Friday, February 28, 2014

Unhinged by A.G. Howard Review

Unhinged by A.G. Howard
Available Now
Publisher: Abrams
Hardback 400 pages
E-ARC through NetGalley

To Buy Links-
Amazon/ Kindle/ Audible/ Audio Book /B and N/ Indiebound/ Book Depository/ Kobo

From Goodreads- Alyssa Gardner has been down the rabbit hole and faced the bandersnatch. She saved the life of Jeb, the guy she loves, and escaped the machinations of the disturbingly seductive Morpheus and the vindictive Queen Red. Now all she has to do is graduate high school and make it through prom so she can attend the prestigious art school in London she's always dreamed of. That would be easier without her mother, freshly released from an asylum, acting overly protective and suspicious. And it would be much simpler if the mysterious Morpheus didn’t show up for school one day to tempt her with another dangerous quest in the dark, challenging Wonderland—where she (partly) belongs. As prom and graduation creep closer, Alyssa juggles Morpheus’s unsettling presence in her real world with trying to tell Jeb the truth about a past he’s forgotten. Glimpses of Wonderland start to bleed through her art and into her world in very disturbing ways, and Morpheus warns that Queen Red won’t be far behind. If Alyssa stays in the human realm, she could endanger Jeb, her parents, and everyone she loves. But if she steps through the rabbit hole again, she'll face a deadly battle that could cost more than just her head.

You don't usually start at the end when you are reviewing a book but BEST END EVER!! I don't say that for a second book, especially when so much is left in the air, but I was like a little kid about to wet her pants hopping up and down in my seat reading that ending. And I think A.G. Howard is a genius. I thought the Disney movie of Alice in Wonderland was confusing. I haven't even read Lewis Carroll's books. But I find this series incredibly complex. Wonderland is every bit fantastical and weird and Morpheus is darkly enticing as any paranormal or fantasy I've read. The real world Ali lives in is still bizarre in that while she used to make bug mosaics (yuck) she now makes blood mosaics using her own blood. She talks to bugs and her mother talks to flowers. Ali's worlds have collided. The weird world of Wonderland is bleeding into her human world through her dreams, through her nightmares and then through dangerous reality.

Now I want to make it clear, I am team Jeb, all the way. But whew, I might have been persuaded to change teams in this book. Especially as I think of Johnny Depp a la Pirates of the Caribbean every time I read Morpheus' name. He is deliciously enigmatic, leaving you guessing his motives, and exactly what he knows and is capable of, a huge question mark, but wrapped in a sensuously enticing man so that you kind of forget the darker parts of him. Until they show themselves, reminding us that however much we may desire him, however much he may convince us that he desires us, Morpheus is a creature of Wonderland. But that leads us to Ali. She is neither all human nor all Netherling. And it shows in this novel how much she is torn between the two worlds. Her Netherling side pulls at her calling her to be wild while she clings to the human world. And Jeb, even for a full human, has a bit of the bad boy in him. He rides a motorcycle, he's an artist, has a labret. He isn't exactly a milk and cookies boy. 

So the story takes place in the human world this time, but there are plenty of Netherlings to make it puzzling and dangerous. Ali learns from past mistakes and not just her own. The story line takes place over only three days, but it is packed full of revelations and connections and Ali finds that she is more connected to Wonderland than she could ever have imagined. It all comes down to a showdown at the prom with Red and some other Netherlings, some more powerful than others, and then that ending. Ali seems to be repeating a pattern in her family. And yet, her little deception there at the end. Oh, so beautifully come full circle kind of end.

If you liked Splintered, you will LOVE Unhinged. If you Loved Splintered well be prepared for A.G. Howard to rock your reading mind. I recommend it to lovers of Alice in Wonderland and all the variations. It is a great reworking of the story. I love this one. I am thinking I should probably read the original though. Just to see how much better A.G. Howard improved on the original.

Thanks to the publishers at Abrams for providing an e-arc of the novel through NetGalley for review purposes. This did not influence my review at all. All opinions expressed are my own.

Find A.G. Howard 

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

House of Secrets by Christopher Columbus and Ned Vizzini Review

House of Secrets (House of Secrets #1) 
by Chris Columbus and Ned Vizzini
Available Now
Balzer and Bray
Hardback 490 pages
To Buy Links-
Amazon/ Kindle/ Audible/B and N/ Book Depository/ Indiebound/ Kobo

GoodreadsThe Walker kids had it all: loving parents, a big house in San Francisco, all the latest video games . . . but everything changed when their father lost his job as a result of an inexplicable transgression. Now the family is moving into Kristoff House, a mysterious place built nearly a century earlier by Denver Kristoff, a troubled writer with a penchant for the occult. Suddenly the siblings find themselves launched on an epic journey into a mash-up world born of Kristoff’s dangerous imagination, to retrieve a dark book of untold power, uncover the Walker family’s secret history and save their parents . . . and maybe even the world.

