Archives for October 2013

Review: The Contaminants by Devin K. Smyth

the contaminantsThe Contaminants
written by Devin K. Smyth
published by Devin K. Smyth

find it here: (affiliate links) AmazonGoodreads

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

Did I enjoy this book:
The story intrigued me – I was excited to read about Smyth’s scientific twist on a post-apocalyptic Earth. Plus, super-fast genetic enhancements sounded awesome!  And, you know, the story itself was good.  I finished reading this book because it was a cool story.

The rest of the book, though, wasn’t quite as cool.  The grammar and syntax were passable, but for a novel narrated by two teenagers I thought there was a distinct lack of, well, angst.  Maybe Smyth was trying to convey the characters’ sense of hopelessness – goodness knows it would be hard to be cheery when Earth’s been blown up and you’re trapped on a spaceship that’s running out of food.  But, well, I like to get emotionally invested in characters, and I just didn’t this time.  I didn’t feel like any of the characters really liked each other all that much, either.  I mean, I guess I expected a few more tears, a few more hugs, a few more… well, let’s just say that if I discovered my father whom I thought was dead alive and standing in front of me, I’d probably at least give him a hug.

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Would I recommend it: If you’re a plot-person rather than a character-person, you’ll probably enjoy it.

Will I read it again: Nope.

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About the book – from Goodreads:
When America attempts to “purify” earth to maintain its own dominance, it sparks a worldwide nuclear holocaust. Teen friends Jessil and Soraj are among the few survivors. They escaped on a cruiser that now orbits the planet and is designed to help regenerate the earth’s ecosystem. Soraj’s father leads the regeneration process and is hopeful that he can salvage a region in North America for the cruiser’s return.

But when Jessil discovers a message indicating her own father may have survived the holocaust back on earth, she’s determined to rescue him immediately with Soraj’s aid. Can they succeed even though the planet they return to is very different from the one they left—and that their success could mean failure for the regeneration process?

 

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Spotlight: The Ravens of Solemano by Eden Unger Bowditch (interview, giveaway)

Ravens of Solemano Cover Received from Steve Parke 031813 at 1317The Ravens of Solemano
written by Eden Unger Bowditch
published by Bancroft Press

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble, Amazon, iBooks, Book Depository, Goodreads

About the book – from Goodreads: It has been mere days since the brilliant children of the Young Inventors Guild escaped from the clutches of the horrible Komar Romak.

They’ve escaped with their lovely and caring schoolteacher, Miss Brett; with their long-absent parents; and with their bizarre captors, protectors, or both–the mysterious men in black. And now they travel by train, destined for parts unknown.

But a note torn from the hand of a dead man in a New York tunnel guarantees that safety is an illusion. When the children’s world is blown apart, life will never be the same again.

Soon, the children–Jasper and little Lucy Modest, from London, England; Wallace Banneker, from New York, United States; Noah Canto-Sagas, from Toronto, Canada; and Faye Vigyanveta, from Delhi, India–find themselves in the ancient Italian village of Solemano, deep in a mystery that spans centuries. As they inch toward the truth of the men in black and the secrets they keep, one terrible fact remains:

Komar Romak is still out there. He’s still after them, for reasons they can’t even begin to imagine.

And he knows exactly where they are . . .

From the rolling plains of America to the wide-open waters of the Atlantic, through the Strait of Gibraltar to a remarkable village in the hills of Abruzzo, Italy, The Ravens of Solemano or The Order of the Mysterious Men in Black, the second book of Eden Unger Bowditch’s Young Inventors Guild trilogy, is an adventure like no other, as the children draw ever closer to the answers to the mysteries that surround them.

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Please tell us in one sentence only, why we should read your book. If you like mystery, history, and strange magic that is real, I think this is the story for you.

Where did you get your inspiration for The Ravens of Solemano? I was in Italy and I found a strange newspaper 1903 article from the New York Times archives that was like a door opening into the entire story. I knew The Atomic Weight of Secrets (book 1) and book 3, but was struggling with the path through book 2. That was the moment and the place. it all fell together.

You have lived and attended school in many different places. How has that experience influenced your writing? Definitely. The kids in the book are from all over. They, too, know about being displaced and, too, about the wonders of travel.

Any other books in the works? Goals for future projects? Book 3 is in progress right now. I am really excited since it brings everything that I’ve had to keep hidden into the light.

You have also had many different jobs—from welder to journalist to musician and more. What has been your favorite job? What was your least favorite job? Well, as a welder I did art and that was great. I loved turning steel into liquid! Talk about science! I loved being a musician and touring and making records, but the hours and hours in the van—with a baby in tow—was grueling at times. But, to be honest, I’ve loved almost every job I’ve had. It is so important to love what job you do since most of your life you’re doing it!

