop Mom from putting Jondalar on his birth certificate. Jon found Dad's lack of action especially troubling, considering Dad had grown up being called "the Wart," because his last name is Swarthout. On the upside, the name Jondalar was such an irresistible taunting target that Jon was largely spared the indignity of being dubbed a Wart like I was throughout my elementary school days.
  Dad also failed to stop Mom from naming me Ayla after the main protagonist in Auel's novels, character I suspect Mom sometimes wished she was. Fortunately for me, my brother promptly nicknamed me Ava, as his young tongue struggled unsuccessfully to pronounce my given name. I returned the favor when I began speaking, shortening Jondalar to Jon. While my nickname stuck, Mom refused to fully accept Jon's. When she was well, she would tolerate it grudgingly, and even use it herself occasionally, but when she wasn't well she insisted on correcting---and berating--- anyone who dared use the diminutive version of his name within her hearing.
 I don't remember the onset of Mom's illness, so I have to rely on family stories; mostly the memories and tales of my brother, grandmother, uncle and granddad. I've heard Dad's version too. But since his illness has grown steadily worse throughout the years, I've given up on trying to separate what's real and what's fantasy when it comes to his memories. What I do know is that Dad was stable and working at his father's hardware store when Mom got sick and was diagnosed. Mom was working as a waitress at an old-fashioned all-night diner that specialized in serving cholesterol-laden meals to overweight patrons.  She worked in the evenings, while my dad worked days, so my parents could avoid paying childcare costs. My folks were struggling to make ends meet, and Mom had to wash the gravy stains out of her uniform every night after she got home so it would be dry and ready to iron before her next shift.
 When Mom wasn't working, or busy taking care of Jon and me, she was painting. Like her mother, my Nana, Mom loved to paint. Both were very talented artists who enjoyed moderate success and renown while I was growing up. Their works were displayed and sold in several local galleries. My earliest memories are of the reek of turpentine, oil paints and cigarette smoke, and the sight of my mother at her easel in the living room. She'd lean partially finished paintings against the walls and furniture, creating a colorful, ever-changing maze for us to negotiate to reach the couch, the TV, or the phone. She'd work sporadically; at times with an energy and passion that led her to forget who she was, that she had children to feed until we started crying, or Dad came home from the hardware store and startled her with his arrival. Throughout my childhood, these periods of artistic frenzy were usually followed by painting droughts.  When they occurred, Mom would stand for hours with a brush in her right hand and a cigarette smoldering in her left staring bleakly at a blank canvas.
            The painters' block periods, as Jon and I called them, were followed by long stretches where Mom would retreat to her bedroom stay curled up in her bed, leaving Jon and me to fend for ourselves. When Mom would re-emerge goofy phrases and nonsensical words would often come out of her mouth, which confused and frightened us kids. The longer those spells lasted, the less coherent she became. Dad would ignore the fact that Mom was progressively getting sicker until some crisis occurred, and authorities stepped in.
 The first crisis occurred when Jon was five and I was still in diapers. Apparently after weeks of strange behavior, Mom came into the bedroom Jon and I shared and started ranting about Satan. I started crying, Jon recalls, which set Mom off. She began yelling that I was full of evil, and ordered Jon to cast me out of the house. Jon grabbed my hand, pulled me out of the room and together we fled out the front door screaming in terror. A neighbor overheard the ruckus and called the police after leading us into her home and locking the door.
 Jon claims I cried the entire six weeks that Mom was in the hospital being diagnosed and treated for the onset of schizophrenia. Nana, who took care of us while Dad was at work, never disputed his account, but would spare my feelings by diplomatically adding, whenever Jon brought the subject up, that "both you poor kids were pretty upset.”
 Family lore has it that I was a difficult child. I suffered from colic, apparently, and cried almost constantly during my first six months of life. The colic and the crying stopped suddenly one day, Nana remembers, only to be replaced a few months later, when I began to begin to talk, with a bad case of the "nos."
 "You were a pretty stubborn kid," Nana told me when I was complaining to her that Kayla, my first-born, had a mind of her own. "She takes after you. Your terrible twos began when you were about 16 months old and didn't stop until you were in Kindergarten.”
 Fortunately for the rest of the family, Jon, who'd been pestering my parents for a brother or a sister since he began talking, adored me. In one of the first pictures taken after my birth, my eyes are closed while Jon's are focused on me like I'm the new toy fire truck he'd been begging our parents to buy him for weeks. His fascination with "my baby" as he called me continued even while the colic-induced crying put everyone's nerves on edge. Delighted to have a future playmate, Jon apparently never displayed any of the anguish and anger at being upstaged by a new baby that Kayla did when her sister Taylor was born. Relatives said Jon loved to play with me, making faces and singing to me when I wasn't sleeping, eating or crying. And when I was crying, which was apparently quite a bit of the time even after the colic cleared up, to hear my mother tell it, Jon would interpret my needs, telling my parents "diaper," "hungry" or "ti-ti" when there was a physical reason for my howls. And when there wasn't an obvious reason for my unhappiness, Jon would entertain me until the tears stopped or his favorite cartoons came on.
 "Thank God for your brother," Mom would say throughout my childhood whenever she was healthy, coherent and annoyed. "If I had had you first, you'd be an only child.”
 Whenever my sense of guilt gets so strong that I can't help but bring it up, Jason insists I wasn't responsible for my mother's illness. So do all the therapists I've seen over the years. But I know that stress can, and often does, play a role in triggering any latent disease. And after I became a parent for the first time, exhausted from the middle of the night feedings, and frustrated when Kayla would cry for what appeared to be no apparent reason, I found it harder to accept their reassurances.

