Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Book Excerpt: Credo's Hope

As I said in my previous blog post, my tendency toward excessive observation of everyday events and the people involved in them has allowed me to create believable, likeable characters out of even the slimiest of people. In the following excerpt, Alex and her dog Tessa have decided to take a hike in the beautiful Sonoran desert. Her partner, Casey has agreed to meet them there if she can arrange her schedule. Just like in real life, the bad guys aren't all bad, and the good guys aren't always good. Let's take a look.

The next day was so nice, I decided to take Tessa for a walk at Catalina State Park. I called Casey and left a message on her machine telling her where we were and inviting her to join us. I did the same with Megan, in case Rusty had to leave early.
Early spring is my favorite time of year. I love walking through forests of tall saguaro cactus and feeling the soft breezes that ruffled Tessa's hair. I clipped a leash onto her collar and started out on the Romero Trail that winds around the backside of the Catalina Mountains. Tessa and I met one or two other people along the way, but for the most part, we hiked in silence. After about an hour of walking up and down hills and arroyos, we came to some quiet pools nestled in a small desert oasis.
We settled on a rock and I let Tessa off the leash. After licking my arm and trying for my face, she ran around smelling bushes. I picked up a stick and threw it into the water. She took a flying leap, her front legs stretching as far as they could reach, the water billowing out in waves as she dove in. We played until Tessa lay panting next to me on the rock. I stretched out beside her, pushed my sleeves up onto my shoulders, and worked on my tan.
A loud splash woke me some time later. I sat up and saw Casey sitting next to me and Tessa swimming for her stick. I rubbed my eyes. "Hey."
"Hey yourself." Casey picked up a stone, then threw it into the water where it skipped four times before sinking below the surface. "What an incredible day for a hike. Good idea."
I put my boots back on and stood up, stretched stiff back and neck muscles, and took a drink from my water bottle. "You wanna go look at the Indian ruins?" The trail wound around a Hohokam archeological dig and I loved finding pot shards and looking for arrowheads.
Casey threw another stone. "Sure"
A bullet ricocheted between my legs and chips of rock exploded under me. I jumped and took off running, and we dove behind some Palo Verde trees as I called Tessa to me. As soon as she started running, another bullet hit the rock where she'd been standing. Casey pointed up the hill a little ways. "There they are! See 'em?"
I spotted two guys about halfway up the hill. The shooter had tried a hundred yard shot with a handgun. Thank God he didn't have a rifle or I'd have been history. The one with the gun pulled back the slide several times, apparently trying to clear a bullet that had jammed. The other one had his back to us, trying to help the first.
Neither of us had brought our Glocks, so while they were distracted, we took off running towards them, hoping to reach them before they had a chance to clear the jam. Both men looked up just in time to see Casey and I pounding towards them like two runaway freight trains. Casey tackled the one with the jammed gun and I chased the other, who'd taken off running.
Mine had a fairly big beer belly and I had no problem catching up to him. Unfortunately for him, he was running straight towards a very large cholla cactus. When I thought the timing was right, I gave him a hard shove. He tripped and fell forward, right into the middle of the cactus. He began screaming and rolling around on the ground, trying to get away from the spines.
I shouted, "Lay still, you idiot! You're making it worse!"
He stopped rolling and started moaning. Hundreds of cholla cactus fingers and spines covered him from head to toe. Since he wasn't going anywhere anytime soon, I ran back to help Casey. When I got there, they were still wrestling in the dirt, with Tessa running around barking. The man reached for the pistol he'd dropped and Casey held him away from it.
I kicked the gun away, jumped into the pile, and hit him in the face several times as hard as I could. He was a fairly big man, and my punches weren't doing any good, so I picked up a good-size rock and hit him once on the side of his head. His eyes rolled back and he lay still.
Casey pushed herself off him and knelt on all fours to catch her breath. I stood up and rested my hands on my knees, trying to catch mine. After a few minutes, Casey sat down to unlace her shoes. "Hey Alex, give me your shoe laces."
I knelt down, unlaced my hiking boots, and handed her the laces, which she knotted together. We rolled the suspect onto his stomach so we could tie his hands behind his back.
I took a nervous breath. "What was that all about? Do you recognize him?"
She felt in his back pockets for some I.D. When she didn't find any, she rolled him over to study his face. "I've never seen him in my life. How about you?"
I shook my head, shoving my hands in my pockets to keep them from shaking. Casey took out her cell phone. "No service here. Can you watch him while I —" Two people came running towards us from the trail.
A large Hispanic man reached us first. "Are you two all right? We heard some shots and then we saw you running over here." He must have seen me coming back to help Casey. "Our wives are running to the trailhead for help. Was anyone hurt?"
"No, we're fine. Thanks." Casey walked over and brushed the dirt off my back. "You lose your guy?"
I jumped and looked at her. "Whoops." I'd forgotten about my pincushion. I headed back to the cactus.
Casey called after me. "Whoops?"
"I left him on the other side of that little hill. You'll have to come get us when the help gets here."
He sat exactly where I'd left him, trying to flick the cactus off with a stick. I watched him for a while. He was a short, pudgy guy wearing blue jeans and a dirty t-shirt. After working on the cactus for a few more minutes, he whined, "You pushed me!"
"You tripped."
"I did not, you pushed me!"
"You tripped."
A large piece of cholla stuck to his neck, preventing him from shaking his head. "How 'bout some help here? You're the one who done it."
"I didn't done it; you tripped." I found a large rock where I could sit down to wait. I had no intentions of wading into a pile of jumping cactus to help some idiot who had shot at me. "Who are you anyway, and why were you shooting at me and my dog?"

Alison Holt:
Website|Goodreads


Make sure to check out the rest of the tour here:

8/31 author guest post @ Getting Naughty Between The Stacks
9/2 excerpt @ Jagged Edge Reviews
9/3 review & giveaway @ Reviews By Molly


Monday, 29 August 2011

Author Interview: Helen Hart

Author of The Black Banner, Helen Hart kindly agreed to do an interview for the blog. For those of you who haven't read my review of The Black Banner, you can check it out here.

