Saturday, March 31, 2012

Blog Tour: Interview, Excerpt + Giveaway - The Galahad Legacy

I am very excited to be a part of the blog tour for the release of The Galahad Legacy by Dom Testa! Dom was gracious enough to answer a few questions plus I have an excerpt of the final book in the series, The Galahad Legacy, and a giveaway of the entire series!

About the author: DOM TESTA has been a radio show host since 1977. He is currently a co-host of the popular "Dom and Jane Show" on Mix 100 in Denver. A strong advocate of literacy programs for children, Dom began The Big Brain Club to help young people recognize that Smart Is Cool. More information on Dom Testa, his books and educational work can be found here at
Follow Dom: Website | Blog | Twitter | Facebook | YouTube

Welcome Dom! Tell us about The Galahad series and your latest novel, The Galahad Legacy.

First, NC, thanks for the opportunity to be a part of Truly Bookish. I appreciate your passion about young adult books!

I've been hosting writing workshops and assemblies with schools for about 20 years, and decided to craft a series for middle school and high school students that focused on some of the best and brightest young people from around the world. Rather than the standard YA template of making the protagonist a "troubled" or "rebellious" teen, I wondered how high-achieving young people would fare when thrown into a desperate situation.

The characters in the Galahad series are far from perfect, and that's obvious right away. But they're also sharp, talented teens who are bold and curious, and willing to take on the biggest challenge in human history. I loved the idea of discovering how teenaged characters would learn to rely on themselves and each other in order to overcome catastrophe.

The Galahad Legacy is the sixth and final installment in the award-winning series, and ties up most of the threads that began back in The Comet's Curse, the first book. Note that I said "most" of the threads... Ha ha!

Where did the inspiration for the series come from? Why science fiction?

The original idea was to explore how young people fared in a difficult situation with no adults around. So, although the plan wasn't necessarily to create a science fiction series, it turned out to be the best vehicle for what I was writing. And that's fine with me, because some of the most inspiring and thought-provoking books I read as a kid were science fiction. I cut my teeth on Arthur C. Clarke, Isaac Asimov, and Michael Crichton (his VERY early days).

Which one of the books in the series was your favorite to write and why?

Tough question, but I'll go with this last episode, The Galahad Legacy. I had a total blast writing this story, trying to wrap up a variety of story lines, and (hopefully) satisfying the most ardent Galahad fans.

Why do you write novels for young adults and how did you get started?

I wear a lot of hats, including hosting the top-rated morning radio show in Denver, as well as overseeing a non-profit education foundation (more on that later). But I also visit schools and help young people to discover their own creative spark. It was a natural for me to create a story specifically for those students. As for how it started: Sitting in my office in my basement with a legal pad and pen. I still have the original notes that I scribbled that day.

What is your favorite thing about writing?

It's similar to hosting the radio show, because in both instances I get to live a fantasy life for a brief time before checking back in with the real world. It's an escape, but a healthy one (usually). ;)

What are you currently reading?

Right now I'm reading two books. One is Man's Search For Meaning, by Viktor Frankl. I'm also reading the final book in Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars trilogy, Blue Mars. I've had that trilogy for more than 15 years and have just NOW finally read them. Sorry, Kim! But it's been worth the wait; they're fascinating books.

I love the idea behind the Big Brain Club! Tell us about it and why programs like this are so important to students.

We talk a lot in America about the various forms of peer pressure that young people struggle with, like alcohol and drugs and sex. But, in my opinion, one of the most devastating and most suffocating forms of pressure that kids face is academic peer pressure. Millions of kids intentionally dumb down because society and pop culture have continually told us that smart kids are nerds or dorks or geeks. Hollywood and television have made billions by portraying smart kids as socially awkward and inept, and young adults are incredibly sensitive to that stereotyping. Therefore, they blow off their education in order to impress their friends with how "cool" they are.

Then, when they walk out of high school, they find that they're hosed. They've wasted some of the most important years of their life trying to fit into some ridiculous notion of what's "cool." My foundation, The Big Brain Club, isn't about straight A's or honor rolls (although we like those); our mission is to help young people become the best versions of themselves. We help students visualize what REALLY matters going forward, and how what they do in a classroom today has a cascading effect on the rest of their lives.

We not only visit schools in person and through Skype presentations, but we provide technology to school libraries and classrooms, and we publish the creative writing of middle school students. More info (and a chance to donate to this registered non-profit foundation) can be found at:

Thanks for asking about that, NC

Now that the Galahad series is complete, what other projects are you working on?

Two things. I've just finished a non-fiction book about the problem that my foundation, The Big Brain Club, is addressing. The book is called Smart Is Cool.

I've also finished the first book in a new mystery series for young adults, and I'm working on the second one right now. I'll finish at least the first two before I sell the series.

Thanks again for this opportunity, NC, and thanks for all you do in the world of teen literature. All the best. Dom

Thank you, Dom!

Excerpt: Triana was quiet a moment, again gathering her thoughts. “But I don’t think I passed out because of anything physical. I think it was my mind’s way of coping with the sudden change, shutting down rather than attempting to process what was going on around it. A defense mechanism, maybe. I don’t know. But I was out.
“When I came to—and I have no idea how long that could have been—I was back in what appeared to be normal space.”

“So,” Gap said, “you have no idea how long it took to travel through the wormhole. Roc, any thoughts on that?”

Please visit Kid Lit Frenzy for the next excerpt from the second chapter of The Galahad Legacy and fill out the Rafflecopter form below to will all six books in the series!

Friday, March 30, 2012

Book Review and Blog Tour: Pure

I am thrilled to be a stop on the blog tour for Pure by Jennifer L. Armentrout hosted by Valerie at Stuck in Books!

