Archives for August 2013

Blog Tour: The Forgotten Ones by Laura Howard (spotlight, excerpt, giveaway)

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ForgottenOnes coverThe Forgotten Ones (The Danaan Trilogy #1)
written by Laura Howard
published by Laura Howard

find it here: Barnes & Noble, AmazonBook Depository, Goodreads

About the book: Allison O’Malley’s plan is to go to grad school so she can get a good job and take care of her schizophrenic mother. She has carefully closed herself off from everything else, including a relationship with Ethan, who she’s been in love with for as long as she can remember.

What is definitely not part of the plan is the return of her long-lost father, who claims he can bring Allison’s mother back from the dark place her mind has gone. Allison doesn’t trust her father, so why would she believe his stories about a long forgotten Irish people, the Tuatha de Danaan? But truths have a way of revealing themselves. Secrets will eventually surface. And Allison must learn to set aside her plan and work with her father if there is even a small chance it could restore her mother’s sanity.

Please enjoy the following excerpt from The Forgotten Ones.

 

“What time do you get off work?” he asked.

I turned and narrowed my eyes at him. “I close at six. Then I have to balance the register, so around six thirty.”

Ethan looked down at his hands for a second, then glanced up at me through his thick lashes. “You want to get something to eat when you’re done?”

I licked my lips, his dark brown eyes pulling me in. I tore my gaze away and tried to focus on the computer screen. He didn’t say anything for a few moments, and I fidgeted, knowing he was watching me. When I turned toward him, his expression was so intense that my stomach somersaulted.

“Just one time,” he said quietly.

“What?”

“Say yes, just one time.” Ethan slowly moved behind the counter, his eyes never leaving mine.

“If you don’t have a good time, fine. But, I’ve been trying to get you to give me a chance for years. Don’t act like you didn’t know.”

I shook my head slightly as he approached, wanting him closer but afraid of what it would mean.

He stopped, his brow creasing. “I won’t hurt you,” he whispered.

His expression was so earnest my mind went blank for a moment.

“Ethan,” I began, my thoughts scrambled. “You know I’d like to—”

“So say yes.”
I looked up at the ceiling. I was tired of always pushing him away. If I went out with him once, maybe then I could convince him too that this was a bad idea. I covered my face with my hands.  “All right,” I mumbled through my fingers.

“What was that?” I felt the warmth of Ethan’s hands as he pulled my own away from my face.

“I said all right,” I repeated, my insides fluttering.

He gathered my hands and pulled them close to his chest. His scent, clean and fresh like sun-warmed denim, made my knees go weak.

With his head tilted back, he exclaimed in a mock reverent tone, “Yes! Thank you! Six-thirty on the dot. Be ready. I’m picking you up!”

Laura HowardAbout the author: Laura Howard lives in New Hampshire with her husband and four children. Her obsession with books began at the age of 6 when she got her first library card. Nancy Drew, Sweet Valley High, and other girly novels were routinely devoured in single sittings. Books took a backseat to diapers when she had her first child. It wasn’t until the release of a little novel called Twilight, 8 years later, that she rediscovered her love of fiction. Soon after, her own characters began to make themselves known. The Forgotten Ones is her first published novel.

Find Ms. Howard here: blog, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads

And now for the GIVEAWAY!! Fill out the Rafflecopter form below for your chance to win!

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Happy reading wherever you are and whenever you get a free chance!!!

 

Cover Reveal: Forty Nights by Stephanie Parent (spotlight)

I am pleased to present to you the cover for Forty Nights, the second book in the Neima’s Ark series by Stephanie Parent.

 

Forty-Nights.v2 (2)

 

Forty Nights (Neima’s Ark #2)

written by Stephanie Parent

published by Stephanie Parent

release date September 2013

cover designed by Najla Qamber Designs

 

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About the book – from Goodreads: Neima, her family, and her grandfather Noah have found themselves trapped aboard an ark as a great flood destroys all life in the world. As their time aboard the ark lengthens, food begins to run out, wild animals grow restless, and family tensions become as much of a threat as the flood outside. In the second and final installment of Neima’s Ark, the stakes are higher, the conflicts are greater, and Neima finds herself facing a choice as impossible as the destruction all around her.

Forty Nights is a continuation of the story begun in Forty Days, and it’s recommended that you read Forty Days first for the best experience. Forty Nights does, however, contain a character guide to refresh readers’ memories. The Neima’s Ark series is a historical, feminist reimagining of the story of Noah’s Ark rather than a religiously oriented one, and the novels are best suited for readers who are comfortable with new interpretations of biblical stories.

Cover Reveal Hosted by: YA Bound Book Tours

 

forty daysForty Days (Neima’s Ark #1)
written by Stephanie Parent
published by Stephanie Parent

find it here: Barnes & Noble, Amazon, SmashwordsGoodreads

Forty Days is currently FREE at Barnes & Noble and Smashwords!!!

 

About the book – from Goodreads: The entire village knows Neima’s grandfather is a madman. For years the old man has prophesied that a great flood is coming, a flood disastrous enough to blot out the entire earth. He’s even built an enormous ark that he claims will allow his family to survive the deluge. But no one believes the ravings of a lunatic…

…until the rain starts. And doesn’t stop. Soon sixteen-year-old Neima finds her entire world transformed, her life and those of the people she loves in peril. Trapped on the ark with her grandfather Noah, the rest of her family, and a noisy, filthy, and hungry assortment of wild animals, will Neima find a way to survive?

With lions, tigers, and bears oh my, elephants and flamingos too, along with rivalries and betrayals, a mysterious stowaway, and perhaps even an unexpected romance, Forty Days is not your grandfather’s Noah’s Ark story.

