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Guest Post by Author Karice Bolton

Tuesday, January 31, 2012
First, I wanted to say a big thank you to Krystal for letting me say hi to you all!! I am the author of The Watchers Trilogy, which is a paranormal romance series set in the sometimes soggy Pacific Northwest. I live here and love it, but some do complain about the dampness, but when it is sunny we certainly all enjoy it!!
I wanted to quickly touch on location and writing about locations before providing a little excerpt from Legions, the second book in The Watchers Trilogy. Awakening is the opening book in the trilogy, beginning in Whistler Village. I have to say, if you ever have a chance to go up there, totally do it! It is beautiful no matter the time of year, but when the snow is falling and the lights are twinkling, it is breathtaking. There is so much to do day or night! It’s great! Check out this link Whistler Village . Anyway, the trilogy begins in Whistler and becomes a pivotal location as the trilogy unfolds.

Many places through out the Northwest (Seattle, Kingston, Victoria) are integral backdrops for the scenes I write about, and I think often they can play as an important role as the story itself. There is something really wonderful about being able to capture what it is like to be on a ferry chugging off into the sound, with the feel of the cold steel walls and the water rippling or crashing in the ferry’s wake.

One thing that is so cool about imagery is that a reader can conjure up two very different feels from one particular locale based on some little tweaks. For instance, during one of my battle scenes in Legions, Ana and Athen are fighting demons on and around a ferry. The coldness of the steel and the frigid water crashing against the ferry as they fight to save themselves and the mortals, leaves the reader with a very different feel of anger, excitement, and adrenaline brewing as opposed to when Athen and Ana are falling back in love in Awakening on a simple ferry ride to Kingston. Those first few moments when Athen and Ana are together experiencing the beautiful scenery are so tender and sweet instead of brutal and cold. Right before he lifts her up and kisses her, he places her gently on a stairwell railing, letting the cold steel penetrate her clothing. The cold of the steel is not conveying a message of danger and brutality, but rather their actions are signaling warmth and love between two people and the cold steel is just there. One little ferry ride can produce very different outcomes. Anyway, that’s what happens to my poor mind when I go for a simple ferry ride. I can’t leave well enough alone. J

It was an amazingly rewarding experience to write The Watchers Trilogy, and I love being able to share it. Below is an excerpt from The Watchers Trilogy: Legions – hope you enjoy!

The Watchers Trilogy: Legions

I kept deathly still and tried staring as hard as I could and listening as best as possible to try to pick up what they were doing. Watching them deliberate over an unknown, continued to raise the red flags. To my horror, they started their way over towards where I was. They didn’t seem to know I was up in the tree, and I was at least now able to see them better. Unfortunately, with the close proximity I could now sense them as well. They were what I expected.

The closer they got, the quieter I breathed, the slower I blinked my eyes, the harder I prayed they wouldn’t see me. When they were only about 100 feet away or so, they stopped. My heart began beating so fast that I was worried I was going to give myself away.

They were spreading out and, before I knew it, fighting began amongst them. The females and males were going at it regardless of gender. Another one of the demons somersaulted and missed their intended target, landing on their back. Another one of the demons came over to help him up. One of the females attempted to jump on the shoulders of another, missing as well, landing with a thud on her side. I couldn’t believe what I was witnessing. These demons were horrible. There was no way they could be this bad. Unless it was a trap, and they knew I was here, luring me down thinking I could take them and then they could finish me off.

I didn’t get that feeling, however. I think they were truly this bad. They must be minions or newly-formed - not sure which one. Either way, it was fascinating. I couldn’t believe my good luck or bad luck, depending on how I’d want to look at it considering I was stuck up a tree like a cat. The fighting actually seemed to be getting worse by the minute, and I was worried that I might not be able to stifle my laugh. I hoped I wasn’t going to be that poor in my battles.

The confidence began growing lightning-quick inside of me, and that’s when I decided to do it. These were about as unskilled as I could get, and I took it as a sign. I think it was time to practice. Cyril and Arie would be furious, but that thought only popped in after I had already let go of the tree, flying down to the soil awaiting my arrival.

Landing with one knee on the ground, and the other ready to lunge, I looked up at the group of demons: a smile across my lips appeared as a laughter I didn’t recognize began coming from deep within. A sound I didn’t know was possible began oozing out of my soul. Pointing at my first victim and curling my finger to welcome her, I imagined she was the serpent woman luring Athen. She didn’t have a chance.

The Sound of Red Returning by Sue Duffy

After losing everyone she loves, concert pianist Liesl Bower has nowhere to go but to escape into her music. Searching for the peace she usually finds in her concertos and sonatas, Liesl can't shake the feeling that she is being haunted by her past . . . and by someone following her. When she spots a familiar and eerie face in the audience of a concert she's giving for the president in Washington, DC, the scariest day of her life comes back to her with a flash. It has been fifteen years since Liesl watched her beloved Harvard music mentor assaulted on a dark night in Moscow and just as long since the CIA disclosed to her that he'd been spying for Russia. She had seen that man--that eerie face--the night Professor Devoe was attacked. And now he's back--and coming for her.

On the run and struggling to rely on the protection of CIA agent Ava Mullins and handsome newspaper reporter Cade O'Brien, Liesl learns she is the prey of an underground cell of Russian KGB agents determined to restore their country to its former Soviet might. But what she doesn't know is that she is in possession of something--a piece of sheet music--that Russian intelligence is now frantic to find. Inside that music is a secret code, the hidden transcriptions of her deceased mentor, that clearly identify a Russian mole operating inside Israel's Department of Defense, a mole with enough power and access to execute a daring assassination that no one would see coming.

Caught in a deadly conflict between American and Russian undercover agents, this innocent young pianist is just trying to survive her own personal trauma. Through it all, Liesl must learn that no matter how dark her world grows or how fiercely her enemies pursue her, God is still in control--if only she can yield herself to His grace.

