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September 8, 2012

From the TBR Pile: Hickey of the Beast

Hickey of the Beast by Isabel Kunkle
Connie thought freshman year might suck. She never thought it'd be literal.

Bad dreams? No big deal. After all, Connie Perez is starting her first year in the prep school her mom runs. Anyone would be a little stressed, right? When she starts dreaming about strange creatures and places that don't make sense, she doesn't think much about it: there's other stuff on her mind. Then she starts noticing that the people she dreams about get sick right afterwards.

Then everything gets weird.

There's something bad on the campus of Springden Academy. Something that feeds on students and warps their minds. And, as Connie and her friends try to figure out what's going on, it starts to look like she's the only one who can stop it.

Freshman year was hard enough without having to fight evil after class.

Hickey of the Beast is a hilarious look at coming of age in a school where there are no secrets, but plenty of mysteries, and where supernatural studies take on a whole new meaning. It's a story about all the things that make growing up hell: boys, history class, annoying little brothers, and saving the world from evil. When the supernatural comes to school, it's no field day - and that's before you factor in homework. From Goodreads.com
Published March 2011 by Candlemark & Gleam
ebook
Goodreads, IndieBound, Amazon

About the Author:

Isabel Kunkle lives and works in Boston, where the winters have yet to kill her. She's been the headmaster's kid at a number of prep schools and attended Phillips Academy Andover herself, but has yet to develop mystic powers, unless you count the ability to eat nearly anything. When she has a moment, she likes reading, roleplaying, ballroom dancing, and watching bad TV from the Eighties. From freado.com
 
Praise for Hickey of the Beast:

"super fresh and cute young adult book" ~ Lisa at Adventures 2.0 at Goodreads
"a surprisingly quick and engaging little YA book" ~ John, Dreaming in Books

Connect with the author:
Facebook: Isabel Kunkle 
 

Action Packed: Untraceable

Untraceable by S. R. Johannes
ebook
Published November 2011
ISBN13 9780984799107
Read August 2012
Source: author
Goodreads, IndieBound, Amazon

A month or so ago I met S. R. Johannes at a book signing. The Nature of Grace series intrigued me, but I purchased her other book - On the Bright Side (see Jamie's review), but it was more appropriate for my niece. Also, I was afraid that Untraceable might be a bit scarier than I like my stories. It is a young adult series (if you let your kid read Hunger Games then this book would be appropriate for them).

Untraceable is about a teenager's search for her father. She uncovers something much bigger and more dangerous than she could have imagined. Along the way, everything she knows about herself and the people she's closest to is challenged.

I was asked to be on the blog tour for the sequel, Uncontrollable so I was sent the first book. I wasn't sure how I would feel about the book. I have a morbid curiosity with the dark side of human life yet dark forests scare me: I was torn between wanting to read the book and not wanting to have nightmares. My curiosity won out. And I'm glad it did.

I started Untraceable when I was heading into a bit of reading funk. This is the 55th book I've read this year (my Goodreads challenge was 55) and I needed a break. I'm telling you this because my feelings for the beginning of the story may be a bit skewed. I thought the story started off slowly. I know that there was a bit of setting up that needed to be done, but I wouldn't wait for the action to begin.

And wow, when the action did start it was kicked into high gear.

It was well-written and fans of strong female characters will enjoy the story. Grace has enough vulnerability to make her a believable character. I can't say if I really liked her or not. I don't think we would have been friends, but then again Grace doesn't seem like one that would have many friends in the first place so maybe we would have.

The story took some twists and turns that I wasn't expecting, yet some parts of the mystery I suspected.

Overall, I enjoyed the book. It got pretty intense towards the end. Don't expect the ending to be all roses and questions answered, it is the first book in the series afterall.

   

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September 7, 2012

FlashFiveFriday: Broken


I like to read books with "broken" characters. Usually there is an emotional or psychological issue with the character, but occasionally there is a physical handicap. It all started in elementary/middle school, when I would pick up books about suicidal, run away/kidnapped, drug addicted teenagers such as The Face on the Milk Carton. I thought I would share a list of some of my favorites.