Forty Days is approximately 45000 words, the length of a shorter novel, and is the first installment in a two-part epic story. It does contain a cliffhanger ending.

Readers looking for a traditional, religiously oriented version of the Noah’s Ark story should be warned that Forty Days may not appeal to them. The novel will, however, appeal to lovers of apocalyptic fiction, historical fiction, and romance, as well as anyone who’s ever dreamed of having a baby elephant as a pet.

 

StephanieParentAbout the author: Stephanie Parent is a graduate of the Master of Professional Writing program at USC and attended the Baltimore School for the Arts as a piano major. She moved to Los Angeles because of Francesca Lia Block’s WEETZIE BAT books, which might give you some idea of how much books mean to her. She also loves dogs, books about dogs, and sugary coffee drinks both hot and cold.
Find Ms. Parent here: blog, Goodreads, Twitter

Happy reading wherever you are and whenever you get a free chance!!!

Review: The Sensory Child Gets Organized by Carolyn Dalgliesh

the sensory childThe Sensory Child Gets Organized
written by Carolyn Dalgliesh
published by Touchstone

release date: September 3, 2013

find it here: Barnes & Noble, Amazon, iBooks, Book Depository, Goodreads

Why did I pick this book: I was asked by the publisher to review this book. (I received a copy of this book for review purposes.)

Did I enjoy this book:
I liked the book.  It was a bit wordy, and I felt that Dalgliesh was uncomfortable writing the first few chapters – they covered the basics on various sensory disorders, which are clearly not her area of expertise – but otherwise it was great!

When I’m reading a Special Education book I review it two different ways – once as an Applied Behavior Analysis professional and once as a parent.  As an ABA professional there were a few things that irked me – mainly Dalgliesh’s statement that “sensory kids are aware…that something is ‘different’ about them,”  along with her assumption that ‘sensory kids’ are always verbal.  They’re not – in either situation.  But Dalgliesh makes no claims of being a Special Ed professional, so I’ll give her a pass.

All the way through the book I kept saying to myself, “Um, yeah, duh.”  “Obviously.”  “Well OF COURSE you would do that!  Why wouldn’t you?”  I thought I was being a Special Ed snob, but then I realized something.  Carolyn Dalgliesh is a genius.  She’s taken her organizational skills (which, as someone with OCD, I utterly appreciate), and used them to help parents – the parents of any child – streamline, simplify, and relax their lives.  She focuses on long-term lessons, not specific tasks or behaviors, so by reading this book you’ll end up with an overall strategy for parenting, not one program designed to target one specific behavior.

Dalgliesh conveys the basics of ABA in an informal, friendly tone:  be an objective observer and understand your child rather than trying to fix him.  She’s also figured out that a lot of what we, as Special Education professionals, DO is common sense:  break down problematic tasks into easy steps, get rid of the distractions, and use visual aids.  She calls it the ‘Golden Tool,’ and she’s right.  A Behavior Analyst would tell you the same things, only with more lingo and at $150/hr.

I enjoyed her socially acceptable terminology, especially her use of the word “fascinations” as opposed to stims, self-stimulatory behavior, or obsessions.  I appreciated her checklists (though I’m not sure I needed examples on how to fill them out), and I loved that she told her story without ever once labeling any of the children she used as examples.  Children are children, not labels, and Dalgliesh gets that.

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Would I recommend it: Absolutely.  If you’re the parent of a child with special needs, or even if you’re just dealing with a particularly obstinate little human, The Sensory Child Gets Organized gives concrete, manageable advice for how to organize every room in your house (as well as outings, vacations, and holiday get-togethers) to minimize strife and maximize enjoyment.  You may not need specific examples of all the different types of journals (spiral bound?  Leather?  Online?), but if you’re a parent – regardless of your child’s diagnosis or lack thereof – you need this book.

Will I read it again: I will certainly refer to it for ideas; it’s a treasure-trove!

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About the book – from Goodreads: 
Every year, tens of thousands of young children are diagnosed with disorders that make it difficult for them to absorb the external world. Parents of sensory kids—like those with sensory processing disorder, anxiety disorder, AD/HD, autism, bipolar disorder, and OCD—often feel frustrated and overwhelmed, creating stress in everyday life for the whole family. Now, with The Sensory Child Gets Organized, there’s help and hope.

As a professional organizer and parent of a sensory child, Carolyn Dalgliesh knows firsthand the struggles parents face in trying to bring out the best in their rigid, anxious, or distracted children. She provides simple, effective solutions that help these kids thrive at home and in their day-to-day activities, and in this book you’ll learn how to:

¦ Understand what makes your sensory child tick
¦ Create harmonious spaces through sensory organizing
¦ Use structure and routines to connect with your child
¦ Prepare your child for social and school experiences
¦ Make travel a successful and fun-filled journey

With The Sensory Child Gets Organized, parents get an easy-to-follow road map to success that makes life easier—and more fun—for your entire family.

 

Happy reading wherever you are and whenever you get a free chance!!!

 

Book Blitz: Life, Love, & Lemons by Magan Vernon (spotlight, giveaway)

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Couple lying on a picnic tableLife, Love, & Lemons
written by Magan Vernon
published by Beautifully Broken Books

find it here: Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Goodreads

About the book: When life hands you lemons, sometimes you have to say screw the lemons and bail.

Seventeen-year-old Bentley Evans had it all. Then her Dad got laid off.

Now she has to move across town to a small apartment and leave her life of luxury for public school and a job at the local burger place. Just when her world seems like it’s crumbling she finds solace in the unlikely punk boy next door, Kai Stone. But as their relationship blossoms, a jealous ex-girlfriend and a secret to tell that threatens to bring disaster back into Bentley’s life.

Please enjoy the following excerpt from Life, Love, & Lemons.

