Under Construction

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Weekly Writing Prompt with C. Lee McKenzie!

Hey, everyone! From now on I'll be posting a writing prompt by one of your favorite YA authors every Thursday. I'll also be doing some contests and giveaways later on for those of you brave enough to join it! Here are the rules:

Write just write.
Share pretty please! Post what you wrote each week in the comments section! Let the author see your awesome work.

C. Lee McKenzie

C. Lee McKenzie has written YA and MG novels as well as short stories and nonfiction articles. Judging by all the buzz surrounded her latest book Princess of Las Pulgas (read my review if you haven't!), you might say she's a veritable master behind a keyboard.

This week, Ms. McKenzie has given us a writing prompt to really get the juices flowing!

"Every writer knows that the opening lines of a book can make or break a sale, so my writing prompt is about creating a dynamite opening. The catch is you have to include the following words and it can't be longer than a paragraph.

alive OR dead

hug (any verb form)

importance, important

Here's my stab at a "grabber" opening for a YA novel. Enjoy and write up something irresistible for that agent, that editor, or your readers.

If I’d known I wouldn’t be alive today, here’s what I would have done . . . in order of importance.

Hugged Mom
Apologized to Ben
Tossed all my diaries
Punched Kelly Pollard in the mouth" --C. Lee McKenzie

Her website!
My review of Princess of Las Pulgas!

Many thanks to Ms. McKenzie for participating this week! I hope you will all join in and keep this going!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Chunky Bling Review

I'm sure you've all noticed the gorgeous button to the left, right? The one with the pretty purple watch? That is for the awesome jewelry site called Chunky Bling. They've got all kind of jewelry that features awesome chunky beads and beautiful hunks of Swarovski Crystals. What's a Swarovski Crystal? You know the stones in the pretty ring/necklace/bracelet of yours? The ones that shine so much they look like diamonds? Those are more than likely Swarovski Crystals. They are cut to have as many shiney facets as possible so that they reflect the most light. I've always adored them.

When a representative from Chunky Bling contacted me about posting an ad on my blog, I told him that I would have to review the product to make sure it was of good enough quality to support on here. He agreed that this would be fine, and I chose the beautiful Palace Green Swarovski Crystal Ring. I was a bit apprehensive when it came to picking a size because I have very long thing fingers and alot of times my ring size differs, so I just have to try them on. Ordering online was a bit different for me. But I guesstimated the size and sent out for it.

When the ring arrived I was surprised to find that instead of just being a straight ring, it was a little bit elasticy and fit my finger perfectly. I normally don't like rings with elastic because they aren't very comfortable, but this one fit and felt just fine. It didn't make any marks on my fingers, and oh, how it shined!

The stones are most definitely Swarovski Crystals and they shimmer in the light beautifully. The color was a bit lighter than it appears in the photograph on the website, but it is still gorgeous. It has become one of my favorite pieces of jewelry.

As for the other stuff on the site, I'm thinking about order a watch myself. And I hate watches. These are just too cute!

So, if anyone is looking for any jewelry please, please, please check out Chunky Bling. The site is small, but it is 100% legit, and I promise you will be satisfied with your order!

Beaded Watches 

I receive a small commission every time someone makes a purchase on the website after following one of my buttons. However, this does not affect my opinion of the product.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Blog Tour: Odessa - Seraphym Wars by Rebecca Ryals Russell

"Myrna Ashlin Watts graduated from High School in Jacksonville, Fl just in time to find herself transported to a bizarre and primal planet corrupted by demon-dragons. And they want her DEAD. Her problem is she has been recruited to kill them, too.

18-year-old Myrna is drawn into the middle of an epic battle between Seraphym and Demons. An average High School student from Florida, struggling with inner demons resulting from a rape two years earlier, she wakes one morning on the Steampunk planet of Dracwald, home of the demon-dragons responsible for her brother’s recent murder as well as many other atrocities in the news. She meets Michael, who becomes her guide and explains that according to prophecy, Myrna must gather the remaining six Vigorios (teen warriors with special talents) then train with the Majikals on an enchanted island.