Time's up. Have you read any of these? Do you have suggestions for me?



#FlashFiveFriday is a weekly flash fiction / flash blogging prompt.
The rules are very simple if you’d like to take part:
1) Write for no longer than five minutes
2) No upper or lower word limits
3) You must write something new
4) You can prepare your post ahead of time but the 5 minute limit still applies
5) If you add your blog post to the weekly linky you must visit five other blogs that week too to show your support

Check The Indie Exchange every Friday for the new links!


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Friday Fun with D Kai Wilson-Viola

Talking at the end of the world.

My favourite place, in the world, is Colinton Dell. We can't make it there in the time we've got left - it's six hours drive minimum, and that's if the roads are clear, so I'll settle for second best.
It's called 'Crickley Hill'.

We renewed our vows there - completed our handfasting. We made it through that year and a day. 

We made it. Five years later, we got married. Happiest days of our lives, right?

Let's go there. If we've got the choice, and we do.

I'll take you up the path, and we'll see what we find. Let's go find the fairy glade - or the little valley where we spread the seeds for our handfasting.

I bet we can make it. If I have to choose somewhere to go, that's where I want to be.


There's screaming outside - we should go now. There's screaming and yelling and I bet there are people crying. We should go. 

Now.

Let's take the car and find a way to the hill. Let's go.

There are fairies there - look at all the bluebells. There will be bluebells there. Just because I hope so.

Remember the gun. Please, we'll need to defend ourselves. That screaming is getting closer. Log out of your stuff, leave your phone here. 

Let's go. Let's say goodbye to everyone, and just go.

Don't turn on the TV - I don't want to see. I don't want to know what's coming. I don't want to know what's been. I don't want to be stuck here, because we didn't take the chance when we had it. I don't want to be cornered in a house - without the sun on my face, or one last happy smile from you when you see a squirrel, or a dog. I can't bear to go without you - and if we're caught here, they'll take me away.

Let's find our glade, our secret place that everyone sees, let's find our hope and our faith again with each other. Let's find the comfort of each other's arms under the sun this one last time. Please.

I don't want to go without you.

The end of the world.

It's not going to be sunny, but at least it's not raining. We can make it there in half an hour, and if I get the choice, I want to go there.

Let's go, please. 

Please.

We've got to talk. 

We've got to talk about this. About the baby. About our marriage. About the end of the world.


D Kai Wilson-Viola does actually love a place called Colinton Dell, but as she lives six hours south of Edinburgh, if the end came, she doubts she'd make it.
 

Prayer for the Dammed, her first zombie novel, and prequel to her already released short story 'Footnotes to a lesson' will be available soon. In the meantime, she can be found blogging at http://authorinterrupted.com
You can follow her on goodreads at: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5260381.D_Kai_Wilson_Viola (though her zombie stuff is actually under http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2903601.Sabrann_Curach where she is one of the founders of the 'Thinking man's zombie novels' genre).

All photos, © D Kai Wilson-Viola/D Viola 2011, Crickley Hill (http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/crickley-hill/)
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September 6, 2012

Have it your way $200 GIVEAWAY - Bloggers Wanted

 

Jenn's Blah Blah Blog, Diva Fabulosa and Simply Shawn & Jenn are bringing you an awesome FREE Blogger Opportunity! They will be giving away $200, in their Have it your way event! How will this work? Whatever the winner wants, the winner will get! Kindle Fire, PayPal Cash, Amazing, Wal-Mart, Target! Who cares, they get just what they want! Blogger get FREE Facebook link with the option to purchase additional links! Jenn's Blah Blah Blog had a giveaway just like this called the Sizzling Summer Giveaway that was fabulous, so were going to bring it back over and over and over again! This time Simply Shawn & Jenn has decided to join in the fun to celebrate reaching over 10K fans! About the event
  • Prize: Whatever you want up to $200 (shipping included) Do you want a Kindle Fire? Maybe an iPod, hummm maybe gift card to Target, oh wait Paypal cash? We don't care we want you to have it your way! So let the games begin, and let's have some fun with this one!
  • Event will run from Sept 20th until Oct 20th.
  • Free Facebook
  • Additional likes $2
  • Daily Votes $3
  • Co-host spots $10. (with this you will receive your blog mentioned all blogs posts, FREE Facebook, and FREE Twitter! If you choose this please be sure to add your links in the assigned spots on the form below)
You can sign up for this event, HERE
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Now Showing: Outerborough Blues


Find Outerborough Blues: A Brooklyn Mystery by Andrew Cotto at Goodreads, IndieBound, and Amazon.