From Monday to Friday it was like everything had changed. Instead of walking through the halls alone with my head down, Kai was always by my side. This, of course, led to some very interesting stares and nicknames from people. I think my favorites were Bonnie and Hyde or Sid and Nancy Drew. Anything people could think of to come up with a couple name for the punk kid and the preppy girl. There were others, but the East High kids could get pretty raunchy when they came up with some of these nicknames.

“Do you still want to go watch Grant and Brody’s band play on Saturday?”

It was that lull after I had fourth period gym class and before lunch. I was leaning against my locker, and Kai pressed his palm against the other locker and faced me.

I still wasn’t sure what to think of Grant and Brody. They were nice and all, but I always felt like they were gawking at me like I was some sort of a zoo exhibit.

“I don’t know, maybe.”

The truth was that I already asked my parents about the concert. Mom just rolled her eyes and couldn’t believe that her daughter wanted to go to some crummy warehouse to sweat with a bunch of teenagers, but Dad was a little more interested. Just by asking about the concert hosted a whole slew of questions about the bands and who I was going with. I especially got nervous when he started asking questions about Kai.

“What do you mean maybe?” He asked as he ran his tongue over his lip ring. We still hadn’t kissed. I was pretty adamant about the whole not kissing until he was my boyfriend thing. But I couldn’t deny how much I thought about his lip ring.

“I mean, maybe I’m busy or something.” I twirled a strand of hair around my fingertip.

“What? Are you going out with one of your other boyfriends or something that night?” He leaned in closer. A couple of jocks walked by and yelled some disgusting comment, but I pretended like I didn’t hear them.

“I don’t have any boyfriends at all, so I really wouldn’t be going out with any of them, now would I?” I batted my eyelashes.

“Why don’t you be my girlfriend then?” He traced his free hand down my arm, full-on putting on the charm.

“Maybe,” I answered very quickly, almost too quickly, since he blinked really hard.

“What do you mean, maybe?” He tilted his head to the side and he reached down to grab my hand.

“Ew, get a room.” A very tall girl with fiery red hair and cat’s eye glasses yelled and then walked over to us.

“Teegan, if you think that hand holding is bad, then you really need to get out more,” Kai quipped, quickly looking from me to Teegan.

“Oh, I saw plenty of that with you and Brynne. Remember I’m her band mate,” Teegan snarled and walked closer. “But when it’s with little Miss Sandra Dee, it’s kind of disgusting.” She giggled and headed over to a group of girls a few lockers away. Once I caught sight of the group I immediately saw Brynne’s big green eyes glaring in my direction.

“Do you really want to have to keep dealing with that every day? The weird vampire girls and jocks talking about us? Because that’s what you’re going to get,” I said, looking up at him. My cheeks were still hot after Teegan’s comment and I hoped I didn’t look too embarrassed.

He laced our fingers together. “I wouldn’t be still standing here if I didn’t want to be with you.” He looked from our hands and back down to me. “Now what do you say, will you be my girlfriend?”

“Maybe.” I smiled again.

He started to roll his eyes when I got up on my tippy toes placing my hands on the back of his neck. I slowly pulled him closer as our lips met for the first time. I couldn’t believe how warm and rough his lips were in contrast to the cold and smoothness of his lip ring. Nor could I believe all the people that were cheering as he pulled me closer to fully envelope himself in the kiss. I didn’t want it to end and swear I literally almost melted in his arms when I felt his tongue on my bottom lip.

A large hand thrusted between us, knocking our bodies apart. I got off of my tippy toes and quickly let go of Kai as I turned to see my gym teacher, Mr. Brown, with his large and quite furry hand placed firmly in the middle of me and Kai. He faced Kai with his spit-stained mustache.

“Handshake, Mr. Stone.” He took Kai’s hand from mind and shook it senseless. “Handshake!”

Magan VernonAbout the author: Magan Vernon is a Young Adult and New Adult writer who lives with her family in the insurance capital of the world. She is in a very serious, fake relationship with Adam Lambert and constantly asks her husband to wear guyliner. He still refuses. She also believes her husband is secretly an alien, disguised as a southern gentleman.

Find Ms. Vernon here: web, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads

 

And now for the GIVEAWAY!! Fill out the Rafflecopter form below for your chance to win!

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Happy reading wherever you are and whenever you get a free chance!!!

 

Spotlight: Waiting Fate by W.B. Kinnette (giveaway)

WaitingFate_500x750Waiting Fate
written by W.B. Kinnette
published by Astraea Press

find it here: Amazon, SmashwordsGoodreads

About the book: Sometimes Fate hides in plain sight while you stumble through darkness.

Ivy escapes from an abusive husband, finding peace with her daughter in her childhood home. She’s determined to keep her past a secret to protect those she loves.

Archer has been in love with the same girl since seventh grade. When Ivy comes back into his life—bruised, broken, and haunted by secrets—he knows he can’t lose her again.

But Ivy made a promise to her daughter. No one would hurt them again. She’s afraid to trust, afraid to be wrong again, and afraid that the one man she’s loved forever will break her heart.

Fate might take its time, but it won’t wait forever.

 

About the author: W.B. Kinnette was born and raised in Utah, the baby of the family and spoiled rotten. She lived briefly in Texas and Alaska before coming back to raise her family only a few miles from her childhood home. She’s loved writing since she was small, because daydreams demand to be written down. She believes that dreams must be chased, if only so she can tell her children honestly that dreams do come true if you work hard enough – and never give up!

Find Ms. Kinnette here: webFacebook, Twitter, Goodreads

 

And now for the GIVEAWAY!! Fill out the Rafflecopter form below for your chance to win!

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Happy reading wherever you are and whenever you get a free chance!!!

