Friday, March 29, 2013

Desert Rice by Angela Scott - Review and Giveaway

This review is done in conjunction with the author's tour with Goddess Fish Promotions. Angela will award one commenter at every stop a Mobi or ePub copy of WANTED: Dead or Undead or Survivor Roundup from her backlist, and one randomly drawn commenter on the tour will receive a $15 gift card to Amazon, so leave your thoughts here and you're entered! If you want more chances to win, visit the rest of her tour stops here.

Desert Rice by Angela Scott
Contemporary Young Adult
206 pgs
4 Stars

Samantha Jean Haggert is a beautiful twelve-year-old girl, but no one knows it. All they see is an awkward boy in a baseball cap and baggy pants. Sam's not thrilled with the idea of hiding her identity, but it's all part of her brother's plan to keep Sam safe from male attention and hidden from the law. 15-year-old Jacob will stop at nothing to protect his sister, including concealing the death of the one person who should have protected them in the first place--their mother.

Sam and Jacob try to outrun their past by stealing the family car and traveling from West Virginia to Arizona, but the adult world proves mighty difficult to navigate, especially for two kids on their own. Trusting adults has never been an option; no adult has ever given them a good reason. But when Sam meets "Jesus"--who smells an awful lot like a horse--in the park, life takes a different turn. He saved her once, and may be willing to save Sam and her brother again, if only they admit what took place that fateful day in West Virginia. The problem? Sam doesn't remember, and Jacob isn't talking.

My review:

This is one of the best YA books I've read this year. There are no vampires (sparkling or otherwise), no zombies, and nothing paranormal--just the story of a girl and her brother and the mystery that surrounds their life.

The book begins with their dead mother and Jacob's decision that he and his sister Sam have to get away before they are split up and sent to foster care. He forces Sam to cut her hair and dress as a boy as protection.

I loved the characters in this book-- Sam is feisty, opinionated, and loves her brother deeply--even during the times she's hating him. Jacob is in over his head trying to save Sam in the only way he knows how.

There are twists and turns in the plot, secondary characters to fall in love with, and above all love holding everything together. Kudos!

There's a sequel to this book and I'm looking forward to reading it. I'm excited to see what the author has in mind for Samantha in the future. Due to some adult themes, I'd recommend this for mature 14+.

I hear voices. Tiny fictional people sit on my shoulders and whisper their stories in my ear. Instead of medicating myself, I decided to pick up a pen, write down everything those voices tell me, and turn it into a book. I’m not crazy. I’m an author. For the most part, I write contemporary Young Adult novels. However, through a writing exercise that spiraled out of control, I found myself writing about zombies terrorizing the Wild Wild West—and loving it. My zombies don’t sparkle, and they definitely don’t cuddle. At least, I wouldn’t suggest it.

I live on the benches of the beautiful Wasatch Mountains with two lovely children, one teenager, and a very patient husband. I graduated from Utah State University with a B.A. degree in English, not because of my love for the written word, but because it was the only major that didn’t require math. I can’t spell, and grammar is my arch nemesis. But they gave me the degree, and there are no take backs.

As a child, I never sucked on a pacifier; I chewed on a pencil. I’ve been writing that long. It has only been the past few years that I’ve pursued it professionally, forged relationships with other like-minded individuals, and determined to make a career out of it.

You can subscribe and follow me on my website, where I blog obsessively about my writing process and post updates on my current works. I’m also on Twitter and Facebook, but be forewarned, I tweet and post more than a normal person.


Twitter: @whimsywriting






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Thursday, March 21, 2013

Lords of Prophecy by Michael A. Rothman - Review Tour and Giveaway

This review is done in conjunction with the author's tour with Goddess Fish Promotions. Michael will be awarding a $50 Amazon GC to one randomly drawn commenter during the tour, so leave your thoughts here and you're entered! If you want more chances to win, visit the rest of his tour stops here.

Lords of Prophecy by Michael A. Rothman
Middle Grade Fantasy
333 pgs
4 Stars

The Riverton brothers have completed their training, and despite their own personal skills, they worry about the forces arrayed against them. Knowing the barrier that's kept the people of Trimoria safe for over five centuries is weakening, the brothers ready their ragtag army of humans, dwarves, and elves for battle.

In the meantime, on the other side of the ancient barrier, a growing army of demons have readied themselves for the final battle against the people of Trimoria.

As the barrier weakens, Ryan is struck by bouts of debilitating madness. As the barrier crumbles, so does the hope of Trimoria's citizens.

My Review:  The sequel to Tools of Prophecy is new and exciting as the Riverton family is making final preparations to battle the demons clustering at the breaking barrier between demon and men. The two brothers, Aaron and Ryan, newly married and preparing for the final battle, run into trouble during the preparations. Will they be able to break through the multiple challenges that test their ability to even survive? With the shocking cliffhangers and jaw dropping twists in the story, Michael A. Rothman has done it again, creating the perfect tale combining fantasy with a dash of suspense and a pinch of romance.

What I liked about the book was that it had those moments where you are wondering what is going to happen…and something completely unexpected jumps out at you instead. I also enjoyed the trips the two brothers took around Trimoria; I enjoyed getting a better glimpse at the land itself. I do wish there had been some more action in the book consistently, since they are getting ready to fight, but there were still good moments where you wondered if something else was behind the evil you already knew existed.

