Sunday, June 30, 2013

Summer Lovin' Readathon - Day One: “Class Orientation”

Want to know more about the readathon so you can join? Go here.

Hey! Thanks for stopping by on this introductory post for the readathon! I'm pretty excited for this--it's my first time doing something like this on my blog and I think I'm going to have a lot of fun with this. I'm going to love participating with everyone else in this.

An introduction . . . 

I'm so bad at introductions. I never know what to say. Well . . . I'll give you the basics. My name is Kaitlin, and I am a seventeen year old YA bookaholic and newbie blogger. Most of the books I read are part of the YA genre, but I do occasionally read middle grade, New Adult, and adult books (most of those are classics or modern classics).

Since I want to have a little fun on this post, and I also want to tell you about myself, I'll give you eight (my favorite number) books that are on my favorites list. They can tell you more about the type of books I like to read than I can.

Some of my favorites 
(from left to right):
  • Series
  • Book with serious topic
  • Weird book
  • 2012 read
  • Classic
  • School read
  • Book I read when I was younger
  • Historical fiction



My Goal for the Readathon 

I'm participating in a challenge on Goodreads where a partner chose ten books for me to read, and in what order to read them, based off of a twenty book shelf I created. That challenge runs for two weeks (July 1-14), so my goal here is to finish the first four then start the fifth of those ten books by the end of July 7th.

I'll be reading the below books in order from left to right.







I'm also planning on reading another book for a buddy read on the same Goodreads group. I hope to finish the entire thing by the end of the readathon (or at least half way).

<<<<<--------- That book is over to the left.


I have . . . a ton of reading to do. I hope I can come as close to finishing my reading goal as I can. 


I wish everyone else in the Summer Readathon luck on their goals! Feel free to leave a link to your own introduction post so I can come say hi and check out your goals. 

But wait . . . I have a few Teaser Tidbits for the Challenge Post.


Here are two sentences from a random page on The Immortal Rules, which I am reading right now. Don't worry, it's not a spoiler. :)
"I lunged forward, sinking my teeth into the bag, tearing it from the air. Something flooded my mouth, cold and thick, cloying." (page 84)  
Ew. Bloody. I'm really liking the book, though. If it sounds like your type of book, then it will fit well in with your to-read list!


First Impressions are Everything (Cover Only Edition) ~ Salvage, Demons at Deadnight, and Cruel Beauty

Here's what First Impressions is (normally):

Every Monday, I'm going to choose three books to quote either the first sentence or the first paragraph from. Then, I'm going to write about my first impressions based on those first words.The books I will post about will be a random one on my to-read list, one that I intend to read soon, and one that I have read.

I'm doing something different week, though.

Instead of doing first sentences, I'm just going to pick three covers and tell you what my impression is on what the book is about. All three are going to be ones I've never read the descriptions of, too, so my first impressions are based solely on the cover.

I'm also posting this early, but not too early. It's still for tomorrow, but I'm posting it tonight because I have a few others I need to post for Monday. 

#1
Salvage by Alexandra Duncan (not published yet)

First Impression and predictions? 

-Looks like a science fiction/dystopian book.
-It seems like there are aliens, and the main character (the girl) is one of them.
-It says "Her fall is only the beginning" on the cover. I wonder if that means she will be the catalyst to the end of the world, or something world changing.
-It's a very eye-catching cover.
-I feel like something or someone is going to be in grave danger, so it will need to be salvaged, hence the title.
-The main character probably has brown hair.


#2
Demons at Deadnight by A & E Kirk (already published)

First Impressions and predictions?

-Well, obviously there are demons in the book.
-I wonder if this book is set in a different world, like Incarnate by Jodi Meadows was. The cover makes me think it may be.
-The main character probably has red hair. I have a feeling like she is aware that there are demons. She's probably part of the supernatural world herself.
-Am I the only one who sees this cover and thinks that it might have a comical side? Each time I look at this, I think of that.
-Fire might be a component in the story.
-"Deadnight" must me a term used often in the book.


#3
Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge (not published yet)

First Impressions and predictions?

-There has to be a romance, and it must be central to the whole book.
-Sounds like forbidden love to me. She is probably an assassin, or maybe she's just destined to kill him.
-Maybe flowers have something to do with the story?
-It looks . . . sort of gothic. And mysterious.
-The neverending, winding staircase must mean something, but I'm drawing a blank what it would be at the moment.
-The main character has brown hair.
-It reminds me a little of Sweet Evil, in the terms of titles. There's going to be someone or someone really beautiful, but they'll have act cruel towards another.


That's it for this week's First Impressions! What do you think of these covers?

Friday, June 28, 2013

Feature and Follow (3)


This is a weekly event hosted by Parajunkee and Alison Can Read that is meant to be a way for bloggers to increase followers and make friends.

My preferred following method? I prefer to have followers through Bloglovin' or email.

This weeks Question:

Q: What is your preferred reading format? Hardcover, eBooks, paperback etc?

A: Honestly, I'm not sure. Each format has it's benefits and drawbacks, but as of right at the very moment, I've been reading most of my books on my kindle. Because of that, I would have to say I prefer ebooks. My other favorite is hardcover because, as much as I like ebooks, I really like having a physical copy of my favorite books.

Here are some of the things I like about each format:

Ebooks
  • They're quicker to access (no shipping costs).
  • They cost less (most of the time).
  • They take up less space.
  • I don't have to hold back the pages in order to read.
  • When I go to college in about a about a year, I can take a bunch of books with me. 
Hardcovers
  • I can see and feel the cover.
  • I can hold the actual book and flip through the pages better than on an ebook.
  • They look nicer. 
  • Covers don't bend like paperbacks do.
  • I can let my friends borrow them.

Thanks for dropping by my Feature and Follow! 

Also, just in case you're interested, I started my first giveaway today. It's for a dystopian kindle ebook called Sunset Rising. Go here to enter.

Interview ~ S.M. McEachern + Giveaway of Sunset Rising [ends July 7th]


I was able to conduct an interview with author S.M. McEachern earlier this week, and organize a giveaway for her book, Sunset Rising.