Click here for more trailers.

Tips on Thursday: Comments

As a blogger, comments are very important. They are like reviews for authors. And just like reviews, comments can be hard to garner. There are posts that will tell you how to increase comments to your blog - most suggest asking a question to start the conversation and replying to comments to keep the discussion going. I include a question on many of my posts, yet, I don't see much difference in the amount of comments.

I did a little experiment to see if it is me or the platform that is the reason for the lack of comments. I used my review of Mockingjay. I assumed with how big the series is I would get some attention. The review got a decent number of views (a little above average) and it received 5 comments (including my replies).

I then did a self post at Reddit (I will be explaining more about Reddit next week). There was NOT a link back to my blog. I just summarized my review and posted the same question as seen here.



Within just an hour (maybe less) the comments and votes started rolling in and the discussion went on for the entire day. Take a look at the numbers:


Do you see that number? 322 comments (about 10 are mine). That's huge. You can see the full thread here.

I can, safely, assume it isn't me. I can apparently start a discussion. So why do I not get these numbers on my blog? It has to be the platform. On Reddit, discussion and conversation is expected and the purpose of the forum. Blogs are more about providing information. Perhaps, readers don't feel the need to add to the discussion - they got what they came from, right?

If comments are important to bloggers, but readers of blogs don't seem to care about leaving comments, what are we (bloggers) suppose to do? I think we should work together as a community to aid in changing the thought that comments and discussion aren't important. By leaving at least 1 quality comment daily on someone else's blog will help the blogger, but also give you more exposure. I encourage you this week to leave 1 comment each day on another blog.

For bloggers that already have good discussions on your blog, do you have any tips on how to developed your forum to get your readers to leave comments?

You can also read/participate in the discussion at Reddit: http://redd.it/zgcjx
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September 5, 2012

Bloggers Wanted: Harry Potter - the Complete Series

I am participating in the FREE Harry Potter The Complete Series giveaway event hosted by Mom Powered Media!

One super lucky reader will win a BluRay boxed set of Harry Potter 1-7!

Cost: Free with announcement post or 3.00 with out.

Prize:  Harry Potter The Complete Series on BluRay.

Giveaway Open to: US and Canada.

The event dates: September 19– October 13.

Free Link Option: Pinterest

Optional Paid Link Options: $2.00 for Facebook or Twitter

You can sign up at Real Mom Reviews


From the TBR Pile: Beneath the Dune

Beneath the Dune by Walter Ramsay
Tucker Lee Anderson’s boss needs him to check out a story over on the beachside. Not earth- shattering, it’s more of a follow up to the Ed Ventara case, he says. When Anderson, a staff reporter for a local Southern newspaper hears this, a red light goes off in his head. But wait, wasn’t Ventura the serial killer convicted of killing five children, even though they only found four bodies a few years back? Following the discovery of a child’s skeleton, what at first appears to be a straightforward case of suspected murder is anything but, when Anderson finds himself not only investigating the case, but also dabbling in ancestral research.