Chapter
2


 I've always loved to read, but Jon inhaled books. As a toddler, Nana recalls, he would pick up a book and head for her lap whenever she visited us, which was often as we lived in the same town ---Cumberland. Cumberland is the county seat of Cumberland County, which lies in the Willamette Valley in Central Oregon. There are about 100,000 people living in Cumberland these days, up from the 75,000 or 80,000 souls who called Cumberland home when I was growing up. Although I live in Washington State now, I was a true Cumberland native; third generation on my father's side, and second generation on my mother's. Growing up, that counted for something, as the locals sneered at anyone who dared move into their town. Unless you were born in Cumberland's Community Hospital, you were forever deemed an interloper and looked down upon with suspicion. Long before he was aware of his native status, Jon was obsessed with books. Whenever Nana, or any one for that matter, read to Jon, they'd say that he would stare solemnly at the text, trying to interpret the meaning behind the letters. My kids, when they were little, would focus their eyes on the colorful illustrations in their books while I read to them, but Jon was different. Jon, although he inherited Mom's artistic talent, was fascinated by the lettering, not the pictures, and could hardly wait to break the mysterious code and begin reading on his own.
 If Jon couldn't find an adult to read to him, he would set me up on his lap and pretend to read to me. Nana remembers with pride Jon reciting his favorite books to me, and making up his own stories while "reading" to me from books he hadn't yet memorized. He learned the alphabet before his fourth birthday, and asked Mom almost daily how much longer before he could start going to school.
 When the big day finally arrived, Mom put me in the stroller, took Jon by the hand and escorted him two blocks away to the elementary school. Dad must have taken some pictures of us on the porch before we left, because years later I found an envelope with "Jondalar's First Day of School" scrawled on it years later.  In the snapshots, Jon is dressed in what appears to be brand-new jeans and a button down shirt so new that it had two lines of creases running vertically down the front and a third crease horizontally along his belly. He's wearing bright white sneakers below his rolled-up pant cuffs, and a big grin. I'm bundled up in my stroller, peering out from beneath the hood of a jacket. Mom is in her usual painting clothes, looking proud and perhaps a bit sad that her first-born was growing up so quickly. When we arrived on campus and found the Kindergarten classroom, Mom says there were at least a half-dozen kids clinging tearfully to their mothers outside the door. Jon dropped Mom's hand and skipped through the door happily. When Mom turned the stroller around and started home, I started crying. She claims I didn't stop until we returned to the school a few hours later and saw Jon come out of the classroom.
 If Mom's memory was true, and not a figment of her exaggeration, as Jon and I used to dub many of her stories, I'm not sure if I was more unhappy to see Jon leave me behind as he headed off on a new adventure, or if I was afraid to be alone with Mom.
 With Jon in school three hours a day, Nana recalls that Mom and I initially settled into a routine. We'd escort him to school after breakfast and escort him back home before lunch. In between, Mom would try to get some painting done. To keep me entertained, on mornings when I wasn't out with Dad, and to prevent me from interrupting her work, she bought me a set of little plastic pots filled with brightly colored and, presumably, non-toxic paint, and some fat handled brushes.  She'd set up a child-sized easel next to hers and sketch the outline of a person or object onto a piece of paper. She'd then tack it to the easel for me to color in with paint. “Not everyone has their own special coloring book,” she'd tell me, although technically the hand-drawn sketches were on individual sheets and not in a book. While I'd splash away happily, getting more paint on my clothes and the floor than the paper, she'd concentrate on her artwork. Eventually, when I got quicker at covering her sketches with paint, she purchased pads of paper and would sketch dozens of scenes to keep me occupied with while she worked.
 Jon's kindergarten schedule, as I realized when Kayla started school, fragmented Mom's day. I'm sure she must have been frustrated, like I was years later, to have her day chopped into small windows of time bracketed with child pickups and deliveries. As her creative time dwindled, her fuse must have shortened. Jon would steer clear of Mom after lunch, heading for our bedroom or the backyard, usually with me in tow, until Dad came home from work. When I was older, and he'd talk about that period of time, he'd remember it as the era when Mom was always mad. And she stayed mad, even after she stopped picking up Jon at school, and he began to walk himself home.