 

Book Blitz: Expected by Sarah England (spotlight, excerpt)

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Expected CoverExpected
written by Sarah England
published by Crooked Cat Publishing

find it here: Barnes & Noble, Amazon, iBooks, Smashwords, Book Depository, Goodreads

About the book: Red Alert.

Sam Sweet is terrified of giving birth.

Only, she doesn’t dare tell anyone. Especially her grandchild-obsessed mother, or her fiancé, Simon – top surgeon by day, mind-game expert by night.

Repressed by the expectations of others, Sam feels trapped. All she ever wanted was a career and a crack at independence, but as a catastrophically failed psychiatric nurse who now injects fillers into the crinkled faces of unhappy women, a career is proving tricky. There’s something wrong with the product and now clients are suing.

Nasty work colleagues stir up scandalous gossip, and soon Sam hits rock bottom, consoling herself with button-popping chocolate binges and terrifying spending sprees.

Sam is going to have to find her voice if she ever wants to be herself, fall in love, and follow her dreams.

Alas, the wedding date is set…

Please enjoy the following excerpt from Expected.

I have a needle stuck in Mrs. Devine’s face.

“Is it working, Sam?” she asks.

“Oh, um, definitely. Yes.”

Truthfully? Nothing is coming out of the syringe, and the harder I press the plunger the more my hand shakes and the needle bends. This is what is going to happen next—the needle snaps off before speeding along the venous highway like a tiny dart toward Mrs. Devine’s heart. Either that, or the whole thing suddenly gives way, and I rip a hole through her head. Sweat surfaces all over my body. I must have the flu or a nasty virus. Might even faint while still holding a syringe with a client attached to it.

Damn. Cellafiller is supposed to be the best thing since Collagen, but really, it’s nearly impossible to squeeze this stuff out, let alone artfully sculpt it beneath tissue-thin skin. I don’t remember it being so difficult during training, but now I’m on my own, well . . . let’s just say it isn’t a happy situation being in a back-street beauty salon with a bunch of women expecting great things.

Mrs. Devine, my model, and something big in local amateur dramatics, is lying on the clinic couch in full make-up, coral lips stretched into her performance smile as I try in vain to fill the ravine between her eyebrows. She doesn’t have a frown line through her glabella muscle so much as a grand canyon.

The small crowd of potential customers straining for a glimpse of this miraculous demonstration is visibly shrinking back. You can almost hear the hissing recoil. I don’t need to glance up to see the sharp downturn of glossed lips and the widening of black-rimmed eyes. Mrs. Devine’s grand canyon is oozing fresh blood. I’ve got the needle fully inserted now, retracting the syringe oh-so-slowly the way I’ve been taught, while my furiously vibrating thumb tries in vain to inject treacle-thick product. Should have taken minutes, and then ta-da! But the harder the plunger is depressed, the more blood oozes out, lying darkly now in a swelling puddle of glistening, ruby red.

Hot nausea tides over me. I feel terrible, by the way, just in case you’re wondering; this poor woman had a long, squiggly frown line, and now she’s got what looks like a botched lobotomy. All eyes focus on my trembling hands as I withdraw the syringe, mop up the debris, and declare the job done. I’ve seen less blood-soaked gauze following open-heart surgery.

“There we are,” I trill, as lightly as if I just served up a plate of lasagna. “And in a couple of days, the line will be gone.”

Ignoring the horrified faces, particularly mine in the mirror opposite—so white against my red hair I look like Elizabeth the First after a nasty shock—I snap off my latex gloves, and return to its box the still full syringe with its severely weakened, bent needle. I cannot look at Mrs. Devine as she hops off the couch with blood pouring from her head. To be honest, I could cry. Mrs. Devine owns the clinic and had it gone well, there would have been a list of new clients for our new product. Instead, it’s a major screw-up. Another one. In time, she will have a scar, and that will no doubt take her mind off the ravine. But long before that, there will be that call—the one about having spoken to her lawyer.

***

My name is Sam Sweet, and I’m in total control; just because every decision I have never made was made by someone else does not mean I am not in control of my life now. Of course I am. Oh, God. Look, I’m doing my best. What else could I have done back there? Oh, God.

 

S. E. England Author PictureAbout the author: Sarah originally trained as a nurse in Sheffield (UK) and then went on to work as a medical representative for nearly 20 years, specialising in mental health.

She had always wanted to write fiction, but did not begin until around 8 years ago, prompted by a house move and relocation to the South coast. Since then she has had around 140 short stories published, mostly in national magazines and various anthologies; and most recently a 3 part detective serial in Woman’s Weekly.

3 am and Wide Awake was released in May 2013 by Alife Dog Fiction – a collection of 25 thrillers, many supernatural or medically based – two of her predominant themes.

Expected is Sarah’s first novel – a comedy launched by Crooked Cat Publishing on June 28, 2013. She lives in Dorset with her husband, Don, and spaniel, Harry.

Find Ms. England here: web, blog, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads

 

 

 

Happy reading wherever you are and whenever you get a free chance!!!

 

Blog Tour: Wings of Nestor by Devri Walls (review, giveaway)

NestorWings of Nestor (Solus #3)
written by Devri Walls
published by StoneHouse Ink

find it here: Barnes & Noble, Amazon, iBooksGoodreads

Why did I pick this book: I participated in the blog tour hosted by Xpresso Book Tours. (I received a copy of this book for review purposes.)

Did I enjoy this book:
Yes.  Double Yes.  All the Yes*.  I allowed my son to pull out an entire box of tissues – the LAST box in the house – because I needed to finish the last ten pages, and waiting until his bedtime just wasn’t an option.  For some reason I was under the impression that Wings of Nestor was the last book in the Solus series, but when I got to the end I realized – happily – that I was wrong.

