Wednesday, January 28, 2015

REVIEW: Girl of the Book! (+$15 Amazon GC Giveaway!)

Title: Girl of the Book 
Author: Princila Murrell
Series: N/A
Pages: 226
Date Published: December 1st 2014
Publisher: N/A
Format: Paperback
Genre: Contemporary MG
Source: Goddess Fish Blog Tours
Buy Me!

Synopsis:
Twelve year old Courtney Parker is devastated to have to leave her friends and South Africa behind when her father accepts a lucrative contract and the family relocate to Saudi Arabia.

Jeddah feels like a different planet to Johannesburg. In spite of her initial reluctance to venture out of the comfort and security of their new home, she quickly forms friendships with Nizar Bukhari and Lana Alahmadi. However, not everyone is happy with the situation.

Courtney must learn to adapt to an alien, seemingly unforgiving culture and stand up to the bullies that are making her school life hell.

Nizar and Lana must both try to overcome their family prejudices in order for their friendship with Courtney to survive. Will they succeed? Will they be able to set aside their differences? Can they bridge the cultural divide?

“Girl of the Book” is a compelling, contemporary story that will get older children thinking. More than that, it is a story of friendship and forgiveness that will tug at your heart.

~My Thoughts~
Though I am a prolific YA reader, I find that I much more rarely dabble in the world of Middle Grade fiction. Girl of the Book is definitely going to change that for me! With intense racial unrest in the United States, intense religious unrest between radical Muslims and the rest of the world (Christians, Muslims, or Secularists-all), this is a very confusing world for children to grow up in. Multi-culturalism is something that is completely necessary for kids to learn as young as possible, and Girl of the Book handles this issue for at least some cultures, very nicely!

The story shows three unique POV's. One of Christian, South African Courtney, and then of Nizar and Lana- a boy and girl who are Muslim and from Saudi Arabia. All three of them face unique issues as they grow to become friends. Courtney is torn between being homesick and losing her culture, and making friends and learning about Saudi Arabia's culture. Lana and Nizar both face difficulties and prejudices from those around them when they interact with Lana and become her friend. 

While the plot mainly revolved around personal interactions and character growth, I never found myself losing interest in what was happening. This is one book that doesn't need a lot of flashes and bangs to keep the reader's attention. 

As my Man-Candy and I get closer to the age where we want to have kids and start a family, I find myself thinking more and more about how I want to raise my kids. What I want them to read, how I want them to learn about other cultures and people in the world. Girl of the Book is a great example of MG readers learning how to understand these cultural and religious differences on a personal level as they relate to Nizar and Lana and Courtney. I would recommend this book for both home and school and plan on keeping it on the shelf for the future little Andra-Lings running around in a few years :) 
~Try an Excerpt!~
‘Wow!’ I blinked and looked around. I wasn’t dreaming. Some women on our side of the plane were struggling to get into long black robes. In the tight space between the seats, they wriggled, their elbows looking like mountain peaks underneath the black fabric as they tried to slip their arms into the sleeves.

The girl to my right had some really cool skinny jeans and a tight sleeveless top when we boarded, and I thought she had a beautiful body. She looked like the Barbie doll Lara, with her thin lips and pretty long hair that fell down her back. Now, covered up in a black robe, she was tying a piece of black cloth over her face so that all that was left visible were her eyes.

What was happening, and why were these women getting into black outfits? Why only now?

Mum yawned and stretched in her seat. The voice of the flight attendant on the loudspeaker had woken her up. She reached inside her bag and pulled out a scarf. A black one. No, really I’m not kidding.

‘Mum,’ I said, ‘what are you doing?’

‘What does it look like I’m doing, honey? I’m wearing my scarf, of course.’

‘Yeah, I can see that you are wearing a scarf...a black one,’ I said.

‘What’s wrong with it being black?’ She yawned again, leaned on her seat, and closed her eyes. Either Mum was too tired and sleepy or she was pretending not to notice the other women who were rapidly putting on loose-fitting black robes.

