Monday, March 28, 2011

Just a reminder!

Starting Friday we'll be celebrating animals both big and small in a month long special including guest posts and reviews. We have some great guest posts coming from authors, publicists, readers, bloggers, and a few famous felines and canines....all who love animals and want to share some animal awarness issues with us.

April is Prevention of Cruelty To Animals month so I hope you will all stop by during the month to see what's in store.


Please feel free to spread the word, post the picture and link it up on your blog, tell a friend, whatever you'd like. Thanks!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Early Review: Wither by Lauren Destefano


I have to say that I thought this one was exceptional! I love YA and this one really had it all IMO.
The characters were great and compelling while the story totally took me by surprise. I was expecting something much different but I was delighted by what I got.
Lauren Destefano and The Chemical Garden Trilogy are defenitely ones to watch. I can't wait to read the rest of this series and follow Rhine and Gabriel through their journey.
About The Book:
What if you knew exactly when you would die?
Thanks to modern science, every human being has become a ticking genetic time bomb—males only live to age twenty-five, and females only live to age twenty. In this bleak landscape, young girls are kidnapped and forced into polygamous marriages to keep the population from dying out.
When sixteen-year-old Rhine Ellery is taken by the Gatherers to become a bride, she enters a world of wealth and privilege. Despite her husband Linden's genuine love for her, and a tenuous trust among her sister wives, Rhine has one purpose: to escape—to find her twin brother and go home.
But Rhine has more to contend with than losing her freedom. Linden's eccentric father is bent on finding an antidote to the genetic virus that is getting closer to taking his son, even if it means collecting corpses in order to test his experiments. With the help of Gabriel, a servant Rhine is growing dangerously attracted to, Rhine attempts to break free, in the limted time she has left.
About The Author:
(From Goodreads)
Lauren DeStefano (pronounced: de STEFF ano) graduated Albertus Magnus College in New Haven, CT in 2007. Her debut novel, WITHER, the first in The Chemical Garden Trilogy, is due to hit stores in March 2011 by Simon & Schuster BFYR.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Guest Post and Giveaway from Author Heather Wardell



Joining us today is Heather Wardell who writes women's fiction and she is going to be talking to us about reoccuring characters in stories. Do you (the reader) like it? Or would you rather new characters every time.

Stay tuned to the end so you can find out more about the giveaway!

Three of my five novels feature recurring characters. A hot restaurant owner named Kegan shares male lead duties in the first one (my free download "Life, Love, and a Polar Bear Tattoo"), makes a guest appearance in "Go Small or Go Home", and takes on the lead role in my newest book, "Stir Until Thoroughly Confused". In addition, several characters from the first and second books reappear in the third, some as brief guest appearances and some as fairly major characters.

I didn't intend to do this, since I don't particularly want to write a series. Nothing against them, but I've always enjoyed finding and exploring new main characters too much to want to rehash what I've done before. But as I wrote the first draft of "Go Small or Go Home", Kegan just showed up and seemed to fit. I liked how his presence added to the book, so since then I've watched for opportunities to bring in my past characters.

So far the readers who've commented on this seem to like it, but I still see both advantages and disadvantages. Let's look at a few of each and then I'll tell you what I plan to do in the future.

Advantages

1. Readers can find out what their past favorite characters are up to. This is obvious, but that doesn't make it any less true. If you've read and enjoyed a novel, you've invested something of yourself in the characters and their stories. It's only natural to want to see what they're doing after the book is over. If they made a career change, do they regret it? If they fell in love, is that still working for them? Seeing them again in a future book lets you find out.

2. The world of the book can seem more real. We do often re-encounter people we've known before, so I think it can feel natural and normal to have book characters re-appear. Forrest Williams, the hockey star male lead of "Go Small or Go Home", is friends with Kegan through Kegan's brother who also plays hockey, so when I began Kegan's book it made sense to me that he would be there. Knowing that the other characters continue to live their lives makes the world seem richer.

3. Readers (and authors!) can see characters in a different light. I loved bringing Forrest back in "Stir Until Thoroughly Confused". I loved him in "his" book, and it was so much fun to see him through a new main character's eyes. Readers have mentioned they liked that too.

