Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Review: Grave Mercy-Book One in the His Fair Assassin series by Robin LeFevers

It's been a while since I read an historical romance and I've never read a historical YA romance that I can remember. When I had the chance to check out Grave Mercy: His Fair Assassin, I decided to take it. Check out the description...

Why be the sheep, when you can be the wolf?
Seventeen-year-old Ismae escapes from the brutality of an arranged marriage into the sanctuary of the convent of St. Mortain, where the sisters still serve the gods of old. Here she learns that the god of Death Himself has blessed her with dangerous gifts--and a violent destiny. If she chooses to stay at the convent, she will be trained as an assassin and serve as a handmaiden to Death. To claim her new life, she must destroy the lives of others.

Ismae's most important assignment takes her straight into the high court of Brittany--where she finds herself woefully under prepared--not only for the deadly games of intrigue and treason, but for the impossible choices she must make. For how can she deliver Death's vengeance upon a target who, against her will, has stolen her heart?

Let me say, as I read this story, I had to check and make sure it was YA. The characters are very mature, but when I thought about it, it made sense for the time period which I think is medieval. People married, ascended to the throne, ruled countries...all that and more at a very young age. Honestly, I thought the story might be a bit dry, but au contaire! It was awesome! I could not put this book down and when I had to, I couldn't wait to pick it up again! I'm astounded and give major kudos to the author for the level of research she had to do to capture and build the world of this story.

There were so many intricate nooks, crannies, and turns in the plot that kept me fully engaged. Grave Mercy delivered just the right balance of intriguing romance, action and adventure. I'm a romance junkie and I loved the way the author keep the romance fully intertwined in the plot. It was perfect tension. You'll hold your breath waiting for how, when and if this couple is going to make it--if the guy is even going to live!

I'm excited that this is a series. It was over 500 pages, but it was so good, I was glad because I hated for it to end. I can't wait to see what's going to happen in the second book. I believe it's going to follow another one of the characters. She's an assassin too and love complicates her mission. I hope I don't have to wait too long! You won't have to for Book One.

Grave Mercy releases April 3, 2012 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.


Sunday, March 25, 2012

And the Winners of The Dark Divine series by Bree Despain are...

Thanks for dropping in and checking out Bree's interview. I thought I was only going to be able to have two winners, but I contacted the publicist and was informed I could chose three people to win! Now that's what I'm talking about! The more, the better, wouldn't you agree?...hee hee hee...Let's get to those winners. They are...

Sara Intidam!!

Email me, girls, with your contact info so I can pass it on to the publicist.  If the winners don't respond in 48 hours, others will be chosen in their place. The winners were selected randomly.

Toodles, ya'll!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

YA Special: Interview and giveaway of The Dark Divine series by Bree Despain. Three winners for this one!

Bree Despain
As an aspiring YA writer, I love an opportunity to pick a successful author's brain. When I got the chance to ask Bree Despain, author of The Dark Divine series, some questions, I seized it! I'm also excited to be able to offer three winners the opportunity to receive all three books in her Dark Divine trilogy. Isn't that cool?! My thanks to her publicist and her publisher, EgmontUSA for making this giveaway possible. Check out what Bree has to say about writing, getting published and making it all work for her, then enter the giveaway for a chance to win all three of her books for yourself!

1) The Dark Divine series is flavored with religious components. Did your own beliefs play a role in including religious faith in the story? Were you concerned about how your readers would perceive this? Did you fear coming across as "preachy" or feel a need to restrain yourself in this area?

Yes.  While Grace and I do not share the exact same religious background, I really wanted to write a book from the point of view of a character who deals with questions of faith, religion, and living up to expectations in her everyday life because that reflected my own personal teenage experience. The books also explore themes of redemption, forgiveness, and what might happen to someone who can't forgive.  While not all readers may come from a religious background, I think these are themes that can be universally understood and identified with.  I knew all along that the first book may never be published because of the religious themes, but I felt like it was a story I HAD to write, even if it was just for myself.  I am glad I found a publisher who looked at the point of view of religious character no differently than they would any other book written from a character with an interesting point of view on the world.  It is very important to me not to come across "preachy" in my books.  I did not write them to "preach" to anyone.  I write because I want to explore different questions that I have, and to tell entertaining stories from a unique point of view.                          