Before I give you the questions and answers, I will introduce the author and her debut novel!





S.M. McEachern (also known as Susan) comes from the rocky shores of Canada’s East Coast. As a resident of Halifax during her early adult years, she attended Dalhousie University and earned an Honors Degree in International Development Studies with a focus on ocean development. Throughout her academic studies and early career, Susan had the privilege to study and work with Elizabeth Mann Borgese (daughter of nobel prize winner, Thomas Mann). An author in her own right and a political activist for world peace, Mrs. Mann Borgese played a significant influence on Susan’s view of the political world stage.

Now a mother of two and the wife of one (who is serving overseas), Susan currently resides in Canada’s capital city of Ottawa. She loves delicious hot beverages, wine and talking about herself in the third person. For writing inspiration, Susan likes to go on long walks with her iPod (Keane and Moby are among her favorites). “Sunset Rising” is her debut novel and the first of many she plans to write.

Check out her blog: http://smmceachern.wordpress.com/

Her Debut Novel


Goodreads description:

February 2024: World War III has begun. Military vehicles are seen disappearing into a mountainside. Desperate to find refuge from the nuclear storm, a group of civilians discovers a secret government Bio-Dome. Greeted by a hail of bullets and told to turn back, the frantic refugees stand their ground and are eventually permitted entry. But the price of admission is high…

283 years later… Born a slave in the Pit, seventeen-year-old Sunny O’Donnell has reached a breaking point in her life. If trying to keep her father alive while still pleasing her demanding fiancé isn’t stressful enough, now food and water rations are being reduced and workplace beatings are occurring more frequently. Although life in the Pit had never been easy, lately it was getting intolerable.

Then a chance meeting with Leisel Holt, daughter of the Dome’s insane President, gives Sunny a spark of hope for the future of the Pit. In an effort to fan that spark into a flame, she agrees to pose as the bride at Leisel’s wedding to Jack Kenner in order to save the bride from an assassination plot. But instead of saving Leisel, Sunny unknowingly plays into her political game and ends up marrying Jack Kenner herself. Now on the run as a traitor, Sunny escapes to the Pit with her new husband in tow only to find that her marriage has ignited a rebellion.

“Sunset Rising” is the first book of a series. It is the tale of how a love story can revive the human spirit to rise up and fight the bonds of oppression.

Now that you know about the author and her book, lets move on to the best part . . .



The Q's and A's with S.M.

Q: When did you decide you wanted to write a YA dystopia novel?

Two things in life collided that prompted me to write Sunset Rising: first, the idea for the novel came to me after I did academic research on a biodome in Arizona and, second, my teenage daughter and I have been doing buddy reads of YA novels for the past four years. So an old idea coupled with modern day literature got me thinking until the story was so persistent that I had to put it on paper.

Q: The cover of Sunset Rising is amazing, but you must know the whole "don't judge a book by its cover" saying. For those of us who haven't read your book yet, what can we expect on its inside?

The cover really is a brilliant representation of the story. It captures my main character at that pivotal moment when she realizes her reluctant participation in a wedding has not only caused her own downfall, but also sparked a revolt. I worked with a very talented artist, Nathalia Suellen. She told me she was inspired by my quote, It is the tale of the how the human spirit can be revived to rise up and fight the bonds of oppression. Sunset Rising is the story of people who have been forced into slavery and have now reached a breaking point. An unlikely bond between two people from opposite sides of the fence creates an alliance and, ultimately, starts a war. It is an action packed adventure rife with political intrigue and romance.

Q: What can we expect in the sequel to Sunset Rising?

What if the world wasn't completely annihilated by nuclear war? Imagine if there were survivors and the only advanced technology left on earth was in the hands of a tyrannical dictator. What would you do to stop him? Book two is a continuation of book one. The action and political intrigue escalate and the romance heats up!

Q: Who or what has been your biggest inspiration in your writing career?

Elizabeth Mann Borgese has been one of the greatest inspirations in my life. A nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize, she devoted herself to defending the rights of third world countries and securing equal access to resources for all countries through maritime law. I had the privilege to work and study with her in the 1990s.

Q: What are your writing habits like?


I try to write every single day. And if I’m not writing, I’m researching aspects of book two. I also write “satellite stories” – short stories based on the characters and politics of Sunset Rising – which I publish on my blog http://smmceachern.wordpress.com. I encourage anyone who has read the novel to visit my blog and read the satellites. I will be tying the stories in with book two. They also flesh out minor characters who will eventually become more prominent as the series progresses.

Now, for a few non-writing questions.

Q: What is one of your all-time favorite books?

I honestly can’t say I have an all-time favorite book. I’ve read so many different genres and I get something out of every book. Some of the more notable fiction books are: “Captain Corelli’s Mandolin” by Louis de Bernières, “Game of Thrones” series by George R.R. Martin, “Hunger Games” by Suzanne Collins, and, just for fun, Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series.

Q: Obviously, you express creativity through writing. Do you have any other creative outlets?

I used to sketch when I was younger. Pencil and charcoal were my favorite. But then life became busy and it fell by the wayside. Maybe one day I’ll take it up again.

Thank you, S.M., for answering my questions!


I have a few responses:

  • I am now wanting to read the book even more than before. I am intrigued by everything the author said about it. 
  • It seems that having an inspiration like Elizabeth Mann Borgese is pretty important in writing a dystopian novel. I imagine that in the process of writing one, an author needs to consider a lot of elements, including what’s going on in third world countries.
  • I’ll definitely check out the satellite stories after I read Sunset Rising.

Does Sunset Rising sound like the type of book you would like to read? Enter to a Kindle ebook of it below!

Giveaway (Closed)

This is my first giveaway on my blog! I also officially have over 50 followers now! So, I see this as a cause for celebration.

