Friday, June 29, 2012

In the Shadow of Vesuvius Excerpt by Liz Carmichael


 
Author Liz Carmichael has stopped by today with a teaser of her new book In The Shadow of Vesuvius.

Screams came from below the west window. I ran over to look. Icy spider feet raced down my spine. Mice and rats sprang from holes and cracks in the walls of neighbouring bakery, and its drains. The vermin scrambled over each other, forming a grey and brown moving patchwork as they fled along the cobbled street. Women servants whooped, and struck out at the vermin with yard brooms, staffs, or anything else they could get hold of, to keep the rodents from entering their owner’s homes. Hopping from foot to foot, mothers and daughters kicked out at the scurrying horror. In their rush to flee, the animals showed no desire to enter any home; they ignored the women and poured around statues, carts, and people as though with one mind, and that mind, like mine, was telling them it was time to leave. Watching them I wished I had that same freedom. The sight of the women dodging and swiping at the rodents, though, caused hysterical laughter to bubble up within me. It tried to change into a scream. Forcing it back down almost choked me, but I did not want to scare Remy. I snatched up a pillow and, pressing it to my face, buried the scream within it. Pushing back tears, I wished to have someone to share my dread: if only just one comforting shoulder for this one time.

  Author Links: Website
Purchase on Amazon for Kindle
Purchase on Amazon in Paperback
Purchase on Barnes & Noble



Although born in Scotland and spent time in other countries, Liz is now happily settled in Melbourne, Australia.
She is an editor as well as a writer and avid reader - especially historical fiction - who loves researching, though she can get so caught up in research she forgets about the story she's researching for.
Liz also draws and paints for relaxation, and will do illustrations for her books whenever possible. She walks her daughter's dog because both need the exercise.

She has a Dip. Art(Professional Writing and Editing), and taught writing and editing for two years until the need to concentrate fully on her own writing took over again.
Her favourite authors, in no particular order, are: Sue Monk Kidd, Sara Donati, Geraldine Brooks, Vanora Bennett, Sarah Dunant, Cormac McCarthy, Markus Suzak, Carlos Ruiz Zafon, Robert Harris. For Crime: Michael Connelly, Minette Walters, Jeffrey Deaver, and Dean Koontz for his crime with humour. Newest favourite authors are Anne Obrien and Pauline Gedge - writers of historical fiction, of course.
The book trailer for In the Shadow of Vesuvius was made by Chuck Pride of "American Pride Productions"


Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Scary School by Derek the Ghost A Book Review

Scary School

by Derek the Ghost
Available Now
Goodreads Summary:
You think your school's scary?
Get a load of these teachers:
"Ms. Fang," an 850-year-old vampire
"Dr. Dragonbreath," who just might eat you before recess
"Mr. Snakeskin"--science class is so much more fun when it's taught by someone who's half zombie
"Mrs. T"--break the rules and spend your detention with a hungry "Tyrannosaurus rex"
Plus
Gargoyles, goblins, and Frankenstein's monster on the loose
The world's most frighteningly delicious school lunch
And
The narrator's an eleven-year-old ghost
Join Charles "New Kid" Nukid as he makes some very Scary friends--including Petunia, Johnny, and Peter the Wolf--and figures out that Scary School can be just as funny as it is spooky.

Scary School is a Middle Grade school book, definitely geared toward the lower end of that age group. Parents that read with their children will be amused at the references to Jason with his hockey mask and chain saw, though he is decidedly less scary than the Jason in the movies.
The characters are varied and a mix of human children and monster children. The teachers all seem to be monsters and rather scary at that! Children attending Scary School learn to behave or suffer deadly consequences. Derek the Ghost who wrote the story, suffered one of those deadly accidents that seems to happen frequently at Scary School. But Nurse HairyMole seems to be able to cure even death so most of the kids are safe, relatively speaking.
With funny names and colorful characters, children are sure to be entertained and giggle while reading this chapter book with or without mom or dad. The words are simple enough and the story easy enough to follow that a new chapter book reader shouldn't have much trouble with the book, despite it's length.
I read Scary School on my Kindle Touch, but the illustrations where captivating and I can imagine they will only enhance a child's reading experience. Plus, I've found with boys, that if it still has pictures in it, they are more likely to pick it up and read it.
The plot is survival, of the school year, the monsters, the teachers and the Ghoul Games at the end of the year. There is a light message in the book that is easy to understand and a happy ending. Perfect for the age group intended. I'd recommend this for 8-10 yr olds to read with their parents or alone if they are good readers and not intimidated by an almost two hundred page book, remembering illustrations and short chapters. It was funny for that age group and will definitely have kids looking for the second in the series that just released, Scary School Two, Monsters on the March.
Heather

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Review-Lies Beneath by Anne Greenwood Brown

Lies Beneath 

by Anne Greenwood Brown
Goodreads Summary:
Calder White lives in the cold, clear waters of Lake Superior, the only brother in a family of murderous mermaids. To survive, Calder and his sisters prey on humans, killing them to absorb their energy. But this summer the underwater clan targets Jason Hancock out of pure revenge. They blame Hancock for their mother's death and have been waiting a long time for him to return to his family's homestead on the lake. Hancock has a fear of water, so to lure him in, Calder sets out to seduce Hancock's daughter, Lily. Easy enough—especially as Calder has lots of practice using his irresistable good looks and charm on ususpecting girls. Only this time Calder screws everything up: he falls for Lily—just as Lily starts to suspect that there's more to the monsters-in-the-lake legends than she ever imagined. And just as his sisters are losing patience with him.