Book One
2) How many novels did you write before getting published? Did the published version of the story change much from the original way you conceived it? If so, what influenced that change? Was it difficult? Did you plan on the story being a trilogy from the beginning?

I'd written about two complete novels before getting published--any many, many, many beginnings to other books.  My very first inkling of the story had no paranormal elements in it all, but as I started writing, I started to think "Wow, wouldn't it be cool if something supernatural was going on in this book?" I blame the Buffy The Vampire Slayer reruns that used to come on TV in the background during my designated writing time (i.e. my son's nap time).  I tried writing a draft of the book without anything paranormal going on, but once I fully embraced the idea of adding a paranormal storyline the book really start to come to life.

I wrote the first book thinking it was going to be a stand-alone, however I did purposely leave the ending open to more books.  After my publisher bought the first book, they asked for more and I was happy to oblige. While I didn't know it was going to be a trilogy, I did know how I wanted things to end between the three main characters in the last book.

3) Are you a pantser or an outliner? Tell us about your writing process. How do you manage your time as a writer and mother?

I'm a pantser by nature but my editor makes me outline--but I can't say the books end up looking anything like that outline!  In my world, outlines are the place for getting out all the mediocre ideas, then when I am writing, I try to top whatever is in the outline.

I still don't know the secret to managing time as an author and mother. My writing process involves a lot of "plot walks" around the nearby lake, procrastination, author guilt, chocolate binges, Thai take-out, word wars,  all-night writing sessions to make my looming deadlines, mommy guilt, more procrastination to spend time with my kids, followed by author guilt, followed by 16 hour writing days to make up for lost time.  It's on-going cycle.  If someone knows the secret to the mommy-author balance, I'd sure love to hear it.
Book Two

4) Tell us what your search for an agent was like.

I tried finding an agent a few years ago, but came to terms with the fact that my writing wasn't ready yet.  I spent the next couple of years working on craft and reworking my manuscript.  When I felt like it was finally ready, I used a website called to research agents.  I made a list of about 30 I was interested in, did more research and narrowed that list down to my top fifteen. Normally, I'm the kind of person who would start at the bottom of that list and work my way up with rejections.  However, this time I decided to take a chance and queried the agent that I felt was the best fit for the project first. For a week I sent out one query a day, and by the end of the week I heard back from my #1 agent.  He asked to see the book ASAP, I sent it to him and a week later he offered representation.  I look back on the experience as a combination of good research and a lot of luck.

5) Do you plan to write realistic, contemporary stories or are you firmly in the paranormal camp? Do you think you'll ever write adult fiction?

I actually started out writing realistic fiction--especially humorous realistic fiction--and I still consider it one of my greatest loves.  Lately, most of my ideas end up having some sort of paranormal or thriller twist to them, but I do have a few realistic fiction ideas brewing.  I dream of someday writing two books a year, one would fantasy and one would be realistic.  I don't foresee myself ever writing for adults, but who knows.

6) Is there anything you can share with us about future projects?

I am working on a new book that is slated for publication in Fall 2013.  I don't know what all I am allowed to say about it yet, but it is project I started writing several years ago and I am very excited to be working on it again.  The book is a whole new twist on a very old story.

Thanks so much, Bree for sharing your journey with us!
Book Three

To enter the giveaway, leave a comment and tell me the name of one of your favorite YA series. If you haven't read a series, that's fine, just say so, and give me the name of your favorite singular title. That is all. Don't forget your email!

The giveaway ends Friday, March 23, 2012. Giveaway is open to residents of the US only at publisher's request.

I love it when I get a chance to give away great books!

Toodles, ya'll!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Guest Post & Giveaway by Bryan Cohen: Come on! Get Happy. A great book and a Kindle Fire can

Bryan Cohen
Bryan Cohen here, guest poster and author, promoting my new book The Post-College Guide to Happiness for The Happiness Blog Tour. I'm giving away free digital review copies of the book and doing a giveaway for paperback copies, audio copies and even a Kindle Fire! Read on and check out the info below the post.

