Thursday, January 31, 2013

Printed Books Giveaway Hop!

The Hop

The Printed Books Giveaway Hop, hosted by Kathy at I Am A Reader, Not A Writer, 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 Printed Books Giveaway Hop is scheduled from February 1st at 12.01 AM until February 7th at 11:59 PM (EST).

The Prizes

Trade Books for Free - PaperBack Swap. I'm making this one a winner's choice giveaway. Two lucky email subscribers who fill out the Rafflecopter form below will get to choose any print books from PaperBackSwap.

PaperBackSwap is my absolute favorite site for book trading. Unlike most swap sites, you don't have to wait until you find someone who wants a book you have and has a book you want; instead, you just ship off your books to people who want them to earn credits, and with those credits, you can "purchase" ANY books from the market.

You do NOT need a PaperBackSwap account to enter this giveaway, as I will order your prize from my own account! However, you absolutely should, as it's a marvelous site!

It's a great way to get rid of used books, as well as get your hands on the newest titles. It's absolutely free, and like I said, my favorite swap market ever :)

Enter the books on your wishlist here to see what titles are available. I guarantee you there will be plenty for you to choose from!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Secret to Plotting a Mystery Novel by Hy Conrad and Giveaway!

Brought to you by...

Rally 'Round the Corpse
Hy Conrad

Page Count: 348
Release Date: 29 May, 2012
Seven Realms Publishing

It's two years since her fiance's death. Amy Abel needs to start over. And what better way for a shy, risk-averse woman to start than to sink all her savings into a travel agency specializing in adventure. Her first project? A mystery road rally through the European countryside.

At the starting line in Monte Carlo, Amy finds herself attracted to Marcus Alvarez, the most mysterious of her two dozen game-loving clients. But the rally gets off to a rocky start when an eccentric writer, the only person who knows the game's solution, is himself murdered back in New York.

So who would kill a harmless mystery geek? And why are weird accidents beginning to happen along the way? To her horror, Amy discovers that this fictional mystery was based on a real, unsolved case, one that Marcus knows too much about. Now she has no choice but to join forces with Fanny, her domineering mother, and solve this on her own, before the killer strikes again.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Young Adult Giveaway Hop!

The Hop

The Young Adult Giveaway Hop, hosted by Kathy at I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and BookLove101, 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 Young Adult Giveaway Hop is scheduled from January 29th at 12.01 AM until February 4th at 11:59 PM (EST).

The Prizes

I'm making this one a winner's choice giveaway. One lucky email subscriber who fills out the Rafflecopter form below will get to choose any TWO books from The Book Depository. The only catch? They must be young adult titles!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Excerpt and Giveaway: He Came for Mine by C.M. Brown

He Came For Mine (The Protectors of Aidensdein #2)
Carolyn Brown

Page Count: 207
Release Date: 27 September 2012

Desperate to save the life of a child he never knew he had, Sebastian returns to Earth to find Jazz in the arms of another man—a man he knows all too well, a man who cannot be trusted. Sebastian worries if Jazz’s feelings for him have fleeted in his absence and vows to win her back.

Jazz struggles to find ground between Sebastian and her new life, unsure of who to trust and still holding resentment for Seb’s abandonment. She seeks solace through someone who was there for her when she needed to pick up the pieces.

After coming to terms with her new life, Jazz is struck down with confusion and longing when Sebastian suddenly returns.

However, a dark battle is forthcoming, one that is bound to bring bloodshed.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Top Three: Reasons Why Digital Textbooks Are Better

Americanflag, digital textbooks are better! Why?
via Amazon

1. Affordability
Textbooks are notorious for their outrageous prices ($210 for Campbell Biology? $350 for Business Law: Texts and Cases??) set due to the resources used to print and bind them hard-bound. Slashing that factor—the paper, ink, and cardboard of the matter—can slash half the expenses.

The dozens of textbooks universities require add up to thousands of dollars per student, on top of tuition and board. Digital books—many of which have online versions that are entirely FREE—offer incredible savings, as displayed by Amazon retailers.

via Amazon
2. Exclusive Content
eTextbooks contain interactive digital media that won't be found anywhere else, including animated illustrations and practice quizzes. They also have the advantage of instant communication and sharing (referencing texts when asking professors for help was never easier) and quicker, more efficient studying options (internet browsing! instant highlighting and bookmarking! copy-and-paste functions for note-taking!). 

3. Convenience

  • no need to lug multiple books around to classes
  • the ability to read anywhere at anytime (even in the dark!)
  • discretion
I'm not sure it gets any better than that.

A personal advantage for me is health-related: I have back problems, so carrying heavy items is strictly prohibited and will never be tolerated, ever (...according to my physical therapist).