 In those days, Dad worked at Granddad's hardware store. But his real vocation, the work he loved to do best, was woodworking. He'd converted the tiny, one-car garage next to the house into a wood shop, where he'd spend hours sawing, planing and sanding wood. He turned tree branches and planks of oak, redwood and walnut into beautiful, conversation-generating pieces of furniture. Mom still has some chairs he made, which are still gorgeous and sturdy despite years of rough treatment and countless moves. I can remember playing in the sawdust on the floor of his workshop, smelling the scent of freshly cut wood, and Dad brushing curled wood shavings out of my hair and off my clothes with his hands before we'd go back into the house.
 Dad was often clumsy, nicking his fingers and drawing blood when his chisel would slip. Years later I realized his clumsiness was most likely a side effect of his medication. But in those early days, I was blissfully unaware of his illness. I only knew that Dad cut himself so often that he kept a First Aid kit in the workshop. When I'd hear him swear suddenly, I'd look up from whatever I was doing to see if he was bleeding. If he was, I'd help him clean up the wound with cotton balls dipped in hydrogen peroxide, squeeze some ointment out of a sticky tube onto the wound and cover it with a Band-Aid if it was a small cut, or bandage it up with gauze and adhesive tape if it was a large one. Dad would say "thank you, Doctor Ava," when I was done, and reward me by applying a Band-Aid on my hand or finger to match his own. I don't know why, but I loved wearing Band-Aids, although when I endured an actual injury, I would shriek with pain and fear.
 Dad would usually return to his woodworking after I finished nursing him. But sometimes, likely when the cuts were bad, he'd put his tools away and call it a day. When that happened he'd slip into a funk, and go in the house and either pick an argument with my mother, or go into their bedroom alone and close the door behind him. Jon and I would steer clear of him for the rest of the day, puzzle over the sudden change in his mood, and wonder what we had done to set him off.
 Dad worked weekends, because those were the busiest days at Swarthout Hardware, and had Mondays and Tuesdays off. Before I started Kindergarten, I'd often ride with him on Monday mornings as he went about his routine. First, we'd go to the clinic, where I'd stay in the waiting room playing with one of my dolls, which I carried everywhere, after the receptionist called his name, and he disappeared out of sight. He'd return a few minutes later and collect me. After strapping me back into my car seat, he'd say, "Well, I got shot. What do you say we go to the grocery store to celebrate.”
 I hated shots and couldn't understand how he could go so willingly, week after week, for an injection. But it didn't seem to faze Dad, although I realize now that his weekly injections were torturous to him for other reasons besides physical discomfort. I'm not sure what anti-psychotic drug he was on at the time, what medication his psychiatrist had prescribed to helped keep Dad's paranoid delusions at bay. But along with quelling the voices in his head, the medication made him tired and clumsy.
 On Tuesdays, Dad would see his psychiatrist, and usually took me with him, likely to give Mom a break, so she could paint, or depending upon her moods, stare blankly at the canvas without being interrupted by me. In retrospect, Dad was probably uncomfortable with his psychiatric visits, but I loved them. The office had an entire room packed with toys. Shelves lined three walls and were loaded with dolls and plastic figures in all sizes, shapes and colors. There were boy dolls, girl dolls and dolls that looked like grown men and women. There were plastic animals, plastic soldiers, plastic cowboys, plastic Indians and plastic women. There were a half dozen or more doll houses, with three sides so you could reach in through the open wall and rearrange the toy furniture and move the dolls from room to room. There were colorful cars, plastic tools and boxes and boxes of crayons. There were small boxes of fat crayons and large boxes packed with regular-sized crayons in more colors than I'd ever seen before. There were baskets of paper, both white and colored, on the shelves and large mugs holding sharpened pencils. The receptionist would lead me into the room, pull down the toys I wanted to play with that day and set them on the low table in the room. I'd play so happily that I sometimes cried with frustration and disappointment when Dad came in the retrieve me.
 Those tears would stop by the time we reached the car, because I knew the next stop was Swarthout's Hardware Store. All the employees there would fuss over me while Dad and Granddad disappeared into Granddad's office to talk. When they re-emerged, Granddad would let me pick out a candy bar from the impulse racks next to the checkout counter, making me promise to share it with Jon. Then Dad and I would walk to the bank, where he'd cash his paycheck.
 Despite his treatments, Dad still had rough periods. Our weekly excursions ended when I started Kindergarten. So did my time playing in the workshop, because by then Dad had stopped working on his projects. At the time, I thought I had done something wrong, something to make Dad so mad at me that he was punishing me by not spending time with me in the workshop. It was only years later that I realized it was his illness, not my behavior, that put an end to our special times together.

