Monday, October 29, 2012

Healing Notes by Maggie Jaimeson Excerpt and Giveaway!

Brought to you by Goddess Fish Promotions...

Forgiving yourself is the first step, but helping others forgive may be just too hard.

Rachel Cullen grew up in Scotland with a fiddle in her hand from the age of four. She couldn't imagine life as anything but a musician. When her husband brought her to America she was immediately embraced by the Celtic and Bluegrass communities. But after her divorce, Rachel's life is a mess.

A year of trying to prove to herself that she's woman enough for any man, and then a vicious rape while on tour with the band, leaves Rachel reeling. When she meets Noel Kershaw, an English teacher who is poetry in motion, she is definitely attracted. But he has a young child and he's suffering from his own divorce. The last thing Rachel needs in life is more baggage.

First, Rachel must reconcile who she is, what she wants, and how to get there. Maybe then she'll know how to be a part of the family she's always wanted.

Friday, October 26, 2012

swauzzie: the man behind the guitar

Robi Stalder, better known as Swauzzie of the under-recognized Youtube fame, is one of the top people on my to-marry favorite people list – remember my hunk alert feature on him? His voice is absolutely angelic, his disposition mesmerizing, and now, we know, his personality amazing! He came up with a video a couple weeks ago announcing an upcoming Q&A session:

And as promised, today, he responded to them!

Catch how he answered mine?? (@4:26)

Question:
Tell us about the first time you got your heart broken...
...and how you got over it.
Answer:
 This is getting serious now, this is getting deep. The first time I ever got my heart broken... seriously, I've been pretty lucky, but if we wanna go early days, when I was about eight years old, I had a crush on this girl who everyone did – just, like every guy – she was a cutie. Word got out that I had eyes for her and she started seeing this other guy – she was dating him for the day! So I waited out at the front of the classroom for him to come out for recess and I threw a football at his face. Scott, if you remember that, I'm sorry *irresistible grin* but man, you had it coming! She was my girl, (as well as everyone else's), you didn't deserve her! *contagious laugh*

Honestly though, if you want some constructive feedback on broken hearts: if something's out of your control, you just do something else, get your mind off of it, and make it productive. Make it productive. Do something constructive, positive... like cleaning. I just clean. I recently cleaned out the whole garage from top to bottom.

What happens with me is, I get so involved and I actually enjoy cleaning 'cause I'm seeing progress happen around me, that it works so well, I forget what I was upset about. I actually enjoy that. So, yeah! *charming shrug* That's what I suggest.

So basically he's not only super adorable and sweet but also level-headed AND he likes to clean?!? My kind of man. I love him so much I can't even♥♥♥ Oh and look at this screenshot of my name, I feel ~famous~~~ (I mean, he read my comment and typed my name out, then spent a minute and a half to respond to it, ok I'm freaking out, everyone):

Well, I just wanted to brag a bit. Enjoy him :)

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Broken Aro by Jen Wylie Excerpt and Giveaway!

These Paper Worlds Book Blog Tours presents...

Open your eyes to darkness. What do you see? Does the darkness frighten you? Now imagine the darkness being the cargo hold of a slave ship. Your city has fallen. Your family is most likely dead. You don’t know anyone around you, and some of them aren’t even human. Giving up would be so easy to do, but not for Arowyn Mason. Not after being raised in a military family with seven brothers. Every great story should begin with a plan. Aro’s was to escape and to survive.

Escape comes, but at a price. As they reach the shore, Aro and the other survivors learn that freedom doesn’t mean safety. The slavers want their property back and will do anything to get it. The party uses every ounce of their brute strength, a hearty helping of cunning, and even ancient magics to keep themselves alive. Sickness, danger, and even love surprise them at every turn. Dealing with danger becomes their way of life, but none of them ever considered that nothing can be quite as dangerous as a prophecy. Running turns into another race altogether as her world falls to pieces again and again.
Excerpt:

Her eyes opened to darkness.

She wasn't surprised. When bad things happened and you finally opened your eyes it was always dark wasn't it? Because otherwise when you woke up you wouldn't be scared, not right away, not until you remembered. Yet in darkness nothing else could be seen but the memories of what had happened, it didn't matter if you opened your eyes or kept them squeezed closed.

What happened...

She closed her eyes again, not against the memories, but the sudden tears and choking sobs. Still, she tried to notremember, but her head hurt. All of her hurt, but her head hurt the worst. She'd been hit by something, very hard. She had no trouble remembering the pain. She remembered falling to the ground, her brothers screaming her name over the insane loudness of the fighting and everything fading to nothing as darkness claimed her.

She sucked in a deep breath. The fighting. Yes, the city had been attacked. The walls had been breached. There had been fighting in the streets. She had been fighting. Her brothers had been trying to get her out. They had been so close. Had they? She shifted and froze, terror creeping up her throat and choking her at the same time until nothing but a strangled gurgle came out.

They had not.

She knew because she felt the cold metal shackles around each wrist, felt the weight of the chain between them. The same fetters bound her ankles. Dirty straw prickled her cheek and the other smells of her surroundings overcame her. They overwhelmed her and made her gag. The rank scents of piss, shit and vomit almost covered the stale reek of sweat and the tang of salt.

Salt.

She'd thought her head had just been spinning, but no, everything moved, lurching and swaying. She was at sea.

At sea in chains meant only one thing. The rumors had been true. The Gelanians had allied with the Franuan Slavers. Beneath the combined attack, Kingsport had fallen and the Frans had taken their cut, citizens to sell as slaves. She was a slave.