This is what I call an EPIC adventure. Almost 500 pages of nonstop action  shared by the ever resourceful Walker kids and some characters from fiction who seem to serve their purpose outside the pages of their books. Let's see if I can make some sense out of it for you.

This is a hard book to review. So much happens and so many characters go in and out of the book that it's hard to tell you about it. The main characters are the Walker children, 15 year old Cordelia, 12 year old Brendan and 8 year old Eleanor. They find themselves battling the Wind Witch an evil woman that has a wish that only one of the Walker children can fulfill for her. She sends the house hurtling through Denver Kristoff's novels where the Walker children meet characters, good and bad, that lead or chase them through their adventure.

There are giant cyclops, savage Viking like warriors that serve a Queen who eats little children's fingers. An ocean filled with carnivorous sharks and blood thirsty pirates, the captain of which performs horrifying experiments on his captives. Bones come to life becoming full skeletons, fighting against the Walkers.  A WWI pilot crash lands scaring savages away. Grenades, Sopwith Camels, Walther PPK's, a boy wanting to be a man.  A girl with a crush.  A boy forced to be a man before his time. Chivalry, sibling rivalry, family bonds.  It' all in there. So much more. As I read this book, and I read it over several months, I found I could put it down and pick it back up with no problem even after a week or more. I could pick right up where I'd left off and not forget what had happened before. I think it' a great read aloud book. One chapter a night, it would be a great one to share with your kids. 

Now you might wonder why I took so long to read it, I had to stick other books in between as this was my own book I was trying to read for pleasure. Things got in the way of it, but I was really happy I never forgot what was going on. It is full of adventure and mystery, characters from books coming into existence. It's just a really full book. I can see a movie as I read the book, see it happening as I read it. It's really creative and though this story is wrapped up, the overall story arc is far from over.

I'm interested to see how this continues with Ned Vizzini's passing. This is a series and I wonder if Christopher Columbus will continue to write this series on his own or find another writer to co-author with. Or maybe several of the books have already been written. Whatever the case may be, I do hope that the series continues. 

Have fun with the pirates!! And watch out for the Book of Doom and Desire.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Zoe & Zak and the Yogi's Curse by Lars Guignard Audio Book Review and Giveaway

Thanks for stopping by my tour stop on the audiobook tour for Zoe & Zak and the Yogi's Curse by Lars Guignard. This is a middle grade fantasy adventure for ages 8+.  Check out the tour page for the full list of tour stops.

Zoe & Zak and the Yogi's Curse by Lars Guignard

Read by Sonja Field

Genre: Middle Grade Magic, Fantasy Adventure. Ages 8-13

Length:  audiobook length is 7 hours 36 minutes
Publication Date: November 20, 2013

Zoe and Zak are back in India. Again. And this time they’re attending Moonstock Himalayan Boarding School, which might seem fun except for the fact that the school itself is a little strange. Students ride elephants instead of school buses, snarling monkeys work as security guards, and angry parrots monitor the halls. And even when they manage to get used to the wildlife, the food is absolutely terrible. But living with a bunch of other kids their age can be a lot of fun, too, or at least it seems that way until Zoe’s roommate goes missing. Following the directions written on a steamy bathroom mirror, Zoe and Zak fly through the clouds on their magic carpet to learn that the two of them have been chosen yet again. This time they’ve been asked to lift the Yogi’s Curse. It’s not going to be easy. Zoe and Zak don’t even know what the Yogi’s Curse is let alone how to lift it, but like it or not, they soon discover that a whole lot of people are depending on them. Now, if they’re going to save the day, Zoe and Zak are going to have to fool the monkey guards, avoid the nasty parrots, and maybe even develop a supernatural ability or two. Because lurking beneath Moonstock is a powerful new enemy. And if Zoe and Zak can’t stop him, nobody can.

Review of Audiobook

The audiobook of Zoe and Zak and the Yogi's Curse is just as good, if not better than the first audiobook, Zoe and Zak and the Ghost Leopard. The narrator, Sonja Field does a great job of  sounding like a 12 yr old girl, Zoe, and change her voice to sound like a talking elephant, a 500 year old yogi, and a 12 yr old boy.
Her narration is even in it's pacing and the tone is appropriate for the action in the story. I love when she cries out "Holy India" when she's surprised by something.

The story this time is Zoe and Zak are at boarding school in the Himalayas while their parents work all over India. It is supposed to be a great boarding school, but right from the start, things are strange there. Zoe's roommate disappears. The halls are guarded by mean monkeys and guard parrots. The food is inedible and some of the teachers start disappearing. And Zoe and Zak start getting weird messages from elephant tusks and yogis. The mystery is full of action and riddles and late night adventures. And Zoe and Zak make some allies at school, new friends who have some idea of what they do and what they are. There is a huge twist at the end that brings levity to the whole adventure and brings the mystery to an end.

Lars Guignard has a great imagination and his love for India shines through in his writing. The adventures of Zoe and Zak will hopefully continue with many more unusual animals and mysteries. Sonja Fields' narration brings the story to life with her varied voices and accents and makes the novel fly by as you listen. I love this series and though I haven't read it, I prefer to listen to it on audio. I would miss her narration, with the accents and voices of the different characters. I highly recommend the audio book.