So, without further ado, please welcome Helen Hart!

  • What is The Black Banner about? Can you tell us a little about the characters and background to the story?
'The Black Banner' is set in the early 18th century and tells the story of 13 year-old Becky Baxter. Determined to escape from her unpleasant Ma and their poverty-stricken life, Becky decides to dress up as a boy, crop her hair, and try her luck with a new life. Back in the 18th century there weren't many opportunities for girls, especially not poor girls without an education, so Becky does the best she can in her situation. After a chance encounter in the Bristol docks with a lad who can get her work as a deckhand, she leaves the backstreets far behind and sets sail on the high seas. But not everything goes according to plan and when her ship is attacked by pirates, Becky faces a stark choice - join the pirate crew, or die. So she swears allegiance to the black banner of the title (the flag we'd know as a skull-and-crossbones) and her life takes a dramatic change. She gains a family, learns to fight, and finds out that there is honour among thieves.


  • Did anything inspire you to write The Black Banner?

I grew up on the Dorset coast in the south of England, where piracy seems to be in the blood. My home town of Poole apparently got it's name from being know locally as The Devil's Pool because so many pirates lived there! I also spent a few childhood years in the Caribbean which of course was the backdrop of the so-called 'Golden Age of Piracy' in the 17th and 18th centuries... and I've always adored pirate stories - 'Treasure Island' and 'A High Wind in Jamaica' were favourites. So when it came to writing a novel, I decided to write the sort of story I'd love to read (and about the sort of adventure I would have relished as a teenager myself!).

  • How long did it take to write The Black Banner?

It usually takes me 6 months to research and write a book (sometimes a little longer, such as when I was writing as Maya Snow and working on the first two books in the 'Sisters of the Sword' trilogy - I had to do a lot of research into life in 10th century Japan and the culture is so different). However, 'The Black Banner' simply flew out of my fingers and onto the page... it took 7 weeks for the first draft, and then another month to edit, refine and fact-check. It's the fastest I've ever written a book. I loved writing about Becky Baxter and her new friends, and for those few months I think I lived and breathed pirates!

  • How much research did you do before or whilst writing The Black Banner?

I did mountains of research, and read as much as I could about real-life pirates (Blackbeard, Calico Jack Rackham, Anne Bonny and Mary Read) and also read and re-read fiction about pirates by authors such as Daniel Defoe and Robert Louis Stevenson. It's fascinating to read the older material because authors like RL Stevenson truly invented the pirate 'look' that we know and love - the wooden leg, the parrot on the shoulder - as well as other details such as X marking the spot on a treasure map, and the 'Black Spot'. It also helped that I'd lived in the Caribbean and that my father is a blue-water yachtsman, so the ocean and the islands were a big part of my childhood - there were lots of real-life memories to draw on.

  • What is your writing process? Did you plan, plan, plan or do you just go with the flow?

Usually I like to have a basic framework mapped out on paper, often as a series of flow charts and character sketches all written on huge pieces of paper. But although I like to know roughly where I'm going, I also like the characters to come to life themselves - that's when I know a story is working, when the characters begin to say things I haven't planned or take the story in a direction I wasn't expecting. The ending of 'The Black Banner' is a perfect case of that: Becky knew where she was going, but I didn't. And when we got there, it all worked out perfectly. In fact, it still gives me goosebumps when I remember writing those later scenes! I love it when a story comes to life like that.

  • Why did you become a writer? What's the best thing about writing?

That's a great question, and really hard to answer. I think most writers become writers because they can't stop themselves. For me, it was a combination of being a genuine bookworm (I love reading), enjoying the process of story-telling, and also having a genuine desire to 'go somewhere else' in my head. Why live one life when you can live hundreds through your characters? And that's the best thing about writing - the escapism and the adventure.

  • Becky seems to be a character who knows what she wants, is she based on anyone you know?

Becky isn't based on anyone in particular, but I do feel that she represents a lot of young teenage girls. So often, boys seem to have the best adventures, and why shouldn't the girls have that too? That's why I let Becky learn to fight with a knife and a sword, so there were no limits for her and she could look after herself.

  • What do you do to relax?

I walk my dogs - three gorgeous gentle whippets called Josie, Lola and Monty - and I read books. Hundreds of books!

  • Do you have any all time favourite books?

I regularly read and re-read Anne Golon's 'Angelique' series. My copies are dog-eared and tattered, and sadly the English translations are out of print, but the world Golon created for her heroine is so rich and full of adventures that I can visit it over and over and always find something new.


Favourite authors? Well, as I said I love reading so we could be here a while... in the YA field I admire Catherine Fisher, especially her fantastic novel ‘'Corbenic'’ which is a modern and utterly brilliant take on the Grail legend. Mary Hooper is another favourite of mine – I couldn’t put down her Great Plague novel ‘At the Sign of the Sugared Plum’ (which has such a gorgeous cover, too). Robert Westall is a genius at conjuring up compelling characters and fast-paced plots. Moving up into more adult writing, I'm a big fan of Sarah Waters - I thought 'Fingersmith' and 'Affinity' were works of genius. I've also recently enjoyed Martin Davies ('The Conjuror's Bird') and William Heaney ('Memoirs of a Master Forger').

Favourite authors? Well, as I said I love reading so we could be here a while... in the YA field I admire Catherine Fisher, especially her fantastic novel ‘'Corbenic'’ which is a modern and utterly brilliant take on the Grail legend. Mary Hooper is another favourite of mine – I couldn’t put down her Great Plague novel ‘At the Sign of the Sugared Plum’ (which has such a gorgeous cover, too). Robert Westall is a genius at conjuring up compelling characters and fast-paced plots. Moving up into more adult writing, I'm a big fan of Sarah Waters - I thought 'Fingersmith' and 'Affinity' were works of genius. I've also recently enjoyed Martin Davies ('The Conjuror's Bird') and William Heaney ('Memoirs of a Master Forger').