Walls has done it again.  I’m hooked.  Wings of Nestor is absolutely enthralling.  The characters grow, change, and continue to surprise.  It appears that Alcander is winning the “Who Does Kiora Love” contest for the moment, and I still dig their dynamic.  But friends – after watching and listening to Emane over this last book … well … I hesitate to say it, but I’m thinking I may have ordered my Team Alcander shirt too quickly.  Relegating Emane to the friend zone brings out some particularly awesome bits of Emane-ness – even if he is a Witow.

It wasn’t just Emane, either.  Kiora’s visit to Toopai made me tear up a little (even though I still giggled at the name).  And then there’s Alcander’s Uncle.  And Jasmine.  And Ky.  Oh, Ky.  You’ll have to read it.  I can’t spoil it for you.  You’re going to weep (well, you’re at least going to sniffle).  When you get to the end, you’re going to rage.  Then, after the longest five seconds of your life, you’ll realize there’s no way Walls can possibly leave things the way they are – at least not without ten thousand angry fan e-mails – and you’ll sigh in relief.  There’s going to be more, and it’s going to be epic.

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Would I recommend it: *see above.

Will I read it again: I’m not sure my heart can take it, but I’m anxiously awaiting the next installment, Wings of Lomay, which I’d be happy to review :::nudge nudge, wink wink:::
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About the book:
Kiora needs answers. Who is the Shadow? Who is Jasmine? Are they connected? And even more pressing: how can she stop Shadow from using Kiora’s dreams as a map to find them? They have escaped three times, but are living on borrowed time—and everybody knows it.

Her search for help will push her closer to Alcander, send her to the dragon mountain of Toopai, and straight back to Meros—where magic will finally return to the land of no magic. Answers will be uncovered and plans unearthed that have been waiting for thousands of years.

But with the Shadow’s forces gathering, it looks like the land’s path is hurtling towards one outcome: war with the Shadow and death to all rebels. Armed with knowledge and hope, Kiora is determined to change that path. But will fate allow it? Or will it deal her a hard lesson about following ones own destiny?

Wings of ArianWings of Arian (Solus #1)
written by Devri Walls
published by StoneHouse Ink

find it here: Barnes & Noble, Amazon, iBooks, Goodreads


About the book – from Goodreads:
Kiora thought she had never heard a lie until she was sixteen. But she was wrong. Her entire existence was based on nothing but. She thought that evil did not exist. Lie. That magic was not real. Lie. And that the land of Meros was all there was. One more lie.

With Aleric telling her that evil is knocking on the door and that she is the only one who can stop them she has a choice to make. Refuse, or start the wildest most painful ride of her life.
She reluctantly dips her toe into her new existence of magic and threads, dragons and shapeshifters, and the person who wants to take control of it all: the evil Dralazar.

However, this journey was never meant to be hers alone. She will be accompanied by a Protector. To her disbelief, and utter irritation they name the hotheaded, stubborn, non -magical, (albeit gorgeous) Prince Emane. They will have to trust each other with their lives, but right now Kiora would settle for a non hostile conversation.

And now it comes down to this, If you had never heard a lie, would you know when you heard one? Is knowing good from evil innate? Kiora finds herself having to decide who lives and who dies on those very questions.

Wings of TaveaWings of Tavea (Solus #2)
written by Devri Walls
published by StoneHouse Ink

find it here: Barnes & Noble, Amazon, iBooks, Goodreads

About the book – from Goodreads: Kiora is rapidly learning that evil and lies come in shades of black and white and swirling greys, but nothing could have prepared her for the shock of leaving Meros.
Kiora and her protector Emane step through the pass into a world they never knew existed but were always meant to save, only to find it far worse than they could have ever imagined. Good has been forced into hiding for its own survival, while the rest of the land bows to the Shadow, a force that pushes any remaining thoughts of Dralazar from Kiora’s mind. This land is full of new creatures, each more dangerous than the last. Her visions have taken on a deadly twist, and magic, or what comes of it, was never so real. And then there is Alcander: a Tavean, their guide, and an entirely different kind of trouble.

 

wingsoflomay finalWings of Lomay (Solus #4)
written by Devri Walls
published by StoneHouse Ink
find it here: Goodreads

About the book – from Goodreads: In defense of the small remaining group of rebels, Kiora has to cross lines she never thought she would, making her redefine not only herself, but what’s right and wrong. Outnumbered and out of time, Kiora turns to the only two groups that could help; the Shifters and the Dragons. But will either of them come to their aid?

As they prepare for a war against the evil army, Kiora must lead the rebels and find the strength within herself to defeat Jasmine.

Kiora’s the Solace. She’s their only hope.

devri walls

About the author: Devri Walls lives in Kuna Idaho with her husband and two kids. She has worked as a music teacher and currently, a preschool teacher. She majored in theater and her love of a story still drives her today. Thankfully, she has finally found an outlet for all the voices in her head. Her first novel, Wings of Arian, is available on Amazon, Barnes and Nobles and Apple. The second book in the Solus trilogy, Wings of Tavea is scheduled for release Nov 2012.

Find Ms. Walls here: web, Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter

And now for the GIVEAWAY!! Fill out the Rafflecopter form below for your chance to win!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
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Happy reading wherever you are and whenever you get a free chance!!!

 

Blog Tour: Helga: Out of Hedgelands by Rick Johnson (spotlight, excerpt, guest post, giveaway)

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Tour Schedule

 

helga updatedHelga: Out of Hedgelands
written by Rick Johnson
published by Rick Johnson


Find it here: Amazon, Goodreads



About the book: Twelve-year-old Helga has more danger in her life than most beasts her age—Wrackshee slavers after her, a vicious attack by bandits that nearly kills her, a race against dragons pursuing her, and leading a daring rebellion to save her life and rescue friends and family from the insidious WooZan. And that is just the beginning. But what do you expect when you are a young beast who just can’t see the stupid rules of the world making any sense? Helga can’t accept things as they are and ends up taking on not just one, but two all-powerful, supreme tyrants in two different realms.