Disadvantages

1. What if you hated Kegan? Now he's back again, and then AGAIN? If he did nothing for you the first time, you're unlikely to want to read my third book that's all about him.

2. Continuity becomes an issue. Keeping track of how long it's been between books in the "book world" can be difficult, and I don't want readers hung up on wondering if I've done that timeline correctly. I know sometimes when I'm reading I find myself thinking, "This doesn't seem to fit with when the author says it happened," and I would rather not make my readers think the same thing. Kegan is founding a restaurant in my first book, which Forrest and his leading lady Tess visit in the second. I had to make sure that when Tess says, "It's only been open three months" that was reasonable given the month it opened and the month she was there. (I know the vast majority of readers won't notice this, but I will and it'll bother me unless I do it right!)

3. It can feel forced. I have a cameo appearance in my current book, which is still in first draft, and I'm not at all sure I like it. It has the feel, at the moment, of a joke that's all set-up and no punchline. I like what happens during the appearance but I'm not positive the same people will still be there by the time the book is done. I definitely don't want to get into a "I have to bring someone back for every book" mindset, since sometimes it won't work.

4. Deciding how much backstory to give is a challenge. If a reader's read all of my books, they just need a refresher about the person's history. If they haven't, they probably still only need that same refresher, since the book isn't really about that person. For example, in "Go Small or Go Home", my main character's sister is an alcoholic. That sister appears in "Stir Until Thoroughly Confused" but I don't touch on her addiction. Why? Because in the scenes where she appears, it's not relevant, and the main character of that book would never know. I wanted to mention it, though, because it's part of her story. And that's the danger: that the author gives more backstory than is needed and the reader, whether new to the stories or not, gets bogged down in irrelevant information.

So, given the pros and cons, what will I do in the future? I'll continue bringing characters back into my books when it feels right and natural. I think that the depth and entertainment value it can add to a story is worth the careful attention needed to make sure it's done right.

What do you think? Do you like recurring characters? I'd love to know why, especially if you don't. :)

**
Heather Wardell writes women's fiction with depth, humor, and heart. She has five novels available now, one for free download and the rest for $0.99 each. You can read excerpts at http://www.heatherwardell.com/
**

Now For The Giveaway!

Heather is offering one print copy and three ebooks!

To enter please leave a comment on Heather's question: What do you think? Do you like recurring characters? I'd love to know why, especially if you don't. :)

+1 to new or old followers

+1 if you spread the word in any way

Monday, March 14, 2011

Feature and Giveaway: The Truth About Vampires by Theresa Myers




As part of Theresa Meyers Bewitching Book Tour we'll feature her The Truth About Vampires AND offering an awesome giveaway for a signed copy of the book!



About The Book:

(From Amazon)

All her life, Seattle reporter Kristin Reed sought her breakout story. She never thought she'd find it in the crimson lair of a real-life creature of the night. Kristin never believed vampires existed—until with dark brooding eyes and a decadent chocolate scent, Dmitri Dionotte called out to her….

Dmitri and his clan's true nature was cloaked in secrecy until a warring vampire order threatened their existence. Kristin was just the woman he needed. She couldn't resist their story…or Dmitri. Her blood pulsed hot and furious when he touched her, and with his kiss, all logic fled. But each night she spent with her vampire lover brought her closer to death and destruction. A death not even an immortal could triumph over.


About The Author:

(From Amazon)

The progeny of a slightly mad (NASA) scientist and a tea-drinking bibliophile who turned the family dining room into a library, Theresa Meyers learned early the value of a questioning mind, books and a good china teapot. She started her first novel in high school, eventually enrolling in a Writer's Digest course and putting the book under the bed, writing as a freelancer for newspapers and national magazines.
It wasn't until she joined Romance Writers of America in 1993, that she seriously began to pursue a career in fiction. In 2005 she was selected as one of eleven finalists for the American Title II contest, the American Idol of books. She has since sold several novels and novellas. She writes paranormal and historical romance, Steampunk, Young Adult books and some Middle Grade fiction.