Goodreads Summary

Liesl is a concert pianist and the main character in this book. Liesl has lost so much in her short life, from family to friends. Liesl's life is already complicated, the reader may believe that it cannot get much worse...but the reader would be wrong. It is believed by Russian and American intelligence that Liesl contains a coded message that could invigorate Soviet power and bring that power back.

Liesl runs from the danger as any sane person would. She isn't only running from the Soviets, but also a potential love that she does not know how to handle. She is running towards a decision under the guidance of God. She grapples with her past and her potential futures, she looks to the divine God for help throughout the novel. As a character, Liesl is impressive. It is amazing that she hasn't given in to the pressure or cracked with all that has happened to her and may happen to her. She is brave, intelligent, and creative. The secondary characters, particularly the love interest, will affect the reader in varying ways.

This novel is exciting and fast-paced, the reader will be hard-pressed to find a slow excerpt in the entire novel. The different environments and settings will serve to make the novel more exciting and innovative. The reader has many more books to look forward to from this author! This book is recommended to adult readers.

4 Stars

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

Win a Kindle Fire from Sue Duffy!
Enter 1/23 - 2/11. The Red Returning Giveaway!

Win a Kindle Fire from @SueDuffy2 and @KregelBooks in the "Red Returning" Giveaway!

Sue Duffy and her publisher, Kregel Publications, are celebrating the release of The Sound of Red Returning by giving away a Kindle Fire prize package worth over $200 to one lucky winner!!!! (1/23-2/11)

Enter the Sue Duffy’s Giveaway today and you could win:

* A brand new Kindle Fire with Wi-Fi

* The Sound of Red Returning (Book One in the Red Returning series) by Sue Duffy

To enter click one of the icons below. But, hurry! The giveway ends on 2/11. Sue will be announcing the winner of the “Red Returning” Giveaway on February 13th on the Litfuse website!

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Falling In Between by Devon Ashley Author This or That!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Finally! A private conversation. And all I had to do was throw myself off a cliff, drown in a pond in my undies and let him put his hands on my breasts to bring me back to life. Yay me…(yeah, that’s sarcasm)

Yep, that pretty much sums up the most craptastic night of Jenna Baker’s life. She drowns after jumping off a cliff, meets a hotty named Chance in the pearlescent in-between and is brought back to life by her soon-to-be boyfriend Robert.

Just when things start to move forward with Robert, the guy she'd been crushing on for a year now, in walks the man of her dreams – literally. Chance suddenly appears in her dream every time she closes her eyes. So it's Robert by day and Chance by night. One in the real world and one in the dream world. What could possibly go wrong?

Absolutely nothing – until she comes face to face with the guy she met in the in-between, and realizes her romantic rendezvous with Chance may be more than just her imagination.

Note: Jenna's coming of age story is a little edgy. There is mild language and some sexual content.

First chapter excerpt here:

Goodreads Summary

Print or Ebook? I love my kindle and I read like crazy on it, but if I come across a novel I just love, I have to have a hardback for the bookshelf!

Chocolate or Vanilla? OMG, pracitally anything chocolate!

Young Adult or Adult? I've been rocking the Young Adult for awhile. I don't know why, but they entertain me more than the adult books. Maybe it's the teenage angst!

Paranormal or Romance? Can't I have both? :)

Female protagonist or Male protagonist? It's time for the women to shine!

Sweet and short novella or long novel? It's hard to really get to know characters and get a really great story going otherwise.

Beach or Mountain Top? My significant other won't like this cause he's all about surfing at the beach, but I'm a ski girl. Give me snow baby!

Night Owl or Early Bird? LOL. Neither! When I was young, single and not a mother I was a total night owl, but I've never, never, never, been a morning person. Just ask my isn't pretty.

Rome or Paris? I can't wait to go back cause there was so much to see and do I didn't even come close to getting it all in.

Write at home or at the libary/other place? Nothing beats my sofa, coffee maker and music collection!

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

Young Adult Giveaway Hop!

Friday, January 27, 2012
Thank you all for stopping by!  What can you win?

with 600+ entries

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Forbidden by Syrie and James and Ryan M. James

Syrie joined forces with her talented son Ryan to co-write her next novel, Forbidden. The book is about a 16-year-old girl who comes into unusual powers, only to discover that she's half-angel... and her entire existence is forbidden.

Alec MacKenzie is fed up with his duties to watch and, when necessary, eliminate the descendants of his angelic forefathers. He chose Emerson Academy as the ideal hiding place where he could escape and be normal for once. He hadn't factored Claire Brennan into his plans...

Their love is forbidden, going against everything Alec has been taught to believe. But when the threat to Claire's life becomes clear, how far will Alec go to protect her?

Goodreads Summary

All Claire wants is to be noticed by her crush and be a normal teenager.  As far has the second goal goes, she was doing pretty well...until she discovers she may have visions that come true.  She is thrust into a different world, one that confuses her.  Her past is unknown and she attempts to sieve through her past to figure out what she can expect in the future.

Alec is an angel watcher, he is tired of this life and desires a normal one.  When he begins attending Claire's school, he does not expect to encounter a being who is half-angel and half-human.  He especially does not expect to fall in love with her.  Alec must decide what he ultimately wants to make his decision. 

Claire is a fun character to get to know.  She can be cautious, caring, and intelligent.  The author makes it very easy to connect to Claire's character.  Alec is a bit of an enigma; he can be charismatic and inquisitive.  The secondary characters serve to round out the novel, they are not focused upon. 

The events of this book are fast-paced and exciting.  The reader never knows when Claire's existence will catch up with her.  The romance between Claire and Alec is sweet and realistically portrayed.  This book is recommended to young adult/teen readers.

5 Stars

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

Double Cover Reveal!