Well that sucks.

The idea terrified her, and left her cold and shaking. Squeezing her eyes closed, she fought to push away the horrifying images suddenly assaulting her. Breathing slowly helped a little. The shaking stopped and finally she could breathe again.

She opened her eyes, straining them against the darkness. Had night fallen? Could that be why it was so dark?Her eyes slowly adjusted until she could make out vague shapes; the bars of the cell in the ships hold and darker shapes of people sitting before her in the small cell.

She concentrated, squinting her eyes and counting. Six others shared the cell. Her brothers? "Paul?" The creak of the ship and the murmurs, curses, and sobs of the other captives in the hold almost drowned out her small voice.

"Boy's awake," one of the shapes said. Definitely not one of her brothers.

She stiffened. They'd called her boy. Even after all she'd been through, it was quite a blow to her self-esteem. She frowned in confusion for a moment, until she remembered. Her brothers had dressed her in their old clothes, old bits of armor that sort of fit. They'd even hacked off her long hair...

She cursed them under her breath again for that. Then she almost smiled, remembering Sammy's face when he'd done it. Her brothers were such morons. They always had been. Yet they'd been stuck with raising her, and what did they know of girls? Her mother had died when she was four, and losing her hadn't been easy on any of them.

Father had been a regiment Commander and away a lot. They'd all managed to take care of her somehow, the younger of her brothers watching over her until eventually they'd all joined the army. But she'd been twelve by the time the youngest of them had enlisted. She'd been able to take care of the house while they served their time on the border. They didn't worry about her much. The army wives had helped, keeping an eye on her for them.

However, father had died two years ago at Demet's Pass. It had been hard, losing him. Harder than when mother had died because she hadn't been old enough then to know what it meant. Not seeing him at the head of their big old table, with his gentle smile, had been tough on all of them. It still was. It had been harder this past spring when her brothers had all ridden out again. Because death had become something real, she knew they might not come back.

She was fifteen now. Not really a child anymore. So she had faked a smile and waved goodbye to them all when really fear had made her want to scream instead. They had all come home, but with an enemy army at their heels. They'd been afraid then, afraid for her. They knew things she didn't, things like what would happen to a young girl if the city fell. However, she wasn't a woman yet, not in appearance at any rate. Tall and gangly with no figure whatsoever. No wonder she could pass for a boy.

"Boy."

The man who had spoken before broke her thoughts. She must have been hit in the head hard for her mind to wander back into the past. She managed to croak an incoherent sound indicating she'd heard him.

"You alive over there?"

"Yes," she lied and waited. No one else spoke. No one came rushing to her side. Panic quickened her breath as fear sped her heart. Her brothers weren't here. If they had been they'd have harassed everyone to find out where she was. At least... they weren't on this boat. Unfortunately, the slavers had a whole fleet. They must be on another boat. She had to believe that. She closed her eyes tightly again. Yes, they'd been placed on another boat.

Because if they weren't then they were all dead.


Giveaway!
Thanks to the author and These Paper Worlds Book Blog Tours, we've one eBook copy of Broken Aro up for grabs! Enter by filling out the Rafflecopter form below:
Giveaway runs through November 4th, 2012 at 11.59 pm (EST).
Open to all readers, international folks included!
As a reminder, you do not have to follow my blog to enter, though it is always very much appreciated ❤ and you get additional entries ;)
Good luck!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Just Remember to Breathe Excerpt and Giveaway!

Brought to you by Enchanted Book Promotions...
Alex Thompson’s life is following the script. A pre-law student at Columbia University, she’s focused on her grades, her life and her future. The last thing she needs is to reconnect with the boy who broke her heart.

Dylan Paris comes home from Afghanistan severely injured and knows that the one thing he cannot do is drag Alex into the mess he’s made of his life.

When Dylan and Alex are assigned to the same work study program and are forced to work side by side, they have to make new ground rules to keep from killing each other.

Only problem is, they keep breaking the rules.

The first rule is to never, ever talk about how they fell in love.
Excerpt

“I think we need to set some ground rules,” she said.

It was the third day of classes, and our first day actually working for Doctor Forrester. Forrester had a gigantic pile of information, books, files and source documents. It was a disorganized mess. Our first assignment was to begin organizing it and cross referencing it. We divided up the work fairly easily: I set up a database, and she sorted the material and began feeding it to me.

Unfortunately, it was difficult to work together when we spent most of the time either glaring at each other or ignoring each other.

“What are you talking about?” I asked.

“Look... like it or not, we have to work together.”

I nodded. I’d tried to get reassigned to a different work study assignment, but there weren’t any openings.

“So, let’s go get a cup of coffee. And talk. And figure out how we can do this without being at each other’s throats.”

I felt a lump in my throat. It was one thing to sit here in Forrester’s office with her. It was another thing entirely to go somewhere else with her, and sit, like normal people, and talk about anything. But she was right. If we were going to be doing this every other day, we had to set some ground rules, or we were both going to be miserable.

“Fine,” I said. “When?”

“I’m finished with classes for the day. What about right now?”

I nodded. “All right.”

I slowly stood. I was in a lot of pain. The day before I’d had my first physical therapy session at the Brooklyn VA hospital. Loads of fun. My physical therapist was a 45 year old former Marine, and he was of the school of thought that pain was good for you. Problem was, it’s hard to argue your point with someone missing a leg. Seriously, what sympathy was he going to give?