Release Date: April 3, 2012
Publisher: Spencer Hill Press
Pages: 329 pages
Genre: Mythology, YA Urban Fantasy
Buy: Amazon, B&N, Book Depository

Goodreads Summary: There is need. And then there is Fate... Being destined to become some kind of supernatural electrical outlet isn't exactly awesome--especially when Alexandria's "other half" is everywhere she goes. Seth's in her training room, outside her classes, and keeps showing up in her bedroom--so not cool. Their connection does have some benefits, like staving off her nightmares of the tragic showdown with her mother, but it has no effect on what Alex feels for the forbidden, pure-blooded Aiden. Or what he will do--and sacrifice--for her.

When daimons infiltrate the Covenants and attack students, the gods send furies--lesser gods determined to eradicate any threat to the Covenants and to the gods, and that includes the Apollyon... and Alex. And if that and hordes of aether-sucking monsters didn't blow bad enough, a mysterious threat seems willing to do anything to neutralize Seth, even if that means forcing Alex into servitude... or killing her.

When the gods are involved, some decisions can never, ever be undone.

Jennifer L. Armentrout has made a name for herself in the YA urban fantasy market and with good reason. Her books have this exciting, unputdownable quality to them that I love. Pure is no different. Plus, I’m a mythology junkie and with furies, oracles, Greek gods and demi-gods, I devoured this book and can’t wait for the next in the series.

Pure picks up shortly after Half-blood (read my review of Half-Blood here) with Alex attending school at the Covenant and playing catch up with her training. In addition to Alex being trained by her off-limits crush, Aiden, she now has to spar with Seth, the Apollyon and the one she is ‘fated’ to be with. The world of these demi-gods is more fully explored in Pure and we get to see the politics of their society. We also see the segregation between the Pures and the Half-bloods and it eye-opening. I really hoping that at some point in the series, there will be a slave revolt and the Half-bloods, especially the ones in servitude, will rebel and lay the smack-down on the Pures. The Pures so have it coming to them.

Ever at risk of being thrown into servitude herself, Alex continues to be hot-headed, impulsive and snarky although we do see her maturing quite a bit throughout the book, especially when she considers the consequences of some of her actions. Alex has a huge destiny to fulfill, one that she does not fully understand. She also has a lot of enemies and people working for her to fail. I’m looking forward to seeing the character grow throughout the series and really take control of her destiny especially when so many are trying to dictate it for her.

There is a love triangle in the book with Alex caught between Aiden and Seth. Seth is like the male version of Alex but he is even more hot-headed and impulsive than she is. Aiden is the opposite of Seth: he is calm, sensible, rational, even tempered and it’s obvious that he cares deeply about Alex. I know a lot of you may disagree but since I usually go for the good boy over the bad boy, I’m Team Aiden all the way!

Pure has exciting fight scenes, hot romance, a main character that you love and root for and enough Greek mythology to make me happy. I cannot wait for the third book in the series, Deity, which is scheduled for Nov. 2012.

Content: Kissing, sexual situations, profanity, underage drinking and violence.

My Rating: Really Good!


Want to win a copy of this exciting book? To gain an entry in either/both of the tour giveaways for Pure, leave a comment here and then go to StuckInBooks and/or A Cupcake and a Latte with this link to complete your entry.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday: Crewel

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine and spotlights upcoming novels we can't wait to read. This week’s choice is:

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux Books for Young Readers
Publish Date: Oct. 16, 2012
Genre: Fantasy
Goodreads Summary: Incapable. Awkward. Artless. That’s what the other girls whisper behind her back. But sixteen year-old Adelice Lewys has a secret: she wants to fail.

Gifted with the ability to weave time with matter, she’s exactly what the Guild is looking for, and in the world of Arras, being chosen as a Spinster is everything a girl could want. It means privilege, eternal beauty, and being something other than a secretary. It also means the power to embroider the very fabric of life. But if controlling what people eat, where they live and how many children they have is the price of having it all, Adelice isn’t interested.

Not that her feelings matter, because she slipped and wove a moment at testing, and they’re coming for her—tonight.

Now she has one hour to eat her mom’s overcooked pot roast. One hour to listen to her sister’s academy gossip and laugh at her Dad’s stupid jokes. One hour to pretend everything’s okay. And one hour to escape.

Because once you become a Spinster, there’s no turning back.
Why am I waiting on Crewel? The summary sounds very original and the time weaving element sounds fantastic. I’m really excited to read this! What books are you waiting on?

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Multi-Cultural Book Challenge - March Guest Post and Giveaway

March’s Multi-Cultural Book Challenge guest post and giveaway is being hosted by KM at One Page At A Time. Click on over there to read the awesome guest post by Ashley Hope Perez, author of What Can’t Wait, and enter the giveaway to win a copy of the book!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Book to Big Screen: The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists

This is a feature where I highlight books that upcoming movies are being based on. Today, I’m highlighting The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists, a humorous book by Gideon Defoe that the new movie, The Pirates! Band of Misfits, is partially adapted from.

Publish Date: Oct. 2004
Publisher: Pantheon
Movie Title: The Pirates! Band of Misfits
Movie Release Date: March 27, 2012
Genre: Comedy, Adventure
Goodreads Summary: Not since "Moby-Dick." No, not since "Treasure Island." Actually, not since Jonah and the Whale has there been a sea saga to rival "The Pirates In an Adventure with Scientists," featuring the greatest sea-faring hero of all time, the immortal Pirate Captain, who, although he lives for months at a time at sea, somehow manages to keep his beard silky and in good condition.

Worried that his pirates are growing bored with a life of winking at pretty native ladies and trying to stick enough jellyfish together to make a bouncy castle, the Pirate Captain decides it's high time to spearhead an adventure.

While searching for some major pirate booty, he mistakenly attacks the young Charles Darwin's Beagle and then leads his ragtag crew from the exotic Galapagos Islands to the fog-filled streets of Victorian London. There they encounter grisly murder, vanishing ladies, radioactive elephants, and the Holy Ghost himself. And that's not even the half of it.