I received a copy of the audio book for review. I was not compensated for my review.

Audible iTunes | Amazon  | GoodReads

We want to invite all of you to ask the author and narrator your own questions on the Author's Goodreads Group and they will answer them on March 1st! 

Some things people are saying: 

"I have a 10 year old son who is an avid reader!! He loves Books,(but
he's picky too) he loved Harry Potter and Percy Jackson. He was so
excited to read the 2nd book in this series! When I presented him the
first book he was not sure he would like it but changed his mind
quickly, then when I heard about the 2nd book being released he almost
jumped out of his chair! (no exaggeration) He is anxiously awaiting the
3rd book! I would say that any child who enjoys fantasy/adventure books
should read this series! It is a well written page turner! It’s a fun
story that adults can even enjoy the storyline without getting bored!
According to my son, ‘every kid should read this series’.” 5-Star review from

“Lars Guignard has done a fabulous job with this series. I loved the
`Ghost Leopard’ and love this one even more. For late-elementary to
middle school age readers, you can’t beat this series. It’s fun and
fast-paced. Even my picky fifth grader enjoyed every page. There are
bits of magic thrown in keep the action exciting. Mr. Guignard has a
brilliant imagination & readers are blessed that he’s chosen to use
it for YA fiction. If you’ve yet to read the first installment in this
series, do yourself a favor and read these books back to back. Don’t
limit it just to kids! Adults will have a blast reading these too!” ~ 5-Star review from Liz Terek, Amazon

"The action is non-stop and plot twists and turns keep readers hanging
onto their magic carpets as they fly along with our heroes. The
magicality is wonderful, using legends and fantasy elements from Indian
culture and mythology. There are no instant spells ‘imported’ into the
story: all the enchantment belongs firmly in India, using cultural and
folkloric aspects that will no doubt get young readers interested in
reading up more about the background." 5-Star review from Fiona Ingram, author of The Secret of the Sacred Scarab  

"Yogi’s Curse is a non-stop thrilling adventure featuring the
ever-entertaining tweens, Zoe and Zak, now attending boarding school in
India. Armed with Zoe’s growing yogi powers and Zak’s trusty whip
Stryker, the duo must rely on their wits when a new evil descends on the
school and students begin disappearing. Lars Guignard keeps up the
pace with this second installment in the Zoe and Zak Adventure series. I
recommend this series to tweens and teens who love a great adventure
steeped with magic and mysticism. Ages 8+." 5-Star review from 

About the Author:

Prior to writing novels, Lars Guignard wrote for film and television. As a teenager he attended boarding school in the Indian Himalayas and his experiences there provided the inspiration for the Zoe and Zak series which now include: Zoe & Zak and the Ghost Leopard and Zoe & Zak and the Yogi’s Curse and Zoe & Zak and the Tiger Temple.

He lives in the Pacific Northwest where he dodges bears and cougars while hiking and skiing the magnificent Coast Mountain Range.

For news about new releases, please join his email list here: Zoe&

About the narrator:

Sonja Field combines her life-long passion for reading with her skill as an actress to bring audiobooks to life! A dynamic and versatile narrator, she has logged hundreds of hours recording textbooks with an organization called Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic. She loved recording the action-packed Zoe & Zak and the Yogi's Curse because of its wealth of colorful, quirky, and memorable characters.

 2 copies of Zoe & Zak and the Yogi's Curse in ebook (worldwide), paperback (US only) or audiobook (where is accessible)
a Rafflecopter giveaway

 This tour was organized by CBB Book Promotions.


Friday, February 14, 2014

City Lights YA Panel Book Signing Sylva, NC Jessica Khoury, Stephanie Perkins and Megan Shepherd or Second Helpings Tour

So last Saturday, before Mother Nature unleashed her icy fingers on the South, I went to a book signing with myself. Yeah, couldn't find anyone to go with me. So I drove three hours to a very cute little town which I neglected to take pictures of (shame). I was a little shaky. I was in college the last time I drove that far by myself and I was driving in the flat land of Florida, not the incredibly twisty turny mountains of NC. I did get to see why they are called The Great Smoky Mountains. They were definitely smoky looking. But it was one of those gray days where the clouds hang out on the mountains anyway and the tops of the mountains peek through. But I did make it by myself. Thank you Siri for your directions.

City Lights bookstore is at the top of a hill and is the kind of bookstore you want to spend a lot of time wandering around in. They have a cat! No,  I did not take a picture of him/her either. It was a great looking cat, too. Black and white, very sleek, it seemed to know it was in a great bookstore and that it was allowing us to be in his store. I got there just in time to get a front row seat, up close and personal with Jessica Khoury, Stephanie Perkins and Megan Shepherd.

So, in case you don't know, Megan Shepherd is at the top, Jessica Khoury is to the left and Stephanie Perkins is on the right. Oh and the cat is on the sofa behind Jessica and Stephanie. Click on the picture to make it bigger and you can see him/her better.