What is your favorite genre to read? I LOVE to read YA lit since it is such a challenge to write, I know it is some of the best stuff out there. I am a sucker for good mysteries and crime stories, too, especially historic mysteries.

Who is your favorite author? Ugh!!! So many!! I love Kurt Vonnegut, Jasper Fforde, Michael Jecks, Rick Riordan, Christopher Fowler, J K Rowling, and so many more!!!

In your opinion, what is one book that everyone should read? For writers and serious readers, I’d say Wolfgang Iser’s book, The Act of Reading. For lovers of YA lit, Rick Riordan’s Lightning Thief series. For people looking to read something utterly different than anything they’ve ever read, and who have already read Vonnegut, Jasper Fforde’s The Eyre Affair.

Tell us three things about yourself that cannot be found on the internet…at least not found easily. I have climbed Mt. Sinai in the Egyptian desert; I used to tag along with my husband when he was a serious skater and kick around on a skateboard, very badly; and I have a dog who can pee standing on her front two legs.

Eden-in-Desert-071910About the author: Eden Unger Bowditch created the Young Inventors Guild series, inspired by her son’s disappointment in the impossibility of the magic found in young adult novels. She wanted to tell a story about science—the kind of magic that’s all around, and the kind people can actually do. Growing up in Chicago, Eden later lived both in Los Angeles, Paris, Baltimore, and in Egypt with her husband and three children. She is the author of several nonfiction books about her longtime hometown, Baltimore, and has been a journalist, a welder, an editor, and musician.

Find Ms. Unger here: webFacebook, Twitter, Goodreads

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Spotlight: Seven From Haven by Daniel Grotta (excerpt)

seven from haven coverSeven From Haven
written by Daniel Grotta
published by Pixel Hall Press

 
find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble, Amazon, iBooks, Book Depository, Goodreads

 
About the book – from Goodreads: Seven gentle ghost stories with O’Henry-like sensibility, charm and humor.

Set in a small Pennsylvania mountain village, where strange and wondrous things happen, Seven from Haven are quirky, fantastical short stories which prove what they say about this town: ”Haven takes care of its own.”

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Read a Free Excerpt from Seven From Haven: Mr. Eastman’s Empathy, a short story about a man who vows to fight Death itself, using the one weapon at his disposal: his empathy.

 

Daniel Grotta headshot for printAbout the author:Daniel Grotta has worn just about every hat in publishing, including investigative journalist, war correspondent, syndicated columnist, editor and so forth. His thousands of articles, reviews and columns have appeared in major magazines, newspapers and online journals. He has also authored several books, including J.R.R. Tolkien: Architect of Middle Earth, the renowned first biography of the creator of The Lord of the Rings. Among his many accolades and awards is one that stands apart from the rest: His writings were, at one point, the most requested to be recorded as audio files by Reading for the Blind in Philadelphia, because of the visual clarity and beauty of his prose. A member of the National Book Critics Circle, the Overseas Press Club, Science Fiction Writers of America, the Authors Guild and the American Society of Journalists & Authors, Daniel Grotta is a frequent speaker at conferences and other events on writing and publishing. He also welcomes invitations to participate in discussions with book clubs (occasionally in person, more often via Skype, Google Hangout or phone), and to do occasional readings.

Find Mr. Grotta here: web, Goodreads

 

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Book Blast: arbitrate by Megan Thomason (spotlight, excerpt, giveaway)

arbitratearbitrate (daynight #2)
written by Megan Thomason
published by Megan Thomason

find it here: (affiliate links) Amazon, Goodreads

About the book: It’s one year later. And everything has changed.

Remember The Second Chance Institute (SCI). Earth’s benevolent non-profit by day, Thera’s totalitarian regime by night. They’ve stepped up their game on Earth and on Thera—infiltrating political parties, preying on the downtrodden, and planning offensive maneuvers. And they’re handing out more “second chances” than ever before. The SCI’s abuse of their charter leads to Arbiter oversight and bitter consequences.

Remember Kira Donovan. Broken, burdened, and evading those who wish her harm, Kira enlists the Arbiters’ help when forced to return to the clutches of the SCI and her angry, estranged love.

Remember Blake Sundry. Exiled, determined, and packing an agenda, Blake seeks assistance on Earth and Thera to use his newfound knowledge to bring down the SCI.