 Like Jon, I was looking forward to starting school. And Jon was the one who first noticed the banner on the front of the elementary school advertising Kindergarten Sign Ups. We badgered Mom and Dad to enroll me for the upcoming school year with no success. Mom was in one of her blank stages and unwilling to leave the house other than to buy cigarettes. Dad was retreating to bed as soon as he came home from work and sometimes missing work, hiding behind the closed bedroom door for hours. So finally, Jon took matters into his own hands. He took my hand one hot, sunny late summer morning and walked me to the elementary school.
 Although I'd been to Jon's classroom in the school annex, it was my first time inside the main school building. It was cool inside, and it smelled of dust and white glue. Our steps echoed as we walked down a long hall to a room with a colorful sign on the open door.  A nice lady inside the room asked where our mother was. When Jon said she was sick, she gave Jon some papers to take home for our parents to fill out.
 Back at home, Jon tried his best to get Mom or Dad to sit down and take care of the paperwork. Finally, he asked Nana to help, but only after he'd picked up a pen and written "AVA" where he should have written Ayla, thus sparing me the kind of teasing he endured each year the first time his teacher called roll and mispronounced his given name.

 I was skipping with excitement when Jon and I walked to school together for my first day of Kindergarten. "You'll like it," Jon said. "You've got Mrs. Beachman, and she's really nice." Jon escorted me to my classroom, past a couple of kids clinging tearfully to their mothers. I bounded into the classroom, and looked around. "Hi," I announced to the friendly looking woman standing in the middle of the room. "I'm Ava.”
 "Welcome," she said. "I'm Mrs. Beachman, and I'm you're teacher.”
 "I know," I replied. "My brother told me. He says you're really nice.”
 She smiled and told me to sit down in one of the small wooden chairs that were arranged in a semi-circle in the middle of the room.
 The first day was fun. We sang songs, and we colored pictures. Mrs. Beachman read us a story. We learned where to put our jackets, and that we had to stay in our seats unless we were told otherwise. We ate a snack and lined up at the door for recess. Time passed quickly, and I was surprised when the bell rang, and Mrs. Beachman said it was time to go home.
 My classmates filed out and found their mothers, and in a few cases, fathers who had come to take them home. Neither of my parents had come, and Jon was still in class, so there was nobody to meet me. I stood uncertainly in the hall for a few moments, then turned around and went back into the classroom.
 "Can I stay here with you?" I asked.
 "Oh no," Mrs. Beachman said. "It's time for us both to eat lunch. And then I have to get the room ready for the afternoon Kindergarten class.”
 "There's another class?" I asked in amazement.
 She smiled and nodded, and led me out of the room.
 I trudged home, where Mom was in a painting trance, and went in the kitchen and ate some cold cereal straight out of the box for lunch. Mom took no notice of me, so when I was through, I went outside and walked back to school. I was waiting by the closed door of the Kindergarten classroom when Mrs. Beachman arrived to open the room back up for the second session.
 Gently, she explained that school was over for me for the day, and that I couldn't stay. When I started to cry, she walked me to the office. After a while, Nana arrived to take me home.