I'm a little sad this is apparently the final book in the series, as I've grown to really love the Riverton family. I hope Mr. Rothman had more adventures in mind for the land of Trimoria.

I recommend this book and the series to middle grades (and older!) who enjoy reading action/adventure and fantasy stories.

Now, enjoy an excerpt:

A light-hearted scene where the main characters are watching their youngest siblings interacting with a mysterious young dwarf.

As the soldier affirmed the order, Ryan turned toward the window and watched the children.

Zenethar, the king’s son showed the dwarf a wooden block. “Can you float this around? I wanna do my archery practice.”

Rebecca looked puzzled. “Archery?”

Zenethar tossed the block to the dwarf and Ramai caught it, letting Maggie drop as his interest in the doll waned. “Maggie!”

Rebecca ran over, dusted her doll off, and gave her a hug. She sat back on the pillows and watched the boys.

Ramai studied the plain wooden block and looked puzzled. “Is this a fun game?”

Zenethar nodded enthusiastically. “Ryan does this lots! Just float it slowly.”

Ramai levitated the block and allowed it to float aimlessly around the stone chamber.

Zenethar flicked his finger and a sparkling bolt of energy flew at the block, hitting it and sending the wooden toy spinning.

Rebecca laughed and clapped with glee. “You got it Zenny! Do it again!”

Ramai smiled as the block moved around and the darts of energy flew throughout the room. When he increased the speed of the movement, Zenethar missed, leaving a tiny scorch mark on the stone ceiling. “This is a fun game!”

Ryan muttered to his brother. “This could get out of hand quickly.”

Aaron covered his mouth, suppressing the sound of his amusement as he watched the dwarf challenge Zenethar’s aim. Rebecca screamed with laughter.

Aaron leaned over and whispered, “Let them have fun. They can’t exactly burn down a stone castle.”

The wooden block swooped down and Zenethar accidentally sent a bolt of energy at Ramai. The bolt bounced off of his white robe and singed his beard.

Ramai slapped at his beard, as Zenethar’s face went from amused to shocked. With a puff of smoke coming from his beard, the dwarf announced, “That is not a fun game!”

I've been writing throughout my career as an engineer, however my writing had been relegated to technical books and technical magazine articles. Heck, you might even find a couple of those musty tomes still for sale if you look hard enough. With my foray into epic fantasy, I've shed the shackles of technical writing and created novels that I hope will be attractive to a much wider audience.

I've always admired truly epic tales. You know the ones I mean. The book you crack open, wander through and utterly get immersed in. The story takes you on twists and turns you never expected, run into dead-ends that make you wheel your arms backward to prevent you from falling into an endless abyss. By the time you reach what you think is the end, you've read hundreds of pages and realize the end is really only the beginning of the story.

You close the book and wonder out loud. "Do I have the next book? Is it out yet?"

My goal when I started writing the first book (HEIRS OF PROPHECY) that involved the Riverton family was to make a story that would allow a younger audience access to such a tale. Since then, a second book (TOOLS OF PROPHECY) was released, and now I introduce the third book in the series with LORDS OF PROPHECY.

As to my other writing activities, I've completed another as of yet unreleased novel in the Prophecies series, and they are scheduled to be released as soon as - well, as soon as the paperwork on them is complete, and the lawyers nod their heads up and down.

I hope you enjoy the novel.

In the meantime, if you want to see my ramblings, I lurk at the following social media portals:

Twitter - @MichaelARothman
Facebook -
Blog -

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

It Started With a Whisper by A. W. Hartoin - Virtual Review tour and giveaway

This review is done in conjunction with the author's tour with Goddess Fish Promotions. A. W. will be awarding a $10 Amazon GC to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour, so leave your thoughts here and you're entered! If you want more chances to win, visit the rest of her tour stops here.

It Started With a Whisper by A. W. Hartoin
Young Adult Fantasy
376 pgs
4.5 Stars

Wishes are powerful things, if you belong to the MacClarity clan. You can ask Ernest for anything and he’ll make it come true, even though he’s been dead for nearly a hundred years. Puppy MacClarity doesn’t take the rumors about Ernest too seriously. But when he’s had enough of his teacher’s harassment, Puppy asks Ernest to take care of Miss Pritchett for him. Ernest does and family secrets start to surface like magic. During a summer filled with both fear and fun, Puppy begins to realize that Ernest isn’t the only special thing about his family, and their oddities aren’t just skin deep. Too bad he didn’t know sooner.

My Review:   The characters in this book completely engaged me and made It Started With a Whisper thoroughly enjoyable.

While the story line would be suitable for mature middle graders, this might be more appropriate for teens as there is a lot of cursing, under-age drinking, and talk/thoughts of sex -- which is part of what makes the characters come to life. The teens in this book think and act like normal teenagers. What 14-year-old boy doesn't have a crush on a good-looking 17-year-old girl? Or think of girls' bodies? It's normal and it's very much a part of this story.

One thing that's different about these teens is they come from a family that is--to put it mildly--eccentric and magical. And, they stick together against all outsiders--except when they are trying to kill each other.

It's an easy book to read--I was able to read it in one sitting, which is rare for me. It's interesting, well-written, and the characters are engaging. I certainly hope this author has more stories about this family planned--I want to learn more about them!