While not quite as dark and tense as I expected I really loved reading this novel, another from the male point of view, merman Calder White.  Calder was not as dark and as menacing as I thought he'd be. I figured he be exactly like his sisters, but from the beginning, he's in the Bahama's while the Sister's are already in the cold midwest. But the pull to go "home" is too irresistible for any of them to deny. Maris is the oldest sister and she keeps their memories of their mother alive for them. She's held the "family" together all waiting for this moment. They've found the Hancock. The one that was supposed to be given as a debt when their mother allowed Thomas Hancock to live and he promised his first born son in return. Instead he fled with his family that night. Their mother died in fishing nets trying to go after him. Calder  investigates the family as they leave their old home for the shores of Lake Superior. He looks in a photo album, catches glimpses and confirms to himself that it's the same Hancock. He can barely say the name without rage overtaking him. He and his sisters make the long trip to Lake Superior.

Calder and the sisters make a plan to get Hancock on the lake and Calder extracts a promise from Maris the "mother" of the family to be broken free of the family if he executes his plan. Things don't go his way and his charms don't work the way they do on all the other girls on Hancock's older daughter Lily. She's wary of him and try as he might, he isn't able to change her mind about him. There probably wasn't a guy that's tried harder to get her attentions, but she just didn't trust him. Rightfully so. Instead, things work the other way around and Lily's charms work on Calder.

The tension I was expecting and the suspense wasn't really there in the story. However, despite the lack of that, I really enjoyed the story. There was a lot of mistrust between the sisters and Calder. A lot of little secrets that had never been revealed and things about Calder that he'd never dreamed possible. But as he got to know Lily, she made things seem possible that he'd never seen, even the nature of merpeople. As you know from the summary, he fell in love with her, something he didn't think possible for merpeople.  And how do you kill the father of the girl you love. The man whose first name you can't even say. The man who is responsible for your mother's death, in a way.

I loved the mermaid mythology in this one. It's different in every story I read and I love how vicious and devious these mermaids are. They are brutal. They kill people. Pavati, one of his sisters, is said to play with her victims like toys. And Maris, well she just isn't likable no matter how pretty she may be. And they kill people to eat their essence, their happiness, their joy. That's what they feed off of, not even their bodies. Seriously messed up!


So, you add it all up, it's got romance, backstabbing, mystery, forgiveness, secrets, sacrifice, murder. I mean what else can you ask for in a great story? And this is just the beginning. According to Goodreads, the next book is told from Lily's point of view. Can't wait to see what she thinks about all this.


I read an ARC of this novel provided by the publisher Delacorte Books for Young Readers through Net Galley. This in no way influenced my review. This book was a clean read with the exception of underage drinking and sleeping together in a nonsexual way. I can't recall any strong language, but there might have been a little, it wasn't excessive if there was any.


Heather











Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Interview with Chanelle Gray Apocalysie Author of My Heart Be Damned




Today- I have debut author Chanelle  Gray here for an interview. Her novel My Heart Be Damned releases

September 15th, of this year. She has a full time job,
that has nothing to do with being an author. She is a Twenty something graduate with degree in psychology and counseling. She lives, writes and works in London, where she also enjoys shopping and eating out. She is a HUGE animal lover (yay) with two dogs that are practically her babies. When Chanelle isn't working, writing or socializing, she's with her new baby nephew whom she looks after often and happily! 

Chanelle also has a very active blog where she reviews books, shares book covers, movie trailers and other interesting bookish things. I've had fun reading her blog. And she has very interesting Pinterest boards. 
Here is where you can find here around the World Wide Web-



And now for the interview:

Me:     Amerie has been described as a "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" only fighting the Damned. Did Buffy influence your creation of Amerie?
CG:     Buffy was my favourite show growing up. It still sometime is! I've been craving a story with a physically strong female character like Buffy forever!  There are a  few stories like this, but still not exactly what I wanted - so I wrote it myself!!

Me:     Would you want to know if there are paranormal/supernatural creature out there or would you rather remain blissfully unaware (like me)?
CG:     Oh, I would HAVE to know. I'm nosy like that. I'd want to know what goes bump in the night.

Me:     How do you feel, being an Apocalypsie (debut in 2012)? Your book releases in September. Are you sleeping? Eating?
CG:     It's getting a little nerve wracking. The closer it gets, the more I have the moments of sheer panic. Only when I think about reviews, though. Mainly, I feel incredibly lucky and incredibly excited.

