Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Spring Fling Giveaway hop - US giveaway of Shards and Ashes + Mega swag pack!

Spring Fling Giveaway Hop
May 1st – 7th
Hosted by I Am A Reader, Not A Writer & Eve’s Fan Garden

Thanks so much to I Am A Reader, Not a Writer and Eve's Fan Garden for this great giveaway!

Note: I will be late on selecting a winner. I will select the winner when I return from a trip!

For this giveaway, I'm going to give away a different sort of prize that I've never done before. For one very lucky winner:

1. A copy of Shards and Ashes edited by Melissa Marr and Kelley Armstrong
Shards and Ashes

2. A huge mega swag pack with various swag from different indie authors but also including: The Host: the movie buttons, Signed swag from J. Armentrout, signed bookmark from Fiona Paul, signed bookmark from J. Meyers, and more! Because of shipping costs, this prize will be available US only.

Sorry INT friends! No worries, more INT giveaways coming up soon!!!

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Now check out these other awesome giveaways!

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Readers Choice Winner: Review of Angelfall by Susan Ee

How is it that I took so long to read this book? You guys got it right again.

Angelfall (Penryn & the End of Days, #1)Goodreads Book Description: It's been six weeks since angels of the apocalypse descended to demolish the modern world. Street gangs rule the day while fear and superstition rule the night. When warrior angels fly away with a helpless little girl, her seventeen-year-old sister Penryn will do anything to get her back.

Anything, including making a deal with an enemy angel.

Raffe is a warrior who lies broken and wingless on the street. After eons of fighting his own battles, he finds himself being rescued from a desperate situation by a half-starved teenage girl.

Traveling through a dark and twisted Northern California, they have only each other to rely on for survival. Together, they journey toward the angels' stronghold in San Francisco where she'll risk everything to rescue her sister and he'll put himself at the mercy of his greatest enemies for the chance to be made whole again.

Locus Magazine, March 2012 Finalist for Cybils Bloggers Award for Best YA Fantasy & Sci-fi Book of the Year 2011.

My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

My Review: Angelfall by Susan Ee focuses on a teenaged girl, Penryn, who fights to protect her small and dysfunctional family in a post-apocalyptic Silicon Valley where angels have destroyed much of the technology and population. She has a psychologically unhinged mother who is no longer on medication, a sister who is disabled and uses a wheelchair, and no safe haven or regular food or water source. She meets Raffe, an angel, who gets his wings cut off in a fight, loses her mother, and her sister gets taken away. This all just happens in the first few pages. The rest of the book is her journey to finding her sister, his journey to repairing his wings, and their journey to understanding each other and their place in this new, terrible world.

I was completely blown away by this book. I was caught in its web a few pages in, and it never let me go. The pacing is terrific, the world building fantastic, and the plot never slows down. Who ever thought of an angel paranormal apocalypse? Not to mention Penryn is one of the best protagonists I've seen in a while-- and she also has a great and unusual backstory as to why she is so kickbutt. The prose is straight, honest, and raw, just like its protagonist and all of it falls together just right.

Overall, a smashing first book to this series, and I have just joined the mounds of eager followers that need the next book pronto! Ee is definitely an author I'll keep my eye on.

What did you think about this book? 

Thursday, April 25, 2013

NEW US Giveaway for Shards and Ashes edited by Melissa Marr and Kelley Armstrong + MEGA Swag pack

Shards and Ashes Goodreads Book Description: Gripping original stories of dystopian worlds from nine New York Times bestselling authors, edited by Melissa Marr and Kelley Armstrong.

The world is gone, destroyed by human, ecological, or supernatural causes. Survivors dodge chemical warfare and cruel gods; they travel the reaches of space and inhabit underground caverns. Their enemies are disease, corrupt corporations, and one another; their resources are few, and their courage is tested.

Powerful original dystopian tales from nine bestselling authors offer bleak insight, prophetic visions, and precious glimmers of light among the shards and ashes of a ruined world.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars 

My Review:
Shards and Ashes is a collection of dystopian YA short stories, edited by Melissa Marr and Kelley Armstrong. It's an interesting set of stories-- both from the perspective of just their content, and also, from the perspective of how authors who normally write full length novels try their hand at a shorter form.

There is varying success. All of the stories have interesting slants on the dystopian world, but some struggle at a backstory in such little space like Veronica Roth in the first story Hearken. It's beautifully written, but the dystopian world is explained away as a place where random people drop bombs for no apparent reason. Branded by Kelley Armstrong, is a unique take on a paranormal type of dystopian, and probably does the best at a complete story with twists in a small space. Dogsbody by Rachel Caine may have been my favorite-- both in scope, story, and characterization. Beth Revis told a story in her Across the Universe world, which I enjoyed because I love her trilogy, but I feel that those who have not read them may not appreciate it as much. The rest of the stories are entertaining, but also not particularly memorable.

Overall, I think this was definitely a worthwhile read with some terrific stories from great authors.

And now... for my loyal blog followers, you guys get to enter this great giveaway early!!!  
For this giveaway, I'm going to give away a different sort of prize that I've never done before. It's going to be a huge mega swag pack with various swag from different indie authors but also including: The Host: the movie buttons, Swag from J. Armentrout, signed bookmark from Fiona Paul, signed bookmark from J. Meyers, and a copy of the above Shards and Ashes from my shelves. Because of shipping costs, this prize will be available US only. Sorry INT friends! No worries, more INT giveaways coming up soon!!!

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Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Interview with Diantha Jones, author of The Oracle of Delphi series, and INT giveaway!

 I'm excited to introduce this next book and its talented author, Diantha Jones!  

Prophecy of the Most Beautiful (Oracle of Delphi, #1)Goodreads Book Description: She has a destiny so great that even the gods fear her.

Constant hallucinations and the frequent conversations with the voices in her head, have earned eighteen-year-old Chloe Clever the not-so-coveted title of "Whack Job" in her home town of Adel, Georgia. With the onslaught of prescription medications and therapists threatening to push her over the edge, she wishes for a life far away from the one she has, a life where she is destined to be more than the butt of everyone's jokes and mockery.