After receiving a bad tip from another pirate, the Pirate Captain takes his crew south to the Galapagos Islands where they attack the Beagle, a ship they believe carries gold. Instead, they badly damage a scientific vessel with no gold but instead carries Charles Darwin. Darwin is on a mission to find and train a monkey to behave like a man, in essence, creating the first man-panzee. Feeling poorly for destroying Darwin’s ship, the Pirate Captain offers to take Darwin back to England, help get Mister Bobo (Darwin’s man-panzee) accepted into Victorian high society and rescue Erasmus, Darwin’s brother, who is being held captive by the evil Bishop of Oxford.

I usually don’t read comedy but maybe I should more often. I had no expectations of this book but it actually had me laughing out loud a couple of times. The Pirates! is one of those books this is not politically correct but the storyline is so over the top, it’s hard to be offended.

The Pirate Captain is portrayed as the suave, player type whose beard is always silky and well groomed. Darwin, on the other hand, is a geeky scientist who wants to be a success so he can attract ladies and he annoys other scientists with his theories. The villain of the story is the Bishop of Oxford who, by holding a large stake in P.T. Barnum’s Circus of Freaks, wants no competition from Darwin and Mister Bobo. In addition to holding Erasmus hostage, the nefarious Bishop is up to other unsavory activities as well.

The Pirates! Band of Misfits movie is actually based on Defoe’s first two books in the series (The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists and The Pirates! In an Adventure with Ahab: The Novel). I only read the first. Since this is an animated movie about pirates, I’m guessing the movie makers will forgo some of the more adult content (reference to the Pirate Captain being exhausted after entertaining a lady in his cabin for hours; the scarf wearing pirate hoping a girl will put out for him; the Bishop’s illegal activities; people getting run through with cutlasses; a pirate putting on a sheet pretending to be the Holy Ghost and performing wrestling moves) and while this content is mild, it is still not appropriate for younger children. 

As I mentioned before, The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists is surprisingly funny. While I wouldn’t recommend it for children, more mature teens and adults will find it a quick, laugh-out-loud read. I will be checking out the movie review for The Pirates! Band of Misfits at Plugged In before deciding if I will take my kids to see it.

Have you read either book that the movie is based on? What did you think? Do you plan on seeing the movie?

Content: References to adult situations and violence.

Giveaway: The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa!

I am so excited about The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa! She is one of my favorite authors and if you have not picked up her books in the Iron Fey series, you absolutely should! They are fantastic! Because Ms. Kagawa is so awesome, I am very happy to giveaway a copy of her latest book. Just fill out the Rafflecopter form below and good luck!  

Release Date: April 24, 2012
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Pre-order: Amazon, B&N, Harlequin, Indiebound

Goodreads Summary: In a future world, vampires reign. Humans are blood cattle. And one girl will search for the key to save humanity.

Allison Sekemoto survives in the Fringe, the outermost circle of a vampire city. By day, she and her crew scavenge for food. By night, any one of them could be eaten.

Some days, all that drives Allie is her hatred of them. The vampires who keep humans as blood cattle. Until the night Allie herself is attacked—and given the ultimate choice. Die… or become one of the monsters.

Faced with her own mortality, Allie becomes what she despises most. To survive, she must learn the rules of being immortal, including the most important: go long enough without human blood, and you will go mad.

Then Allie is forced to flee into the unknown, outside her city walls. There she joins a ragged band of humans who are seeking a legend—a possible cure to the disease that killed off most of humankind and created the rabids, the mindless creatures who threaten humans and vampires alike.

But it isn't easy to pass for human. Especially not around Zeke, who might see past the monster inside her. And Allie soon must decide what—and who—is worth dying for.

Sunday, March 25, 2012


The winner of the Lucky Leprechaun Giveaway Hop is Bookworm Lisa and the winner of On The Flip Side is Jade. Both winners were chosen by and have been contacted. I still giving away a signed ARC of Partials by Dan Wells and I have more giveaways coming up soon. Congrats to all the winners and thank you to everyone who participated!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Interview with Julie Kagawa, Author of The Immortal Rules!

I am thrilled to host a Q&A with New York Times Best Selling Author Julie Kagawa! Julie is one of my favorite authors and I am ecstatic about the books she has coming out this year. Welcome to the blog, Julie!

Q: After writing the Iron Fey series for so many years, how difficult was it to immerse yourself in a futuristic world filled with vampires, rabids and an enslaved human race?

A:It was...very different. I think the hardest thing for me was the fact that this story does take place in the real world -- a futuristic, vampire-infested world, but the real world nonetheless. Things had to make sense, for example: how far can a large group walk in a single day if there were no roads, they were going through thick woods, and there were children in the group? I had to have logical reasons for everything; I couldn't just make something work "because of faery magic," lol.

Q: Just like Meghan Chase in the Iron Fey series, the main character in The Immortal Rules, Allison Sekemoto, is a “take charge and kick butt” kind of girl. Is this intentional? What woman – real or fictional, alive or deceased – do you look up to or admire?

A: Yes, Allison comes from a very different world than Meghan Chase. Meghan's upbringing was pretty normal; Allison grew up among vampires and monsters, where every day was a fight to live, so she couldn't afford to be weak. While Meghan had to learn to "take charge and kick butt," Allison's first impulse is stab first, talk later.

As for female role models, the first that comes to mind--when it comes to kicking vampire butt, anyway -- is Buffy Summers. Thank you, Joss Whedon, for making me love feisty, snarky, heroines who can dust all sorts of nasties but who also look good in a cheerleading outfit. ;)

Q: You mention in your acknowledgements in The Immortal Rules that at the beginning of your writing career you promised yourself you wouldn’t write a vampire book. What changed your mind?

A: Well, there were already so many really good books about our favorite bloodsuckers, so many stories and ideas, I thought I didn't have anything new to add to the masses. I was actually toying with a post-apocalyptic YA novel when my agent mentioned I might want to try writing a vampire series. I wasn't intrigued with the idea at first, but then I thought about combining vampires with the post-apocalyptic novel and then rest sort of fell into place.

Q: Allison claims she hates vampires and believes they are monsters yet when faced with a choice of die or become one, she becomes a vampire. Would you have made that same decision?  

