"I write for the same reason I breathe - because if I didn't, I would die." ~ Isaac Asimov

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Six Sentence Sunday - It's Free!

Welcome to another week of Six Sentence Sunday, where I share the first six sentences and buy links to some amazing books (books I want to read or have already). Today I've decided to share some FREE books I've recently purchased and am looking forward to reading. I will state whether these are free everywhere or just Amazon. Unfortunately, I can't tell you if there is a time limit on their FREE-ness. Enjoy!

In The House of Women, Grace is the eldest of seven sisters, and the pivot upon which the family revolves. She is the buffer between her violent father and her sisters, who look to her for guidance. As Grace tries to hold them together through times of hardship and humiliation, her own secret love, William Ross rejects her. Thankfully another man, Doyle gives Grace the calm support she has been missing. Only, their subtle attraction creates more disturbance. When shocking events occur, Grace makes decisions that will affect everyone’s future, which sets sister against sister, mother against daughter. As her life crashes into chaos with scandal, near bankruptcy and murder, a coalmine disaster brings Grace into contact with an introverted miner. His cool reserve makes Grace take notice. This man is dismissive of her station and evokes an image of a life much simpler.

Montgomery Woodruff scowled at the low, dirty clouds as though they had appeared just to torment him. He tugged at his lapels, jerking his greatcoat close as the wind tried its best to wrestle a way into his inner garments. The end of January had been unrelenting with blizzards, storms and freezing temperatures. Woodruff entered his carriage and yanked at the folded blanket on the seat, his impatience sending it sliding to the floor. With a muttered oath, he arranged the blanket to better suit his needs, ignoring his clerk who stood dithering in the elements waiting for last minute instructions. Woodruff sent him a withering glare before a curt command from his driver, Sykes, sent the showy black horses away from the three-storey Georgian building to merge with the traffic in the bustling streets of the great Yorkshire town.

~ Anne Brear (2011). The House of Women. Knox Robinson Publishing.  Kindle Edition  B&N Edition (paperback)

It's been five years since Lily and Travis fell in love in TAKE ME....now it's finally time for Janica and Luke to get their very own happy ending.

If there's one thing that Janica Ellis is absolutely certain of, it's that she and Luke Carson are totally wrong for each other. She's a wild, artistic and outspoken fashion designer. He's a type A, workaholic trauma surgeon (who just happens to be sizzling hot and her brother-in-law!). But Janica is about to be proven wrong when opposites attract...in the sexiest possible way.

After a life-changing night in the ER, Luke is desperate for escape - and relief from his personal demons. For five years he has fought his attraction to his sister-in-law, but when he's pushed too far, he can't fight it another second. He needs her. Desperately. He's spent his whole life doing the right thing. For one night, he's going to follow desire instead. Straight into Janica's arms.

Janica can't believe Luke is finally at her front door...and that he's kissing her like he's been waiting his whole life for her. But even as their sensual connection deepens with every touch of skin on skin - and the man she always thought was such a good boy turns out to be sinfully, toe-curlingly bad between the sheets - Janica soon realizes she wants more than Luke's body. She wants his heart too. But what will Luke do when one night of extreme passion turns into an all or nothing proposition?

“Car accident. Ten-year-old girl. Possible ruptured spleen.” 
Luke Carson dropped the x-ray he was groggily reviewing to run beside the frightened girl who was rapidly losing blood. Her cheeks were stained with tear tracks and her long blond hair blew off the side of the gurney as the nurses wheeled her into surgery. She looked up at Luke with big, barely conscious blue eyes. 
“I know you don’t feel so good right now, honey, but in a few seconds everything will be better. I’m going to take care of you.” 
“Promise?” she whispered. 
“I promise.” He would do everything in his power not to let her, or her family, down.

~ Bella Andre (2010). Love Me (Contemporary Romance).  Kindle Edition  Nook Edition  Smashwords (FREE for Kindle and Smashwords)

Alexis Ames decides to learn who she really is, with or without the help of her mother, who guards their secrets closely. After meeting Tristan Knight and discovering that he's not normal either, the secrets begin to unravel. Their union brings promise to the future of mankind. But it also incites a dangerous pursuit by the enemy. Because they are a match made in Heaven and in Hell.

The sensation of being watched clung to me like a spider web, invisible threads bristling the back of my neck and down my spine. I brushed my fingers across my shoulders, as if I could drag the feeling off and flick it away. It was ridiculous, of course. Not just ridiculous to think I could pull it off so easily, as if it really was strands of a web, but it was even more absurd to feel it in the first place. Nobody ever held that much interest in me. Occasionally, people stared with curiosity when they picked me up on their “weird radars,” but usually they just ignored me. No one ever watched so intensely.

~ Kristie Cook (2011). Promise (Soul Savers Series). Ang'dora Productions, LLC.  Kindle Edition  Nook Edition  Smashwords (FREE for Kindle; 99cents everywhere else)

When you love someone, there's nothing you wouldn't forgive.

But what about murder?

Ara-Rose will learn that life is fashioned from one tragedy after the next, and that sometimes, the truth people hide from you is nothing you could have imagined.

But Ara has secrets of her own, and she's willing to take them to her grave--a place David Knight will fight to keep her from.