Be careful what you wish for has never rung more true.

After living through an attack from her worst nightmare, she awakens to find herself far from home, surrounded by glorious riches and servants…and a few demigods who enjoy killing things. Upon learning that her favorite rockstar is an Olympian god, she is thrust into her new life as the Oracle of Delphi, the prophesier of the future, and the great Pythia that the gods have been anxiously awaiting to arrive for centuries. Setting out to fulfill the prophecy she has been given and to keep her family safe from a demigod Princess that wants her dead, Chloe learns of how great she is to become, all the while fighting mythical monsters, evading divine assassins and trying to outwit the ever-cunning Greek gods who harbor secrets of their own. In the hopes of discovering the Most Beautiful and the truth of her destiny, she strives to uncover the mysteries of the demigod Prince who has sworn to protect her with his life…and threatens to win her heart in the process.

My rating: 4 out of 5 stars


Author Blurb: Diantha Jones was born the day thousands of turkeys sacrificed their lives to fill millions of American bellies on November 22 which also happened to be Thanksgiving Day (Her mother says she owes her a turkey). She is a Journalism graduate who wants to be a career novelist (of books, not Facebook posts). When not writing or working, she is reading on her Nook, being hypnotized by Netflix or on a mission to procure french fries. She also writes adult fantasy/paranormal romance under the name A. Star. Friend/Fan her at www.goodreads.com/A_Star.

Author Interview
1. Can you tell us a little about how you became a writer?
I always had a love for reading, since way before I grew up and became this awesome. And I had the talent. Eighth grade was the first time I realized it, after a teacher held me after class to tell me how much she loved an essay I wrote. Becoming an author wasn't even in my time zone at that point, but I never forgot that moment. I think it was the "beginning" for me, and I didn't even know it. 

2. You have great, big ideas. Can you tell us a little about your brainstorming process and where you get inspiration from?
Everything inspires me in one way or another. Things I see, stuff people say, stuff they do.Television shows, movies, and of course, books offer inspiration to me on a daily basis. As far as a brainstorming process, can't really say I have one. I just write and see where it takes me. Sometimes what I write is a winner, sometimes it isn't. 

3. Why Greek myth?
I've been a fan of Greek myth for many, many years now. It's just so fascinating, even though it's vast and sometimes, overwhelming. But there's always more to learn and the myths are just so much fun to play around with! I've really enjoyed working them into my series :D 

4. Your characters are fascinating-- are they like anyone you know? Did you have a favorite? Was one character harder to write than others? Did any of them surprise you?
I think most authors draw from real life people when creating their characters. I did the same thing. Elements and traits of people I know are definitely prevalent in the OOD series. My favorite characters are Chloe and Strafford. Hands down. The gods were definitely the hardest characters to create, even if I had a blast doing so. I wanted them to be modern but also maintain their ancient authenticity. Kind of difficult when they're rock stars and nightclub owners lol. My biggest surprise? Ace Remedy. He has become a HUGE part of the Oracle of Delphi series. 

5. What was your favorite YA read of the past year?
Definitely, Hopeless by Colleen Hoover. That's just one you have to read to understand. I'm not a crier, but I was boo-hooing like a baby with this one. 

6. What has been the best comment you've gotten from a fan?
Aw man, I get so many! But one blogger who is a fan of the series said she "watches" my action scenes rather than "read" them because they're like movie scenes in her head. That meant a lot to me because writing action scenes are HARD, so I'm glad that readers find them as exciting and vivid as they do. 

7. Can you tell us a little about what's in store for your characters without revealing too much?
Wow, Chloe and the Quad Fraternity have an adventure that I'm pretty sure none of us are prepared for. There are so many secrets, twists and turns, that their heads will be spinning before it's all over with. And they have a major prophecy to fulfill–to save Earth, to save the heavens, to save the universe. Can they do it? Are they even meant to? We shall find out...

Thanks so much, Diantha, for a great interview and introducing us to another great indie read!

Now enter this great giveaway to either win her book signed, an e-copy of the book, or Everneath by Brodi Ashton!

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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Prophecy of the Most Beautiful by Diantha Jones and INT giveaway!

Prophecy of the Most Beautiful (Oracle of Delphi, #1) Goodreads Book Description: She has a destiny so great that even the gods fear her.

Constant hallucinations and the frequent conversations with the voices in her head, have earned eighteen-year-old Chloe Clever the not-so-coveted title of "Whack Job" in her home town of Adel, Georgia. With the onslaught of prescription medications and therapists threatening to push her over the edge, she wishes for a life far away from the one she has, a life where she is destined to be more than the butt of everyone's jokes and mockery.

Be careful what you wish for has never rung more true.

After living through an attack from her worst nightmare, she awakens to find herself far from home, surrounded by glorious riches and servants…and a few demigods who enjoy killing things. Upon learning that her favorite rockstar is an Olympian god, she is thrust into her new life as the Oracle of Delphi, the prophesier of the future, and the great Pythia that the gods have been anxiously awaiting to arrive for centuries. Setting out to fulfill the prophecy she has been given and to keep her family safe from a demigod Princess that wants her dead, Chloe learns of how great she is to become, all the while fighting mythical monsters, evading divine assassins and trying to outwit the ever-cunning Greek gods who harbor secrets of their own. In the hopes of discovering the Most Beautiful and the truth of her destiny, she strives to uncover the mysteries of the demigod Prince who has sworn to protect her with his life…and threatens to win her heart in the process.

My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

My Review: I was given this book by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Prophecy of the Most Beautiful by Diantha Jones is a wonderful adventure story starring Chloe Clever, who discovers pretty quickly that she is different from other teenaged girls. She hears voices and sees things, and everyone thinks she has a mental disorder. She quickly realizes that she is the Oracle, a being can see and hear the future and has important ties to the Greek myths of old. She meets Stafford Law, who is a demigod and her protector, and along with some of his brothers and friends, they try to figure out the Prophecy of the Most Beautiful before things go out of whack. For better or worse, they go out of whack, and we get to see the fallout.