Me:    Okay, down to the book, Amerie, understandably doesn't want anything to do with being a Hunter. What would you do in her situation?
CG:    Hmmm. It's hard to say because what I think I might do isn't actually what I end up doing. I do think I'd probably quit though. Like a two fingers up at the world. That, or I'd be militant and a hunting machine to try and avenge her. (Amerie's mother).


Me:    Amerie has two best friends, Mercy and Chuck. And one arch nemesis from way back. What were your school friend like and was there a queen bee at your school? Did you get along with her? Who were you in high school? Nerd? Cheerleader? Floater?
CG:    Hmmm. I started off quite nerdy at school! All I wanted was to get good grades and impress my dad. But then, as often happens in school, I fell out with my friends and made new ones; ones who were more interested in boys and clothes and makeup than getting A's on their tests. We didn't really have a Queen Bee at school. We had a lot of different groups and within those groups you had the obvious leaders and the obvious followers. My friends pretty much floated between groups not wanting to put a label on ourselves.

Me:    Amerie works at "The Hut". What was your first job as a teen?
CG:    I worked in retail selling luxury shampoos and conditioners to people in a hairdressers! I still remember my training and take good care of my hair to the day :)

Me:   What is the cheesiest pick up line you've ever heard other than the one in your book between Amerie and the guy at the toilets?
CG.    Oh how do I pick one- they're all cheesy!! Erm... "You must be tired because you've been running through my mind all day." And "Your dad must be a thief because he stole the stars and put them in your eyes." And a lot more which are a little R rated. (God, I'm glad I'm not single. I think I'd sit home and read.)

Me:   Amerie plays a pretty competitive game of dodge ball at school during PE. Did you hide in the back or were you a up in front knock someone out kind of girl during dodge ball?
CG:   Oh I was definitely up front, knocking balls into people's faces. I'm pretty competitive when I'm interested in a sport.

Me:    Amerie is very snarky(in a funny way). Are you like that at all?
CG:    I can be so sarcastic. It's a bad trait of mine, but I like sarcasm (even though it's the lowest form of wit). I like it when other are sarcastic too!!  I find it pretty entertaining. I especially love bantering with people.

Me:     Oh and did you base any of these characters off of anyone you knew either in looks or personality?
CG:     Only one character and that was Sarah White! (the Queen Bee) I promised an old colleague of mine that I'd name and base a character (looks wise, not personality wise) off her. She looks exactly like my colleague down to the red lipstick, and has the same name, but the personality is different. I made sure not to base anyone of anyone I knew, personality wise, because I didn't want to accidentally offend anyone!

Me:   Okay, last question- What do you have planned for release day?
CG:    I'm hoping to be in New York doing a book signing for the day. But keep an eye on my blog for a concrete plant!

Well make sure you swing down South for some Southern hospitality and some book signings down my way!


Thank you so much for answering all my questions and for visiting my blog today!

You're welcome! Thanks for having me here.
Heather
Don't forget, My Heart Be Damned Sept 15th, 2012 



Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Review- My Heart Be Damned by Chanelle Gray

My Heart Be Damned

by Chanelle Gray
Available September 15
ARC provided by author
Amazon available for preorder
Goodreads Summary:
If you're a Hunter, there are only three things you must know about the Damned. The Damned can't lie, can't live without a body, and can't leave you alone.

Amerie Carter has the blood of a Hunter, unfortunately. She is one of a rare line of women who, upon her sixteenth birthday, will come into extraordinary powers used to hunt the Damned; escaped souls from Hell who take up residence in human bodies. It's supposed to be her sweet sixteen, but Amerie has never dreaded a day more, and her worst fears are confirmed as the celebration turns tragic when her mother is killed.

Grief-stricken, Amerie vows to never hunt a day in her life. She's determined to hide behind normalcy, attending school, hanging out with her friends and working an after-school job at The Hut. All Amerie wants is to be left alone. But try telling the Damned that. The harder Amerie tries to ignore her powers, the more the Damned come looking for her.

When an attack leaves one of Amerie's friends in the hospital, and endangers the lives of her fellow students, she knows she has no choice: Hunt or Be Hunted. Thankfully, the gorgeous, secretive, and so-off-limits Marshall offers to train Amerie to take out her supernatural enemies. But training with Marshall means lying to her friends, her family, and confronting the mysterious circumstances surrounding her mother’s death.

Amerie soon discovers she’s not the only one with something to hide, Marshall's secrets might kill her before the Damned get the chance


I had no preconceived ideas going into this novel. I knew it was a debut and I've been reading a lot lately so I was hoping for something good. I was into about the first twenty pages and although I liked the secondary characters, I wasn't quite liking the MC, Amerie. Then she's standing by the bathroom and Mr. Tall Dark and Sexy says, "It must be my lucky night. Looks like I found myself my very own angel. What did you do to fall from heaven?" And she doesn't get all blushed and gushy, not my heroine Amerie. Nope, she snorts at him! Yep and says, "That was the shi**iest pick-up line I've ever heard." You tell him Amerie! And she does she tells everyone whenever she feels the need throughout the book and you really can't not like a girl like that. From there on I was glued! I spent Father's day reading it (sorry honey)! It's completely addictive reading.