  • Favourite authors?

Well, as I said I love reading so we could be here a while... in the YA field I admire Catherine Fisher, especially her fantastic novel ‘'Corbenic'’ which is a modern and utterly brilliant take on the Grail legend. Mary Hooper is another favourite of mine – I couldn’t put down her Great Plague novel ‘At the Sign of the Sugared Plum’ (which has such a gorgeous cover, too). Robert Westall is a genius at conjuring up compelling characters and fast-paced plots. Moving up into more adult writing, I'm a big fan of Sarah Waters - I thought 'Fingersmith' and 'Affinity' were works of genius. I've also recently enjoyed Martin Davies ('The Conjuror's Bird') and William Heaney ('Memoirs of a Master Forger').

  • Do you prefer day or night? (I'm such a night person!)

Definitely night - that's when all the best ideas come!

  • Chocolate or ice cream?

Chocolate.

  • What's your favourite comfort food?

Tomato soup, in a mug that you can wrap your fingers around on a cold winter's day.

  • If you could give The Black Banner a song, what song would it be?

I have genuinely never thought about that - what a fun question. I think it would have to be Nirvana's 'Smells Like Teen Spirit'. Becky's a rebel and she doesn't follow the rules that the grown-up world sets for her and others like her.

  • Anything you'd like to add?

I think you've covered everything, Maryam, and this has been a really enjoyable session. Thank you so much for interviewing me, and for reviewing 'The Black Banner'.

Happy reading everyone!



Sunday, 28 August 2011

In My Mailbox #23

In My Mailbox idea from Kristi @ The Story Siren, all links take you to goodreads.

Welcome to another in my mailbox!

This week I got:

I swapped a book for:


I won:

And I bought:

And finally:

Happy reading everyone!


Saturday, 27 August 2011

Review: The Egyptian

Title: The Egyptian

Author: Layton Green

Format: Ebook (327 pages)

Publication date: August 27th 2011

Series: Dominic Grey #2

Buy the book

Summary:

At a mausoleum in Cairo’s most notorious cemetery, a mercenary receives a package containing a silver test tube suspended in hydraulic stasis.

An investigative reporter tracking rogue biomedical companies is terrified by the appearance of a mummified man outside her Manhattan apartment.

A Bulgarian scientist who dabbles in the occult makes a startling discovery in his underground laboratory.

These seemingly separate events collide when Dominic Grey and Viktor Radek, private investigators of cults, are hired by the CEO of an Egyptian biomedical firm to locate stolen research integral to the company’s new life extension product. However, after witnessing the slaughter of a team of scientists by the remnants of a dangerous cult thought long abandoned, Grey and Viktor turn from pursuers to pursued.

From the gleaming corridors of visionary laboratories to the cobblestone alleys of Eastern Europe to a lost oasis in the Sahara, Grey and Viktor must sift through science and myth to uncover the truth behind the Egyptian and his sinister biotech – before that truth kills them.

My thoughts:

I really enjoyed the first book in the Dominic Grey series and the next sure didn't disappoint!

Everything I loved about 'The Summoner' like the depth to the characters, the intense and exciting plot and the mystery - 'The Egyptian' still had elements of all of these things.

It's definitely one of those reads that keep you on the edge of your seat with how gripping it can be at times - it gave me the chills. Everything about the story line just caught my attention and kept it there.

I definitely recommend this whole series to readers who love mystery that makes the hairs stand up on the back of your neck just from the writing style used itself.

Layton Green:
Website|Goodreads

What's more is that 'The Egyptian' is only $0.99 for this release weekend!


Thursday, 25 August 2011

The Time Will Come #1

Jodie over at Books for Company is hosting a Thursday meme. It's really easy to join in. Here's what you have to do: Pick a book you have been meaning to read

  • Do a post telling us about the book
  • Link the post up in the linky
  • Visit the other blogs!

In the town of Morganville, vampires and humans live in relative peace. Student Claire Danvers has never been convinced, though especially with the arrival of Mr. Bishop, an ancient, old-school vampire who cares nothing about harmony. What he wants from the town's living and its dead is unthinkably sinister. It's only at a formal ball, attended by vampires and their human dates, that Claire realizes the elaborately evil trap he's set for Morganville.



I love this series and I still haven't gotten even half way through it. This is definitely one I need to pick up soon!


Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Guest Post: Alison Naomi Holt

Guest Post for Alison N. Holt - Blog Tour

Do I love to kayak? Absolutely. Ride horses? Yup. Train dogs? Passionately. Write? With unadulterated joy. There's no question about it, I love to write, and, I love to write what I know. Luckily I know a little about a lot of things, and a lot about a few things.

One area where I have a certain amount of expertise is as a police officer. I rose through the ranks of the Tucson Police Department over a period of twenty years.

As a writer, at least with The Alex Wolfe Mystery Series, it's my goal to transfer my experiences, my joys, and at times, my devastation, onto paper so that my readers can vicariously know what it's like to be a cop. I had fun as an officer, and I hope my writing reflects that fun. How many people can say they've searched for a rapist at night from a helicopter and watched with infrared goggles while a K9 unit ran down and captured the suspect? What a fantastic experience, and, now that I think about it, what wonderful color to put into my next book!


I've always been someone who loves to sit and watch the world go by. I can't tell you how many hours I've spent at airports or cafe's sitting and studying the people around me. This tendency was amplified a hundred times over as an officer, and a thousand times as a writer. It's this tendency toward excessive observation that brings fullness to the characters in my books. Each person I create is a compilation of the many different people I've run into over the years.