Helga never intended to lead a revolution. It just sort of happened because she wouldn’t go along with the “rules of normal” that keep tyrants in power and entire societies enslaved. Beginning on a dangerous quest to solve some mysteries in her own past, Helga leads her quirky comrades on a journey that will not only forever change them, but upset ancient civilizations.

As an author, I’m drawn to eccentric, unexpected characters: those who surprise because they hear a distant galaxy, see a different music, create their own fragrance rather than get hooked on a soundtrack; the child who has her own ideas about how the emperor is dressed; the lunatics and rebels who tell stories on the boundaries. Helga’s unusual story will take readers to worlds they never imagined—definitely a whole new ride.

Time and again, the unconventional heroine and her eccentric comrades overcome ominous tyrants and black-hearted slavers, not by battling to the last beast standing, but by being the first beast to think differently.

Helga: Out of Hedgelands is divided into three books which introduce the epic saga of the Wood Cow clan and their role in overturning centuries of slavery and tyranny. This story will continue in additional volumes of the Wood Cow Chronicles now in development. Over the series of current and future volumes, the entire history of the Wood Cow clan, the fall of Maev Astuté, and the coming of Lord Farseeker to the Outer Rings, will be told.

Book Trailer

 

Please enjoy the following excerpt from Helga: Out of Hedgelands.

The key to a successful run of the dragons to the Hedgelands was speed. Once the monitor caravan was loaded and the monitors were fully awake again, the monitor train had to make the passage between Norder Crossings and the Hedgelands before the monitors grew ravenously hungry again. A skilled Dragon Boss knew precisely how to make the run to the Hedgelands with great speed. Mudpot was the best of them all. Stuff the monitors with shark, load while they dozed, then as they began to stir, set a swift—and tasty-smelling—runner at the front of the caravan. For the runners it was a chance to escape the fate of the slave works at Tilk Duraow. As the runner ran for life and freedom, the monitors raced after the scent of their next meal. The faster the runner, the faster the caravan traveled. If the runner was fast and strong enough to endure the grueling race, he or she might stay just ahead of the monitors all the way to the slave works and win freedom. Runners that faltered or stumbled became an impromptu snack for the monitors. A Dragon Boss wanted the fastest, strongest runner possible. A failed runner meant delay and other problems as the lead monitors snacked, and then turned sluggishly sleepy—while the rest grew dangerously restive. The delay could be even longer if replacement runners turned to “shakes and gibbers”—quivering piles of terrorized flesh unable to stand, let alone run. When “shakes and gibbers” struck it could hold up a Dragon Train for days while new runners were brought from Norder Crossings.

Every Free Chance Book Reviews is pleased to welcome Rick Johnson, author of Helga: Out of Hedgelands, to the blog today. I had a few questions for Mr. Johnson that he has graciously answered.

Why are you drawn to characters that are, as you describe, eccentric and unexpected? What makes these characters eccentric or unexpected?

I am drawn to strong, eccentric characters, both because the unexpected tends to be entertaining, and because the unexpected invites us to “play with possibilities” in ways that the normal and predictable do not.

“Common sense is that collection of prejudices acquired by age eighteen” (quote commonly attributed to, but probably not actually from, Albert Einstein). This quote, regardless of who said it, offers an elegantly simple description of “common sense” —the customs, habits of thought, and cultural parameters that we learn to be so “obvious” that we do not question them. These limits of thought and perception typically set the boundaries of what we believe to be good, possible, true, lovely, beautiful, and believable.

In most cases, throughout human history, progress has been possible—indeed, empowered by, the capacity to imagine worlds beyond what most people considered normal, natural, or consistent with common sense. At some point, “common sense” became “nonsense” because some one began to think beyond what, previously, had been obviously true.

Fantasy, especially children’s fantasy, including the idea that cows should, indeed, be allowed to talk—and think—perhaps encourages us to wonder about many other creatures, people, and dimensions of thought that “common sense” keeps us from hearing and seeing. Possibly, we may even discover that there are cows within ourselves waiting to speak.

How many once-certain “impossibilities” are now so commonplace as to have entered our “common sense” understanding of reality? At some point, supple minds played wildly with what was essentially fantasy, and used creative efforts at sense-making to redefine what was possible. This is the power of imaginative sense-making. We discourage this power, or bind it hand-to-foot in the closed world of prejudices and iron-clad assumptions, at our own peril. It is for that reason that I’m drawn to those who think differently, who don’t get hooked on a soundtrack; the child who has her own ideas about how the emperor is dressed; the lunatics and rebels who tell stories on the boundaries.

The unexpected and eccentric often also add humor to a story. Humor is a natural relative of fantasy, and close collaborator. The sense of humor and need to play that are part of human nature are engaged when a story playfully sets up situations that strike us as absurd or unexpected. In this way, humor, like fantasy, encourages flexibility of mind. As we set up situations that are incongruous in light of the “givens” in our experience, we both laugh and have the opportunity to see things in fresh perspective.

Essentially, humor is a matter of how we look, and re-look, at things we normally take for granted. When something we “know” is shown from an absurd angle, we often find it funny. In my own writing, I use humor to poke holes in the expectations cultures create to “keep things in their place.” Many of the characters I create do not fit easily into stereotypes. Even those who may not be counted as eccentric, often bring something unexpected to the story.