"Each morning when I open my eyes I say to myself: I, not events, have the power to make me happy or unhappy today. I can choose which it shall be. Yesterday is dead, tomorrow hasn't arrived yet. I have just one day, today, and I'm going to be happy in it."

- Groucho Marx

What is in your control and what is out of your control? I'm not talking about free will here as much as I'm talking about free emotion. Can you choose to be happy despite your circumstances? If you're Groucho Marx, the answer is yes, but what about average, everyday people who aren't successful and famous? After all, Marx probably didn't have much in the way of debt or a job he didn't like or plenty of other problems that normal people have.

In the 1940s, during the World War II, an Austrian psychologist named Viktor Frankl was taken to some of the worst concentration camps in the Holocaust. He saw his family taken away from him and people he knew and loved killed before his eyes. When he was in the midst of complete and utter suffering, he tried to figure out what it was the Nazis couldn't take away from him. He realized that the last thing he had left was his decision as to how he would react to the circumstances he was in. Some who were taken by the Nazis were completely despondent. Others were willing to tell stories and give their last pieces of bread to other prisoners who were weaker. All Frankl had left was the choice to react in an honorable and healthy way. Frankl discovered that there is a gap between stimulus (something happening to you) and response (how you react to it). There is action followed by reaction with a tiny space in between. If you can control the space you can control the reaction.

If Frankl could learn to react in the most positive way possible to being interned in an awful camp of death, I believe that anyone could learn to deal with any situation imaginable. You simply have to do what Marx suggests. Tell yourself that you will decide on whether or not you want to be happy and you will not let events that are out of your control dictate your emotions. It takes practice and it's certainly not easy to do at first, but if you start to make the conscious choice of whether or not to be happy, you will find that it becomes part of your life.

Maybe you've had a rough week or a rough couple of years. It doesn't matter. If you wake up tomorrow and tell yourself that events no longer have control over you and that you control if you're going to be happy or not, you'll start to find that life will grow better and better with age. You have the choice to be happy today and the rest of your life. Make that choice right now.

Bryan Cohen is giving away 61 paperback and audio copies of The Post-College Guide to Happiness and a Kindle Fire between now and May 7th, 2012 on The Happiness Blog Tour. All entrants receive a free digital review copy of The Post-College Guide to Happiness. Bryan hopes to give away at least 1,000 copies during the blog tour. To enter, post a comment with your e-mail address or send an e-mail to postcollegehappiness (at) Bryan will draw the names at the end of the tour. Entries will be counted through Sunday, May 6th.

Bryan Cohen is a writer, actor and comedian from Dresher, Pennsylvania. He graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2005 with degrees in English and Dramatic Art and a minor in Creative Writing. He has written nine books including 1,000 Creative Writing Prompts: Ideas for Blogs, Scripts, Stories and More, 500 Writing Prompts for Kids: First Grade through Fifth Grade, Writer on the Side: How to Write Your Book Around Your 9 to 5 Job and his new book, 1,000 Character Writing Prompts: Villains, Heroes and Hams for Scripts, Stories and More. His website Build Creative Writing Ideas helps over 25,000 visitors a month to push past writer's block and stay motivated.

Feel free to follow along with the tour at The Happiness Blog Tour Hub Page or on the book's Facebook Page.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday: Infamous: Chronicles of Nick by Sherrilyn Kenyon

Book Three

Waiting on Wednesday is the terrific meme started by Jill at Breaking the Spine. It's a great way to learn about new books that are coming out.
I'm looking forward to reading Infamous, the third book in the Chronicles of Nick series. It's not just a trilogy. I think it has like ten books or something! I believe I read that on author's site. I've become kind of committed to following Nick's saga. Check out the description...

The world has fallen in love with Nick Gautier and the Dark-Hunters.
Now Nick's saga continues in the next eagerly anticipated volume...

Go to school. Get good grades. Stay out of trouble. That's the mandate for most kids. But Nick Gautier isn't the average teenager. He's a boy with a destiny not even he fully understands. And his first mandate is to stay alive while everyone, even his own father, tries to kill him.