Anyway, this was a panel and there were so many great questions and nerdy me was in the front writing fast and furiously. Here is what I found interesting-

From Jessica Khoury- Her novels Origin and Vitro, both set in jungle type settings, were inspired by the show Lost.  Origin is set in an Amazonian jungle type setting. And no, Jessica has never visited the Amazon. Instead, she researched everything about the setting on line, in books, even listened to sounds of the rain forest as she wrote. She wrote it in one month! (I know...) She always wrote it to be a standalone. But she still wanted to explore the same world. That evil corporation. So she set Vitro on an island in the South Pacific. She wanted it to have a claustrophobic feel to it- island, your stuck on it, no escape.( Made me start rethinking my happy place in my mind. I had to put a fast motor boat and a helicopter in there after the signing!) For Vitro she did visit and island, just in the Caribbean instead of the South Pacific. She highly recommends traveling to your setting if at all possible.

I confess, I started Origin when it first came out and I am completely fascinated with it. But I have never gotten back to it. Still I remember what I read and I am itching to get back to it. I say this to say, I don't know who this character is, but the question was asked about secondary characters, who was their favorite?
Jessica said she had to do a complete rewrite because of a character called Nicholas. He just wouldn't stay out of the scenes. She said it was the first time she'd had that happen to her.

How is being an author versus her expectations of what it would be like?
She set the bar very low she said so it's exceeded it a lot. But she says there are a lot of highs and lows. Long periods of boredom and then chaos, travel and speaking.

Her favorite part of writing- First draft where you can make mistakes. She likes just writing and putting ideas down. She calls the writing part the honeymoon phase because you can dream and write anything and not worry if it works.

What is she reading right now? Of Triton by Anna Banks. She is loving it.
What's next for it? She couldn't say. I think next week or next month she could reveal it. You know when you're waiting, it all seems like a year.

Jessica Khoury was really interested in everyone and was surprised I came from so far to see her. But it was the only place close by she was going to be and I really wanted my books signed by her. Is anyone else that anal about getting their books signed in person? I barely said anything to her but of the three, she was the only one I talked to. Yes, I hang my head in shame. I totally clammed up. What a dork!

Next was Stephanie Perkins-
I don't know if you've heard her or met her before but she is so "nice". I put that word in quote marks because I know that word doesn't really describe anything. She is quiet, but in a way that makes you want to listen to her. She says things you want to hear, she talks carefully, like each word is chosen precisely. She is a bit like her writing. She leaves you feeling good and happy, a little smile on your face. And because this tour was about second books, she talked a lot more about Lola and the Boy Next Door which I am currently reading.

Lola and The Boy Next Door took 10 years to write. She lived in San Francisco at the time that she started it and put it aside because she got talked out of writing for "children." But after Anna and the French Kiss which was written during NaNoWriMo (not much of it was kept, but still) the publishers wanted something like it. So Lola and The Boy Next Door was dusted off and finished. As I've just gotten a few chapters in I don't know too much, but I realized as she said this, "I wanted to write Lola with two Dads and have it not be a big deal. Just be a part of the story and accepted. Not an issue in the book. I think I nailed that. I'm proud of that." So far it seems to me she did nail it. And who knows, ten years prior, it may have never been received as not being an issue. And this is what I mean about Stephanie, she seemed almost shy about saying she was proud of herself for that. I understand it's hard to toot your own horn, but I don't think there are many of us in YAdom that don't know Stephanie Perkins series. I think she can be proud.
She seems to have forgotten she's a Rockstar!

So as far as setting/place goes she lived in the setting of Lola so she knew it intimately. It was where she and her husband were finally together on the same side of the country and were in love and young and carefree, you know that first kind of really real love. So San Francisco holds a very special place in her heart and memory. But Anna and the French Kiss totally researched the places in Paris. On line, books, listened to French music.  Watched French movies not for the movie, but for the setting, the way they moved, the background. Even took a semester of the language. Ate French food. (no not french fries, go away!) Now, she's been to Paris and said it felt like she'd created it her self because it matched up to what she'd imagined.
Says when they go on vacation she takes pictures of the sidewalk, the walls, a streetlight. Her husband sounds like the best kind of guy- a friend, a guy, and supportive of anything she asks. I've even seen him perform the retelling of the dream she had about Etienne St. Clair and Anna and it's really funny. He got up in front of an audience and did it at Malaprops in Asheville in the summer.

So, was being an author what she expected? Yes and No. She's learned about networking, education, making mistakes, persistence, the end game isn't a published book but to accept what happens and go on.
Isla and The Happily Ever After comes out in August. And then guess what she's writing....A SLASHER NOVEL! I can't imagine it, but she's been reading up on Ted Bundy and Jeffrey Dahmer. I am sure it will be exceptional.

As far as writing goes...she HATES, HATES, HATES, (she was very forceful about this) first drafts. She loves to edit it, "make it sing" she said. She probably would edit it forever if she could.