A: Me personally? No. I'm like Zeke in the belief that there is something better waiting for me beyond this life, and I just have to do my best until it’s time for me to go. Besides, I love pizza and Mountain Dew too much to give it up.

Q: Who do you think the most complex character is in The Immortal Rules?

A: Probably Kanin, Allie's sire. He's a vampire who has made his peace about being a monster, yet chooses to live by his own set of moral rules. He warns Allison about getting too close to humans, yet he does not kill unless he absolutely has to. He is tormented about something in his past that he refuses to share with anyone. He is certainly the most mysterious of all the characters, if not the most complex.

Q: How many books will be in the Blood of Eden series? When will the next book be coming out?

A: At the moment, there are three books planned, with the second coming out sometime next spring, after the release of the new Iron Fey series this fall.

Q: Before you starting writing full time you were a professional dog trainer. Do the professions share any similarities?

A: Lol, well you have to think on your feet a lot. And some of the small dogs could be compared to tiny snapping goblins, but writing requires less dodging skills, though perhaps the same amount of creativity and problem solving.

Q: When starting a new series, like Blood of Eden, do you have the entire series mapped out in detail or do you let the story develop book by book?

A: I have a high point that I write toward in each story; I know this and this has to happen, but getting from point A to point B usually develops as I go along.

And for the speed round:

Q: What book have you read and re-read, and read yet again?

A: Any of the Harry Potter books.

Q: Favorite song to play when writing a fight scene?

A: My "favorites" change daily. Right now its "Awake and Alive" by Skillet.

Q: Worst job?

A: Working a kiosk in the mall during Christmas. It sold glass figurines, and the maneuvering space around the hundreds of very breakable merchandise was quite small. I was like a bull in a china shop.

Q: Best vacation spot?

A: Walt Disney World

Q: Sweets or salty?

A: Sweet.

Q: One thing most people don’t know about you – and would never guess!

A: I used to play the flute when I was a kid. I was really good at it too, but my instructor stopped teaching to have a family, and I never went back to it.

Thank you stopping by, Julie! Here is some additional information about The Immortal Rules and the awesome book trailer:

Release Date: April 24, 2012
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Pre-order: Amazon, B&N, Harlequin, Indiebound
Goodreads Summary: In a future world, vampires reign. Humans are blood cattle. And one girl will search for the key to save humanity.

 Allison Sekemoto survives in the Fringe, the outermost circle of a vampire city. By day, she and her crew scavenge for food. By night, any one of them could be eaten.

Some days, all that drives Allie is her hatred of them. The vampires who keep humans as blood cattle. Until the night Allie herself is attacked—and given the ultimate choice. Die… or become one of the monsters.

Faced with her own mortality, Allie becomes what she despises most. To survive, she must learn the rules of being immortal, including the most important: go long enough without human blood, and you will go mad.

Then Allie is forced to flee into the unknown, outside her city walls. There she joins a ragged band of humans who are seeking a legend—a possible cure to the disease that killed off most of humankind and created the rabids, the mindless creatures who threaten humans and vampires alike.

But it isn't easy to pass for human. Especially not around Zeke, who might see past the monster inside her. And Allie soon must decide what—and who—is worth dying for.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday: The Dark Light

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine and spotlights upcoming novels we can't wait to read. This week’s choice is:

Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publish Date: Aug. 28, 2012
Genre: Paranormal

Goodreads Summary: Mysterious lights have flickered above Crownsville for as long as Mia can remember. And as far as she’s concerned, that’s about the only interesting thing to happen in her small town.

That is, until Sol arrives. Mia’s not one to fall for just any guy, but she can’t get intense Sol—or the brilliant tattoo on his back—out of her mind.

Then Mia’s brother goes missing, and Mia’s convinced that Sol knows more than he’s sharing. But getting closer to Sol means reevaluating everything she once believed to be true. Because Sol’s not who Mia thought he was—and neither is she.
Why am I waiting on The Dark Light? The cover is stunning and the description leaves me wanting more. What books are you waiting on?

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Book Review & Giveaway: Partials

Title: Partials by Dan Wells
Release Date: Feb. 28, 2012
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Pages: 472 pages
Genre: Science Fiction, Dystopia
Source: Publisher
Goodreads Summary: Humanity is all but extinguished after a war with partials—engineered organic beings identical to humans—has decimated the world’s population. Reduced to only tens of thousands by a weaponized virus to which only a fraction of humanity is immune, the survivors in North America have huddled together on Long Island. The threat of the partials is still imminent, but, worse, no baby has been born immune to the disease in over a decade. Humanity’s time is running out.

When sixteen-year-old Kira learns of her best friend’s pregnancy, she’s determined to find a solution. Then one rash decision forces Kira to flee her community with the unlikeliest of allies. As she tries desperately to save what is left of her race, she discovers that the survival of both humans and partials rests in her attempts to answer questions of the war’s origin that she never knew to ask.

Combining the fast-paced action of The Hunger Games with the provocative themes of Battlestar Galactica, Partials is a pulse-pounding journey into a world where the very concept of what it means to be human is in question—one where our sense of humanity is both our greatest liability, and our only hope for survival.

I love dystopian and post apocalyptic stories, especially the ones with solid science fiction elements included. Partials is heavier on the science than most YA sci-fi books I’ve read recently but don’t let that daunt you. Dan Wells expertly weaves the science elements with action and romance that creates a fascinating book that had me glued to the pages.

Partials is set in 2076 in the aftermath of a war, a rebellion and a virus that wiped out most of the population. The humans who survived have made a stand on Long Island, barricading themselves against the partials, genetically engineered humanoid soldiers, and against human rebels who oppose the government. Instead of a big, faceless, evil government in most dystopias, this survivor community is run by a small but devious and power hungry group of senators.

Before I start talking about the individual characters, I have to give Dan Wells massive kudos for including a racially diverse group of people in his novel. As a reader who loves to see multi-culturalism in fiction, I am thrilled to tell you that the population of survivors looks a lot like the world’s current population and the story is richer because of it.