As an example of what makes my characters unexpected, let’s look at Helga, herself. I suspect that Helga is probably the first cow to lead a heroic quest. I did this consciously to offer a possibility to think beyond the boxes to which genres sometimes fall prey. Cows, in our common sense understanding of the world, and in contemporary storytelling, stereotypically, are seen as stupid creatures, with no real capacities or use beyond grazing and being eaten. Common sense tells us that they could not possibly be the heroine of an epic adventure. Cows also are seen purely as herd animals, simply blindly following the herd. In my novel, the Wood Cows, and Helga, in particular, are actually the ones who depart from the herd mentality. Helga has the practical skills of a young apprentice carpenter, which, from a common sense view of things, is an unlikely choice. It is also true that in my novels, the characters are not all good, or all bad, simply by virtue of their clan, nation, or background. It is the individual qualities that make my characters heroes or villains, not who they are by background.

The point of all this is simply to try to tell a story that is enjoyable and takes storytelling beyond the boxes that sometimes limit our possibilities. All of the problems that haunt us today were created by people with a passionate desire to live in the world as they know it to be. In such a world, some laughter and fantasy, different from what we expect, may help us be a little less certain about what we know to be impossible.

What is like to write a story with the help of your entire family?

Storytelling, and reading stories together, has been a strong feature of our family for a long time. When our children were younger, we used to (figuratively) sit around the campfire in our living room, listening to stories, reading novels aloud, or telling stories. It is from that family culture, where reading and telling stories have a central role, that the family involvement in my writing comes. We just all genuinely like interesting and entertaining stories and that encouragement provides a great testing ground for new storylines, characters, etc.

Both my wife and daughter have also been professional editors on children’s stories and educational materials, so I get a lot of wise advice also—although, I must confess that I sometimes don’t listen as well as I should, so my errors are my own!

How do you set out to right a story like this? What is your research process?

First, regarding my research process: I am fortunate to have a native love for reading and grew up in a family that encouraged reading. I was the weird kind of kid who read everything in sight during his spare time, even encyclopedias! Throughout my life, I have read widely in history, literature, cultural studies, science, and other areas, so I have a pretty fertile internal inventory of information upon which to draw as I write. I continue to read constantly down to the present. My stories also are inspired by the people and environments I observe and experience.

In terms of how I set out to write a story like Helga, I’ll tell you a brief story. Some dozen years ago or so I was in a used bookseller’s shop on Chicago’s South Side, or perhaps it was along the Main Line to Bryn Mawr at some stop—I don’t recall which at this point, I spent so much time in old bookshops in those days. In any case, it was a dusty, cluttered shop filled with old books and manuscripts, just the sort of place to make me eager for browsing. I like looking into lost shelves, odd piles, and long-ignored boxes of papers.

On this fortuitous occasion, I chanced across a pile of oversize folios, which, as I glanced through them were found to be of no great interest in themselves. One of these, however, contained a single manuscript sheet, seemingly unrelated to everything else, which was apparently stuck between pages almost as a bookmark. It was this curious manuscript that was to initiate my research into the history of the Wood Cows (Woode Cowes, as the old manuscripts have it), a clan of bygone times, who had such profound significance for their age, that, were they of our scientific times, geological eras or such might well be named for their remembrance.

The researches generated by this singular discovery have now passed over more than a decade and led me through countless ancient archives and old booksellers. As the earliest fruit of this research, Helga: Out of Hedgelands was published as the first volume in the reconstruction of the ancient history of the Wood Cows. In coming years, the Wood Cow Chronicles will expand as more of my research brings the entire astonishing story of the Wood Cows to modern readers.

Possibly (probably) by now you have realized that the account I have just given is a bit tongue-in-cheek. The story of how the Wood Cow Chronicles came about is not quite as I say above, although it does have much to do with wandering through bookstores. Let me explain.

Essentially, for most of our lives, we exist in boxes. We are cut off from reality outside the box. Typically, children are as much at home in the non-physical and imaginative dimensions of reality as they are in the physical and practical dimensions. As we grow up, a “reducing lens” is attached to us by our culture that, in most cases, steadily reduces the amount of non-physical and imaginative input we can accept into our perception of the world around us. The valve is so effective that, but the time we are adults the input of non-physical and imaginative input to our perception of reality may be down to a trickle. We essentially have learned to see the world as if we were locked in a box, out of which we peer through the “reducing lens.”

My experience is that we can’t make sense of the world around us without stepping beyond the boxes we are taught to inhabit. One cannot find the meaning of life with only one lens to look through. One cannot cope with the immense complexity of modern society with only a few voices in the conversation.

I began this by telling a fictional tale of wandering through bookstores and finding ancient manuscripts about the Wood Cows. The kernel of truth in that tale is that, for me, bookstores—especially those that are disorganized, jumbled, and filled with practically even type of old and new book available—are a place where worlds mix, a metaphor for stepping beyond the box. In such a bookstore, the array of views contained in the messy piles provide a metaphor for the sort of sense-making we are called to do in a messy, complex, marvelously diverse world. No set of purely physical, practical, dollars & cents, assumptions will serve us in such a world. We also need the non-physical, imaginative, and humane elements that tend to push us out of our boxes.

In the end, for me, it takes more of a leap of faith to believe that our current society of “boxes” is healthy and serves us well, than to imagine that cows can think and talk.


About the author: I am a native of the Great Plains, having grown up on a farm in the Platte River Valley of western Nebraska. I love the wild beauty of the Plains and nearby Rocky Mountains–the too hot, too cold, too empty, too full of life extremes. Typically, the awesomely diverse and the awesomely stark are much the same, even as they are different. Although I have lived in Michigan, North Carolina, and British Columbia, the western plains, mountains, and desert are in my heart.