Terri Morgan
bio
Terri Morgan is a freelance journalist who's work has appeared in dozens of different magazines and newspapers. She is the author of four sports biographies for young adults, and the co-author of two others. She is the co-author of two books on photography: Photography, Take Your Best Shot, and Capturing Childhood Memories, The Complete Photography Guide for Parents. Playing the Genetic Lottery is her first novel. She lives in Soquel, California.

Pretty Crooked by Elisa Ludwig Book Blast and Giveaway!




“This should be an easy sell to fans of Sara Shepard’s Pretty Little Liars books.”
—Booklist
“This debut keeps readers zooming along as a formerly poor girl plays Robin Hood when she strikes it rich…. A solid debut.”
—Kirkus
“Packed with romance, humor, and adventure, PRETTY CROOKED will steal your heart.”
–Sarah Mlynowski, author of Ten Things We Did (But Probably Shouldn’t Have)
“Intriguing characters, high adventure, good-hearted heists, and plenty of romance. PRETTY CROOKED has me pining for Willa’s next adventure!”
–Jennifer Echols, author of Forget You and The One that I Want
Book Summary:
Willa's secret plan seems all too simple.
Take from the rich kids at valley prep and give to the poor ones.
Yet Willa's turn as Robin Hood at her new high school is anything but. Bilking her "friends"—known to everyone as the Glitterati—without them suspecting a thing is far from easy. Learning how to break into lockers and Beemers is as hard as she'd thought it would be. Delivering care packages to the scholarship girls, who are bullied just for being different, is more fun than she'd expected.
The complication Willa didn't expect, though, is Aidan Murphy, VP's most notorious ace-degenerate. His mere existence is distracting Willa from what matters most to her—evening the social playing field between the haves and have-nots. There's no time for flirting, especially with conceited trust-funders like Aidan. But when the cops start investigating the string of thefts at Valley Prep and the Glitterati begin to seek revenge, could Aidan wind up being the person that Willa trusts most?
Elisa Ludwig's Pretty Crooked is the first book in an adventurous teen caper series filled with mystery, humor, and heart.

Praise for Pretty Crooked:


“This should be an easy sell to fans of Sara Shepard’s Pretty Little Liars books.”
—Booklist
“This debut keeps readers zooming along as a formerly poor girl plays Robin Hood when she strikes it rich…. A solid debut.”
—Kirkus
“Packed with romance, humor, and adventure, PRETTY CROOKED will steal your heart.”
–Sarah Mlynowski, author of Ten Things We Did (But Probably Shouldn’t Have)
“Intriguing characters, high adventure, good-hearted heists, and plenty of romance. PRETTY CROOKED has me pining for Willa’s next adventure!”
–Jennifer Echols, author of Forget You and The One that I Want



Links:
Blog: http://www.elisaludwig.com/?page_id=5
Pretty Crooked on Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/11182074-pretty-crooked
Author Elisa Ludwig on Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/45927.Elisa_Ludwig
Elisa on Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/elisaludwig/
Website: http://www.elisaludwig.com/
Twitter: http://twitter.com/ElisaLudwigYA
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ElisaLudwigYA

About the Author:
My debut young adult novel PRETTY CROOKED (Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins) was released in March 2012. Even though I had to extensively research pickpocketing techniques, I am a law-abiding citizen. I live in Philadelphia with my husband Jesse. I'm a proud member of The Apocalypsies, a group of children's book authors debuting in 2012.





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