Kira is a sixteen-year-old medic-in-training who is super smart and determined. Weary of seeing newborn babies die from the virus and knowing that the government is not close to finding a cure, Kira comes up with a crazy, desperate plan to find a solution before her best friend’s baby is born. Kira is not the kick-butt character you typically see in dystopia but she is brilliant, brave, a quick thinker and has devoted herself completely to finding a cure. It’s her all-in attitude that makes her so awesome.

Kira’s boyfriend, Marcus, is sweet and loves her but they have different priorities. Marcus wants to live a happy, safe life with Kira and let others worry about humanity’s future. Samm is the partial that Kira helps to kidnap and study and while there is no love triangle in this first book, I can see the possibility of some romantic tension in the sequel. Normally I don’t like love triangles but I may be in favor of one in this case.

In the sea of dystopian/post apocalyptic YA novels, Partials stands out from the rest. Awesome world building, exciting action scenes along with betrayals and fantastic plot twists make Partials a great read. I cannot wait for Fragments, the next book in the series, to be released.

I was fortunate enough to meet Dan Wells when he visited South Florida as a part of the Pitch Dark Days of Winter tour. He was kind enough to sign my ARC of Partials which I am very excited to give away. Just follow the Rafflecopter instructions below and good luck!

Content: Kissing and violence.

My Rating: Really Good!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Movie Review: John Carter

Movie Title: John Carter
Movie Release Date: March 9, 2012
Genre: Science Fiction
Synopsis: War-weary, former military captain John Carter is inexplicably transported to Mars where he becomes reluctantly embroiled in a conflict of epic proportions amongst the inhabitants of the planet, including Tars Tarkas and the captivating Princess Dejah Thoris. In a world on the brink of collapse, Carter rediscovers his humanity when he realizes that the survival of Barsoom and its people rests in his hands.
A few weeks ago, I reviewed Edgar Rice Burroughs’ sci-fi classic A Princess of Mars. After reading the book, I was excited to see John Carter, the movie based on A Princess of Mars, and curious to see how Disney would handle the violence, racism and sexism in the book.

John Carter is a much more fleshed out version of A Princess of Mars. In the book, Carter can’t remember his childhood or much of his past. We also never get much of an explanation as to how he travels to Mars. In the movie, we see Carter as a broken confederate soldier who has lost his wife and child and just wants to move on with his life. We also see exactly how he is transported to Mars and it makes more sense than how the event was written in the book.

Carter’s character is also much more likable in the movie. He is not egotistical or disparaging to the Native Americans and green Martians as he is in the book. Additionally, the back story about the death of his wife and child really humanizes him. 

Dejah Thoris’ character is also much more likable in the movie than the book. The big screen version of her is smart, a formidable fighter capable of defending herself and she does not use “female logic” to rationalize anything she does not understand.

The movie does introduce the Therns, characters that were not in A Princess of Mars but are present in the next book in the series, The Gods of Mars. Since I haven’t read the second book, I’m not sure how accurately the Therns are portrayed. Another big difference in the book vs. the movie is Tar Tarkas’ role in his tribe and how his friendship with Carter develops. The book does a much better job of telling Tars Tarkas’ story and I am a bit disappointed that it was altered for the movie.

Overall, I enjoyed this movie more than I thought I would. I would recommend it to sci-fi fans and especially to anyone who read Burroughs’ Barsoom series and ever imagined the book coming to life. So many things were exactly like how I pictured them, especially the green Martians and the airships.

While this is a Disney movie and there were lots of little kids at the showing I attended, John Carter has tons of violence and while it’s not all gory, the body count is high. I would not recommend this movie for younger children.

Content: Kissing and heavy violence

Friday, March 16, 2012

Lucky Leprechaun Giveaway Hop!

Welcome to the Lucky Leprechaun Giveaway Hop hosted by I Am A Reader Not A Writer and Author Cindy Thomas. This hop runs from March 17-22.

For this hop, I am giving away an ARC of Balthazar signed by Claudia Gray herself! I recently reviewed and loved this book, check out my review here. To enter, simply follow the Rafflecopter instructions below and good luck!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Book Review: Balthazar

Release Date: March 6, 2012
Publisher: HarperTeen
Pages: 374 pages
Genre: Paranormal
Source: Publisher

Goodreads Summary: Haunted by memories from his first days as a vampire, Balthazar has spent hundreds of years alone—without allies, without love. When he emerges from his isolation to help Skye Tierney, a human girl who once attended Evernight Academy, Balthazar has no idea how dangerous it will be. Skye’s psychic powers have caught the attention of Redgrave, the cruel master vampire responsible for murdering Balthazar and his family four centuries ago. Having learned of Skye’s powers and the remarkable effect her blood has on vampires, he plans to use her for his own evil purposes. As they stand together to fight the evil vampire, Balthazar realizes his lonely world could finally be changed by Skye...just as Redgrave realizes that he can destroy Balthazar once and for all by taking her for his own.

In a story filled with forbidden love and dark suspense, one of the most beloved characters in Claudia Gray’s New York Times bestselling Evernight series will captivate readers with his battle to overcome his past and follow his heart.

If you love paranormal YA books like I do, you have heard of the Evernight series by Claudia Gray. I even own the first book in the series but just have not had a chance to read it. When I got a copy of Balthazar (a spin-off title from the Evernight series) for review, I was a little worried that I would be lost having not read the original series first. I’m thrilled to tell you that my concerns were completely unfounded!

Skye Tierney, a former student at Evernight Academy, is having disturbing visions where she sees violent deaths and feels what the people in the vision felt. Skye writes to her friend from Evernight, Lucas, for help and he sends Balthazar to see if he can help Skye with her problem.

As Balthazar arrives in Skye’s small town in upstate New York, she is being attacked by vampire, one from his past. What should have been a quick visit to help an acquaintance with an issue turns into a full time mission to keep Skye from being killed or worse by an extremely evil tribe of vamps led by Balthazar’s maker himself.

