Under Construction

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween + Spooky Swap!!!

Hi, everyone! I hope you are all having an awesome Halloween!! Halloween is probably one of my FAVORITE holidays. Free candy, a legitimate reason to walk around in costume, and of course... scary stories! This year I wasn't able to do much for Halloween, but I did participate in the Spooky Swap hosted by Travis at Inked Books and Jessica at A Fanatics Book Blog. Below is a picture of the awesome stuff I received from Julie at A Tale of Many Review. A special thanks to Julie for sending my this absolutely awesome stuff!! I adored the Emergency Chocolate. It read:
"For immediate relief of: Halloween mayhem, fake Frankensteins, plastic spiders and fake blood.
Directions of use: Snap off into single pieces and throw at suspects from the nearest window. Break into bigger pieces and throw if suspect returns with big brother or a large wooden object. If truly desperate hand over entire bar to these extortionists and retire." Hehe... LOVE IT!

Friday, October 29, 2010

The Emerald Flame by Frewin Jones

The Emerald Flame by Frewin Jones 5 of 5 stars.
Book Three of the Warrior Princess Series

Branwen has finally accepted that the Shining Ones have chosen her to save her country from the Saxon invaders. But the next stage in her journey includes a seemingly impossible missions, and the path before her is filled with darkness and danger. Branwen is pushed to the brink of disaster, and with each step she takes, she is being pulled farther from the life she knew--the life she still desperately misses.

Guided by the spirits, with both her fearless friend Rhodri and the dashing, sometimes maddening Iwan by her side, Branwen must overcome terrifying odds if she is to succeed in her quest. But a true Warrior Princess won't back down. . . even when an old enemy returns.

The Chosen One of the Shining Ones, Branwen ap Griffith, continues the journey toward her destiny alongside her loyal followers. However, Branwen's plans to join the people of her homelands in their war against the Saxon invaders has once again been put on hold. The Shining Ones have a new task for Branwen: find the relic holding the wind god Caradoc prisoner and return it to Merion of the Stones. As if rescuing a god isn't hard enough, Caradoc's prison is in the very heart of the Saxon's main camp.

Branwen and her friends face fierce beasts and terrible foes as they continue their quest. Old friends and old enemies rise up around Branwen, and she is once again left wondering if the path she has chosen is the right one. Stalwart determination and the support of her followers give the Warrior Princess the faith to carry on in this never-ending saga of destiny, death, and magic.

The Emerald Flame is a beautiful and exiting installment in the Warrior Princess series that will leave readers craving the next one. Girls will look up to Branwen whose courage, strength, and sheer will power put her in a league of her own among the MG and YA heroines.

Frewin Jones's writing is, as always, wonderful. His way of sweeping you into mystic lands and dropping you among vivid characters keeps all of us reading. The Emerald Flame was no exception. The narration is flawless in capturing the mood and feel of the land as well as the characters. I also love the voice of the characters in their dialogue. Sometimes I feel a sort of echo between this and Lord of the Rings. 

The third book of the Warrior Princess series is more about character development than the campaign of Branwen's people. While there is still enough action to keep you flipping the pages, I feel like we see Branwen grow up even more in this books than in the others. I also see how much she has changed since we were first were introduced to her.

In short, this book is wonderful with beautiful characters, scenery, and themes. Fans of high-fantasy or historical fiction would adore this novel. I must suggest reading the first two books before you get to this one, though. That way you can better understand Branwen's struggles and her opinions.

For fans of: Frewin Jones, Lord of the Rings, The Inheritance Cycle

To order this book from Amazon.com, please click here.
Check out the Frewin Jones fan site here!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Blog Tour: Split by Swati Avasthi

Split by Swati Avasthi 5 of 5 stars.

Sixteen-year-old Jace Witherspoon arrives at the doorstep of his estranged brother, Christian, with a re-landscaped face (courtesy of his father), $3.84, and a secret.

He tries to move on, going for new friends, a new school, and a new job, but all his changes can't make him forget what he left behind.

His mother is still trapped with his dad. And his ex-girlfriend is keeping his secret--for now.