I looked across to where Dad was sitting. He was reading a newspaper. Or trying to read it, as it was hard not to notice the women. I didn’t think it was a good idea to ask him because that would mean leaning over my brother Pete and whispering across the aisle.

‘Muuuuum,’ I said.

She opened one eye and looked at me.

‘What?’ she said, opening the other one.

‘Why are those women wearing black robes over their dresses?’

‘Ah...that,’ Mum said and adjusted her scarf. ‘We’re going to Saudi Arabia, remember?’

‘And?’

‘I told you, in Saudi Arabia women dress differently.’ She adjusted her scarf again.

Mum had had a long conversation with me about how life would be different in Saudi Arabia. She had told me about how men and women didn’t mix in public places, how women weren’t allowed to drive, and how women had to dress modestly and cover up their bodies, but I didn’t remember her telling me that those changes would start right here on the plane.

The first conversation we had about Saudi was on a Sunday evening after dinner. I was in my room listening to Selena Gomez’s A Year Without Rain when Mum asked to talk to me.

‘Are you OK, Mum?’ I asked. I was lying across my bed, but I sat up when I saw the look on her face.

She sat beside me, pushed a lock of hair behind my ear and said, ‘I’m fine, honey. Just got a few things on my mind.’

I guessed something reeeeally bad must have happened.

‘Then why do you look so sad?’ I asked.

‘Do I?’ She forced a smile. I could tell it was fake because I didn’t see the lovely dimples she usually got when she smiled.

I nodded. She drew closer to me and put her arm across my shoulders.

‘You know, honey, there’s something your dad and I have been discussing lately. We spent several days arguing about it, and we figured out that it might be the best thing for us to do right now.’

I looked at her, wondering what was coming next. Had they come up with another way of punishing me for sneaking out the previous week and attending a party after Dad had said ‘No’? Were they going to send me off to a boarding school like our neighbours, the Joneses, did to their daughter because they thought she was becoming undisciplined? I waited for Mum to continue, my heart racing as if I were being chased by a wild beast.

‘Your dad’s got a job as a site supervisor for a large construction company. In fact, he’ll be earning much more than what he currently earns,’ she said.

‘But that’s good news,’ I said, relieved that the conversation wasn’t about me.

‘Yeah, but the job’s in Saudi Arabia.’

‘Saudi Arabia!’ I exclaimed. ‘What? Dad’s going to move to Saudi Arabia?’

‘No.’ She squeezed my shoulder hard. ‘We’re all going with him.’
~Meet Princila!~
Princila Murrell lives in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia with her husband and two kids. She started writing when she was about 10 years old and made the leap to Indie author about two decades later because she could not wait to share her stories with the world. Besides being a nerdy dreamer, doodler, busy mum, and housewife, she is also an avid netizen and reader of children’s books. She loves to cook, shop and, most of all, play with her kids. Girl of the Book is Princila’s debut novel.

Author Links

Amazon author page: www.amazon.com/author/princilamurrell
My blog: http://www.princilamurrell.blogspot.com/
Twitter (@PMurell): https://twitter.com/PMurell
Goodreads (Princila Murrell): https://www.goodreads.com/Priz
Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/116158746779810778224
Wattpad (PrincilaMurrell): http://www.wattpad.com/PrincilaMurrell
Facebook (Princila Murrell): http://www.facebook.com/prinzmurrell
Girl of the Book on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/girlofthebook 
Princila will be awarding a $15 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour, and a $15 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn host.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

REVIEW: Camouflaged Encounters

Title: Camouflaged Encounters
Author:  David J. Englund
Series: The Camouflaged #1
Pages: 257
Date Published: October 23, 2014
Publisher: N/A
Format: Kindle
Genre: Science Fiction
Source: Goddess Fish Blog Tours

Synopsis:
Forget what you think you know. How well do you really know your neighbors or fellow workers? Do you trust your boss? What about politicians? The fabric of our society is under attack. Our way of life, our livelihood, our very existence is under full assault. No one even realizes that it’s happening. Disguised as horrible natural disasters on the news, the world is caught unsuspecting as events draw us ever nearer to extinction. As “natural disasters” escalate and tensions between nations mount, one man hears a whisper. It has begun . . .