Portions of the book are told in flashbacks and so you get to see how a 19-year-old Puritan boy became a 400 year-old vampire. I love Balthazar and even though I have not read Evernight, I’m so happy he got his own book. Balty is ridiculously swoon worthy and while he is a teeny bit brooding over his past and what he is, he is not overly emo. I love how he treats Skye and while his reasons for avoiding a romantic relationship with her are valid, it’s easy to see how much he cares for her.

The relationship between Skye and Balthazar is my favorite aspect of the book. Having known each other before, it’s easy and natural for these two to click. It also helps that Skye had a huge crush on Balthazar when they were at Evernight but she never acted on it.

Unlike a lot of girls in YA these days, Skye is very smart and capable. Balthazar does end up saving her a few times but that’s only because Skye is not always a match for a tribe of evil vampires. I’m happy to say that does hold her own a few times.

Balthazar is fast paced, exciting and so romantic. Claudia Gray's writing is solid and I raced through this book. If you have been holding back on reading Balthazar because you have not read the Evernight series, don’t. The book works perfectly by itself and has actually made me want to read the original series even more. There is no cliffhanger ending and my heart broke a little bit when I found this is a standalone book. I would love to know what happens next with Skye and Balty.

Content: Kissing, implied sex and violence.

My Rating: Really Good!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday: Defiance

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine and spotlights upcoming novels we can't wait to read. This week’s choice is:

Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publish Date: Aug. 28, 2012
Genre: Fantasy
Goodreads Summary: Within the walls of Baalboden, beneath the shadow of the city’s brutal leader, Rachel Adams has a secret. While other girls sew dresses, host dinner parties, and obey their male Protectors, Rachel knows how to survive in the wilderness and deftly wield a sword. When her father, Jared, fails to return from a courier mission and is declared dead, the Commander assigns Rachel a new Protector, her father’s apprentice, Logan—the same boy Rachel declared her love for two years ago, and the same boy who handed her heart right back to her. Left with nothing but fierce belief in her father’s survival, Rachel decides to escape and find him herself. But treason against the Commander carries a heavy price, and what awaits her in the Wasteland could destroy her.

At nineteen, Logan McEntire is many things. Orphan. Outcast. Inventor. As apprentice to the city’s top courier, Logan is focused on learning his trade so he can escape the tyranny of Baalboden. But his plan never included being responsible for his mentor’s impulsive daughter. Logan is determined to protect her, but when his escape plan goes wrong and Rachel pays the price, he realizes he has more at stake than disappointing Jared.

As Rachel and Logan battle their way through the Wasteland, stalked by a monster that can’t be killed and an army of assassins out for blood, they discover romance, heartbreak, and a truth that will incite a war decades in the making.

Why am I waiting on Defiance? The summary sounds fantastic and the cover is absolutely beautiful. HarperTeen definitely has some of the most beautiful YA book covers out there. What books are you waiting on?

Does The Soul by Stephenie Meyer finally have a cover?

I was looking around on Goodreads and noticed that after all these years, The Soul by Stephenie Meyer has a cover. There isn’t a description, publisher information (The Host was published by Little, Brown and Company) or publish date which makes me a skeptical about if this is real or not.

There is also no information on Meyer’s website but it seems she only posts there once in a while. I loved The Host and would really like to read another science fiction book by Meyer. Does anyone know if The Soul will really be published and if this is the actual cover?

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Book Review: Stolen Away

Release Date: Jan. 17, 2012
Publisher: Walker Childrens
Pages: 288 pages
Genre: Fantasy
Source: Publisher through NetGalley
Goodreads Summary: For seventeen years, Eloise Hart had no idea the world of Faery even existed. Now she has been abducted and trapped in the Rath of Lord Strahan, King of Faery. Strahan was only meant to rule for seven years, as Faery tradition dictates, and then give up his crown to another. But he won't comply, and now chaos threatens both worlds.

The only one who can break his stranglehold on the Faery court is his wife. . . Eloise's aunt Antonia. Using Eloise to lure Antonia, Strahan captures his wife, desperate to end the only threat to his reign. Now Eloise must become the rescuer. Together with her best friends Jo and Devin, she must forge alliances with other Fae, including a gorgeous protector named Lucas, and Strahan's mysterious son, Eldric-who may or may not betray them.

I’ve heard great things about Alyxandra Harvey’s Drake Chronicles series so when I saw that she had written a fey book, I just knew I had to read it.

Stolen Away is set in a small town that despite it being fall, is having an awful heat wave brought on by the fey king, Lord Strahan, who refuses to step down even though his reign is up. Eloise has no idea that her eccentric aunt is even married much less to a fey king. She finds out the fey are real when she is attacked and kidnapped Strahan’s minions so he can use her to lure her aunt, his wife, to him.

The story is told from the first person’s perspectives of both Eloise and her friend, Jo. Other reviewers have complained that the alternating perspective was confusing but I had no problems with it. Eloise with her rockabilly hair and tattoos and Jo with her British accent and funky clothes are both cool, likable characters.

The book is fast paced, has lots of action and has really great descriptions of the fey world. Unfortunately, the plot was not very developed and the whole story seemed rushed. Another thing I’m not crazy about is the relationship between Jo and Eldric. While not exactly insta-love, their relationship develops very fast. I was actually surprised when Jo admitted that she was in love with Eldric after talking to him a few times and spending very little time with him.

Harvey is obviously an imaginative storyteller and while I loved the idea behind Stolen Away, I wish it had more depth. The book is a quick, fun read and appears to be a stand alone novel. While Stolen Away has its flaws, I liked Harvey’s writing enough to try some of her other novels.

Have you read Stolen Away or any other books by Alyxandra Harvey? What did you think of them? Are there any you would recommend? 

Content: Profanity, kissing and violence

My Rating: Just Fine

Friday, March 9, 2012

Book to Big Screen: A Princess of Mars

This is a new feature where I highlight books that upcoming movies are being based on. Today, I’m highlighting A Princess of Mars, the science fiction cult classic that the new Disney movie, John Carter, is adapted from.