Reluctantly, and knowing it is her only way to get back home, she agrees to lead, battling dragons and monsters while crossing swamps and mountains, forests and seas. She wrangles with the old inner demons when three very different men join her quest—a seasoned demon/dragon-slayer who irritates but beguiles her, a tender and sweet mentor in whom she trusts completely and a roguishly handsome Scientist who sets her senses aflame. How is she expected to lead the others and keep everyone safe with so much inner turmoil?

Will love and lust, jealousy, greed, deceit and distrust break the delicate tie that binds these teen warriors called The Vigorios? Can a troupe of teens help the Seraphym finally defeat the massive empire of evil dominated for eons by the demon-dragons of Dracwald?
" - Goodreads

This or That with Rebecca Ryals Russell

1.  Cookies or cake? Cake. Particularly carrot cake. Every birthday we have carrot cake because everyone knows it’s my favorite. I also like Red Velvet, Black Forest and cheesecake (although it’s not officially cake). 

2. Jelly or jam? Neither. I prefer preserves because I like the bits of actual fruit. My favorite is Orange Marmalade, then Strawberry. But, I also love Guava Jelly or Apple Jelly and Apple Butter. Apple Butter and Peanut Butter make a delicious sandwich, by the way. 

3. Bright colors or darker colors?  Both. In my decorating, clothing and any time color is a choice, I prefer any shade of red, then bright yellows and dark purple. 

4. Travel by train or travel by bus?  Train travel is definitely preferable, but even so can be rather tedious. About 15 years ago we took our 4 young children from Jacksonville to Savannah, Ga on the train. It was a LOOOOOOOOONG ride with 4 little ones. But we all remember it, and that’s what counts. 

5. Art museum or science museum?  Science Museum. When my kids were little we had an annual membership to the Jacksonville Science Museum where they could play, or we’d attend the Planetarium and watch the laser lights played to rock music. They especially enjoyed the Dinosaur exhibit. We went to the Orlando Science Museum one time. They had a travel exhibit about the body that was outstanding. 

6. Socks or bare feet?  Bare feet for sure. Growing up in South Florida I grew up barefoot and never got out of the habit. 

7. Go for a walk or go for a run? Walk. I can’t run anymore. When I was in my twenties my hubby and I would jog at an exercise park near our apartment in Orlando. I developed shin splints. Ever since, if I don’t stretch well, or go too fast before my muscles warm up, I can hardly even walk. It’s very frustrating. 

8. Dresses or pants?  I’ve always been one for skirts or dresses. I guess I enjoy feeling feminine. I wear pants and jeans when necessary, but I love all of the full-length, flowing skirts available these days and pretty much live in them with embroidered or crochet-enhanced peasant tops. I’m so happy styles from the ‘60’s have become popular again. 

9. Dance or sing? Dance. When I was in college, and dating my hubby, we went ‘clubbing’ every Friday night. There was one night we got into a battle between the drummer and us dancing. Everyone left the dance floor at the end of the set, but we kept dancing and the drummer kept going. It lasted at least another 30 minutes before we finally gave up. The whole club cheered us on. It was so much fun. I miss dancing since we moved into a Victorian house with wooden floor and a crawl space. Bounce, bounce, bounce. 

10. Celebrate with a small group or celebrate with a large group?  I’m definitely a small group gal. I’m quite shy and have trouble connecting with too many people at once. That’s why the Internet is perfect for me. Whenever I’m in a large group, like at a Writing Conference, I always choose the rear corner table and sit in the far corner of the room. The irony is that I was a Middle Grades teacher for 14 years. Talk about being front and center and with the most opinionated age there is. 

Thank you, Rebecca! Hopefully, a review will of Odessa will be soon to follow!