~My Thoughts!~

Clark is just your average guy. He meets Maria and her son at a Ballgame and while he has a creeping suspicion that something is up, he continues to help them out and go about his day. Too bad that day includes earthquakes, crazy storms, and other natural disasters. Yet, something doesn't seem all that natural about these events. Soon, the world will be on it's knees, as it gives in to the aliens who are intent on taking over the earth! 

I really liked Englund's writing style. It was flowing, moving, and just quirky enough to make it seem utterly original. Englund seems to be the kind of author that you could recognize their style just by picking up one of their books. Although at times, the style seemed to jump around and I didn't understand it at first, I grew to enjoy it and appreciate it for it's uniqueness. I almost felt a little bit of slap-stick nature from the text. Kind of like Mars Attacks in nature. 

The format on the other hand was another matter. It was interesting both conceptually and in action how the format switched perspectives by switching from first person to third and back again. Englund chose to distinguish these switches by usage of italics, which I thought was smart of him. These transitions could have easily been very confusing to the reader, and because of the formatting choices, they were more easily understood and, in my opinion, were very affective. 

The plotting was quick, very quick. I almost felt like the story was a full-on sprint the entire time I read. This can be good or bad depending on how you look at it, but I enjoyed the ride and that it was a quick read for me. 
Try an Excerpt!~
He motioned his hand in a sideways circle. “What is it? What’s the master plan?”

She whispered, “Death. A lot of death. We’ve passed a world population of seven billion and they figure they could only feasibly control a race of two billion. Clark, they aim to kill five billion people. Five billion!”

“Oh my . . . five . . .” Clark staggered backward a few steps and sat down on the beach. “How . . . how do they plan to do it? How could such a thing even be done without a massive weapon? How could they manipulate us into killing five billion of our own . . . ?”

She sat down next to him and leaned her head on his shoulder. “It’s the food, the food. The MRE packets that are being shipped around the world. They’ve placed alien microbes into each one. After roughly eighteen hours in a person’s system, the microbes disintegrate the body from within. A person would turn into a pile of dust just like with their ray guns, only they don’t have to take the time to shoot everyone, they just offer billions of people free food.”

“That’s sounds like a horrible way to die.”

Sarina started crying openly. “That would be extremely painful. Can’t imagine what it would feel like to slowly turn to dust.”


Clark gasped. “Oh no, I saw it on the news. The first shipments have already arrived in Africa and Asia. The news showed video of packets being delivered to starving people already.”
~Meet David!~ 
David Englund is a storyteller (science fiction author) and teaches economics at North Dakota State University.  His first three titles, Upsetting the Tides, UNSEASONAL WAR, and Camouflaged Encounters are available on Amazon.  Camouflaged Mischief is in progress.

 http://amazon.com/dp/B00NUPAPT8 ,

http://davidjenglund.blogspot.com
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23267421-camouflaged-encounters  

https://www.facebook.comdavid.englund.104

davidenglund7@gmail.com
David will be awarding a digital copy of Camouflaged Encounters to 6 randomly drawn winners via rafflecopter during the tour.

Just a Theory Blog Tour! +($40 Amazon GC Giveaway!)

Title: Just a Theory 
Author: Annie Wood
Series: Quantum Love
Pages: N/A
Date Published: N/A
Publisher: N/A
Format: N/A
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Source: Goddess Fish Blog Tours
Buy Me!

Synopsis:
Just when Martin thinks his life will never go anywhere remotely interesting, he meets an eccentric quantum physicist who gives him the ability to travel to his parallel lives where, in one of them, he runs a successful bed and breakfast with his beautiful wife in Italy.
Only problem is, Martin has no control over any of this.
~Try an Excerpt!~
Martin was hired by the brilliant, yet eccentric, quantum physicist, Professor Welles, to shoot a documentary about him. The professor has a large grey mustache that curls up at the ends. He's balding, wears glasses, and speaks in excited, hushed tones as if he’s constantly on the edge of revealing something huge. Little children often mistake him for a peer. Or a very large baby. The man practically bubbles over with enthusiasm.