Theresa firmly believes in love and first sight. Afterall, she's married to the first man she ever went on a real date with (to their high school prom), who she knew was hero material when he suffered through having to let her parents drive, and her little brother sit between them in the backseat of the car (which is a whole other story. They've been married over 20 years.
They currently live in a Victorian house on a mini farm in the Pacific Northwest with their children, four cats, an old chestnut Arabian gelding, an energetic mini-Aussie shepherd, several rabbits, a dozen chickens and an out-of-control herb garden. When she isn't writing, reading, watching movies (her favories include Stardust, Indiana Jones, Back to the Future, Lost Boys and too many others and the television series Supernatural) she's usually having tea with her friends, volunteering at the school or outside enjoying the flowers. If you're curious to know more, you can always find her website online, or visit with her on Twitter and FaceBook.

Theresa is offereing one signed copy to one lucky US winner! To enter please leave a comment with a way to contact you!

+1 for new or old Followers
+1 if you spread the word in any way!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Quickie Review: The Duff by Kody Keplinger


If you haven't picked this one up yet I say "Do it now!" I really adored this story and everything that came along with it. I thought it was honest and real and I felt familiar with the main character. It's wonderfully written and I think it's basically just awesome!
About The Book:
(From Goodreads)
Seventeen-year-old Bianca Piper is cynical and loyal, and she doesn’t think she’s the prettiest of her friends by a long shot. She’s also way too smart to fall for the charms of man-slut and slimy school hottie Wesley Rush. In fact, Bianca hates him. And when he nicknames her “the Duff,” she throws her Coke in his face.

But things aren’t so great at home right now, and Bianca is desperate for a distraction. She ends up kissing Wesley. Worse, she likes it. Eager for escape, Bianca throws herself into a closeted enemies-with-benefits relationship with him.

Until it all goes horribly awry. It turns out Wesley isn’t such a bad listener, and his life is pretty screwed up, too. Suddenly Bianca realizes with absolute horror that she’s falling for the guy she thought she hated more than anyone.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

**Guest Post from Alayna Williams: Author of Rogue Oracle

Today we welcome Alayna Williams, author of Dark Oracle and Rogue Oracle, two fabulous books! Grab your coffee and sit back with us for a few! My apologies for not having it up sooner! Yikes! It's Mardi Gras day and I guess I'm uber distracted!

Facing Fears: The Tower
by Alayna Williams

I wrote both Dark Oracle and Rogue Oracle with a deck of cards at hand – much like my heroine, Tara Sheridan, a criminal profiler who uses Tarot cards to solves crimes. Whenever I get stuck on a character or plot point, I shuffle the cards and pull out one at random. More often than not, I can find something in the symbolism of the image that captures my imagination and propels my writing forward.

When I was developing the outline for Rogue Oracle, there was one card that haunted me more than any other. One card that kept coming up whenever I shuffled the deck and spread the cards out before me: The Tower. The Tower depicts a disintegrating structure at night, struck by lightning, from which two people fall. The traditional meaning of the card has to do with old ways of life collapsing and a new order taking its place. It's about destruction, an event after which nothing is ever the same again.

There was always something about the Tower that bothered me, that frightened me on a deep, subconscious level. Something distantly familiar. I looked at its image in several other decks before I realized what it symbolized to me for this story: the disaster at Chernobyl, almost twenty-five years ago.

One of my childhood fears was Chernobyl. I was in middle school when the news reports began to filter in that something terrible had happened in Europe...that a Soviet reactor had melted down, breached containment in fire and invisible poison. The Ukraine seemed a thousand worlds away. And I was less than a bystander, an ordinary kid on an ordinary street in the U.S.

But something about the story captivated and frightened me. I remember seeing some pictures of Chernobyl on the news, of an industrial plant not quite so different than those plants that surrounded me where I grew up where my dad worked. And seeing fire. And the rumors about plumes of poison moving over Europe, unstoppably.

It made me shudder. I remember that my mother turned off the television when we were in the room.

But the story of Chernobyl - of the people who died immediately in the fire, those who died after of horrible cancers, of secrets and something invisible that could kill more effectively than an army - it seemed to seep into the minds of the adults. I remember that my class was shown a film about radiation in the school library. I don't remember what it was called, but I remember that it was pretty graphic. It talked a lot about Hiroshima. Poisoned radioactive organs in jars. A man in a perfectly pristine white T-shirt who was covered in radiation burns. Almost a supernatural horror - more terrifying than the books about the making of classic Dracula and Frankenstein movies that we were reading.