Turns out there are some things you can't just walk away from. (Book blurb)

A lost temper and a split second decision leave Jace Witherspoon with a busted up face and a one way ticket out of town. Jace knew what was coming as soon as he decided to throw a punch at dear old dad, but that doesn't stop him from worrying about the consequences his decision will have on both his mother and himself.

Now Jace is living with his estranged and paranoid brother, walking on eggshells in an attempt to not open any old wounds and to get his life back on track. The problem is, he doesn't even know what that means. With secrets in his heart and his mother left behind, Jace has to come to terms with what it means to be out of the house he grew up in, the house were so much blood was spilled.

Split is a beautiful and gripping tale of domestic abuse and the strength it takes to break away from it. Swati Avasthi has shed new light on something many people can't even fathom. She's walked us through what it means to be afraid for your family's life, and to look at violence as a trivial, every day fact of life.

When I read the synopsis and signed up for this blog tour, I thought I new what to expect. I was expecting a tear-jerker sort of story that would leave me surrounded in balled up tissues, but that's not what I got. Jace's voice drew me in and lulled me into a state where I saw through his eyes. I felt his anger and his grief. Something about the way he told his story left me dry eyed and constantly flipping the pages. The tone of his character rang in my mind long after I put the book down.

Swati Avasthi definitely has a gift for story telling. Her characters were well written and easy to relate to, while her writing was nuanced and compelling. Nothing was what it seemed as I continued to read. The plot was fairly predictable, but not in the kind of way that just annoys you as you read. There was simply enough foreshadowing to give me a pretty clear picture of what was coming.

Overall, Split was a wonderful read with character I will remember for quite a while. If you enjoy realistic fiction, there is no way you wouldn't like this book. You may even enjoy it if you don't.

To order a copy of Split by Swati Avasthi from Amazon.com, please click here.

To honor National Domestic Violence Awareness month, author Swati Avasthi has combined a blog tour for her debut novel, Split, with a charity auction. Over 40 authors, agents and editors have donated manuscript critiques, personalized books, and more to an online auction that anyone –reader, writer, booklover -- can bid on and buy. All proceeds go to the Family Violence Prevention Fund. In addition to the auction, Avasthi is donating $1/comment on her 26-stop, month-long blog tour, coordinated by Kari Olson at Teen Book Scene. If she reaches her goal and cap of $250, she will double the donation. Follow the tour, get stuff you want, and make a difference.

General Store

Featured Lots:

A 20 page critique by author Heidi Ayarbe here.

A personalized, signed copy ofFreeze Frame by Heidi Ayarbe here.

A toy rocking sheep here.

Toy soldiers here.

A readable miniature book here.

A miniature version of The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis here.

A miniature version of Split by Swati Avasthi here

All of the minis above are handcrafted!

Now... Start commenting! You'll be helping people like Jace who need your support!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Blog Tour: Freefall by Anna Levine

Freefall by Anna Levine 5 of 5 stars.

What would your life be like if military service was compulsory, not voluntary?

Aggie is eighteen and getting ready to do her service for the Israeli Army. She could get a cushy assignment--maybe pushing paper somewhere--or she could just take her chances. Only, Aggie isn't like that. Despite her small size and the fact that she needs to gain weight to even make the grade, and despite the total disbelief of her entire family (except her grandmother, who is an old freedom fighter and don't you forget it), Aggie is trying out for an elite combat unit.

Ben--Aggie's crush of the moment--isn't at all convinced that she's making the right choice. Shira, Aggie's best friend forever, is bewildered (and perhaps a bit too interested in Ben). Then there's Noah. And the serendipitous snow. And a good-bye kiss that turns into, well, a real kiss.

Luckily for Aggie, her backbreaking, sand-in-mouth, completely-lost-in-the-desert training produces an unlikely dividend: friends. The kind she never imagined she could have. The kind you'd go to war with--and for. (Book blurb)

Military presence is a very strong factor for young Israelis. Brothers, sisters, boyfriends, and besties are pulled into compulsory service as soon as they finish high school. But not everyone has to be a fighter. Aggie's mother would have her doing something in an office, cool and safe, but Aggie, a dancer, isn't sure she wants to spend the next two years of her life doing paperwork. The only person who encourages Aggie is her bestfriend Shira's brother Noah. As Aggie's feelings change for Noah, her heart is faced with even more decisions. 