Remember Ethan Darcton. Overworked, emotional, and holding a grudge, Ethan hunts down his stolen property, but finds himself in awkward territory, stuck between the Arbiters and the SCI.

Full of action, competing agendas, romantic entanglements, humor, twists and turns, arbitrate is Megan Thomason’s third installment in the award-winning daynight series after daynight and clean slate complex (a daynight story).

 
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“There are a lot of books I finish and feel happy, this one I finished and my head is swirling, in a totally awesome way! Not only does it have a great story with characters that you like (and some you just hate as they are the enemy) but the book also gets you thinking, thinking about the implication of effects of different actions and courses in life. This story has action, fighting, plots and plans, romance, love triangles, family, betrayal – has it all.” –Emily Barton, Emmy Mom One Day at a Time blog, 5 stars

“You have hit this one out of the park.” –ARC Reviewer

“For the record, I LOVED Kira’s choice!! And the whole thing just blew me away! Very, very well done!! Now when can I get my hands on generate?! Can’t wait ” –ARC Reviewer

“Read my ARC of Arbitrate and consider my mind blown! I started it the minute it was sent and couldn’t put it down.” –ARC Reviewer

 

daynight newdaynight
written by Megan Thomason
published by Megan Thomason

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Book Depository, Goodreads

About the book: Meet The Second Chance Institute (SCI): Earth’s benevolent non-profit by day, Thera’s totalitarian regime by night. Their motto: Because Everyone Deserves a Second Chance at Life(TM). Reality: the SCI subjects Second Chancers to strict controls and politically motivated science experiments like Cleaving–forced lifetime union between two people who have sex. Punishment for disobeying SCI edicts? Immediate Exile or death.

Meet Kira Donovan. Fiercely loyal, overly optimistic, and ensnared by the promise of a full-ride college scholarship, Kira signs the SCI Recruit contract to escape memories of a tragedy that left her boyfriend and friends dead.

Meet Blake Sundry. Bitter about being raised in Exile and his mother’s death, Blake’s been trained to infiltrate and destroy the SCI. Current barrier to success? His Recruit partner–Miss Goody Two Shoes Kira Donovan.

Meet Ethan Darcton. Born with a defective heart and resulting inferiority complex, Ethan’s forced to do his SCI elite family’s bidding. Cleave-worthy Kira Donovan catches his eye, but the presiding powers give defect-free Blake Sundry first dibs.

Full of competing agendas, romantic entanglements, humor, twists and turns, daynight is an award-winning, bestselling novel and first in thedaynight series.

 

arbitrate freebie

Download a FREE copy of daynight

Available for FREE on Amazon

October 29th, 30th & 31st

 

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2012 Book of the Year Award Finalist-Young Adult Fiction, ForeWord Reviews

“Sure to win over YA readers looking for a dangerous, dystopian adventure story” —Kirkus Reviews

“Gripping young adult dystopian novel; compelling conflicts; high stakes; powerful narrative; surprises keep coming; strong writing; page-turner; engaging characters; Readers will be hungry for the sequels.”—BlueInk Review (starred review)

“Thomason’s description of Thera’s totalitarianism will make fans of Brave New World shiver… SCI, her fantasy corporation, has disturbing parallels to actual companies and regimes that claim to do good while harming people… The author deftly appeals to both romance-loving teens as well as those intrigued by young adults fighting the establishment.”—ForeWord Clarion Review, 4 stars

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(from arbitrate)

“I’m angry at all of them. Every SCI leader. In fact Joshua gave me a list of those who are Earth-side. It makes for a great to-do list.” They all deserve to pay.

I’m done talking. It’s time for some action.

One thousand one.

One thousand two.

One thousand three.

That’s all it takes to even out my breathing and steady my hand.

I shift the crosshairs on my target ever so slightly—from his heart to his hand—and pull the trigger.

My father would be proud that all his training paid off. Oh, who am I kidding? He’d find something to criticize about my work here. Sad that even though he’s gone I can hear him saying, “If you’d hit a little to the left you’d have taken out a higher concentration of nerves.”

arbitrate tour

Tour Schedule

 

meganAbout the author: Bestselling, award-winning author Megan Thomason lives in paradise aka San Diego, CA with her husband and five children. A former software manager, Megan vastly prefers writing twisted tales to business, product, and marketing plans. When she isn’t typing away on her laptop, she’s reading books on her phone–over 600 in the last year–or attending to the needs of her family. Megan’s fluent in sarcasm, could potentially benefit from a 12-step program for road rage, struggles with a Hot Tamales addiction, loves world travel & fast cars and hates paperwork & being an insomniac.