As my day job, for over thirty years I have been a faculty member and administrator in higher education. Teaching broadly in the liberal arts, including creative writing, my professional publications include educational materials, poems, and 28 stories for young readers. During my spare hours, I have also collected and carefully studied the records of former times upon which the Wood Cow Chronicles are based. It is my privilege to bring this astonishing saga to light.

The Wood Cow Chronicles have been researched and written with the irreplaceable assistance of Barbara, my beloved wife of more than thirty-five years, and our children. Indeed, the essential research into the history of the Wood Cows has been conducted during the odd hours of family reading and storytelling “around the campfire” as we say–even when there is no campfire! This research continues and grows richer as our family expands across generations and continents.

Find Mr. Johnson here: Website, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Goodreads

And now for the Blog Tour Giveaway! Enter for your chance to win a $25 Amazon Gift Card or PayPal Cash!

(Ends September 3, 2013)

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Happy reading wherever your are and whenever you get a free chance!

Cover Reveal: Speak Low by Melanie Harlow (spotlight, giveaway)

Welcome! I am pleased to take part in the cover reveal for Melanie Harlow’s new book, Speak Low, the second book in the Speak Easy series. Speak Low will be released on November 4, 2013. Be sure to read Speak Easy first. You can read my review here.

 

Speal Low Cover

 

Speak Low (Speak Easy #2)

written by Melanie Harlow

published by Melanie Harlow

cover designed by Tom Barnes

 

About the book: We always want what we can’t have.

Tiny O’Mara is tired of living in a world where men make all the rules. After bootlegging enough whiskey to free her father from the DiFiore crime family, twenty-year old Tiny is determined to gain her independence.

But it’s going to cost her.

Her alliance with sultry Enzo DiFiore is based more on their explosive chemistry than loyalty or trust. But she’s promised him some information that will help him take revenge on The River Gang, and when he offers her a job, an apartment, and the prospect of nights spent together where anything goes, she can’t refuse—which only puts her further in his debt.

She needs gorgeous childhood pal Joey Lupo to help her again—when they’re not at each other’s throats, they make a good team, and her attraction for him is becoming impossible to deny. But after she rejects his offer to leave town together, he’s tempted to let her fend for herself.

As Enzo’s need for possession and power escalate and her feelings for Joey deepen, Tiny realizes her mistakes. She just hopes she gets the chance to fix them before it’s too late.

 

Author, MelanieHarlowAbout the author: Melanie Harlow likes her martinis dry, her lipstick red, and her history with the naughty bits left in. Speak Easy was inspired by her cocktail culture obsession, her affection for good gin, and the view from the end of her street. She lifts her glass to NA readers and writers from her home near Detroit, MI.

Find Ms. Harlow here: web, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads

And now for the GIVEAWAY!! Fill out the Rafflecopter form below for your chance to win a $25 Amazon gift card.

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Happy reading wherever you are and whenever you get a free chance!!!

Blog Tour: The Exemeus by Folami and Abeni Morris (spotlight, giveaway)

The Exemeus CoverThe Exemeus
written by Folami and Abeni Morris
published by Royal Colours Ink

find it here: Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Book Depository, Goodreads


About the book:
Her short life was devoted to love and to hate. Love of the man who stole her heart, hate for the man who stole the world. Murdered by the government she swore to destroy, she’s been given another chance to make it right. But to save the planet, she needs the help of the most powerful mystic the world has ever seen—unfortunately he hasn’t been born yet.

In a world where fear is the only currency, Dephon has committed the ultimate crime: inspiring hope.

His only goal is to make it safely through ninth grade, but on a post-apocalyptic Earth run by the Treptonian government, it isn’t that simple. Heir to a legendary power, Dephon Johnson is the only threat to the government’s rule. And on Trepton, all threats must be eliminated. When hundreds of assassins are dispatched to neutralize him, Dephon is forced to fight back. His only chance of survival is to enlist the aid of the greatest warrior the world has ever known. The only problem is, she’s been dead for 13 years.

 

theexemeustourbutton

Make sure to check out The Exemeus Scavenger Hunt, where you can win a Kindle Fire or $150!  The first stop is at My Guilty Obsession, where you can get the first clues on this incredible journey for an amazing prize!  The Scavenger Hunt starts on Monday, August 26th and runs through Friday, August 30th.  Chances to win are through midnight on September 1st.  Buy your copy of The Exemeus today, if you haven’t already!

 

About the authors: Folami and Abeni Morris are a sister-sister writing team. Together they wrote (and rewrote) The Exemeus, somehow managing to accomplish it without murdering one another. Despite their facial similarities, tendency to finish each other’s thoughts and stick up for each other constantly, no, they’re not twins and thus deserve their own individual bio.

Folami grew up in the tiny city of San Mateo Ca, where nothing ever happens and no one ever leaves. She went to Xavier University for undergraduate, getting her B.A in physics and her B.S in Biology. After graduation she returned to California, to live in an even smaller city, where even less happens, Antioch Ca. During this time she escaped the monotony by hanging out with her imaginary friends Hyalee and Dephon, and by writing the Exemeus. She finally escaped to Queens NY and now realizes that quiet and tiny aren’t so bad.

As luck (and logic) would have it, Abeni grew up in the same tiny little town as her sister, then she too escaped to the tinier town of Antioch. She has yet to leave. She received her bachelor’s degree in early childhood development from Cal State East Bay. She is the mom of two amazing kids, who swear that they deserve a percentage of the book proceeds and a ton of the credit. At least she raised dreamers.

Find Folami and Abeni Morris here: web, blog, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads (Folami), Goodreads (Abeni)

 

And now for the GIVEAWAY!! Fill out the Rafflecopter form below for your chance to win some awesome prizes!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Happy reading wherever you are and whenever you get a free chance!!!