Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Book Giveaway and Author Spotlight: Shari Maurer, author of CHANGE OF HEART

I'm on a role this week with great authors. I'm pleased to introduce Shari Maurer. Change of Heart is her debut novel and she is part of The Tenners or Class of 2K10. This is a group of YA authors whose debut novels are being published in 2010. In years past, the group of 2K has included some of the hottest YA authors of today like Melissa Marr, Carrie Jones and Jay Ascher. Shari no doubt, ranks up there with the best of them.

Her book is a contemporary, realistic story that eschews the supernatural for real life struggles: A teenager's need for a heart transplant. Imagine being a typical teen girl, desiring that love that makes your heart beat faster, then discovering that heart may soon not beat at all. Just add that factor into the turmoil that makes up the average girls life and you know there's a compelling story here. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to interview Shari Maurer and her story proved to be just as compelling as her novel; here, see for yourself.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Book Giveaway and Author Spotlight: Alison Strobel, author of THE WEIGHT OF SHADOWS

It's with great pleasure that I had the opportunity to read The Weight of Shadows and meet the talented author behind the book, Alison Strobel. I have read many christian non-fiction books, but this is the first time, I've read a novel from a christian publisher. I've always wondered about them and how the christian viewpoint plays into the story. The Weight of Shadows was the perfect book to introduce me to this genre. Without further ado, let's hit the blurb on the back of the book:

After a difficult childhood, Kim has built a successful life for herself. She'd leave it all, though, if she could be rid of her guilt over a tragic mistake she made years ago. When she meets Rick, she finds everything she needs, even a way for her to pay for her sins.

Kim and Rick's new neighbor, Joshua, knows more than Kim realizes about Rick, but Joshua has battles of his own to fight. Having already lost his wife and job, he risks giving his in-laws the ammunition they need to gain custody of his daughter if he gets involved.

Debbie, who has saved countless women through the shelter she runs, has the power to help, but she might be as desperate for love as the woman she serves. Ultimately, Kim must decide if her penance is more important than protecting an innocent life--and if she should dare leave Rick when he has the power to bring her hidden crime to light.

This novel may be published by Zondervan, a christian publisher, but don't let that stop you from devouring a good book. The story is universal and should be read by all, regardless of your belief system.  At it's core, it's about love and the search for it. Whether that love is familial, as in the desire a child has for the love of her family, the romantic love a woman desires in a man, or the agape love that is sought from an all-powerful God, love is what we all seek on some level and The Weight of Shadows explores that desire in a compelling way.

The disturbing saga of domestic violence weighs heavily in the storyline as it exemplifies what some women for so many reasons, will allow themselves to be subjected to. I found myself yelling at the protagonist in the book, because I could see what was coming and I wanted her to "wake up" and avoid it, but to woman trapped in these relationships, it simply isn't that easy.

I raced through the book, trying throughout to guess what Kim's crime was. The author threw quite a curve ball and I didn't see it coming. Nice! Let's move on to the interview with Alison Strobel:

Sparkling Sunday Shopping: Sneak Preview of Giveaway Goodies: BLOGMANIA-Sept 15&16. Be Here!

My theme for the Blogmania giveaway in September is YA Love. I have been blessed to have several awesome sponsors donate items for the it. I want to profile another one, much as I did last month. She has a shop online and offers very special and unique items for sale at good prices. Stop in and look around. One of the winning items is going to come from this shop! Let's have a look:

Rebecca designs quite lovely handcrafted pieces of jewelry. They're unique pieces that you won't find everywhere and created in beautiful colors. She will be donating a precious necklace that I will be previewing in a future post. In the meantime, go in and check out her shop. You won't regret it. Tell her June sent you. (and no, I don't get a kickback or anything! LOL...)


"big smiles... little prices....."

rebeccadavis' Shop Announcement

Handcrafted pieces...one of a kind.

Just enough quality findings and stones are used within each piece that there is something affordable for everyone.

My jewelry is generally dainty but sturdy. If you have questions please contact me. Thank you!