I never liked Marines anyway.

So, I followed her to the coffee shop around the corner from Forrester’s office. It was nice, a small place, with a few outdoor seats. I was incredibly self conscious as we walked. She’d picked up a New Yorker’s pace during her year in college here. I, on the other hand, moved at something like the pace of a turtle, thanks to the gimp leg and the cane.

She slowed herself down to keep pace with me. About halfway there, she finally said something to me.

“So... what happened to your leg?”

I shrugged, gave a terse answer. “Hajis thought I would look better without it I guess. Roadside bomb.”

She sighed. “I’m sorry.”

“It’s not so bad. I got to go to the hospital, and live. That makes me lucky.” What I didn’t say: unlike Roberts, who left that roadside in a bag.

At the coffee shop, she said, “You grab a seat. I’ll get us coffee. You still take yours loaded?”

I nodded, and muttered, “Thank you,” then eased myself into a seat next to the sidewalk.

While I waited for her, I took out my phone and scanned through my email. Junk. More junk. Email from Mom. I’d answer that one later. She was naturally worried about me. Some things would never change. For the longest time I’d been angry with my mom over kicking me out when I quit school. Nowadays, I was grateful for it. It gave me a chance to get some hard knocks early. It gave me a chance to get my head on straight and figure out my priorities when I was young enough the damage wouldn’t be permanent. Tough love, they call it in the program. She was a believer. I’d have never guessed she’d have five years clean and sober, so something was working there.

When Alex returned to the table, bearing two gigantic cups of coffee, I put the phone away.

“Thank you,” I said. I sipped the coffee. Oh, that was good.

She smiled, met my eyes, then looked away very quickly. The brief eye contact, which remarkably wasn’t a glare, twisted at my stomach and made me look at the ground.

“Okay,” I said. “Ground rules.”

“Yes,” she said.

We were silent. What, did she expect me to come up with them?

I shook my head, then said, “Okay, you start. It was your idea.”

“Fair enough.” She looked at me thoughtfully, then said, “All right. The first rule. We never, ever talk about Israel.”

I closed my eyes, and nodded. Talking about it would hurt way too much. “Agreed,” I muttered.

She looked relieved, which somehow broke my heart all over again.

I spoke. “We don’t talk about what happened after either. Not when I visited you in San Francisco. Or the year between. Or the year after.”

“Especially not the year after,” she said. Her eyes were glistening as she looked at the table.

We were silent again. This was just a barrel of laughs. I felt like I was attending a funeral.

“I don’t know if I can do this,” I said.

“Why not?” she replied.

“Because... because, well, sometimes it hurts, Alex. A little. A lot. Jesus Christ.”

She looked away, and damn if her eyes weren’t beautiful. Her lashes were like a mile long.

“If we’re going to get through this year, I think we have to move past that,” she said.

“Yeah.”

“It’ll be like we’re strangers.”

I shrugged. “Okay.” Like that could happen.

“We start over. We just met. You’re some guy who just got out of the Army, and I’m a girl from San Francisco going to college here. We’ve got nothing in common. No connection. Not friends. Certainly not... what we were.”

Not friends. Of course not. How in hell could we be friends, after what we’d been through?

I nodded, feeling miserable. Shit, it’s not like I had any friends anyway, not anymore. I’d lost touch with the ones from Atlanta, who couldn’t deal with what I’d become. And the ones in Afghanistan… except for Sherman and Roberts, I’d never gotten close to any of them. Roberts was dead, and Sherman was still out in the boonies.

“I don’t know what we were anyway. None of it ever made any sense.”

She shrugged, and then hugged her arms across her chest, and I felt like crap for what I’d said. “I’m sorry,” I said.

“Why?” she asked, looking away from me, out at the street. Her lower lip was trembling, and I wanted to hit myself in the head with a sharp pointy object.

“It’s true, isn’t it? We never did make any sense?”

“Oh, God. Let’s not do this. Please.”

“Okay.” Her face was twitching, and it was obvious she was holding back a tear.

“Look,” I said. “This sucks. But we’ll be okay, all right? It’s only a few hours a week, anyway. What we had... it was another world. We were in a foreign country, being exposed to all kinds of amazing stuff. We weren’t ourselves, our real selves. It was... It was fantasy. A beautiful fantasy, but fiction all the same, okay?”

She nodded, quickly, then wiped her eye with a fist, smearing her mascara.

“For what it’s worth, I’m sorry.”

“We’re already breaking the rules,” she said.

“No. We’re not. No more talk about the past. From this point forward, we only talk about now. You’re absolutely right. Any more rules?”

“I don’t know.”

I frowned, then said, “Fine. What do you think of Doctor Forrester, anyway?”

She shook her head. “He’s a giant fake.”

I raised my eyebrows. “Really?”

“Well, yeah. Just look at him. Tweed jacket! He wrote one novel fifteen years ago, won a National Book Award, and he’s been coasting on that ever since.”

I grinned. “That is one hell of a case of... um...”

Oh shit, not now. I couldn’t think. Sometimes this happens to me now. I forget words, phrases. I closed my eyes, trying to center, let my mind come at it from a different direction. I pictured a typewriter, an old manual one, and it popped in. “Writer’s block.”

She giggled. Still upset, but the change of subject helped. It was nice to see a little color on her cheeks. “Do you still write?” she asked.

I nodded. “Of course.”

“What about?”