Amerie has a sad story, her mom died the day before her 16th birthday, killed by one of the Damned. And Amerie refuses to be a Hunter of them. But the Damned didn't get the memo and they're hunting her.   Thanks to her father, they have lost their house, their possessions and the lifestyle she was accustomed to, but she keeps going. And even though her life has done a 180, she doesn't wallow in self pity. She is very much like Buffy except Buffy never seemed to enjoy life to me. Amerie does. She's got friends she really loves and who love her, Mercy and Chuck.  And they are truly great friends. I loved both of them right away. There's a third one that the jury is still out on, Sam. He's the new guy. Now, this is not a retelling of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, just so you know. But there are some familiar elements and if you liked Buffy, you'll like this. She even likes the show Supernatural!

But the pages absolutely sizzle when Amerie and Marshall are together. More than an action story, more than a paranormal story, this was a romance. And I thought I'd read some swoon worthy material in YA, but this rates really high on the angst and swoon worthy scale. There is a drop of a hint at what is going on why the romance blows hot and cold between the two of them, but it's only in the last few pages that we understand what's really going on. 

I was just as unbalanced as Amerie when it came to why Marshall seemed to go back and forth with her. I had no idea what his deal was, but as I got to understand his character, I thought I knew who he was. I couldn't have been more wrong. The only person I was right about in this whole novel was Amerie. I could count on her for a snarky comeback and for punching someone in the face. and sneaking out of her room at night by climbing down a tree. Thanks for being so solid Amerie!

Marshall, you will hate in the beginning of the book if you are anything like me. He is a pig, a chauvinist, a sexist, and all those other names that go with those terms. He is so over the top, he's unbelievable. In one of their first conversations Amerie is trying to take his order at The Hut, her first day of work, her first customer. Here is part of the coversation.  
Amerie- He liked seeing me squirm. What kind of a**hole did that?
Amerie -"At the risk of being fired...you're an a**." (Oh, forgot to say she just finds out, he's the boss' son. Perfect right?)  
Marshall- "And speaking of a**es..." 
Amerie- He peered around to stare at mine. "Hey! You're disgusting, Marshall. I'm definitely going now."
Marshall-"So you've said, and yet you're still standing here."
He constantly talks to Amerie like this  but believe me, she dishes it right back at him. And she punches him in the face. So there is that.

I laughed, I yelled, I cringed at some of the fights, and I was very caught up in the story. The mythology, in the beginning, is very simple to understand, but at the end, something more complicated is thrown in, setting up the next book. The first story is finished, but with some new stories already begun, not cliffhangers, but troubling never the less. Still, I felt satisfied especially with the last page.

As I have often noted, the more I like a book, the worse my review is. So if you find this review horrible, you'll know how much I really loved this book. At the rate of reading one book a day, to have one set itself apart so much from the others in the paranormal world, speaks, if you'll forgive me-VOLUMES.




I received an ARC of this novel in exchange for a fair and honest review. No monetary compensation was received for this review.
Heather

Just so you know- There is some language and a lot of sexual innuendo in the book. As always, use your best judgement as far as age goes.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Guest Post Molly Snow

Today I have author Molly Snow on the blog sharing with us how she researched for her latest book Royally BeSwitched which I reviewed last week.

Molly Snow, Founder of BreezyReads.com, wrote BeSwitched when she was just sixteen. As a bestselling author’s personal assistant at age twenty, she decided to do what her boss did and self publish. At age twenty-three, BeSwitched made its debut. Snow is married to her high school crush, has a set of silly twin boys and a bob-tailed cat named Meow-Meow.

Royally BeSwitched Research: 1730 France Vs. 2012 United States

I am no expert on 1700s history. Neither am I a history buff under any circumstance. I am just a writer who loved the idea of having characters from The BeSwitched Series go to another place in another time, when the art of romance and battles seemed unmatched by any other era. Surla and Jax, my main characters--a black cat that can switch bodies with humans and a handsome teen warlock--are thrust to a place in the outskirts of France, 1730; there the journey begins in Royally BeSwitched.

To pull this off, I couldn’t just rely on what little I knew from movies I have seen. I mean, there is only so much I can take away from Robin Hood: Men in Tights (Does that even take place in the 1700s?). Therefore, I was obligated to research. 

Any time I was about to write about even the simplest of things, I had to Google to make sure it was invented. Not only did I have to check whether or not certain “things” were in existence, such as zippers and match sticks or a kitchen tool, I had to verify names and last names went with the times and region. Each name from back in time had to be used in French with French last names . The prince’s name, Nicolas, is spelled without an “h” on purpose--The French usage is that way. Add to that, it was crucial to not mix modern day slang with that timeframe (unless used by Jax or Surla).