WHERE DO THE ITEM NAMES COME FROM? Music!!!! I name my each piece after a song from my music library. It simply makes me happy to do this. :)

Friday, June 25, 2010

Book Review and Giveaway: The Castaways by Elin Hilderbrand. Three Winners for This One!

Elin Hilderbrand has written nine novels and they all feature Nantucket as the setting for the story. Sounds like an excellent idea for this time of the year. Summer is right around the corner and I am ready to dig into a good beach read--even though I have no plans to go to the beach, but I digress. Let's hit the blurb on the back of the book...

With rumors of infidelity straining Greg and Tess MacAvoy's marriage, the couple head out on their sailboat one early summer day to celebrate their wedding anniversary, hoping the roughest waters are behind them. But in an accident off Nantucket, they mysteriously drown, leaving behind two small children as well as the three couples who have long been their closest friends. Tragedy brings to the surface long-simmering conflicts and emotions, and the MacAvoys' six grieving friends find themselves unprepared for the revelation of secret upon secret as the struggle to answer the question: What happened to Greg and Tess?

This is the first novel I've read that has eight major characters, and the story is told from the alternating viewpoints of six of them: the three remaining couples. Initially, I had a bit of trouble keeping track of who was married to who. I finally solved this problem by writing a cheat sheet and jotting down the names of the couples so I could glance at it as I read. I didn't need this prop for long because as I got pulled into the story, it became easier to connect the right husband with the right wife.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

New Moon, Stephanie Meyer and all that kind of stuff...so what's to say? Plenty!

Well, I know I'm late to the party. I finally finished reading New Moon yesterday. I wanted to complete it before Eclipse comes out next week and mission accomplished. Yay me! When Twilight came out, I had no idea it was a book until people in the theatre told me. I loved the movie and wasn't disappointed like some were because I had no idea how the much was changed, cut out of the story etc. I've decided to continue this format and watch the movie first, then read the book.

Those of you who have read my earlier post may recall I didn't like New Moon the movie as much as Twilight. I wasn't expecting much from the book, but I was happily surprised and found it pretty engaging. I know there are a lot of Jacob/Taylor Lautner fans out there, but I find the Jacob of the book a more interesting character than the movie version. Taylor's doing a good job, mind you, I just think the literary Jacob is more compelling.

Perusing the internet and online communities, even in writer conferences, I've heard so many complaints about Stephanie Meyer's writing. I find that annoying. Of course, people have their own taste and writing and/or reading a story is very subjective, but really folks, I think she is an excellent story-teller. The woman knows how to tap into the ultimate fantasy of girls and woman the world over and that's why the book has sold so widely.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Join Cheryl Rainfield, Author of SCARS for a special TwitterChat on Wednesday, June 23.

Some of you may recall that I did an author interview of Cheryl Rainfield , author of SCARS on April 27. This book deals with a girl's struggle with sex abuse and self mutilation--cutting. While the book is a work of fiction, Ms. Rainfield certainly knows of which she writes as she too, struggled with such issues in her own life. Victims of abuse often self-harm in order to deal with their pain. On Wednesday, June 23 at 7 P.M. EST, Cheryl will be hosting a chat on Twitter about these issues and what can be done to stop it.

Won't you join her? If you or someone you know struggles with abuse in its various forms, feel the need to hurt or experience pain as a form of release to overcome difficult and hurtful circumstances, or if you simply want to learn more and understand, please stop in and take part in the chat. Use the hashtag #breaksilence.

I'll be there. I hope you will too.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Book Review: INVISIBLE GIRL, Debut Novel by Mary Hanlon Stone

Invisible Girl by Mary Hanlon Stone
(Philomel/Penguin, May 2010)

Mary Hanlon Stone’s debut novel is a fairly short book at 278 pages but it is not short on the impact it makes. It describes, in realistic fashion, the inner life of an abused girl, struggling with her dysfunctional family and trying to do what any adolescent desires more than anything—to fit in.