When I was born there was no life in me, no light, only stillness. My mother, who knew the loss of a child too well, held me tight and kissed my tiny fingers. She traced lines over my lips and face as I lay breathless and eternally sleeping in her arms. “Her skin is so white, so soft—like the petals of a rose,” she told my father as he knelt beside her. “She was beautiful, like her mother,” he cried. “Goodbye, little one.” My mother kissed my cheek, and at the very moment my father took me in his arms, life suddenly reached into my heart. A breath passed before they could move, before they could dare to believe I was alive.

~ A.M Hudson (2011). Tears of the Broken (Dark Secrets).  Kindle Edition  Nook Edition  Smashwords 

Before that fateful summer night, Willow had balanced the insight of emotion, and the vivid images. That night, the figure in her nightmare marked her wrist with a star, giving her father no choice but to tell Willow a family secret that would abruptly change life, as she knew it, forever. Before Willow had time to absorb the shock of her father's secret, her soul mate that had shared every stunning dream with her, found her, and darkness captured her closest friends. In order to save them, she must weave through broken myths and the undeniable power of the Zodiac. In the end, Willow discovers that at the moment of our birth we are all given a divine gift.

Some people wonder what their purpose is – they question their dreams and the passion in their heart, but not me – no… I’ve always known – I’ve known since my first breath, since the first time I saw those mesmerizing emerald green eyes – since the first time I saw my love, my Willow in my dreams. As I lay here staring at this dark gray sky all I can think about is her…those eyes, flawless olive skin…I know when my fingertips touch her for the first time in this life she will feel the energy of my love, the passion I have for her…my touch…my warm hypnotizing touch. My fingertips ache for the moment they will trace the mark on her wrist… that captivating tattoo of an Ankh – the mark that tells me that she understands that life is eternal…our love is eternal.

~ Jamie Magee (2011). Insight (A Young Adult Paranormal Romance) (The Insight Series).   Kindle Edition  Nook Edition  Smashwords 

When her dad is transferred, Rachel Wood is uprooted from her home in Pennsylvania and forced to enter a new high school, in 10th grade, in an affluent suburb in Westchester, New York. She finds herself in way over her head, as she struggles to come to grips with meeting new friends, finding a boyfriend, avoiding the cliques of mean girls, and figuring out how to survive in such a hostile new world. She has trouble navigating this new world, where drinking and drugs seem the norm, and where social pressures build on her from every direction.

Everything seems to go wrong for Rachel, until salvation comes in the form of Rob, a football player who takes a liking to her. But just as there romance is about to blossom, she finds herself confused by his actions.

As things reach a low point, Rachel meets a mysterious boy from her school, Benji, a loner who keeps apart from the other kids, and who takes her on a ride on his motorcycle. They have an unforgettable night together in an amusement park—until something goes horribly wrong, and Benji shocks her by saving her life.

Rachel knows that Benji is different from everyone else, and she knows that he is the love of her life. And as their romance deepens, she has to decide if she is willing to give up everything to find out his secret…

Rachel Wood sat in the back of her family’s 1997 station wagon, hating her life. To her right sat her annoying younger brother, Mark, and to her left was her older sister Sarah, who sat there loudly humming the pop song streaming through her iPod headphones. As Rachel’s dad put on the turn signal and made the final turn off the highway, Rachel took a deep breath, held it, and let out a loud sigh. She couldn’t believe her family was making her move now, of all times. Tenth grade. Rachel couldn’t help but let her mind drift to places that scared her.

~ Emma Knight (2011). Sworn (Book #1 of the Vampire Legends).  Kindle Edition  Nook Edition  Smashwords (FREE on Kindle; 99cents everywhere else) 

And there you have it! Yes, I included 6 books this week! Hope you find something you'll enjoy!

Happy Reading!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Review - Chasing McCree by J.C. Isabella

Briar Thompson had it all. The right clothes, the right friends, the right car. Being popular was all that mattered. Her parents were rich and treated like royalty throughout the community. She thought her senior year of high school was going perfectly, until the night her drink was spiked at a party by one of her so called friends.

That was the night she met Chase McCree.

Chase wanted to go back to Montana. To the ranch and the wild, wide blue sky that went on forever. He wanted nothing to do with flashy cars or spoiled rich kids. But he found himself head over boots for the quirky cheerleader who turned her back on her social status. She befriended him when no one else would.

Shunned and hurt by the people who were once her friends, Briar flees with Chase to his family ranch in Montana. There she discovers another world, and apart of herself she never knew.

The cowboy wasn’t like anyone she’d ever met. The cheerleader wasn’t like anyone he’d ever met. Apart their lives didn’t seem to make sense, but together, they were chasing forever.

My Review: 5 Stars!
I love cowboys. I kinda suspected this about myself, but reading this book confirmed it. Chase McCree is a true-blue cowboy. He's confident in what he wants, knows what life has in store for him, and finds unexpected love in a cheerleader. Briar Thompson can't stand her friends, her parents or her life. After a life-changing epiphany while drunk, Briar decides she's going to change her ways. Her first change is befriending the new cowboy in town, Chase McCree. At first they seem to be complete opposites, but soon realize they have everything in common. Briar follows Chase to Montana despite what everyone (including Chase's mother) thinks will happen: that Briar will go home at the end of the summer. What really happens is an unexpected summer of life-long love.