He is so giddy that he often bursts into laughter for no apparent reason. It’s as if he’s carrying on a continuous conversation of inside jokes between himself and himself.

The professor is in the middle of theorizing. He sits behind a large desk, on which there’s a bust of a smiling Albert Einstein.


“You see, Einstein didn't much care for chance. His theories demand that the universe is orderly and predictable. But, on the scale of atoms and particles, the truth is, the world is one thrilling, fascinating, mind-blowing game of chance. At the quantum level...uncertainty rules.” The professor loves this last bit so much he is positively beaming with joy as he puffs on his pipe and smiles wildly into the camera. It would seem that quantum physics really turns this guy on. Also, he loves the attention. His eyes smile too, keeping his mouth company. Tyra Banks calls this smizeing. The professor is a master smizer. He anxiously awaits for Martin to ask him the next question.  
~Meet Annie!~ 
Annie Wood is a Hollywood native, lifelong actress and writer. She was the host and co-producer of the nationally syndicated dating game show, BZZZ! She has appeared in many films and television shows and is an award winning playwright. The digital-series she created, wrote and stars in, Karma’s a B*tch was Best of the Web on Virgin America. Annie is committed to telling stories that have plenty of her two favorite things - humor and heart.

Also, she can juggle oranges for about three seconds and spider monkeys creep her out.

Now you know everything.

Website:
http://www.anniewood.com
Amazon Author Page:
http://www.amazon/author/anniewood
Twitter:
https://twitter.com/anniewood
Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/welcometoanniewood
Instagram:
https://www.facebook.com/welcometoanniewood
Pinterest:

 http://www.pinterest.com/TheAnnieWood/
Annie will be awarding $40 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour, and a $20 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn host.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Elf Hills Character Interview (+$50 Amazon GC Giveaway!)

Title: Elf Hills
Author: S.S. Dudley 
Series: N/A
Pages:  1207
Date Published: October 2nd, 2014
Publisher: Stoddard Books
Format: Kindle
Genre: Fantasy
Source: Goddess Fish Blog Tours

Synopsis:
Something strange, something magical, is going on in the dusty hills behind the small town of Villaloma. Yet each time Linda Peters puts on her running shoes and sets out to find the enchanted kingdom she imagines—full of dancing elves, unicorns, and more—something stops her. And with school starting soon, she only has a few more chances to really search the hills. 

While Linda’s frustration and doubt grow, her cousin, Nugu, looks for answers in his books and wonders if maybe, just maybe, Linda’s stories are for real.
The day finally arrives when Linda can run far, the day she is sure she will find her magic city. But when she and Nugu feel their goal must lie just beyond the next hill, they only find more hill. 

Is it all a figment of an over-active imagination; a wistful fantasy? Or is there truly something magical in those hills that only the strong of heart—and leg—can discover?

~Interview with Sofia/Samantha!~
My book Butterfly Wish is about a girl, Selara Leda, and her fairy godmother, Burt Buttles. Yes, Burt. He’s a he. With a beard. He’s a substitute and doesn’t know a thing about being a godmother fairy.

I’m a grown up. Either I don’t have a fairy godmother any more or I am too old to see her (him?). So my daughter, Sofia, did the research for this one. She cornered her own fairy godmother, Samantha, one day and asked her a bunch of questions. You can read the transcript below. For the record, this is how I do a lot of my research. That is, I make Sofia do it. She’s the brains of the operation, after all. I mostly write the words. 

Here’s the transcript:

Sofia: Are you my fairy godmother?

Samantha, in a whisper: I shouldn’t be talking to you! It’s against the rules.

Sofia: Why?

Samantha: I don’t know. I didn’t make them.

Sofia: Oh. So you are my fairy godmother?

Samantha: Yes.

Sofia: Can you do magic?

Samantha: Of course!

Sofia: Really! That’s so amazing. Can you turn my brother into a kitten?
Samantha: Ha! No, that’s against the rules.

Sofia, pouting: Why?