Invisible Girl is the tale of fourteen-year-old Stephanie. She is the only child of an alcoholic mother and a father who is weak, wimpy, and totally ineffective at protecting her from her mother’s alcohol infused rages. Stephanie retreats into a world of literary fantasy as she reads and imagines herself as the protagonist of the Nancy Drew series; solving crimes and assisting her imaginary lawyer dad with his cases. She keeps a running list of “Warrior Words” at the ready—a list of vocabulary words she’s compiled over time to ponder upon and soothe her when times get tough. She’s going to need those words and Nancy Drew more than ever when her mother leaves the family and her father subsequently abandons her and ships her off—to stay with an old family friend in California while he pulls himself together.

Stephanie is forced to leave Boston and move to Beverly Hills where being a fish out of water doesn’t even begin to describe her new status. Her swarthy Italian looks and Boston accent make her an object of curiosity among her newfound “friends.” When the rich, golden girls found out who Stephanie and her family truly are, the journey really gets tough and she has to make a choice regarding how much is it worth to be part of the in crowd or be real and true to one’s self.

I questioned how realistic it was for Stephanie to have to leave Massachusetts and stay with the family of her father’s old friend across the country. The story made it clear there were a number of paternal family members available. There didn’t appear to be enough justification for such a drastic move. That being said, the story did come full circle and without giving away any spoilers, my concern was addressed.

Invisible Girl is a stellar first novel that clearly shows the author’s experience in working with troubled children as a district attorney in Los Angeles and as an advocate for girls. I look forward to reading her future work.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Book Blogger Hop: I want to hear from you! Hop This Way and Look Around.

Another week has gone by and another concerted effort to discover who our fellow book bloggers are is upon us. It's easy to do. Simply stop by Crazy-For-Books , a weekly meme started by Jen. Add your blog to the linky there and that's it. Start checking out the blogs you find listed and post a comment at their site. Others will do the same for you. Before you know it, you will have made new friends and discovered cool places to visit. I look forward to hearing from you.


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

And the Four Winners of INSATIABLE by Meg Cabot & DECEPTION: A Haunting Emma Novel by Lee Nichols are...

Ooooh. It's my first time announcing so many winners at once! I love having the opportunity to do this. Thanks to all of you who entered and became followers for the first time as well as all my old faithful buddies. I sincerely appreciate you guys! I see I'm in good company when it comes to ghost stories. Based on your comments, it looks like I was right. Not many of you have read any books with a focus on ghosts either.

So, lets start with the first book up for grabs. The two winners for Meg Cabot's INSATIABLE are...

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Reminder about a good book. Don't forget, WIND WARRIOR by Cynthia Roberts. It Releases on Tuesday, June 15th.

Hi guys. Just want to remind you to keep your eyes open for WIND WARRIOR by Cynthia Roberts. It's a historical Indian romance and this is the first book in the Iroquois series. It will be available on Amazon, Borders and Barnes and Nobel. You can visit Cynthia's site and read excerpts as well as learn more about her upcoming projects.

She is having an awesome contest on her site to celebrate the books release. Starting June 15th-June 30th, five winners who have purchased the book, will be chosen randomly, to recieve some really lovely prizes. Go by and check it out.


Saturday, June 12, 2010

Yay! I have officially finished the first draft of my manuscript!

I am so happy to be able to say I am finished! Kind of. In some ways, this is only the beginning of a long and winding road to getting published. But, I'll take my joy when and where I can get it. The first draft of my story is complete. Now the real writing begins. It is often said that the real writing comes in the rewrite, in the revision process. How true that is.

I now have to go through my manuscript with a fine tooth comb, deciding what works and more importantly, what doesn't. Working on my query letter actually changed the focus of my story. For those of you who are not familiar with the query, it's a letter that you formulate that succinctly tells a literary agent what your story is about. The goal is to make your story interesting and enticing enough that an agent will desire to read pages of your manuscript. The hope is the agent will like the story enough to offer the writer representation and try to get the story sold to a publisher.

There is a chapter I really like, but no longer truly fits the trajectory of where the story is now headed. I have to remove that chapter and anything else that slows things down. It's not as easy as it sounds. Writers really fall in love with things they've written and are loath to let them go, but go they must if they no longer fit.