Now enjoy an excerpt:

Mom cut my hair at the beginning of every summer with a pair of rusty old clippers, once used on a poodle named Ragamuffin. She didn’t see anything wrong with that, even though the clippers cut odd furrows and missed some of my hair altogether.

I stretched out across the kitchen island between flour sacks and stacks of well-worn pots, shivering as the small strip of skin between my uniform shirt and pants touched the frigid zinc countertop. There was no escape. When I was younger, I tried running away, or hiding in the storage closet with the rest of the family’s odds and ends, but Mom always found me in three minutes flat. I think she had a secret weapon, it might’ve been Ernest, but I was never sure.

“I’m too old for this,” I said.

Mom didn’t look at me, but continued to search through a drawer filled with rusty egg beaters, broken crayons, and bits of jagged scrap metal.

“You’re not too old for anything until I say you are,” she said.

I picked a walnut off a loaf of zucchini bread and popped it in my mouth. “Can’t I go to the barber like other people?”

Mom smacked my hand as I went for another walnut. “Why would I pay someone to cut your hair, when I can do it for free?”

Then she discovered the clippers in the back of a drawer with dog hairs still sticking out of the blade and pulled me upright. She switched it on with a look of triumph and my curls rained down around me, sticking to my sweaty arms and tickling my neck. After Mom finished, I ran my hand over my head. Spiny hair pricked my fingers and I sighed. It wasn’t so bad. If I could stand being called Puppy, I could stand anything. My real name was Ernest and that was worse. Mom nicknamed me Puppy when she was potty-training me, because I kept peeing all over the house. She loved telling everybody the origin of my name, so the hair wasn’t so bad in comparison.

A.W. Hartoin is the author of the Mercy Watts mystery series and the Away From Whipplethorn fantasy series. She lives in Colorado with her husband, two children, and six bad chickens.



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Friday, March 8, 2013

Eustice by Alex Gulczynski - Virtual Tour and Giveaway

Please welcome author Alex Gulczynski on his tour with Bewitching Book Tours today for his fantasy YA"Eustice". The author is awarding one commenter at this stop either a signed print copy of "Eustice" (US only) or an eBook copy (international)!

Thank you for answering so many of my questions!  The floor is yours.

Pretend your protagonist is at school and opens her locker – what will we see inside?

This is a hard question. I don't even think Eustice would know what would be in her locker. Probably a smattering of random skulls, a couple of waded up pieces of candy, a minature scythe, a few graphic novels, and a broken mirror. Intrigued, yet?

What books were your favorite as a youth and why?

I actually didn't read that many books when I was a teenager. I did play a lot of role-playing games, both video and table top, though. A lot of my interest in words and story and characters stemmed from that. Both because I rolled up and thought of a lot of back story for characters with my friends and the video games I played involved more text than many books aimed at youth. Planescape: Torment comes to mind. If you aren't familiar with that game it involves an amnesiac immortal struggling with his immense past.

Books I did read that made a large mark on me are: On a Pale Horse, Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, The Hobbit, and Contact.

What would you write in a letter to your teen self?

I would pull a Back to the Future and send myself a list of companies to invest in and sports teams to bet on creating a mountain of wealth with my foreknowledge of the future. Only then I would change the past too much. Which would result in a whole new time line. One where I am sitting on my vast collection of gold coins and rubies instead of writing this answer and thus never actually sending a letter to my past self in the first place. Which would mean I wouldn't have a horde of gold coins and rubies. Paradoxes suck.

I guess to minimize corrupting the space-time continuum I would keep the letter simple. Encourage myself to start writing earlier. Reminding my pimply self that: you are more talented than you gave yourself credit for. I would tell myself to focus on being content with what you have in the present and not what you could have in the future. I would also have to tell myself that a few certain girls where more into you than you thought. You just didn't know how to speak girl yet.

What candy do you give out at Halloween?

Raisins. Oh how I loathed houses that did that to me as a child. So in my dysfunctional mind I seek justice (and revenge) from today's youth. Let them feel my pain. The cycle continues!

What book is on your nightstand currently?

I'm slowly reading A Storm of Swords, the third book in George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice of Fire, to my wife. I've read the entire series (what's been completed anyway), but my wife hasn't. We just had our first child and reading aloud in bed is a nice, relaxing way to end the day. Though, we'll have to switch books once my son starts to understand what I am reading. I'd rather not have him dream about sex and dragons just yet. That's what his teenage years are for.

Hunger Games or Twilight? Why?

I'm not going to touch this question with a ten foot pole. Though, I will say no self-respecting vampire sparkles in my world. Dammit. I touched the question.

What reality show would you love to be on? Why?

I'd love to be on Survivor. Seeing as how I make up stories in my head all the time I could probably weave some tale to fool my tribe. I also really like to cook so maybe Master Chef. Whatever show I was on I would hope the bitchiness factor is at least set to bearable.

Favorite TV show from your childhood?

I really liked the cartoons X-men and Gargoyles. Though, in the era before on demand and DVRs these shows always seemed to be on at times I could never watch a whole episode. So, I never got to really watch the full series. My family also watched the Simpsons pretty much every Sunday. I loved when we gathered together to watch that show.