There are many wonderful things about this book! The adventure and pacing are great. The information about Greek myth, Greece of old, and other background research seems spot on. The characters are fascinating and how they meld with the myths that we know is interesting to see play out. For the most part, Chloe is a wonderful protagonist, and we go along with her in the dark, finding things out as she does. The description is terrific, and I feel like I'm in every location that the characters are in. The best thing about this book is how imaginative it is-- I can feel ideas bursting from the page. This is Diantha's (and the book's) biggest strength.

I do have a couple of comments about this book. Sometimes there seems to be too much going on and too many storylines happening. We are trying to figure out this prophecy, and everyone conveniently never tells Chloe anything-- so there are a lot of questions unanswered. Second, I wanted to see more of a character arc with Chloe-- I wanted to see her grow from the uncertain high school girl to a more mature Oracle, but in fact, what we see is her getting too in love with her fame, and getting herself in trouble by acting before she thinks. That said, this is the first in a trilogy, so we have more time to see her grow. My last point kind of goes along with the first point-- there are jumps in POV, which for the most part make sense. However, there are random chapters where this happens, and we never return for 100's of pages. I almost wonder about revealing these things in Chloe's perspective instead.

Overall, a highly imaginative and beautifully described first novel in this series-- I have no doubt that Diantha Jones will just get better with every book she writes, and I am excited to continue to read her books as she develops as a writer.

Stay tuned for a interview with the author, but right now, sign up to win a signed copy of her book or Everneath by Brodi Ashton!
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Monday, April 22, 2013

Showers of Books Hop, Requiem by Lauren Oliver SIGNED or $15 Amazon GC (INT)

Welcome to the Showers of Books Giveaway Hop! Thanks to Books a La Mode and I Am A Reader, Not a Writer for hosting this awesome hop. My giveaway is Requiem SIGNED by the amazing Lauren Oliver.

Requiem (Delirium, #3)Goodreads Book Description: They have tried to squeeze us out, to stamp us into the past.

But we are still here.

And there are more of us every day.

Now an active member of the resistance, Lena has been transformed. The nascent rebellion that was under way in Pandemonium has ignited into an all-out revolution in Requiem, and Lena is at the center of the fight.

After rescuing Julian from a death sentence, Lena and her friends fled to the Wilds. But the Wilds are no longer a safe haven—pockets of rebellion have opened throughout the country, and the government cannot deny the existence of Invalids. Regulators now infiltrate the borderlands to stamp out the rebels, and as Lena navigates the increasingly dangerous terrain, her best friend, Hana, lives a safe, loveless life in Portland as the fiancĂ©e of the young mayor.

Maybe we are driven crazy by our feelings.

Maybe love is a disease, and we would be better off without it.

But we have chosen a different road.

And in the end, that is the point of escaping the cure: We are free to choose.

We are even free to choose the wrong thing.

Requiem is told from both Lena’s and Hana’s points of view. The two girls live side by side in a world that divides them until, at last, their stories converge.


To make it international, I'll give you a $15 Amazon GC if you are selected as the winner and international. :-)
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Readers Choice Runner Up: Throne of Glass by Sarah Maas

Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass, #1) I love how I had two assassin books and they got the highest votes! It was fun comparing this book to Grave Mercy-- this is much more standard fantasy fare, whereas Grave Mercy is much darker.

Goodreads Book Description: After serving out a year of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes, 18-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien is dragged before the Crown Prince. Prince Dorian offers her her freedom on one condition: she must act as his champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin. Her opponents are men-thieves and assassins and warriors from across the empire, each sponsored by a member of the king's council. If she beats her opponents in a series of eliminations, she'll serve the kingdom for three years and then be granted her freedom. 

Celaena finds her training sessions with the captain of the guard, Westfall, challenging and exhilirating. But she's bored stiff by court life. Things get a little more interesting when the prince starts to show interest in her... but it's the gruff Captain Westfall who seems to understand her best. 

Then one of the other contestants turns up dead... quickly followed by another. 

Can Celaena figure out who the killer is before she becomes a victim? As the young assassin investigates, her search leads her to discover a greater destiny than she could possibly have imagined.

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

My Review: Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas is a YA fantasy about an assassin, Celaena, who is chosen as the Prince's pick for the competition to become the King's Champion. The choice is easy-- either stay as a slave and likely death or enter the competition. Things quickly become complicated as there is a lot of politics and intrigue that surround the court, and contestants start being killed. Who can she trust? Will she find a way to survive with all the odds against her?

I really enjoyed reading this book-- it felt like a combination of the Hunger Games and Graceling initially, but then with some great world building and character development, it become a world of its own. Celaena becomes a likeable character, and I enjoyed the training sessions, and the intrigue that stemmed around the court. I thought the book was pretty well paced as well, 

There were a few moments where the dialogue and/or text became clumsy. I wonder if these moments were preserved from a much earlier draft that Maas wrote when she was 16. In general, I'm not a huge fan of multiple viewpoints-- this book is mostly written in Celaena's perspective, but we get cut scenes to the Prince, the King's Guard, and other supporting characters. It's kind of nice to get in their heads but tends to take us out of the story.

Overall, an entertaining YA fantasy, that sweeps the reader through intrigue, danger, and magic.

Thanks again, guys, and don't forget to enter the poll about adult reads!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Saturday Updates

Hey gang! After this weekend, I go back to the grind and being on call a ton, but I have a Mexico vacation to look forward to! Just a few updates.
1. Don't forget to sign up for the great giveaways I've got going on! Some of them have only about a week left!
2. Please follow me on Bloglovin' since GFC is going away on July 1. Linky and email are two other ways we can stay connected!
3. During my vacation, I won't be able to blog during that week. That's May 7-12. But I'll be back after that!!!
4. Don't forget to vote on the poll on the left hand side of my blog. This is for the adult version of Ensconced in YA (it'll still be family friendly), called Ensconced in Literature. I've read some great adult books that I'd like to share, and it'd be nice to have a place to talk about them! That said, this blog keeps me pretty busy, so it will be a very part time blog if I start it.
5. Tune in next week for a great giveaway and interview with Diantha Jones, author of The Oracle of Delphi series-- we'll be giving away a signed copy of Prophecy of the Most Beautiful, the first book in the series or Everneath by Brodi Ashton.