OK, enough about the plot. ;-) I loved this book. I fell in love with Chase right from the start, when he chased Briar through the park. I love how Briar stood up to her friends and finally her parents. This was a feel good YA romance, easily gobbled up in a day (as I have done, though I'm tempted to turn around and read it again). Another gem from J.C. Isabella.

You can find this book at Amazon and Smashwords for only 99cents!

Happy Reading!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Masquerade Read Along, week 4

Hello and welcome to the final week of the Masquerade Read Along. This week we are hosted by Veronica over at Mostly Reviews. This week is the last week of questions with winners chosen next week on Cambria's blog. I have to say, I have really enjoyed meeting everyone during this Read Along and look forward to doing many more! Now, onto the questions...

Chapters 24-31
Final discussion questions

1. Heven develops a new “supernatural power”. She remarks that it isn’t that exciting of a power. Is this a power you would like to have, if not what kind of supernatural power would you like to have? I wouldn’t mind being able to see auras and I’m sure there’s a reason Heven has that ability. If I got to choose what supernatural power I had, I would pick telepathy or telekinesis. To be able to read minds or move things with my mind would be awesome!

2. Which character do you think makes the biggest internal change throughout the course of this book?  Is there a situation in your life that you can reflect back on as an experience that changed your life for the better? I think Heven made the biggest internal change throughout the book. She started out a shy, quiet, practically friendless girl who hid from the world because of her scars and ended up a confident young woman without the scars. She literally faced her demons and won. I do have a situation in my life that I look back on as life-changing (a couple, actually). Both were horrible situations that forced me to face who I was at the time and to decide who I would become. I believe I became a better person because of those incidents.

3. Who is your favorite character and why? This is actually the hardest question for me. I feel like I love equally the characters I’m supposed to (Heven, Sam, her grandmother) and despise the ones I’m supposed to (mainly China and the other hellhounds). So I don’t know that I really have a favorite. I’m indifferent about her mom (though her attitude needs a serious adjustment) and I’m suspicious of Logan. I don’t think I can answer this question yet. But I’m definitely rooting for Heven and Sam in the rest of the novels.

4. When the book ends the reader has an idea of what the next book will involve. Do you think the book ended in the appropriate place? Though I felt the book dragged a bit after Heven returned from the dead, I understood that certain things still had to happen. I do feel the book ended appropriately and cannot wait to find out what happens next in Charade.
5. Do you have any predictions for the next book in the series, Charade? I get the feeling Logan isn't everything we think he is and I’m afraid to find out he’s not really one of the good guys. I think he will betray Sam and Heven in some way.

6. Did you enjoy participating in this read along?  Will you join in future read alongs? Yes and yes. This is my first read along and I truly enjoyed discussing the book and meeting fellow bloggers/writers to talk about something we all loved. I loved seeing everyone’s opinions on things and having conversations about it. I look forward to my next read along.

Thank you, Cambria and the others for hosting a very fun Read Along. :)

Happy Reading!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Writerly Wednesday - Character Questions and Outlining

Hello, everyone! Welcome to another week of Writerly Wednesday, a weekly meme I created to talk about all thing writerly, whether I'm introducing you to a new author I found (like last week with J.C. Isabella), talking about my own adventures in publishing, or giving out writerly advice, as I'm doing this week. Today I want to talk about developing characters with questions and outlining a plot, two things I didn't realize went together so intricately until I started doing one without the other. :)

Character Questions
When developing characters, you really need to know more than just the basics: height, weight, hair color, eye color, etc. You need to know what makes them tick, what their motivations are, and how they would react in various situations. One way to get to know them better is to answer questions about them. I like to treat it like an interview, sometimes going so far as to write out the scene to get body language as well. A couple great sites I found for character questions include:

http://www.writingclasses.com/InformationPages/index.php/PageID/106 This one is from Gotham Writers Workshop and has 2 questionnaires that can be downloaded in a Word doc to better utilize. I like that they are short questionnaires and ask some great questions.

http://www.squidoo.com/character-development-questions Squidoo has a great questionnaire here that breaks it down into categories, from moral beliefs to specific knowledge, and of course the all important question: why should your audience care about this character?

Plot Outlines
Before I give examples, I just want to point out that until recently (the last couple months), I was pretty much a pantser. I would start writing a book and THEN I would figure out where it was going and write down some of the details. With my newest WIP, I'm actually breaking down the chapters into scenes and with every scene, I'm figuring out where the story is going and what will push it forward. This is new for me (though not new to the publishing/writing world). So, I've come to realize the importance of outlining before writing and want to share a few ideas with you about it.

http://selfpublishingteam.com/6-writing-outline-templates-and-3-reasons-to-use-them/ This site give 6 different outlining templates and how to use them. It also discusses why outlining is important.

http://www.darcypattison.com/plot/29-plot-templates/ This site gives several different plot outline templates. My favorite template is adopted from  Joe Campbell's Hero Journey. There are some on here that I haven't heard of before, but look interesting and ideal to use.

Obviously, knowing your characters is just as important as knowing your plot. Now, I will say that Googling either idea gives you thousands of sites to explore. The ones I shared here are just a couple that caught my attention and that I have recommended to other friends.

How about you? Are you a plotter or pantser? How do you like to outline (if you do)? And what do you do to get to know your characters before you start writing?

Happy Writing!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Tell Me Something Tuesday

Welcome to another week of the fabulous meme, Tell Me Something Tuesday. Hosted by Cambria Hebert, she asks a question every Tuesday and bloggers get to answer it. This week's question:

If you could meet anyone (dead or alive), who would that person be and why?