It did give me nightmares. And I think many of the other kids.

And I guess that it never did completely dislodge from my memory. The black shape of the containment structure, the Sarcophagus, reminds me so much of the shadowy tower in all its supernatural power.

And because it scared me, I knew that this was the concept to pursue. I would put my heroine on the trail of a Chernobyl survivor who was selling old nuclear secrets on the international black market. I would take her to the place that I dimly remembered from old television footage, now sharpened by research. I made Tara walk through the tall grasses and stand before the Sarcophagus. I'd let her feel the prickle of radiation on her skin, taste the metallic tang of the rain, let her see the bird's nests wedged into the splitting seams of the structure.

I made her stand in the shadow of the Tower, the closest thing I could connect to such a fearsome symbol in the real world.

And...it does still scare me.

About Rogue Oracle:
(From Author's website)

The more you know about the future, the more there may be to fear.Tara Sheridan is the best criminal profiler around - and the most unconventional. Trained as a forensic psychologist, Tara also specializes in Tarot card reading. But she doesn't need her divination skills to realize that the new assignment from her friend and sometime lover, Agent Harry Li, is a dangerous proposition in every way.Former Cold War operatives, all linked to a top-secret operation tracking the disposal of nuclear weapons in Russia, are disappearing. There are no bodies, and no clues to their whereabouts. Harry suspects a conspiracy to sell arms to the highest bidder. The cards - and Tara's increasingly ominous dreams - suggest something darker. Even as Tara sorts through her feelings for Harry and her fractured relationships with the mysterious order known as Delphi's Daughters, a killer is growing more ruthless by the day. And a nightmare that began decades ago in Chernobyl will reach a terrifying endgame that not even Tara could have foreseen…

Here are the rest of the tour stops:

March 9 Guest Author at Just Viewshttp://www.justviews.net/
March 10 Interview and Giveaway Book of Secretshttp://bookofsecretsblog.com/
March 11 Interview at JoJo's Book Cornerhttp://jojosbookcorner.blogspot.com/
March 14 Review & Giveaway at Michelle's Book Bloghttp://michellesramblins.blogspot.com/
March 14—SOS Alohahttp://sosaloha.blogspot.com/
March 16 Interview at A Buckeye Girl Readshttp://lovesromances.blogspot.com/
March 17 Guest blog at Pearls Cast Before a McPighttp://mcpigpearls.blogspot.com/
March 25 Interview at Vampire Wirehttp://www.vampirewire.blogspot.com/

**Review: Rogue Oracle by Alayna Williams


I loved the first book and was equally excited to read this one! I'm so glad that I did! Alayna once again did a great job with her story.
I love her character building because it seems there is always one more layer or bit of depth to each one. They don't get boring for me.
Of course her plot building is also excellent and there is a surprise around every corner.
If you're an Urban Fantasy fan and you haven't checked out this series yet then I suggest trying it out!
About The Book:
The more you know about the future, the more there may be to fear.Tara Sheridan is the best criminal profiler around - and the most unconventional. Trained as a forensic psychologist, Tara also specializes in Tarot card reading. But she doesn't need her divination skills to realize that the new assignment from her friend and sometime lover, Agent Harry Li, is a dangerous proposition in every way.Former Cold War operatives, all linked to a top-secret operation tracking the disposal of nuclear weapons in Russia, are disappearing. There are no bodies, and no clues to their whereabouts. Harry suspects a conspiracy to sell arms to the highest bidder. The cards - and Tara's increasingly ominous dreams - suggest something darker. Even as Tara sorts through her feelings for Harry and her fractured relationships with the mysterious order known as Delphi's Daughters, a killer is growing more ruthless by the day. And a nightmare that began decades ago in Chernobyl will reach a terrifying endgame that not even Tara could have foreseen…

Monday, March 7, 2011

Review: Lessons From Stanley The Cat by Jennifer Freed

Today's review is a little book called Lessons From Stanley The Cat! While it is a "small book" it has some much needed advice about some of the big things in life...and the not so big things. It was enjoyable to read and full of humor. I enjoyed it and think this would make a great gift....especially for the cat lover.

About The Book:



Seduction is just the practice of artful stretching.

Never let people know how fast you are.

Appear slow in all things, and less is expected of you.