Find Ms. Thomason here: Website, Facebook, Goodreads, Twitter

giveaway

 (Ends November 18, 2013)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or PayPal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by Rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader, Not A Writer http://iamareader.com and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.
 
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Blog Tour: Everybody’s Got a Story by Heather Wardell (review, excerpt, giveaway)

everybodys got a storyEverybody’s Got a Story
written by Heather Wardell
published by Heather Wardell

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble, Amazon, iBooks, Smashwords, Book Depository, Goodreads

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

Did I enjoy this book:
I did enjoy this book. I read it every free chance I had and I wish I had had more free chances so that I could have finished it sooner. 

Everybody’s Got a Story is well-written and the characters all have their own story as well. (Not surprising given the title of this book. But it made for a really interesting book.) We learn some of the stories, but not everyone’s. I disliked Howard from the beginning. He was chauvinistic and arrogant. I couldn’t believe Alexa went for him at all. Carly was another one that I saw through from the very beginning. She is conniving and manipulating. One of those people you love to hate and just shake your head at because of her ridiculousness. Jake and Rosanna were true friends. I loved them both for many reasons.

Alexa is a strong woman trying to regain that strength and self-confidence. She is trying to trust again. A few things struck me as odd though. First, if she moved to another city in another country to get away from everything and to start over, why on earth would she give Lance—A REPORTER!!!!—her location? Why didn’t she change her email address and truly start over? She could have given out the new one to those she wanted to keep in contact with. That made no sense to me whatsoever. And second, she was very upset that someone (Mike in this case, who I also loved) could write such a horrific novel with such a horrific protagonist. I understand how hard it was for her to read that book and why she would be upset that someone could make that stuff up. However… Alexa is a crime fiction editor. She helps make those horrific stories better. Why isn’t she upset with herself? What does that say about her according to her own thoughts? Other than that, she was an excellent character. Her growth and healing were real. I felt for her. I rooted for her. I wanted her to trust herself and others, especially one person in particular.

The story moved and was a relatively quick read. There were a few spots that had me laughing out loud. I would read more from Ms. Wardell.

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Would I recommend it: I would recommend it if you like women’s fiction.

Will I read it again: I will not.

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About the book:
Both personally and professionally, Alexa knows all too well the power of words. Two years after her boyfriend Christophe’s vicious attack, she’s still trying to see herself as more than simply ‘his victim’, still trying to figure out her own story.

After his trial, she moves from New York City to Toronto in an attempt to start over, but his words cling to her and even in a new country she can’t see how to move into relationships with the new people in her life while hiding the secret of Christophe’s worst offense.She can’t hide that secret from her coworker Jake, though, because the news buff has recognized her from the coverage of the assault and trial and knows every word she can’t bring herself to say about her ordeal.With Jake’s help, can Alexa reclaim her story and her life?

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This excerpt comes from Chapter Eight, one of my favorite parts of the book, in which Alexa decides to get a cat.

When I got into my apartment, I tried to relax but I couldn’t. The place didn’t feel like a home. The apartment wasn’t any more beige than it had been when I moved in but somehow the lack of color was bothering me more than before. There was no life to it.

I went through my closet and found my brightest scarves, which I layered over the tops of the curtain rods and along the back of the couch and chairs. Those flashes of color did relieve the beige, but they didn’t fix my mood. Even with my eyes closed so I could see no beige at all I wasn’t happy, and that made it clear to me that my problem wasn’t the color of the apartment so much as the feel of it. I was alone here, completely alone. Alone and lonely.

Rosanna’s wish for a cat to greet her when she got home came to mind, and I realized I felt the same way. I didn’t like not having anyone or anything happy to see me.

A quick Internet search found me a nearby pet supply store that had partnered with an animal shelter to display some cats awaiting adoption, so I could get one tonight if I wanted to.

Did I, though? I didn’t want to be alone any more, but a pet was a big step.

I spent a few minutes scribbling in my notebook to get my thoughts a little clearer, then left the apartment and was soon walking the several blocks toward the store. Step by step I analyzed the pros and cons, mostly the same ones I’d already written in my notebook. I’d have someone to cuddle with when I woke up miserable in the middle of the night, but then some cats weren’t the cuddling type so mine might not be either. I wouldn’t be alone, but I also wouldn’t be able to go away for a week without making arrangements for the cat. I’d no doubt fall in love with it, but then someday I would lose it and that would hurt.

I’d just passed a small park by the road when that particular con occurred to me, and I went back and sat on a bench where I could soak up the setting sun’s last rays and think.