Eustice by Alex Gulczynski
Reaper Corps Book 1

Genre: Fantasy, Paranormal, Young Adult
Number of pages: 242
Word Count: 84000

Amazon ~  Smashwords

Eustice P. Jennings awakens alone and confused on an ugly piece of office furniture in Purgatory. Being dead is the least of her problems as she is quickly drafted into the dangerous Reaper Corps and plunged headfirst into the endless conflict between Heaven and Hell. Friends and allies are few and far as Eustice struggles to find her place in a surreal world she never imagined could exist.

Chapter One

Light pours in from behind my eyelids. Through my eyelids. My head pounds and surges with pain. What good are eyelids when they are so thin they don’t even do their job, I think bitterly. I fling my arm over my face to block out the light.

In the darkness, with the reassuring slight pressure of my arm over my eyes, I find a few moments’ solace. Respite from the throbbing pain in my head. I sigh and try not to think of anything at all.

I have always held a strong fascination with meditation, with people who could clear their minds and sit for hours in peace. I marveled at that ability to embrace stillness. I marveled at it because it was something I could never do. Having a clear, pristine mind was such an alluring but alien concept to me.

My mind works continuously. I don’t want it to, it just does. I always felt like my brain and I were consistently at odds with each other. When I want rest and sleep, my brain constantly makes lists, reorders already existing lists, or looks for patterns in the world around me so it can make more lists. Subject doesn’t matter. It could be encounters with my friends, or a hyper fixation on a chance conversation with some new boy at school, or something altogether trivial, like why people toasted Pop-Tarts when they were so much better straight out of the package.

Oftentimes it was my homework mucking up my peacefulness. I have had it drilled into me numerous times from a young age how important education was to my future. I would stress about what paper I should write first. What reading chapter I should save for last. Would it be more efficient to do my math homework before my history?

The irony is that, in the end, it didn’t matter much, because I would spend so much time and energy thinking about how to do my homework in the best way possible that I wouldn’t allow ample time to actually do it. I would end up staying up half the night rushing through just those things that were due the next day, not doing my best work on them but still eking out a decent grade.

This is how my life had evolved, a neurotic girl with a hyperactive brain. It doesn’t help that the brain is housed atop a short and stocky frame, either.

My parents always disapproved of my way of doing things. They told me that I was forming bad habits. College would be much more difficult than high school, and that I couldn’t just skate by like I was doing in high school.

I didn’t doubt them, they were probably right, but I argued with them. You see, I am stubborn too.

A stubborn, procrastinating, perfectionist. Not the best combination of character traits.

I sigh quietly to myself. The light is gone, but now my mind found a new thing to preoccupy my thoughts, killing whatever slight peace of mind I had found in its infancy. All I can focus on now is a quiet but persistent hum of some electrical device.

I try thinking of clouds to distract myself, but they soon hum and buzz with lightning. I try thinking of flowers, but soon buzzing bees begin to fly into them.

It is no use. I am going to find no rest here.

Slowly, I move my arm from away from my face. I push myself up into a sitting position, feeling the hard, coarse fabric of the miserable little couch I was lying on. Eyes still closed, my head bent low almost to my knees, I run my hands through my dark, oily hair. I can’t remember the last time I took a shower. The prickling sensation of my fingertips dragging along my scalp eases some of the tension from my body.

I wonder at how long I have been lying on this horrid excuse for a piece of furniture. My back aches. My neck is tight. My legs have nearly gone numb, and still I hear that perpetual hum, now like a high-pitched whine of a belt sander against the temporal lobes of my brain.

Carefully, I open my eyes. I keep my head pointed down toward the floor to shield myself from the harsh lights above. My vision is filled with nondescript, pale beige carpet, ugly in its plainness. With my hands half cupped, half pressed against my forehead, I begin to raise my head.

A large, green potted plant and a dark, heavy oak desk materialize out of the haze, as my eyes adjust to the sickeningly unsympathetic white fluorescent lights of the room. One flickers just beyond my perception and etches the high-pitched hum into my eardrums. Across the room stands a blank, off-white, sterile wall.

The front of the room is frosted glass from ceiling to floor. One door stands in the middle of the glass wall. I can see another bank of fluorescent lights just outside the glass, and vaguely I can make out ghostly shadows moving farther out. I have an intense sense of déjà vu, as well as complete confusion as to where I actually am.

This place reminds me of somewhere I’ve been. Somewhere I went to as a small child. Somewhere that must have left an impression, but, frustratingly, somewhere that I can’t seem to recall. My memory is fuzzy, like stale bread with green mold spotted on it. I close my eyes and try to scrap off the green fuzz as best I can.

I finally decide that this place reminds me of my father’s office, designed to be plain and boring, yet suitable for everyone’s tastes. Not taking any chances at picking a color or shape that might offend someone’s aesthetic palate, but simultaneously not appealing to anyone’s liking. Or at least, I think it reminds me of my father’s office. For some reason, I’m having a hard time bringing up an exact image of the office. The mold is still there blocking any recollections.

But it doesn’t matter, I suppose. I hate this place from the moment I see it.

I sit there for I don’t know how long analyzing the bland pattern in the floor below me, not knowing what to do or where I am. This place is eerily familiar, but I know I have never been here before. I try to force myself to remember how I got here, but, frustratingly, I can’t. I have odd sensations of a cold room, an orange light, and a sticky feeling oozing all over my skin. It doesn’t make any sense to me. So I just sit there in a dazed state.