Let me tell you, this question is a little harder to answer. I remember when I was in grade school, I always wanted to meet Eleanor Roosevelt, cousin to tPresident Teddy Roosevelt. I felt she was an amazing, upstanding woman of her time (and still feel that way). Now, not that I still don't want to meet her, my interests have changed since I chose that answer. 

Now, I would like to meet... James Patterson. I think he is an amazing author. He has written more than 70 books in the 20+ years he's been writing. He writes crime fiction, romance, women's crime fiction, Young Adult and now Middle Grade. His YA novels have also been made into graphic novels. And when he's not writing, he's supporting his getting-kids-to-read organization:  http://readkiddoread.com/  James Patterson is a versatile author who puts out 2-5 novels a year, usually co-writing the book. In my opinion he's one of the best authors of his time and that is why I look up to him. To meet him, possibly have lunch so I could pick his brain, would be a dream come true.

If James wasn't available, I would definitely choose J.K. Rowling. In fact, if I could meet with both of them (lunch, anyone?), it would totally be the highlight of my life! But I would love to pick Jo's brain about everything Harry Potter (though I'm sure she's sick of talking about it), the ideas behind Pottermore, leaving her literary agency and jumping from writing Harry Potter to an adult novel.  :)

Lastly, since meeting either of these people for longer than getting them to sign a book seems pretty impossible right now, I would love to go to lunch with Cambria Hebert and Beth Ann Masarik, my fellow YA women of Otherworld Publications. I think the three of us would have an amazing time. :) (and of course, meeting them seems a lot more plausible than almost anyone else.)

Your turn! Who would you want to meet, dead or alive, and why?

Happy Tuesday!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Six Sentence Sunday

Good morning, everyone! Welcome back to another week of Six Sentence Sunday, a weekly meme where I give you a little bit about some books I have read or want to read (including cover, blurb, the first six sentences and buy links). I hope you enjoy this week's selection.

Shayna and her two best friends have the abilities to manipulate and control the four elements, earth, air, water and fire. While learning to hone their growing powers, they discover a new and malicious presence in their sleepy beach town. Someone is performing blood magic and threatens to expose their small magical community. So far only small animals have been slaughtered, but then the nightmares start. 

Shayna suffers nightmares of being chased and sacrificed only to wake up bloodied and bruised. She thinks her magical blood is the ultimate target for the final blood rite. When an innocent girl, Tracy, is kidnapped Shayna knows it's only a ploy to draw her out; she can't let someone die because of her.

I was always the kind of girl who believed in magic, no matter what. I never listened when the other kids said Santa wasn't real and I clapped as hard as I could every time Peter Pan asked me to. When all the other kids stopped seeing faeries in the flowers or believing in the things that hide under your bed, I kept my faith quietly. On a cold day like today I was happy I hadn’t forgotten that magic was real. It was freezing outside and the heaters in the minivan weren’t great. I clapped my hands together, rubbing them frantically until I felt the spark of heat erupt between my palms.

~ Shauna Granger (2011). Earth (Elemental Series).  Kindle Edition  Nook Edition  Smashwords (this is a FREE title on Kindle)

Fourteen-year-old Andra Quincy’s summer in Marina, the fog pit of Monterey County, isn’t exactly off to a great start. It’s her birthday, and her best friend has ditched her for a boy. Her parents are cruising the Caribbean while she’s at home rubbing her goose-bumpy arms and dreaming of sunshine and adventure, and being baby-sat by her flaky uncle, Ryan. But when Andra puts on her only birthday gift, a silver charm bracelet from Ryan, it plunges her into a magical alternate reality for each seven-o’clock hour.

Andra discovers that a local six-year-old, Morgan Baxter, thought to have been kidnapped, has actually disappeared into the Seven, a place that few have entered and most never escape. Determined to rescue Morgan from the Seven even though the kid is trying to kill her, Andra enlists the help of a dorky classmate she's only known as Golf Ball Head, who turns out to be much more than she imagined, and Joel Westin, a trigger-happy boy from 1874, who both terrifies and charms her. Andra must figure out who to trust and how to get Morgan and herself out of the Seven before it’s too late and they become a part of it forever.

Andra reached for her sweater, then paused, pulled her hand back, and went for the hoodie instead. It was still new and soft on the inside and hugged her tight against the misty wind that was always so determined to prick her skin with salt and cold. Mom would want her to wear something nicer to Maggiore’s, something nicer to celebrate her fourteenth birthday. But Mom had left her on her fourteenth birthday, and Dad, too. Just like her best friend Amanda, who’d decided that hanging out with Ty Fields this summer would do more for her future at Seaside High. So Andra was alone with Uncle Ryan, who seemed clueless what to do with her now that she wasn’t just a little kid he could impress with rock candy and carousel rides.

~ Lisa Alden (2011). Linked. Morning Gate Press.  Kindle Edition  Nook Edition  Smashwords

Sammy Lorre was cast from Heaven for conduct unbecoming an angel. Living in a demon infested small town with no memory of her previous life, she faces never-ending purgatory until Boon saunters into her life with a promise of angelic love. But is he an angel from Heaven or a minion from the underworld preying on her human emotions? To discover his true identity, she must risk eternal damnation and her heart.