A few things you should know:
  • This giveaway is international, and as long as you can accept a Kindle ebook on your Amazon account, you may enter.
  • You must be 13 years or older to enter.
  • Giveaway ends on July 7th, 2013 at 12:00am (Pacific Time).
  • The winner will be contacted by the author in order to receive the prize. I'm not the one that will be sending it. 
  • If you win, you have 48 hours in order to claim your prize. After that, the author is free to request I pick another winner. 
  • I will be checking the entries, so if you enter, please follow the directions.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thank you and good luck!

Review ~ Pity Isn't an Option by Jessica Brooks


Genre: YA dystopia
Series and number: Probably standalone/maybe first in series
Number of pages: 315 (for the paperback)
Edition: mobi ebook
Published: Published February 5th 2013 by Smashwords
Link to Goodreads page

Goodreads description:

Seventeen year-old Jonas Norton is trying to come to terms with what his blood disorder has robbed from him, including his two most favorite things: basketball, and competing in Hatchet Racket, Wanless’ annual hatchet-throwing contest. The facts that his father works constantly to pay for his blood tests and Jonas can actually see the disappointment in his eyes for being such a failure only make matters worse. And even worse than all of that? Jonas' own twin brother, Micah, is perfectly healthy and becoming quite the basketball player. Also, Hattie, the girl Jonas has loved for forever? She has no idea how he feels.

Sixteen year-old Hattie Akerman lives down the hill from Jonas. Though her father, Heath, tries to hide his lack of mental clarity behind the bottle and she's pretty much given up on having any kind of relationship with him, she would still rather her younger sister, Lucy, not have to deal with the consequences of his behavior. Hattie helps her mother by baking food to sell at Market and looking out for Lucy. No matter what the rest of the town says about her crazy father, Jonas sticks up for them. He is, by far, her very best friend.

As if things aren’t complicated enough already, Heath and Micah are unexpectedly drafted into President Kendrick's army (an army from which no one ever returns) just days before Thanksgiving. When Heath disappears instead of arriving at the Meeting Place to check in, Hattie and Jonas decide they’ve had enough, and take matters into their own hands. And though nothing could have prepared them for what happens next, Hattie and Jonas learn that hope can be seen in every situation. You just have to know where to look.

My review:

Rating: 3.5 stars
Date read: June 24-27, 2013
Source: I received a copy from the author in return for an honest review

Three point-five stars—three because I did like it and an extra point-five for being beautiful. Pity Isn’t an Option had an open-ended conclusion that just fit well with the whole story. This book made me fell slightly sad and slightly happy when I finished it. 

However, despite being a beautiful and a bit of a moving book, it did feel a little slow. For the bulk of the book, I kept wondering where it was going, and when it would get there. Honestly, it was the last twenty-five to thirty-five percent of the book that made it for me.

I give the author props for creating a dystopia story that really doesn't feel like the typical one. It wasn't one of those ones where there was a rebellion, and the government was overthrown, or anything like that. This book featured pretty regular people that struggled with the weather, the economy, president's orders, and a lot of things that quite relatable.

This book was one that reminded me of watching a drama movie—the kind that moves slower in the beginning but then gets really interesting towards the end because a bunch of meaningful things start happening. I would recommend this book to someone who enjoys those types of books.

Quote:




Thursday, June 27, 2013

Review + Interview ~ Beyond the Plains by Travis Bughi


Genre: YA Fantasy
Series and number: World of Myth #1
Number of pages: 171
Edition: mobi ebook
Published: Published October 14th 2011
Link to Goodreads page

Goodreads description:

Emily Stout has always known a simple life of harsh farming, avoiding thunderbirds, and dealing with minotaurs and gnomes. Born and raised on the Great Plains, she’s always dreamed of more. She’s dreamed of being a wandering gunslinger, a valiant knight, or anything else that could take her beyond her simple, trapped life. On her 16th birthday, she gets that chance. As tragedy strikes the Stout family, Emily’s mother reveals to her a secret that has been kept hidden for far too long. It is a secret that will send Emily to the magnificent city of Lucifan, a city ruled by angels. But Lucifan is not the utopia it appears to be. There are brutal ogres, terrifying gargoyles, plotting leprechauns, and many other dangerous creatures with equally dark and deadly plans. Emily’s life has only begun to be turned upside down, and she’ll need more than her wit to come out of it alive.

My review:

Rating: 4.5 stars
Date read: June 21-23, 2013
Source: received from author for showing interest in the book on a giveaway

I rated this book 4.5 stars (rounded down on Goodreads), but honestly, it can easily be either a five star or rounded up to one. It just depends on the reader and his or her interest level in fantasy novels. I do read some books like this—the fantasy kind set in a new world—but I tend to not get into them as much as other genres. So, my rating is based on that; it's not based on an author disappointing me some way in his writing (like most of my rounded-down ratings are a result of).

Beyond the Plains was very well written. It wasn't like other books I've read recently (that were given to me by an author) where some areas tended to be awkward with choppy sentences, where some parts didn't quite fit in—that sort of thing. This book didn't have those problems. It flowed really well, and just left me with the impression that the author knows how to write well. Sure, there were a few grammatical and spelling errors, but there was a lot less than in other books similarly published.

As for the content of the book, I loved it. I loved how I was actually introduced to the world, instead of just thrown into it. It wasn't a dry and boring intro, though, where everything needed to be explained before the story actually started. The world building was built into the story and plot, so that new things were explained when the time came for it. It didn't leave me confused about certain elements about the Great Plains or Lucifan.

Part of those "new things" included the introduction of different mythological creatures. There were gnomes, banshees, behemoths, unicorns, ogres, angels, and so many more. Each one was explained  at least a little—not one of them was just put into the story without some sort of description to go with it. I wasn't left wondering what the creatures were or what they looked like. I loved how unicorns were basically horses. I loved how Lucifan was founded by five angels, not gods, and how they were guarded by colossi. I loved how the knights rode pegasi, how leprechauns were guarded by purple ogres, how the amazons fashioned bows from treants, and how gunslingers hunted behemoths.