Then there's the issue of storage. No need to sell an eTextbook back to the university bookstore cheap in attempts to (fruitlessly) salvage what was initially spent. Considering most of these books are used for one semester and then just discarded, the practicality of easy riddance is a godsend. I mean, will Structural Mechanics in Reactor Technology ever really see the light of day again?

Bottom Line

Save yourself, your wallet, and your back—it begs you!—by going digital with textbooks Americanflag

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Author: Shannon Greenland Guest and Giveaway!

For the first time in eBook format, brought to you by JKS Communications...

Model Spy (The Specialists #1)
Shannon Greenland

Genre: Contemporary young adult
Page Count: 205
Release Date: 10 May 2007
Speak (Penguin)

Teen genius Kelly James is in a lot of hot water. A whiz with computers, she agreed to help her college RA, David, uncover some top-secret information. After all, she doesn't have many friends and David has always been nice to her. It doesn't hurt that he's supercute and irresistible, too. All she has to do is hack into the government's main computer system. But a few hours later, her whole life changes. She is caught and taken in for questioning, only this isn't your run-of-the-mill arrest. Rather than serve a juvenile detention sentence, she accepts the option to change her name and enlist in a secret government spy agency that trains teen agents to go undercover. As if that wasn't overwhelming enough, she discovers that David works for this agency as well! And before she even begins to understand what is going on, she's sent on her first mission as an undercover model. And who better to partner with than David himself!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Giveaway: Black Art by V.T. Davy!

Black Art
V.T. Davy

Page Count: 256
Release Date: 1 November, 2012
Liberation Publishing (self-published)

"I would have married her before I went away to war too, just to make sure that someone else didn’t. She was beautiful. It started in her eyes and spread to the set of her mouth and the tilt of her chin. In both pictures there was a confidence, a courage, a spirit of defiance... Not the “smile though your house is rubble and you’re sleeping in a tube station” spirit of the Blitz, but real steel. The kind of backbone that would make you do extraordinary things. Things that the rest us of wouldn’t do."

Arty Shaw, a genealogist working on a peculiarly British island in the English Channel, is asked by a television company to research Helen Valentine's family tree. The award-winning British actress wants to know the truth about her grandmother's wartime exploits and Arty is her choice to do the digging; which is just fine by Arty. When a beautiful blonde like Helen Valentine asks, you don't say no.

Arty’s investigation reveals that Helen’s grandmother, Kay Marett, was half-Jewish and running resistance ops against the German forces occupying her Island. When Kay disappears in 1942, a concentration camp seems to be her likely destination, until Arty uncovers a trail stretching from the Island, across Europe, to Cold War Dresden. As Arty learns more about Kay’s extraordinary wartime adventures, obstacles to the truth begin to appear in the form of a star of the Island’s amateur theatre, and two menacing East Europeans in suits. Arty must challenge his deepest beliefs to discover what happened to Kay.

Written in the hard-boiled, noir style of detective fiction from the 1940's, Arty Shaw is the kind of investigator you want on your side. Transsexual and proud of it, with a moral code that means breaking the rules now and again, and a world weary cynicism that takes nothing at face value, Arty won't stop until the truth is out. And that can make you unpopular with the wrong sort of people.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

♥♥♥♥♥: Arms Akimbo by Audrey Roth

Arms Akimbo
Audrey Roth

Page Count: 320

Release Date: 15 April 2010
Publisher: Wheatmark
Source: Complimentary copy provided by author, via LibraryThing, in exchange for an honest and unbiased review (thank you!)
Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

Arms Akimbo captures one woman's journey toward healing and wholeness as she struggles to overcome the damage caused by childhood sexual abuse.

Over the course of three years, Audrey Roth kept a journal of her fears, rage, grief, and love as she faced her demons, the ghost of her father, and her seeming inability to be fully present for her beloved daughter. Delving into her childhood, she discovered horrors that she had never fully understood.

Writing in both prose and accessible, poignant poetry, she shares her highs and lows, joys and suicidal thoughts, and bursts of energy and enervation, all in the service of finding peace. Audrey's triumphs are an inspiration to all who strive to overcome shadows of the past.


When a father commits the ultimate act of hatred he could possibly inflict upon his own children, three-year-old Audrey is shoved into emotional turmoil, into an uncontrollable mess. The persistence of an atrocious memory plagues her with a lifetime of guilt and defeat, which strips her of what "life" should really be.

Composed of journal entries in lyrical verse spanning from 2006 to 2009 (during Roth's her middle adulthood), Arms Akimbo exposes readers to the rawest, cruelest emotions in childhood trauma's wake, unrestricted by the limitations and rules of prose. There are smatterings of explanatory paragraphs that show how poetry truly is the best platform for conveying emotions, but the majority of the memoir is poems. Poetry, we learn, is the best platform for passion, for rage; it is the ultimate release and ultimate relief, and eventually, the ultimate remedy. While the poems flow easily—the stream of consciousness isn't at all difficult to follow—I can't say they're of particular literary merit. Arms Akimbo isn't enjoyable because of the poetry; it's enjoyable because of the tragic story enfolded within. Similarly, for the prose sections, the sentences are choppy and disconnected, which may in fact be for poetic effect, but overall weaken the quality of the writing.