Hell. Okay, not Hell but Kemp, Florida. Close enough at ninety-eight degrees and a hundred percent humidity. Sammy Lorre tugged her clinging shirt off her stomach and wadded into the cool ocean. Since her fall, she didn’t have any memory of Heaven, only an occasional moment of joy and pleasant dreams, but it had to be better than here. After all, it was called Heaven.

~ Ciara Knight (2011). Love's Long Shadow (Battle for Souls). Turquoise Morning Press.  Kindle Edition  Nook Edition  Smashwords 

Michelle used to feel like she was behind in everything, especially school and relationships. Her great aunt from the old country says she is like a bland meal, "no salt or pepper". But in junior year, everything changes. Her father takes a position on the Town Council, a popular boy in school becomes interested in her, and most importantly, the Hekademos Learning Center, a private school for 'troubled' students, moves into her quiet neighborhood amidst the protests of the entire town.

After an embarrassing fall over the school wall, Michelle meets Elliot and her ordinary ‘bland’ life changes its course forever.

Elliot is no ordinary human. In fact, no one at the Hekademos Learning Center is. Beautiful and fierce, they have survived throughout the millennia by weaving in and out of human events. Through them, Michelle learns that history and myths from around the world are dotted with references to their kind. Michelle falls madly in love with the ever-striking and mysterious Elliot and, as much as he tries to fight it, he develops strong feelings for her as well. Although Elliot carries numerous painful memories from his many pasts, he disregards his own better judgment and the advice of his friends, and finds himself falling for Michelle‘s offbeat personality. Their feelings grow in intensity, but when History catches up with them, the difference between their life paths threatens to destroy any future that they might have had together.

Michelle learns that there are infinite shades of gray between black and white, and has to deal with the bundle of contradictory emotions called love. She has to trust her intuition in order to face the danger and uncertainty of being drawn into Elliot’s wondrous world. Ultimately, it is up to Michelle to make the split-second, life-altering decision that will either tear them apart forever, or give them another chance.

She couldn’t believe how disgusting the stuff was now that it was cold. When she had first started, she wasn’t sure about sticking her hands in it, but once she took the plunge she actually enjoyed the warm sticky goop running between her fingers and up her forearms. It was like overcooked oatmeal or tapioca pudding, and she took pleasure in kneading it and feeling the curds seep in between her clenched fists. But it was late now, and it stank, and she wished she were done. She felt the dry paste everywhere, from her forehead to her chin, and even in the lines of her neck, crusting like peeling skin after a severe sunburn. She didn’t want to touch her hair, but she was sure that it too was covered in sticky clumps. She needed a shower.

~ A. Jacob Sweeny (2010). Pulse of Heroes. Thalamus Press.  Kindle Edition  Nook Edition

 A spell-binding intergalactic tale of beauty & the geek. 

Two Worlds––Two Teens––One Wish 

Rhoe and Ashley would never be friends. 
Even if they lived on the same planet. 
But, they’ll become so much more. 
They’ll transfer. 

Earthling Ashley’s world revolves around winning daily popularity contests at Beverly Hills High School and surfing competitions with sweet scholarship prizes that will finally help her break free of her control-freak mother. Meanwhile on planet Retha, Rhoe misses his dad, loves his mom’s home-cooked Glechy crag with a side of ory sauce, is desperate to heal his sick brother and wants more than anything to win The Retha New Invention Competition. But Rhoe‘s invention teleports him across the universe with an unintended side effect, Ashley and Rhoe transfer. They swap lives when they make the same wish at the same time. 

Popular-surfer-turned-boy-geek alien Ashley must handle life on Retha as Rhoe complete with webbed feet, low-gravity, and an obsession with Yuke, all the while being hunted by Rethan spies and resenting her hairy, flat chest. Boy-geek-turned-popular-surfer Rhoe must fit in at Beverly Hills High School as Ashley, compete in The Laguna Beach Invitational without becoming shark food, dodge boys’ affections, cool his preoccupation with Tiffany and his new body, and find the healing rocks he believes will save his brother’s life. If only it were that simple. Some wishes can't come true. Some have to. 

In kindergarten, when I drew pictures of the night sky, I pressed hard on my crayon to color every millimeter of manila drawing paper a waxy black. My teacher, Mrs. Turek, would address my starless skies at a parent-teacher conference later that year. Before she knew any better, Mrs. Turek would guide my hand. We’d make small star strokes. When I left gaps where the points should be, she bent down low and tightened her grip. Chanel No. 5 wafted from behind her gnarly ear, an eyelash away. Beyond her pearl earring, just below her way-too-big upper lip, her permanently suntanned finger curled over mine, around the yellow Crayola, and squeezed. No matter how hard I tried, I never could draw yellow stars.

~ Laura A. H. Elliott (2012). Transfer Student, Book 1 in the Starjump Series.  Kindle Edition  Nook Edition  Smashwords

There you have it, folks! I hope you've found something you'd like to read. If you have suggestions or would like to see your book/s featured, just leave a comment below.

Happy Reading!

Friday, April 20, 2012

The Iron Fey - Meghan's Trilogy

I've decided to review all three books together because, as a writer, I've noticed quite a few incidents of things that happen in Iron King that correlate with Iron Daughter and Iron Queen. **THERE WILL BE SPOILERS! YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED** This review/discussion will be the most in depth I've done in quite a while, hence the reason for the spoiler warning. If you have not read these books yet, I strongly suggest you bookmark this post until you have unless (unless you don't mind spoilers, of course). Now, having said that, let me being.