I didn’t kill myself reading book after book on French history. Just when I needed specific information on a thought, I would learn about that specifically. I also used a bit of my literary license to embellish or skew some things to fit my plot. There was a succession of King Louises in the 17th and 18th Century (maybe even before then), who ruled France. I learned that in history there could also be regional kings of certain provinces. So, I made up a small kingdom on the outskirts of France ruled by Jax’s ancestor, King Morreau.

For fun, here are some direct comparisons from now and then:

  • Today we mostly see the elderly scooting around canes at church or the local buffets; back then, kings would walk with canes, even if they didn’t need one, because they were fashionable!
  • Today’s women use compact powders for their faces, made by Maybelline and Cover Girl. Back then, women powdered their faces with food products, like potato powder.
  • Pies we eat today have a crust, while back then they were made slightly different and called shells.
  • Today’s kings have ruled as adults. King Louis of 1730 was King of France, starting from age 5!
  • A popular game to play today might be Apples to Apples, whereas Nine Men’s Morris was fun to those back when.  (Similar to those wooden boards with red and yellow pegs at The Cracker Barrel restaurant.)
  • We have the luxury of washing our faces and cleaning our dishes over sinks. They had what were called water basins that you would dip a rag into.
  • We are used to calling castles “castles” or “palaces.” French castles weren’t called castles or palaces but “chateaus.”
I’m still no expert on 1700s, French history just because I wrote Royally BeSwitched :) Random facts helped bring credibility to my story. Where there is more credibility, the reader has more of an opportunity to immerse themselves. Mainly, the research was fun and helped me imagine the place and time Jax and Surla experienced. This book, by far, was the most enjoyable to produce!

Contact @ Breezy Reads
            @ Molly Snow Fiction

Friday, June 15, 2012

Review Royally BeSwitched by Molly Snow

Royally BeSwitched

by Molly Snow

Goodreads Summary:
Hexed from a small suburb in the U.S. back to 1700s France, a magical black cat, Surla, and her human crush, Jax Morreau, have no idea what troubles await.

When Jax’s distant relatives, a lowly maidservant and a prince, miss their chance at love, evil gains a stronghold in the Morreau Kingdom. It’s up to the duo from the future to reset the course of love before it’s too late. Surla, the cat, will do anything, including switch bodies with the maidservant, to clean up the royal mess.

Yep, my favorite black cat is back only she's pining after a human boy and they've been cursed back in time to the 1730's, to Jax's ancestral home, the Morreau Castle. And poor little Noella, trying to make a pie crust for the Queen's desserts (I hear you sister, Pillsbury makes a good one) when the wicked Esme takes over and hides one of Noella's distinctive auburn hairs in the crust. The queen is put out with her and makes her become the one to mop and dust and sweep the whole castle every day. She even has to sleep in the cleaning closet! And wouldn't you know it, that's where Surla and Jax end up. Oh and Idris, the new improved Idris and her boyfriend Hermie the alien crash land in their spaceship having followed  them back in time. (Idris was driving.)  I know sounds crazy doesn't it. 
But, this is the third book in the BeSwitched series and is by far the most fantastic and complex.

Jax and Surla were cursed back in time by Jax's father at the end of the last book. And here they are. And it seems like it's a good thing because Noella is Jax's great grandmother several times over and she doesn't seem like she's got a snowball's chance in you know where of meeting, let alone falling in love with the Prince. So crash bang and Surla and Noella switch places. And things go downhill from there!

Jax kisses another girl! I mean Surla can literally claw his eyes out! There is a lot of magic being flung around that castle, because this is Jax's family and they are magic. There are sword fights and arm wrestling. Crazy, crazy stuff going on. A very dishonorable King. Lots of sad stories and revenge and sadness. Did I say mistakes. Yes. and did I say I just didn't see how things would end well for everyone. I had no idea of the ending that was coming. It just didn't occur to me until it was right there on the page. My creativity is severely lacking. Or Molly Snow really knows how to throw those red herrings around.In any case, this was a fun romp through time with my favorite black cat, my favorite witch and the loves of their lives. 

Now this is not a story to be dissected for a literary critique. This is a story to be read for the sheer enjoyment of seeing how things are going to turn out. And there are a lot of twists and turns in this one, especially some that we wonder about in time travel novels that actually happen in this one. I thought this was the end, but I've been informed that the next book is already halfway written and yes, I'll be waiting to read it.

I'm so in love with the black cat in this series that I'm seriously considering getting a black cat, except, I'm afraid my dogs would consider the poor thing a chew toy or something to continually chase. I'm quite sure the cat would win! And I would definitely name her Surla!

I received an ARC of this novel from the author for a fair and honest review.  Thank you Molly Snow for the copy of Royally Beswitched!  Come back Monday for a Guest Post from Molly!

Heather

My Reviews of BeSwitched and BeSwitched Witch

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Review Reunited by Hilary Weisman Graham

Reunited

by Hilary Weisman Graham
Goodreads Summary:
1 Concert
2000 Miles
3 Ex-Best Friends

Alice, Summer, and Tiernan are ex-best friends.