He's learned to annihilate zombies and raise the dead, divination and clairvoyance, so why is learning to drive and keep a girlfriend so dang hard? But that isn't the primary skill he has to master. Survival is.

And in order to survive, his next lesson makes all the others pale in comparison. He is on the brink of becoming either the greatest hero mankind has ever known.

Or he'll be the one who ends the world. With enemies new and old gathering forces, he will have to call on every part of himself to fight or he'll lose everyone he cares about.

Even himself.

Enjoy the trailer...

You can read the first two chapters here.

I don't have long to wait. The book released yesterday, March 13, 2013.



Sunday, March 11, 2012

Book Review: Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard

Wanderlove is the second book from author, Kirsten Hubbard. I didn't get a chance to read her debut, Like Mandarin, but the idea of the character traveling in Central America, in Wanderlove, intrigued me. When the opportunity to snag an e-galley presented itself, I grabbed it. It's a YA contemporary story. Check out the description...

It all begins with a stupid question:

Are you a Global Vagabond?

No, but 18-year-old Bria Sandoval wants to be. In a quest for independence, her neglected art, and no-strings-attached hookups, she signs up for a guided tour of Central America--the wrong one. Middle-aged tourists with fanny packs are hardly the key to self-rediscovery. When Bria meets Rowan, devoted backpacker and dive instructor, and his outspokenly humanitarian sister Starling, she seizes the chance to ditch her group and join them off the beaten path.

Bria's a good girl trying to go bad. Rowan's a bad boy trying to stay good. As they travel across a panorama of Mayan villages, remote Belizean islands, and hostels plagued with jungle beasties, they discover what they've got in common: both seek to leave behind the old versions of themselves. And the secret to escaping the past, Rowan's found, is to keep moving forward.

But Bria comes to realize she can't run forever, no matter what Rowan says. If she ever wants the courage to fall for someone worthwhile, she has to start looking back.

Every so often I make a visit to the author's blog. Once, she posted about her angst about being a midlist author, this meaning one who sells steadily, but has not broken out with a bestseller. Let me tell you, she shouldn't worry. The girl can write! It's tough for authors who write contemporary, realistic fiction in a world awash in all things paranormal, but Hubbard is a skilled writer. Wanderlove is a fresh, taut, contemporary romance that keeps the reader fully engaged in the story.

The author is a travel writer and her expertise and experience clearly shined through in the story. I knew she wasn't just making stuff up. I've wanted to travel to Belize and actually filed away some of the travel "rules and suggestions" the character made in the story! What I didn't know is that Hubbard is a skilled artist as well and did her own illustrations for the book! It was kind of fascinating to see the illustrations and compare them to the images of the characters and the goings-on that I had in my imagination as I read. It's cool to see a YA story with pictures; this is so rare.

Wanderlove isn't just a romantic story, but it is one of self-discovery. Sometimes I found myself annoyed at the main character, Bria, for some of her decisions, but this is a testimony to Hubbard's skill in making the protagonists so real and fully fleshed out.

It's a fresh, engaging young adult romance. Once you start, you'll want to know what this couple is going to do with their lives and with each other. Hubbard doesn't make it easy and keeps you guessing right till the end.

Wanderlove releases March 13, 2013 by Delacorte Books for Young Readers.


Monday, March 5, 2012

Cover Reveal! Pretty Amy by Lisa Burstein.

I'm pleased to reveal the cover of Pretty Amy by Lisa Burstein! It's Lisa's debut novel and it releases May 15, 2012 by Entangled Publishing.

It really is pretty isn't it? I"m having a serious case of sandal shades of light blue are my favorite color, so this caught my attention immediately. My first though was: what's going on with this girl? I'm kind of fascinated. Let's see what the description has to say...

Amy is fine living in the shadows of beautiful Lila and uber-cool Cassie, because at least she’s somewhat beautiful and uber-cool by association. But when their dates stand them up for prom, and the girls take matters into their own hands—earning them a night in jail outfitted in satin, stilettos, and Spanx—Amy discovers even a prom spent in handcuffs might be better than the humiliating “rehabilitation techniques” now filling up her summer. Worse, with Lila and Cassie parentally banned, Amy feels like she has nothing—like she is nothing.