 Jodi Marshall isn't sure how she went from normal teenager to walking disaster. One minute she's in her junior year of high school, spending time with her amazing boyfriend and her best friend. The next she's being stalked by some guy no one seems to know.

After the stranger, Alex, reveals himself, Jodi learns he's not a normal teenager and neither is she. With a kiss that kills and a touch that brings the dead back to life, Jodi discovers she's part of a branch of necromancers born under the 13th sign of the zodiac, Ophiuchus. A branch of necromancers that are descendents of Medusa. A branch of necromancers with poisoned blood writhing in their veins.

Jodi's deadly to the living and even more deadly to the deceased. She has to leave her old, normal life behind before she hurts the people she loves. As if that isn't difficult enough, Jodi discovers she's the chosen one who has to save the rest of her kind from perishing at the hands of Hades. If she can't figure out how to control her power, history will repeat itself, and her race will become extinct.
Seventeen-year-old Eva is a chosen one. Chosen to live, while others meet a swift and painful death from an incurable virus so lethal, a person is dead within days of symptoms emerging. In the POD system, a series of underground habitats built by the government, she waits with the other chosen for the deadly virus to claim those above. Separated from family and friends, it's in the PODs she meets David. And while true love might not conquer all, it's a balm for the broken soul.

 After a year, scientists believe the population has died, and without living hosts, so has the virus. That's the theory, anyway. But when the PODs are opened, survivors find the surface holds a vicious secret. The virus mutated, infecting those left top-side and creating... monsters.

 Eva and David hide from the infected in the abandoned PODs. Together they try to build a life--a new beginning. But the infected follow and are relentless in their attacks. Leaving Eva and David to fight for survival, and pray for a cure.

Alienation by Jon S. Lewis

Thursday, January 26, 2012
Enter 1/19 - 2/7. RSVP for Party today!

The invasion was only the beginning . . .
After his parents were killed in a car accident, Colt McAllister was drawn into a world he thought only existed in comic books-one where mind control, jet packs, and flying motorcycles don't even scratch the surface.
Along with his best friends Oz and Danielle, Colt is now training at the secret Central Headquarters Against the Occult and Supernatural academy. But strange accidents seem to follow him. . . even with the security of the school grounds. What first seems random soon turns deadly. But who is targeting Colt?
As the alien invasions increase in frequency and force, C.H.A.O.S resources are taxed to the limit and they're forced to utilize the new recruits. In the midst of battle, Colt will discover some startling revelations . . . about himself, his friendship with Oz, and why he has been chosen to defeat this alien attack against earth.

Goodreads Summary

Colt, the main character, is being hunted-literally.  The book starts and ends with action, the reader can look  forward to a fast-paced book that will leave him/her at the edge of his/her seat.  It helps to have read the first in the series to fully understand the plot and current events, though the author does fill in the reader to a point. 

Colt, Danielle, and Oz have a closer knit friendship and the reader will enjoy watching that friendship continue to grow and develop, their characters changed along with it.  Colt is certainly the focus, his intelligence, wit, and bravery keeps him alive and in a position to still save the planet.  The other secondary characters, besides the antagonist, feel more like fillers, but they have a function too as the reader will find out!  The events of this book are fast-paced, there are plenty of action scenes and the unsettling mystery as to who is trying to kill Colt will keep the reader entertained.

The reader will get to know more of Colt's background and why he is a VIP, integral to humanity.  The plot begins to tie together much better and the reader will begin to see the pattern.  The antagonist is not the run-of-the-mill type; the antagonist is portrayed as a cold-hearted, intelligent killer who will stop an nothing.  This book is recommended to young adult/teen readers, especially those who enjoyed the first book.

4 Stars

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Win an iPad from @JonSLewis and @NelsonFiction in the Alienation iPad2 Giveaway!

The invasion was only the beginning! Jon Lewis is celebrating the next adventure in his fast-paced C.H.A.O.S. series with an explosive giveaway!

One thrill-seeker will receive:

  • iPad2 with Wi-Fi
  • Copies of the C.H.A.O.S. novels, Invasion and Alienation
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends at noon on February 7th. Winner will be announced at the Alienation Facebook Party on 2/7. Jon will be hosting an Author Chat, giving away copies of the books and gift certificates to iTunes and! Don't miss a second of the intrigue!

Grab your copy of Alienation and join Jon on the evening of February 7th for an author chat, spy training (How much do you know about alien invaders?) and lots of giveaways. 

Enter via E-mail Enter via FacebookEnter via Twitter
Don't miss a moment of the fun. RSVP today and tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 31st!

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

Giveaway of Michael Palmer's Oath of Office!

From the New York Times bestselling author of A Heartbeat Away and The Last Surgeon comes a shocking new novel at the crossroads of politics and medicine.
What if a well respected doctor inexplicably goes on a murderous rampage?
When Dr. John Meacham goes on a shooting spree the office, his business partner, staff, and two patients are killed in the bloodbath. Then Meacham turns the gun on himself.
The blame falls on Dr. Lou Welcome. Welcome worked with Meacham years before as a counselor after John's medical license had been revoked for drug addiction. Lou knew that John was an excellent doctor and deserved to be practicing medicine and fought hard for his license to be restored. After hearing the news of the violent outburst, Lou is in shock like everyone else, but mostly he's incredulous. And when he begins to look into it further, the terrifying evidence he finds takes him down a path to an unspeakable conspiracy that seems to lead directly to the White House and those in the highest positions of power.