What I do commend is the way Roth weaves her painful past with tidbits of her renewed present including the parallel aspects of love, religion and her Jewish roots, motherhood, and a miserable separation. Her mind's disease gets worse when the past interferes with present struggles; just when she thought she'd healed, the ghosts return. This healing process essentially mimics the up-and-down roller-coaster of life: how the moment things start going smoothly, everything falls to pieces, and that's what makes it so relatable. 

Roth's strength, resilience, and the absence of such in her childhood are what lead her journey of healing. She only wants that lost childhood back and to be able to love unconditionally and trust fully and move on, but even decades after her father's death, his demons still haunt her. Her four-year-long odyssey of not only healing, but also the granting of forgiveness through assurance, complete honesty, closure, imagination, determination, religious awakening, hindsight, prayer, and comfort from her family, help her finally bury those demons so she can rest in peace.

Speaking to herself, past self, sister, mother, father, God, daughter, and partner guides her unending search for reconciliation. Before long, Roth realizes that in order to fully achieve peace of mind, she first and foremost, needs to fully understand—not God, not her father, the perpetrator, but—only herself. 


Powerful in message // Fast-paced // Explicit, raw, and unrestrained // Honest emotion and discovery conveyed effectively


Weak writing style // Should be chilling, but is stale


Child experts tell us ... we learn much from how the adults around us, our parents, behave ... We learn to be silenced. We learn that to dull pain, to dull emotions, is to survive.

It is not to live, however.

We learn that to feel is to hurt.

So we avoid. We learn to survive. To silence ourselves. To collude. To endure a stabbing, burning, throbbing, eternal pain. A living, walking death.


An unthinkable act of crime and one woman's determination to overcome its devastating aftermath light the way of this distressing and heartbreaking memoir. While stylistically, I found Arms Akimbo to be rather unimaginative and trite, I am impressed with Roth's ability and courage to so brutally speak her mind and so honestly come to terms with herself. I've read better-written memoirs dealing with sexual and child abuse (for instance, The Kiss by Kathryn Harrison), so I'm slightly hesitant with this one. However, I believe every story is different and every story deserves to be told, so I simultaneously do not have many reservations with recommending Arms Akimbo, either Americanflag

5 hearts: Doesn't particularly light any of my fires; I feel indifferent about this book (x)

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Top 10 Things I Wish That I Had Known Back Then: Writing Advice from Jenny Milchman and Giveaway!

Brought to you by JKS Communications...
Cover of Snow by Jenny Milchman

Available now from Ballantine Books, a division of Random House:

Jenny Milchman’s Cover of Snow is a remarkable debut, a gripping tale of suspense in the tradition of Gillian Flynn, Chris Bohjalian, and Nancy Pickard.

Waking up one wintry morning in her old farmhouse nestled in the Adirondack Mountains of New York, Nora Hamilton instantly knows that something is wrong. When her fog of sleep clears, she finds her world is suddenly, irretrievably shattered: her husband, Brendan, has committed suicide.

The first few hours following Nora’s devastating discovery pass for her in a blur of numbness and disbelief. Then, a disturbing awareness slowly settles in: Brendan left no note and gave no indication that he was contemplating taking his own life. Why would a rock-solid police officer with unwavering affection for his wife, job, and quaint hometown suddenly choose to end it all? Having spent a lifetime avoiding hard truths, Nora must now start facing them.

Unraveling her late husband’s final days, Nora searches for an explanation—but finds a bewildering resistance from Brendan’s best friend and partner, his fellow police officers, and his brittle mother. It quickly becomes clear to Nora that she is asking questions no one wants to answer. For beneath the soft cover of snow lies a powerful conspiracy that will stop at nothing to keep its presence unknown... and its darkest secrets hidden.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Author: Melodie Campbell Guest and Giveaway!

Brought to you by TLC Book Tours...
The Goddaughter
Melodie Campbell

Page Count: 144
Release Date: 1 September, 2012
Orca Book Publishing

Stolen jewels, a cross-country chase, and a reluctant mob goddaughter make for a whole lot of laughs!

Despite her best efforts to lead a law-abiding life, Gina Gallo cannot quite escape her mob family. Since she’s a certified gemologist, Gina has become a key player in the family’s gem-smuggling operations. Now she has met a great guy, a reporter named Pete, and she’ll do almost anything to keep him from discovering her shady side. But when a gem delivery goes awry, Gina has to take Pete along for the ride.