It would hurt to lose my cat someday, no question. But was it better not to have the enjoyment of it now to save myself the hurt later?

If I’d known how badly things would end with Christophe, would I ever have started with him?

I wriggled my shoulders to release tension at the thought. No, of course I wouldn’t have. I would have if we’d just had a normal breakup, but once the cops break down the door it can’t be called a normal breakup. If I’d known what he would do to me I would never have given him the chance.

But I hadn’t known. I hadn’t had a clue. Maybe you could never really know what people would do, what they were planning and thinking. With how badly I’d misread Christophe, clearly I wasn’t good at recognizing that stuff.

Cats, though. They were much simpler. They did sometimes act weird, as I’d seen with friends’ cats in the past, but nothing like the way a person could hurt you. A cat was safer, but still company.

I left my bench and began walking again, and was soon in the store looking through a large glass viewing wall at cats in cages that lined the back wall of a small room. Some were near their cage door meowing at me, some were asleep or staring off into space, and one little black one–

“Can I help you?”

I turned and took a breath to say yes, then recoiled as if the man had slapped me.

He was wearing Christophe’s cologne. I hadn’t smelled it since the attack, and the scent flooded me with instant and unbearable fear.

He blinked, confusion flooding his round face. “You okay?”

I took as subtle a step backward as I could. “Yeah, fine.” I took a breath through my mouth so I wouldn’t be able to smell him and said, “I’d like to adopt a cat.”

“Great. Any one in particular?”

I moved several feet away from him, hoping he wouldn’t follow. He had been standing a little too close, but without the cologne I would have been only mildly uncomfortable. With it, though, I could hardly keep myself together.

I wanted to run away, but I also wanted the cat I’d been studying when he arrived. “I was thinking about the black one. The tiny one. Or is it too young?”

He shook his head. “She’s three months old. She was found in a sack down by the river. Some jerk tried to drown her and two others. The others didn’t make it but she managed to survive somehow. Poor little thing.”

She and I had been looking into each other’s eyes when he arrived, and I had felt like we understood each other somehow. Now maybe I knew why. “Can I pat her?”

In answer, he unlocked the door to the small room. “Come on in. We’ll close the door so she doesn’t end up running all over the place. Although she’s more likely to hide in the corner. She’s not the world’s friendliest cat.”

With what she’d been through, no wonder.

I went into the room and he closed the door behind us and I struggled not to panic. Though he was easily twice Christophe’s age and looked nothing like him the smell of him was overwhelming.

He removed the little cat from her cage, set her on the floor, and said, “Why don’t you sit down there with her? I’ll fill out the paperwork for you. If it turns out she’s not the right one, we can try another.”

Fortunately his desk and the paperwork was at the other end of the room, and as the cologne’s smell faded so did my terror.

My intense focus on the cat probably helped with that, though. When I sat near her she sat too and stared at me, her yellow eyes wary. I reached out toward her, slowly, but she leaped back and again sat staring at me.

She didn’t trust me.

I couldn’t blame her after the drowning thing.

I sat still, waiting, with the hand I’d reached out resting on the floor between us. I wouldn’t rush her.

She took a step forward, after a full minute, then sat down again.

The guy scraped his chair back, scaring the stuffing out of me and the cat, and walked to us. He scooped up the cat from the corner she’d scuttled into at his approach, ignoring her struggling, and leaned down over me to plop her into my lap. “She’ll be fine once you cuddle her a bit,” he said, while I closed my arms around the cat and fought with the dread his smell sent skulking through me. I could almost see it, rolling off him like waves of dark evil and bringing all my memories of the attack with it.

Returning to his table, he said, “You have had a cat before, right?”

I didn’t know whether that was a requirement to adopt, but as I held the shivering cat in my arms I knew I would say whatever I had to so I could take her home. She’d be better off with me, despite my cluelessness, than with him. “Of course,” I said, gently sliding my fingers over her thick plushy fur and letting the softness of it soothe me. “I just didn’t want to scare her.”

He dropped into his chair. “She’s fine now. See?”

No thanks to him, she did seem to be. I’d have expected her to scramble to get away, but once he’d given her to me she’d burrowed in like she felt safe with me. Or maybe she was just frozen in fear, but I didn’t think so because her shivering was settling down. I did make her feel safe.

Well, we were even, because I felt safe with her too.

I rubbed behind her ears and she closed her eyes in pleasure. “Good girl,” I murmured. “It’ll be okay.”

She looked up at me and opened her mouth but nothing came out for a second. Then she gave the tiniest little meow, more of a squeak.

“I think she likes you. You like her?”