Goodreads Summary

*The author will send out the prize, a finished copy, 2/14*

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Ditched by Robin Mellom

Wednesday, January 25, 2012
High school senior Justina Griffith was never the girl who dreamed of going to prom. Designer dresses and strappy heels? Not her thing. So she never expected her best friend, Ian Clark, to ask her.
Ian, who always passed her the baseball bat handle first.
Ian, who knew exactly when she needed red licorice.
Ian, who promised her the most amazing night at prom.
And then ditched her.
Now, as the sun rises over her small town, and with only the help of some opinionated ladies at the 7-Eleven, Justina must piece together — stain by stain on her thrift-store dress — exactly how she ended up dateless. A three-legged Chihuahua was involved. Along with a demolition derby-ready Cadillac. And there was that incident at the tattoo parlor. Plus the flying leap from Brian Sontag's moving car...
But to get the whole story, Justina will have to face the boy who ditched her. And discover if losing out at prom can ultimately lead to true love.
Filled with humor, charm, and romance, Ditched: A Love Story by debut novelist Robin Mellom will have readers dreaming of love on their own prom nights.

Goodreads Summary

This novel was hilarious and will make a reader relive their high school prom fondly. Comparing prom experiences with Justina, the main character, is extremely fun. A reader will laugh from start to finish. Justina Griffith’s story is told by her to two women at her favorite 7-Elven through the stains and bruises she incurred throughout the night. Both women offer her advice and free food while she tells the story of how she ended up flinging herself out of a moving car and landing in a ditch the morning after her prom with no idea where her date is. Was Justina ditched at prom by her best friend and how did she end up with a bruise shaped like a french-fry?

Justina is a great narrator with a fun personality. Any female reader fourteen or older will enjoy reading about her wild night at prom. Mellom’s humorous style is perfectly suited for writing. She created memorable characters and sidesplitting scenarios that will leave a reader laughing long after they put the novel down. This book is great and earns five out of five stars!

*Reviewed by Kristin*

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Author Contest!

Monday, January 23, 2012
Thinking of buying Where it Began by Ann Redisch?  Send a copy of your receipt to the author to have a chance at some cool prizes specifically aimed at the book! Follow this link :)

Click on the cover to learn more about this book!

Chasing Mona Lisa by Tricia Goyer and Mike Yorkey

It is August 1944 and Paris is on the cusp of liberation. As the soldiers of the Third Reich flee the Allied advance, they ravage the country, stealing countless pieces of art. Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring will stop at nothing to claim the most valuable one of all, the Mona Lisa, as a post-war bargaining chip to get him to South America. Can Swiss OSS agents Gabi Mueller and Eric Hofstadler rescue DaVinci's masterpiece before it falls into German hands?

With nonstop action, Chasing Mona Lisa is sure to get readers' adrenaline pumping as they join the chase to save the most famous painting in the world. From war-ravaged Paris to a posh country chateau, the race is on--and the runners are playing for keeps.

Goodreads Summary

Set in World War II when France was about to be liberated from the German occupation, the reader should already know that this is going to be an exciting novel.  There are no clear-cut answers in this book, the reader will have to choose between the characters, deciding who she/he wants to win the race to the Mona Lisa.  The Mona Lisa has always been a work of art that many people are aware of, this book takes the painting's worth to the next level as German soldiers and quite a few interesting characters from this book do just about anything to try to retrieve it. 

There are many characters in the novel, it almost feels as if there is not one main character, but many.  The character development is very deep, the reader will feel close to some of the characters, maybe be able to predict some of those characters' actions and thoughts.  The novel is extremely fast-paced, the action starts within the first chapter and continues at a breathless pace until the end of the book.  There are constant twists and surprises as well, right when the reader has chosen a specific character to root for or believes he/she knows the ending, there is some event that changes the readers' mind again. 

The romance in the novel is more of an undertone, not the focus at all.  This book is fast-paced and exciting, the events will take the reader by surprise and make the book very hard to put down.  The reader will be able to tell that the novel was well-researched.  Chasing Mona Lisa is recommended to adult readers.

5 Stars

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Enter 1/16 - 1/31. RSVP for Party today!

Win an iTouch SPY Pack in the Chasing Mona Lisa Giveaway from @triciagoyer @mikeyorkey!

Chasing Mona Lisa is the continuing tale of Gabi Mueller and Eric Hofstadler (first introduced in The Swiss Courier). This time the due are on a relentless quest to save the most famous painting in the world  - the Mona Lisa. You can help Gabi and Eric with your very own spy pack when you enter The Chasing Mona Lisa Giveaway!

One passionate protector will receive:

  • iTouch (The must-have device for any spy. Camera, Maps & Music.)
  • Starbucks Gift Card (For all those late nights.)
  • Moleskin Notebook (For those important notes.)
  • Invisible Ink Pen (Don’t want anyone reading those important notes.)
  • Chasing Mona Lisa by Tricia Goyer & Mike Yorkey (Great handbook and intriguing tale for any spy-in-training!)
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends at noon on January 31st. The winner will be announced at the Chasing Mona Lisa Facebook Party on 1/31. Tricia and Mike will be hosting an author chat (on Facebook and Live from Tricia's website) and giving away their books and a Book Club prize pack! (Ten copies of the book for your small group or book club AND a LIVE Author Chat for your group with Tricia and Mike.)

So grab your copy of Chasing Mona Lisa and join Tricia and Mike on the evening of the 31st for an author chat, spy training (do you know how to pick a lock?) and lots of giveaways. 

Enter via E-mail Enter via FacebookEnter via Twitter
Don't miss a moment of the fun. RSVP today and tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 31st!

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

Life As I Blow It: Tales Of Love, Life & Sex . . . Not Necessarily In That Order by Sarah Colonna, Chelsea Handler

Sunday, January 22, 2012
In this wickedly funny and irreverent memoir, Chelsea Lately writer and comedian Sarah Colonna opens up about love, life, and pursuing her dreams . . . and then screwing it all up.
Sarah believes we all struggle to grow up. Sometimes we want to have fun, not take things too seriously, and have that fourth margarita. Other times we would like to get married, stay in, order Chinese food, and have a responsible, secure life.