Dreaming of Books Giveaway Hop 2013

The Hop

The 2013 Dreaming of Books Giveaway Hop, hosted by Kathy at I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and Reviews by Martha's Bookshelf, 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 Best of 2012 Giveaway Hop is scheduled from January 18th at 12.01 AM until January 24th at 11:59 PM (your time).

The Prizes

One lucky winner will win a $20 Visa gift card, which can be spent ANYWHERE, including on online sites, just like a real Visa credit card. Woohoo! I'm throwing in a runner-up prize of a $10 Amazon gift card as well (am willing to substitute to any other retailer, such as Barnes & Noble or Fishpond, as long as they a gift certificate option available).

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Flesh by Khanh Ha Excerpt and Giveaway!

Brought to you by...

Khanh Ha

Page Count: 368
Release Date: 15 June, 2012
Black Heron Press

Set in Tonkin (now northern Vietnam) at the turn of the 20th century, Flesh tells the story of a boy who witnesses the execution, by beheading, of his father, a notorious bandit, and sets out to recover his father’s head, and then find the man who betrayed his father to the authorities. A coming-of-age story of brutal self-awakening and also a tender love story, Flesh takes the reader into places, both dark and wonderful, in the human condition where allies are not always your friends, true love hurts, and your worst enemy can bring you the most solace.

Khanh Ha writes of the physical world with such sensuousness that he will make the reader’s heart ache. At the same time, though Flesh is his first novel, his knowledge of the human psyche is that of a fully mature writer. The title refers to temptation—the temptation of the flesh. But it refers equally to the obligations of kinship, the connections between us and those to whom we are related, even if we would choose not to be.

♥♥♥: Falling Immortality by Robert Downs

Falling Immortality (Casey Holden, Private Investigator #1)
Robert Downs

Page Count: 222
Release Date: 1 August 2011
Publisher: Rainbow Books, Inc.
Source: Complimentary copy provided by author in exchange for an honest and unbiased review (thank you!)
Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

Fine Women Required, Heineken Optional

Debut, hard-boiled mystery fiction for men, in the fitting genre called MANfiction (the opposite of chick-lit).

Casey Holden, former cop, current PI in Virginia Beach, VA, screens his clients the way he screens his women, based on whichever drop-dead gorgeous woman happens to waltz through his door first and manages to hold his attention. So when Felicity Farren, widow-at-large, struts into his office asking him to solve the two-year-old murder of her husband Artis, she intrigues him. When Casey starts digging, he learns the murder isn’t what it seems to be and he doesn’t have a big enough shovel to unearth the truth. And to top it all off, his former rival at the police department, Greg Gilman, is determined to disrupt his investigation. Casey's challenge is to learn what really happened to Artis, and why Gilman can’t seem to remove his head from his butt. And he’ll need all of his wits to complete the task.


Before you gasp in horror from the unusually low rating I've given, let me put a few things straight: Robert Downs is not necessarily a bad writer and Falling Immortality is not a bad book. Remember my philosophy? There's no such thing as a bad book. However, this book has set off some bombs inside of me that should have been left alone; when a book annoys me that much, I will take it personally, and I will write a review to reflect those feelings. This review may sound highly tempered and slightly pissy. You've been warned.

My biggest issue is that there is almost no substance to this story. I can tell you the entire plot in one sentence: Casey Holden, playboy extraordinaire, solves shady crime involving questionable widow, her impenetrable late husband, and her miserable past. In fact, had this sentence actually been in the pages of Falling Immortality, there would be nothing left to read; everything else is virtually fluff. With absolutely no connectable content and dreadful writing flow—no substance, nor style—this book was one I grit my teeth and rubbed my eyes through. I didn't like it at all.

The second biggest problem is Casey, our first-person narrator. He may be a private investigator, but ironically he just can't answer or think of anything straightforwardly. It's clear he knows his job, but has no social awareness, too much confidence, and an ill sense of humor he expects everyone to be amused by. He'll ask a question for the case, flirt and banter exhaustingly for four pages at a time, then come back to the question because, oh yeah, he was supposed to get an answer. There is so much unnecessary fluff, that Falling Immortality was close to an impossible read.

Also, in terms of personality, Casey is the about the last person from whom I'd want to hear a story; not only is he foolish, but he's also unreliable, extremely immature, and just can't get to the point! Half the time I wanted to smack a reason out of him, and the other,  I wanted to duct tape his mouth shut. His "witty" ramblings are irritating and just too much. Downs should not be trying so hard to create a humorous personality, because Casey as a character fails miserably from making such a huge effort. Another off-key trait is Casey's supposed womanizing; apparently he is successful at it (but nothing from the author shows me how he scores so well... it all seems like ideal make-believe to me), but all he comes off as is highly annoying, smart-alecky, and frankly, pathetic. He has no charm nor wit whatsoever; the ladies' man characterization just doesn't fit. I can't imagine someone like him being so popular with women in real life; for the most part, he just seems like a jerk—a highly oblivious and outrageously aggravating one, at that. He thinks he's clever and gorgeous and charismatic, but is actually just comes off as plain lame.