Samantha: Because. I don’t know. I can only do magic to help you.

Sofia: But I really, really want a kitten.

Samantha: Sorry. I couldn’t do that to your poor little brother! I can’t hurt anyone.

Sofia: Just for a little while? It won’t hurt him.

Samantha crosses her arms.

Sofia: Ohhh-kaaay. A pony?

Samantha: What?

Sofia: Can I have a pony?

Samantha, laughing: I don’t do that kind of work! You need to talk to Santa or your daddy.

Sofia: My daddy says ponies cost lots of money.

Samantha: Well, he just needs to sell lots of books then.

Sofia: Mmm… Maybe I’ll ask Santa. He brought me a dollhouse last year.  Oh, I know! The tooth fairy brings me money. And look, I have a loose tooth. See? It wiggles. And when I blow on it, it rattles, watch…

Samantha: Augh! Gross! I don’t think your tooth fairy can give you enough quarters for a pony…

Sofia: Do you know the tooth fairy?

Samantha: Of course. Your’s is a cousin. Her name is Beth.

Sofia: Oh. What does she do with my teeth?

Samantha: I don’t know. I better go invisible again. I’m going to get into trouble.

Sofia: Are there boy fairies?

Samantha: Yes, yes. I am going now.

Sofia: Wait!

Samantha, hovering in mid-air: What?

Sofia: Um, what do you do?

Samantha: What do you mean? I keep you safe!

Sofia: Mmm…

Samantha: Remember that day you were trying to climb the tree in your front-yard and you fell and landed right in the pile of leaves?

Sofia: Yeah…

Samantha: That was all me! You could have broken something. I made sure you fell in the leaves.

Sofia: No.

Samantha: Yes.

Sofia: No. I jumped into the leaves.

Samantha: Oh, come on. What about that time you chased a ball into the street and a car came? I so saved you.

Sofia: No. My dad stopped me.

Samantha: Whatever. I’m leaving now.

Sofia: OK. Can you tell Santa I want a pony?

Samantha: Ugh.

So there you have it. We aren’t sure, still, if fairy godmothers can really do magic or not. At least, interesting, useful magic. Sofia still wants a kitten (and a pony! Apparently Santa didn’t get the memo—thankfully. Seriously, where would we put a pony?). But fairy godmothers do exist. And there are boy fairies too.


Samantha refused a follow up interview. Sofia thinks she is hiding, sulking, in her dollhouse. It rattles sometimes. Anyway, I made do with the information we had and made up the rest for Butterfly Wish. When I read it aloud to Sofia I heard an annoying humming sound that Sofia said was Samantha. Apparently I “got it all wrong!” I told Sofia to tell her that we need another interview to “get it right.” We’re still waiting for Samantha to respond. We’ll update you when we do. Until then, check out Butterfly Wish to see what we got wrong.  
Try an Excerpt!~
Crack! Like a firecracker, the screen door’s sharp retort pierced the tranquility of the warm summer afternoon. With it appeared a girl, beautiful as all five-year-olds are: tousled hair, rosy cheeks, a smattering of freckles, and a flowery dress dancing around healthy legs bruised and scraped by kicking balls and climbing trees. Her hair was the color of honey, her skin tanned by long days in the sun. Her bright, green eyes exuded wonder and vibrancy. By all measures, Linda Peters was a perfectly healthy, perfectly normal girl only days into kindergarten.

The flowered dress danced about her anxious feet as they thumped a rhythm on the wooden planks of the big porch. Before the old screen door could bounce again off the doorframe, her bare toes reached the cool, green grass of the lawn. They gently touched the ground as she ran and giggled. Soon she was in the garden amidst the flowers. She stopped and looked around, breathing only slightly heavier than normal. A strand of loose hair drifted across her eyes. She tucked it behind her ear, reflexively. Around her were flowers of every color: reds and pinks and whites and purples; but she wasn’t so interested in them, rather…

“Linda!” a small voice called. Linda looked to her left and saw an orange and black butterfly gracefully drift toward her. She held out her hand and the butterfly landed on her finger, its long proboscis gently probing her skin. Butterfly kisses. Her dad called this kind of butterfly a "Monarch" and said it was special. Linda knew about butterflies. They were insects: head, thorax, abdomen; six legs, four wings! And they ate nectar, while the babies, the caterpillars, gobbled leaves to grow big and fat before becoming beautiful butterflies.