From her formative years in small-town Arkansas to a later career of dates, drinks, and questionable day jobs, Colonna attempts to reconcile her responsible side with her fun-loving side. Sometimes this pans out, and sometimes she finds herself in Mexico handing out her phone number to anyone who calls her pretty. She moves to Los Angeles to pursue acting, but for years is forced to hone her bartending skills; she wants a serious boyfriend, but won’t give up nights at the bar with her friends. She tries to behave like an adult, but can’t seem to stop acting like a frat boy. In the end, she discovers that there doesn’t have to be just one or the other. And if there’s one thing Colonna has learned from her many missteps, it’s that hindsight is always 100 proof.

Goodreads Summary

Want to know more about this particular star from Chelsea Lately?  Sarah holds nothing back, the reader will have the pleasure of reading every vivid detail and experiencing the embarrassment, horror, pleasure, and odd delight of Sarah.  Sarah was not always on Chelsea's show, she had to struggle through finding jobs, boyfriends, and herself like the rest of us.  The trials and her reactions to these obstacles are priceless, the reader will be laughing and biting his/her lip along with Sarah. 

Sarah attempts to balance her responsible and fun-loving side to no avail, the problems that ensue due to this are hysterical and worth reading about it if a reader is so inclined.  Sarah is brutally honest and likable for the most part.  Some portions of the novel are so hard to believe that they actually seem realistic.  The reader will be rooting for Sarah for the most part, especially when she is particularly in the gutter...or bottle.  This book is definitely for adults.  The language and scenes depicted vary from the graphic to the crude.  Readers who appreciate this type of humor should run out and purchase this book.   

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The Gathering Storm by Robin Bridges

Saturday, January 21, 2012
St. Petersburg, Russia, 1888. As she attends a whirl of glittering balls, royal debutante Katerina Alexandrovna, Duchess of Oldenburg, tries to hide a dark secret: she can raise the dead. No one knows. Not her family. Not the girls at her finishing school. Not the tsar or anyone in her aristocratic circle. Katerina considers her talent a curse, not a gift. But when she uses her special skill to protect a member of the Imperial Family, she finds herself caught in a web of intrigue.

An evil presence is growing within Europe's royal bloodlines—and those aligned with the darkness threaten to topple the tsar. Suddenly Katerina's strength as a necromancer attracts attention from unwelcome sources . . . including two young men—George Alexandrovich, the tsar's standoffish middle son, who needs Katerina's help to safeguard Russia, even if he's repelled by her secret, and the dashing Prince Danilo, heir to the throne of Montenegro, to whom Katerina feels inexplicably drawn.

The time has come for Katerina to embrace her power, but which side will she choose—and to whom will she give her heart?

Goodreads Summary

Katerina is one of the most powerful necromancers, yet she doesn't stand up for herself. 
Katerina's ability remains hidden through her own mechanisms, she doesn't want to be exploited or viewed as different.  Katerina can be a little hard-headed, the reader will want to shake her on more than one occasion.  She stays with "friends" she knows are dangerous and ignores warnings about a certain boy.  However, although she is not easy to connect to, the reader will most likely find her a good character halfway through the book.

The settings are very well described, the author does not spare a single detail when it comes to the beauty of Russia and the elegant castles.  The other characters are fun to get to know.  They can get a little hard to keep straight, their names are long and unwieldy.  The history is there though, the reader will feel as if he/she is in a different time period as he/she is meant to.  The plot itself is interesting, the reader will be able to feel the underlying tension Katerina causes by hiding her talent.  The romance is understated, but will hopefully be more developed in the books to come. The story does have some twists to keep the reader thinking and guessing.  The reader will most likely look forward to the next in the series.  This book is recommended to teen/young adult readers.

4 Stars

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

The Queen's Daughter by Susan Coventry

Joan's mother is Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine, the most beautiful woman in the world. Her father is Henry II, the king of England and a renowned military leader. She loves them both--so what is she to do when she's forced to choose between them? As her parents' arguments grow ever more vicious, Joan begins to feel like a political pawn.
When her parents marry her off to the king of Sicily, Joan finds herself stuck with a man ten years her senior. She doesn't love her husband, and she can't quite forget her childhood crush, the handsome Lord Raymond.
As Joan grows up, she begins to understand that her parents' worldview is warped by their political ambitions, and hers, in turn, has been warped by theirs. Is it too late to figure out whom to trust? And, more importantly, whom to love?

Goodreads Summary

Looking for a good historical fiction novel?  Joan wasn't born to make her own decisions, much of her life had already been mapped out.  When she has to marry a much older man, Joan remains resilient.  Her childhood may be behind her, but she is loathe to forget about her first infatuation.  The reader will enjoy following Joan from when she is very young all the way through to her thirties.  The reader will find that Joan is an easy character to connect to and sympathize with.  Joan has her flaws, but she is also brave, compassionate, and strong. 

When Joan married her husband, she technically left her family behind.  She has a hard time choosing between her husband's and family's little arguments, there really isn't any correct choice.  Joan is one of those rare strong female characters.  She does try to stand up for what she believes is right, even in a time where it was difficult for females to do so.  Her husband is rigid and unyielding in many situations, but the reader will hope he appreciates his unique wife at least a little.  Joan's family restrains her and prefers her to act like a lady and let them make all of the decisions.  The reader will enjoy getting to know all of the characters, however, and placing them within the historical timeline he/she knows. 

The author remains as true to history as possible.  The reader should appreciate the realistic way the events, thoughts, and actions of the people of that time were portrayed.  The events were mostly cohesive, the reader should not have a hard time following the plot and knowing who is who.  This book is recommended to young adult/teen readers.