The rest of the cast isn't much more impressive. The victims are shallow and unprobed, and even the antagonist isn't that bad—mostly, he's unmemorable and adds no suspense nor issues to the development of the story. This is supposed to be a work of detective fiction; where's my suspense and where's my crime??


The occasional funny, quirky line from Casey // Clean writing; well-edited


Poor flow // Difficult, dense writing // Dispensable diction // Every character is unlikable // Casey, who, unfortunately is our protagonist, is the most unlikable (and pathetic) out of all of them // Mystery is very weak // No suspense or speculation // Very inadequate in almost every aspect: story, style, characterization, structure, and technique


I thought about dropping my head in my bowl of minestrone soup, but I had a feeling someone might notice, or in a big blow to my ego, they might not.


My dislike for the protagonist (an immediate disadvantage towards my opinion any book), the thick, unnavigable writing style, and the lack of meaningful story structure throughout Falling Immortality make it an exasperating, unfulfilling read. This novel has a couple light chuckle-worthy moments, but is generally unpromising, and after reading, my patience had reached its lowest low. Highly insubstantial in content and wretchedly unsuccessful in style (and storytelling!), Downs's debut is not something I would recommend Americanflag

3 hearts: Not a fan; I don't recommend this book (x)

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Deep Connections by Rebecca Graf Giveaway!

Brought to you by...

Deep Connections
Rebecca Graf

Page Count: 300
Release Date: 24 August, 2012
Silver Tongue Press (self published)

Genre: Paranormal, Suspense, Romance

Deep Connections is the story of a woman who finds herself caught in a love triangle with a stalker closing in on her. Brenna sees herself just as a high school English teacher. Slaton sees her as his soulmate. Eaton sees her as a serious girlfriend. To someone in the shadows, she is the fulfillment of a prophecy. Through her, he will exact his revenge. Through her, he will conquer those around him. Someone has to die in order for him to have her. Brenna has to make a decision that will forever change of life and that of everyone around her.

Just as love appears, so does the darkness. With her heart reaching out for one man, Brenna finds herself the target of an unknown stalker. Who is he? What does he want? How far will he go for her? Death is an option. Brenna discovers more than she bargained for and learns that the stalker will kill for her. It all comes down to decisions, and no matter what she chooses it will demand sacrifice and someone's blood.

Friday, January 11, 2013

♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥: Blood Faerie by India Drummond and Giveaway!

Blood Faerie (Caledonia Fae #1)
India Drummond

Page Count: 254
Release Date: 1 June 2011
Publisher: Trindlemoss Publishing (self-published)
Source: Complimentary copy provided by author in exchange for an honest and unbiased review (thank you!)

When magic crosses the boundaries...

Unjustly sentenced to death, Eilidh ran—away from the faerie lands, to the streets of Perth, Scotland. Just as she has grown accustomed to exile, local police discover a mutilated body outside the abandoned church where she lives. 

Recognizing the murder as the work of one of her own kind, Eilidh must choose: flee, or learn to tap into the forbidden magic that cost her everything.


Eilidh possesses skills of the Path, a high form of dark magic, which bestows her with great power that is unpredictable and even deadly. She was born with it, but she is still unjustly exiled from Caledonia; her crime is not casting the forbidden Azure... it is her ability to.

She now lives in hiding in the human world, staying low to go unnoticed, until a series of gruesome murders in which the victims get their hearts torn out, crosses her path. She senses immediately with her regular fae powers, the Ways of Earth, that this is a blood faerie—an evil faerie's—doing. Even though she is prohibited from entering the faerie world and cannot risk getting involved with anything that involves the fae, her morals and instincts draw her to the crimes inflicted upon the humans.

Quinton Munro, a Perth officer, by fate, is also tangled up in this fantastical mess, even though he has no relations whatsoever to the fae. The blood faerie seems to be targeting a group of people in order to fulfill a dark ritual, but Quinton's entirely human—he can't be a part of the plan. Or can he?

I really loved Quinton as a character. His confusion and reaction upon being introduced to fae is very relatable, and further, his willingness to help Eilidh and risk his life to stop the evil that isn't even within his own world, is noble and admirable. Eilidh is also likable. She's clumsy with human customs, but sharp and quick with fae knowledge, showing that she indeed is an intelligent character. Since being shunned to the human world, she has been infected by humanity, which she only realizes when faeries of her past suddenly come back into her life and disdainfully point the change out. But humanity is not a curse, she has slowly and surely learned; being human, even with flaws and error, is one of the best things one can be.