To order Odessa - Seraphym Wars from Amazon.com, please click here. 

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Blog Tour: Overprotected by Jennifer Laurens

Overprotected by Jennifer Laurens 5 of 5 stars.

Ashlyn: A lonely society princess living in New York City.

Daddy hired you to be my bodyguard.

Colin: Childhood enemy, now her protector.

Daddy thought I'd be safe. He thought I'd never fall in love.
He thought he could keep me forever.

Charles: Obsessed with keeping her safe, keeping her his,
he hires the one person he knows she could never fall in love with:

Daddy was wrong.
(Book blurb)

When Ashlyn was five years old she was kidnapped by her father's stalker. Ever since, paranoia has run rampant in her house. At seventeen, being kept behind the walls of a townhouse and constantly being watched by a bodyguard, she's almost like a modern-day princess in a tower. Only worse, because Ashlyn feels there is absolutely no chance of a handsome prince getting her out of this one. Little does she know that she doesn't need one.

Ashlyn thinks her life is about to get a whole lot worse when Daddy hires the boy who tormented her as a child, Colin Brennan, to be her bodyguard. But Colin is all grown up now and more than a little handsome. As Ashlyn tries to get past her hatred of Colin her feelings for him change, she also has to come to terms with a reality she never even knew existed in her house. And with only one friend, Ashlyn has very few allies she can count on.

Overprotected is a heart-stopping edge of your seat kind of novel, but it also has the soft undertones of youth and redemption along with the bitterness of a coming to age that came all too fast. Jennifer Laurens is a truly brilliant writer who's wonderful voice kept me turning the pages. I literally couldn't put it down.

The characters are so remarkably real and yet at the beginning (and perhaps a little throughout the rest of the book) the situation seems terribly unrealistic. But something in the way Laurens tells the story and the emotions of the characters makes us believe in Ashlyn's plight, whether it is realistic or not. That's what makes a story of this type wonderful.

Ashlyn's voice was innocent and unique. In the beginning I thought she was a bit too complacent and didn't have any fight in her, but as the story continued, and I watched Ashlyn grow as a character and saw her eyes be opened to the world around her I wanted to do nothing more than cheer her on.

As for Colin, he is probably one of my new favorite fictional heroes. His gentlemanly demeanor and honest-to-goodness care toward Ashlyn makes my heart melt. His personality may have been that of the near-perfect hero we all dream about and feel we'll never find, but sometimes those kind of characters are just what we need to lift are spirits.

Over all, the story is remarkably well written, the plot is intense and surprising, and the character will make you miss them. Anyone who loves a good story will like this book, no matter what genre you prefer. As for me, Jennifer Laurens has officially made it onto my "favorite author's" list!

To order Overprotected by Jennifer Laurens from Amazon.com, please click here.

Jennifer Laurens's Top Ten Fiction Characters!

Top Ten Fiction Characters I LOVE:
Cam - Sea Swept by Nora Roberts
Roxy - Honest Illusions by Nora Roberts
Luke - Honest Illusions by Nora Robers
Barbara Covett - Notes on  A Scandal
David - Endless Love by Scott Spencer
Jamie - Outlander - Diana Gabaldon
Damon Salvatore - Vampire Diaries
Sayuri - Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden

Many thanks to Jennifer and to Teen {Book} Scene for letting me participate in this blog tour. Please leave Jennifer a comment below!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

CSN Stores Review - Milk Frother

Do you remember when I did that teaser post about my CSN Stores milk frother review? Well, I intended to write the review and post it long before now but between the holidays, being sick with winter colds, and the start of my new classes for school I just haven't found time. Until now...

The Cuisinox 27 oz. Cappuccino frother is a wonderful addition to anybody's kitchen. Especially if you like hot milky drinks. All you have to do is pour however much milk, hot chocolate, or whatever you want frothed into the stainless steel frother and set it on the stove. As it heats, you use this little plunger that is attached to some kind of netting-wire thing that aerates the milk.