4 Stars

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

The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey

Alaska, 1920: a brutal place to homestead, and especially tough for recent arrivals Jack and Mabel. Childless, they are drifting apart--he breaking under the weight of the work of the farm; she crumbling from loneliness and despair. In a moment of levity during the season's first snowfall, they build a child out of snow. The next morning the snow child is gone--but they glimpse a young, blonde-haired girl running through the trees.
This little girl, who calls herself Faina, seems to be a child of the woods. She hunts with a red fox at her side, skims lightly across the snow, and somehow survives alone in the Alaskan wilderness. As Jack and Mabel struggle to understand this child who could have stepped from the pages of a fairy tale, they come to love her as their own daughter. But in this beautiful, violent place things are rarely as they appear, and what they eventually learn about Faina will transform all of them.

Goodreads Summary

This is one book worth marking as a to-read for 2012!  Jack and Mabel married a little on the late side and experienced a miscarriage.  The sad couple moved to Alaska and tried to bury their unhappiness over their inability to have children.  One night, when the two are particularly sad and feeling a little frivolous, they build a snow girl, complete with all of the fixings.  The next day, the snow child is gone and footprints are left in her place.  The couple do think that this is a little odd, but they must always focus on their own jobs and the event begins to drift from their minds. 

When the two are going about their business, they begin to see these glimpses of a girl in the woods.  It is interesting for the reader to try to decide whether there may be some magic or if the whole event is just a coincidence, the author leaves this up to the readers' imagination.  The author manages to convince the reader that the girl is wild, free, and slightly lonely.  The young girl, Faina, is certainly a strong main character, but she feels more like a wisp of a character at times-many scenes do not even require her presence, but the reader remembers her nonetheless.  The other characters help pull the novel together and move the plot along, they are fun to get to know. 

The setting was richly described, the author is very good at painting a picture in the readers' mind.  The mystery of Faina will remain in the readers' mind long after finishing this book, the mark of a good author is to leave the reader thinking about his/her book long after finishing it.  The shift between the real and the magical is barely there, but the reader is always aware of the dividing line, but likely will vacillate between either side.  This book is highly recommended to young adult/teen readers.

4 Stars

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The Wood Queen by Karen Mahoney

Thursday, January 19, 2012

This product or book may have been distributed for review, this in no way affects my opinions or reviews.Donna Underwood is in deep trouble.An ancient alchemical order is holding her accountable for destroying the last precious drops of the elixar of life. Never mind the fact that Donna was acting to free her friend, Navin, from the dangerous clutches of the Wood Queen at the time. But what the alchemists have in store is nothing compared to the wrath of the fey. The Wood Queen has been tricked and Donna must pay. Get ready for all hell - quite literally - to break loose...

Goodreads Summary

All readers excited for this sequel should run to get their hands on a copy.  Author Karen Mahoney captures readers and thrusts them into her world of elves, alchemists, and power.  Donna is in deep trouble with the alchemists over the elixir debacle from the first book, The Iron Witch, and worries constantly about her dying mother.  Worry over her mother consumes her and she faces her deadliest enemy, the Wood Queen, in an attempt to save her mother.  The Wood Queen is notorious for twisting her truths and dishonesty, will Donna's dealings go well?

The reader will get to know the other characters much better.  Donna grows in this book, she matures.  The reader will enjoy watching Donna and Xan's relationship grow as well.  Though the romance is not the focus of the novel, Mahoney will make the reader believe that a cold-hearted, half-blood could love mortal Donna.  It will be interesting for the reader to learn more about Xan and make his/her own decision as Xan is still a little hard to trust, loving Donna or not.  The other characters, especially Navin, are very fun to read about.  They play a very important part in pushing the plot along at a rapid rate. 

The plot begins with no hesitation, the reader will be taken straight into action.  Following Donna's quick actions and rapid thoughts will keep the reader occupied throughout the novel.  The book contains quite a few twists and surprises, enough to make the plot fast-paced and the reader guessing.  The reader will receive glimpses into both Donna and her mothers' minds as well as learn some pertinent background information.  This book is highly recommended to young adult/teen readers-if you haven't picked up the first book, check it out on Goodreads (The Iron Witch). 

5 Stars

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Indigo Awakening by Jordan Dane-Exclusive Excerpt!!!