“Definitely. Does she have a name?”

“Girl who found her was Christine so they named her that.”

No way I’d keep it. Too close to Christophe.

“But I don’t think it suits her,” he added, surprising me. I wouldn’t have thought he’d care what name suited the cat.

“What should she be instead?” I rubbed behind her ears again. “Do you have a name, honey?”

“I like Midnight, because she was found at night.”

This was the kind of guy who’d name a brown dog Brownie and think he was being original. “Not bad,” I hedged. “Do I need to decide now?”

He laughed. “You sign the form and pay the adoption fee, you can call her whatever you want. Ready to sign?”

I was indeed. I signed, and paid, and bought all the supplies she’d need, then called a taxi for myself and my new friend.

Back in the apartment, I let her out of the cardboard carrier he’d provided for her and sat on the couch to see what she’d do.

She stood still for a moment, then moved to the nearest wall and began walking.

Like a soldier on patrol, she followed every wall around the apartment, even touring my bedroom and bathroom. She walked the entire perimeter without changing her pace or stopping to investigate anything in more detail, and I watched her when I could see her and listened to her claws ticking rhythmically against the hardwood when I couldn’t, feeling fascinated.

Then I felt sick.

The first night after I’d been released from the hospital, I’d stayed in the small Chelsea apartment my parents had rented for me at my request since I knew I’d never again be able to face the one I’d lived in with Christophe. They’d wanted to spend the night on my sofa bed so I wouldn’t be alone, but I’d wanted to be alone.

At least, I had until they’d left. Then I’d been terrified that Christophe would break in, even though I’d known he was securely locked up and even if he’d somehow escaped he didn’t know where I was. I hadn’t been able to relax until I’d walked around the apartment and checked every lock on the door and every window and even the long-boarded-up fireplace in case he could somehow get at me.

My new little friend was doing the same thing, perhaps. Checking to make sure nothing bad could happen to her.

She sat on the floor near me and gave that tiny adorable squeak of a meow.

“Pretty girl,” I murmured. “I’ll take care of you.”

She looked past me, out the window. I did too, and above the city’s lights I saw the stars in the dark sky, as bright as her eyes against her black fur.

I didn’t want to name her after the darkness.

Star? Starlight? Celestial?

My editor self kicked in, telling me to be less literal.

“Stella?”

She meowed again.

Stella.

 

heather wardellAbout the author: Growing up, I was an avid (rabid?) reader. I am a natural speed reader, regularly clocked at about 1200 wpm (I read Harry Potter 5 in just under three hours), and always have several books on the go, nearly all in e-book form on my Kindle.

I have always made up stories in my head, but never considered becoming a writer. Instead, I intended to be a high school music teacher. I was sidetracked by my enjoyment of my psychology courses in university, and ended up with a psychology degree with a concentration in computer science.

This took me to a major Canadian bank as a software developer. I stayed there for just over four years, and then went back to school to become an elementary school teacher. After four years teaching elementary school computer science, I took up the National Novel Writing Month challenge and attempted to write a novel in a month.

I succeeded, and the first draft of “Life, Love, and a Polar Bear Tattoo” was the result. I realized I love writing. I left teaching, and I haven’t looked back since!

In my non-writing time, I read, run, swim, crochet, take care of my 55 gallon aquarium and my cat Trinity, and play drums and clarinet. Generally not all at once.

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

giveaway

 **Everyone who leaves a comment on the tour page will be entered to win a $20 Amazon gift card! Anyone who purchases their copy of Everybody’s Got a Story before  November 4 and sends their receipt to Samantha (at) ChickLitPlus (dot) com, will get five bonus entries.**

everybodys got a story button

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Book Blast: Curse of the Holidays Volume 1: Dead Snow by Joshua Fuller (spotlight, giveaway)

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9781440137686_COVER.inddCurse of the Holidays Volume 1: Dead Snow
written by Joshua C. Fuller
published by iUniverse

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Book Depository, Goodreads

About the book: Donovan VonBreak, demon god, thinks he will destroy the world of light when he cheats his way into power.

But something unexpected happens: Vampires and angels find that they have many characteristics in common, and they make peace. An angel and a vampire even fall in love, leading to the birth of Cloud, who is half angel, half vampire.

This turn of events infuriates VonBreak, and for fifty years, he studies vampires and angels, trying to find out how he can destroy light and usher in a new era of darkness.

By corrupting Cloud’s brother, he gets closer to his goal. And when he banishes Cloud to a new world, he can almost taste victory.