For example, in the first Alex Wolfe Mystery, Credo's Hope, the book opens with a prostitute who's been shot. The woman, Bibi O'Dell, is a composite of the many, many hookers I've met over the years. They're not all evil or dirty or stupid, and every one of them is someone's daughter or mother or believe it or not, grandmother. I believe it's important to put that humanity into all of my characters and along those lines, I'd like to take a minute to introduce you to Bibi in all of her wonderful, multi-faceted splendor...

Blood smeared the mattress where Bibi O'Dell had fallen after she'd been shot. Given her occupation, hooker, and her drug of choice, meth, I wasn't surprised when she told me to go stuff myself after I asked who'd pulled the trigger.

"C'mon Bibi, can you at least give me a hint?" I watched as the paramedics struggled to lift her from the mattress to their gurney. She was a hefty woman, weighing in at close to three hundred and fifty pounds of unhelpful dead weight.

Bibi slapped one of the men on the hand. "You watch where you're puttin' those hands or I'm gonna charge you for my services."

I've known Bibi for almost five years, and I've arrested her more times than I'd care to count. I reached in, grabbed one enormous leg, and hefted it onto the gurney. Unfortunately, not much of the rest of her made it that far. "Why can't you be a skeleton like all the rest of the meth users?"
Bibi paused mid-complaint and fixed her bulging fish eyes on me. "You callin' me fat, Detective Wolfe?"

"Not at all. I'm saying if you were a competent meth user, your leg wouldn't weigh more than I do."

Bibi shifted her gaze to one of the paramedics. "She callin' me fat."

I moved to her midsection and wiggled my gloved hands under her until they were smashed beneath her butt. "All right everybody, on three." All six of us heaved her onto the gurney, and I quickly retrieved my hands.

Bibi held out her hand, palm up. "That'll be fifteen dollars."

I put my hands on my hips. "Excuse me?"

"Fifteen dollars for services rendered. You can't put your hands on my butt and not expect to pay for my services. I'll sue your ass for lack of payment. Me'n your captain are on a first-name basis, you know. Just let me call him, then see what happens, uh huh."

I looked around at my sergeant, Kate Brannigan, who raised her hands and grinned. "Don't get me in the middle of this; it's your problem, not mine."
Unfortunately, my captain probably was on a first name basis with Bibi. I slid my thumb under the cuff of my glove to peel it off, then reached into my pocket and pulled out two crumpled bills, a ten and a five. Bibi would be out of commission for a while and I really couldn't begrudge her the money. I grinned as I handed her the bills, then pulled off the second glove.

Kate laughed as she peeled off her own gloves and took one last look around the room making sure we'd collected all the evidence we might need if the case ever went to court.

I followed the gurney out into the living room and threw the gloves onto a pile of overstuffed black trash bags. Nearby, a cat lay sprawled on a sofa, his green eyes lazily tracking my movement.

"What'd you see, fellah?" I walked over and ran my fingers through his fur while he rolled onto his side and batted me with his paw. Kate's cell phone rang and I watched as she slid it out of her pocket and stepped outside. The cat batted my hand one last time, then flipped off the sofa and hit all four living room walls before racing full tilt into the kitchen. He did a few circuits around the countertops and finally landed next to a sink loaded with plates full of rotting food.

When I followed him in, he sprang from the counter onto the refrigerator, then disappeared back into the living room. I walked to the refrigerator and opened the door. Putrid air spilled out and I held my breath long enough to look inside. A carton of curdled milk, some old carrots, stale bread, and an open can of beans were the only items on the otherwise bare shelves. I quickly shut the door and followed the cat, holding my breath until I was out of the kitchen and back in the living room.

Make sure to check out the rest of the tour stops here:

8/22 author guest post @ Reader Girls
8/23 author guest post @ Jagged Edge Reviews
8/23 author guest post & giveaway @ Workaday Reads
8/23 author guest post & giveaway @ The Write To Make A Living
8/24 author guest post @ Books Glorious Books
8/26 excerpt @ Reader Girls
8/27 author guest post @ Backseat Nightmares
8/28 excerpt @ Romance In The Backseat
8/29 excerpt @ Fade Into Fantasy
8/31 excerpt @ Books Glorious Books
8/31 author guest post @ Getting Naughty Between The Stacks
9/2 excerpt @ Jagged Edge Reviews
9/3 review & giveaway @ Reviews By Molly


Monday, 22 August 2011

Giveaway: The Devil's Game

As part of the BLB Tour for The Devil's Game one of you has the chance to win an ecopy of the novel!

All you have to do is:

  • Become a follower of Books Glorious Books
  • Leave your GFC Name in a comment along with your email address.
  • Giveaway ends: 27th August
  • Open internationally!


Review: Paradise 21

Title: Paradise 21

Author: Aubrie Dionne

Publisher: Entangled Publishing

Publication date: August 2nd 2011

Ebook edition: 228 pages

Genre: Science Fiction

Source: Enchanted Book Tours

My Rating: 6/10

Summary:

Aries has lived her entire life aboard mankind’s last hope, the New Dawn, a spaceship traveling toward a planet where humanity can begin anew—a planet that won’t be reached in Aries’ lifetime. As one of the last genetically desirable women in the universe, she must marry her designated genetic match and produce the next generation for this centuries-long voyage.

But Aries has other plans.

When her desperate escape from the New Dawn strands her on a desert planet, Aries discovers the rumors about pirates—humans who escaped Earth before its demise—are true. Handsome, genetically imperfect Striker possesses the freedom Aries envies, and the two connect on a level she never thought possible. But pursued by her match from above and hunted by the planet’s native inhabitants, Aries quickly learns her freedom will come at a hefty price.

The life of the man she loves.

My review:

The idea of this book is really great...someone rebelling against people who set her whole life out for her - who to marry and what career path to take regardless of her feelings on the matter. And then someone else who had been kicked off of his own ship in a mutiny and abandoned on a desert planet. And everyone is trying to find a habitable planet because Earth was ruined. I mean...I saw the summary of the book and just thought I have GOT to read that!

I don't really read that much science-fiction - not anything like this anyway so I was a little bit apprehensive to start with.