Navigating unlikely alliances with her new coworker, two very different boys, and possibly even her parents, Amy struggles to decide if it’s worth being a best friend when it makes you a public enemy. Bringing readers along on an often hilarious and heartwarming journey, Amy finds that maybe getting a life only happens once you think your life is over.
Amy Burstein at her junior prom
Lisa Burstein, the author, is a tea seller by day and a writer by night. She wrote her first story when she was in second grade. It was a Thanksgiving tale from the point of view of the turkey from freezer to oven to plate. It was scandalous.

She was a lot like Amy when she was in high school.

She is still a lot like Amy!

Sounds like trouble to

You can be part of the fun. In the weeks leading up to Pretty Amy's release on May 15, there will be a Worst Prom Photo contest. Make sure to dust off your old prom photos—the more tulle, bows, and big hair the better!—and watch Lisa's site,, for details on how to submit/enter to win a beauty package.

 You can pre-order the book at the following sources: 

Learn more about Pretty Amy here: Goodreads:

Lisa is a sweetheart. Get to know her: 

And don't forget to enter to the Worst Prom Photo contest for a chance to win your own beauty package to get pretty!



Sunday, March 4, 2012

In My Mailbox...

I got a few interesting books in the mail this week. Honestly, I've got a huge stack of books waiting to be read and that doesn't include those on my Nook! I wish I could take a leave of absence from work just to get the pile cut down to size. Oh, the joy that would this is the interesting reads that publishers and an author sent my way...

Little, Brown was gracious enough to send me the paperback edition of The Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney. I read this as an ARC and it is quite good. It's inspired by the author's real life experience with rape when she was in college. The Rivals is the hardcover sequel. It's not a sequel in the usual sense of the word because the first book had a firm conclusion. I would call it more of a companion novel. It continues the saga of the main character, Alex Patrick as she pursues further adventures and the pursuit of justice on behalf of other students. Can't wait to get to it.

Harper Teen sent Until I Die, the second book in the Die for Me trilogy. For those not familiar, these books have been called Twilight in Paris--with zombies! But they're not the disgusting, flesh-falling-off-the-bone zombies. They're called revenants and they're hot and sexy! Definitely looking forward to continuing this saga.
Sourcebooks Fire sent me Embrace. They sent two ARCs, so I'll definitely be giving one away. This is an angel story and I'll be honest, when I read that the premise of a book is about angels, I'm a little skeptical. There have just been so many of these books written, I've become a bit weary--but I read them anyway! Lol...I'm hearing good things about this one and the editor wrote such an enthusiastic note-to-the-reader, it really has me anticipating getting into this story. She even said she missed her train stop reading the manuscript, so I can't wait to see if it lives up to the hype! I sure hope so.

I even received a non-fiction political science book called Blacklash by Deneen Borelli. I've heard the author speak on news shows and read her thoughts in newspaper articles. I'm interested in her views as a black conservative who is clearly not a fan of President Obama.

And the cutest of the books is this picture book called The Yippy, Yappy Yorkie in the Green Doggy Sweater by Debbie Macomber and Mary Lou Carney. I didn't even know Macomber wrote children's books, but the inside flap said this is her second picture book collaboration with Carney. Who know?! Macomber even sent along a signed card with a bible verse written on it. Sweet.

So, what came your way to read this week?

Thursday, March 1, 2012

And the Winner of Trafficked is...

Thanks for stopping by, girls and getting the goods on a very engrossing, heart-pounding story! I'm hope you learned a little something about the problem of human slavery/trafficking in the process. Let me get to the best part. The winner of Trafficked by Kim Purcell is...

Fairday Morrow!!!

You lucky girl, you! Congratulations. Please email me with your address so I may pass it on to the publicist. If I don't hear from the winner in 72 hours, another winner will be chosen in her place. The winner was chosen randomly using

Toodles, ya'll!