Eventually, my curiosity gets the better of me. Ignoring the aches in my muscles and the throbbing in my head, I brave the intense buzzing lights of the room and scan over the desk as best I can. It is immaculate. A small singular stack of paper lies on the far end, neatly ordered with all the papers aligned. A white coffee mug stands near me with a handful of pens and pencils standing at attention in it. A nameplate stands absolutely centered near the front lip of the desk, but I can’t read what it says from my sideways angle. Dominating the desk is an old and heavy-looking black typewriter.

It occurs to me that I have not seen a typewriter before. I mean, I know what they are, and I’ve seen them in movies or TV shows. But I realize just then that I have never actually seen a real one. It looks intimidating and sturdy enough to survive a bomb blast. I have a strong desire to touch it, press one of the keys and hear the clack as the letter block slams some ink into the fresh, white sheet of paper rolled into it.

I don’t even know where I am, but I decide to give in to my urge. I figured, what the hell. It is only one letter on one sheet of paper. Plus, I want to get up anyway to read the name on the nameplate. I might as well know whose office I am in.

I move to stand up, but as soon as I push myself off the couch, the muscles in my legs protest, freezing in place, and a large rush of blood to my head makes me feel dizzy and nauseated.

Carefully, I gently lower myself back down and hang my head between my knees, breathing deeply, trying not to throw up. I note with some dry humor that my vomit would probably blend in with the carpet. Maybe no one could even tell it was there. The thought of puking fills my mouth with copious amounts of salvia, and I can feel the tightening of my lower jaw as my stomach prepares to launch whatever was in my stomach out of my body. This is not good. I fight with every inch of my being not to vomit right then and there. Furiously I try to think of something else, and immediately I can hear that insidious buzzing again. Thankfully, my mind is distracted and annoyed enough that my stomach is quelled.

Sitting there, taking long, labored breathes, and gritting my teeth in frustration, I hear a latch turn, and I look up to see the door opening. And I think to myself, “God, what now?”

Eustice is Alex Gulczynski's debut novel. He is currently living in Seattle and teaching science to elementary students. He and his wife had their first child in December. He is using these sleepless nights to work on the next book to further the story of Eustice and Thayer. He hopes to have it out by March 2013.

Twitter: @alexgulczynski

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Wanted by Annika James - Virtual Tour and Giveaway

Please welcome author Annika James on her tour with Bewitching Book Tours today for her paranormal YA"Wanted". The author is awarding FIVE eBook copies of "Wanted" to commenters on her tour, so make sure to say hello and complete the Rafflecopter giveaway at the bottom of this post!

Why YA (or Middle Grade) fiction? What draws you to it?

I taught middle school for 6 years and coached high school for over 10 - it was just kind of what I knew. Spending all that time with teenagers has a tendency to immerse you in their world. Plus, I was reading a lot of YA at the time that I started writing WANTED, and it kind of just came. I enjoy writing high schoolers because I enjoy the struggles of learning who you are and where you fit in. There’s something about that first taste of romance that is so much fun to write. There is so much potential there, and so much innocence, sometimes it’s more fun to see the world from the eyes of a teenager.

What books were your favorite as a youth and why?

I loved to read! My absolute favorites were L.J. Smith’s “The Secret Circle Trilogy” and anything by Christopher Pike. I also loved “Camp Girl Meets Boy” by Caroline B. Cooney. I can also remember reading some of the Couples series - I think that was a series of books written by different authors.

What did you want to be when you grew up? Why?

Secretly, I always wanted to be a writer - that was like my dream job. I say secretly because people were always skeptical whenever I gave that as my answer. So I stopped saying “writer.” The other answers I gave varied from forensic scientist to zoologist to teacher. I still want to be a writer when I grow up. :)

What candy do you give out at Halloween?

Ahh, we’re so bad… we take the kids out trick-or-treating and avoid having to pass out any candy ourselves. :) I would definitely give away chocolate, though - maybe Reese’s - I’d want to be the cool house. :)

Favorite hot beverage. Why?

Non-fat latte - no flavor. I love coffee, and coffee with milk is just even better. The absolute best is actually a drink they serve in Madrid - they pour the coffee and steamed milk into your mug at the same time, it’s divine, and I just haven’t been able to recreate it here.

You’re stranded on a desert island—which character from your book do you want with you? Why?

I would probably bring Matt. He’s strong - he could help build shelter and hunt and all the manly stuff while I work on my tan. :) Plus, he’s funny, he’d keep me entertained, and we could talk sports when I wasn’t watching him try to start a fire with 2 twigs like on Survivor. :) And, hello, eye candy. It has to get boring on a deserted island - I need something nice to look at.

Favorite pizza toppings.

Either Canadian bacon and pineapple - or a chicken bacon ranch pizza with a white sauce. I’m not big on the red sauce on my pizza, so I try to get light sauce. I’m the only one in my family who like the Hawaiian, so I usually get my own half a pizza all to myself.

Favorite class in high school. Why?

Hands down - any English class. I love to read, love to write, love to analyze literature. I loved every English class I had -my absolute favorite was Humanities - we studied not only literature, but other art and culture throughout history. It was such a great class and introduced me to so much culture.

Wanted by Annika James

Genre: YA Paranormal Romance
Publisher: MuseItUp Publishing
Number of pages: 212

Amazon  MuseItUp   All Romance ebooks

Attacked as a young witch and left for dead, Ashlinn is deathly afraid of being bitten again. Having survived until she’s almost eighteen without donating blood to any of her vamp friends, Ashlinn figures she’ll continue to live bite-free.