Have an awesome weekend, everyone!

Friday, April 19, 2013

Review: For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund

For Darkness Shows the Stars (For Darkness Shows the Stars, #1) Goodreads Book Description: It's been several generations since a genetic experiment gone wrong caused the Reduction, decimating humanity and giving rise to a Luddite nobility who outlawed most technology.

Elliot North has always known her place in this world. Four years ago Elliot refused to run away with her childhood sweetheart, the servant Kai, choosing duty to her family's estate over love. Since then the world has changed: a new class of Post-Reductionists is jumpstarting the wheel of progress, and Elliot's estate is foundering, forcing her to rent land to the mysterious Cloud Fleet, a group of shipbuilders that includes renowned explorer Captain Malakai Wentforth--an almost unrecognizable Kai. And while Elliot wonders if this could be their second chance, Kai seems determined to show Elliot exactly what she gave up when she let him go.

But Elliot soon discovers her old friend carries a secret--one that could change their society . . . or bring it to its knees. And again, she's faced with a choice: cling to what she's been raised to believe, or cast her lot with the only boy she's ever loved, even if she's lost him forever.

Inspired by Jane Austen's persuasion, For Darkness Shows the Stars is a breathtaking romance about opening your mind to the future and your heart to the one person you know can break it.

My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

My Review: This book has received some rave reviews so I've had it on my TBR list for quite some time. It's not a perfect book, but this was one of those rare books that even with its flaws, I LOVED. So I'm giving it 4.5 stars.

For the Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund is marketed as a retelling of Jane Austen's famous Persuasion (and quotes are interspersed within section headings of the book) in a dystopian YA world. I admit I haven't read Persuasion, but I really enjoyed this book. We are introduced to Elliot, who has been named for her grandfather, and at a young age has had to take over a large load of responsibilities at her farm. She loves her grandfather but he has been continually becoming more senile, and she fights against her father who is rigid and many times cruel to the Reduced (mentally disabled group of people who "played with genetic fire" and now have become a slave population) who work on their farm. There is another group emerging called the Posts, children of the Reduced who have regained intelligence but because of their birthright still remain slaves. Kai is one of them, Elliot's childhood sweetheart, who has dodged all odds, escaped the farm, and made a name for himself. After four years, he's suddenly back in her life, and now Elliot wages an internal war between responsibility to those she loves and freedom to be with the man she loves.

It's all more complicated than that of course, but there are some really amazing twists that the reader must discover for himself or herself. I admit it. I loved this book. It's rare for me to clutch a book and be so moved that I linger on every page and can't let go. Most of that is because of Peterfreund's lyrical prose and also Elliot herself. She is an amazing character-- she knows what is right and that guides her to stand up for people she loves. She is what makes the book sing. I was almost in tears when she was abused on so many levels but still managed to stay on top.

Like I said before, this isn't a perfect book. The letters from younger Kai and Elliot are more distracting than anything else, but there's a reason that I decided I'm okay with this decision, and that is because of what Peterfreund does at the end of the book. Also, Kai is kind of a douche bag, and Elliot is so amazing that I don't think he is anywhere good enough for her. There's a reason he's angry, and it doesn't seem a good enough reason to be so cruel at times. Lastly, I felt like there were some ethical issues that were just really open ended, and I am not sure how they could be reconciled, but I would have liked more discussion between Elliot and Felicia (who knows a lot) to help clarify things at least.

However, even with these issues, the gorgeous prose and the terrific protagonist swept me away. You should take a look at this book.

What did you think of this book?

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Curmudgeon's Corner: The Twin Disasters: The Beautiful Disaster, and the not so Beautiful Disaster-- Review and Rant

So I may be one of the last people to finally pick up Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire. It's a fun read, and I blazed through it one day, although as you'll see in my review, I thought that the main two characters were possibly the most dysfunctional people (and even more so as a couple) I had ever read about. Then there came Walking Disaster, which I had a lot of problems with. But here are first my reviews, and then I'll get to the rant portion of this discussion.

Beautiful Disaster (Beautiful, #1) Goodreads Book Description: Abby Abernathy is a good girl. She doesn’t drink or swear, and she has the appropriate number of cardigans in her wardrobe. Abby believes she has enough distance from the darkness of her past, but when she arrives at college with her best friend, her path to a new beginning is quickly challenged by Eastern University’s Walking One-Night Stand.

Travis Maddox, lean, cut, and covered in tattoos, is exactly what Abby wants—and needs—to avoid. He spends his nights winning money in a floating fight ring, and his days as the ultimate college campus charmer. Intrigued by Abby’s resistance to his appeal, Travis tricks her into his daily life with a simple bet. If he loses, he must remain abstinent for a month. If Abby loses, she must live in Travis’s apartment for the same amount of time. Either way, Travis has no idea that he has met his match.

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

My Review: I actually received the ARC for the sequel, Walking Disaster, so I knew I had to read this one first before sinking into the next one.

Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire is told from the perspective of Abby (or "Pigeon" as she is affectionately nicknamed by Travis) as she maneuvers through college and her love life, which is kind of like a mix of a romcom with Fight Club. Travis is a man ho for lack of a better term, and he is the most glorified fighter in a secret betting fight club. He sees Abby for the first time there, and their love/hate relationship starts in that moment. He won't leave her alone, and she is determined to ignore him because he's everything that's she's tried to leave behind. Will they make their way together or will it all end... in disaster? Sorry, couldn't help it.

I would characterize this book more as new adult than young adult and would recommend that no one under 18 should read it for graphic violence and sexual encounters. This book is well written and the characters pop off of the page. I read it from cover to cover--pacing is definitely not a problem. The characters are really well described and three dimensional, and McGuire pulls out some twists that I did not expect but really liked.