I shrugged. “The war, right now. It’s all... stream of consciousness, I guess. Not organized in any way. Just trying to get my thoughts down. My therapist down in Atlanta said it might help.”

She turned and looked at me, really looked at me, for the first time, I think, since we’d run into each other three days before.

“Your therapist?”

I shrugged. “Along with the gimp leg, I’m technically diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. And traumatic brain injury. Got my brainpan rattled when the bomb went off, you know? It’s all labels, anyway.”

“What do you mean?”

I frowned. “I’m just... I’m not exactly the guy you knew, Alex. Sometimes things here… they don’t seem as... as real. As it was over there. Maybe I’ve become an adrenaline junkie. Reality just isn’t colorful enough for me.”

She sighed. “I felt that way for the longest time after we got back from Israel.”

“You’re breaking your rules again.”

“Oh, right.”

She paused, then spoke again. “But I really did. It was so intense, and interesting and colorful. Then all of the sudden things were mundane, and grey, and it was get up and go to school and do homework and none of it seemed to matter as much.”

“Yeah,” I said. “Anyway, I think working with Doctor Forrester will be interesting, at least. I thought for sure my work-study would be slinging dishes or mopping floors or something.”

“Yeah, this is a lot better,” she replied. “And just think, you get to see a real writer in action.” When she said the word ‘real’ she held her hands up and made little quotes. I laughed.

“Okay, you’re probably right. Let’s see if he produces anything this year. At least we can make sure the research is all lined up.”

She grinned. “We should make a little wager on it.”

I raised my eyebrows. “Feeling a little competitive?”

“I say he produces absolutely nothing. Twenty dollars.”

“Fair enough. What’s the threshold. Fifty pages? A hundred? Two?”

“He has to finish at least a first draft.”

“Deal.” I reached across to shake her hand. She took it, and though the action felt natural, it felt too natural. Taking her hand. I let go quickly, feeling as if I’d been burned. Touching her... it was just too intense.

We were both silent again. Awkward. As. Hell.

“I should get going,” I said, at the exact same time she said, “Well, I’ve got somewhere to...”

We looked at each other and both of us burst out laughing. “Okay,” I said. “Yeah, this is awkward. Are we really going to be able to do this?”

She shrugged, and gave a smile I knew was fake as a three dollar bill. “Of course, Dylan. It can’t be that hard.”

I started to gather my bags, then took three dollars out of my wallet. “For the coffee,” I said.

“Keep it. You buy next time.”

I paused, then put the money back in my wallet. Next time? Was this going to be a regular occurrence. Probably not a good idea. Not a good idea at all.



Giveaway!
Thanks to the author and Enchanted Book Promotions, there is one paperback copy of Just Remember to Breathe up for grabs! To enter, all you have to do is fill out the Rafflecopter form below.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Giveaway runs through November 7th, 2012 at 11.59 pm (EST).
Open to US readers only!
Winners have 48 hours to claim their prize once they are chosen, or else their winnings will be forfeited.
As a reminder, you do not have to follow my blog to enter, though it is always very much appreciated ❤
Good luck!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Spooktacular Giveaway Hop!

the season ❤ This time of year — the pumpkin spice frappuccinos, the foliage, the weather – is absolutely my favorite. Wish I could be attending the crazy Halloween parties my friends and family are throwing in the States. Next year for sure! :)
the hop The Spooktacular Giveaway Hop, hosted by Kathy at I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and The Diary of a Bookworm, works like this: each participating blog hosts a giveaway and then we link up together allowing our followers to hop easily from one giveaway to another.  For followers, it means lots of chances to win free books. For blogs hosting giveaways, it means lots of new visitors and followers. It's a win-win! The Happily Ever After Giveaway Hop is scheduled from October 24th at 12.01 AM until October 31st at 11:59 PM (EST).
the prize  Two lucky followers will each win a $15 gift card to either Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or Fish Pond. Lucky winner's choice! If you'd prefer a book directly from The Book Depository ($15 and under) instead because you're international, that's fine too :)
the rules ❤ Since this is a follower hop, I will have to make following by blog via email subscription a mandatory entry (top right). For additional entries, you can (+2) follow ¡Miraculous! via GFC (again top right), (+1) follow me on Twitter (@touurnesol), follow the blog on Twitter (@modishbooks), or (+1) enter any of my other giveaways. That's up to six entries total.

To enter, fill out the Rafflecopter form below. You MUST include the email address and GFC name you follow with — as well as your subscription email, Twitter handle, and/or other giveaway you entered, IF you choose to take advantage of those extra entries, or else your entries will not be counted. I will be checking! No proof = no entries! This giveaway is open INTERNATIONALLY!
the small print I'm not saying this because I'm a completely anal and want to make your life a living hell, but because I've noticed something going on with a lot of follower hops. The point of them is not to temporarily follow that blog and unfollow as soon as the giveaway is over. The point of the follower hops is for the blogs generously offering giveaway prizes to gain more readers and followers — in return, participants receive the opportunity to win great prizes such as books, gift cards, and swag. I'm not just speaking on behalf of myself, because seriously, I'm so grateful for the followship I have (love every each and one of you!), but I know for a fact this happens with lots of other blogs as well. Being part of the blogging community, I just want my two cents be heard. And not to sound cheeky, but a lot of us bloggers use Qwitter, which is an app that tells us exactly who unfollows us on Twitter, so we're not as oblivious as you think. If you are so inclined as to read more about how I feel on this subject matter, please refer to this blog post.
the end Sorry my rant was a little bitchy. I'm not trying to be mean. YOU KNOW I LOVE YOU so don't even go there, darling. Be sure to enter all of the other giveaways going on for this hop; there are so many great prizes being given away!

xo and always!
Stephanie

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Kingdom by Anderson O'Donnell Excerpt and Giveaway!