Eilidh's evolution in ethics that comes with her growing sympathy for and understanding of the human race makes her learn being "acceptable" sometimes isn't worth the cost. The fae race is ruled by power and mirth that surpasses that of humans, but also by shallowness and vanity; they have no ethics, no openness, no emotions, and no individuality like us unstable, imperfect humans do. The blood faerie's serial killing spree plunges Eilidh into a struggle between staying faithful to the race that betrayed her, or an unfamiliar and even more frightening world she is only beginning to become accustomed to. In the end, she learns that no matter what the race and what the circumstance, there are some values—regarding friendship, loyalty, and love—that are universal to anyone.

I love Drummond's writing style. It can get kind of flat at times (for example, during long stories from wise fae Eilidh seeks out for advice), but for the most part, it is lush, well-composed, and well-structured. Eilidh and Quinton's relationship is sensual in the most thrilling way; not explicitly sexual or romantic, but the chemistry is definitely there, and the author's lyrical diction brightens it up even more.


Writing quality: vivid diction with great flow // Riveting action // Fascinating, gory details // Sensual undertone // Perfect amount of romance // Well-strategized mystery plot // World of Fae is magical and intriguing // Realistic contemporary Scottish setting


Starts off very slow // Sometimes writing turns bland // Not enough background on the villain, the blood faerie // While I am looking forward to the next book, the ending isn't a cliffhanger so I'm not dying to know what happens next


The importance of an open mind and open heart are illuminated in India Drummond's magical, spirited Blood Faerie. Add a dangerous murderer to a faerie world, crush in a few cubes of romance and stir in a little bit of adventure—oh yes, and don't forget to top it off with an intense bloodbath of a fight!—and you've got the recipe for this fabulous urban fantasy read.

8 hearts: An engaging read; highly recommended. ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥


India has been generous enough to offer an eBook copy of Blood Faerie to one lucky Books à la Mode reader! Hope you enjoy it as much as I did! To enter, fill out the Rafflecopter form below:
Rules and Disclosure:
Stop giveaway ends January 26th at 11.59 PM (your time).

Open internationally! Woohoo!
Winners have 48 hours to claim their prize once they are chosen, or else their prizes will be forfeited.
Although I do choose winners, I am in no way responsible for the prizes, nor for delivery and handling.
As a reminder, you do not have to follow my blog to enter, though it is always very much appreciated ❤ Plus you get extra entries ;)
Good luck!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Author: Holly Schindler Interview and Giveaway!

We've got a wonderful young adult author visiting Books à la Mode today. She's the author of Playing Hurt (which I won in a giveaway and will hopefully soon start!) and A Blue So Dark, and blogger extraordinaire. Everyone, help me welcome Holly Schindler!

Welcome to the site, Holly! Would you share a brief introduction with us?

I’ve always been obsessed with books—ever since the days when I had to have a new Little Golden Book every time I went to the supermarket with my mom. When I got my master’s, Mom encouraged me to stay home and give full-time effort to my writing. (Very A Room of One's Own...) A mere (ahem) seven and a half years later, I signed my first book deal, for my debut novel, A Blue So Dark.

I won’t lie—there were times that those unpublished years weighed pretty heavily on me. But now, I wouldn’t trade those hard years in the trenches for anything. Best education in the world, those trenches.

The good things in life never do come easy! Tell us a bit about your books!

I’ve published two YAs: A Blue So Dark and Playing Hurt. They’re pretty night-and-day different, as even a quick look at their covers reveal:

Fifteen-year-old Aura Ambrose has been hiding a secret. Her mother, a talented artist and art teacher, is slowly being consumed by schizophrenia, and Aura has been her sole caretaker ever since Aura's dad left them. Convinced that "creative" equals crazy, Aura shuns her own artistic talent. But as her mother sinks deeper into the darkness of mental illness, the hunger for a creative outlet draws Aura toward the depths of her imagination. Just as desperation threatens to swallow her whole, Aura discovers that art, love, and family are profoundly linked—and together may offer an escape from her fears.

Praise: “Breathtakingly, gut-wrenchingly authentic... A haunting, realistic view of the melding of art, creativity, and mental illness and their collective impact on a young person’s life." — Booklist starred review

Star basketball player Chelsea "Nitro" Keyes had the promise of a full ride to college—and everyone's admiration in her hometown. But everything changed senior year, when she took a horrible fall during a game. Now a metal plate holds her together and she feels like a stranger in her own family.

As a graduation present, Chelsea's dad springs for a three-week summer "boot camp" program at a northern Minnesota lake resort. There, she's immediately drawn to her trainer, Clint, a nineteen-year-old ex-hockey player who's haunted by his own traumatic past. As they grow close, Chelsea is torn between her feelings for Clint and her loyalty to her devoted boyfriend back home. Will an unexpected romance just end up causing Chelsea and Clint more pain—or finally heal their heartbreak?