I already had all my books signed by her, but I wished I had gotten paperback copies of the new covers to match the Isla book coming out. I'm sure I will see her at a signing at Malaprops some time. By the way, if you're having trouble with pronouncing Isla it is like aisle like a grocery store aisle and a as in a dog. Sorry I've forgotten all of my grammar lessons. But there was great debate about this at another signing so once I learned how to pronounce it I have kept that in my mind. Aisle- a  or Isle- a or I'll - a. More than you ever wanted to know, right?

Okay the two bottom pictures are from a signing at Malaprops in Asheville. The guy with the bowtie is Stephanie's husband reciting how Stephanie dreamily explains the idea for a new book. It always starts with a guy and a girl in some romantic setting. That signing was in June of last year.

What is she reading right now? Books about serial killers. She wouldn't share. Said she didn't want us to have nightmares, but she did recommend Red Rising by Pierce Brown. I recommend that. I reviewed it earlier in the year. It is outstanding! Lots of people agree with me.

Okay so now Megan Shepherd. Her books are The Madman's Daughter and Her Dark Curiosity.
Megan's books explore Dark Science Themes. (just felt like that needed to be capitalized). Believe it or not she was also inspired by the T.V. show Lost. She also read books by H.G. Wells, The Island of Dr. Moreau, Jekyll and Hyde, Frankenstein. None of them had a girl in them and she wondered what if there was a girl....and the trilogy was born.

Place/setting- For  The Madman's Daughter she just imagined an island. It's a tropical island so she imagined it. But she did have trails she used to go running on when she was younger and there was an abandoned creepy cabin and a creek and she drew on those and the feelings to use in her setting. She was able to visit London for the second book and like Stephanie Perkins she would take pictures of unusual things and they tried to visit the parts of London that hadn't been changed in a 100 years to lend authenticity to the novel. For the 3rd novel, she studied in the Scottish Highlands where the novel is set.

As far as being an author, she had a job and never thought about being an author. Then she had the idea and she worked on it in spare time with the goal to be published. Didn't think about it after that. She says it's hard to find your way -there is no real manual to tell you what the next step is and there are a lot of emotional highs and lows. A message from her agent could be great or depressing. You have to learn to live with uncertainty.

Her favorite part of writing is the brainstorming and research. Not the editing so much.

What is she reading right now? Salvage by Alexandra Duncan.
What is her next project? A human zoo set in space - sci-fi with aliens again, inspired by Lost!

So, for some strange reason, I was shy. I couldn't say much more than my name to these authors and I got my books signed and left. But I'll tell you this, you all know, if you read my blog much, that I have Bipolar Disorder. Yep, well medicated, stable, usually everything is fine. But it's a social/emotional disorder. I mean yes it's a chemical imbalance, but it affects the social and emotional parts of our brains. For me, I have been a bit homebound for a long time. This was a big test for me. And I passed. I went alone. School won't be that much scarier. Not after I go to a couple more of these. And, if the snow melts in time, I have another one here in town to go to this weekend! Beth Revis, Jodi Meadows those are the two names that keep ringing in my head. I'm just not sure if it's going to happen. And another one next one in Greenville, SC.
Lots of Rockstars to meet. Hopefully I'll open my mouth Saturday. I'm not sure other than this one, if I have been to a book signing that Beth Revis hasn't been to, and yet she doesn't remember me. Because I don't say anything!!! Give me some hints guys. What do I say? How do you break the ice? Especially for an introvert?

So you made it to the end. Well thank you for reading this. I am going to give away one copy of any of the books by the authors I go to see in the next few weeks and if you put your name in the rafflecopter form, I might just pick your name. Open internationally, of course! I'm sorry it won't be signed, but I'm picking it after I get my books signed. Again I am giving away your choice of one book from any of the authors I see at these events. And thanks for reading all the way through.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Blog Tour- Butterman (Time) Travel, Inc. by PK Hrezo Review and Giveaway

Welcome to my tour stop for Butterman (Time) Travel, Inc by PK Hrezo. This is a New Adult Time Travel Adventure Romance and the tour runs Feb. 10-21 with reviews, author interviews and a few guest posts and top tens.  It also includes a great giveaway.  Be sure to stop by the tour page for all the additional information and list of tour stops.

Book Title: Butterman (Time) Travel, Inc

Author: PK Hrezo

Genre: NA Time Travel Adventure Romance
Recommended Age: 16 and up

Length: 267

Release date: November, 2013

It’s the year 2069 and even though eighteen-year-old Bianca Butterman is heir to the family biz, she may never see the day her time-craft license becomes official. When a government agent starts nosing around the operation, Butterman Travel, Inc. gets stuck with a full audit—part of a government take over scheme to shut down all private time travel agencies. Enter former boy band superstar, Tristan Helms, desperate to retrieve a lost item from his past and willing to pay triple fare for a time-trip to get there, and Bianca has to find a way to complete the job and return home before the government gets wind and shuts down the family biz for good.