What made me truly love those things, though, wasn't just the mere presence of them
—it was their descriptions. They were very well described, and vividly so. I could get a very good picture in my head painted when a new person, creature, or setting was introduced. They were the types of descriptions that made me want to not just read them, but also see them. (I kept thinking while reading that someone artistic should give creating pictures of the different creatures in the book a try.) My personal favorite was the thunderbirds. I was a little awed by them, but sort of scared at the same time. The behemoths were also pretty cool—I found the mental image of those massive things with stubby legs and beady little eyes hilarious.

Honestly, I could go on and on about the things that make this book great, but I'll just go into one more element. Emily was an amazing heroine. I loved how she didn't possess any super amazing qualities that made her more special than everyone else. Actually, she was just a normal girl from the plains who had an incredible thirst for adventure. When given the opportunity for it, she grabbed a hold of it and decided to give it her all. She had a lot of growth to go, and that is what I liked about her. I know she will develop into a very strong character in later books. She will transform into someone that isn't just some plains girl that is so easily underestimated. That's why Emily was a great character—not because she was spectacular in this book, but because she has the ability to become it later.

More people should read this book and give it more attention. Many probably glance at this book and not think much of it, but it might surprise you. I highly recommend giving it a try.

Quote:




Now, an interview with the author


I was introduced to reading at a young age. My mother was determined that I become literate quickly and would read to me often, so much so that I memorized an entire 60-page book.
My grandmother, though, takes credit for my addiction to reading. She was a librarian and introduced me to the joy that is reading. It is no coincidence my entire World of Myth series is dedicated to her.

My journey from avid reader to aspiring author took its first turn in High School after I read Dune by Frank Herbert. It was a great challenge for me at the age of 14, but I was so impressed with it that I began to imagine my own stories.

What I wish to accomplish as an author is do for my readers what I want other authors to do for me. I wish to be transported to another world when I read books. I want to get so absorbed that I lose track of everything around me. I remember one time I was so sucked into reading a novel that I didn't even realize my fiance was trying to vacuum under my feet!

If I can accomplish this for you, then I have done my duty. Good luck, and happy hunting.

Check out his other books:
World of Myth #2

World of Myth #3
Anti-bullying memoir
War novel (Amazon)

Now that you know a little about the author and his books (especially the one I reviewed) . . . 


Here are the Q's and A's with Travis

Q: What inspired you to start writing the series?

It was August 2010. I'd just finished my first novel and was considering starting a trilogy I'd had in mind since I was 14 (a sort of medieval fiction). Then I started watching some TV with my girlfriend at the time (now wife), who was watching Animal Planet's Top 10 Venomous Creatures. Sometime during that show, the idea of a main character traveling from one end of a deadly world to another, getting stronger with each encounter and place they visited, formed, and by the time the show ended I had the basis for this entire series embedded in my head. From there, I spent a few weeks planning, researching, and plotting before I began to write. A year later, I finished and published the first in the series.

Q: There are many supernatural/mythological creatures in the books. I particularly like the thunderbirds. Which would your favorite be?

The thunderbirds are pretty wicked. Grace and power rarely have such a solitary meeting. However, my favorite would have to be the angels. They were surprisingly fun to write, a bit challenging to portray, and I consider them unique in design. They are among the small pool of mythological creatures who were created to help humans, and I enjoyed giving the "good guys" such powerful allies in a world so full of enemies.

Q: If you were in the world of your books, where would you want to live most and why? The Great Plains or Lucifan? Or another place that I wasn't introduced to in Beyond the Plains?

Eh, good question. I lie somewhere between Emily and her father; I love to travel, but I also like the quiet life at home. I'd probably live in the Great Plains, but close enough to Lucifan that I could travel there for some excitement if need be. I wouldn't much want to live in any other parts of the world Emily is about to visit. The Great Plains looks very tame in comparison to places like the forest of Angor.

Q: What can I expect in the next two books in the series, The Forest of Angor and The Fall of Lucifan?

You can expect Emily to grow and continue on. You'll find the restlessness in her heart is not easily satisfied, and her thirst for knowledge practically unquenchable. She's a quick learner, too, which is going to be an invaluable asset. There is so grand a world out there that it couldn't possibly be fully explained in so short a time. Emily's story has barely begun.

Q: Can you tell me a little about the other two books you've written outside of the World of Myth series?

The first one I wrote is called A Lack of Planning. It's a contemporary war novel that follows three high school/college aged friends when World War III hits the West Coast of America. This isn't Red Dawn though where somehow a bunch of kids fight off an entire army. These three guys are running for their lives, and the realities of war quickly take their toll on them.

The other is a short anti-bullying memoir about my own experiences with bullying in school. I struggled with thoughts of suicide early on, and after I moved on from that life, I decided I couldn't handle watching another bullied kid commit suicide without trying to do something about it. So I wrote my story in the hopes that it will help those out there who are still struggling.

Q: Other than writing, what do you do?

For money? Outside of writing, I'm a property appraiser. I work for the government and generally enjoy the work and the people I work with. My only real complaint is that it takes time away from getting to write but hey, that's life.

For fun? Beyond reading, I like traveling. I've been to four different countries, and roughly 30 of the states in the US, including Alaska and Hawaii. I like camping as well, and also consider myself a decent nerd. Not just video games, I go as deep as D&D, getting together with my friends roughly once a week.

Q: What is one of your all-time favorite books?

My all-time favorite book is Dune by Frank Herbert. I read it when I was fourteen, and it absolutely blew me away. It's one of the few things I've been an avid fan of. After reading it, I watched both the movies that were made out of it and played the video games based on the series, too. I read the rest of the series, and that was also the first book I read that made me want to write.

Other books I've thoroughly enjoyed were the Everworld series by Katherine Applegate and The Warlord Chronicles by Bernard Cornwell. Though it was really R.L. Stine that got me addicted to reading when I was young, I don't consider his work among my all-time favorites.

Thank you, Travis, for answering my questions!