Cloud must now fight his inner darkness and the chaos engulfing this new world if he has any hope of saving his own. Join him as he battles demons and fights for peace in the first volume of Curse of the Holidays.

About the author: Joshua C. Fuller is an accomplished artist who has always been fascinated by fantastic stories, including the works of J.R.R. Tolkein, J.K. Rowling and George Lucas. He hopes to one day create movies and video games.

Find Mr. Fuller here: Goodreads

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DNF: The Dalius Cure by Mason Black

the dalius cureThe Dalius Cure
written by Mason Black
published by Mason Black

find it here: (affiliate links) Amazon, Book Depository, Goodreads

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

Where I stopped reading: Page 100

Why I stopped reading: The story was intriguing, but the spelling, grammatical, and punctuation errors drove me to distraction. Black makes some seriously odd language choices (the characters either “yell” or “shout” almost every line of dialogue), and I couldn’t get past them.  I would definitely consider re-reading this book after a round of some serious editing.

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What others have rated this book: According to Goodreads, the average rating for The Dalius Cure is 2.75. It looks like a majority of readers gave this book either 4 stars or 1 star. Those ratings are tied for the most. There were 14 5-star reviews on Amazon. Just because I didn’t finish this book doesn’t mean you may not.

About the book – from Goodreads: Have you ever wonder why there is still no cure for cancer, despite millions being spent every year on research? The Dalius Cure is a controversial medical thriller that questions pharmaceutical companies’ true motives.

Deep in the jungles of Brazil, a brilliant young doctor, Dennis Parker, searches for a natural cure for cancer. Dr. Parker is employed and funded by one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world, the Brennan-Finewayne Drug Company. Unknown to Dr. Parker, his employer is part of a powerful secret organization whose main goal is to prevent a cure for cancer from being found in order to guarantee there will always be customers for their drugs. When the Council learns of Parker’s cure, they attempt to destroy the cure and kill everyone who knows of it. With a motley crew assembled, including Colombian drug cartel members, a prosecutor, a former MI-6 agent, a stripper, and an aspiring Rabbi, they devise the perfect plan to get the cure back at all costs and deliver it to the world.

 

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Book Blast: Run with the Wolves by T c Tombs (spotlight, giveaway)

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Run wit the WolvesRun with the Wolves
written by T c Tombs
published by iUniverse

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble, Amazon, iBooks, Book Depository, Goodreads

About the book: It is the fifteenth century, and three kingdoms are caught up in the dire conflicts of their time. As the possibility of a peaceful resolution provides hope that a decade-long war will finally end, no one realizes that dark forces are waiting to invoke chaos as a full moon rises.

On a farm nestled beneath the Euralene Mountains along the western border of Medinia, young Willie works for the Smythes as a serf. One moonlit evening when the Smythes are gone to a neighbouring village, Willie hears the terrified cries of animals in the pastures. When he goes to investigate, he discovers that this wolf pack attack is like no other. Badly injured during the raid, he survives—but now he is afflicted by the full-moon madness that will soon transform him into one of the wolf creatures he dreads. With his life seemingly warped forever, Willie must face the prospect of a lifelong descent into horror.

In a time of witchcraft, superstitious folk lore, and fearsome creatures roaming the night, Willie struggles with an uncertain destiny and must seek help from the one man he holds most responsible for the dark fate that awaits him during the next full moon cycle.

efcpraise“Beware of the full moon. This one is for all of the werewolf lovers!” —Top Book Reviewers

A well-written and addictive first novel.  —Blue Ink Review

A well-developed, tightly plotted fantasy; readers will want installments two and three.  —Kirkus Reviews

About the author: T c TOMBS earned degrees from Trent University and Wilfrid Laurier University in Canada. Like many Canadians, he loves hockey and golf, and he has a passion for medieval history, folk lore, literature, film, and music. Terry and his wife, Sandra, live in the Greater Toronto Area in Ontario, Canada, where they have raised five daughters

Find Mr. Tombs here: Goodreads

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Blog Tour: Aliens & Other Stories by Kathleen Wheaton (review)

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aliens coverAliens & Other Stories
written by Kathleen Wheaton
published by Washington Writers’ Publishing House

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Book Depository, Goodreads
Why did I pick this book: I participated in the blog tour hosted by JKSCommunications. (I received a copy of this book for review purposes.)

Did I enjoy this book:
I did enjoy this book.

The stories were short and interesting. Yet they felt real. There were a few times while reading Aliens & Other Stories that I felt like a was reading non-fiction essays about actual people. That was impressive to me, that Ms. Wheaton could make me forget that I was reading fiction, even if for a moment. The stories and characters were memorable. But the order of the stories puzzles me a bit. I’m not sure why they were sequenced as they were. There are characters that appear in each story that are in other stories but at different periods of time. What was neat was that I kept thinking, “Hey, I know that guy!”