Praise: “Loved Playing Hurt. You find yourself rooting for Chelsea and Clint from the moment they meet. And the writing? Wow. The writing was exceptional, and I must say, I've developed quite the writerly crush on Holly.” — Jennifer L. Armentrout, Author of Young Adult and Adult Urban Fantasy and Romance

How did you choose the titles? 

My mom (who is also my first reader) has actually chosen the official titles of both my published books. She zoned in on Playing Hurt before it was acquired.

When A Blue So Dark was acquired, its working title was The Ocean Floor. My editor at Flux was really lukewarm about it, though, and encouraged me to troll through the manuscript, looking for phrases that would also make good titles. Mom and I both made lists of phrases we liked; my editor instantly fell for A Blue So Dark, which was on one of Mom’s lists.

Aww, how sweet! It's wonderful how supporting your mom is with your career—she's the one who encouraged it in the first place, too. How did you first get published? Tell us your call story.

I submitted my debut, A Blue So Dark, to Flux (a division of Llewellyn Worldwide) shortly after Brian Farrey got his position as acquiring editor. At the time, I was unagented; I submitted straight to Brian. He called to talk about the book shortly before Thanksgiving; after the acquisitions meeting, I was told an offer was coming (but would be delayed by the holidays). I tried to play it cool, but in truth, I was completely tied up in knots over Christmas. The official offer came shortly after the new year...

And two hours after accepting the agreement with Flux, I got a phone call from an agent who had a middle grade I’d written, and wanted to represent me! It was just unreal: for seven and a half years, I’d sought a book deal, sought representation. And suddenly, in one day, I had both!

How exciting! Sounds like a literal dream come true. How much of your real life gets written into your fictional stories?

I never write my books based on things that have happened to me, nor are any of my characters based on people I know. I always figure if I were to write thinly-veiled autobiography, I’d wind up writing the same book over and over. Besides, one of the most exciting parts of writing for me is trying on characters and situations completely unlike my own.
That's a really interesting way to see it, and a fantastic way to keep your ideas fresh as well! What do you consider your biggest strengths and weaknesses as an author?

They’re one and the same actually: my seemingly endless supply of ideas. I always say I’m a complete idea junkie—there’s just really no thrill quite like that ah-ha! moment. While it’s great to always have something to write, though, it’s really easy to get sidetracked by a new story idea.
Let’s face it—the middles of novels are rough. It’s so enticing to ditch a difficult middle in order to dive into an exciting new project. I’ve had to learn to keep notebooks or files of story ideas; I write down sketches or outlines (so I won’t lose new ideas when they come), then put them away and get back to my current work-in-progress.
I, too, find that the most difficult aspect of writing! The enthusiasm I have for a new story idea exponentially decreases with time... hrmphh! How would you describe your writing style?

It’s pretty literary—even when I’m writing a piece that’s closer to genre fiction (for instance, my second YA is a romance)—I still tend to focus pretty heavily on character.  My writing also tends to be more lyrical, as well.
Sounds like I would devour it... I'm such a glutton for the literary voice! Give aspiring writers a piece of advice you wish you'd known before getting published.

When I was seeking my first publishing deal, I was convinced that the struggle would end once I got that first acceptance. The truth is, a writing career is an unending roller coaster. Snagging that first deal is an enormous accomplishment—but in no way does the struggle end when you sign that first contract. It means that now you’ve got to figure out how to edit under deadline, how to promote your work, how to write another book that will excite your editor...
That's probably the most insightful advice I've heard from any author before! Most people just say to never give up or to write everyday, or whatever. Which is helpful, but I already KNOW that. Now give us your best personal advice—something you wish you had known when you were younger and would offer to your kids.

In the end, the things you’ll be proudest of are the things that set you apart and make you different.
Share with us your all-time favorite quote.

“You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.” — Jack London
Never heard that one before, but I love it! What's next for you?

I have two books in development: my debut middle-grade, The Junction of Sunshine and Lucky, is forthcoming from Dial, and my next YA, Feral, is set to release with HarperCollins.
I'm so happy for you!!!! Congrats on the upcoming releases, and the very best of luck to you. I'll keep my eye out for them! Where can you be found on the web?

I administrate two group blogs: Smack Dab in the Middle for MG authors and YA Outside the Lines for YA authors.  I also have a personal author blog and can be found on Facebook and Twitter: @holly_schindler. My website is
Is there anything you'd like to ask of our readers?

They can sign up for my mailing list in order to receive all the latest news straight to their inbox. I’ll be organizing massive blog tours for my releases, and am brainstorming other fun opportunities for bloggers, as well!  If you blog, you don’t want to miss out, but it’s in no way mandatory to have a book blog to be on the list. I look forward to hearing from all of my readers—either through my mailing list or social media. 