Welcome to Butterman Travel, Incorporated; a full service agency designed to meet all your exclusive time travel needs. We’re a family owned and operated business with one hundred years of experience. A place where you can rest assured, safety and reliability always come first.

Anxious to attend some special event from the past? Or for a glimpse of what the future holds? You’ve come to the right place. We’re a fully accredited operation, offering an array of services; including, but not limited to: customized travel plans, professionally piloted operations, and personal trip guides.
*Terms and conditions do apply

Use our Web conferencing to contact our frontline reservation specialist, Bianca Butterman, who will handle all your inquiries in a professional and efficient manner, offering a tentative itinerary and free fare quote, so you can make the most of your time trip. We look forward to serving you at Butterman Travel, Inc., where time is always in your hands.


So, I was like wow reading this novel. Snappy writing and dialogue. Understandable time travel. Mystery, a little romance, not insta-love, but insta crush. And a really smart MC. Really smart. She knows herself so well and recognizes her motivations, her actions. I wish I had the self control and presence of mind she does.

So, let's get to it.

Bianca Butterman- I believe she is 18 or 19, it's not really relevant. She is the face of Butterman Time Travel. She books the trips and even rides along on some of the trips. She is almost certified to be a solo time traveler. And she is a strict rule follower. You have to be. Time travel is not something you can mess around with. A FIRM strict rule follower. Nothing can make her change her mind. And when she just happens to take Golden Boy, Tristan Helms on a solo trip, required for her license, she makes sure he understands, she is in charge and he has to do what she says. She is the Guide! A few other choice things you should know- she is not into tweenie bubble gum pop, the kind Tristan Helms boy band U-Turn plays. She is a "spunker" or a "black bettie" I'm thinking Goth by the way she's described. Though she doesn't have the dark attitude that goes with a goth chick. But she actually is more like the pin-up girl Bettie Page or that's who she wants to be like. She nicknames the DOT agent inspecting her parent's agency Garth Vader- her name is Agent Garth. And she's not afraid to call The Tristan Helms "Golden Boy" to his face. She also is a work in progress and learns how to bend when it is absolutely necessary. I really like Bianca.

Tristan "Golden Boy" Helms- We don't get into his head a lot, not really, but he is a driving force in the action in the novel. He is the bend in the otherwise straight as a stick Bianca. He is charming, boy band members usually are, but he is fresh out of rehab. He doesn't show any vulnerability, but shows constant enthusiasm, support, and if there's trouble, he just throws money at it. What can't be cured with his money?
A lot, but he's kind of like a puppy dog, about as deep, and cute and lovable.

The secondary characters aren't very well developed, but they only make brief appearances in the novel. Mom and Dad are a united front. Best friend Kayla appears wise and supportive. Agent Garth is troublesome.

World/Setting- These two are the same and different. The year is 2069 and time travel is available for the rich in the private sector. The Butterman Time Travel agency is one of only 5 time travel agencies in the private sector. The DOT wants to shut all of them down, but we aren't sure why until very late in the story. It's fine, it makes the mystery of Agent Vader's peculiar behavior even more confusing until the end. Plus, there is time travel, so the setting is changing. I would love to comment on one place that Tristan and Bianca traveled to, I would just say that it seemed as if the author was actually there from her descriptions but I don't think she is old enough to have been there. She did her research.

The story- I loved the story! Tristan hits the Butterman travel agency during a difficult time, they are under audit by Agent Garth and the DOT. But, they aren't restricted from travel, so Bianca uses his trip to get her certification. And things just go from bad to worse. Seems reading the rule book wasn't high on Tristan's list so he breaks a lot of rules which could alter his future. Bianca quickly starts to fall for his good looks and charms, but she is smart enough to remind herself of the short time she's known him and who he is and who she is. There are some very interesting things that happen in different time periods and there is no sitting around hemming and hawing about what to do. The pacing is fast, the story moves along and you don't get slowed down with technical terminology. I loved this story and can't wait for the second novel. It is tied up nicely, but there is definitely more to the story!

I can't leave this alone without listing some of my favorite quotes:

"Apparently, I'm invisible. His superstar status sucks the ocular energy right from people's sockets, but whatever."
"Right now I'm just a sideshow at this carnival, and trying to get any control of myself or the situation only confounds me further."
"Guess I somehow managed to waltz through life and miss the universal drug etiquette memo."
"Guess you can take the spotlight off the superstar, but you can't take the superstar out of his spotlight."

I thought they were funny, maybe out of context they aren't, but they still seem funny to me. All observations from Bianca.

I very much recommend this novel to anyone interested in time travel novels (is that sci-fi), it's called New Adult, but I didn't see anything that I consider New Adult. There is some drug use, that's it. Maybe in later novels. There was some sexual innuendo. It's a fast paced novel with a great MC and a beginning romance.

I received a copy of this novel for review for the blog tour from the author through the blog tour host. I received no compensation for my review.