Brought to you by First Rule Publicity...
In a secret laboratory hidden under the desert, a covert bioengineering project — codename "Exodus" — has discovered the gene responsible for the human soul.

Somewhere in the neon sprawl outside the nation's collapsing economic core, a group of renegade monks are on the verge of uncovering a secret that has eluded mankind for centuries.


In a glittering tower high above the urban decay, an ascendant U.S. Senator is found dead — an apparent, yet inexplicable, suicide.


And in the streets below, a young man races through an ultra modern metropolis on the verge of a violent revolution... closing in on the terrible truth behind Exodus — and one man's dark vision for the future of mankind.


Welcome to Tiber City.
Chapter 1

The American Southwest
Nov. 15, 1986
2 a.m.

The elevator raced past the research dormitories and the corporate soldiers’ barracks, past the replica of Central Park and down into the earth. When it finally glided to a soundless halt, Jonathan Campbell stepped out into the seventh and final level ofthe Morrison Biotech arcology’s research facilities.


It had been three years since Project Exodus had gone underground, since Campbell and Morrison had struck their bargain. It hadbeen almost as long since Campbell had visited these lower laboratories that Morrison marked as his own. The two men labored separately, their results synchronized by the massive mainframe computers that linked every corner of the corporate arcology. Much of the work Morrison performed in these underground labs had been indispensable to the work Campbell performed above ground. And so, for many months, Campbell did not question the origin of his former pupil’s data: What did that matter when they were within a fingertip of curing so many of God’s mistakes?


Yet the whispers had grown darker in the recent months: hushed rumors of trucks coming and going in the dead of night, urban jungles swallowing children whole, Mexican immigrants vanishing fromthelands surrounding the arcology — the Chihuahuan desert. As a man who haddevoted his life to science, Campbell could no longer bear the uncertainty.


Although the corridor outside the elevator was deserted, Campbell’s presence would not go undetected. Security cameras craned their necks, silently transmitting a detailed bio-scan of Campbell to five different security control centers, and, inevitably, to Morrison himself. The hallway itself was little more than a tight white tunnel, funneling visitors toward a single steel doorway no more than 40 feet from the entrance to the elevator. All around Campbell the walls seemed alive with the sounds of industry: Unseen machinery hummed and whirred, greedily consuming the glut of megavoltage pumped daily into the building by thousands of miles of fiberoptic arteries. Yet as Campbell forced himself toward the door, the hallway went silent, as if the building itself was waiting for him to open the door.


Campbell punched in his security code, his fingers trembling as he entered the five digits. His code would work; he knew Morrison no longer considered hima threat. The keypad flashed red, then green and then, as he expected, the door to Morrison’s research sector slid open with a barely audible hiss. Campbell stepped through the doorway, the closed circuit camera above him straining to follow his every movement. One by one, the overhead lights in the laboratory came to life, flooding the roomwith a harsh light. For a moment, Campbellwas blinded. When the room came into focus, he screamed.


Vague approximations of human beings, sealed away in suspended animation chambers, lined the two opposite sides of the laboratory. Strange limbs protruded fromthe torsos of some of the creatures; others had two mouths and no eyes. Some seemed to be infected with diseases the Western world had not known for centuries. Yet, all were still alive, staring at Campbell, mute agony plastered across their faces.


Campbell stumbled deeper into the laboratory. All around him machines continued to record data on their subjects, running experiments throughout the night. Morrison had not attempted to conceal anything from Campbell: Morrison had won; there was no longer any need for secrecy between the two men. Campbell threw up twice, hard, the smell of vomit mingling with the antiseptic already in the air. All the while, Morrison’s creatures continued to watch him.


When Campbell stopped retching, he noticed something he had not seen when he first entered the room: a row of incubators in the far right corner.


“No...” Campbell whispered.


Inside the incubators were four tiny babies, each one’s accelerated skeletal system growth stretching the infant’s skin until bones began to grind up through the flesh. Germline manipulation, accelerated growth experimentation: Campbell instantly realized that Morrison had taken Exodus beyond even his darkest fears. And staring into the incubator below him, Campbell knew he was responsible. So heran; into the hallway and back up the elevator, lurching through the main lobby and out the front door, the ruined sky above the arcology pressing down upon him.


Giveaway!
Thanks to the author and First Rule Publicity, there is one autographed copy of Kingdom up for grabs! To enter, do one of the following: Follow @TiberCityNoir on Twitter, Like Kingdom on Facebook, or Add Kingdom to one of your Goodreads shelves. You can do more than one of them, as well as follow me on Twitter and Tweet about the giveaway for additional entries. Be sure to fill out the Rafflecopter form!
Giveaway runs through November 5th, 2012 at 11.59 pm (EST).
Open to US readers only.
Winners have 48 hours to claim their prize once they are chosen, or else their winnings will be forfeited.
As a reminder, you do not have to follow my blog to enter, though it is always very much appreciated ❤
Good luck!

Friday, October 19, 2012

♥♥♥♥♥♥: Destined to Play by Indigo Bloome

Release Date: September 11th, 2012
Publisher: Avon Red (HarperCollins) 
Page Count: 288
Source: Complimentary copy provided by publisher in exchange for an honest and unbiased review

"It's simple. No sight. No questions. Forty-eight hours."