After her crush reveals how powerful she is, however, the Vampire Council declares she be claimed as a familiar, which requires biting. Ashlinn doesn’t want to be owned, even by hot vamp, Conor.

Luckily, her best friend, Matt, volunteers for the job. She is given one week to choose her protector, and the list of willing biters keeps growing. Will she go with best friend Matt, hot vamp Conor, or someone else to protect her? Will she be able to get her power under control by then? Will she overcome her phobia of being bitten? And who says she needs to be protected, anyhow?

He leaned toward me, holding my gaze with his. I forgot how to breathe, how to think. Then his lips touched mine, electricity exploding up and down my body.

Soft and gentle, they probed, tasting, testing. I didn’t move to touch him, just remained frozen. There was only the kiss. His mouth moved to my jaw, kissing his way down to my neck. His teeth grazed my skin.

I unfroze and found my voice. “No!” I felt a surge of power push through me.

Conor flew backward across the room. He crashed into a bookcase, sending an avalanche of books over him as he fell to the floor. He slumped there, holding his head, dazed.

He looked up in confusion, mouth opened ready to speak. At that moment, my muscles remembered how to move and I ran for the door. It opened in front of me, not of my power, and Matt appeared. He’d probably felt my surge of power. I hadn’t meant to throw Conor. Panic had overtaken me and I had lost control for an instant.

I flew into Matt’s arms and he embraced me. Matt was my rock. His presence calmed me, it always did. He was like a protective big brother. I knew he understood the whole scene in the seconds before I’d found his arms. I buried my face in the T-shirt pulled tight across his strong chest, and breathed in his scent, a mix of fabric softener and cologne. It was familiarity, it was home, and it helped to center me. I peeked out at Conor. He stepped out of the pile of books and straightened his clothing.

“Is she yours, Matthew? I thought she was unclaimed.” Conor was now being formal. Vamps often addressed each other formally, even the teenage ones. He thought I was Matt’s, and to bite me would have been a serious offense to Matt’s family. I was not claimed, nor would I ever be. Matt’s arms tightened around me.

“No. I told you she’s not claimed. Did you try to bite her?” Each word seethed with anger. I had never heard so much menace in Matt’s voice. He trembled ever so slightly. Wasn’t Conor his friend? I felt like there was something else going on here I didn’t quite get.

“I just assumed she’d agree.” Conor’s voice came from right behind me. “I’ve never been turned down before.” His voice wasn’t cocky, not even confident. He stated it like he’d simply said his eyes were green.

“Did you ask her?”

Conor said nothing. Matt must have seen something in Conor’s face, though, because his grip on me tightened, voice outraged. “You didn’t even ask her?” He was furious. I raised my head. There was fire in his eyes, and if looks could kill, Conor would have been so much more than dead.

I turned in Matt’s arms, forcing him to loosen his hold, although he didn’t let go completely. Conor’s brow furrowed, mouth drawn into a tight frown.

“I thought it was what she wanted.” His voice was soft and unsure.

Matt let go to put me behind him, further protecting me. “Ashlinn’s been bitten before. Without permission. Without the aid of making it feel good. Drained. Almost to the point of death.”

I shivered, remembering the night I met Matt. I would never forget the feeling of having life literally sucked out of me, of hovering so close to death. I was so young, at the time I hadn’t really known what was going on. Almost dying, however, would remain embedded in my memory forever. Matt had found me and knew what to do to nurse me back to health. He’d been my protector ever since.

I looked around Matt’s broad back. Conor’s wide-eyed gaze found mine. “I am so sorry, Ashlinn. I offended you. I meant you no harm. I was unaware of your past and thought you were giving me the okay.”

He spread his hands in a helpless gesture. I stepped out from behind Matt, to his side. Matt put an arm around my shoulders, still holding me close. I watched Conor’s gaze slide over the embrace to Matt’s face, before coming back to mine. He had apologized, now he waited for me to say it was okay.

“I suppose I probably was.” My voice was soft, though not wobbly. “Though I didn’t mean to.” I was pretty calm now, thanks to Matt. And I was almost sure Conor wasn’t going to attack me. I had unknowingly given him the green light, forgetting he wasn’t just a normal boy, and this wasn’t just a normal party. I liked him so much, I had sent him signals that probably seemed the same as “Bite me!”

“Sorry I threw you across the room.” I did feel bad. I hadn’t meant to hurt him.

Matt looked at me as Conor smiled slightly. “I deserved it.” Some of the confidence returned to his voice.

“It was quite impressive.”

“You did that?” Matt sounded surprised and a little proud. “Your power?”

I nodded. “I guess the panic took over. I reacted without thinking. And there he was, flying, crashing.” I gestured from where I’d read the poem to the pile of books on the floor.

Matt’s smile was big and genuine. “That is awesome, Ash.” He gave my shoulder a small squeeze.

Conor took a step toward us. I didn’t flinch. I knew he meant me no harm. If he had bitten me, my mind knew it would have felt amazing, completely opposite of how it had felt the last time I was bitten. Although, it would still have been against my will, without permission, and that was rape. No one was going to bite me again, ever. Even Conor. I didn’t want to be under anyone’s control but my own.

“You’re very powerful,” Conor observed.

I shrugged. “I guess.”

