Sunday, December 23, 2012

And the winner of the $100 Amazon gift card is...

The winner of the $100 Amazon gift card is...

Sweet Falene!!!!!!!

Thank you to all who participated.  I was able to accumulate ten new reviews for Arcadia's Gift.  You have no idea how these reviews help to boost my book and get it out in front of new readers.  I truly appreciate your support.

**** Winner chosen by

Monday, December 10, 2012

Wouldn't you like a chance at winning a $100 Amazon gift card? There's still time! #YAlitchat #TeenReads


Last week I held my first free promotion since enrolling in KDP Select.  I can’t believe how successful it was!  I held the #1 spot in three categories and made it to #24 in the Kindle e-store.  Coming off of free, I’ve decided to keep Arcadia’s Gift at only 99¢ for the remainder of my review drive in order to make it easy on readers to enter. 

Speaking of... there is still plenty of time to read and review Arcadia’s Gift in order to be entered in a drawing for a $100 Amazon Gift Card!!!!  

Reviews must be posted on Amazon by midnight Central time on December 20, 2012 in order to qualify.  Please make sure you send me your contact information (so I can contact the winner).  You may email me a link to your review at or tweet me at @Jesilea.  

Monday, December 3, 2012

Like #YAlit? Want to win a $100 Amazon gift card? #YAbooks #Kindle

What sells books?  Honest reviews.  How does an author get honest reviews?  Begging. Pleading. Tears can work.  

AND SO CAN GIVEAWAYS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Between now and December 20th, anyone who reads Arcadia’s Gift and posts a review on Amazon will be entered in a drawing for a $100 Amazon gift card!!!  All you have to do is buy the book from Amazon, read it and write an honest review.  (Five stars are nice, but I’d rather them be earned fairly.)  


To make this easier for you, Arcadia’s Gift will be FREE on December 4th & 5th!  

Yes, you read that right!  Download Arcadia’s Gift for free, read, review and have a chance to win a $100 Amazon gift card.  It can't get any easier!  However, as with everything in life, there are a few rules:

1.  You must read the book.  I know, I know, sounds like a no-brainer, but we all know there are people out there who post reviews on books they never read, either to sabotage the author or to unfairly pump the book up.  While there is no way for me to know for sure that you have read the book, if your review mentions rabid zombie squirrels or some such, I will assume you never read the book. 

2.  You need to email me a link to your review.  This is mainly so I will have your contact information if you are the winner.  My email is

3.  You cannot be related to me by blood, marriage or adoption.  Sorry, Mom, but it would not be fair of me to stack my review list with those written by people who love me, or at the very least, are afraid of getting a lousy Xmas gift. 

Reviews must be posted by midnight December 20th, central time.

 International reviewers are welcome! 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Brenda Margriet (@brendamargriet) reviews The Emotion Thesaurus by @AngelaAckerman

The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide to Character Expression
By Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisis

One of the biggest problem areas for writers is conveying a character's emotions to the reader in a unique, compelling way. This book comes to the rescue by highlighting 75 emotions and listing the possible body language cues, thoughts, and visceral responses for each.

Written in an easy-to-navigate list format, readers can draw inspiration from character cues that range in intensity to match any emotional moment. The Emotion Thesaurus also tackles common emotion-related writing problems and provides methods to overcome them.

This writing tool encourages authors to show, not tell emotion and is a creative brainstorming resource for any fiction project.
(Goodreads description)


This is an amazingly helpful, well thought out book that every writer should have handy.

We all know we're supposed to show, not tell. Don't tell "Joe is sad." Show "Joe's shoulders slumped and his eyes brightened with unshed tears." And that's a prime example of how writer's can easily fall into the cliche trap when showing.

THE EMOTIONAL THESAURUS lists emotions, and then gives all the physical signals, mental responses and internal sensations associated with that emotion. It includes cues for if the emotion is acute or has been felt over the long-term, and suggests other connected emotions. It even gives tips on what a person might look like if they are suppressing that emotion.

What this does is lift you out of the usual descriptions, and helps you brainstorm new ways of portraying that feeling.

It is truly one of the most helpful writing books I've ever come across.

About the Reviewer

Brenda Margriet's first novel, Mountain Fire is currently available on Kindle.  It will be released January 9, 2013 by The Wild Rose Press for other e-formats.  She lives in Northern British Columbia with her husband, three children (all of whom are taller than her) and various finny and furry pets. By day she is Creative Director at the local television station, and by night she pecks away at her works in progress.  Find out more at

Friday, November 23, 2012

Arcadia's Gift only 99¢ on #Kindle through #CyberMonday!

I'm new to the whole KDP Select thing, and trying out some new promotion methods. For my first baby step, I decided to place my novel YA paranormal romance, Arcadia's Gift, on sale for 99¢ during Thanksgiving/Black Friday/Cyber Monday.  So far it has been going beautifully!  I owe much of the success to my family and friends for promoting me on their Facebook and Twitter pages.  I have the best Street Team ever!  

There is still time to get your copy before the price goes back to the normal retail price.  Get it while it's hot!

Arcadia's Gift (Arcadia Trilogy)

Most people who experience death don’t live to tell about it.