The World
Julie Kagawa brings us to the Nevernever, the land of faeries. When Meghan first goes through the door in her brother's closet, she steps into the Wyldwood, a forest in perpetual twilight that is the neutral ground for both the Summer and Winter courts. All kinds of creatures live here, making it a dangerous place to traverse if you don't know where you're going. Thankfully, Meghan first has Puck and then Grimalkin to help her to the Summer Court.

The Courts are amazing. The home of the Summer (Seelie) Court, Arcadia, is set in everlasting summer, warm and sunny with trees and flowers flourishing at every turn. Oberon and Titania hold Court in a beautiful courtyard surrounded by large oak trees. At the opposite end, Queen Mab, Queen of the Unseelie (Winter) Court, lives in a palace of ice. Her kingdom, Tir na nOg, is a beautiful winter wonderland - that is as dangerous as it is beautiful.

The Characters
Meghan Chase - Meghan is the main character of the trilogy and the person whose pov the books are from. Meghan starts out as a quiet, ignored nobody in high school, on the eve of her sixteenth birthday. Her only friend is her best friend, Robbie Goodfell, whose been in her life for as long as she can remember. Things go wrong for Meghan from the start, from seeing a metallic bug come out of a computer that humiliated her to further being humiliated on her sixteenth birthday by the boy she's secretly loved for years. Her birthday gets worse when she comes home to find her little brother has been replaced by a faery changeling. And that's when her adventure into Faery and the truth of her heritage begins. Meghan's journey through the Nevernever is as dangerous and inspiring as her character arc throughout the trilogy. There is danger at almost every turn. Meghan, upon accepting her role as the Summer Princess, finds out she can wield Iron Glamour as well and eventually becomes the Iron Queen, joining her two magics together. On her journey, whether it's to return the Scepter of Seasons, rescue her brother or finally defeat the Iron King once and for all, Meghan's confidence and self assurance grows. Her growth throughout the trilogy is the most inspiring and obvious of them all. I admire everything she went through in all three books to end up where she did.

Puck/Robin Goodfellow/Robbie Goodfell - Meghan's lifelong best friend turns out to be the infamous Puck (aka Robin Goodfellow) from Shakespeare's play, A Midsummer Night's Dream. He's the Summer Court prankster - and has been in love with Meghan for years. He defies his King to do anything for the girl he loves and adds humor to the adventure. He's sarcastic when he's not trying to get Meghan to relax, but has a serious side that comes out as the series progresses. He also has a viscous streak when it comes to fighting, especially when it comes to his arch rival (and former friend) Prince Ash of the Unseelie Court. He's a loyal friend to the end, someone all of us should have in our lives.

Prince Ash - Where do I begin with the cold, quiet Prince of Winter? He starts out curious and disdainful towards Meghan, the newly returned half-faery Summer Princess. He ends up in a contract with her to help her go into the Iron Kingdom to save her brother in return for her willingly going back to the Winter Kingdom with him. And in the Iron Kingdom, he falls in love. Ash has been hurt before, losing the first love of his life when he thought love wasn't possible (and the reason he and Puck are immortal enemies). In the Winter Court, emotions are used against a person, so Ash has a cool, carefully blank expression he uses when he shuts down. Meghan coming into his life turns it upside down as he experiences feelings for her (despite his best efforts not to) when he thought he never would again. Their love story is epic, going beyond the barriers of both their worlds, defying the laws of the Faery Courts. Ash gives up everything to be with Meghan - and becomes a better person for it. I enjoyed him most in Iron Queen, when he was more talkative and relaxed after being exiled to be with Meghan. His love knows no bounds, his oath to protect her when he became her knight melted my heart. But his upbringing in the Unseelie Court gives him the edge he needs to be a fierce warrior, deadly with or without his blade. Quite frankly, in my opinion, he's absolutely amazing and I look forward to reading his story, his final journey, in Iron Knight.
(One thing I want to point out about Ash's verbal tags is that 90% of them seem to be "mutter" or "murmur". I found that highly interesting seeing as Ash is very hard to get to talk, so when he does, he does so quietly.The writer in me enjoyed that immensely.)

Grimalkin Grim is a cait sith. A talking cat. I love that Julie Kagawa put a talking cat in this series. Grim is arrogant and likes to disappear without notice only to show up the same way, sometimes with embarrassing results. He's an infuriating know-it-all and only seems to hang out with Meghan because her humanity amuses him, but he's always there when he's needed, usually with an escape route already planned out.

Oberon, Titania, and Mab I can't talk about this series without talking about the three Faery rulers. Titania is a jealous b*tch. (it had to be said.) Oberon is a strong ruler, though he obviously doesn't know what it means to be a parent. And Mab... Mab pits her children against each other to win her favor (as is normal in the Winter Court). All of these rulers have strong opinions and roles within the series.

The Iron Fey I love the idea of the Iron Fey. I love that they originated with mankind's need for technology and the rapidly changing advances in technology. There are clockwork golems, metal bugs, a woman named Virus, a guy named Glitch... you get the idea. The idea of the Iron Fey is a very original one and I'm envious that I never thought of it. ;-) And the fact that Meghan, a computer genius btw, can control Iron glamour as well as Summer is very cool, too.