Back in middle school, the three girls were inseparable. They were also the number one fans of the rock band Level3.

But when the band broke up, so did their friendship. Summer ran with the popular crowd, Tiernan was a rebellious wild-child, and Alice spent high school with her nose buried in books.

Now, just as the girls are about to graduate, Level3 announces a one-time-only reunion show.

Even though the concert’s 2000 miles away, Alice buys three tickets on impulse. And as it turns out, Summer and Tiernan have their own reasons for wanting to get out of town. Good thing Alice’s graduation gift (a pea-green 1976 VW camper van known as the Pea Pod) is just the vehicle to get them there.

But on the long drive cross-country, the girls hit more than a few bumps in the road. Will their friendship get an encore or is the show really over?


So, you ever read a book that makes you want to go back to high school? No? Me either. But this makes me want to go back to the summer between graduation and college. It also makes me want to send this book to a best friend that I can no longer even call friend. The kind I've known since I was in first grade. The kind that was there when my first child was born. Then something bad happened and I walked away, but I miss her. That's what kind of book this is, it makes you miss those friends that really knew you when you were a kid all the way through high school. The kind that knew you in those God awful nerdy 7th grade awkward days with the braces and the terrible hair. Yep those friends. 

That's the kind of friends Alice, Summer and Tiernan are or were until something happened at the Winter Wonderland Dance between Summer and Alice brought on by Tiernan and they all practically ran away from each other. They had been thick as thieves until high school. They used to hang out at Alice's house in the Pea Pod- The Green '76 Volkswagen Van up on blocks in the backyard. Level3 posters and collages covered the van. The girls knew the words to all the songs and even had dance routines. Then as a graduation present, Alice's parents fix the van up for her, leaving the insides alone, and hand her the keys. That's why on the spur of the moment Alice buys the tickets to the concert and invites both Tiernan and Summer. Neither are bit by the nostalgia bug but they have their own reasons for going.

The trip from the get go is tense and hilarious. From an ex-con to an introduction to kudzu to Bourbon street and the heat of the South, the girls experience a lot in the five days it takes them to get from Massachusetts to Texas.  I enjoyed every moment of it and because I didn't know these girls that well, I never had friends like them (don't worry, I had friends) I couldn't predict what they would do. Because as the miles rolled away, the girls changed and grew. Each one was uniquely different. Alice, though she seems shy and nerdy, she's adamantly honest about how she feels. She gets it off her chest and then she's done with it. Tiernan, though she appears to be a rebel with blue hair and Doc Martens, has never really recovered from her parents divorce, her dad's desertion and her mom burying herself in her job. She just wants to be accepted somewhere, wherever she can find it. And Summer, she's the cheerleader type dating the football player, really popular, the kind that everyone hates behind her back, very pretty and looks really put together, like she's got it all made. But she really doesn't. She just wants some attention and she's probably in a relationship that ended a long time ago just so she wouldn't be alone. She writes poetry and plans to get the H out of Dodge as soon as she can. She's a cheerleader with layers. You really don't see that in YA. So these three girls are all anomalies to me. Maybe you've seen them before, not me.

But don't worry, this novel is meant to entertain as well as slip a little lesson in and the entertainment factor is high. I totally slipped away from my world and into that Pea Green VW Van traveling along the road listening to the GPS telling me to enter the motorway in 3/4 of a mile. I think I'll try the British voice on my GPS, they had such fun with theirs. Had to wipe the tears of laughter away a few times so I could continue reading. It's got a bit of romance but it's more about friendship. But you know girls when they get together, can't go ten minutes without talking about guys. So they're in there. It's a clean book, maybe a few mentions of something sexual, but not about sex itself.  A couple of WTF and that's about it.

This was a great coming of age story, road trip story and contemporary YA fiction. I read an ARC thanks to the Southern Book Bloggers ARC Tours, but I'll be buying my own copy. That special shelf is growing bigger all the time. But this is one I'll want to read again. 

Heather

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Review-Shine by Jeri Smith-Ready

Shine

By Jeri Smith-Ready
Simon Pulse
Summary from GoodReads:
In this dramatic conclusion to the Shade trilogy, Aura and Zachary’s relationship sizzles as the secrets of the Shift are revealed.

Life can change in an instant, and no one understands that better than Aura. It’s been almost a year since her boyfriend tragically died. She’s finally letting go of Logan’s violet-hued ghost, but not her search to uncover the truth about her past.

As the first in a generation that can see ghosts, Aura is convinced she has a connection to the Shift. She’s trusted Zachary, ever patient and ever by her side, with all that she knows. But when the government threatens his life in an attempt to learn Aura’s secrets, she will stop at nothing to protect herself and the one she loves...even if that means betraying her own heart.