These are the type of things I have to do now along with looking for general mistakes, typos, etc. I'm going to let the story sit for a while to "breathe" and come back to it. I need time away from it, so I can look at it with fresh eyes. You would be surprised at how different it looks and how many things you catch when you give the story and yourself some time apart.


Thursday, June 10, 2010

BOOK BLOG HOP: Yep. It's that time of the week!

I've been so busy over the last couple of weeks, I haven't had the time to hop around the way I like. I'm nearing the end of the first draft of my manuscript, so I feel like I can take a small breather. I look forward to scoping out the new blogs and visiting my old favorites. If you haven't already, add yourself to the link over at Jen's Crazy-for-Books  so you can find and be found. It's one great way to become a presence in the blogosphere. If you've hopped over to me, make yourself at home and look around. You're always welcome here!


Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Release Day! Book Review and Giveaway: INSATIABLE by New York Times Bestselling Author Meg Cabot: Two Winners for this One!

Author: Meg Cabot
Publisher: William Morrow (HarperCollins)
Format: ARC
ISBN: 978-0-06-173506-6
Price: $22.99, Pages: 464
Release Date: June 8, 2010

When I first saw the name Meg Cabot, I immediately thought this was a new young adult book by the prolific author of such titles as The Princess Diaries series and the Allie Finkle’s Rules for Girls series. I was surprised to discover that INSATIABLE is an adult paranormal novel.
As the literary and cinematic world is awash in all things vampire, Meg Cabot has thrown her hat into the ring and written a gothic, yet humorous take on the trend.

The tale follows the escapades of Meena Harper, the writer of a soap opera named “Insatiable.” What better way to climb in the ratings than to give the people what they want, and what do they want? Why vampires of course.  It may be in vogue, but Meena is sick to death of it. It’s not like they really exist after all, but what her boss wants, her boss gets—no matter how Meena feels about it.

Mary Lou, Menna’s pesky neighbor, insists she meet her brother-in-law, a rich prince from Europe named Lucian Antonescu who owns a real castle. A girl has to do her job to the best of her ability. Lucian could possibly serve as a perfect research subject and provide some great ideas for vampire story lines. Her neighbor left out one important fact: Lucian also goes by a few other names, one of which is the prince of darkness. He takes more than a passing interest in Meena and life is about to get more complicated—way more.

Release Day! Book Review and Giveaway: DECEPTION: A HAUNTING EMMA Novel by Lee Nichols. Two Winners for this one!

Title: DECEPTION: A Haunting Emma Novel
Author: Lee Nichols
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Format: ARC
978-1-59990-421-4 (PB)
978-1-59990-308-8 (HC)
Price: $9.99 (PB) 16.99 (HC) Pages: 310
Release Date: June 8, 2010

Lee Nichols has written several adult books since 2004. They were light hearted chick-lit fare. Now she's trying her hand at the young adult market and by the looks of things, she's quite good at it. Her first plunge into writing for teens is todays brand new release, DECEPTION. This is the first book in what is known as the Haunting Emma series. It's a trilogy and Emma is the girl you'll want to follow throughout the saga. (Check out the author interview posted below). Let's take a look at the blurb on the book:

When Emma Vaile's parents disappear on a mysterious business trip, her life begins to unravel. The eerie visions she had as a child return, her best friend abandons her, and a new friend notifies social services that she is living alone. Enter Bennett Stern, her older brother's best friend and Emma's knight in J. Crew armor. Bennett whisks Emma away to New England to live in his family's museum-like mansion and attend Thatcher, an old-fashioned private school.

Emma  makes friends with the popular legacy crowd quickly and spends her free time crushing on Bennett. But the haunting visions are only getting worse. Emma has memories of Thatcher she can't explain--it's as if she's returning to a place she's never been. Bennett finally confides that he and Emma are ghostkeepers, people who can communicate with ghosts. He's been keeping Emma close to protect her, but now Bennett needs her help tracking an other-worldly murderer.

Monday, June 7, 2010

The Two Winners of IN FREE FALL are...