Overall Thoughts
I enjoyed these books immensely. And even though it wasn't the happily-ever-after ending I was looking forward to, I understand why Iron Queen ended like it did. I laughed, cried and ran the gamut of other emotions throughout these three books. The characters are real, whether they have a big part of small. The descriptions bring the world to life to the point that if you close your eyes, you find yourself in the twilight of the Wyldwood or the arctic cold of the Winter Court. They are very inspiring books and I will definitely be reading them again and again!

Have you read these books? What are your thoughts/opinions on them? Let's talk!

Happy Friday!

PS - I'm currently in the middle of Iron Knight. I know how it will end since this is the HEA ending Julie Kagawa's editor/publisher wants, but I would appreciate no spoilers. I can host a discussion of that book when I'm finished if there is interest. :)

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Masquerade Read Along, Week 3

Welcome back for another week of the Masquerade Read Along with Cambria Hebert and five fantabulous bloggers! This week's questions are hosted by Heidi at Rainy Day Ramblings.

Week 3, Chapters 16-24

1. Heven’s mother has definite ideas about Heven and her scars – what they mean – and their relationship is strained. Do you think their relationship can be saved? Unfortunately, no, I don’t think their relationship can be saved. Heven’s mother’s ideas are too strong and her belief in her own ideas are too strong for her to see passed them. I think Heven can/will forgive her mom, but I don’t see their relationship as being close anymore.

2. Sam tells Heven about how he came to be living on his own, how his parents kicked him out after he became what he is. He doesn’t seem angry though, he seems to accept it. Would you be angry? Do you think he should be? I think when Sam was first kicked out, he was angry and hurt by his parents disapproval. But I think now Sam has come to accept it because there is no other way for him to live with it. I think I would be the same way. I would be mad at first, but if there’s no way to change someone’s mind, you just have to accept it and move on. That is what Sam did. So no, I don’t think Sam should be angry; I think his time for anger has passed.

3. During these chapters, Heven and Sam visit the Inbetween and meet Airis (aka The Hope). Were you surprised by this series of events? Do you think a place like the InBetween really exists? Yes, I do think a place like the InBetween does exist, just as I believe angels like Airis do exist. I was very surprised by this turn of events; I never expected Heven to die! And to be transformed, her scars removed and her quest given… a very powerful move story-wise.

4. When Heven’s scars are no longer a part of her and she says “she no longer recognizes herself” – do you think that the absence of her scar will change her once more? No. I think she will remember those scars and the person she used to be. I don’t think being without scars will change her into a different person or worse, the person she used to be Before the accident.

5. Gran is very accepting of Heven and of Sam. Do you think that she understands more – knows more than she lets on about Heven’s life or do you think her love is just unconditional? I think Gran knows a little more than she’s letting on. Whether she knows about The Hope or just that there is more to Heven than anyone knows, I think Gran has some knowledge of it. I also think Gran might know something about what Sam is, but she sees the love between Heven and Sam and can’t condone it. Plus, Gran has always been accepting of Heven, Before and now. It’s obvious her love is unconditional.

Happy Reading!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Writerly Wednesday - Meet J.C. Isabella

Hello, everyone, and welcome to another fun week of Writerly Wednesday, where I share some writerly knowledge, introduce you to authors I've met or tell you what's going on my writerly life. :) Today, I want to introduce you to J.C. Isabella. She's a self-published author whose third book, Chasing McCree, just came out on Sunday, April 15! I'm so excited for this book! I've read J.C.'s other two books and she is a phenomenal writer! So without further ado, I give you J.C. Isabella.

J.C. Isabella is the author of The Unofficial Zack Warren Fan Club and a romance novel junkie. Ever since she discovered the genera in high school, she has been a self proclaimed fan. This led to penning her first YA romance. When she isn't thinking up new recipes for the cookbook she hopes to one day write, she is brainstorming a new novel and listening to country music. She lives in the tropics of Florida with her big fat Italian family and ornery feline companion. Her next book, Chasing McCree, is due out April 15th. 

Tell us a little about Chasing McCree. Where did you get the idea for the characters and story?

Taylor Swift’s song, Only Me When I’m With You. I listened to it and I was like, this would make an amazing story! I looked up the lyrics and I read them and it just all clicked. I thought, what would the boy and girl in her song do to be together if someone were to try to keep them apart? Would they run away? Stand up to everyone who didn’t believe in them, saying that it would never work? It was obvious from the lyrics they would do anything for each other. If I could sum up the whole book, it would be the title of this song.

As for the rest of the ideas in the book, the people in Briar’s life weren’t hard to dream up. Growing up, I actually lived in a neighborhood very close to where Briar lives in the book.  Belleair Bluffs is a real city in Florida, full of well to do people that are very active in the community. Lots of doctors. I had a few friends from families like Briar’s. So her world is very real, though the characters are not. There is a scene in the book where they go to an outdoor movie theater on the beach. (not a spoiler:) It is called Sunset Cinema, and I go with friends every once and a while.

The Council has a very well put-together system of magic. How did you create that? Did you use mythology, wiccan/pagan/or other arcane knowledge bases?