I read this book with a bit of sadness knowing this would be the last book for Aura and Zachary. And man, the first chapter already had me crying. Logan finally says goodbye. What, you knew he would, but it's very bittersweet for both of them. And us, whether you were Team Logan or Team Zachary, unless Jeri Smith-Ready pulled a miracle out of her pen, Logan wasn't going to be winning the girl. He had her, he messed it all up, and he lost her. Now it's time to let go and let her get on with her life. It's also hard because Zachary and his family are on their way back to Scotland having been deported. Aura is really alone. 

Then, tragedy strikes and things get out of control and Zach disappears from everyone's life. They know where he is, but no one can see him and they can't get him released. And Aura is in as much or more danger from the DMP than ever. A lot of this book takes place with Aura and Zach apart from each other. Aura  tries to figure out the Shade/Shift thing while trying to figure out how to get Zach back. Her aunt does all she can to help but the DMP is formidable.

There are a lot of endings and beginnings of relationships in this novel and maybe it all has to do with Logan's death, how much it changed everyone's life and plans. Mickey just isn't the same without him. Dylan seems to sometimes want to take his place with Aura, but they know there is nothing but friendship between them.  And then when Aura finally gets to see Zach, she finds a shell of the former Zach, a haunted boy, instead of the shining, happy Zach. And she doesn't know how to get him back.

I loved that Zach was damaged in this one. Aura had been damaged in the first book and Zach had been the strong one. They were somewhat more equal in the second book, growing as a couple. But in this book, Zach needs Aura. And she knows it. Video Chats aren't going to help she has to be with him. And that's the other thing Jeri Smith-Ready does really well. Those awkward first moments. The first time.Just enough information, but not like we were prying. Even providing some levity to the situation.  And then the need to touch each other and kiss and reassure and feel each other again and again after that first time. But there was more than that. There was so much real love written into those scenes, feelings, I wanted to be Aura! Of course, things can't be happily ever after, there was too much to do. Figure out the Shift, stop the ghosts, the DMP, make Aura and Zach safe. The list was endless and Jeri Smith-Ready continued the harrowing adventure, not letting the Aura and Zach rest until the very last few pages.

I'll say that I closed the book with a happy sigh feeling that everything had been addressed and all the bases had been covered. I was happy with the way everything had turned out, but I sure wish there were another adventure with Aura and Zach in the works. Maybe solving some other kind of mystery.

Thank you Jeri Smith-Ready for being so involved with your readers during the YA Crush Tourney, for writing such a great trilogy and for a very satisfying conclusion to one series that will go on my special shelf to be re-read again and again.

Heather

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Interview and Giveaway w/ Charlotte Bennardo and Natalie Zaman

Meet the fabulous dream team behind the novels
Sirenz and the recently released Sirenz, Back in Fashion-authors Charlotte Bennardo and Natalie Zaman. They have agreed to answer some questions about both books and then at the bottom are offering a sinful giveaway, good enough to tempt Hades himself!

So I have to thank Charlotte and Natalie for putting up with my very last minute questions and for their humor-I think it makes me look good. So here's to you Jenny and your tutoring!

-Jeremy was kind of the start of Shar and Meg's problems in Sirenz, how much will we see him in Sirenz Back in Fashion? 

Oh he's there--but he's the *least* of their problems this time >:) ...

-Char and Meg are kind of forced into their first deal with Hades in Sirenz. Would you make a deal with Hades given their situation? 

Char: I think it depends on the situation. To save someone's life, yes. For fame, fortune and other fleeting intangibles, no because we all know how well that worked for Faust, Ghost Rider and everyone else who's made A Deal. 

Nat: Totally agree--to save someone's life, no question. Even though Hades is devious, how could you risk it? Anything else--no dice

-What is one thing you can share with us about Hades that we don't know?

Char: Everyone has a soft spot... 

Nat: ...for togas. He just can't give them up.

-How does Persephone feel about Hades attraction to Shar? 

Char: Nuclear meltdown imminent. 

Nat: eh, she'll get over it! ;)

-If you were in Sirenz, Book One, which girl would you be, Meg or Shar and why? 

Char: Definitely Shar, although Meg has some of my qualities. I'm a fanatical Go Green person into recycling, reducing waste, conservation. But, I don't wear that much black, love color and bling and I'm snarky the way Sharisse is. Plus I wouldn't have to change my hair color. 

Nat: Can I be Reynaldo? I think I'm *almost* as tightly strung as he is ;)

-Which girl are you most like in real life Shar the trendy social girl or Meg the studious quiet though a bit rebellious girl? 

Char: That depends on the day and my mood. Some days I'm in a new dress and chatting it up at a party and other days I have on my reading glasses, curled up with the cat and a good book.

 Nat: hmmmmm... *thinks* ...this is turning out to be a tough one for me! I'm still kinda stuck on Reynaldo, but I *have* been freaking out about this-and-that lately--too much stuff going on--I need an assistant! 

-What is one piece of advice you'd give Shar and Meg to help them in Sirenz Back in Fashion? 

Char: You are stronger than you think. Go for it! 