For me this was one of those reads that is just 'okay' which was a little disappointing. I enjoyed reading it, but it's not memorable at the end of the day - it's not one that will constantly be on my mind like some books are.

It also had one of those love stories that I hate. Two characters meet, spend like three days together, and then fall in love? It frustrates me! Granted they spent the most stressful time together possible on a desert planet almost being hunted and eaten but still!

Anyway, this was still an entertaining read. It was full of action and the story was switched between alternating character's points of views. So there was loads of variation of characters and different personalities which was interesting.

Overall it was a good read and a quick one too!

Aubrie Dionne:
Goodreads|Website|Blog|


Saturday, 20 August 2011

The Devil's Game Excerpt

The Devil's Game by S.L. Pierce

The Devil's Game by S. L. PierceTHE DEVIL'S GAME

by S.L. Pierce & Maren Kaye

Published June 29th 2011 by Pierce-Kaye Books

ASIN: B0058UFEO4

Is a stranger who stalks your stalker a friend or your worst enemy? Rachel Pendelton is determined to break from her small town past and stake out a new life for herself with a dream job in the big city. But hard work and determination are no match for whoever is working against her. When anonymous gifts show up, she’s flattered. When they appear in her locked apartment, she starts worrying. What can she do when everyone she turns to for help looks suspicious? What she doesn’t know is that a game has begun. A game with rules as baffling as they are deadly. A game that will pit her against the criminally insane. And only one can finish alive.

Excerpt of THE DEVIL'S GAME by S.L. Pierce & Maren Kaye

CHAPTER 1

I found another one.”

It’s hardly a surprise that you would find something you spend your days looking for,” Dr. Gloria Pike said, setting down her pen and leaning back in her chair. They had been through this before.

I don’t.”

Let’s not pretend. Aren’t we past this?”

Patient X didn’t answer, and Dr. Pike knew there would be no more talking until she apologized.

Sorry, please continue.”

It was a man and woman. Too old to be students. Maybe training. Maybe working on a project. Anyway, it was clear she was the boss, and he was in love with her.”

What made you think that?”

It was so obvious. The way he kept looking at her. Hanging on every word. His eyes all over her face. Desperate and waiting for something, some sign. Even when he was laughing, moving closer, it was there. He wanted her so much.” The patient paused, staring out the window. “His eyes were blue. So blue.”

And her? In love with him?”

No. Definitely no. It was like a sad little dance. He would move in; she would move away. She never touched him. Even when he gave her many openings.”

How did you feel, watching them?”

The patient paused as if the answer required thought. “Excited.”

Why?”

You know why.”

Yes, I do. Do you?”

No answer.

What did you do?” Dr. Pike asked.

What I always do. I followed them.”

CHAPTER 2

And the Academy Award for the best animated short film produced by a hungry grad student goes to…” Rachel could hear her heart rushing through her ears. This was it; it had to be. She was the only hungry grad student nominated this year. This was her best film. All her hard work was about to pay off in spades. But why was it taking so long to open the envelope? Wait, why is Gwyneth Paltrow making out with Billy Crystal? Open the envelope! Open the damn envelope!

The sound of Billy and Gwyneth giggling into the microphone was slowly replaced by the low hum of an alarm clock. Rachel swore several profanities as her hand slapped at the snooze button in an attempt to put an end to the irritating sound.

Coffee,” she said out loud to her empty room. She decided to bypass her usual morning routine of fresh fruit and yoga in light of her heartbreaking loss. Especially since it was probably the only award nomination she would ever get, awake or asleep.

As she sat at her desk/art space/kitchen table savoring her heavenly cup-of-joe, her day slowly began to jell inside her brain. Today was Tuesday, which meant video production and calculus. One she loved, the other she loathed. It was heaven and hell in the span of four hours. This was her third attempt at advanced calculus, and without it, there was little hope of getting a full-time position at Mad Media Animation Studio. She was determined to get a “real job” before she turned twenty five, if for no other reason then to hold her head a little higher when her dad asked her if she needed a little extra cash, you know, to help pay for those two “artsy-type” degrees she got.

If it weren’t for Justin, there would be no hope at all. He had come to her rescue in the second week of the class, sensing her utter panic. He was incredibly gifted at translating calculus. He was also incredibly gifted at annoying her. It was so strange the way he stumbled over every word when he was talking about nothing. But open up a math book and he transformed into a loquacious chatter-box.

Speak of the devil,” she said when she heard Sonny and Cher sing out “I got you babe” from her cell phone. Justin’s ringtone was her private joke. It referred to the movie Groundhog Day and Bill Murray’s reaction at hearing it every morning at the same time. Reluctantly, she picked up the phone and punched the little green button.

Hey, Justin, you’re up early.” She could hear his thick nasal breathing on the other end.

I just wanted…um.. Hi Rachel,” he said in his usual disjointed manner.

Hi, Justin,” she said. “You wanted to ask me something?” she prompted when he didn’t respond.

Yeah, I…how are you…I mean are you ready for the test?”

Rachel knew she was dipping her toe in dangerous waters with Justin. He was obviously not tutoring her for the fifteen dollars she made him take each time. And he wasn’t the type to come right out and ask her for a date so that she could politely refuse him and they could move past it. Oh, no. He just kept the possibility of it dangling out there like a smelly gym sock she was constantly having to politely side-step.

I’ve been completely honest! she told herself over and over. But deep down she knew it was going to end badly. It was going to end badly because as annoying as he was, he had a heart of pure gold. He loved kids and dogs. He was finishing some kind of new teaching program designed for inner-city school kids. He was funny sometimes, though not usually on purpose. And under all that God-awful geekines, he was actually kind of cute.

Don’t go there, Rachel, she told herself.

Yep, I’m good, Justin. But thanks for calling,” she said in an I’m going to hang up now kind of way.