I have a few responses:
  • The angels in Beyond the Plains do seem pretty unique. I'm looking forward to seeing more from them in Forest of Angor
  • From what I've read, the Forest of Angor seems like a pretty dangerous place, so I don't think I would want to live there either. 
  • It seems like Travis is doing his part to help others with his memoir. I really admire that because he isn't just sitting back and doing nothing with past experiences that can really make an impact on people.
  • Travis seems to share the same wanderlust as Emily, the main character in Beyond the Plains, which is awesome because I love it when I can see a personal side of the author in his or her writing. 

That's it for today's interview! Come back tomorrow to check out my interview with S.M. McEachern, as well as my first giveaway.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Interview ~ Amber Turner (author of Preppy Little Liars)

I conducted an interview with Amber Turner through a Goodreads group I help moderate,  !YA Heroines!, which is dedicated to the strong heroines in YA books. This interview is also  posted on that group. 

Before I give you the questions and answers, I will introduce the author and her debut novel!



Amber Turner has been writing since before she could spell (those early stories were gold - she probably didn't spell one word correctly, not even her own name). She was a high school journalist, entertainment and copy editor, and majored in Global Journalism at Drexel University.

After college, she couldn't write anything but fanfic and took a couple of odd jobs that had nothing to do with her degree. She now works as a paralegal at a Cincinnati law firm (again, having nothing at all to do with her degree) and lives downtown just like one of the chicks from Sex and the City.

If the chicks from Sex and the City were all broke, shopped off the clearance racks at TJ Maxx and Walmart, and never had a single date.

Yeah... the similarities are astounding.

Check out her blog: http://indiespiritpress.com/2013/06/02/64/

Her Debut Novel


Preppy Little Liars
Find it on: Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble

Synopsis:

Meg Little desperately wants to be editor in chief of the Haverton Gazette. The former editor just resigned to complete a stint in rehab for a raging Adderall addiction and the competition for his replacement is fierce.

When Margaret Bean, Haverton Prep’s star equestrian, is bucked from her horse two weeks before regionals, Meg believes she may have found the story that will win her the coveted editorship. Margaret’s a gold medal-winning rider – she doesn't make mistakes.

But the rest of the school buys her fall as an accident. Even the Gazette’s lead photographer and Meg’s best friend Stephen thinks the fall was innocuous – until Meg shows him a photo of Margaret’s horse sporting a cut saddle after Margaret’s fall. Clearly the “accident” was sabotage.

Meg’s prime suspect: Margaret’s teammate and Meg’s arch-nemesis Kitty Cooper. Kitty’s the only member of the team who was MIA after the fall and she’s acting way too shifty for Meg’s taste. Against Margaret’s wishes to let broken girls lie, Meg launches an investigation into the girls’ private lives convinced her amateur sleuthing will uncover the evidence needed to take down Kitty once and for all.

And if Meg happens to achieve journalistic glory in the process of defending Margaret’s honor, that’s a sacrifice she’s willing to make.

As regionals approaches and the investigation veers off in unexpected directions, Meg learns the students of Haverton are far more dangerous than their plaid skirts and blazers suggest – and all the little liars on Margaret’s team have something to hide.

Now that you know about the author and her books, lets move on to the best part . . .


The Q's and A's with Amber


Q: First of all, I would like to know about your book, Preppy Little Liars. What inspired you to start writing it?

A couple of things converged and made me decide to start a YA mystery series, and this book in particular. The first was the fact that I've been writing since before I could spell, but after majoring in journalism in college, I lost my love of writing for enjoyment and entertainment's sake. I took a regular 9-5 job to pay school loans and get a place of my own and still struggled to make ends meet - I live paycheck to paycheck like most Americans, but I wanted something more for myself. Then I stumbled upon a blog series about killing the myths in publishing written by Dean Wesley Smith which encourages writers to take control of their own careers whether they go the traditional publishing route or they go indie. I don't agree with every point he makes in that series, but it sparked something in me - a desire to write what I want when I want, essentially being my own boss and publisher.

And then I got sick. For months I had severe stomach issues that couldn't be identified after several rounds of (expensive) medical tests. I knew I would have a pile full of medical bills coming to add to the overflowing stack of student loan bills I was already struggling to pay and instead of curling up in a ball and crying myself into a straight jacket like I wanted to do, I decided to begin writing again and to do it as a self-published writer. I had no illusions of becoming an overnight success or making millions (though a girl can dream, lol) - I just needed to make a little extra cash to help supplement the income I get from my day job. I also wanted to write something fun and humorous to get me out of the funk I was in due to my financial woes. So that's how Preppy Little Liars came to be - it's an experiment of sorts in being my own boss, sure, but it's also the story that helped lift me up on days where I felt too sick to function.

Q: It seems that your book is a fun one, according to the reviews that I've seen. What was the funnest part behind writing it?

My book is heightened reality and I think that's why the people who have read it like it so much. Yes, the mystery itself is intriguing, but the characters steal the show here. I tried to write smart characters, characters who may be a tad exaggerated, but who are also multi-layered and interesting. I kind of compare the book to Gossip Girl. I haven't read the books, but I was a loyal viewer of the show, and my world is sort of similar to the world depicted there - it takes place at a prep school for rich kids with a protagonist who's only tangentially involved in that world through her best friend and all of these kids occasionally behave in ways most normal kids would not. However, the fun in watching the show not only lay in getting to daydream about how cool it would be to have an unlimited amount of money and designer clothes, but also when we would see these kids experience the things all of us can relate to: betrayal, first love, the end of a friendship, struggling to fit in, etc. I put the characters in PLL in outrageous situations for laughs, but I also remember to give them depth. So that's fun to me.

Q: How did you celebrate the release of your debut novel?

I actually haven't celebrated yet! I've been working crazy hours at my day job and have been doing all of the promotional stuff for this book on top of that - I'm exhausted. The day the book came out, I was at work until 7:30, came home and crashed, lol. Maybe I'll celebrate when the ebook comes out.

Q: I know you just released your book on Amazon, but are you working on writing or publishing any new books now?