When thirty-seven-year-old psychologist Alexandra Blake leaves her comfortable suburban existence to travel for a series of lectures, she meets up with Dr. Jeremy Quinn, the man who opened her eyes and body to the world in ways she never thought possible. After a few glasses of champagne in his luxurious hotel penthouse, he presents her with an extraordinary proposition. Alexandra knows that they never promise each other something they can't commit to and that he will challenge her every inhibition. But she soon finds herself seduced into a level of surrender—and danger—she could never have imagined.

Destined to Play is the first book in the Avalon Trilogy exploring the intricate relationships between trust and betrayal, desire and love, and risk... and reward.
What Stephanie Thinks: Indigo Bloome's debut novel and first in the Avalon series takes readers on an intense and all the while tender journey of female sexuality by manipulating senses. Jeremy Quinn is a sinfully dark and provocative man of Alexa's past, but he's returned, and not without motives. What's supposed to be a business lecture becomes a weekend spent fulfilling her wildest fantasies... a weekend that changes her life forever.

I think the author tried really hard to become the "new Fifty Shades of Grey"; the same elements of a handsome, brooding hero and a reluctant and emotionally unavailable female protagonist are prevalent in both books. However, while Fifty Shades swept the nation, Destined to Play is rather unexceptional and sometimes even painful (and not in the good way!). When Alexa gives up her sight, we expect an explosion of the senses, we expect fireworks. What we get instead, are some decent erotic portrayals and a frustratingly vague ending. Destined to Play has its occasional glittering moments, but overall it's just plain dull.

Present escapades are delightfully interloped with brief sizzling encounters of the past, of the golden college years Alexa and Jeremy shared. I think these little sexual descriptions are my favorite part of the book because everything else described is either uneventful, or poorly expressed. There are weird, flawed analogies thrown here and there, unnecessarily vivid details of clothing, food, and dwellings, and stale dialogue throughout, which make the majority of the read unenjoyable. I also had major problems with Alexa's voice. She has no personality whatsoever, is highly fond of passive voice and the present tense, and often speaks as if she's from a Victorian novel—NOT from modern interaction. It's not Bloome's style that gets in the way, rather just the underdevelopment of Alexa's character. I had no difficulty reading the book, conventionally (there is a bit of an Australian charm, in fact), but the blandness of Alexa's narration irritated the hell out of me.

I shall stress my point with a direct quotation. During one of the 'erotic' (read: not erotic) scenes, Alexa says something I found quite peculiar: "If I had a penis, I'd have a massive erection." ....really? Is that supposed to be arousing? How any woman can prattle that off without being facetious, beats me.

Another thing that bothered me is Alexa's inability to ever make a decision. I know she's supposed to be a submissive character and decisions are supposed to be made for her, but first of all, the BDSM in this book doesn't even classify as BDSM (one whipping scene in which Alexa's half unconscious and delirious and annoyingly abstract, at that) so that doesn't work, and second of all, it goes against pretty much everything that keeps her grounded. The reader gains glimmers of hope when, one moment, she's all "Oh no, I love my two children and my faithful husband, I shouldn't be doing this, I'm a mother for Christ's sake, boohoo", and then loses it almost as quickly, when the next, Jeremy murmurs "Since when does motherhood give you permission to deny your sexuality?" into her ear, and she's jelly in his arms. This doesn't happen once; it happens, to everyone's dismay, every few pages.

The gravity of the situation with Jeremy does make up for the narrator's anguish-inducing diction and flighty conscience, somewhat. Well... The married woman having a rendezvous with her ex-lover—that's trite. Her husband SPOILER turning out to be gay and SPOILER approving of the relationship—so trite, I almost puked. But the underlying principles of the story, including the definition of trust, the boundary between love and security, and the power of promises—that's gold. 

When there is a tradeoff between dignity and liberation, how does one choose? This question—not the bondage, not the submission, not the weekend fling—is the core of Destined to Play. Alexa, in rediscovering her sexuality, comes to terms with not only her desires, but also her identity, which makes the entire adventure worthwhile. While the story is pretty good, the execution is short of a disaster. Even the ending is a disappointment: a truncation mid-action that yearns to be a cliffhanger, but really is just a Great! Now put this book down this instant! signal. Destined to Play certainly tries hard to break ground like Fifty Shades of Grey did (it's even referenced on the cover), but it falls dishearteningly flat. It isn't a totally miserable read, but I say with confidence there is nothing extraordinary or compelling about it.

Pros: Provokes deep thought regarding relationships, some good sex scenes, Australian charm.

Cons:
 "If I had a penis, I'd have a massive erection", aggravatingly boring voice, virtually no BDSM scenes, is a blatant Fifty Shades wannabe.

Verdict:
Don't waste your time.

Stephanie Loves: "...I feel exhausted fighting him and exhilarated being so close to him."

Radical Rating: 6 hearts: Satisfying for a first read, but I'm not going back. ♥♥♥♥♥♥

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Halloween Costume Ideas

Sex toys - EdenFantasys adult toys store It's that time of year!

Halloween, by far, one of my favorite holidays (it's pretty much a tie with Christmas for first, I would say!). I know it's not one of those universally-celebrated festivities – in fact, I grew up with friends whose parents disapproved of witches and ghosts and high fructose corn syrup in abundance – but that's what makes it so fun: it's practically sacrilege. 