Do you eat? I mean have you…or are you going to eat breakfast…do you want to meet… for coffee?” By the time he had gotten that all out, Rachel had finished her cup and was working on a second.

Is something on your mind, Justin?” Be direct, be honest.

Yeah… well…I mean no…not really.”

Well, I’m glad everything’s okay. I’ve got to get going; tons stuff I’m way behind on. But I’ll see you later at class, okay?”

Yeah, okay,” he stammered.

She ended the call not waiting for his reply. She took a deep breath as she felt the caffeine pumping through her veins, accelerating her heartbeat. She walked over to the huge living room window and looked out onto the busy metropolitan street she lived on. It was a gorgeous spring day, perfect for a jog. She knew that her calculus class always went better when she’d had a good workout before hand. It helped keep her calm and focused. Not to mention the fact that she’d wimped out on her yoga this morning. If only she could muster up some motivation. Maybe a jog to the Steam Punk CafĂ© for some iced Chai. Yes, that would do it. There had to be a reward in there somewhere or she’d never make it out the door.

Oh crap!” she said out loud. Justin. He loved the Steam Punk. As a matter of fact, he was the one who dragged her in there for her very first cup of iced Chai.

I don’t drink weed water,” she had politely explained under her breath as they stood in line.

Just trust me,” he had said to her with an ear-to-ear grin. Since there wasn’t much else on the menu that was fit for human consumption, she let him order – and pay.

Here, try this,” he said, his puppy-dog face bright with anticipation. God, he could be so annoying!

The taste was unlike anything she had experienced. The exotic spices were smooth, sweet, and spicy all at the same time. And after a four-mile jog, there was nothing more refreshing. She gave a heavy sigh as she imagined the sweet luscious taste.

Screw Justin!” she said. “I have every right to do whatever the hell I want!” And, of course she could always pretend she was happy to see him.

She began her usual pulling of dirty clothes from the hamper in search of some decent sweat pants and matching gym socks. As she was rummaging, she noticed a pungent order coming from something in her hand. It was a pair of underwear and a bra that smelled bitter and musty, but strangely familiar. She tried to remember the last time she had been out bar hopping. It had to have been at least three weeks. Note to self, she thought, tomorrow is laundry day.

As she was closing the door on her way out, she felt hot breath on her neck right before a strong hand grabbed her shoulder.

Follow the tour for THE DEVIL'S GAME!

8/14 giveaway @ Jagged Edge Reviews 8/14 author guest post @ Deena Remiel’s Place 8/15 excerpt @ Reader Girls 8/15 excerpt @ Lisa’s World of Books 8/15 giveaway @ Deena Remiel’s Place 8/16 excerpt @ Keeping Up With The Rheinlanders 8/19 author guest post @ Reader Girls 8/17 interview @ Lisa’s World of Books 8/17 excerpt @ Books Glorious Books 8/19 giveaway @ Books Glorious Books 8/23 author guest post @ Keeping Up With The Rheinlanders 8/24 author guest post & giveaway @ Workaday Reads 8/25 author guest post @ As The Pages Turn 8/26 author guest post @ Sugarbeat’s Books 8/27 excerpt @ Sugarbeat’s Books 8/27 author guest post @ Jagged Edge Reviews



Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Review: The Black Banner

Title: The Black Banner

Author: Helen Hart

Publisher: Silverwood Books

Publication date: July 2011

Paperback: 238 pages

Young Adult

Source: Received from publisher

My Rating: 8/10


Summary:

I am Billy Baxter.
I'm leaving England behind. Far behind. I'm bound for the Windward Isles on a tall-masted ship called the Bonny Marie. We'll be at sea for ten weeks or more. During all that time I'll run and climb and swear and hear myself called 'boy'.
And the Captain never need know that once upon a time I was a maid named Becky.

1719, and the high seas are plagued by the lawless. Pirates rule the crystal waters of the Caribbean, hunting heavily-laden merchant ships with savage ferocity. Entire crews are condemned to die beneath a cutlass blade unless they swear allegiance to the black banner.

Penniless Becky Baxter crops her hair, dresses in breeches, and leaves the dangerous backstreets of Bristol far behind. She embarks on a new life of adventure and fortune as the youngest deckhand on a merchant ship, the Bonny Marie. But she quickly discovers that there are far more dangerous enemies than her drunken Ma and evil Mr Crudder...

Pirates!

My thoughts:

This was such a fun read!

I've never read a novel based around pirates before so I didn't really know what to expect but I sure wasn't disappointed.

From the first page of The Black Banner I was thrown into a different time with a different way of speaking, dressing and travelling.

I'm a big fan of the Pirates of the Caribbean films and this book reminded me of them. The book had a different take on pirates and that was great but throw in a female protagonist dressing as a boy and I'm all set for a really great read!

A lot of things happen in the book so it was a really quick, mostly easy read. Apart from a few sad events throughout the story it was packed with a perfect combination of adventure and great characters.

I thought the ending was a little abrupt but, overall, The Black Banner was a fantastic read and is definitely recommended.


Helen Hart:
Goodreads|Website|Facebook


Sunday, 14 August 2011

Giveaway!

Giveaway time!
As part of the BLB Book Tour for Townhouse, the author, Brian Rowe has kindly offered ecopies to giveaway.


Good luck!
And check out the rest of the tour:
8/8 – review @ Books Glorious Books
8/9 – review @ Fameless Ramblings
8/15 – review @ Workaday Reads
8/15 – giveaway @ Books Glorious Books
8/18 – giveaway @ Workaday Reads
8/20 – review @ My Neurotic Book Affair
8/21 – review @ Aobibliosphere
8/22 – excerpt @ Aobibliosphere
8/22 – review @ Just Another Book Addict
8/23 – excerpt @ My Neurotic Book Affair
8/23 – guest post @ Fameless Ramblings
8/23 – giveaway @ Just Another Book Addict
8/24 – review @ Imaginary Reads
8/27 – guest post @ Imaginary Reads


Saturday, 13 August 2011

In My Mailbox #23

It's that time of the week again! So here's what I got this week:

I bought:

And I swapped a book for :

So that's it for this week - happy reading everyone!