About the Author:
Annika James lives in small-town Wisconsin with her husband and two beautiful kiddos. She spends her days working to pay the bills and her nights dreaming of more fun ways to do so. Her passions include writing, reading, music and traveling with her family. She dreams of a world where vampires and powerful witches really exist, because life would be so much more interesting.

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Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Between Micah and Amos by Alan Oakes - Virtual Book Tour and Giveaway

Today we're visiting with author Alan Oakes on his tour with Goddess Fish Promotions for the YA novel, "Between Micah and Amos".

Alan will be awarding gift cards to three randomly drawn commenters during the tour. The characters are always going to Sonic – so he is giving away gift cards in the names of the main characters: Grand Prize: Billy-sized $25.00 2nd Prize: Manuel-sized: $15.00 3rd Prize: Ashleigh-sized: $10.00 If the winner prefers, they can get either an Amazon or gift card instead of the Sonic card. , so comment today AND follow his tour! The more you read and comment, the better your odds of winning. The rest of his tour stops are here.

Alan answered many of my prying questions -- thanks!

You’ve just won a million dollars and you’re not allowed to save any of it. What do you spend it on?

I would spend a quarter of it to buy a nice house out in the country. I would spend about another ten percent making the place beautiful and maybe get a couple of horses. The other two thirds, I would buy other houses and rent them out so I would have nice steady income and not a care in the world!

You’re stranded on a desert island – which character from your book do you want with you? Why?

It’s gotta be Billy. Any guy who has a shotgun rack in the back of his pickup, you know is going to be a good hunter. He could do all the fishing and deboning the catch – which just grosses me out! Have you ever deboned a fish?! Yuck! -- But you know he would be into it. And he could make a fire too from nothing.

Playlist for your current book?

It is all about classic country music!

When Billy and Ashleigh are out driving in Billy’s pickup in the country, with the windows down in the late summer night, it is Garth Brooks, Ain’t going down (til the sun comes up)

When Ashleigh and Manuel take his truck out to his family’s spring fed pool to go skinny-dipping, it’s Mongomery Gentry, All night long.

When Ashleigh runs out of gas and goes into the Gas N Go, and comes onto the man behind the counter to try to get some gas for free, it is Trisha Yearwood, Thinkin’ about you.

When Billy and Ashleigh head over to Stan’s Roadhouse, home of the chicken fried steak, they hear covers of The Fabulous Thunderbirds, Powerful Stuff and Willie Nelson, Blue eyes crying in the rain.

Pretend your protagonist is at school and opens her locker – what will she see inside?

A box of condoms! (How did Ashleigh’s momma get her locker combo?!) Ashleigh would also be smart enough to have a fresh change of clothes in case she didn’t make it home the night before. If Manuel somehow got her combo – look out! She may find a black velvet box with a promise ring…

What candy did you give out at Halloween?

I have spent years studying what is hot and what is not when it comes to Halloween candy. You would think that all things chocolate would go fast. (Not so!) And then – god forbid! – you give a child something with nuts in it and they have one of those allergic reactions where their heads swell up to the size of a basketball. That is why I have scaled down my offerings to the most popular and least life-threatening candy – Skittles and Starburst. I still have some Starburst leftover, btw. Come on by if you want some!

Favorite TV show from your childhood?

I don’t know if your young readers know this show – but back in the day, The Golden Girls were our favs! All the world had to stop on Saturday nights at 8pm to see what Rose, Blanche, Dorothy and her mom were up to. To think now the show comes off as cute, when in the olden days, it was so ‘edgy’.

Ideal summer vacation?

Let’s go to Cozumel everybody! Somehow I would smuggle my handsome golden retriever, Winston, onto the Mexican island as well. We would all stay at a hotel on the turquoise blue waterfront. We’d go snorkeling and scuba diving during the daytime. At night, we’d get a fire going on the beach and there would be lots of making out! (Winston would even find a beautiful Mexican Chihuahua to nuzzle.) Ahh, paradise…

What reality show would you love to be on? Why?

Okay, I can’t cook worth a damn. Poptarts are my specialty. But I would love to be on Master Chef. To become one of the finalists, I would open my box of strawberry glazed tarts, and with tender care, put two of them into my Michael Graves signature toaster from Target. When they were perfectly warm and ready, I would ‘plate’ them on contrasting, eye-catching china. Gordon Ramsay would allow the delicious fragrance of the tart to waft into his hyper-sensitive nostrils as he took a liberal bite. I would close my eyes in anticipation-- and then -- hear him say that word that gives all potential Master Chefs chills – “STUNNING!” I would start to tear up…”ABSOLUTELYSTUNNING tart!!”

What is your favorite hot beverage? Why?

I was at a bar in Austin with friends who insisted I try a hot apple cider toddy. Did you know toddies are some of the first cocktails every created way back in the 1860’s? -- But I digress…. A hot apple cider toddy is basically whiskey mixed with warm apple cider, with a cinnamon stick added as a swizzle. It knocked my socks off! Really! I don’t know where they went…They were a nice pair of socks too…

Like a flash, the discharge from the gun lit up the inside of the dimly lit, filthy trailer Ashleigh called home. Ashleigh sat curled up on the stained pink carpet next to the pull-out bed in the living area where she slept. The victim lay dead, slumped against the wall of the trailer. Ashleigh looked at the motionless body. She was petrified.