I've found that heating the milk first and then frothing it, however, is the best way to go. If you don't and you just put it in the little frother its hard to tell when the milk is hot enough. Taking the lid on and off while frothing causes a sticky, milky-burned mess on the stove-top.

And that brings me to my problem with the lid in general. The little rod that is connected to the aerator goes through the lid, and you use it as a little pump. So when you pull the lid up, you pull the dripping aerator up as well. That is problem enough in and of itself, but the worst part is that there isn't any kind of lock or very good suction on the lid. So in order to pump the plunger up and down you have to put your other hand on the lid to keep it from popping up and down too. When you've got it on the stove or with nearly-boiling milk inside, that stainless steel lid gets pretty hot.

I know it sounds like I'm bashing this things, but remember; This is a good review. I just want to make sure you know what you're getting into before you buy it. Its a lot more work to make that delicious, steaming bunch of froth than I thought it was going to be.

Now, onto the delicious steamy froth! It is just that fluffy, light, and wonderful. It may not be of the Starbucks quality, but it adds at least 3 in. of foamy goodness to your favorite drink. Which, by the way, is very comforting on a blustery winter/spring day.

That's all I have to say for now, other than that ordering from CSN Stores is always an absolute pleasure. I have to make it a point not to look at the website very often. Its kind of like avoiding the stores you know you'll buy alot of stuff at on impulse in the mall. Only, its way bigger than that store in the mall...

Click here to check out the Cuisinox 27 oz Cappuccino Frother on CSNStores.com!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Awesome Giveaway!

You have got to check out the awesome giveaway going on at Le Vanity Victorienne. Nevey is giving away a really cool Goddess Girls: Athena the Wise prize pack!

Click here to go enter!

And if you haven't entered her Amazon Gift Card Giveaway, do that too! --->>

The Charmed Return by Frewin Jones

The Charmed Return by Frewin Jones 5 of 5 stars.
Faerie Path Book Six 

By the light of the
pure eclipse, two worlds
will be as one. . .

She was once a princess of Faerie, the seventh daughter of King Oberon. But sixteen-year-old Anita Palmer has no memory of the Faerie Realm; her true Faerie princess identity; her love, Edric; or her quest to save Faerie from a deadly plague that ravaged it. With the help of an unexpected ally, Anita must figure out a way to reawaken Tania, her Faerie self--but how?

Now Anita--or is she Tania?--doesn't know who, or what, to trust, including her own memories. With no time to spare, Anita must act. A thrilling final battle is soon to be waged that will affect not only her destiny but the fate of both Faerie and the Mortal World. Loyalties will be tested, true love questioned, and nothing is what it seems.(Book blurb)

Magic and mayhem prevail as our favorite Faerie Path characters rush to save the kingdom once again. This time it is Tania's dreadful uncle who is trying to take-over Faerie and all of those in it. But, of course, evil villains of this sort never hold their ambitions in only one realm...

New friends join old for a semi-apocalyptic battle in the most epic Faerie Path book yet. Excitement, danger, and romance will keep you on the edge of your seat from the first moment, while the author's gentle and beautiful writing calls to mind images both lovely and terrifying.

I feel ridiculous trying to right Faerie Path reviews anymore. Everyone knows how much I adore these books, and the plots in this series are so twisted I always feel like I jumping through hoops in an attempt not to accidentally leave you any spoilers.

But needless to say, The Charmed Return is probably one of my favorite installments of this series thus far. It has an ending that will leave you *squee*-ing with happiness. Even while you desperately want another Faerie Path book. You'd think six would be enough, but apparently not.

If you haven't read the previous Faerie Path books, then I wouldn't even suggest attempting this one. You'll be far too lost and this book is too wonderful to read it without getting the full effect.

To order The Charmed Return from Amazon.com, please click here.

09 10