Friday, 12 August 2011

On My Wishlist #30

On My Wishlist is a fun weekly event hosted by Book Chick City and runs every Saturday. It's where I list all the books I desperately want but haven't actually bought yet. They can be old, new or forthcoming. It's also an event that you can join in with too - Mr Linky is always at the ready for you to link your own 'On My Wishlist' post. If you want to know more click here.

It happens at the start of every November: the Scorpio Races. Riders attempt to keep hold of their water horses long enough to make it to the finish line. Some riders live. Others die.

At age nineteen, Sean Kendrick is the returning champion. He is a young man of few words, and if he has any fears, he keeps them buried deep, where no one else can see them.

Puck Connolly is different. She never meant to ride in the Scorpio Races. But fate hasn’t given her much of a chance. So she enters the competition — the first girl ever to do so. She is in no way prepared for what is going to happen.



After their all-nighter ends and a new day breaks, Q arrives at school to discover that Margo, always an enigma, has now become a mystery. But Q soon learns that there are clues--and they're for him. Urged down a disconnected path, the closer he gets, the less Q sees of the girl he thought he knew.

Printz medalist John Green returns with the brilliant wit and searing emotional honesty that have inspired a new generation of readers.

Words are the most dangerous weapon of all.

In the violent country of Ludania, the classes are strictly divided by the language they speak. The smallest transgression, like looking a member of a higher class in the eye while they are speaking their native tongue, results in immediate execution. Seventeen-year-old Charlaina has always been able to understand the languages of all classes, and she’s spent her life trying to hide her secret. The only place she can really be free is the drug-fueled underground clubs where people go to shake off the oppressive rules of the world they live in. It's there that she meets a beautiful and mysterious boy named Max who speaks a language she's never heard before . . . and her secret is almost exposed.

Charlie is intensely attracted to Max, even though she can’t be sure where his real loyalties lie. As the emergency drills give way to real crisis and the violence escalates, it becomes clear that Charlie is the key to something much bigger: her country’s only chance for freedom from the terrible power of a deadly regime.

Violet kept her morbid ability to sense dead bodies a secret from everyone except her family and her childhood-best-friend-turned-boyfriend, Jay Heaton. That is until forensic psychologist Sara Priest discovered Violet’s talent and invited her to use her gift to track down murderers. Now, as she works with an eclectic group of individuals—including mysterious and dangerously attractive Rafe—it’s Violet’s job to help those who have been murdered by bringing their killers to justice. When Violet discovers the body of a college girl killed by “the girlfriend collector” she is determined to solve the case. But now the serial killer is on the lookout for a new “relationship” and Violet may have caught his eye....

By blood, by word, by magic...

Most can't touch the power. But Liv Warren is special – a paranormal tracker who follows the scent of blood.

Liv makes her own rules, and the most important one is trust no one.

But when her friend's daughter goes missing, Liv has no choice but to find the girl. Thanks to a childhood oath, Liv can't rest until the child is home safe. But that means trusting Cam Caballero, the former lover forbidden to her.

Bound by oath and lost in desire for a man she cannot have, Liv is racing to save the child from a dark criminal underworld where secrets, lies, trauma and danger lurk around every corner...every touch...every kiss.

And more blood will be spilled before it's over...

That's what is on my wishlist this week! I hope everybody gets their wishlist books soon :D


Thursday, 11 August 2011

The Scorpio Races Trailer

Maggie Stiefvater just posted the book trailer for The Scorpio Races on her Livejournal so I thought I would share it with you!


I absolutely adore this trailer and I definitely can't wait to read this one! What do you think?



Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Review: Witch Song

Title: Witch Song
Author: Amber Argyle
Publication date: September 1st 2011
Ebook edition: 321 pages
Genre: Fantasy
Young Adult
Source: Received from publisher
My Rating: 8/10

Summary:
The world is changing. Once, Witch Song controlled everything from the winds to the shifting of the seasons-but not anymore. All the Witches are gone, taken captive by a traitor. All but Brusenna. As the echo of their songs fades, the traitor grows stronger. Now she is coming for Brusenna. Her guardian has sworn to protect her, but even he can't stop the Dark Witch. Somehow, Brusenna has to succeed where every other Witch has failed. Find the traitor. Fight her. Defeat her. Because if Brusenna doesn't, there won't be anything left to save.
My Review:
This story did have a bit of a slow start when compared to the rest of the novel. However, when it got started a ton of things seemed to happen right after each other. That's all very well, but there was no balance in that respect for me. There was no time in the story where things were just left to settle and characters were able to reflect or interact - it doesn't seem right when characters are going through a moment of reflection whilst being fired at or dealing with being in the middle of a battle or whatever, no matter how relevant the said moment of reflection is to the story.
Now that the criticism is out of the way, other than that I really loved this story. It was really new and original and had great characters.
The protagonist of the story, Brusenna, was flawed in that she saw everything as up to her and that she was alone, with her being the last witch. I love that in characters. Especially when surrounding characters are there to point it out and try and help. Brusenna developed a lot throughout Witch Song and even though everything seemed to be up to her, when everybody else got involved and maybe didn't seem to be so grateful to her, she didn't react like a spoilt little brat. She took it in her stride and kept her mouth shut when she should have and spoke out when the opportunity arose. My point is, it just goes to show that not every successful heroine has to be loudmouthed just to get her opinions heard or refuse to accept a man's help for fear of being seen as inferior. Brusenna was none of that and as a result she was probably the most realistic heroine ever!
Other than the characters the plot was really original. Witches who's power lies in their voice? So cool to read about!
I really recommend this book to anyone who is a fan of YA or otherwise. Pick it up, you won't regret it!
Great quotes:
A Witch with a weak song is barely a Witch at all.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Teaser Tuesday #26

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can take part! All you have to do is:

  • Grab your current read.
  • Let the book fall open to a random page.
  • Share with us (2) teaser sentences from that page, somewhere between lines 7 and 12 (but don't give any spoilers!)
  • Share the title of the book that the teaser is from...that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you've given!