I'm actually working on the ebook formatting for PLL to release it through Smashwords. I'm also in the brainstorming phase for the second book in my Meg Little series, Dead Man's Party. I'll begin writing that one July 1st and I'm so excited about it because it's a parody of classic cozy mysteries with a lot of meta humor thrown in for good measure.

Q: What are your writing habits like?

I try to write something every day now that I've gotten back into doing this professionally. If I don't, I don't beat myself up about it - it's usually because I'm reading or watching movies/TV shows, all of which counts in my opinion towards teaching one to be a better storyteller. When I'm writing, I usually have music on or the TV turned down low because I can't write in complete silence. I have a journalism background - I'm used to writing in chaos.

Now, a couple non-writing questions:

Q: What is your favorite genre to read?


My favorite genre to read changes depending on my mood. I grew up reading horror novels because that's what my mom read so I read what she did. I was four when I started reading Stephen King, probably didn't understand most of what I was reading, but I liked the feelings he was illiciting in me. Right now, I'm in a mystery phase. I'm reading Dorothy Sayers, Agatha Christie, and Rex Stout. I also have a bunch of chick lit novels I recently won from a popular chick lit book blog that I'll probably start reading next month. When I'm sad, I like to read humor novels. My tastes vary.

Q: What do you believe makes a great heroine in a book?

A great heroine in a book is one that girls, adult women, and even guys can relate to. She's someone who's intelligent and clever, resourceful and independent. But there's a caveat to that last thing: I think it takes an incredibly strong person to recognize when she's out of her league in something and can ask for help. Meg Little is a tough girl - she's persistent and driven by a very strong personal code of ethics. But she knows she doesn't always know everything so she oftentimes seeks out the advice of her mentor or her best friend and even classmates she only occasionally associates with. I'm reminded of a line from an über famous Beatles song: "I get by with a little help from my friends." Yes, Meg can do many things on her own and she can do them well, but she's at her best when she's working with others.

Thank you, Amber, for answering my questions!


I have a few responses:

  • I totally agree about the heroine. Part of being strong is being able to accept help from your friends, instead of just doing it all by yourself. 
  • I hope Amber gets to celebrate soon. Everyone should get a moment to celebrate big achievements like publishing a debut novel. 
  • I haven't read the Gossip Girl books, but I really like the show. I've read a few books from the author's other series (The It Girl series) that is, I'm pretty sure, a spin-off from Gossip Girl. I did enjoy those books, so I'll probably like Preppy Little Liars

That's it for today's interview! Come back tomorrow to check out my interview with Travis Bughi!

"Waiting on" Wednesdays (3) ~ The Sound of Letting Go by Stasia Ward Kehoe

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

Here's what I'm waiting for this week . . . 

The Sound of Letting Go by Stasia Ward Kehoe

Goodreads description:
For sixteen years, Daisy has been good. A good daughter, helping out with her autistic younger brother uncomplainingly. A good friend, even when her best friend makes her feel like a third wheel. When her parents announce they’re sending her brother to an institution—without consulting her—Daisy’s furious, and decides the best way to be a good sister is to start being bad. She quits jazz band and orchestra, slacks in school, and falls for bad-boy Dave.

But one person won’t let Daisy forget who she used to be: Irish exchange student and brilliant musician Cal. Does she want the bad boy or the prodigy? Should she side with her parents or protect her brother? How can she know when to hold on and when—and how—to let go?

Sound like a nice YA contemporary romance? It doesn't release all the way until February 6, 2014, which feels like such a long time away. However, I am not only "waiting" for this to be release—I'm currently waiting for an ARC to arrive in my mailbox because I just won it in a giveaway. It's the first book I've won since I've started blogging . . . and I'm am really excited to read it later on in the summer! It sounds just like the type of contemporary book that I absolutely love.

Well, that's what I'm anxiously waiting for. How about you?

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Interview ~ S.B. Roozenboom (author of Markings)

I conducted an interview with S.B. Roozenboom through a Goodreads group I help moderate,  YA Bookaholics. This interview is also posted on that group. 

Before I give you the questions and answers, I will introduce the author and her books. 




I was born to the great northwest, where I grew up submerged in fairytales and make-believe. As a teen, when some serious drama went down and I felt like the world had turned on me, I turned to writing to create my own worlds. At seventeen, I completed my first young adult paranormal novel, and by twenty-one I've completed five. You can write me at Diane.boom@yahoo.com.

Check out her website: http://theofficialsbboom.yolasite.com/

Her Books:

Markings
Find it on: Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble

Goodreads description:

Celina Bayberry never thought a part-time job could change her life, until she meets the hot and untouchable Aaron Jamison. Strangely enough, she can’t shake the feeling that he’s stalking her. And when a yellow-eyed stranger takes interest in her too, Celina discovers a dangerous secret: Her co-workers are Miew Demos–creatures linked to Bastet, the feline goddess of Egypt and members of a clan called Miews, shifters who can transform from human to feline in an instant.

They, and she, are being hunted by a wolf clan, the Iew Keftey, who will not rest until every last one of the Miews is annihilated. Celina’s life unravels as she is thrust into this age-old battle of brother against brother. Meanwhile, she’s losing her heart to Aaron who may or may not have lost his to her. And her own Bayberry family history is hiding something… something that will forever link her destiny with that of the Miews.

Celina and the clan need each other, but is either strong enough to face what is to come?

Predator Girl
Find it on: Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble

Goodreads description:

Born in the deep forests of the Northwest, Ilume is a girl of the woods. And of the night. Ilume might be young, she might be recovering from a broken heart, but above all she’s a leader. Her pack has always come first. Until, on a rare visit to human civilization, she meets Jared.

Strange and unusual beasts that few people are aware of roam our world. Jared Ferlyn is a Finder, born with the gift for detecting and tracking paranormal beings. Tagging Otherworlders for the government, he’s had his share of keeping fey, nightlings and other creatures from human sight. But when a strange new girl comes to town, Jared is unable to classify her despite his training and experience.