The biggest problem I had with this book is while there is no doubt that this couple was sizzling hot, they were also probably the two most dysfunctional people I've ever read about. I think Abby was probably right in that they'd end up just destroying each other. Maybe years of counseling would help them, but would it be worth it? If I were Shepley or America (their respective best friends), I'd give them a berth of at least 50 feet... maybe even a few continents. I also have to agree with other reviewers that this may give the wrong message to teens about love-- if I were a parent, I'd really have an honest discussion about relationships and what is okay and what is not. Having a guy fight for and over you using physical violence is not something to adore and admire.

That said, I really enjoyed this book overall, but couldn't help but be relieved that 1) I didn't have to watch them tear each other apart any longer and 2) that I don't have a relationship like theirs.

Walking Disaster (Beautiful, #2) Goodreads Book Description: Finally, the highly anticipated follow-up to the New York Times bestseller Beautiful Disaster. Can you love someone too much?
Travis Maddox learned two things from his mother before she died: Love hard. Fight harder.

In Walking Disaster, the life of Travis is full of fast women, underground gambling, and violence. But just when he thinks he is invincible, Abby Abernathy brings him to his knees.

Every story has two sides. In Beautiful Disaster, Abby had her say. Now it’s time to see the story through Travis’s eyes.

My Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

My Review: Don't hate on me... I can already feel the anger from the rest of the people who absolutely loved this book. I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Walking Disaster by Jamie McGuire is a version of Beautiful Disaster from the perspective of Travis, the hotblooded fighter from the first book. And let me repeat, it's exactly the same book with a different epilogue. You can read the synopsis from either book to get an idea of what this is about-- Travis and Abby (or Pigeon) fall in love and have a very dysfunctional relationship. That pretty much sums it up.

Don't get me wrong, seeing into Travis' rage crazed head is interesting at times and a sometimes fascinating exercise to write a book from a male's perspective. I would say that McGuire succeeds and that I felt like Travis' voice was authentic and believable. I not once thought he was a girl (a problem that a lot of YA books have with female authors writing as male voices). The epilogue was entertaining (and the one part that was new) if not unbelievable.

The way I read and review companion books is TOGETHER. If this were a stand alone, it would probably have earned another star. The first book was a solid 4 stars for me, but there was no anticipation in this book of what was going to happen. I had just read the first book, and had the sense that this book was a cut and paste except for a few additions here and there. I mean, talk about a great way to easily get out another book for fans of Travis and Beautiful Disaster to salivate over. But for me, I felt like this was just a letdown-- could we at least have seen the time between the end of Beautiful Disaster and the epilogue? That could have been more interesting (and different) than the first book. I found myself skimming through all the dialogue and scenes with Abby and Travis because you can be sure they were the same.

Overall, a repetitive addition to the Beautiful Disaster franchise-- this one wasn't for me.

Rant (Beware: Major spoilers from both books)
OK, so here's my problem, which I kind of went into in my review above on Walking Disaster. Is it just me, or does it seem kind of wrong to charge people for an entire "new" book when it is basically the same book as before? I could actually tell that McGuire was getting a little tired of the "new" book herself, when she just cut and paste large chunks of dialogue from one book to the other without any new additions into Travis' head. 

The two big additions are a prologue (which I could have done without), and a completely unrealistic epilogue where Travis becomes an FBI agent. REALLY? I mean, Beautiful Disaster's ending was pretty unbelievable (ok, the getting married part wasn't that unlikely, but the living happily ever after DEFINITELY was), but this was completely in left base. The likelihood of Travis pulling himself together and snagging a high profile job after a lifetime of being messed up and a fighter seems very low. It is much more likely that he ended up in jai,l and he and Abby ended up divorced with kids. In fact, it seemed like a more fitting end for these two was a dual suicide-- it would fit their pattern of total insanity and violence.

These two people are completely dysfunctional, and honestly, make each other more unstable. Are we supposed to believe that once they finally decided to be together that they never had any more fights? And are we also supposed to believe that someone who is physically violent with other people won't ever hit a woman or children? I see a lifetime of abuse for Travis' loved ones-- and I can see him totally doing the "I'm so sorry, I promise I'll never do it again." It seems to really fit his personality.

Overall, while I enjoyed reading Beautiful Disaster, it had its problems, and then Walking Disaster was basically... a complete disaster. I would pass that one by.

What did you think of these books?

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

MEGA Giveaway of Stereotypical Freaks by Howard Shapiro, $50 Amazon GC Grand prize, with tons of other loot AND 20 questions with Tom, main character of Stereotypical Freaks

Wasn't a winner in the last giveaway?? Here is your chance to win this terrific graphical novel SIGNED and/or tons of other prizes including a grand prize of $50 Amazon GC!!!
The Stereotypical Freaks
Goodreads book description: Four disparate high school seniors come together to compete in their school's battle of the bands. Sharing a love for playing rock and roll, the members name the band "The Stereotypical Freaks" because they feel stereotyped by their classmates - smart kid, geek, star athlete and quiet weirdo… when in fact they know they are much more than those labels that have been placed on them.

When one member reveals life altering news, winning the competition takes on more of a meaning to each member. Scared and angry, upset and yet still with a lot of resolve they set out to win one for the good guys… will they?

My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars, I LOVED THIS BOOK!!! Pick it up NOW!

Author Blurb: HOWARD SHAPIRO lives in Pittsburgh, PA with his wife and two sons. The Controller for the Pittsburgh-based Visual Effects firm, Animal Inc., he has also written four children’s books and The Stereotypical Freaks will be his debut Graphic Novel.  His 2008 book, Hockey Player for Life, has been the #1 downloaded children’s hockey e-book on Amazon’s Kindle chart since its arrival as an e-book in November of 2011.  His, Hockey Days book was the only book featured in the December 2007 Sporting News Annual Gift Guide as a Best Buy Gift for Children.  Through a corporate sponsorship program he set up (and maintains), since the 2010-11 season, both of his children’s hockey books have been given to NHL teams (over 2,500 copies to date) for use in their community and educational initiatives.  Since 2006 his annual charity raffle, which he matches dollar for dollar donated, has raised funds for several hockey-related charities including the Mario Lemieux Foundation, Hockey Fights Cancer and the Keith and Lisa Primeau Scholarship Fund.  For more information, please log on to howardshapiro(dot)net.