Sunset Boulevard
When Lucas saw his reflection in a restaurant window, the face of a stranger stared back. Hunger had drawn him to the smell of hamburgers and fries, but once he got a look in the glass, he stopped dead. With bruised smudges under his gray eyes and his tangled hair, he didn’t recognize his own face, but more reflected in the glass. He’d soon be drug free for the first time in years and the electric blue shimmer that radiated off his body had returned—fortified by something new.
Something more powerful.
You’re the one, aren’t you? A girl’s voice came from nowhere.
The sound of her jacked with the hair on his neck and sent a slither of cold down his arms. The way she whispered—from inside his ear—made him look over his shoulder, expecting to see her. Her whisper lingered like soft breathe on his skin—something intimate and pure—but no one stood next to him.
The one? What are you talking about?
He concentrated hard, listening for her, but nothing came. Hearing her, he felt even stronger, connected to something bigger. The muffled voices reminded him of an orchestra tuning its instruments, but her voice rose stronger above the din like a haunting violin solo. He sensed her in his head. In his body. In every strand of his hair.
Why can’t you hear me? With his mind reaching out to her, he pleaded for an answer, but when all the voices stopped, he wondered if she’d punished him.
Don’t stop. I’m listening. You can talk to me, he told her.
The comforting murmurs returned, but the girl stayed silent, even though he still felt her with him. Lucas turned back toward the glass window. He didn’t need to see his own reflection to know what had happened.
He felt it.
Brilliant spears of white shot through cobalt blue and magnified the energy inside him. In blinding glimmers of pearl, the pulsing light made him want to smile, but he didn’t. The colors that grew stronger were nothing more than a ticking time bomb that had been masked by the drugs he’d been given to control him.
A countdown had started—and the girl had sensed it too.
Because of what you are, the Believers will hunt you down.
“What am I…exactly?” He said the words aloud, not to her this time.
It wouldn’t take the Believers long to realize he was missing. Once they found out, they’d track him. If they caught him, they’d never let him get away a second time. What he’d done to escape them felt like a stupid accident. Hours earlier, he opened his eyes to see he’d hidden in a delivery truck leaving the hospital. Because of the drugs, he never remembered actually doing it. He’d left the facility without much of a plan, dressed only in slippers and hospital issued stuff. When the truck stopped at a street light, he got out and never looked back.
After his head cleared enough for him to figure things out, he knew he had to find something different to wear. When a drunk, homeless guy took his eyes off his stash, Lucas stole spare clothes and grabbed a handful of coins the man had panhandled and kept in a lidded Styrofoam cup. Now everything Lucas wore stank. He hated it, but he fit the part of the invisibles that haunted the streets of LA.
Lucas knew his escape had been nothing more than dumb luck, or a cosmic shift of the planets, or some other freak anomaly. To stay free wouldn’t be easy. The Believers had money. Lots of it.
Don’t trust anyone. No cops. The girl’s voice mirrored what he’d been thinking, except for one thing.
Lucas needed to find a phone.
Outside a quick stop, he found what he’d been looking for. He fumbled through his pockets for spare change and the crumpled piece of paper that he’d brought with him from Haven Hills—the one his sister, Rayne, had given him with her phone number on it. When he heard the ring, he shut his eyes to picture her face. He wanted to imagine her happy, but that was too hard.
Come on, Rayne. Pick up.
As the phone rang, he tried to remember if the number she gave him had been her cell or where she lived. Soon it would kick into voice mail. A message. He’d have to talk for real and say something. With things screwed up, what the hell would he tell her? Damn.
Don’t trust anyone. The girl’s voice replayed in his head, but he had to make the call. Even though Rayne would have his return phone number, Lucas knew he couldn’t hang out and wait for her to call back. The Believers had too many ways to track him. Instinct urged him to keep moving. He didn’t want to put Rayne in danger, but he wouldn’t cut her out of his life without saying good-bye.
Good-bye. What was good about it? How would he say good-bye to the only person he wanted to see?
Disappointment punched him in the gut, especially after he heard her outgoing message. He didn’t know how much hearing his sister’s voice would affect him until he felt a tear slip down his cheek as he listened to her recording. When the beep sounded, he wiped his face with the back of his hand and took a deep breath.
“Rayne, it’s me. I’m sorry. I couldn’t stay there anymore. That place…something’s not right and I can’t trust Mia. You’re the only one who ever—” He stopped and gripped the phone tighter, trying not to sound pathetic. “I want to see you, but that’s too dangerous.”
He knocked his forehead on the payphone. His message sounded lame and with a clock ticking in his head, he felt exposed, especially after he spotted the store’s security camera pointed at him.
“I gotta go, but…” He swallowed, hard. “…you can’t look for me. Promise me you won’t. It’s not safe. You’d only make things worse for both of us and…”
When her message system beeped and cut him off, he shut his eyes and took a deep breath to force the drug fog from his brain before he called her again. This time he had to talk faster and say what he really meant.
“Hey, it’s me again. What I called to say is…I love you, Rayne. I’ll always love you.”
When he hung up the phone, he felt like crap. He’d sounded like a drugged out loser—a paranoid one. If Mia had convinced Rayne that he was mentally unstable, his message to her had sealed the deal. Although he wouldn’t blame Rayne for how things turned out, he felt a weight in the pit of his belly. He’d severed ties with the one person he could count on because he loved her. Whatever came next, he’d be alone to face it.
But Lucas didn’t have time to make things right. A ripple of energy surged through him like a psychic shove.
They’re coming.
An urgent vibration made his insides twist and the sensation turned into painful needle pricks. A danger sign. He didn’t have to hear footsteps like normal people. The Believers were coming for him. He felt it. No. Too soon. I’m not…strong enough. He edged into the shadows of an alley to focus his mind and body. When he felt the push of energy again, he didn’t have to see them to know they were closing in. This time he didn’t worry about drawing attention.
Lucas ran.

Cleaning Machine by Gaylord Campbell

My dryer just bit the dust. It actually lasted longer than I thought it would. This family of five has definitely gotten their money’s worth out of it. Being the anal girl that I am, I really need a matching washer and dryer. I know it sounds crazy, but I can’t walk into my laundry room and have to look at an old one and a new one, a Maytag and a Whirlpool. Nope! Not this gal. I need organized, matching, consistency. I started out thinking I was just going to get the least “shiniest” washer and dryer, but after a walk through the store, I suddenly realized I didn’t want to live without all the “bells and whistles.” That got my husband and I talking about our energy provider since we ended up buying a really nice, washer/dryer set. It is top of the line and has great energy ratings, but we wanted to make sure that we were going with the best energy provider, to get the most bang for our buck. We decided to switch, after a little research led me to Bounce Energy.

A Five Minute Tour of Modern London: Guest Post by Stephanie Abbott

Let’s spend as little time as possible in Heathrow, shall we? London’s world-famous airport is one of the noisiest, most chaotic and unpleasant landing places in the western world. But once we find our luggage, we’re free to hop on the Tube and begin our adventure.

The Tube, or the London Underground, is a great way to see the city. The Piccadilly line will take you directly to London’s posh West End in less than an hour. There you can enjoy world-class shopping: Jimmy Choo, Stella McCartney and Harrod’s.

Hangman’s Haunt: a spot in West London where routine executions used to be carried out, as many of seven at a time. Executions were a public treat. Onlookers packed a lunch and boosted their children onto their shoulders to see, while the condemned dressed in their finest and made speeches to the crowds. Hanging wasn’t outlawed in Great Britain until the 1960s.