About the Author:

PK Hrezo is a native Floridian whose life could easily be a Jimmy Buffet song. She shares her home with her firefighter husband and their two children. When not creating characters and their worlds, PK can be found at her other job of rearranging passenger’s itineraries for a major international airline. The only hobbies she loves more than traveling, are reading, writing, and music, and when the four are combined she exists in total bliss.

She blogs regularly at PK HREZO: Fearless Fiction

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Wednesday, February 12, 2014

WOW- Waiting on Wednesday

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

Here is what I can't wait to read!

Complicit by Stephanie Kuehn
Available June 24, 2014
St. Martin's Griffin
From Goodreads-

Two years ago, fifteen-year-old Jamie Henry breathed a sigh of relief when a judge sentenced his older sister to juvenile detention for burning down their neighbor's fancy horse barn. The whole town did. Because Crazy Cate Henry used to be a nice girl. Until she did a lot of bad things. Like drinking. And stealing. And lying. Like playing weird mind games in the woods with other children. Like making sure she always got her way. Or else.

But today Cate got out. And now she’s coming back for Jamie.

Because more than anything, Cate Henry needs her little brother to know this one simple truth: she’s not the crazy one and never has been.

He is.

I gotta know, what's going on??? 

So, what are you guys waiting for??? Share your links with me!!
And don't forget to enter my giveaway for Fire and Ice!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Steampunk With Heart: Steampunk is Romance

Steampunk with Heart: Steampunk IS Romance
with Susan Kaye Quinn and Scott E. Tarbet

**see bottom of post for steampunk giveaways**
**see Steampunk With Heart Page for Facebook Party schedule**

Susan Kaye Quinn: As I was writing my steampunk romance (ThirdDaughter, The Dharian Affairs #1), it struck me that the term “Steampunk Romance” is just a bit redundant. Yes, some steampunk stories have romance as the main driver of their plot, but to me, the entire genre is inherently romantic. These stories take place in a bygone era (or entirely fictional analogue of one), alleviating some of the oppressive ideas of the past while keeping the lush aesthetics and romantic ideas about relationships and love. How could that be termed anything other than Romantic?

I discussed this very issue with fellow Steampunk Romance author Scott Tarbet, over tea and fictional crumpets (the tea was real; tea is always real):

Susan Kaye Quinn: Scott, you suggested the title for our little chat, “Steampunk IS Romance”. How is it you think Steampunk is romance?

Scott E. Tarbet: Steampunk is all about goggles, right? We use them as a convenient symbol of the entire genre. Through our steampunk goggles we look at the world in a different way, a more romantic way. We get to reimagine reality (sometimes the Victorian past, sometimes alternative futures) without the fettering realities of modern technology and recent history. We get an imagined do-over.

Let’s face it: from an historical perspective the 20th Century was horrible. Sure, there were rapid technological advances, but with them came the worst wars, genocides, and horrors in all of human history. What a wonderful thing it is to put on our Steampunk goggles and imagine a simpler, more romantic world without that 20th Century baggage!

Susan Kaye Quinn: I love the idea of using our magic googles of re-imagination! Speaking of imaginative retellings, your book, Midsummer Night’s Steampunk, is a Shakespearean love story retold in a steampunk setting. It’s like a multiplication of romances! Can you tell us a bit about it, and how the romance of steampunk plays into your story?

Scott E. Tarbet: Susan, you’re 100% right! A Midsummer Night’s Steampunk (AMNS) is just what you would expect from the title: a resetting of Shakespeare’s beloved comedy/romance into the Victorian Era. Let me do a little stage-setting:

If you ask any three Steampunks for a definition of what Steampunk is, you’ll get at least five different answers involving the clothing, the weaponry, and the literature. But common to every definition I’ve seen is the gender politics. Did the genders have equal rights and influence in the real life version of the Victorian Era? Not even close. Would the 20th Century have been very different if they had been? 
Ooooh yeah!

One of my favorite academic writers, who takes on Steampunk as a field of study, Dr. Mike Perschon, puts it this way: “[W]e make the past in our image, as we do whenever a nineteenth century woman isn't slowly going crazy in a room with psychedelic wallpaper.”

Writing AMNS I had great fun projecting how history would have been different if Vicky, the mother of Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany, who happened to be the eldest daughter of Britain’s Queen Victoria, had been able to take that brat over her knee and straighten him out. There would have been no World War I, no Russian Revolution, no World War II, no Holocaust, no Cold War. Millions around the world would have lived out very different lives. The world we live in today would be a very different place.

Would the two young girls in Shakespeare’s romance also have been different people? Yes, in fundamental ways. As a result many of the elements of their respective romances would have been different in interesting ways. My heroine, Pauline, is a Sorbonne-educated engineer, the epitome of the strong, educated woman.

So AMNS gave me the opportunity to play with this romantic concept, and bring these three strong women (and several others) to the center of the stage of world politics. It was a lot of fun.

My turn to ask you, Susan: the world you create in Third Daughter also has gender politics flipped on their ear, making strong female characters possible—even necessary. How did that feel for you as a woman, and as a writer?