 20 Questions with Tom, the main character of Stereotypical Freaks

1. Pets? 
 None.  My family and I are not really pet people... I personally have never been the same since I saw Charlotte's Web when I was younger.  I think I cried for a day straight after I saw it for the first time.

2. Favorite ice cream? 
I love coffee ice cream the best.  Cookies and cream would be right behind that.  Interestingly enough, I don't like to drink coffee, but I love the smell of it.  I guess you can tell by these first two questions that I am a little, not a lot, just a little odd!

3. Favorite band?
That's a tough one... wow, if you ask me next week I may say something different then I would right now.  Plus, I differentiate between how an act plays in concert and how they sound in the studio.  Still, I think I'll go with Bruce Springsteen and the E Street band by a little bit over The Who.  I could name about ten others that would be close but I won't bore you to death with them.

4. Favorite comic? 
Spiderman!  I grew up reading any and every Spiderman comic book I could find and watching all of the different Spiderman cartoons that have been on TV.  I could always identify with Peter Parker.

5. Favorite subject in school? 
 I guess it would be Intro To Accounting.  I know that sounds weird, but my dad is an Accountant so he helps me out when he is not regaling me with stories about the ins and outs of the business world!

6. Favorite book?
"Catcher in the Rye."  Much like I mentioned above how I could relate easily to Peter Parker, I can do the same with Holden Caufield!

7. Favorite TV show? 
It's tough again to choose just one.  Are we talking old shows or new shows?  All time or recent?  I would have to say that my all time favorite show is "Batman The Animated Series."  My dad and I will watch all of DVD's every now and then and I just love the way it looks and was done.

8. Best friend?
That would be Dan Roberts... I kind of drift back and forth between him and Marcell Bennett but I know Marcell has other friends while I know that I am Dan's ONLY friend in the world.

9. Favorite movie?  I'd say "The Natural"... to me its a perfect movie, not just a perfect sports or Baseball movie.

10. Favorite food?  Pizza!

11. Favorite beverage?
 I'm partial to Mountain Dew... I think I could drink a whole two liter bottle in one sitting!

12. Least favorite thing to do?
I hate cutting the grass!  We don't have a huge yard or anything, but its still a hassle.  Plus, my dad stands at the window and points out my errors or where I missed a spot.

13. Favorite sport?
Hockey... its fun to play and a lot of fun to watch as well!

14. If you could be a superhero, who would it be? 
I'd say... Green Arrow.  I know that might be a weird choice but I really like the guy!  He doesn't have super powers per se and I always root for the underdog!  So, I would be him if given the chance.

15. If you could meet ANYONE, who would it be? 
 I'd love to meet Bruce Springsteen... just to say thanks for the great music you've provided me and everyone else!

16. Beach or mountains?
How about a mall, ha ha!  If you held a gun to my head, I'd say beach just because I'd know that there would be a boardwalk close by selling pizza!  The family and I are neither beach nor outdoorsy folks but if pressed I'd say the beach but I wouldn't be happy on it... I sunburn easily!!

17. If you could have only one of your five senses, which would you keep?
I'd say sight... its one thing not be able to hear, believe me when I say that I would like to not hear a bunch of the conversations I hear on a daily basis!

18. Books with pages or e-reader? 
I'm old school!  I love the tactile experience of holding a book in my hands.

19. What's worse: failing a class or banned from having a band?
Definitely failing a class.  Bands can come and go but knowing I'd have to face my mom and dad having failed a class... that would be an ugly conversation!!

20. If you could have a super power (invisibility, super strength, etc), what would it be?
I'd say super speed.  That way I could get out of a lot of jams!!

Thanks again for joining us on Ensconced in YA!
Thank you so much!  It was a lot of fun!

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Monday, April 15, 2013

Review of Imaginable by J. Meyers and INT giveaway!

Imaginable (Intangible, #2) Goodreads Book Description: Twins Sera and Luke Raine’s unusual abilities are growing. Sera is healing vampires now, making them human again. And, at times, Luke can actually change the future he Sees.

But Sera’s healing has dangerous consequences, and though Luke is altering the outcome of more visions, he can’t control them yet.

Now Sera is in danger as the dark creatures of the Realm seek to use her. As Luke struggles to master his gift in order to save his sister, he discovers even more about his powers.

And what he learns just may put him in greater danger than Sera has ever been.

My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

My Review: I have been waiting eagerly for the followup to Intangible, which was one of my favorite reads last year. J. Meyers graciously offered me an ARC in exchange for a review. It did not disappoint. This review will have some mild spoilers from the first book (no more than the plot summary from Goodreads does).

Imaginable by J. Meyers takes place right after the events of the first book, Intangible. We return to our favorite twins, Luke and Sera, as they figure out more of their powers (seeing the future and healing, respectively), and work with Jonas, the vampire, and Fey, their best friend who is a powerful Light Elf, to navigate the new waters of paranormal politics. At the end of the last book, Sera has realized that she can change vampires back into humans. This leads to more vampires clamoring for this power, and Sera's life is at risk. The two twins are thrust into more danger than they've ever been in before.

I absolutely loved this book. The action starts on page one and never lets up the whole time. I frantically flipped through the pages to figure out what happened. The characters are just awesome and so different-- Jonas is still one of my favorite characters (and I love that he got his own novella, which I also loved!) and Fey is fascinating and powerful. The twins are great as well, and I loved learning more about their powers as they did. The background and fantastical creatures are all interwoven in a new way that I haven't seen before. The prose is clear and seamless as we shift from different points of view-- something that I normally dislike, but Meyers does a masterful job of transitioning from character to character, and I didn't even notice it was happening!

Overall, a smashing followup to the first novel, and I'll be bugging Meyers to send me the third as soon as it is done. You should all get your hands on this book, pronto, and Meyers continues to be one of my all time favorite indie writers.

If you are interested, you should also click here and see the great interview I did with J. Meyers earlier this year!