All-in-all, a good book of quick reads that stay with you and make you think.

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Would I recommend it: I would if you like short stories.

Will I read it again: I will not. chrissysig

About the book – from Goodreads: The characters in Kathleen Wheaton’s linked stories are exiles-from their native countries, their families, their objects of desire. Political refugees from Argentina’s “dirty war,” survivors of a Cuban shipwreck and of Franco’s Spain all navigate life as foreigners, whether in Madrid, Buenos Aires or suburban Washington, D.C. With wry, nuanced compassion, Wheaton follows these resilient people as they reconcile the absurdities of contemporary life with a legacy of dislocation, loss and longing.

 

kathleen wheatonAbout the author: Veteran journalist Kathleen Wheaton’s byline has appeared in publications all over the world, and this fall, her name will grace the cover of her newest work, “Aliens and Other Stories.”

Wheaton was born in 1957 on a U.S. Army base in Germany and grew up in Pasadena and Palo Alto, Calif. After graduating from Stanford University in ’79 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in creative writing and Spanish, she packed her bags and headed to Madrid, Spain, where she taught English for two years. Wheaton earned a Master of Fine Arts degree from Boston University in ‘82. She lived in New York until ‘86 and returned to Spain for a year to write and edit a travel book for Insight Guides. She then traveled to Argentina for a second guidebook, where she met NPR reporter David Welna. They married in 1988 and lived in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and Tepoztlan, Mexico before returning to the United States in ’97 along with their two sons, Ben and Alex, both born in Latin America.

Wheaton has been honored with three Dateline awards from the Society of Professional Journalists for profiles of public radio host Diane Rehm and opera singer Denyce Graves as well as a story about teen suicide published in Bethesda Magazine. She has received three grants from the Maryland Arts Council and in 2005, and she claimed the top spot at The Baltimore Review’s fiction contest. Her interviews and articles have appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The San Francisco Examiner, The Paris Review, Town & Country, European Travel & Life, Via, Applause and Smithsonian Magazine.

Wheaton’s short stories have been published in The Boston Globe Sunday Magazine, Byline, Flyway, The Baltimore Review, Timber Creek Review, New South, Smokelong Quarterly, Green Hills Literary Lantern, Artisan, River Oak Review and Narrative as well as anthologies Flash Fiction Forward and Amazing Graces.

Wheaton’s collection of short stories, “Aliens and Other Stories,” will be released Oct. 15, 2013, by the Washington Writers’ Publishing House. The book recently won the publishing company’s 2013 award for fiction.

Wheaton is an assistant editor at Narrative, an online literary magazine. She works as a Spanish and Portuguese interpreter for Montgomery County public schools in Maryland. She lives in the Washington D.C. area with her husband.

Find Ms. Wheaton here: web, Facebook, Goodreads

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Book Blast: Pendomus by Carissa Andrews (spotlight, giveaway)

 

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PendomusEverblossom2-smallPendomus (The Pendomus Chronicles #1)
written by Carissa Andrews
published by Carissa Andrews

find it here: (affiliate links) Amazon, Goodreads

About the book: Humanity has colonized on the tidally locked planet Pendomus.

Residing between extreme heat and frigid cold is the complex known as the Helix. Within lies a highly sophisticated society functioning solely on humans fulfilling their life’s purpose as determined by their natural aptitudes and daily brain scans.

Seventeen-year-old Runa Cophem has found her calling studying the ancient trees nearby and anxiously awaits a professional placement which will allow her to continue her work.

Runa’s life takes an unforeseen turn when she’s brutally attacked and left for dead in those woods. Rescued by a stranger with blue hair, she’s immersed into a surprising way humanity has survived without the Helix. Fueled by a yearning to understand and an attraction she didn’t even know was possible, Runa tries to make a new life for herself. Yet, there’s much she doesn’t know about herself, about the planet, and the forces controlling her from afar.

What she needs are some answers.

CarissaAGiveaway1About the author: Born and raised in central MN, Carissa Andrews has always loved books. She started her career at 15 in a bookstore, just to be able to afford her book fetish. By 19, she worked for a magazine publisher. At 22, she was working for printers to learn their trade. At 27, she went back to school for graphic design, and became an award winning designer. Little did she know all of her experiences would lead her to becoming a self-publishing power house.

Find Ms. Andrews here: webFacebook, Twitter, Goodreads

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