I actually read up a bit on the English monarchy. It would have been the time of the Tudors, King Henry the VIII. It was the only familiar system of government to the characters. But having one king that might favor his kind and suppress the others had been a concern for them. So my idea was to have three kings, each working together with equal power, so each magical being is represented. They rule somewhat separately, though their people abide by the same laws, and they come together in times of need.

You said in your Q&A that you create character sometimes based on people you once knew or from characters in books you’ve read. Where did the inspiration for Henry and Venna come from? Briar and Chase?

Henry was a boy I once knew. He was very kind, and he had this light in his eyes when he smiled. I worked with him a few summers at camp and we went to the same church. Then one day I received news that he’d been killed in a traffic accident, hit by a car while riding his bike. Shortly after I started writing this book, I only saw him. I thought he deserved his happy ending.

Venna was a little harder to pin down, until I saw a movie called Accepted. It had been out for a couple years already, but I saw the girl playing the character named Rory. She had red hair, and a little bit of an attitude. I was like, that’s Venna!!

As for Chase, there wasn’t one person. He’s just my idea of the American cowboy. Sure, steady, and tough. He made himself, in a way. But I also listen to a lot of Josh Turner and Luke Bryan :)

Briar just kind of came to me. And I was thinking a little about Buffy too, lol. Here you have this cheerleader who is one person on the outside, but she really is so much more than a pair of pompoms and a high kick. She just needed the opportunity to become who she was meant to be.

Do you believe in magic or unseen phenomenon? Any personal anecdotes to explain why?

Uh, to be honest... I think there are things in this world we can’t explain. Is it magic, ghosts, parallel universes? I have no idea, and I can’t say that I believe or don’t believe. If there’s proof, I’ll jump on the bandwagon :) If not, then there are some really great stories out there to keep us guessing.

The Unofficial Zack Warren Fan Club revolves around a club Chloe started when she was in grade school and escalates into a monstrosity still in existence in college. When you were younger, did you begin your own fan club of some kind? If so, what was it?

I never was part of a fan club. Though I did watch the Mickey Mouse club on occasion.

Can you tell us anything about what is in store for Zack and Chloe or Henry and Venna in future novels?

Hmm, I can tell you you will be seeing all four of them again, though in their respective books. Venna and Henry’s story is complete. They will become secondary characters now, but they will make appearances from time to time. After Kyle’s book, there will be a final book featuring Zack and Chloe...but I’m not saying what is going to happen :)

[Author's note: there is a Zack and Chloe scene on J.C.'s blog in her "Book Extras" section that I highly recommend you read after reading the book! It takes place after the book ends.]

Fast Five
Favorite food? Oh God this is hard...I have to pick one??? Uh....okay, apple pie.
Favorite book? One For The Money by Janet Evanovich
Favorite vacation spot? St. Augustine Fl!
Hollywood crush? Chris Pine [great choice!]
Werewolves, vampires, zombies or witches? Werewolf....but only if he was a cowboy in another life :)

The Giveaway:
J.C. has been kind enough to offer up 3 e-copies of Chasing McCree through Smashwords. Just leave a comment before midnight tonight with your email address in the (at) (dot) format (ex: erindanzer(at)gmail(dot)com). Winners will be chosen sometime Thursday!

Where to buy J.C.'s books:
The Unofficial Zack Warren Fan Club: Amazon, B&N, Smashwords
The Council: Amazon, B&N, Smashwords
Chasing McCree: Amazon, B&N, Smashwords

Stalk... er, I mean, find J.C. online!
Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/jcisabellabooks
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/JC-Isabella/249262975154372
Website: http://www.jcisabella.com/
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5158465.J_C_Isabella
Tumblr: http://jcisabella.tumblr.com/

Good luck for the give away! I hope you will come to love J.C.'s books as much as I do!

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Tell Me Something Tuesday

Welcome back for another week of Tell Me Something Tuesday, the weekly meme hosted by Cambria Hebert where she asks the question and bloggers answer. This week's question:

If you were going to be stranded on a desert island and could only bring five things, what would they be?

I have struggled with this question since reading it. Only five things? I'd asked Cambria, which of course she said yes to. ;-) Since I'm going to be stranded, meaning I don't wake up stranded, it might be a little easier... So, okay, five things...

My Kindle Fire. Even if I can't get internet on my desert island, I would still have plenty of things to read. I would just make sure to upload all my favorite, can't-live-without books onto it before leaving. :-) I love to read and it helps pass the time. My Fire also has a Quick Office app so I can continue to write books, which I will then release when I'm rescued from my island. ;-) (in my imaginary world where this desert island lives, electricity is not a problem lol)

A Water purifier. It can be a Brita pitcher or even one of those sports bottle things, but I'd need something that would purify the water surrounding my island so I could drink.

A Boy Scout-type guy. I am so not the hunter in my family; I'm more the gathering type. ;-) So I would need someone, preferably a strong, hot man to hunt and cook for me. He could also build me a shelter to keep us out of the sweltering heat of our desert island. Of course, having an amenity such as that, I may not want to leave the island. ;-)

My life-long BFF, Pam. She and I have known each other most of our lives. And since we currently live three states away from each other, this would remedy the problem of never seeing each other! ;-) Of course, I would make sure she brings her own 5 things so we would have more to do. LOL

And that's all I can think of. LOL Who would've thought I was worried about only bringing 5 things and now I can't even come up with a fifth one! Now it's your turn. What five items would you bring with you to a desert island?

Happy Tuesday!