J. Meyers Interview

Now enter to win either a signed copy of Intangible (first book in the trilogy) - US only, or e-copy (INT), or 1 of 5 signed Intangible bookmarks and tattoos!!!

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Sunday, April 14, 2013

Signed Book Hop, Featuring Mindee Arnett, author of The Nightmare Affair, and INT Giveaway!

Signed Book Giveaway Hop
April 16th to 22nd

Featuring Books Signed by the Author

Co-hosted by Wholly Books

Thanks so much to both I Am a Reader, Not a Writer and Wholly Books for co-hosting this awesome blog hop! I'm so excited to introduce this author, Mindee Arnett, who wrote one of my favorite books read yet this year-- The Nightmare Affair! 

The Nightmare Affair (The Arkwell Academy, #1) Goodreads Book Description: Sixteen-year-old Dusty Everhart breaks into houses late at night, but not because she’s a criminal. No, she’s a Nightmare.


Being the only Nightmare at Arkwell Academy, a boarding school for magickind, and living in the shadow of her mother’s infamy, is hard enough. But when Dusty sneaks into Eli Booker’s house, things get a whole lot more complicated. He’s hot, which means sitting on his chest and invading his dreams couldn’t get much more embarrassing. But it does. Eli is dreaming of a murder.

Then Eli’s dream comes true.

Now Dusty has to follow the clues—both within Eli’s dreams and out of them—to stop the killer before more people turn up dead. And before the killer learns what she’s up to and marks her as the next target.

My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Author Blurb:

Mindee Arnett lives on a horse farm in Ohio with her husband, two kids, a couple of dogs, and an inappropriate number of cats. She’s addicted to jumping horses and telling tales of magic, the macabre, and outer space. She has far more dreams than nightmares.

Author Interview 
1. I love hearing stories about how authors got started in their writing career. Can you tell us a little bit about yours?
 I started telling myself stories before I could even read. Most of these involved my Breyer  Horses toys and My Little Pony dolls. Then in the sixth grade my teacher gave us an assignment to write a short story using a “prompt.” Even though I was an avid reader it had never occurred to me that I could write my own stories until that moment. To call this defining would be an understatement.

2. I loved your world building. Can you tell us a little about how Nightmares were born and the world in which your book takes place?
The folkloric nightmare has been around for ages, the idea of a demon sitting on your chest while you’re asleep and giving you bad dreams. I came across it while researching possible monsters for a short story I was working on. I asked myself what it would be like if the nightmare wasn’t a demon but an ordinary girl. And just like that, Dusty and her world were born.

3. Characters are so important for me. How do you go about developing your characters? Did you have a favorite? Did any of them surprise you?
 Dusty is definitely my favorite. For me, the main character always has to be the most interesting. That attraction is what makes me want to write the story in the first place. I also really enjoy writing her best friend, Selene. 

The character who surprised me most was Paul, but I can’t go into any of the reasons why because of spoilers. To put it very mildly, his character is one of the most complex I’ve ever written. He still surprises me, honestly.

4. I'm sure you derive inspiration from everywhere; can you tell us some of your sources?
 I really do derive it from everywhere, but one of my biggest inspirations is folklore. I explore and incorporate some famous folkloric stories in the novel—I won’t say which one for fear of spoilers—but weaving this folkloric history into the book was one of my favorite parts, and something I will continue to do in the upcoming books.

5. For our aspiring writers. Can you tell us a little about the editing process and how many drafts you go through before publication? 
I went through approximately four drafts before I started submitting to agents. After that I did another two quick edits for my agent before we started submitting to editors. Once with my editor, we went through another two rounds of edits, a copy edit, a first pass pages edit, and then we were finally done. So in other words—there were a lot of drafts!

6. What was your favorite YA book in the past year?
Such a hard question, so I’ll cheat and name them all. I adored The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater, Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor, Girl of Nightmares by Kendare Blake, and The Diviners by Libba Bray. All of these made my I’ll-read-this-again list.

7. If you could pick a best friend for Dusty from another book, movie, TV show, who would it be and why?
Definitely Veronica Mars. Then Dusty could learn all the handy private detective tricks from her. Plus, come on, it’s Veronica Mars! Who wouldn’t want to be friends with her? (Well, except for Lilly Kane, of course)

8. I know you are a Buffy fan-- any shows that you've watched lately that you recommend?

My favorite TV show at present is Justified. I also love Doctor Who, Supernatural, Vampire Diaries, and Castle. My all time favorite TV show is Firefly followed closely by Veronica Mars, and Lost.  

9. As an avid horse rider and Civil War re-enactivist, are we going to see any of that in upcoming novels?
I think you’ll definitely see some horse content in upcoming novels. At least, I hope you will. I’m in the prewriting stages for a fantasy series that I think of as the Pony Express meets Shadow and Bone. As far the Civil War, probably not. I haven’t done reenacting in years, and frankly the amount of research involved in writing a historical would be really hard for me to do at present. But you never know. If I’m someday able to quit my day job and write full time, I just might venture into a historical. It would be a lot of fun.

10. Tell us a little about your book coming out next year and also, what we can look forward to in further adventures with Dusty and her friends-- how many books are you planning in the series?
 The sequel to The Nightmare Affair should be out around this time next year, I believe. And in it, Dusty and her friends are faced with a new mystery to solve while also dealing with the fallout from the events in the first book. As of right now, I’m on contract for three books, but ideally I would like there to be four, possibly five to really complete the main story arc. But whether or not that will happen all depends on how well the first book does. So we’ll see.
Also coming winter of 2014 is my YA sci-fi thriller Avalon from Balzer + Bray (HarperCollins), which is about the adventures of a group of teenage spaceship thieves.

Thanks for such a great interview!

Thank YOU, Mindee, for being so awesome! Now enter to win this awesome book!
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Friday, April 12, 2013

Review: ARC of Phoenix by Elizabeth Richards

Phoenix (Black City, #2) Goodreads Book Description: Weeks after his crucifixion and rebirth as Phoenix, Ash Fisher believes his troubles are far behind him. He and Natalie are engaged and life seems good. But his happiness is short-lived when he receives a threatening visit from Purian Rose, who gives Ash an ultimatum: vote in favor of Rose’s Law permanently relegating Darklings to the wrong side of the wall or Natalie will be killed.