Susan Kaye Quinn: Wow, that’s quite a question! Third Daughter definitely turns gender politics upside down, imagining an analogue India where Queens rule and society is very used to the fact that all women, especially the Daughters of the Queen, carry significant influence and power. As a writer, I loved playing with the concept of male courtesans, and how a princess who carries true power might have to wrestle between marrying for love and marrying to keep her country from war. That premise takes a classic political intrigue and interweaves a very feminine perspective into it—without losing either the romance or the adventure. Add in the inherent lushness and romance of an east-Indian aesthetic, and I like that reviewers are calling it “vivid” and “crisp”. It tells me that I got something right in the descriptions! 

Personally, as a woman who has worked in engineering but now writes fiction, strong female characters come naturally to me. But I know that female empowerment is a huge issue in India, and I hope that I can, through a small flight of fancy, give a taste of that empowerment to young woman, no matter where they live in the world.

Speaking of India, Scott, I hear you have an east-Indian character in your story as well! Can you tell us about her and her role in the story?

Scott Tarbet: I do! Her name is Lakshmi, and she is the Steampunk analogue of the character ‘Titania’ in Shakespeare’s play. In the play, Titania and Oberon are the fairy queen and king. In my adaptation they are genius inventors.

Lakshmi is the daughter of the sultan of Golkondah, a physician, engineer, inventor, and philanthropist. Truth be told, not only is she my ideal woman, but she is everything I myself would like to be—my idealized feminine side. To me she embodies all aspects of love: romantic, filial, and godly. She is a profoundly romantic figure, in the best possible sense.

Her efforts to stave off the disasters that will befall the 20th Century world—the analogue extension of the conflict between Titania and Oberon over the ‘little Indian boy’—are the heart of the political intrigues of the novel. Together with the other queens, she forms the heart (literally and figuratively) of the resistance to evil.

I think of Lakshmi as embodying all that is best and most charming in the Steampunk genre: she represents the bridge between unattainable magic and the good that can come from attainable technology. The spirit of Lakshmi is why I love Steampunk.

Now, I see that Third Daughter is part of a series, The Dharian Affairs. What can you tell us about the future of the characters we meet in Third Daughter—without spoiling the surprises for us, of course.

Susan Kaye Quinn: The Dharian Affairs will be a trilogy: Third Daughter, Second Daughter, First Daughter. Aniri, the spunky Third Daughter who wrestles with love and duty, will be the main character throughout, but in Second Daughter, we’ll get to see more of Aniri’s beloved sister, the princess whose fate was sealed from the start by an arranged marriage to protect an alliance. In First Daughter, the adventure will continue closer to home, where Aniri’s oldest sister and heir-apparent, the First Daughter, plays a prominent role in bringing the trilogy to a close. In fairy tales, the number three plays an almost mystical role, and I love the idea of exploring each daughter’s role in the fate of the Queendom.

Will we see more from the characters you created in AMNS?

Scott Tarbet: Yes! There’s a short story called Ganesh that tells the backstory of one of the characters in AMNS. It is to be part of anthology of AMNS short stories at some point in the future. I’ll soon be putting it online exclusively for people who have already enjoyed AMNS.

The next book set in the AMNS universe, Lakshmi, is well underway. It’s up to Xchyler Publishing whether it will come out before or after my novel Dragon Moon.

Susan, it has been a great pleasure chatting with you. All the best to you and your readers!

Susan Kaye Quinn: The pleasure was all mine, Sir!

Susan Kaye Quinn is the author of the bestselling Mindjack Trilogy, which is young adult science fiction. The Dharian Affairs trilogy is her excuse to dress up in corsets and fight with swords. She also has a dark-and-gritty SF serial called The Debt Collector and a middle grade fantasy called Faery Swap. It's possible she's easily distracted. Her business card says "Author and Rocket Scientist" and she always has more speculative fiction fun in the works. You can subscribe to her newsletter (hint: new subscribers get a free short story!) or stop by her blog to see what she's up to.

Third Daughter (The Dharian Affairs #1)
Kindle | Nook | Print
The Third Daughter of the Queen wants to marry for love, but rumors of a new flying weapon force her to accept a barbarian prince’s proposal of a peace-brokering marriage.

Scott Tarbet is the author of A Midsummer Night’s Steampunk from Xchyler Publishing, Tombstone, in the paranormal anthology Shades & Shadows, and the forthcoming Lakshmi, Dragon Moon, and Nautilus Redux. He writes enthusiastically in several genres, sings opera, was married in full Elizabethan regalia, loves steampunk waltzes, and slow-smokes thousands of pounds of Texas-style barbeque. An avid skier, hiker, golfer, and tandem kayaker, he makes his home in the mountains of Utah. Follow Scott E. Tarbet online at his website or on Twitter

A Midsummer Night's Steampunk 
Kindle | Nook | Print
Immerse yourself in this Steampunk retelling of Shakespeare’s classic, replete with the newfound wizardry of alternative Victorian technology, mistaken identities, love triangles, and deadly peril, set against the backdrop of a world bracing itself for war, and Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee.
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