Well it's time to award the two lovely ladies who were brave enough to dig into a heavy literary novel. I salute you. So without further ado, I am pleased to announce winners. They are:

Kelsey and Cheryl F! 

Congratulations girls. Please email me your address so I may pass it on. The book is coming directly from the publisher. The winners were selected using Random.org.

Thanks to Judy Jacoby of Doubleday for making the books available.


Saturday, June 5, 2010

Author Spotlight and Interview: Lee Nichols, author of DECEPTION: A HAUNTING EMMA Novel

I'm pleased to introduce you today to Lee Nichols, author of DECEPTION, the first book in her Haunting Emma series. Lee has written several adult books, but DECEPTION is her first foray into the YA world. I've read DECEPTION and I'm glad she took the plunge. Two winners will be offered the opportunity to find out why when I offer the book as a giveaway in a few days, so stay tuned! In the meantime, enjoy the interview and get to know Ms. Nichols a little better.

1) How did you get started in your writing career? Is being a published author something you've always wanted to do?

I started by co-writing non-fiction books with my husband. Then my first novel was published in 2004, and I wrote four more adult novels, before coming up with the idea for the Haunting Emma series. Deception is my first YA novel. Never in a million years did I think I'd grow up to be a writer. I thought I was going to be a psychologist.

2) Are you writing full time or do you also have a "day" job?

 I write full-time.

3) Who is your agent and how did you find him or her?

 My agents are Nancy Coffey and Joanna Stampfel-Volpe. Nancy pulled me out of the slush pile seven years ago and then Joanna came on and handles most of their YA books.

4) You have written a book a year since 2004. They were light hearted chick lit fare. Why did you start writing young adult novels? Is this going to be your new writing focus now? Why or why not? 

 I originally conceived of Deception as an adult novel and the more I worked with it, the more I realized it was better suited for a teen novel. YA is definitely my focus at the moment, but I'd like to continue writing in both realms.

 5) DECEPTION is part of the Haunting Emma novel series. Did you concieve of this story as a series from the beggining?

I sold it as a three-book series, so I planned one long story arc, with satisfying conclusions at the end of each novel.

6) Can you tell us what projects you have planned or are considering beyond this?

 I've always got ideas, but I won't be sure which direction to go in until I finish writing Possession, the third Haunting Emma novel.

Thanks Lee for taking the time to answer these questions and letting readers get to know you better!

Great questions! Thanks for having me.

You can learn more about Lee and her books by visiting her website here . 


Thursday, June 3, 2010

Book Review and Three Day Giveaway: IN FREE FALL by Juli Zeh. Two Winners for this one.

Those of you that have taken note of my reviews in the past will notice that I possess a particular fondness for literary prose; prose in which the words display themselves in a wondrous and imaginative manner. I do believe I have met my match in IN FREE FALL. Initially, I felt that I would be overcome by the poetic and lyrical discourse as evidenced in this book. An example from the first page, second paragraph:

If Schauinsland were to ripple its slopes in a shrug of indifference, hundreds of people cycling, riding in cable cars, or looking for butterflies would die; if Feldberg were to turn away in boredom, that would be the end of the entire district. But the mountains don't do that. Instead, they turn their somber faces to the goings-on in the streets of Freiburg, seeking entertainment. Every day, mountains and forests send a swarm of birds into the city to gather the latest news and report back.

As I began to read this book, it was like loving chocolate, but eating a lot of it and wondering if you would be able to contain it all. It just seemed like too much. But when it comes to books, I am nothing but a trooper and determined to see it through. I'm glad I did. As I continued on, rather than the play of the language being a burden, it became a challenge and not in a negative way. I began to find it very intriguing how the author utilized language, how she communicated complex thought and made it interesting.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

And the Winner of INFINITY-CHRONICLES of NICK is...

Thanks for entering folks. I'm only sorry I wasn't able to secure another copy so that we could have two winners. Well I won't keep you waiting any further. The winner of INFINITY-CHRONICLES of NICK by Sherrilyn Kenyon is...