Nat: Trust your gut, it won't steer you wrong.

-Are there any feathers and chicken toes in Sirenz Back in Fashion? 

Nope. Been there, done that. Something different this way comes.... ;)

-Somebody get Nat an assistant STAT! She cannot be that uptight! 
Thank you so much for your fabulous answers and for both books, Sirenz and Sirenz Back in Fashion! Both great Summer Reads!!

And now I bet all of you would like to see what's being given away???

Well that would be a copy of Sirenz Back in Fashion, Chocolate Gold Coins (just in case you have to cross the river Styx), bookmarks, and a huge faux diamond paper weight that you are sure not to lose! Just fill out the Rafflecopter form!

To my friends without a Facebook account-Please enter the Rafflecopter form with your name and email addy. This is something new I haven't seen, maybe it's old b/c I've always been logged in to my FB accout. Sorry!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, June 11, 2012

Review Sirenz-Back in Fashion by Charlotte Bennardo and Natalie Zaman

Sirenz Back in Fashion

by Charlotte Bennardo and Natalie Zaman
Flux
Back of the book Summary: (Goodreads Summary is wrong)
It's Hell on heels--again
When Shar tries on a Tiffany diamond ring from Hades, the annoyingly hot Lord of the Underworld, it activates an obscure contractual clause that puts Shar and former-frenemy-now-friend Meg in Hades' service once more. Shar is whisked away to the Underworld to prepare a ball, while Meg is sent to help a spoiled rich girl.  Just when it appears the girls will be doomed to serve Hades for eternity, two gorgeous demi-gods show up. But can the girls finally ditch Hades forever?

Okay, so I really am not only reading mermaid and mythology books this year, I promise! I started out with fantasy and dystopians! It's just lately that's where my pile has been and it's been wonderful. This one being another fabulous summer read!

Shar and Meg have just gotten back to normalcy after having to serve Hades as sirens in the previous book after being tricked by him. They decide to go on a little shopping spree and oops, at the bottom of Shar's purse is a Tiffany's box. She knows there is a five carat, flawless, emerald cut diamond set in platinum because Hades gave it to her in the last book. She never really accepted it because well, it kind of looks like an engagement ring and Persephone has one just like it. And she kind of forgot about it. But that little blue box is just too tempting to shop-a-holic, accessory obsessed, perfectly dressed Shar especially when Meg eggs her on to try it. So she does and guess who appears? Yep, with some hooey about contractual clause etc. Shar ends up in the Underworld in a polka dot bikini and those red heels from the last book that started all this trouble and Meg is given the task of making Paulina Swanson wear the Golden Fleece which has the power to send her to the Underworld. But unlike last time, Meg has no idea what Paulina did to deserve this punishment and when pushed, Hades tells her to just do her job.

 Paulina becomes her roommate and makes it almost impossible for her to dislike her. Meanwhile Shar is stuck in the Underworld in bikini's and sheer dresses picked out by Hades with no sign of Persephone, as it's Spring.  His advances are getting increasingly harder to ignore and avoid, except for a delicious fellow captive named Caz. Together they explore the underworld from Ancient Greece to current day NYC. And Shar has to play hostess for Hades planning  the W'Underworld Ball! Except for being in the Underworld, she really is in her element, there.

Of course, nothing is as easy as it sounds, just like last time and though there are no chicken toes or feathers, there is some humiliation on Meg's part, like talking to a window of chocolate confections when she and Shar get five minutes a week to talk. Other uncomfortable things occur and getting Paulina to put the fleece on, though it sounds simple, just isn't easy for Meg to do. Shar gets upset when Meg doesn't succeed faster than she should and the girls start to suspect each other of liking where they are. Divide and conquer anyone?

There were some truly funny scenes in this one and the girls really had to use their wits to get out of this one. Shar may have made a deal with the real devil himself. And you just know at the end that this isn't over, mainly because of Caz and Paulina. And the surprises. And what Hades tells them.

Some favorite lines from the novel:
  • "Ooh, this was so not going to be good: I just knew it all the way down to my You-Can-Never-Be-Too-Pink toenail polish.(p.19)
  • Shar talks to herself a lot in the Underworld so the italicized are her retorts to Hades-"Yes, Mr. Megalo-maniac, I think we all get the pic." I faked a girly squeal and jumped away from both the tree and him. ...Bad things happen to girls in gardens with snakes.(p.130)
  • "...pulled me so close I felt like I was sharing his pants."( p.230)
I guess by now you've figured out that Shar is the one with the witty comebacks and sharp retorts whether spoken aloud or just in her thoughts.  I'd like to have her mind. Snark is her middle name.
If only Hades could read her mind.....

Anyway, this is an absolutely must for the Summer! If you haven't read the first novel, you really should to know what the references are about. They are both great summertime reads! Clean and wholesome, though there are quite a few references to what Hades wants from Shar and it's not the pleasure of her company. And before you think gross, his picture is on the back of the book and he is sinfully yummy!

Heather
                                                                                

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