The decision seems obvious to Ash; he must save Natalie. But when Ash learns about The Tenth, a new and deadly concentration camp where the Darklings would be sent, the choice doesn’t seem so simple. Unable to ignore his conscience, Ash votes against Rose’s Law, signing Natalie’s death warrant and putting a troubled nation back into the throes of bloody battle.

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

My Review: I was very lucky to receive one of these well anticipated ARCs from the author in exchange for an honest review.

I loved Black City, so I was thrilled to receive this follow up. In Phoenix, the sequel, we are thrust back into the action, right where we left off in Black City. Ash and Natalie are still in love, and still reeling from the events in the last book. Rose's Law is up for public vote, and unsurprisingly, we get some sinister threats from Purian Rose, the enemy. The basic idea that Ash and Natalie are fighting for is equality among all races, Darklings and humans alike (as well as some other interesting species mixed in). A lot of forces stand in their way.

I don't want to give away any more information, because there are several twists that are a delight to find out. Again, this entry is very well written, and I found myself immersed in this dangerous world that seems like a combination between the world of the Hunger Games and that of the Holocaust. Horrific things happen in the name of power, and while at times, it seems almost unbelievable, you just have to look at WWII to remember that such atrocities have happened in the recent past.

If I'm completely honest, I didn't like this entry as much as the first-- not because it's not as well written, but certain events had to happen, which make me not the biggest fan of Natalie by the end of the book. But I understand she has time to redeem herself, and another book to get there.

Overall, a thrilling and dark second installment in the Black City trilogy. It's a must read, and I'm itching to get my hands on the third as soon as possible.

Are you excited to get this book? You should be! 

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Interview with Ruth Fox, author of The City of the Silver Light, a YA paranormal novel and International Giveaway!

The City of Silver Light (Book 1 of The Bridges Trilogy) I'm very excited to introduce this next indie author, Ruth Fox, who wrote the beautiful novella, The City of the Silver Light.

Goodreads Book Description: On a night of frost and ice, she falls from the sky, the beautiful ice-girl Cari, cast out of her world and into ours.

It’s an unusually cold Winter, but 15 year old Jake is more concerned with the ice forming in his dad’s new relationship and the fact that the girl he likes is dating his best friend.

And now his elderly neighbour is acting even weirder than usual. Could things get even more confusing?

Then Jake finds Cari, lost and alone. Who is she? What has she got to do with the sudden frost, and the wondrous silver city that has appeared in the sky? And what does his elderly neighbour, Mrs Henders know about it all?

Jake is determined to find out. But the secrets Cari bears are more dangerous than Jake can ever imagine. And the fate of our entire world – and that of the City of Silver Light – now rest in their hands.

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Author Blurb: Ruth has been an avid reader for as long as she can remember. Books and writing are her life-- she lives and breathes stories! She completed a Bachelor of Arts in Professional Writing and Editing in 2006. This was a wonderful way to improve her skills and was invaluable in developing her writing. Her dream has always been to be a published author and she considers The City of Silver Light to be a wonderful accomplishment. She hopes to have many more books published in the future. 

Author Interview
1. How did you come up with the idea behind your book?
I came up with the idea for The City of Silver Light about 8 years ago. A scene appeared in my imagination – I saw a girl lying in the grass, apparently sleeping. I wondered who this girl was. Where did she come from? What was her story? As I started to explore this, I developed the character of Jake Miles, and as I started to write, I developed her story through his experiences.

2. It was an interesting choice to write in male point of view. Was this difficult? Easy? 

It is difficult to write from the point of view of a younger male. To envisage how Jake might think and act, I thought back to my own teen years. I was lucky enough to grow up with a younger brother, and this provided me with some insight – I tried to think what he would have said, or how he would have reacted, under the circumstances when he was that age. However, the more I wrote, the easier it became – Jake was a strong and well-defined character in my mind, and in the end, his thoughts, speech and responses to situations were clear.

3. Tell us about your other characters-- I loved in particular some of your supporting characters, especially the old, creepy neighbor. Did you have any inspiration for coming up with those? Did any of the characters surprise you? Did you have a favorite? 

When I was very young, we had an old woman living next door to us. Though she was quite friendly, she was also a little unusual – she had dozens of cats and an overgrown garden full of plaster gnomes. She was definitely an inspiration for Mrs Henders!
I always find that my characters surprise me as they tend to take on lives of their own as the story is written. I didn’t expect Keira to be as forceful and bossy as she turned out to be. Daniel, also, became a much more prominent character than I originally intended.

4. What is your favorite YA book of all time, and what is your favorite YA year over the past year?

It is very hard for me to choose an absolute favourite young adult book! But if I was pressed, I would probably say Northern Lights, the first book in His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman (I think this was published as The Golden Compass overseas). I fell in love with fantasy and the idea of other worlds existing beside our own while reading this book.

Over the past year, my favourite pick would probably be When I Was Joe by Keren David.

5. For our aspiring writers, what words of advice do you have for them?

The best advice I can give to any aspiring writer is to look at the world around you and examine and remember what you see. Everything you experience can become part of the story world. I would also advise you to read as much as you can, because you’re putting yourself in the perspective of the person who will read (and hopefully enjoy) your work. You can learn a lot about your own writing by reading the work of others. 

If you truly enjoy writing, you should do a little bit every day if you can – my favourite part of the day is when I sit down with my laptop and just let my imagination run wild.

6. Can you tell us a little about the sequel? Do you have anything else on the horizon?

The sequel will show more of the wonderful City of Silver LightShar – and how it links to our world. I’m excited to explore the city further and to delve more deeply into the lives of the characters of Jake, Cari, Daniel and Keira. 

As for other works, I certainly have plenty of ideas! I hope to publish many more books in the future. 

Thanks so much for joining us, Ruth! Now sign up to win a copy of her terrific book!
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