Only this wasn’t an ordinary butterfly.
~Meet S.S. Dudley!~ 
S. S. Dudley grew up in Wyoming, USA, an avid reader and lover of the outdoors. He studied at the University of Wyoming and the University of Illinois. He started his first book (an epic fantasy hand-written in with a blue fountain pen…) when he was 13, but never finished it. At some point (as his mother recently reminded him), he decided that he needed to go do something (like get a job) for a while before he could, or should, write. He did, and spent time in Colombia, Panamá, Antarctica and the dark recesses of large science buildings on college campuses. That done, he now writes, lives and runs in Northern California with his wife and two children. He can be found at http://www.ssdudley.com, http://www.facebook.com/author.ssdudley and on twitter at @SS_dudley.
The author will be awarding a $50 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour, and a $25 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn host.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Southwest of Love and Murder (+$25 Amazon GC Giveaway!)

Title: Southwest of Love and Murder
Author: Brenda Whiteside
Series: Love and Murder #2
Pages: 300
Date Published: January 7th, 2015
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Format: ebook
Genre: Romance/Mystery
Source: Goddess Fish Blog Tours

Synopsis:
Mystery writer, Phoebe Anderson, owes her success to killing her first husband on paper seventeen years earlier. Now, someone has actually done it. When she decides to take a few days away on the ranch of her best friend’s brother-in-law, she doesn’t expect romance to find her...or murder to follow her.

Mason Meadowlark is happy with his wild cowboy ways, avoiding love since the death of his baby and the end of his marriage twenty years ago. When Phoebe shows up, he fights to control his emotions, but soon wonders if she just might be worth the risk of opening his heart again.

With an obsessed fan close on her heels, Phoebe is thrown into her own murder mystery…and the next target on his list is Mason.

~My Thoughts~
Southwest of Love and Murder is pretty much all it says it is in the title. Southwestern location? Check...lots of heat and probably tacos. Love? Check...Our heroine Phoebe unexpectedly falls in love with cowboy Mason Meadowlark. (I'm sensing a great superhero name there...what do you think? The Killer Cowboy has a ring to it....). And last but not least, Murder? But of course! Someone turns up dead, and it's up to our new duo of Killer Cowboy and heroine to find out who. 

Although this is the second book in a series, you really could only tell by vague references every now and then to another couple that probably paired off in the first book. People seemed to be familiar and weren't as explained as I would have liked, but hey...I guess I should just go back and read book one if I want to know. 

Phoebe as a character actually was a little blah to me. She does the standard "woman" thing of vaguely considering losing a few pounds, complaining internally that the hot guy couldn't possibly want plain her, and several other standards of the genre that tend to irritate the life out of me....However she was a fabulous author...which is sweet, and knew how to take care of herself which was also a plus. Mainly though, I liked the interplay between Mason and Phoebe the most. 

As for the writing strength of the piece, I particularly enjoyed it when Phoebe found Carla's body. I know..."liking" that kind of a thing is a bit odd...but I thought the scene was very well written! I've included it below as my chosen excerpt because I liked it so much. It was interesting to see Phoebe face murder in real life after she'd written about it for years. Violence may be easy to see and experience on paper and in the media, but when it comes to your doorstep, it changes a person and you can almost feel that change overtake Phoebe-a very cool character moment from Brenda! 

~Try an Excerpt!~
Phoebe shuddered and stilled.

Like the aftershocks of an earthquake, trembling overtook her body. Her knees wobbled, but Mason caught her before she collapsed.

“What’s wrong?” He hugged her briefly then brought his face even with hers. “Phoebe, tell me. Why are you shaking? What’s happened?”

“Oh my God, Mason.” She spread her hands on his chest and glanced back at the bathroom. “Tell someone to call an ambulance. Hurry!”