Aggie soon finds herself in the middle of the desert toting sand bags alongside a group of other girls. Blood, sweat, and tears form strong, unbreakable friendships. Later, when one of those friends is in trouble, Aggie realizes that she has to make her own choices. Nobody can do that for her.

Freefall is a beautifully written, heartfelt novel that left me smiling through tears. There are stories that you enjoy, and then there are stories that leave a permanent mark in your heart. Sometimes there are characters that you feel a real, solid connection to. This was one of those books.

Anna Levine is a truly brilliant writer. Her characters hardly seemed fictional at all. They were real, living breathing people. Alot of times I say characters were believable but that isn't the case here. These characters are real. I almost expect to see pictures of them all in the back of the book. Aggie, her grandmother, Noah, and Lily were probably my favorites. I don't think I will ever forget them.

The only problem I have with this novel is that its too short! Its one of those books that you can't stand to put down, but you cringe as you see the stack of pages to the right getting smaller and smaller. I seriously think I could have picked it up and read it all over again as soon as I finished. It doesn't really matters what kind of novel you like, there is no way you could not love this book.

Find out more about the Anna Levine Freefall blog tour by clicking here.
To order a copy of Freefall by Anna Levine from Amazon.com, please click here.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Author Interview with Julie Berry!

Today, I would like to introduce you all to one of my favorite fantasy authors, Julie Berry. Her latest book Secondhand Charm was released October 12th.

1. What was writing The Amaranth Enchantment like for you?

Writing The Amaranth Enchantment was a lot of fun, though there were many moments when I wondered if there was any merit at all in what I was writing. The more you stare at words for months, and puzzle over this verb or that verb, the more the words lose all meaning. It’s very hard to be objective about your own work.

2. Was there ever a time when you were afraid you might not finish it?

I knew I would not rest until it was finished, however, I did wonder sometimes if it was finish-able. Would I be able to craft an ending that resolved all I’d started? Heaven only knew!

3. Did you always know you wanted to be a writer?

I think so, though I think I kept it on the back burner in my life plans for a lot of years. Since my books have come out, though, many friends have said, “I remember you talking about wanting to be an author back when we were kids together.” It surprises me to hear this. Maybe I wasn’t as mum about my hopes as I’d like to think I was.

4. Do you have any particular writing "quirks", thing you seem to do differently than others?

I don’t think so. My busy schedule and large family force me to be flexible about where, when, and how I write. I don’t have the luxury of special rituals. I need to be able to move my story forward in whatever snatches of time I have, and wherever I am.

5. What was your publication journey like?

Mine was fairly straightforward. I started writing essays for a local paper, then after a couple years of doing that, I applied for graduate school and pursued an MFA in writing for children and young adults, eventually graduating from Vermont College of the Fine Arts. While in school, I wrote three novels. I submitted the second one to an agent shortly before graduation, and she offered me a contract. She sent the manuscript out to several publishers, and I was fortunate that Bloomsbury wanted to buy The Amaranth Enchantment.

6. How do you get ideas?

If you’re awake and alive, your mind is always noticing things, observing ironies, laughing at what’s funny, pondering what baffles you or breaks your heart. The more you write, the more you learn to sift through that stream of thoughts to find and file away the ones that have story potential. When I want to start something new, I just think of whatever interests me at the moment, ask a lot of what-if questions, and let the new story bubble to the surface.

7. What drew you to writing for MG-YA rather than adult?

Writing fiction for adults was never my goal. I always wanted to write children’s books. I write other things for adults, such as essays and commentary, and perhaps one day I’ll write a book for an adult audience, but my heart lies in the kids’ book section.

8. What's your favorite quote?

I don’t have a favorite quote, but I do have one pasted next to my computer at work: “Use what talents you possess; the woods would be very silent if no birds sang there except those that sang best.” This is attributed to Henry Van Dyke.

9. Do you have any advice for young writers?

Read, read, read. Take advantage of the fact that you don’t need to pay all the bills and just read, read, read, in whatever pockets of time you have. Then, write! Keeping a journal is a great way to limber up writing muscles. So is writing stories and poems. Write whatever comes easily and brings you joy. It will all feed the muscles that help you write terrific stories down the road.