This laid-back divorced dad’s ordinary life soon takes a turn when in the process, he soon discovers family ties that bind him to both the present and the past—but what does this have to do with the child? Set in the Central Florida community of Brevard County, Beneath the Dune features an interesting cast of characters, and what Anderson uncovers is bound to shock a few upper class residents to the core. Steeped in suspense and blended with humor, the book has all the ingredients necessary for the making of mystery that is sure to hold you in its grip to the very end. From Goodreads.com
Published June 2011 by Pena Beach Press
paperback, 226 pages
ISBN13: 9780983440703
Goodreads, IndieBound, Amazon 

About the Author:

As a long time teacher and coach in New Jersey. When not at the Jersey Shore, Walter is a part time resident of the Central Florida coast. He became enamored with the beauty, culture, and people of this pristine area over 30 years ago, and still can't get enough. He has vigilantly taken the time to delve into the history of this beautiful coast line and incorporated that background into his writings. From Goodreads.com

Connect with the author:
Website: WalterRamsay.com
Twitter: @WalterRamsay
Facebook: Walter Ramsay

Praise for Beneath the Dune:

"Refreshing, that is a very simple word to describe this novel, just refreshing." ~ Giovanni Gelati, Goodreads

"a great read—filled with mystery, humor, and suspense—it will keep you on the edge of your seat wondering what could happen next." ~ T Lane, Webb Weaver Reviews

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Cynthia Hill: A World Forgotten (guest post)

Welcome, Cynthia Hill to Writer Wednesday! A graduate of Toronto's York University, Cynthia is the author of Idol Hands and What Lies Behind. She was the winner of the Scugog Council for the Arts Literary Contest - Prose Division - in 2010. A mom of four, she finds time for writing in between karate, ballet, and swimming lessons none of them hers) and working full-time. Learn nore about Cynthia Hill on her website and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.


 A World Forgotten

In the early 20th century, there was a bustling community that included a hotel, movie theatres, schools, restaurants, a baseball stadium, and an amusement park. By the 1960s, only 250 homes remained, the hotels, movie theatres and stadium were all gone, the amusement park and restaurants were replaced.

If you’re not from the area around Toronto, Ontario, you might not even know that the Toronto Islands exist. Located in Toronto Harbour, just across from the famous CN Tower, Union Station, and the Royal York Hotel, the islands were originally a series of sandbars and peninsulas that were built up to shield the city from the waves of Lake Ontario. The Hanlan family built the first hotel there in the late 19th century, and the baseball stadium built there in the early 20th century was home to Babe Ruth’s first ever professional home run. A thriving community was built over the years, but in the 1950s and 60s, Toronto City Council decided that it would be better suited as parkland for all city residents to enjoy, and began expropriating and demolishing Island homes. A legal battle ensued, and eventually the demolition stopped, but the entire culture of the Island is different now. It’s still a wonderful, magical place, but I really wish that I could’ve experienced the place as it was.

I’ve loved going there ever since my first visit as a child, but when I found out that my great-great-grandparents had actually lived there, I became fascinated with the history of the place. From the moment I started researching the history of the Toronto Islands, I knew I wanted to set a story there. In the end, only a small part of What Lies Behind takes place there, but those are some of my favourite scenes. Someday I know I’m going to want to revisit that world again for a more extensive look. I mean come on, there’s a haunted lighthouse!

Lillian begins her story as a seven year old girl in 1929, enjoying a winter weekend with her grandparents on the Island. Life there is the total opposite of the strict, formal upbringing that she has at home. She continues to tell her story through the Depression, World War II, and beyond, and yet no matter how far life takes her, the Island is always a place where she can escape her problems for a while, and remember the magic of childhood.

I haven’t had the chance to visit the Islands this year, but hopefully before winter sets in, I’ll get the chance. (Although that being said, the ferries actually run all winter, too!) There is something about being there that gives me a sense of peace like no other place. Maybe this year, I’ll just walk around, and try to walk through Lillian’s steps, and imagine what it would have been like so many years ago. Maybe I’ll even find the elusive ghost in the Gibraltar Point Lighthouse.
Gibraltar Point Lighthouse on the Toronto Islands
Gibraltar Point Lighthouse on the Toronto Islands (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
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September 4, 2012

Timeless Desire Contest

Enter to win a pair of SEXY, Sky-high Snake Skin print Kelsi Dagger pumps (or a Zappos gift card) $125 value! 

Five Easy Ways to Enter!
1. Forward this email or URL (http://bit.ly/R4SBge) to five friends, copying gwyn@cready.com by September 14, 2012 at midnight EST.

2. Send a picture of you holding Timeless Desire to gwyn@cready.com by September 14, 2012 at midnight EST.

3. Send a copy of a purchase receipt for Timeless Desire to gwyn@cready.com by September 14, 2012 at midnight EST

4. Tweet about Timeless Desire and mention @GwynCready in your tweet by Septemnber 14, 2012 at midnight EST.

5. Click here to go to the "Gwyn Cready, Romance Novelist" Facebook page and share any post on the page with your friends by clicking the "Share" button (not the "Like" button) under the post by September 14, 2012 at midnight EST.

You can enter each way, for up to five entries.

Contest rules: Open only to residents of U.S. and Canada. Void where prohibited. Entering this contest will automatically add you to the Gwyn Cready mailing list. Friends to whom you forward this email will not be added to the Gwyn Cready mailing list unless they, too, enter the contest. Limit of one entry per type per person. No personal information or email addresses will be sold or shared. Entries must be received by midnight EST on September 14, 2012. Winner will be posted at cready.com on September 15, 2012.

 

Praise for Gwyn Cready:

"Cready's writing is romantic and wickedly witty."--NY Times bestselling author Rachel Gibson

"Gwyn Cready is the master of time travel romance."--Royal Reviews 

Message from Author Gwyn Cready: 
Librarians are about the most kick-ass people on earth, and I've had some pretty wonderful librarians in my life, from my cousin Donna who keeps the library in South Park, Pennsylvania, humming, to my friend Manuel, a music librarian at UC Berkeley who has saved my sorry writer's butt many times with some handy bit of research, to Mrs. White, my first grade librarian, who read books aloud as if it was the most joy-filled thing on earth and to whom I owe a debt of gratitude for helping me discover the magic of a great story.

My librarian heroine in Timeless Desire, Panna Kennedy, is no exception. Battling budget cuts to distract herself from the grief of losing her husband, Panna discovers a mysterious opening under her library's careworn stairs and finds herself transported to the magnificent, book-filled quarters of the handsome eighteenth century English war hero whose larger-than-life statue looms over her desk. However, Captain Bridgewater is not as she imagined. Under house arrest as a traitor to England, the dashing Bridgewater warms to his beautiful and unexpected visitor despite his belief she's a spy. Bridgewater pulls Panna into his escape, and they share soul-baring secrets as well as a heart-racing kiss. But when he gives her a message that must be delivered to his secret allies and she is swept into the shocking intrigue that takes them from Hadrian's Wall to the forbidding borderland castle of Bridgewater's maternal grandfather, Panna must decide whether her loyalties lay with the memory of her dead husband or with the man whose life and reputation may depend on her.
©Garen DiBartolomeo
Timeless Desire is my personal shout-out to all the wonderful librarians who've helped me over the years and to everyone out there who does the thing they're afraid to do. Enjoy!

Best,
Find Timeless Desire at Goodreads and Amazon

 

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Now Showing: Cleanse Fire by Anastasia V. Pergakis



Find Cleanse Fire (The Kinir Elite Chronicles #1) by Anastasia V. Pergakis at Goodreads and Amazon.

Click to see more book trailers

Second Verse: The Sea of Monsters

The Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan
audio book, Narrated by Jesse Bernstein
Published June 2006 by Listening Library
ISBN13: 9780739331194
Listened: August 2012
Goodreads, IndieBound, Amazon

Same song, second verse pretty much sums up how I feel about The Sea of Monsters. I know the book is for a younger reader, but it was still awfully cookie cutter. I understand why my niece and nephew didn't get into the series. I don't think I will be listening to the rest of the series either. Though it might make a fun movie to watch (I think it is suppose to come out next year).

For the intended audience, it is a good way to introduce the stories of Greek Mythology. And I did kind of like hearing about the various myths (if you read my Flash Five Friday post, you know I missed this unit during my educational training) without having to read the full stories. 

I think my biggest problem with the second book is that I don't feel connected to the characters. I don't care about who anyone is and often forget who is allied with whom. I've read a fair share of cookie cutter books, but it is always because of the characters that I can look past it. Once I stop caring about the characters, I've stopped reading the books.