While I outgrew candy corn ages ago, I will forever associate dressing up, carving pumpkins, just being all-around naughty with this time of autumn. I've usually a tradition of attending costume parties or pulling campus and neighborhood pranks for Halloween, but seeing as it's virtually an unknown celebration in Korea, I have to withhold this year (again). Hopefully next year when I'm back in the States, I'll be able to!

Edenfantasys has hundreds of fun, sexy costume ideas in case YOU want to dress up, however. Don't know what to wear? Here's a quick guide if you need major costume help!
If you're feeling bold: This Remember the Trojans Greek warrior costume is not only gorgeous, but so original! I love the skirt and corset. All heads will turn and all eyes will stay glued with one look at this one-piece.

If you're feeling classy: French maids may be common, but they aren't overrated! They're the universally hot, provocative, yet coy disguise that are suitable for any party. Edenfantasys actually as a several French maid costumes (check out Parisian Provocateur), so they're worth a browse.

If you're feeling flirty: Want to go with a girly, but yet totally distinguishing and pretty look? The Alice in Wonderland costume'll do the trick. Passersby will eagerly want to confirm their recognition of your attire – bound to start conversation over your mutual love for Lewis Carroll and Walt Disney.

As per FTC Guidelines, I disclose that Edenfantasys compensated me with a gift card in exchange for this post. Regardless, the content is 100% original – I was not paid to say or advertise anything – and all thoughts, opinions, and ideas are solely my own.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Fall into Fantasy Giveaway Hop

the hop The Fall into Fantasy Giveaway Hop, hosted by Kathy at I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and The Write Path, works like this: each participating blog hosts a giveaway and then we link up together allowing our followers to hop easily from one giveaway to another.  For followers, it means lots of chances to win free books. For blogs hosting giveaways, it means lots of new visitors and followers. It's a win-win! The Happily Ever After Giveaway Hop is scheduled from October 16th at 12.01 AM until October 21st at 11:59 PM (EST).
the prize  I understand everyone has different preferences, whether by style or genre, so I'll let the winner choose one fantasy book from The Book Depository :)
the rules ❤ Since this is a follower hop, I will have to make subscribing to my blog via Email a mandatory entry (top right). Up to 9 additional entries available! See the Rafflecopter form for details.

To enter, fill out the Rafflecopter form below. You MUST include the email address you subscribed with (and confirmed) — as well as your GFC name, Twitter handle, Tweet link, and/or other giveaway you entered, if you choose to take advantage of those extra entries, or else your entries will not be counted. I will be checking! No proof = no entries! This giveaway is open INTERNATIONALLY, as long as TBD ships to you. If your country isn't listed here, then I will substitute with a gift card of equal value to the book you want to Amazon!
the small print I'm not saying this because I'm a completely anal and want to make your life a living hell, but because I've noticed something going on with a lot of follower hops. The point of them is not to temporarily follow that blog and unfollow as soon as the giveaway is over. The point of the follower hops is for the blogs generously offering giveaway prizes to gain more readers and followers — in return, participants receive the opportunity to win great prizes such as books, gift cards, and swag. I'm not just speaking on behalf of myself, because seriously, I'm so grateful for the followship I have (love every each and one of you!), but I know for a fact this happens with lots of other blogs as well. Being part of the blogging community, I just want my two cents be heard. And not to sound cheeky, but a lot of us bloggers use Qwitter, which is an app that tells us exactly who unfollows us on Twitter, so we're not as oblivious as you think. If you are so inclined as to read more about how I feel on this subject matter, please refer to this blog post.
the end Sorry my rant was a little bitchy. I'm not trying to be mean. YOU KNOW I LOVE YOU so don't even go there, darling. Be sure to enter all of the other giveaways going on for this hop; there are so many great prizes being given away!

xo and always!
Stephanie

Sunday, October 14, 2012

❤author: Jess Lourey Interview and Giveaway!

❤ Today, I'm thrilled to welcome author, Jess Lourey, to the blog today. Welcome to ¡Miraculous!, Jess! Will you please share a short bio with us?

I am the author of The Toadhouse Trilogy: Book One, the first in a young adult series that celebrates the danger and excitement of reading. I also write the critically-acclaimed Murder-by-Month Mysteries for adults with a sense of humor. I've been teaching writing and sociology at the college level since 1998. When not gardening, writing, or hanging out with my wonderful kids and dorky dog, you can find me reading, watching SyFy-channel original movies, and dreaming big.

Tell us little bit about your newest release, The Toadhouse Trilogy: Book One.


Aine (pronounced "Aw-nee") believes herself to be a regular teenager in 1930s Alabama, but when a blue-eyed monster named Biblos attacks, she discovers that the reclusive woman raising her isn't really her grandmother and that she's been living inside a book for the past five years. With her blind brother, Spenser, she flees the pages of the novel she's called home, one terrifying step ahead of Biblos' black magic. Her only chance at survival lies in beating him to the three objects that he desires more than life.

As she undertakes her strange and dangerous odyssey, Aine must choose between a family she doesn't remember and her growing attraction to a mysterious young man named Gilgamesh. Only through treacherous adventures into The Time Machine, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, A Tale of Two Cities, and the epic Indian saga The Ramayana will she learn her true heritage and restore the balance of the worlds... if she can stay alive.

❤ How did you choose the names of your characters in it?