He took a step toward the ladies’ room, but she grabbed his shirtfront. “No!” She peered around him and shouted. “Someone call nine one one.”

Mason touched his pocket. “My cell’s in the truck.” He grabbed the shoulder of a male customer, the closest person to them. “You got a cell on you?”

The man nodded and pulled a phone from his pocket.

“Call nine one one right now. There’s been…” His face questioned her.

“Someone’s badly hurt in the bathroom. Oh hell, hurry!” She thumped her palms against his chest.

The man pulled out his cell as he raced into the ladies’ room.

Phoebe wrapped her arms around Mason, tipped her chin upward, and found the words. “It’s that waitress, Mason. Carla.”

His expression went blank, from concern for her to no comprehension.


“There’s so much blood.” She stifled a gag, the sweet, copper penny reek still heavy in her nostrils. “Her throat.” A shudder rippled the length of her body. “I think she’s dead.”
~Meet Brenda~
Brenda spends most of her time writing stories of discovery and love entangled with suspense. The rest of her time is spent tending vegetables on the small family farm she shares with her husband, son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter. Together, they’ve embraced an age-old lifestyle that has been mostly lost in the United States - multiple generations living under one roof, who share the workload, follow their individual dreams and reap the benefits of combined talents.

Although she didn’t start out to write romance, she’s found all good stories involve complicated human relationships. She’s also found no matter a person’s age, a new discovery is right around every corner. Whether humorous or serious, straight contemporary or suspense, all her books revolve around those two facts.

Visit Brenda at www.brendawhiteside.com.

Or on FaceBook: www.facebook.com/BrendaWhitesideAuthor

Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/brendawhitesid2

She blogs on the 9th and 24th of every month at http://rosesofprose.blogspot.com


She blogs about writing and prairie life at http://brendawhiteside.blogspot.com/
Brenda will be awarding a $25 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour, and a $10 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn host

Friday, January 23, 2015

REVIEW: Guardian (+$25 Amazon GC Giveaway!)

Title: Guardian
Author: Natasha Deen
Series: N/A
Pages: 192
Date Published: September 1st, 2014
Publisher: Great Plains Publishing
Format: ebook
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Source: Goddess Fish Blog Tours
Buy Me!

Synopsis:

For seventeen-year-old Maggie Johnson, transitioning the dead isn’t hard. What’s tough is surviving the insults and pranks of Serge Popov, high school thug and the dumbest jock to ever set foot in Dead Falls, Alberta. When she finds him dead from alcohol poisoning and later discovers his spirit trapped in her room, she figures it’s a case of divine justice. Let the jerk rot. But someone—or something—has a different agenda. If Maggie doesn’t help Serge cross over, she’ll die at the hands of the otherworldly entity that’s taken an interest in the deceased bully. As she digs into the circumstances of Serge’s death, now classified a murder, she’ll uncover the secrets hidden by the world of the living and the wonders revealed by cities of the dead—if her investigation doesn’t kill her, first.

~My Thoughts~
YA is my absolute favorite age group to read right now. There's something about that self-discovery and optimistic outlook that teenagers have for their future that gets me every time. Guardian is morbidly cool...it deals with tough issues like bullying, drug abuse, and murder. While my teenager-hood seems blessed in comparison, everyone goes through issues like this in highschool, though I hope with the exception of murder...yeesh. 

Maggie is 17, old for the genre, and she is very intelligent and resourceful which I loved. She's still very young and naieve, but she has her wits about her and has at least started sorting out who she is as a person. Seeing her go through her struggles, and using her creativity and strength to figure out the plot-Maggie is someone you can really stand behind. 

 I think my favorite part of this book was Natasha's writing style. With the explosion of independent-or I should say...non-traditional- publishing, I now feel that it's a shot in the dark of if I'm going to be reading something that is well-written, or something that was cobbled together and sent in as an unedited mess. Fortunately, Natasha's writing is some of the former, and was a joy to read. The flow was smooth and articulate and the pace raced forward without seeming rushed or too much. A very good read all around! 