If you are an elementary student (or a parent looking for books for their elementary age child) that likes adventure and fantasy, then you should at least give Percy Jackson and the Olympians series a chance.


 
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September 3, 2012

Lots of News, Little Reading





News:

I've started a new feature showcasing book trailers. The first one, Family Magic, posted yesterday. It is a FANTASTIC video. If you haven't viewed it, you need to watch it NOW. Click here.

My niece wrote her first solo review for the book On the Bright Side by S. R. Johannes. You can read it here.

I will be participating in the Celebrate Bloggers event later this month. Whether you are an author or a blogger you can participate. Of course, there are prizes. You can find more information here.

On September 16, several bloggers are hosting a Celebrating Womanhood day. There will be posts on all sorts of topics related to women. Learn more about the event and how to get involved here.

Authors - I know a lot of bloggers wanting to help promote you. Cabin Goddess has a cool Friday feature called Fourth Wall Fridays. For other bloggers offering promotions and special features, I suggest you join The Indie Exchange's Facebook Group. Many of the bloggers in the group have sign up sheets in the files section.

Speaking of The Indie Exchange, it is celebrating its 1st birthday with a BIG giveaway. Enter the September Social Splash Giveaway here.


Still Reading:

16-year-old Grace has lived in the Smokies all her life, patrolling with her forest ranger father who taught her about wildlife, tracking, and wilderness survival.

When her dad goes missing on a routine patrol, Grace refuses to believe he’s dead and fights the town authorities, tribal officials, and nature to find him.

One day, while out tracking clues, Grace is rescued from danger by Mo, a hot guy with an intoxicating accent and a secret. As her feelings between him and her ex-boyfriend get muddled, Grace travels deep into the wilderness to escape and find her father.

Along the way, Grace learns terrible secrets that sever relationships and lives. Soon she’s enmeshed in a web of conspiracy, deception, and murder. And it’s going to take a lot more than a compass and a motorcycle (named Lucifer) for this kick-butting heroine to save everything she loves. From Goodreads.com
Find Untraceable at Goodreads, IndieBound, Amazon.


Mick "Scorcher" Kennedy, the brash cop from Tana French’s bestselling Faithful Place, plays by the book and plays hard. That’s what’s made him the Murder squad’s top detective—and that’s what puts the biggest case of the year into his hands.

On one of the half-built, half-abandoned "luxury" developments that litter Ireland, Patrick Spain and his two young children are dead. His wife, Jenny, is in intensive care.

At first, Scorcher and his rookie partner, Richie, think it’s going to be an easy solve. But too many small things can’t be explained. The half dozen baby monitors, their cameras pointing at holes smashed in the Spains’ walls. The files erased from the Spains’ computer. The story Jenny told her sister about a shadowy intruder who was slipping past all the locks.

And Broken Harbor holds memories for Scorcher. Seeing the case on the news sends his sister Dina off the rails again, and she’s resurrecting something that Scorcher thought he had tightly under control: what happened to their family one summer at Broken Harbor, back when they were children. From Goodreads.com
Find Broken Harbor at Goodreads, IndieBound, and Amazon.


Listening:

I only have 1 hour left of this audio book, so I should finish it today.


Percy Jackson's seventh-grade year has been surprisingly quiet. Not a single monster has set foot on his New York prep-school campus. But when an innocent game of dodgeball among Percy and his classmates turns into a death match against an ugly gang of cannibal giants, things get . . . well, ugly. And the unexpected arrival of Percy's friend Annabeth brings more bad news: the magical borders that protect Camp Half-Blood have been poisoned by a mysterious enemy, and unless a cure is found, the only safe haven for demigods will be destroyed.In this fresh, funny, and hugely anticipated follow up to The Lightning Thief, Percy and his friends must journey into the Sea of Monsters to save their beloved camp. But first, Percy will discover a stunning new secret about his family -- one that makes him question whether being claimed as Poseidon's son is an honor or simply a cruel joke. From Goodreads.com
Find The Sea of Monsters at Goodreads, IndieBound, Amazon.


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