Thanks so much for joining us today, ma chérie! Readers, Holly is giving away two AUTOGRAPHED bookplates to two lucky winners. To enter, sign up for Holly's mailing list, then fill out the Rafflecopter form below:
Rules and Disclosure:
Giveaway ends 24 January, 2013.
Winners have 48 hours to claim their prize once they are chosen, or else their prizes will be forfeited.
I am in no way responsible for the prize, nor for shipping and handling.
As a reminder, you do not have to follow my blog to enter, though it is always very much appreciated ❤ Plus you get extra entries ;)
Good luck!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥: Shaman, Healer, Heretic by M. Terry Green

Shaman, Healer, Heretic (Olivia Lawson Techno-Shaman #1)
M. Terry Green

Page Count: 328

Release Date: 19 January 2011
Publisher: self-published
Source: Complimentary copy provided by author in exchange for an honest and unbiased review (thank you!)
Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

Even for a techno-shaman, a kachina in the bedroom isn't exactly part of the drill. When Olivia Lawson wakes to find one towering over her, she panics. A Hopi god visiting the real world isn't just wrong—it's impossible.

Or is it?

Soon Olivia learns that the kachina is the least of her worries. As she struggles to save her clients, clashes with other shamans, and fends off the attacks of real-world vigilantes, Olivia finds herself in the destructive path of a malevolent ancient force intent on leaving the spiritual realm to conquer this one.

Left with few options, Olivia is forced to defy centuries of shaman prohibitions. As she and her allies risk everything in their bid for survival, Olivia ultimately learns that the rules are there for a reason and that breaking them has a terrible cost.


I've never encountered shamanism, let alone techno-shamanism, in literature before, but I could really get used to it. It's a fascinating, dare I say "new age" concept, with a mystical, but not quite fantastical feel; its foray into the urban fantasy genre is thrilling, engaging, and makes for a damn good story.

Something is terribly wrong in the shaman world, a different plane from human existence in which alternative healers work, and Olivia Lawson may have a lead. The kachina in the real world could be a sign, rather than a threat, but she's going to have to use her powers, and her resources, to fully trust that instinct. 

Green's story is masterfully structured, perfectly woven together, and perfectly paced. She adds just enough shaman culture into the mystery of the lethal kink in their multiverse. Combined with wacky technology, an unexpected (climbing) death toll, and the common vexations of our modern world, this sci-fi/thriller cross is sure to please all readers of the contemporary urban fantasy genre.

As a shaman, Olivia is relatively new and unexperienced at the practice, but her spirit helper is lightning, automatically making her a legendary and rare healer with power even she herself is yet to fully discover. The fact that the kachina has come to her, and that her own trips to the middleworld and underworld are going astray is no coincidence; the kachina wants her... or at least her attention.

Olivia seems to have a complicated, painful past involving her initiation into shamanism, but none of this is explained, which was a bit frustrating. Green hints at these little waverings, but never fully goes into them; this intrigued me greatly. While Olivia isn't explored deeply as a character, there is enough of her genuine personality throughout the book for me to like her and her attitude towards her personal life and work. She has admirable ethics, and way more courage and motivation than I could ever muster; a true heroine I'll stay loyal to.

At first, the story was disorienting because it appears to begin in medias res. I had a little difficulty going into it because there was so much about shamanism introduced at once (kachina? huh?), but I warmed up to the concept quickly; I guarantee you will too.

When shaman responsibilities wreck her personal life, Olivia knows she needs to take a stand. Breaking centuries of time-worn rules of the shaman world, she is determined to resolve this catastrophe once and for all, but little does she know of its disastrous consequences. 


Absorbing // Well-written // Clear, concise structure that's easy to follow // A little romance (just the right amount) // Heart-stopping plot twists and betrayals // Fascinating topic of shamanism // I couldn't put this book down!


A bit disorienting at first // Not enough of Olivia's backstory


No one is left at mercy in M. Terry Green's unpredictable, un-put-down-able, and addicting debut. I'm dying to try the next book in the Olivia Lawson Techno-Shaman series, which is rare for me... usually I don't like series much! (I was fortunate enough to snag a copy of the sequel, Shaman, Friend, Enemy, as well, so look out for a review of the second installment of that soon). Cunningly presented, lush in detail, but not too dense, Shaman, Healer, Heretic is a must-read for those searching for a breath of fresh air in the urban fantasy genre. Let's move away from demons and angels, shall we? Shamans are the next big thing Americanflag

8 hearts: An engaging read; highly recommended (x)

[NOTEDiscover what happens in the next chapter of Livvy's exploits by reading my review of the sequel, Shaman, Friend, Enemy here.

See what I thought of the third book, Shaman, Sister, Sorceress, by clicking here!