When sixteen year old Arcadia “Cady” Day wakes in a hospital after experiencing what can only be called a psychic episode, she finds her family in tatters. With her twin sister gone, her dad moved out, her mom’s spiraling depression and her sister’s boyfriend, Cane, barely able to look at her, the only bright spot in her life is Bryan Sullivan, the new guy in school. When Bryan’s around, Cady can almost pretend she’s a regular girl, living a regular life; when he’s not, she’s wracked with wild, inexplicable mood swings. As her home life crumbles and her emotional control slips away, Cady begins to suspect that her first psychic episode was just the beginning…

"Cady--short for Arcadia--is an appealing heroine, and I enjoyed cheering for her as she confronted the tragic death of her twin sister, the collapse of her family, the vicissitudes of teenage romance, and the amazing discovery of her gift." --Mike Mullin, Author of ASHFALL.

"Arcadia's Gift" is a poignant story of loss, love and hope. A must read for all young adult paranormal romance fans!" -- Charlotte Abel, author of Kindle bestsellers, Enchantment and Taken

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Five star review: Cleanse Fire by Anastasia V. Pergakis @avpergakis

Cleanse Fire 
By Anastasia V. Pergakis

Complete the mission, no matter what...

Captain Derac Vidor has served Kinir for nearly twenty years. It's his life, his blood. And then his Commander betrays everything Derac holds dear. Now he has to focus on his own life and his team instead of saving the citizens of Kinir.

Treason is only the beginning...

Fueled by rage, the team chases the source to their Commander's betrayal - a powerful wizard bent on revenge. The wizard seeks to destroy the Kinir Elite, in both mind and body. No place is safe, even among their allies.

The past holds the key...

Derac's tragic past may be the key to saving the team. But can he face the gruesome nightmare in time?
(Amazon description)

I have to admit, I wasn’t sure I wanted to read this book.  I don’t read a lot of high fantasy.  Not because I have any particular problem with it, I’m just not drawn to it the way some people are.  But I have been hearing a lot about this book, so I thought I’d give it a shot.  Turns out, that was a good call!

For me, a good book is one that I can connect to emotionally.  The book opens with a highly emotional scene where Derac, the Captain of an Elvin military unit called the Kinir Elite, loses his wife in a fire.  The visual of this scene was so disturbing I immediately became emotionally connected with Derac. 

The story picks up ten years later--Derac is still the successful Captain of the Elite, but he has never really been able to move on from his guilt over the loss of his wife.  When he first begins to feel attraction to Kie, an archer in his unit, he is hesitant to act on his feelings.  I found the love story that grew up around these two characters refreshing in its slowness.  There was no insta-love.  These were two adults who acted like adults.  Their mission came first at all times.  They might have wanted to rip each other’s uniforms off, but they help off, prolonging the sexual and romantic tension. 

While I am always sucked in the love story, the main plot of this novel was a military story, full of strategy, battles and intrigue.  I loved the way the author described the battle communication among the members of the group, made up of a mixture of hand signals and whistles.  Something about it felt so...elfish, maybe?  Almost like how animals might communicate when coordinating an attack.  Not that these characters are animalistic in any way, but it was a subtle reminder that they were not humans, dependent on speech and electronic devices to communicate.  Very well done.

The characterization was also great.  Each member of the Kinir Elite had a distinct personality and skill that added to the group.  Derac, as Captain, is a natural leader.  He is smart, strategic and brave.  Rakan is the experienced veteran soldier in the group, rough around the edges, but trustworthy and tough.  Tyn is Derac’s best friend.  Without him, I think Derac might have become so overcome in his grief after the loss of his wife, that it might have rendered his useless.  Tyn prevents Derac from taking himself too seriously, constantly teasing him and drawing him out.  I would love to see a future book which revolves around Tyn.  Jardel is the young soldier, full of youth and spirit.  While he is very good in a fight, he also is a bit like a naughty puppy.  Too cute to really get angry at when he is bad.  Aeli and Kie are the two women in the group and are opposite in every way.  Aeli is vain and feminine, but also smart and loyal.  She is easily under estimated.  Kie is a tom-boy with a troubled past.  I appreciated that the author did not make her too angsty or snarky.  She doesn’t have a chip on her shoulder.  Instead, she bravely faces the things that frighten her most. 

My only semi-criticism of the book is that a few times I felt like things worked out a little too easy.  For example, when Aeli’s loyalty is questioned, Derac decides to trust her right away, not really exercising the caution that I think he should have.  Of course, it turned out that she was loyal to the group, but Derac didn’t know that. 

Cleanse Fire is the first book in the Kinir Elite series.  It was very well written, and I will definitely be reading the next book when it releases. 

Overall, I give Cleanse Fire...

Plot - 4 1/2 bookmarks
Character development - 5 bookmarks
Love Story - 4 1/2  bookmarks
Dream cast (otherwise known as who I pictured while reading)  -  Henry Cavil (Derac), Keira Knightly (Kie), Sean Patrick Flanery (Tyn), Rosamund Pike (Aeli), Sean Bean (Rakan), Armie Hammer (Jardel)

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

5 Stars for PRICELESS by Shannon Mayer @TheShannonMayer #Kindle

When children go missing without a trace, there is only one person who can find them.

Welcome to the world of Rylee Adamson, a woman with unique abilities, some wild friends and a unstoppable drive to save those who can't save themselves.

But when the details of a missing child duplicate that of her worst case, things start to get freaky. And not in a good way.
(Amazon description)

So my hubby walked in last night to find me laying on the floor of the living room laughing over my Kindle.  If that isn’t the sign of a good book, I don’t know what is. 

Priceless is the perfect blend of everything I like in a book--a kick-ass heroine, intriguing mystery, an assortment of paranormal creatures, well-timed comic relief and a red hot lust/hate relationship. 

Rylee is my kind of heroine.  She has supernatural talent, yet is fallibly human.  I like that things don’t always go her way...well ever.  But whether she is leading high speed car chases running from the law, fighting harpies with her trusty blades or going toe-to-toe with magic wielding kidnappers, she’s somehow able to maintain her softness--or maybe a better word is compassion.  After having been abandoned first by her biological parents and again by her adoptive parents, Rylee knows what it’s like to be alone in the world.  As a result, she has dedicated her whole life to helping those in need.  It goes deeper than just rescuing missing children; she is like a beacon to those in need.  This adds a surprising amount of emotional depth to the story.

Regular readers of my reviews know I’m all about the love story.  My favorites are those that are able to balance lust, affection and antagonism. The relationship between Rylee and Agent O’Shea has all of these elements.  Our first introduction to O’Shea is as the FBI agent who has been trying for ten years to prove Rylee murdered her little sister.  She didn’t do it, but O’Shea is too haunted by the unsolved case to see past his prejudice against Rylee.  When the tables turn and he is forced to place his trust in her, O’Shea finds everything he has even known about the world turned upside down.  I loved the way the author handled this relationship.  There is no insta-love here, more like a slow burn.  This is a love story that is meant to roll out over the course of a series, not wrap up with a nice tight bow at the end of the book.  I am so excited to see what happens with this couple.

One of the other strengths of this book is the use of humor.  The dark subject matter and gruesomeness of this story could have caused the book to be too heavy.  Witty dialog and Rylee’s sidekick, Alex the werewolf, keep the book from taking itself too seriously.  Remember my husband walking in on me laughing at my Kindle?  Yeah, that was Alex.  

About the only character that I didn’t like was Rylee’s best friend Milly.  She’s a witch--literally.  Even though the two are as close as sisters, she dumps Rylee because her Coven doesn’t want her to associate with people outside their group.  (This isn’t really a spoiler.  It happens right at the beginning of the book.)  I found Milly to be weak and annoying.  Her efforts to redeem herself at the end of the book fell flat with me.  I assume as the series goes on Milly will either develop a spine or do something so stupid Rylee will sick Alex on her. 

All in all, Priceless is an amazing start to a fun new urban fantasy series.  I can’t wait to see where this is going!

Plot - 5 bookmarks (lots of action!)
Character development - 4 1/2 bookmarks (Lots of depth to Rylee. Now we need to see where O’Shea how O’Shea is going to grow.)
Action - 5 bookmarks
Love story - 4 1/2 bookmarks
Dream cast (otherwise known as who I pictured while reading) - Gemma Arterton (Rylee), David Boreanaz (O’Shea), Blake Lively (Milly), Frances McDormand (Giselle)

Monday, November 19, 2012

Reviewer @Aprilelayne1 gives 5 stars to Wander Dust by Michelle Warren, @MMichelleWarren.

Wander Dust 
By: Michelle Warren

Ever since her sixteenth birthday, strange things keep happening to Seraphina Parrish.
The Lady in Black burns Sera’s memories.
Unexplainable Premonitions catapult her to other cities.
The Grungy Gang wants to kill her.
And a beautiful, mysterious boy stalks her.

But when Sera moves to Chicago, and her aunt reveals their family connection to a centuries old, secret society, she is immediately thrust into an unbelievable fantasy world, leading her on a quest to unravel the mysteries that plague her. In the end, their meanings crash into an epic struggle of loyalty and betrayal, and she’ll be forced to choose between the boy who has stolen her heart and the thing she desires most.
(Barnes & Noble description)

My first ever true YA book, I won it in a giveaway and was hesitant to even start it until the blogger egged me on to jump in.  I had always read adult, action, gritty and sexy paranormal books with cursing and violence (not erotica), so this book was a big departure.  The blogger, Jacque, had basically challenged me to broaden my interests and this book was her ammunition for the challenge.

I had to fold and admit defeat before 25% into the book. She was right…and yes it stings to say/type that out loud.  This book amazed me, it had the hints of supernatural senses AND reminders of Michael Crichtons’ science driven, but historical fiction of Timeline.  The main characters are high school aged, which let the language and style of writing be easy and a quick read for an adult reader.  I wish I could have read this type of book when I was Sera’s age.  The high school friendships, crushes, jealousy and cliques all apply in Sera’s new world just like everywhere else.  High school is still high school even at special schools or special powers. Just ask Harry Potter, sometimes being in high school sucks no matter what.

Back to Wander Dust though!  In typical fashion, the main character, Sera, is dumped by her father to live with the quirky Aunt and only blood connection to her passed mother.  Yes, its been done before time and time again, but the tale that gets woven forwards and backwards was fascinating.  It truly is one of the books that once you read the end, you want to re-read the beginning now that you know the end? “Fight Club,” “Matrix,” “Sixth Sense?” Yep, that kind of awareness that makes you want to start it again to find the hints that you didn’t know were there the first time around! (No, Sera is not unknowingly dead, a prophet, or have split personalities…oops I guess I did spoil the movies! But not the book!!) She is a solidly written character with a world that could grow with her for many years and books.

A definite read for younger readers, Wander Dust has elements of science fiction, supernatural, and your everyday teenager rites of passage.

About the Reviewer

Aprilelayne, yes all one word, touts herself as a 'Jane of all trades.' An Army brat who ended up in Austin, Texas, she has two full-time jobs --motherhood and work-work (aka: the paying gig). She spends her time trying to master any one of her many hobbies, but really loves to read anything off the beaten path--especially the dark and twisty ones.  On any given day you'll likely find her in the kitchen with a toddler hanging onto a leg sneaking peeks at a book while stirring something on the stove. You can currently find Aprilelayne on GoodReads and Twitter @Aprilelayne1.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Reviewer @Aprilelayne1 gives 5 stars to Witchy, Witchy by @_WendyBird_

Witchy, Witchy                                                                                                          By: Penelope King

When Calista McCoy moves from the slums of the Louisiana Bayou to an illustrious beach community in California, she knows her life is going to take a drastic turn. But once she arrives at the beautiful mansion by the sea, dark secrets are revealed...secrets that become even more complicated when she meets the gorgeous neighbor boy, Nicholas, and she feels an unexplainable--and undeniable--attraction.

Her new life seems almost too good to be true. But as everyone knows, when something seems too good to be true, it usually is.
(Amazon description)

...And in Calista's case, it could be deadly.

This was one of the highlights of the year for me, seriously I just read the book a couple weeks ago and can already see myself reading it again!

Penelope King has poetically created an enchanting world of Calista McCoy, her lovable but naïve father, and her new found life at a new school with new friends, and new secrets.  I fell in love not only with the characters, but with the style, pace, and overall sense of writing.  Witchy,Witchy is one of very few YA books I’ve read lately that I truly agree with the genre classification and would encourage young girls to read this.  Just like the beautiful but modest cover, there is an innocent feel in the writing and maturity in the characters.  Her new found friends and their bond does pay homage to the “Charmed” television show, but for a younger generation reading this book it definitely works.

If you are looking for YA angst and true sexual tension, look elsewhere.  The limited sexuality is bland, another reviewer called it ‘vanilla,’ which is true and one of the best things I enjoyed in this book.  I have since read another YA book involving a 16 year old and fought my discomfort with the amount of sexuality for the age.  I had no qualms or discomfort in reading this book, the ‘vanilla’ sexuality is just right for the main character’s age (or at least my comfort as a reader and parent.) 

Witchy, Witchy is a gem of a story that I would encourage young ladies as young as 12 to jump into.  There is magical action, sisterly friendships, and the appropriate amount of romance that a story of a modern world 16 year old should have.

About the Reviewer

Aprilelayne, yes all one word, touts herself as a 'Jane of all trades.' An Army brat who ended up in Austin, Texas, she has two full-time jobs --motherhood and work-work (aka: the paying gig). She spends her time trying to master any one of her many hobbies, but really loves to read anything off the beaten path--especially the dark and twisty ones.  On any given day you'll likely find her in the kitchen with a toddler hanging onto a leg sneaking peeks at a book while stirring something on the stove. You can currently find Aprilelayne on GoodReads and Twitter @Aprilelayne1.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Guest Reviewer Brenda Margriet (@brendamargriet) reviews Defending Jacob by William Landay

Defending Jacob
by William Landay

Andy Barber has been an assistant district attorney in his suburban Massachusetts county for more than twenty years. He is respected in his community, tenacious in the courtroom, and happy at home with his wife, Laurie, and son, Jacob. But when a shocking crime shatters their New England town, Andy is blindsided by what happens next: His fourteen-year-old son is charged with the murder of a fellow student.

Every parental instinct Andy has rallies to protect his boy. Jacob insists that he is innocent, and Andy believes him. Andy must. He’s his father. But as damning facts and shocking revelations surface, as a marriage threatens to crumble and the trial intensifies, as the crisis reveals how little a father knows about his son, Andy will face a trial of his own—between loyalty and justice, between truth and allegation, between a past he’s tried to bury and a future he cannot conceive.

Award-winning author William Landay has written the consummate novel of an embattled family in crisis—a suspenseful, character-driven mystery that is also a spellbinding tale of guilt, betrayal, and the terrifying speed at which our lives can spin out of control.
(Goodreads description)

Andy Barber has done his best to keep his small town safe. When a boy in his son's school is killed, he automatically assumes leadership of  the case, until the evidence points at his son, Jacob.

I thought the anxiety and the tension around Andy's belief in his son was very well done. Jacob insists he is innocent, and Andy trusts him implicitly. Yet the reader is forced to keep see-sawing back and forth.  We want to believe in Jacob because Andy does. But the evidence, while circumstantial, is potent.

Laurie, Andy's wife and Jacob's mother, wants to believe in her son. But her conflict is much greater. She at least considers the notion he may be guilty, while Andy absolutely refuses to. She wants him to get help, if he needs it.

The author draws you into the agonizing days spent waiting for the trial, the strain of trying to keep things 'normal'. It is painful to read how this family tries to hold it all together, despite being deserted by people they thought were best friends. Even a trip to the grocery store becomes an ordeal. And because we live in Andy's head, we see how the facade of 'normal' develops cracks, and starts to crumble.

Much of the time, I wasn't sure I wanted to keep reading. Not because of any skill lacking by the author, but because of my own fear of how the book would end. You want Andy's faith in his son to be redeemed, but you are never sure it will be. It is a masterwork of suspense in that way.

This is the type of novel where nothing much happens "on stage".  Almost everything of moment happens off the page, and we find out about it from the narrator.  There are a couple of odd subplots.  One is about a "murder gene", because Andy's father and grandfather were both murderers. His estranged father does play into the plot,  but disappears about three quarters of the way through.  Also there is a psychiatrist's report that pretty much says Jacob 'could' have been the murderer, but nothing much is done with that.

All in all, a thought provoking book, and one I had to finish, despite everything.

Special offer from reviewer 
Brenda Margriet!!!!

Brenda Margriet's first novel, Mountain Fire is being offered FREE on Kindle, October 31 to November 3, 2012.  It will be released January 9, 2013 by The Wild Rose Press for other e-formats.  She lives in Northern British Columbia with her husband, three children (all of whom are taller than her) and various finny and furry pets. By day she is Creative Director at the local television station, and by night she pecks away at her works in progress.  Find out more at

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Kindle find! FOREVER GIRL by Rebecca Hamilton @InkMuse

I have been following Rebecca Hamilton (@InkMuse) on Twitter for a couple of years now.  In the last few months, I have been reading her blog -- Not only is it filled with reviews and giveaways, but her Books Against Bullying campaign is very inspiring.  So I decided it was time to seek out Rebecca’s book, Forever Girl, which is only $2.99 on Kindle right now.  With over 200 five-star reviews, I couldn't wait to get my hands on this book!

"Whatever you do, fight."

Sophia's family has skeletons, but they aren't in their graves.

At twenty-two, practicing Wiccan Sophia Parsons is scratching out a living waiting tables in her Rocky Mountain hometown, a pariah after a string of unsolved murders with only one thing in common: her.

Sophia can imagine lots of ways to improve her life, but she'd settle for just getting rid of the buzzing noise in her head. When the spell she casts goes wrong, the static turns into voices. Her personal demons get company, and the newcomers are dangerous.

One of them is a man named Charles, who Sophia falls for despite her better judgment. He has connections that might help her unveil the mystery surrounding her ancestor's hanging, but she gets more than she bargains for when she finally decides to trust him.

Survival in his world, she learns, means not asking questions and staying out of the immortal council's way. It's a line she crossed long ago. If Sophia wants to survive the council and save the people she loves, she must accept who she is, perform dark magic, and fight to the death for her freedom.

The Forever Girl is a full-length Paranormal Fantasy novel that will appeal to lovers of paranormal romance, urban fantasy, witches, vampire fiction, ghost stories, paranormal mystery, and paranormal horror.
(Amazon product description)

So have any of you read Forever Girl yet?  Tell me what you think!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Review: ‘Cinder’ by Marissa Meyer @marissa_meyer

 Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl.

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.
(Amazon product description)

I don’t read a lot of science fiction, so even though Cinder was getting good buzz, I wasn’t all that drawn to it.  Add to that the retelling of the classic fairy tale that I could recite in my sleep, and it just didn’t seem like it would hold my interest. 

Boy was I wrong!  Now, I have to admit, most “modern day” rehashing of fairy tales end up being cheesy and simplistic.  Okay for a Disney after school special, but not something I seek out.  Cinder is completely different!  While the plot is enough like Cinderella that it was recognizable, Marissa Meyer made it seem completely fresh and new.  Setting the story in a futuristic world with cyborgs, androids and magic was brilliant!  Additional plot lines including a mystery about a lost Lunar princess, a killer plague and political intrigue in the Princes kingdom centered in New Beijing add an unexpected depth to the story.

Cinder as a character was modern and intelligent, nothing like a Disney princess.  I loved that she meets Prince Kai through her mechanic shop.  That he seeks her out for her talent and skills is so much more interesting than him just thinking she’s hot.  Kai was a little bit bland for me.  Oh, I liked him enough, but he wasn’t overly memorable.  You won’t see tween girls walking around the mall with “Team Kai” t-shirts anyway.  I would have liked him to be just a bit more colorful in personality. 

The book did have some great supporting characters.  The Luna Queen was fabulous!  Not only was she evil and bat-shit crazy, but her power was so unique and scary.  I also loved Peony, Cinder’s step-sister, and Iko, her slightly dysfunctional android.  Both added heart to the story. 

While I liked this book much more than I thought I would, it does have some large flaws.  I had a hard time with the romance between Cinder and Prince Kai.  It was too insta-love for my tastes.  I would have liked to have seen some chemistry build between the characters.  My other issue was the predictability in the Princess Selene story line.  Way too obvious! 

Overall, I give Cinder...

Plot - 4 bookmarks
Character development - 4 1/2 bookmarks
Love story - 3 bookmarks
Setting - 5 bookmarks
Dream cast (otherwise known as who I pictured while reading) - Shailene Woodley (Cinder), Luke Bilyk (Prince Kai), Ashley Greene (Luna Queen).  Yes, I know the story is set in China, but I don’t know a lot of asian actors and I can’t help who I see when I read.


While I hate photos of myself, I thought I would post this one for you.  It’s me with Cinder author Marissa Meyer, taken a few weeks ago at a book signing.  She really was a fascinating person.  I’m very excited for the sequel Scarlet to release on February 5, 2013!  

(I'm the short one who didn't bother to brush her hair.)

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Guest reviewer @Aprilelayne1 reviews Hollowland by Amanda Hocking

by Amanda Hocking

"This is the way the world ends - not with a bang or a whimper, but with zombies breaking down the back door."

Nineteen-year-old Remy King is on a mission to get across the wasteland left of America, and nothing will stand in her way - not violent marauders, a spoiled rock star, or an army of flesh-eating zombies
(Goodreads summary)

Before starting this review, I wanted to make sure I understood what I got myself into.  Hollowland is a self-published book and was a freebie on Amazon, but the online reviews typically gave it 4/5 stars.   I am trying to broaden my reading likes and am taking some books on as challenges to find something bold and new.  So I will make this short and sweet, but I will try my best to share my experience fairly while I hear my grandmother’s motto pounding in my head of ‘if you can’t say anything nice…..’

Remy is the ‘bad-ass’ heroine out to find her brother in this zombie filled world, who ends up being the leader of a small group of fellow survivors in her quest.  The story starts with action from the get-go and keeps up the pace throughout, so I had to look the other way regarding the lack of character development.  The main character herself, I really didn’t learn much about other than she’s a determined young lady who knows how to shoot and fight zombies. 

If I were to summarize the book even more than the synopsis, it would read:

Zombieland meets Resident Evil…with a pet lion. 

I honestly struggled in finishing this book, I haven’t been tempted to stop mid-book in a very long time.  To avoid being harsh and possibly overly negative, I will summarize the review in technical terms:

Technical review

Characters:  The main character, Remy (who I can summarize as a young Alice from Resident Evil) as well as everyone else is very flat without any depth and development.  Other than their names and a title, we never learn more of any of them. ‘Blue,’ a fellow survivor who appears throughout the book is a complete blank slate.  “My name is Blue, I’m a doctor.”

Dialogue: While the characters are young adults, the dialogue and attitudes is a high school level.  This helps if I am to suggest this read to very young readers of middle school age.*

Grammatically: Several editing errors with sentence length and flow.  I went back to the beginning to review the POV as I got confused at one point or another with it. 

It was a quick read, but it felt that suddenly the length requirements were met and then the final chapter was swift and abrupt to ‘turn it in.’

**This is a young adult book that does have one sex scene within one paragraph.  I actually missed it as it literally was three sentences of physical intimacy.  If this scene and its one reference were excluded, this book with its technical reading level would be appropriate for 10-12 year olds.

I know that if my grandmother knew of this less than favorable review, she would shake her head at me for not just smiling and saying ‘well bless their heart, they tried.’

About the Reviewer

Aprilelayne, yes all one word, touts herself as a 'Jane of all trades.' An Army brat who ended up in Austin, Texas, she has two full-time jobs --motherhood and work-work (aka: the paying gig). She spends her time trying to master any one of her many hobbies, but really loves to read anything off the beaten path--especially the dark and twisty ones.  On any given day you'll likely find her in the kitchen with a toddler hanging onto a leg sneaking peeks at a book while stirring something on the stove. You can currently find Aprilelayne on GoodReads and Twitter @Aprilelayne1.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Guest Reviewer Week! @Aprilelayne1 reviews Hold Me Closer, Necromancer

Hold Me Closer, Necromancer
By Lish McBride
4.5/5.0 stars

Sam leads a pretty normal life. He may not have the most exciting job in the world, but he’s doing all right—until a fast food prank brings him to the attention of Douglas, a creepy guy with an intense violent streak.

Turns out Douglas is a necromancer who raises the dead for cash and sees potential in Sam. Then Sam discovers he’s a necromancer too, but with strangely latent powers. And his worst nightmare wants to join forces . . . or else.

With only a week to figure things out, Sam needs all the help he can get. Luckily he lives in Seattle, which has nearly as many paranormal types as it does coffee places. But even with newfound friends, will Sam be able to save his skin?
(Goodreads description)

STOP!! Please ignore the title of the book…for all that is awesomely wicked and evil in this and all other worlds, black out the title in this post and ignore the title of this book!!

I had read the synopsis of this book and was tempted several times but something always held me back from getting it.  It was the title.  Luckily one night I was desperate to start something new.  I wasn’t into a book of “loving” a necromancer, I wanted action and supernatural plotlines, but I was desperate.  After purchase I then noticed the chapter titles and thought ‘what the hell have I gotten myself into?’

Chap 6 – “Sweet Dreams are Made of This”
Chap 9 – “The Future’s So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades”
Chap 12 – “Sweet Child o’ Mine”
Chap 26 – “Everybody was Kung-Fu Fighting”

While I was happy that I was the right age group to appreciate the references, I was initially thinking ‘oh dear lord, the book is from Cheese Factory, USA”

So before proceeding to the actual review:

1.       Ignore title of book – check!

2.       Ignore the chapter titles – check!

Now you have my permission to join the journey of Sam LaCroix and his dramatic change in life and emergence into the world of witchcraft, necromancy, zombies, shifters, weres, and whatever else McBride might throw at Sam in the next installments.  Sam is your everyday college dropout who hangs out with his buddies.  Friendships typically aren’t a focal point for many, but McBride brings the friendships full circle and they establish their roles in this new world of Sam’s.  I can easily see a book later on from one of the friend’s perspective.

We are introduced to the shifters and while McBride went out on a limb giving her female a higher ranking in the pack than her older brothers, she built enough brief background for it to work.  And ultimately we get the two worlds colliding between Sam’s naïve suburban world that is quickly fading away and the shifters.  Now the fun can begin!

Lish McBride must be a kindred soul to me, her dialogue and characterization for Sam and his friends is spot on to how I speak and think.  The dry humor, one-liners, and perfect retorts are exactly what I want to hear and read as it seems natural.  This book, despite being about necromancy and unsavory souls (or lack of), is humorous.  I found myself chuckling along with how Sam speaks and reacts to the chaos that has suddenly become his life.  Kudos to McBride on capturing so much personality simply in the dialogue, Sam could be anyone of my friends.

As the book neared the end, I grew more anxious for the next installment.  Hold Me Closer, Necromancer is Sam’s transition into the paranormal world, and McBride leaves the reader the perfect tease into next book. 

Now that I’ve overcome the two hurdles listed above, and getting to know Sam LaCroix?  The chapter titles are PERFECT.  The book title? I’m still not fond of, but it goes along with Sam’s personality.  For perspective, I’m confident that if it were re-released with a new title, the response would be significantly better and more sales.

I looked past both the title and the cheesy chapter titles and truly was surprised at how much I enjoyed this book.  I’ve recommended it to several friends, but the scene always ends up like this:

“Oh you have to read it!!! It is called Hold Me Closer, Necromancer, …don’t look at me like that! I’m serious! You will like it, I promise."

About the Reviewer

Aprilelayne, yes all one word, touts herself as a 'Jane of all trades.' An Army brat who ended up in Austin, Texas, she has two full-time jobs --motherhood and work-work (aka: the paying gig). She spends her time trying to master any one of her many hobbies, but really loves to read anything off the beaten path--especially the dark and twisty ones.  On any given day you'll likely find her in the kitchen with a toddler hanging onto a leg sneaking peeks at a book while stirring something on the stove. You can currently find Aprilelayne on GoodReads and Twitter @Aprilelayne1.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Guest Reviewer Brenda Margriet (@brendamargriet) reviews This Heart of Mine by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

This Heart of Mine 
by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Molly Somerville knows she has a reputation for trouble. She did give away her fifteen-million-dollar inheritance, but, hey, nobody's perfect. Still, if anyone has an almost perfect life, it's Molly. While her Daphne the Bunny children's books could be selling better, she loves her cramped loft, her French poodle, and her career creating the fictional animals who live in Nightingale Woods.She even loves her sister, Phoebe. True, it was a little tough growing up in her shadow. Phoebe is beautiful, blissfully married, and the owner of the most successful professional football team in America. But who other than your sister knows you're about to do something drastic every time you change your hair? Yes, Molly's happy about almost everything ... except her long-term crush on the daredevil quarterback for the Chicago Stars, that awful, gorgeous Kevin Tucker, a man who can't even remember her name! 

One night Molly's penchant for running into trouble runs right into Kevin himself, turning her world upside down. Heartbreak follows, and just when she's certain things can't get worse, Kevin forces his way back into her life. If only the overpaid, Ferrari-driving, poodle-hating jock was as shallow as she wants him to be, she could get on with her almost perfect life. But Kevin's hidden depths and iron will propel Molly out of her comfortable existence into an unforgettable summer at a place called Wind Lake. Surrounded by paintbox cottages and a charming old bed-and-breakfast, she and Kevin battle their attraction while trying to cope with an aging sexpot actress, a cranky world-famous artist, and a pair of teenage newlyweds.

Their careers and lives are in crisis ... yet they can't seem to stay away from each other. Before the summer is over, will they be able to learn one of life's most important lessons? Sometimes falling in love hurts, sometimes it makes you mad as hell, and sometimes if you're very lucky it can heal in the most special and unexpected way.
(Goodreads description)

I have read more than 125 books this year (I just checked Goodreads).  I think I might be addicted. Oh, well, it could be worse.

In all that reading, the book that stands out most for me is “This Heart of Mine” by Susan Elizabeth Phillips.  I can't believe I've only recently discovered this amazing author.  She can touch your heart as easily as your funny bone, and she writes divinely.  It so much fun meeting all her wonderful characters.

Molly Somerville's life isn't perfect, but it's pretty darn good.  She has a great career as a children's book author, lots of nieces and nephews, and she loves where she lives. If only she could get over her crush on Kevin Tucker, the quarterback of the Chicago Stars. 

In a scene that should have been farce but instead is emotionally taut, Molly makes love to a sleeping Kevin, who is furious and horrified when he realizes what has happened.  Inevitably, Molly discover she is pregnant, and is fiercely overjoyed. But she knows Kevin will not feel the same, so she decides not to tell him. Her interfering brother-in-law does, with the result that Kevin insists they get married.

Bare hours after they are married, Molly suffers a miscarriage.  I have never suffered such a tragedy.  But when Molly loses her baby, I could barely read the scene.  It was gut-wrenching and heartbreaking, and  I can only imagine how it would have affected a reader who had gone through the experience herself.

I don't generally cry over the characters I read about. But I couldn't help it during my favourite scene in the whole novel.  Kevin and Molly finally talk about the baby they lost.  It's not a long scene, but it seems to encapsulate everything in prose that is sparse and yet uplifting.

Now, if you're thinking I should have warned you about spoilers, don't worry.  Everything I've mentioned happens in the first third of the book.  There is so much more, as Molly and Kevin learn first to be friends, then lovers, then partners.  Molly has to deal with a potential career disaster, and Kevin has to come to terms with his past.  There are great supporting characters, such as Kevin's estranged mother, Lilly.  But it is the two scenes above that made it so memorable to me.

About the Reviewer

Brenda Margriet is very excited about the release of her first novel, "Mountain Fire."  It is currently available on KDP Select for all you Kindle owners, and will be released in January 2013 by The Wild Rose Press for all other e-readers.  She lives in Northern British Columbia with her husband, three children (all of whom are taller than her) and various finny and furry pets. By day she is Creative Director at the local television station, and by night she pecks away at her works in progress.  Find out more at

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Ash by Malinda Lo

Cinderella retold

In the wake of her father's death, Ash is left at the mercy of her cruel stepmother. Consumed with grief, her only joy comes by the light of the dying hearth fire, rereading the fairy tales her mother once told her. In her dreams, someday the fairies will steal her away, as they are said to do. When she meets the dark and dangerous fairy Sidhean, she believes that her wish may be granted.

The day that Ash meets Kaisa, the King's Huntress, her heart begins to change. Instead of chasing fairies, Ash learns to hunt with Kaisa. Though their friendship is as delicate as a new bloom, it reawakens Ash's capacity for love-and her desire to live. But Sidhean has already claimed Ash for his own, and she must make a choice between fairy tale dreams and true love.

Entrancing, empowering, and romantic, Ash is about the connection between life and love, and solitude and death, where transformation can come from even the deepest grief.
(Amazon description)

I really loved Ash for a variety of reasons. I’m always a fan of fairy tale retellings, and this is one of the better ones. It retains many of the hallmarks of the original tale, yet flouts some of the more annoying tropes, particularly the Prince Charming aspect. While there is a Prince character, he is peripheral to the story at best. The true love in the story is Kaisa, the Huntress, and she is so much more satisfying than the powerful Prince would have been in that role. It is exceptionally rare for fairy tales to center around non-heterosexual relationships, so I hope this is a trend that continues in this type of literature. This story’s Prince is present, but distant and far more unreachable, whereas Kaisa is very present in Ash’s life. She teaches Ash many things, but also allows her to make her own choices and plans without attempting to jump in and ‘rescue’ her.

I particularly love the characters. They are interesting, realistic, and full of surprises, even the secondary ones. Ash’s grief and despair as an orphan is compelling, as is her rebellious impetuosity. She grows and changes, learning to cope outwardly with her situation, whatever her inner turmoil may be. Lo also manages to avoid the usual broad-strokes, cookie-cutter evil in the step-mother and step-sisters. Each is an individual, and each has a different relationship with Ash, depending on her personality. I always appreciate well-rounded villains, even if that just makes me hate them more.

But my favorite part was the ending, both because I wanted Ash to be happy, and for the ways she changes and grows in order to achieve that happiness. Ash’s character is darkened by the death of her parents and she starts to walk dangerous paths (sometimes literally). But as she grows up, she begins to try and change her circumstances. She is ultimately her own heroine, and one of the most independent and self-sufficient female protagonists I’ve ever read.

The style is somewhat literary, which isn’t usually my cup of tea, but Malinda Lo makes it work for Ash. Perhaps my biggest complaint about this book was that it was a little slow. This is definitely a book to be savored over the course of days, rather than devoured in a single sitting. Despite this, it retains the feeling of a timeless fairy tale, the sort told in sections at bed-time and returned to night after night. That is exactly how I read it, every evening just before bed, a few chapters at a time. It is, ultimately, a bed-time story.

I highly recommend Ash, particularly for those looking for a story with a compelling queer main character.

About the Reviewer

Lia Wolff is a writer and stay-at-home-mom currently exiled to the backwoods of Florida. She achieved a Master's degree in Classics from Durham University in England, which she finds comes in handy for getting out the tough stains of Motherhood, and also in her Historical Fiction writing. She writes Egyptian Historicals and Steampunk Fantasy, and is currently unpublished, though ever hopeful of finding a good home for her stories, long and short. She has been an avid reader since age 3, and recently discovered the exciting new world of reading while nursing a baby. She will read anything once, but prefers Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Historical Novels and Cozy Murder Mysteries. Lia currently blogs erratically at, Tumbles at, and Tweets @LiaWolff. Stop on by and say 'Hi', the comments are always open to her fellow readers.