While tracking the mysterious newcomer, Jared is pulled far into Ilume’s territory, a dangerous environment that not even a Finder is prepared for.

Ilume and Jared–born into different worlds, one the predator the other the prey– and neither is prepared for what happens when the sparks fly between them.

A Taste of Silver
Find it on: Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble

Goodreads description:

Rose Ridgewood can't stand her father's new employee. It isn't just Hayden O'Conner's attitude and criminal record that bothers her-it's his odd, silver eyes and the fact that she can't read him. It isn't until she becomes a victim in a deadly game of chase that secrets are uncovered that alter not only her views of Hayden, but of modern humanity. As Rose learns what Hayden really is, her emotions take her closer to him...and closer to danger. When lives are threatened she'll have to decide whether to stay safe at home in California, or follow what might be true love into the unknown.



Now that you know about the author and her books, lets move on to the best part . . . 


The Q's and A's with S.B.:

Q: First of all, why do you love to write?

I have always loved to write! When I was a little girl I often got stuck at my parents’ business, so I had to learn how to entertain myself for hours at a time. I played videogames, I did arts and crafts, but most of all I wrote little stories and drew pictures for them.

Writing became an absolute must for me when I was in high school. My first relationship came when I was sixteen and when you’re a youngster with all these romantic dreams of what a relationship is supposed to be and you realize—surprise!—it is just not like that at sixteen, it can be sort of traumatizing. Especially when the guy you choose is far, FAR from Prince Charming. Writing became my way of dealing with all the aftermath—my feelings, my thoughts, and my deepest dreams were weaved into my writing. At seventeen, I had sat down and wrote my first book.

Q: Which is you favorite genre to write in and why?

Certainly young adult, because I think teenhood is where we all come to our first massive crossroad. We are no longer children, but we are not adults yet either, and we must choose what kind of path we want to venture on. I love to write about these crossroads plus add in a hair of magic and mystery to give it some extra pizazz!

Q: I've read that the first book you'd written (but not published) was Markings. What initially inspired you to start writing it?

I’m trying to remember exactly what sparked it, but it’s been so long I can only remember pieces. I know that reading the Twilight and Hush Hush saga definitely inspired me to a write a good paranormal romance, but I know I was also inspired by the movies Catwoman and Blood and Chocolate. Shape-shifters have always been a passion of mine to write about and study (that’s probably thanks to my Native American blood). Originally Markings was going to be a werewolf novel, but after seeing them flock the market I was like ‘Nope. Gotta take this up a notch if I’m going to make it.’ And Markings became about a clan of Shifters called the Miews instead, though there is going to be more about the Iew Demos in the second novel.

Q: Out of all the books you've published, is there one in particular that you like the best or are the most proud of?

Certainly Markings. It might not be as well-written as Predator Girl, but it was the one that I poured my soul into, my first baby. This book taught me that in our darkest, most painful moments there is a light to be found at the end of every tunnel. I had never been in a situation where I said “I can make this happen against all odds”. I didn't have that kind of confidence—I figured life would walk me down a basic, quiet road where I’d meet a basic, quiet man and hold a basic, quiet job… Instead life walked me down a fairly bump road. My current man is not basic or quiet—he’s weird as hell (like me) and as good looking as Edward Cullen in my book. And while I hold a basic job, my soul’s passion became books, which started with Markings. This book made me realize we are ALL capable of incredible things, and that we should not expect such simpleness out of life. We can always be more and do more and make more if we so choose.

Q: Which author has been your biggest inspiration?

I know people are going to roll their eyes at this one, but certainly Stephenie Meyer. While I've always loved to write, getting me to sit down and actually read a whole book or series was nearly impossible before Twilight. I think I have school to thank for that because, good Lord, the stuff they gave us to read was SO boring! Half the time I cheated and just looked up the summaries on the internet before book test day because I just could not stomach the boring, big-worded books they gave us… I was seventeen when I read Twilight, and it was brilliant to me. I totally related with Bella. The story was easy to read and I understood what was happening beginning to end. The suspense was AWESOME and of course everybody was glued to any scene that had Edward Cullen in it.

Now, for a totally non-writing question:

Q: You and I are from the same state! What is your favorite thing about living in Oregon?

OMG! No way! That is awesome! Hmmm, let’s see… I think I just love the terrain. I love the deep, green forests and the rivers. I most of all love the ocean and I journey to see it as often as possible. I also love eastern Oregon, because we go from lush, damp woodlands to the dry pine deserts. I hate the cities and traffic and I’m not fond of some of the people, but the place itself is my most-beloved home.

Thank you for answering my questions!


I have a few responses:

  • I've never been to the eastern part of Oregon. I live in the southern part, and I've got to agree with the author because the terrain is beautiful. I often times forget that since I've lived here my whole life, but I am happy that I get to live in such a pretty area. 
  • As much as most people hate to admit it, Twilight had a huge impact. Not only did it inspire this author, but it also got me interested in YA books. It did that for a lot of people. 
  • I'm so glad that S.B. decided to not make Markings about werewolves. It looks like the shifters in that book are mostly big cats--which is awesome because I love them! One of the characters is actually a cheetah, and I don't believe I've read a book with one of those kinds of shifters in it. 
  • I can clearly tell that this author is passionate about writing, and I just love hearing why someone is so passionate about what they do. 
  • I just love those book covers. 

That's it for today's interview! Come back tomorrow to check out my interview with Amber Turner!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Review ~ Apollyon by Jennifer L. Armentrout


Genre: YA Paranormal Romance (with Greek Mythology)
Series and number: Covenant #4
Number of pages: 373
Edition: Kindle ebook
Published: Published April 4th 2013 by Spencer Hill Press
Link to Goodreads page

Goodreads description:

Fate isn't something to mess with… and now, neither is Alex.

Alex has always feared two things: losing herself in the Awakening and being placed on the Elixir. But love has always been stronger than Fate, and Aiden St. Delphi is willing to make war on the gods—and Alex herself—to bring her back.