Piccadilly Circus: daring souls over eighteen should be sure to visit Amora: the Academy of Sex and Relationships. Sometimes called “the sex theme park,” it’s really more of an educational exhibit devoted to a topic virtually everyone finds fascinating.Chinatown: Of course, here you can find all sort of Chinese cuisine, from the sublime (authentic) to the ridiculous. During the Chinese New Year, be sure to stop by and see enormous papier-mâché lions marching through the streets.

Have a taste for fine art? Stop by the
National Gallery to fill up on Vermeer, Cezanne, Rembrandt and hundreds more.

East London, home of Jack the Ripper. But that was in the 1880s, you say – not quite fair today, is it? Of course not. But East London, for better or worse, is still linked to poverty, prostitution, gambling, cock fighting, brothels and opium dens – in short, all the things the Victorian toffs went slumming for on a Saturday night. Over the years, East London has experienced a revival of sorts. The 2012 Summer Olympics and Paralympics will be held there, hopefully fueling new interest and improving the area for years to come.

The British Museum is the perfect destination for history buffs or those seeking only the rarest treasures. Egyptian mummies, the Rosetta Stone, the Elgin Marbles and Lindow Man – also known as Peat Bog Man, the ancient human preserved for centuries in a peat bog – can all be viewed at the British Museum, along with so much more.

The Tower of London is reputedly haunted by many of the royals executed within, including Lady Jane Grey and Anne Boleyn, said to walk by night with her head tucked under her arm. Highborn traitors were killed privately; those less exulted were marched out to Tower Hill for the pleasure of the crowds.

Last but not least, why not take a ride on the
London Eye? This gigantic Ferris wheel, the world’s largest, takes thirty minutes to make a full rotation and the passenger cars are fully enclosed. On a clear day, you can see twenty-five miles in every direction – for about $55, the best view in Britain.

About the author - Stephanie Abbott is the face behind the popular pseudonym, S.A. Reid. Well-known for her “real and likeable characters”, she also writes paranormal fiction (a new series titled Past Lives is currently being penned), fantasy, and sci-fi. Additionally, she also pens cozy mysteries as Emma Jameson.

Life Eternal by Yvonne Woon

Wednesday, January 18, 2012
Renée Winters has changed. When she looks in the mirror, a beautiful girl with an older, sadder face stares back. Her condition has doctors mystified, but Renée can never reveal the truth: she died last May, and was brought back to life by the kiss of her Undead soul mate, Dante Berlin.

Now, her separation from Dante becomes almost unbearable. His second life is close to an end, and each passing day means one less that she will spend with the boy who shares her soul.

Just when Renée has almost given up hope, she learns of the Nine Sisters—brilliant scholars who, according to legend, found a way to cheat death. She can’t shake the feeling that they are somehow connected to her dreams, strange visions that hint at a discovery so powerful, and so dangerous, that some will stop at nothing to protect it.

Renée thought she knew the truth about life and death. But there is a secret woven through history that holds the only hope for Dante and Renée. Unless they find answers soon, their time together is doomed to be cut short.

Goodreads Summary

Renee is desperately searching for answers that may save Dante and keep their relationship alive.  This isn't that easy of a task to take on as Renee is sent to a new school and meets Noah, an interesting, handsome, normal guy.  Noah makes everything even more confusing for Renee, but she is still determinedly devoted to Dante.  Their sweet relationship consumes most of the book even when the two are apart.

The reader meets many new characters; some will make the reader laugh, others will make the reader worry, and some the reader has to decide for him/herself upon.  Renee remains a great main character.  She is intelligent, strong, and determined.  Dante is as swoon-worthy as ever.  The reader will be impressed by his love for Renee.  Noah adds a wrench in to their relationship, however, as the reader may be able to picture him with Renee as well.

The events were fast-paced for the most part.  The plot was consistent, Renee striving to find answers to her strange predicament.  There are a few small subplots that will help capture the readers' attention as well.  This book is recommended to young adult/teen readers.

4 Stars

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Awakening by Karice Bolton

Tuesday, January 17, 2012
Alone in snowy, remote Whistler village, Ana tries to build a new life since losing her parents. With a cozy condo, a sweet-faced bulldog and an evening job to leave the days free for the slopes, life slips into a great routine. If only she could shake the guilt for not remembering anything about her parents and banish the night terrors that haunt her every dream. On a whim, Ana goes out with Athen, a guy she’s just met in the Grizzly Pub... The only problem is that she feels like she already knows him. Within 48 hours of meeting Athen and his family, Ana’s world implodes. She falls for Athen quickly and before she knows it, a past life begins to resurface. As thrilling as the revelations appear at first, she fights against the chilling information that Athen is from the underworld. Soon she begins to struggle as her own supernatural gifts are slowly unveiled, and she realizes that the nightmares she’s been having might be premonitions and not dreams at all. It is up to Ana to decipher between fact and fiction before it is too late, and her new love, Athen, follows in her same fate - one that is lost between two worlds.

Goodreads Summary

Ana has no memory of her past, but when she meets a certain family, she feels a strong connection.  When Ana learns bits and pieces of her past, a whole world opens up for her.  The Nephilim is a mystery that the reader will enjoy learning about and creates a backdrop for a unique plot the reader will love getting into.  Ana doesn't seem to have a lot of love in her life until Athen.  Athen sweeps her off of her feet and doesn't set her back down on Earth.  Their romance is cute and sweet, the reader will believe that they truly care for each other.  

Ana's character can be a little hard to get to know, but she is a sympathetic character and the reader can slowly warm up to her.  Athen is easy to picture as a good looking, strong, loving boyfriend.    The reader will be rooting for the two, but sometimes their romance can get a little slow-the reader will want their connection to hurry up!  The other characters are interesting, not that easy to get to know, but they round out the books and act as foils for each other.

The general plot of the book is interesting and will draw the reader in.  The characters can take some getting to know, but Ana and Athen make the effort worth it.  The romance aspect takes up a large part of the book, but seems very genuine.  This book is recommended to young adult/adult readers.

4 Stars

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