Title: A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs
Release Date: Originally published in 1912
Movie Title: John Carter
Movie Release Date: March 9, 2012
Genre: Science Fiction
Source: Download for free from Project Gutenberg
Goodreads Summary: Let the adventures begin, as Captain John Carter finds himself transported to the alien landscape of Mars--where the low gravity increases his speed and strength exponentially. Taken prisoner by Martian warriors, he impresses them with his remarkable fighting skills, and quickly rises to a high-ranking chieftain. But the heroic Carter's powers thrust him right in the middle of a deadly war raging across the planet--and a dangerous romance with a divine princess.

John Carter, a captain in the confederate army, goes prospecting in Arizona at the end of the civil war and runs afoul of the Apaches. He hides out in a cave where he is mysteriously transported to Mars and captured by green Martian men who are 15 feet tall and have six limbs. Due to the difference in gravity, Carter has superhuman strength and agility, powers that come in handy as he gets embroiled in the planet’s politics and works to save the humanoid red Martian princess, Dejah Thoris.

A Princess of Mars is like a western set on Mars. Carter goes from fighting Native Americans in the Arizona desert to fighting Tharks in the Martian desert within a 24 hour period. His holds the same amount of disdain for both groups referring to them as ‘savages.’ Burroughs’ writing was a little hard to get into at first but I was fine after the first few chapters and really got into the story after that.

The world building in A Princess of Mars is excellent. Burroughs does a great job of creating the landscape of Mars as well as the planet’s myriad of interesting inhabitants. The story is told from Carter’s first person perspective which is also interesting because pats himself on the back quite often. In addition to seeing Carter in action being a gallant gentleman, a brilliant war strategist and a formidable fighter, he tells us that he is. All the time.

Let’s talk about the Carter’s love interest, Dejah Thoris, the princess of Helium. While she does not seem particularly helpless, Carter has to rescue her over and over again. Dejah Thoris has a strange affect on men: they either pledge their undying devotion to protecting her or they fall madly in love with her and selfishly want her for themselves. John Carter does both and combined with his first person narrative, this book gets a bit cheesy.

I can’t finish this review without mentioning the racism and sexism in the book. To be fair, I’m sure this was not an issue in 1912 when the book was written nor do I think Burroughs was trying to be offensive. Nevertheless, Carter’s thoughts and attitude towards to Native Americans and green Martians is in sharp contrast with how he regards the humanoid red Martians and their ancestors, the fair skinned fair haired Martians. I doubt they will include this in the movie.

A Princess of Mars is a sci-fi classic and despite the cheesiness and the isms, it’s worth reading, especially if you are a fan of the genre. It was Burroughs’ first novel, pre-dating his more famous Tarzan series and it also inspired a lot of other sci-fi authors including Ray Bradbury and Arthur C. Clarke. Now that I have read the book, I’m looking forward to the movie.

Have you read A Princess of Mars? What were your thoughts on it? Are you planning on seeing the movie? 

Cover Note: Since this book is 100 years old, it has had a lot of covers, most of them featuring Dejah Thoris in revealing outfits. What’s really interesting is that as far as I can tell, everyone on Mars is naked and Dejah Thoris even tells John Carter that when she sees pictures of people on Earth, she can’t understand why we wear clothes. Easy to see why this book remains popular among teenage boys.

Content: Kissing and heavy violence

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday: Valkyrie Rising and Starling

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine and spotlights upcoming novels we can't wait to read. This week’s choices are:

Title: Valkyrie Rising by Ingrid Paulson
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publish Date: Oct. 9, 2012
Genre: Mythology

Goodreads Summary: Nothing ever happens in Norway. But at least Ellie knows what to expect when she visits her grandmother: a tranquil fishing village and long, slow summer days. And maybe she’ll finally get out from under the shadow of her way-too-perfect big brother, Graham, while she’s there.

What Ellie doesn’t anticipate is Graham’s infuriating best friend, Tuck, tagging along for the trip. Nor did she imagine boys going missing amid rumors of impossible kidnappings. Least of all does she expect something powerful and ancient to awaken in her and that strange whispers would urge Ellie to claim her place among mythological warriors. Instead of peace and quiet, there’s suddenly there’s a lot for a girl from L.A. to handle on a summer sojourn in Norway! And when Graham vanishes, it’s up to Ellie—and the ever-sarcastic, if undeniably alluring Tuck—to uncover the truth about all the disappearances and thwart the nefarious plan behind them.

Deadly legends, hidden identities, and tentative romance swirl together in one girl’s unexpectedly-epic coming of age.

Publisher: HarperTeen
Publish Date: Aug. 15, 2012
Genre: Fantasy, Mythology

Goodreads Summary: "Love is just the beginning... of the end." Mason Starling is a champion fencer for Gosforth Academy, but she’s never had to fight for her life. Until now. When a ferocious storm rips through Manhattan and unleashes terrifying creatures onto Gosforth’s campus, Mason barely escapes alive.

Without help from the mysterious stranger who appeared in the midst of the storm, she might not have made it at all. But now, in the aftermath, Mason’s life begins to spin dramatically, mystically out of control, and the only one who seems able to help her is the stranger who can remember nothing but his name: Fennrys Wolf.

As Mason and Fenn uncover more about Fenn’s past and the strange events that surround them, they realize that Mason’s family — and its dark allegiance to the ancient Norse gods — is at the center of everything. A predetermined fate seems to be closing in on Mason, but is it possible to change one’s destiny?

Readers who fell in love with Lesley Livingston’s Wondrous Strange trilogy and those who love Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments series will be captivated by the sweeping romance and pulse-pounding action of Starling.

Why am I waiting on Valkyrie Rising and Starling? There are not nearly enough YA books with Norse mythology and along with the fantastic cover, Valkyrie Rising looks like a winner. When I read the description of Starling and saw that Lesley Livingston is bringing Fennrys back, I did a little sqee! He was one of my favorite characters from the Wondrous Strange books and I’m thrilled he will be featured in another series. Plus, Starling includes some Norse mythology as well and I love myth. What books are you waiting on?