The premise of the novel is that you can actually enter books, and that authors are not who you think they are. So, all the characters are either famous literary/historical figures (Spenser, Gilgamesh, Tru, Aine) or literary terms (Kenning, Tone, Caesura). If you can pick up which famous figure the name refers to, you'll begin to collect clues as to who is really writing the stories, and how their stories will ultimately end.

How did you first get published? Tell us your call story.

It took four hundred and twenty three rejections before I signed my first book contract. Not very good odds, but I'm running with them. It started when I was six. I wrote this Minnesota haiku for my awesome grandpa:

Grandpas are full of love

Grandpas are full of tickles

But grandpas are especially full of pickles.

People loved it. Aunts hugged me, cousins were jealous, uncles asked me to next immortalize them. My poetry skills have not evolved since that day, but the enchantment with words and their power to make people see the world through my eyes has grown like a watermelon seed.

I wrote my first novel when I was 26. It featured three women traveling across the United States, three women suspiciously like myself and the two best friends I had taken a road trip with a couple years earlier. Like most first novels, it was embarrassingly self-involved, full of overwritten description and twenty-pound dialogue tags:

"Why doesn't my alcoholic father accept me for who I am?" Hannah asked pityingly, rubbing the burning, salty tears from her chocolate brown eyes.

Amazingly, no publisher would take a look at the first three chapters. (The fact that I was submitting directly to publishers shows just how green I was.) I tried some light revising, working under the new author misconception that my work was great and the world just wasn't ready for it yet. When the adding of more adjectives didn't net me a three-book deal, I took a sabbatical from writing the Great American Novel and got a real job. I ended up with two Master's degrees, one in English and one in Sociology, and a teaching job at a rural technical college.

But, like most writers, I couldn't stop thinking of book ideas, writing down sparks of description or snatches of conversation that I overheard and would love to work into a story, feeling lazy and envious when I read a fantastic novel. When the nagging sense of ignoring something important got too strong, I started writing May Day. I hired a freelance editor and pumped May Day up to 52,000 words. Next, I wrote June Bug. Then I implemented my systematic plan to wear down the publishing behemoth. I sent out 200 query letters. When the rejections started trickling in, I sent out 150 more. Not an agent or small press was spared. 


Finally, a bite. I found an agent. We never met — she lived out west on a commune, where she edited technical manuals and studied the healing power of crystals. After six months and a handful of offers from publish-on-demand companies, we parted ways amicably. I found another agent shortly after that, and after a year of rejections from New York publishing houses, she found my books a home. I've written eight in that series so far.

I love reading and writing mysteries, but in 2008, around the time my kids started reading chapter books, I realized that there is this amazing genre called young adult (YA). I started devouring my kids' books (figuratively speaking, munch munch bwahaaa, crazy mom), and somewhere in there, the kernel for my own YA trilogy sprouted, and I wrote The Toadhouse Trilogy: Book One.

So, as of today, I'm at 436 rejections and nine novels. Most people would have given up a while ago with those odds, and there is a word for those type of people: sensible. The rest of us, we're called writers.


❤ WOW — that's an incredible journey. Sounds like you learned a lot too! :) How much of your actual life gets written into your fictional stories?

The main characters in The Toadhouse Trilogy, Aine and Spenser, are loosely based on my complicated, amazing children, Zoe and Xander. Otherwise, that book is entirely made up. A lot of real life ends up in my mysteries, though.


 What do you consider your biggest strengths and weaknesses as an author?

My biggest strength is my imagination. My biggest weakness is my lack of time, and a superhuman procrastination power.


❤ How would you describe your writing style and tone?

Hmm. I hope my YA is fast-paced and suspenseful, with deep character development. My mysteries are light and funny, though the series is getting darker as I go.

 What's the greatest thing you learned in school? 

To read. Seriously — how amazing is that? You open a book, you enter a world.

❤ How do you react to a negative or harsh review to your books?

I post them online for all the world to see. It's like pulling the bandaid off quick for me — get it all out there, ugliness and all. Then, I read through it to see if any of it is true and how I can become a better writer for it, and then I eat a pint of ice cream and curse the reviewer, and then I try to let it all go.

❤ Sounds like a sensible thing to do — very therapeutic too! Give aspiring writers a piece of advice you wish you had known before getting published.

Your first book might not be sellable, but you learn a lot by writing it. Don't give up.

❤ Now give us your best personal advice — something you wish you had known when you were younger and would offer to your own kids.

Learn from the bad things that happen to you, and move on a stronger person. Trust the good things that happen to you because you deserve them.

❤ What would you say are the most important attributes to remaining sane as a writer?

Dogged determination or a pathological unresponsiveness to reality. They're the same thing, so pick whichever sounds better to you. :)

❤ What’s something that you see other authors do, that really drives you up the wall?

I think it takes a lot of courage to be a writer, and short of over-promoting oneself at the expense of everyone else around you, I don't think there are any bad mistakes to make.

❤ Are there any occupational hazards to being a writer?

Lack of money and time.

❤ What’s something you love to see your readers do or say? 

I love to receive fan letters/emails from readers and hearing that my characters came alive for them.

Thank you so much for joining us today, Jess! Where can readers find you on the web?

Giveaway!
Jess has been generous enough to offer an autographed copy of The Toadhouse Trilogy: Book One to two lucky readers! To enter, fill out the Rafflecopter form below:
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Giveaway runs through October 29th, 2012 at 11.59 pm (EST).
Open to all readers, international folks included!
As a reminder, you do not have to follow my blog to enter, though it is always very much appreciated ❤ and you get additional entries ;)
Good luck!