Thank you so much for doing this, Julie!

Julie Berry's Website
My review of Secondhand Charm
My review of The Amaranth Enchantment

To order Secondhand Charm by Julie Berry from Amazon.com, please click here.
To order The Amaranth Enchantment by Julie Berry from Amazon.com, please click here.

This blog is an Amazon Associates Affiliate. When you buy an item from Amazon.com after following one of our links to the site, we gain a small commission. However, this does NOT effect our opinion of the books. Thank you.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Coming Soon: CSN Stores Review

I love hot tea, especially in the winter time. I started drinking Celestial Seasonings herbal teas, and I seriously think I like them better than coffee-even Starbucks! But I don't have a tea pot/kettle, so every time I make tea I just pour water into a mettle pot to boil. Where's the fun in that? I've been looking for a tea set for a while and haven't found one that I've fallen in love with yet.

CSN Stores recently asked me to do a review of one of their products. They have such a large site I felt completely lost looking through everything from messenger bags to nightstands and yes, even stuff for the pooch. But then it hit me. They have dishes! So I looked up tea pots and I have found the most adorable one ever. Its simple and whimsical and elegant. I just adore it! I wasn't crazy about the plain glass tea cups though, so I think I'm going to find some different ones in baby pink to go along with it.

(You can click the image below to see it on the site.)

Anyway, I'll be reviewing this product in a few weeks, and I will let you know how I like it. I'm so excited!! 

Bloggers Speak Out: Winner of the SPEAK Giveaway!

Hi, everyone! I apologize for being a few days late announcing a winner. I've been running around so much lately I haven't been sure whether I was coming or going. But you won't have to wait any longer.

The winner of the 10th Anniversary Edition of Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson is....

Erika from Moonlight Book Reviews

Congratulations!! I'll have your book in the mail soon.

Thanks to all of you who entered!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Secondhand Charm by Julie Berry

Secondhand Charm by Julie Berry 5 of 5 stars.
To be released October 12, 2010 by Bloomsbury Children's Books

In a secluded village, magic sparkles on the edges of the forest. There, a young girl named Evie possesses unusually strong powers as a healer. And a gypsy's charms--no more than trinkets when worn by others--are remarkably potent when Evie ties them around her neck. Her talents, and charms, have not escaped the notice of the shy stonemason's son. But Evie wants more than a quiet village and the boy-next-door. When the prince's entourage arrives one day, and his footman has fallen ill, Evie might just get her chance after all. . . But this young girl's destiny is no mere romantic fairytale. Her fate, and the journey she is about to embark upon, will taker her far from her tiny village, uncovering serpentine powers and a legacy she never dreamed possible. (Book blurb)

Evie dreams of helping people, of being a martyr. She knows what she wants from life. When the king makes a chance visit to her small village he grants her the chance to follow that dream. But Evie faces many trials along the way that make her question her past and her future. When all is said and done, will Evie let her so called 'fate' make her decisions for her? Or will she stick to what she believes in, despite the dangers such a decision pose?

Secondhand Charm was a beautiful novel written in a pleasant fairytale style that few can master. Sea monsters and dashing bandits keep you on the edge of your seat as we follow Evie into this beautiful world. Since reading her debut novel The Amaranth Enchantment, Julie Berry has been one of my all-time favorite fantasy writers, and Secondhand Charm was no exception.

The story begins in Evie's small village where we see her daily life. It soon becomes obvious that she is mature beyond her years. As things progress, obstacles are thrown into our heroin's path that could never have been expected. Despite her feelings of insecurity around the beautiful and mysterious Annalise, Evie stays the strong young woman that we all love to see in the young adult/middle grade genre.

The plot is twisting, unpredictable, full of suspense, and at times hilarious. Whether you enjoy a lighthearted fairytale or an action packed adventure, you are sure to fall in love with Secondhand Charm.

To pre-order Secondhand Charm by Julie Berry from Amazon.com, please click  here.

This blog is an Amazon Associates Affiliate. When you buy an item from Amazon.com after following one of our links to the site, we gain a small commission. However, this does NOT effect our opinion of the books. Thank you.

09 10