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Book Review: Tangled

Release Date: Jan. 31, 2012
Publisher: Kensington
Pages: 313 pages
Genre: Paranormal
Source: Publisher
Goodreads Summary: Constance started to keen as the air around us began to thrash and twist, the caustic scent of ozone burning my nose. As I watched, her dark gold hair began to lift and kink into knots.

“I’m here. It’ll be okay.” It was the last thing I said before my best friend’s little sister went supernova in the second-floor girls’ bathroom, taking me with her.

A month ago, Mo Fitzgerald risked her life to stop an ancient prophecy and avenge her best friend's murder. Now, she only wants to keep her loved ones safe. But the magic—and the Chicago Mob—have other plans.

Mysterious, green-eyed Luc is back, asking for help—and a second chance. Colin, her strongest protector, is hiding a shocking secret. And inside Constance, the magic is about to go terribly wrong. Tangled in a web of love and betrayal, Mo must choose between the life she's dreamed of and the one she's destined for.

All Mo wants to do is get away from the magic and the mob but they just keep pulling her back in. Tangled picks up about a month after where Torn, the first book in the series, ended. Torn was all about avenging the death of Verity, Mo’s best friend, but Mo had to make sacrifices to get justice. Having done what she needed to do, Mo just wants her normal, invisible life back but no one will let her have it ever again.

The series is partially set in Chicago where Mo’s uncle is connected to the mob and partially set in New Orleans where a secret society of Arcs, people who can pull on the magic in the Earth’s elements, are headquartered. In many ways, the Arcs are no different than the mob: they are ruthless and will sacrifice anyone to get what they want.

Unfortunately, Mo is caught between both groups as well as some other characters, all of whom have their own agendas and almost none of them care about Mo’s well being. Mo realizes that she will never have normal again and that her dream of moving away from all of it may not be possible.

The love triangle from Torn continues in Tangled with Mo being pursued by magical Luc with his sexy Louisiana drawl and being drawn to Colin, her bodyguard with his mob ties and secrets. Both boys have their pros and cons and Mo does spend most of the book undecided about which one she is going to be with. One of the things I like about the book is that Mo’s character does grow throughout the story and she emerges a lot surer of herself than when she started. This confidence also extends to her decisions about the love triangle and I can’t wait to read the next book in the series, Bound, to see how she deals with the mob, the magic and the men.

Tangled is exciting, fast paced and the combination of magic and the mob is very cool. If you have not started this series yet, you really should. The series stand out from other books in the YA paranormal market and is definitely worth reading. Bound will be released in October 2012 and I'm looking forward to it.

Content: Profanity, kissing and violence

My Rating: Really Good!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Book Review: Scarlet

Release Date: Feb. 14, 2012
Publisher: Walker Childrens
Pages: 292 pages
Genre: Historical
Source: Publisher
Goodreads Summary: Many readers know the tale of Robin Hood, but they will be swept away by this new version full of action, secrets, and romance.

Posing as one of Robin Hood’s thieves to avoid the wrath of the evil Thief Taker Lord Gisbourne, Scarlet has kept her identity secret from all of Nottinghamshire. Only the Hood and his band know the truth: the agile thief posing as a whip of a boy is actually a fearless young woman with a secret past. Helping the people of Nottingham outwit the corrupt Sheriff of Nottingham could cost Scarlet her life as Gisbourne closes in.

It’s only her fierce loyalty to Robin—whose quick smiles and sharp temper have the rare power to unsettle her—that keeps Scarlet going and makes this fight worth dying for.

If you think you the story of Robin Hood has been done so many times, there can’t be anything new about it, think again. A.C. Gaughen writes a story that’s fresh, exciting and romantic and puts a new spin and the story you thought you knew!

Scarlet in set in Nottinghamshire, a small town ruled over by the evil and corrupt sheriff who oppresses the people beyond the breaking point. Robin is a nobleman who has had his title, lands and possessions unjustly taken from him. Of course, he loves his people so he steals for them so they can eat and pay their taxes and break them out of the jail when they are locked up. Everything is going as well as usual until the sheriff hires a new thief taker, one that even has the unflappable Will Scarlet terrified.

The story is told from Scarlet’s perspective, and she is the best and most daring thief in Robin Hood’s band. Very few people know that Scarlet is actually a girl, one with a chip on her shoulder and a shadowy past. The boys, Robin, Little John and Much, know what she is and are fiercely protective of Scarlet who hates being fussed over and treated differently.

The first thing you notice when you start reading the book is Scarlet’s dialect and since the book is told from her first person perspective, it’s constant throughout the book. It took me about two pages to get used to it and it seemed so natural after that.

I loved Scarlet! She had so much emotional baggage and a past that was a complete mystery, but it was slowly revealed throughout the book. The pain and angst the character feels is very well written. The fact that she is deadly with the knives made me love her that much more.

There is a of a love triangle of sorts among Scarlet, Little John and Robin. Robin is gallant, swoon worthy and utterly frustrating! He jealously accuses Scarlet of sending John mixed signals when he pretty much guilty of doing the same thing to her. Regardless, I liked Robin a lot and raced through the book to see how the romance would play out.

Scarlet is a fast paced, exciting book with some awesome plot twists thrown in and I loved it. Gaughen has written a solid debut novel that left me wanting more. I have no idea if there will be a sequel as the book works well as a standalone novel, but I would love to go back to this world. Fingers crossed that I will.

Content: Kissing and heavy violence

My Rating: Really Good!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Read. Breathe. Relax. One Year Blogiversary and Giveaway!

My bloggy friend Lisa at Read. Breathe. Relax is celebrating her one year blogiversary by giving away four copies of Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver!

Lisa’s blog is awesome and one of my favorites! Hop over there and enter to win one of the books. While you are there, you should check out her reviews and the unique and cool features that she posts including A Novel Accessory and Pages and Pairings, among others. Good luck and happy browsing!


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