The gods have killed thousands and could destroy entire cities in their quest to stop Seth from taking Alex’s power and becoming the all-powerful God Killer. But breaking Alex’s connection to Seth isn't the only problem. There are a few pesky little loopholes in the whole “an Apollyon can’t be killed” theory, and the only person who might know how to stop the destruction has been dead for centuries.

Finding their way past the barriers that guard the Underworld, searching for one soul among countless millions, and then somehow returning will be hard enough. Alex might be able to keep Seth from becoming the God Killer… or she might become the God Killer herself.

My Review:

Rating: 5 stars
Date read: June 16-19, 2013
Source: bought

I always find it tougher to review books from series that I really love. It might be that I just want the book to speak for itself. Or maybe it's because it's a part of a series, and since I've made four books into it, I obviously love enjoyed it. So, it's tough for me to review this book only, when I feel like I should be reviewing the entire series at once. However, I'll try my best with reviewing Apollyon only.

Right from the start, Apollyon was a nonstop whirlwind of fun, danger, romance, and just plain awesomeness. There were hectic moments where Alex and, at most times, the other were stuck in a suspenseful battle trying to survive in one piece. There were also cool down periods where relationships and friendships were built and explored. The romance between Alex and Aiden took a bigger role than ever before, and the two went through their great highs as well as their really low ones. Throughout it all, they stayed a stable couple and always stuck together (despite the bumps in the road they faced).

Speaking of Alex . . . she was amazing. Just as always, she had that slightly annoying side that she had always had in the series. It was apparent, though, that she had matured—and matured a lot. She began forming better relations with those she didn't give much respect to in the past, and she started to accept how much responsibility really was resting on her shoulders. Alex changed and grew a lot since Half-Blood, but she was still the same girl that she had always been. She just grew into a much more mature version of that.

Honestly, if you've read and enjoyed the previous books in the Covenant series, you are bound to enjoy this one. If you aren't familiar with the series, I really suggest trying it out. It has a fantastic romance that doesn't overshadow the truly great plot. There are many surprises throughout all the books so far, and there are so many moments that are guaranteed to either make you swoon, laugh, or cry (probably not all at once). It's a series that has the ability to suck you into it, just like it has done to me.

Quote:




Upcoming . . . Four Days of Interviews and a Giveaway

Over the last few days, I was able to conduct four (actually five, but I already posted that already) author interviews. All of them were super amazing in getting their responses to me very quickly, and now I have four sets questions and answers are just waiting to be posted. Then I thought . . . since one of them is actually accompanying my first giveaway, I'll just post them all back-to-back in a four-day-long feature! 


This is sort of a celebration for me. I've just been having an awesome summer so far. I've been interviewing great authors, reading and reviewing books, connecting with other bloggers, conducting challenges on Goodreads, and doing a lot of other reading/blogging related things. I won an arc giveaway (which I'm really excited about getting in my mailbox), and I've been hanging out with my friends that are not part of my blogging/reading world. Also, just because the giveaway is happening on the same day, my brother is turning twenty-three years old on Friday.  So . . . I'll just say that the four upcoming interviews are my way of celebrating all the great things that have happened and that will be happening.

Each interview is a little different. I've got two interviews I've conducted through my Goodreads groups. There's one that will accompany a review. Then there's one that will be accompanying the giveaway (which will be an Amazon ebook of the book featured). 

Schedule 

Tuesday, June 25th - S.B. Roozenboom author of Markings (YA Bookaholics interview)


Wednesday, June 26th - Amber Turner, Author of Preppy Little Liars (!YA Heroines! Interview)


Thursday, June 27th - Travis Bughi, Author of the Beyond the Plains (Interview + Review)


Friday, June 28th - S.M. McEachern, Author of Sunset Rising (Interview + Giveaway)



Keep an eye out for these upcoming interviews!

Check out my first interview and review I did (that I've already posted) here. The interviews this week will be similar to the one I posted already. 

First Impressions Are Everything ~ Scarlet, Shadowborn, and Under the Never Sky

Here's what First Impressions is:

Every Monday, I'm going to choose three books to quote either the first sentence or the first paragraph from. Then, I'm going to write about my first impressions based on those first words.The books I will post about will be a random one on my to-read list, one that I intend to read soon, and one that I have read.

Now, here is my third set of First Impressions: 

#1 (from my to-read shelf)

Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

Cinder was a pretty good book, and I'm looking forward to reading this one. It's on my kindle, but I'll probably not get to it for awhile.

First paragraph:

"Scarlet was descending toward the alley behind her portscreen chimed from the passenger seat, followed by an automated voice: 'Comm received for Mademoiselle Scarlet Benoit from the Toulouse Law Enforcement Department of Missing Persons.'"

First Impression?

Hmm. Well, mostly, I just have questions? Who is Scarlet? Who went missing? Why is Scarlet in an alley? Where in the world is she, and will she end up running into Cinder? 

#2 (I will be reading soon)

Shadowborn by Moira Katson

I received a copy of this to review, and as far as the reviews I've seen go, I'll probably enjoy it. 

First paragraph:

"I was an ice child, having the ill luck to be born early, in the deepest storms of the winter, when the drifts of snow can bury whole caravans without a trace, and the winds will cut a man open with slivers of ice. So they say, in any case, in the village in which I was born, the village huddled at the base of the mountain that houses the Winter Castle, the last outpost before the road winds west into Ismir."

First impression?

There seems to be very long sentences in the book. Hopefully, there will be some sentence length variety later on. There seems to be a fantasy quality to it, as well as a little bit of a violent one. 

#3 (I have read)

Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi

I really did enjoy reading this one, though it's not one of my favorite dystopias. 

First paragraph:

"They called the world beyond the walls of the Pod 'the Death Shop.' A million ways to die out there. Aria never thought she'd get so close."

First impression?

I like the dash of foreshadowing being used there. Sounds like Aria will be in danger pretty soon. Also, it seems that she'll become pretty familiar with that outside world. 

That's all my first impressions this week! Come back next Monday for three more.