Meet Ashleigh Mae, a seventeen year old high school senior living in the small town of Micah, Texas. Her boyfriend Billy calls her a wild child. Her momma is always telling her she makes bad choices. No matter what, no one really understands her.

Ashleigh dreams of a life with Billy. Their love is true, she thinks. When her mother forces them to leave Micah in the middle of the night and move in with her momma’s old boyfriend Casey, on the outskirts of a town called Amos, Ashleigh’s life is torn apart.

This is her fight to get it back….

“Good night,” Billy said to Ashleigh as the two were sitting in the parked truck. She held onto him tightly as he kissed her.

“’Night,” she murmured, sliding across the seat and opening the door. “Call me,” she added, her heart filled with sadness that she would be left alone again.

“Yeah,” Billy said with a half-cocked smile.

Ashleigh closed the rusted door to the pickup. Billy turned the truck around and drove off. Ashleigh was left alone again in the silence of the night. She made her way to the trailer, looking down so as not to trip on any of Casey’s debris.

“Where the hell have you been?” Jo Lynn bellowed, scaring the crap out of Ashleigh. Her mother was sitting imperiously on the half built deck in front of the trailer in a plastic chair, like a queen on her throne.

Ashleigh walked up to her mother and could see a half-finished bottle of Jack sitting on an old apple crate by her side. Jo Lynn took a drag from her smoke.

“I asked you a question… Come closer,” Jo Lynn demanded.

Ashleigh took one step closer. “I was out with Billy,” she answered apprehensively.

“You smell like sex!” Jo Lynn said, taking another drag from her smoke.

“While you were out whoring, guess who came by to visit?” Jo Lynn said dramatically.

“Who?” Ashleigh asked.

“Child Protective Services, that’s who!” Jo Lynn took a swig of her glass of Jack.

“Out of nowhere, too!” she continued. “Casey’s ready to beat the tar out of you! He had to flush all his stash down the toilet!”

Alan Oakes is a Graduation Coach and Counselor at a Texas High School. He is a featured writer for Green Building and Design magazine and a contributor to other magazines including Texas Architect and New American Luxury. In the past, he served as Associate Pastor of Saint Austin Catholic Church and Director of Catholic Campus Ministry at UCLA.

Alan holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the William Allen White School of Journalism at the University of Kansas and a Master of Arts degree from the Washington Theological Union in Washington, D.C.

To learn more about the author, feel free to go to his website:

Websites for Between Micah and Amos:

Publisher Link:

Buy it:
Ebook Amazon:

Paperback Amazon:

Ebook Barnes and Noble:


Monday, March 4, 2013

In My Mailbox

I'm so excited ... I finally bought the rest of "The Last Year" series by Trisha Leigh (the final one came out in February, so I waited until I could get them all).

I reviewed the first book, "Whispers in Autumn" here.  I *loved* the book and couldn't wait to continue reading.

So, here's what I have in my virtual mailbox (aka my Nook):

Althea and Lucas barely escaped the Others' clutches in the autumn, and were separated in the process. Alone and on the run from the cruel alien race determined to exterminate her, Althea struggles to adapt and survive in a world she never imagined. When a boy named Pax appears out of nowhere, he quickly recognizes Althea for what she is - a human/Other hybrid just like him. Althea begs him to help her find Lucas, but Pax refuses, intent on following his own mysterious agenda. The Others' presence continues to devour the planet's resources, and if history is an indication, they won't leave until Earth is destroyed beyond repair. Althea and Pax sense the only way to save themselves - and maybe their home - is to understand the powers simmering inside them. Together they push the limits of their capabilities in the quiet Wilds, but are soon confronted with a terrifying fact: no place is safe from the relentless pursuit of the Others. Least of all their own minds.

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Althea assumes now that she, Pax, and Lucas are reunited in spring that the next steps are obvious - locate Deshi and prepare to take down the Others once and for all. But she doesn't expect the subtle changes in Lucas. After being left alone last season with only his Element father for company, Lucas has started to question whether their rightful place isn't with the strange alien race as opposed to humanity. When an emergency forces Lucas to aid the Others so they can remain on Earth, Althea worries that she's lost him once and for all. The one thing she knows is that Deshi's the key to any hope of reclaiming the planet. So as the Others gut their already wobbly support system, Althea and Pax gather together the beginnings of a plan - and maybe an army. Even if she can convince Lucas their side is the right one, the Prime Other holds Deshi captive and shrouds any knowledge about their fourth in clouds of secrecy. What they discover deep underground is a roadblock they didn't expect - and one that could steal their last hope of saving humanity.

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A final battle for the survival of Earth is coming. Between the alien Others and the destruction of humanity stand four Dissidents. When the Prime Other banishes them to the Harvest Site to live the remainder of their time on earth as slaves, the Dissidents use the opportunity to learn more about the substance that keeps the Others alive…and how they might use it to their advantage. But the Others guard their secrets well, and the Prime Other has proven his willingness to do whatever’s necessary to secure a future for his race, no matter what or who is destroyed in the process. When Althea and the boys realize their lives could be the key to allowing another planet to suffer the same fate as earth, they promise they’ll die before they let that happen. If they can’t figure out how to turn the tables in their favor before the Summer Celebration, they might have to do just that. The end draws near, and there’s only one question left—are the Dissidents going to save their chosen people or perish alongside them?

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What's in your mailbox?