When someone is on the computer too long, help them by distracting them, or walk lightly on their keyboard.

So advises Stanley, a remarkably astute cat with a keen eye for the important things in life. Perhaps you don’t have time for yoga, can’t afford therapy, or wouldn’t dare cry to mother. If so, let Stanley be your guide. Lessons from Stanley the Cat offers wise and witty maxims from Stanley himself, translated by his doting psychotherapist (human) parent, Jennifer Freed. Whether you’re a cat lover or prefer companions of the canine variety, Stanley’s warmth and insight are sure to brighten even the grayest days.

About The Author:

For more than 25 years, Jennifer Freed, Ph.D., has been a licensed marriage and family counselor, group psychotherapist and educator. She was the Clinical Director at PACIFICA GRADUATE INSTITUTE, one of the country’s leading centers for depth psychology, where she continues to serve as a professor and workshop leader.Dr. Freed is a recognized expert on behavioral matters such as teen bullying, character development, marriage and family relationships, and diversity issues. She has provided thousands with the practical tools to compassionately reassess personal behaviors and make significant life changes.
National media appearances include GOOD MORNING AMERICA, NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO, ABC NEWS, FOX NEWS, SIRRIUS RADIO, AIR AMERICA, USA TODAY, DISNEY.COM, LIFESCRIPT.COM, and others. Jennifer Freed currently hosts the popular radio program FREED UP! on Voice America.
Jennifer Freed is the co-founder/director of the highly successful teen program called THE ACADEMY OF HEALING ARTS (AHA!), which serves more than 1000 families annually in the state of California. AHA! is dedicated to the development of character, imagination, emotional intelligence, and social conscience in teenagers , while helping them set goals, support their peers, and serve their community. For The Academy of Healing Arts, Dr. Freed created the educational book series “BECOME YOUR BEST SELF”, which includes workbooks on Relationship Wisdom, Character, Compassion and Creative Expression, targeted to teens and young adults.

In addition to the workbook series, Dr. Freed has published THE ULTIMATE PERSONALITY GUIDE, a popular interactive guidebook for understanding personality typologies. Her latest book published by Penguin, LESSONS FROM STANLEY THE CAT: Nine Lives of Everyday Wisdom, inspired by a beloved feline friend, has received rave reviews. To learn more about Stanley, please visit stanleythecat.com.

Dr. Freed is the recipient of the 2009 Santa Barbara’s Local Heroes Award and THE HOPE AWARD from Sierra Tucson Treatment Center, in recognition of her innovative curriculum for high school teenagers, which led to a 75% reduction in school suspensions. The Academy of Healing Arts was just awarded YOUTH PROGRAM OF THE YEAR by the City of Santa Barbara in 2010 and AHA! is also the recipient of the 2010 Southern California Teen Coalition Teenie Award in the category of Be the Change Award – this category recognizes youth/teen groups/organizations that are working to help teens make a difference in the world or in their community by projects, activities or personal changes that actually make tangible differences. The membership of the SCTC is about 500 strong with about 70 or more agencies represented.
She also was the founder of the statewide program called THE MEDIA PROJECT which worked with teens to produce media products for the prevention of drugs and violent offenses.
Additionally, Jennifer is a renowned psychological astrologer with thousands of clients all over the country and the world. She is the director of Astrological Counseling Seminars which has provided classes to over a thousand students. She has also maintained a clinical practice in Santa Barbara serving individuals, couples, and families for 26 years.

You can visit her website at www.jenniferfreed.com.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

I'm baaaaaack! From vacation that is...

We had a great vacation and now I'm playing the catch up game. I'm trying to reply to all emails ASAP but if I haven't replied to yet and you need to talk to me please feel free to email me again.
I'm busy working on a TOP SECRET project and my Animal Month project so I haven't been online very much everyday. Don't forget...if you want to participate in the pet project there is still time!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Dual Review: Prophecy Of The Sisters and Guardian Of The Gate




I liked these. I'll admit that it did take me awhile to get into it but once I was in I enjoyed it. In my personal opinion you MUST read both books. You won't be able to understand the second unless you read the first. Which is okay of course, because it is a series.

If you enjoy YA set in a "historical" type setting then you may want to check this one out if you haven't yet.