You can find out more here!

My current read: The Black Banner by Helen Hart

Random page: #141

Teaser:

During attacks I tied a red bandanna around my head and wore a waistcoat stiffened with tar to protect me from slicing blades. I plundered in my petticoat with a brace of muskets strapped across my hips. My hair hung in salty tangles which would have made a fine lady like Lily De Havilland cry out in horror.

Happy reading everyone!


Monday, 8 August 2011

Review: Townhouse

Title: Townhouse

Author: Brian Rowe

Publication date: June 17th 2011

Ebook edition: 248 pages

Genre: Horror

Source: BLB Book Tours

My Rating: 7/10

Summary:

Sara Crimson isn't happy about moving into a shady apartment complex with a man she barely knows. But after discovering she's pregnant with her first child, she decides to try to make a relationship work with the baby daddy Max, an up-and-coming talent agent.

An aspiring novelist, Sara at first is elated with the additional free time she has to focus on her writing. But as the days turn to weeks, she starts to suspect that something peculiar is happening in the Executive Townhouses of North Hollywood, California. People start disappearing, strange noises echo down the corridor, and an old, creepy tenant finds his entertainment value in staring at her from afar.

But what Sara doesn't know is that the hidden horrors that lie inside the complex are far worse than anything her overactive imagination could have ever conceived...


My thoughts:

If you didn't know already, I'm a huge fan of horror. I go crazy for new horror stories.

This book was certainly full of what I love most about horror. It was so chocked full of suspense it was one I couldn't put down at times. I was entirely engrossed it was so gripping.

It was surprising too. The villain wasn't clear until actually revealed which kept me guessing which I always like in a story.

Another thing I always like in a story - flawed protagonists! Sara has her faults and she's not exactly likeable at the start but that soon changes throughout the novel.

I also appreciate authors of horror novels that aren't afraid of throwing as much gore at readers as possible. This is definitely not a read to finish whilst eating or just before sleeping!

Overall I recommend this book to fans of the horror genre. It was a great read.

Brian Rowe:
Goodreads|Blog|Twitter|Facebook

Disclosure of Material Connection: i am a member of the Book Lovin' Bitches Ebook Tours and a copy was provided to me by the author. although payment may have been received by Book Lovin' Bitches Ebook Tours, no payment was received by me in exchange for this review nor was there an obligation to write a positive one. all opinions expressed here are entirely mine and may not necessarily agree with those of the author, the book's publisher and publicist or the readers of this review. this disclosure is in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255, Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.


Saturday, 6 August 2011

In My Mailbox #22

Time for another In My Mailbox! I always look forward to this time of the week...
So this week I bought:
And I received:
So quite a few books this week. (links to Goodreads)
Happy reading everyone!

Friday, 5 August 2011

On My Wishlist #29

On My Wishlist is a fun weekly event hosted by Book Chick City and runs every Saturday. It's where I list all the books I want but haven't haven't actually bought yet. They can be old, new or forthcoming. It's also an event that you can join in with too - Mr Linky is always at the ready to link your own 'On My Wishlist' post. If you want to know more click here.

Jael has always felt like a freak. She’s never kissed a boy, she never knew her mom, and her dad’s always been superstrict—but that’s probably because her mom was a demon, which makes Jael half demon and most definitely not a normal sophomore girl. On her sixteenth birthday, a mysterious present unlocks her family’s dangerous history and Jael’s untapped potential. What was merely an embarrassing secret before becomes a terrifying reality. Jael must learn to master her demon side in order to take on a vindictive Duke of Hell while also dealing with a twisted priest, best-friend drama, and a spacey blond skater boy who may have hidden depths.

Thea Galehouse has always known how to take care of herself. With a flighty club-owner mom and a standoffish, recovering-alcoholic dad, Thea has made her own way in her hometown of New York, attending the prestigious and competitive Stuyvesant High School. But one chat with Will, a handsome and witty senior, and she's a goner—completely hooked on him and unable to concentrate on anything else.
Always worried that she loves Will more than he loves her, Thea is pleasantly surprised when their romance weathers his move to college and Will goes out of his way to involve her in his life. But then, Thea misses a period. And that starts Thea and Will on a wild ride that neither of them could have possibly prepared for. When they decide to keep the baby, their concerned parents chip in what they can to keep Will in school and give both teenagers a comfortable place to raise their child. But when a freak accident leaves Thea shaken and threatens to upend their little family altogether, Thea is forced to turn to the last place she would have chosen for comfort: her stiff, uncompromising father.
This smart, touching first novel brims with realistic, beautifully drawn characters, and reminds us that love is never as easy or predictable as we might like it to be.

An abandoned orphanage.

A strange collection of very curious photographs.

It all waits to be discovered in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, an unforgettable novel that mixes fiction and photography in a thrilling reading experience. As our story opens, a horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason. And somehow—impossible though it seems—they may still be alive.

When you can see things others can't, where do you look for the truth?
This paranormal murder mystery will have teens reading on the edge of their seats.
Clarity "Clare" Fern sees things. Things no one else can see. Things like stolen kisses and long-buried secrets. All she has to do is touch a certain object, and the visions come to her. It's a gift.
And a curse.
When a teenage girl is found murdered, Clare's ex-boyfriend wants her to help solve the case - but Clare is still furious at the cheating jerk. Then Clare's brother - who has supernatural gifts of his own - becomes the prime suspect, and Clare can no longer look away. Teaming up with Gabriel, the smoldering son of the new detective, Clare must venture into the depths of fear, revenge, and lust in order to track the killer. But will her sight fail her just when she needs it most?

That's it for on my wishlist this week! Happy reading everyone!