Oh, and the story was set in Canada! (Eh!
~Try an Excerpt!~
Crap.

I hated the guy, but I was sorry he was dead. Seventeen is young to off yourself. And I was super creeped out that he’d decided to do it in my car. But that was Serge. He always had to be the last to give you the finger—even from the grave. I flipped my cell around and phoned my dad.

He picked up on the third ring. “Hey, baby girl, what is it?”

The sound of his voice—soft and gentle—soothed me. My whole life, it’s never been anything but me and my dad, which made us both seriously over-protective of each other.

I went for a casual tone and said, “Hey, Dad, I got a problem here.”

Through the phone lines, I felt him stiffen.

“Yeah?” There was an edge to his voice, like he was ready to put on a military uniform and turn our beat-up minivan into a Sherman tank.

“Nothing like that—well, a bit like—Dad, Serge’s body’s in my trunk.”

There was a stunned pause, “Maggie, what did you do?”

“What! Nothing—!”

Okay, maybe I deserved that. One day, I’d live down the sausage incident but right now, I was staring at the cadaver of my six-foot-three-inch tormentor. It didn’t seem like the time to argue over the past. “He killed himself…in my car.”

There was a worried, processing silence on the other end.

“You sure?”

“I think I know a dead body when I see it.”

“No, I mean about him killing himself. You sure someone didn’t dump him in your car?”


Well, thanks a lot daddio. That just added a whole new level of creep-me-out to the October night.
~Meet Natasha!~
Award-winning author Natasha Deen has written everything from fantasy to comedy, mystery and horror, and she was the 2013 Regional Writer in Residence for the Metro Edmonton Library Federation.  When not working on her manuscripts, she inhales disgusting amounts of chocolate and wrestles her furry children for a spot on the couch. Visit her at www.natashadeen.com.

Author Links:
www.natashadeen.com
www.facebook.com/natasha.deen.9
www.twitter.com/natasha_deen
www.goodreads.com/author/show/1314477.Natasha_Deen 
Natasha will be awarding a $25 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour, and a $25 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn host.

Viette Blog Tour! (+Handmade Bracelet Giveaway!)

Title: Viette
Author: J.A. Carter
Series: N/A
Pages: N/A
Date Published: October 7th 2014
Publisher: Smashwords
Format: ebook
Genre: Historical Romance 
Source: Goddess Fish Blog Tours
Buy Me!

Synopsis:
Stripped of her nobility and taken as a war prize, Viette is determined to take control of her life at all costs, even if it means dominating a King to do so. At every turn her world is filled with passionate intrigues, silver-tongue lies, and blinding deceit. 'Don't bite the hand that feeds you' rings true, especially if the hand is that of Viette.
~Try an Excerpt!~
She kept her eyes turned to a far corner of the room, yet out of the edge of her sight she took note of his form. Soft shadows played over his skin, water dripped from the curls of hair thrown over his shoulder.

“Why won’t you look at me?” he asked, angling his face in front of hers.

Unpermitted, her brow furrowed, and she scowled at the fluttering drapes that concealed them from the outside world. Her eyes flashed to his and her stomached balled up tightly—gray eyes, a full mouth, narrow nose, bold cheeks. And in her mind she saw those same sharp eyes but glinting with the orange-red of raging fire, eyelids dirtied with Yander soil. A sharp pain stabbed through her temples, pulsing to her heart. She looked away before the sensation deepened.

He reached for her hand and clutched it tightly.

The hollow pull in her heart was from loneliness, desperation, angst . . . nothing more. She tried, desperately, to convince herself of such.

“You’re trembling,” he said, as if she were unware of her body’s traitorous shaking.
~Meet J.A. Carter!~ 
Judy is a Romance and Erotica author who began penning stories a number of years ago.  With an eye for trouble and a thirst for kinky intrigues her stories are often a grab bag of wicked delights.

Between the Sheets, Wordpress Blog: http://judycanter.wordpress.com
Twitter:  @JA_Canter 
J.A. Canter will be awarding a finely crafted burgundy pearl and niobium bracelet made by Canter herself, and she will ship internationally to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour!