Thursday, December 15, 2011

Book Review: My Soul to Take by Rachel Vincent

My Soul to Take by Rachel Vincent
Publisher: Harlequin
Publish Date: August 1, 2009
Paperback, 279 pages 
Fiction, Young Adult, Paranormal
 ISBN: 978-0373210039
Soul Screamers #1

buy the book from The Book Depository, free delivery
My Review:
I didn't know what to expect when I started this series.  For some reason, I had not read much about the series, I knew there were lots of fans and I follow Rachel Vincent's blog, but I kind of skim it so I don't get spoilers (which she doesn't do, or she warns you if she does).  I guess if I read any reviews of this book it was back when it was released over two years ago so I just don't remember much and that was a good thing.  I really like going into a book with no expectations.

Wow - was I ever blown away.  The characters.  I love Kaylee and Nash.  Kaylee is so caring and so ordinary girl that you just can't help but love her, especially if you were the ordinary girl in high school (or are).  There is just something very relate-able about Kaylee to me.  So Ms. Vincent first sets her up as the ordinary girl just trying to get by living with her aunt, uncle and rather annoying cousin.  Then there is her rather extraordinary gift that Kaylee doesn't understand and has landed her in the psych ward before.  But that was before Nash came into the picture.  Wonderful, handsome Nash, who has some secrets of his own.  But I'll stop there, because you have to read the book.

So the characters are great.  I think Ms. Vincent does an extraordinary job setting them and the world up in this first book without getting too bogged down in the details.  She really makes everything flow together and keeps the interest level up at all times.  The plot is well done too.  It is well paced.  It kept me turning the pages, wondering what would happen next, what secret I would find out, who would die, who wouldn't, who would I meet next and what exactly were they.  The world and the plot are well crafted.  I love these books that are set in the normal world and have the parallel paranormal world (which is most paranormal books).  I like to see how authors work it out and make it work.  Ms. Vincent really makes it work in this first Soul Screamers novel and I cannot wait to get my hands on the second one.

An excellent first installment in a series I can't wait to read more of and I'm in luck since this series began over two years ago, I have a bunch of books to read, so expect more reviews on this series in the coming months.  And expect more gushing about Kaylee!

My Rating: 5.0/5.0

One cool thing - you can now buy the My Soul to Take and My Soul to Save, first two Soul Screamer novels together along with the first novella, My Soul to Lose, which I is the prequel and appears for it's first time in print in this omnibus.  So make sure you check it out at The Book Depository Link below.

buy the book from The Book Depository, free delivery

Parental guidance: There are references to drinking and I think some language in the book, it's been over a week since I read it so I must admit my mind is fuzzy on the parental guidance part.  I know there are sexual references, but nothing graphic.  I would say 14+ for this one, which is what I say for most YA novels.  If you disagree or think I gave the wrong guidance on this one, please let me know because like I said I'm fuzzy on this one.

About the Book:
She doesn't see dead people. She senses when someone near her is about to die. And when that happens, a force beyond her control compels her to scream bloody murder. Literally.

Kaylee just wants to enjoy having caught the attention of the hottest guy in school. But a normal date is hard to come by when Nash seems to know more about her need to scream than she does. And when classmates start dropping dead for no apparent reason, only Kaylee knows who'll be next.

About the Author (from 
A resident of San Antonio, Rachel Vincent has a BA in English and an overactive imagination, and consistently finds the latter to be more practical. She shares her workspace with two black cats (Kaci and Nyx) and her # 1 fan. Rachel is older than she looks-seriously-and younger than she feels, but remains convinced that for every day she spends writing, one more day will be added to her lifespan.

Rachel on Facebook
Soul Screamers on Facebook

Buy on B&

FTC Information: I checked this book out from my wonderful local library.  I do make money from purchases made at The Book Depository and B&, but all money is used to fund giveaways and shipping for giveaways from the blog.

Freebie Alert: Sloane Hall by Libby Sternberg

Hi everyone, just wanted to give a quick heads up that I heard from the wonderful folks at Istoria Books that Libby Sternberg's amazing novel, Sloane Hall is free today (Thursday) and tomorrow (Friday).  I reviewed this novel last year and absolutely loved it. I gave it a 4.75 out of 5.0 and many others have given it stellar reviews as well.  Below is the press release, read it and I encourage you to get this wonderful book if you haven't already read it!


Sloane Hall by Libby Sternberg, a novel set in old Hollywood and inspired by Jane Eyre, will be offered for FREE for Kindles by Amazon on December 15 and 16, 2011 (Thursday and Friday of THIS WEEK)! I hope you'll share this news with your readers.

This is a terrific opportunity. Sloane Hall was originally released in hardcover for nearly $30. It has been widely praised by Bronte experts and others for telling a new tale while smartly providing the reader with the outlines and emotional high points of Bronte's classic. Here's a quick description of the book with some review snippets:

In 1920s Hollywood, young John Doyle learns the craft of cinematography when a  stupid mistake costs him his job. On a tip, he heads to Sloane Hall, the estate  of a famous silent screen actress, Pauline Sloane, where he lands a position as  chauffeur. Sloane Hall first offers him peace as he enjoys the bounty of the  luxurious home, then unrest as its beautiful namesake returns and starts  preparing for her first talking picture. Despite his best efforts to resist,  John falls hopelessly in love with his employer. His future brightens, however,  when she appears to return his affection, leading to plans for a secret  wedding—until other awful secrets intrude, leading to heartbreak and separation.  A story of obsession and forgiveness, Libby Sternberg’s Sloane Hall was inspired  by Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre and takes place against the tension-filled backdrop of Hollywood's shift from silent to sound pictures.


"An original story with  complex character development...(Sternberg) knows how to tell a story and she  does it well....a refreshing tale." Carolyne Van Der Meer, Bronte Studies  journal, September 2011

"Libby Sternberg's intelligent and intriguing  Jane Eyre reimagining has achieved two of the most difficult goals in a novel:  being a page turner and paying a worthy tribute to Charlotte Brontë's immortal  story." -- THE BRONTE BLOG

"Sternberg never loses sight of the story  she's re-telling, but this novel is definitely her own. Readers have things to  figure out and look forward to. Her prose flows beautifully with vivid  descriptions of people and places, bringing to life a Los Angeles of times gone  by. Fans of historical fiction and Jane Eyre in particular will relish this  novel, and readers who enjoy a love story should definitely pick this one  up."—KATHERINE PETERSON, FRESH FICTION

"Admittedly inspired by Jane Eyre,  Sloane Hall contains a similar plot with a few surprising twists. As two very  troubled individuals try to convince each other of their love, destructive  forces work to destroy that attraction. All the characters are well developed,  interesting people driven by their desires….What makes Sloane Hall different and  intriguing is the setting. The depictions of the movie business and of social  life amongst movie elite during Prohibition effectively take the reader back to  a free-wheeling time—well worth reading."—ROBIN LEE, ROMANCE REVIEWS  TODAY"

Libby Sternberg is the author of women's fiction and  mysteries, including four YA mysteries, the first of which was an Edgar nominee.  She writes humorous women's fiction under the name Libby Malin.

Book Excerpt: In Leah's Wake by Terri Giuliano Long

Announcing the In Leah’s Wake Social Media Whirlwind Tour!

As part of this special promotional extravaganza sponsored by Novel Publicity, the price of the In Leah’s Wake eBook edition has dropped to just 99 cents this week.

What’s more, by purchasing this fantastic book at an incredibly low price, you can enter to win many awesome prizes, including Amazon gift cards of up to $500 in amount and 5 autographed copies of the book. Be sure to enter before the end of the day on Friday, December 16th, so you don’t miss out.


To Win the Prizes

  1. Purchase your copy of In Leah’s Wake for just 99 cents on Amazon or Barnes & Noble
  2. Fill-out the form on Novel Publicity to enter for the prizes
  3. Visit today’s featured event; you may win an autographed copy of the book or a $50 gift card!
  4. BONUS: If you leave a comment on this blog post, you have another chance at $100!

...And I can win too!

Over 100 bloggers are participating in this gigantic event, and there are plenty of prizes for us too. The blogger who receives the most votes in the traffic-breaker poll will win a $100 gift card as well. So when you visit Novel Publicity’s site to fill-out the contest entry form, don’t forget to say that I referred you, so I can get a point in the poll.

The Featured Events include:

Monday, Radio Interview with Novel Publicity! We’re kicking-off on the Novel Publicity Free Advice blog. We interviewed Terri on our radio show Sunday night and have embedded the full podcast and blogged about its highlights. Give it a listen and then leave a comment on the blog post. This is a great chance to get to know more about this inspiring and friendly author. One commenter will win an autographed copy of In Leah’s Wake.

Don’t forget to enter for the other contest prizes while you’re over there!

Tuesday, Twitter sharing contest! A tweet is tiny, only 140 characters. But on Tuesday, it could win you $50. Send the following tweet across the twittersphere, and you just may win a $50 Amazon gift card. An autographed copy of In Leah’s Wake is also up for grabs. The winner will be announced
Wednesday morning. Here’s the tweet: In Leah's Wake has taken the publishing world by storm. Get the book for just 99 cents #whirlwind

Wednesday, Google+ sharing contest! Yup, there’s yet another awesome opportunity to win a $50 Amazon gift card, and this time it just takes a single click! Visit Google+ and share Emlyn Chand’s most recent post (you’ll see the In Leah’s Wake book cover included with it). On Thursday morning, one lucky sharer will be $50 richer. An autographed copy of In Leah’s Wake is also up for grabs.  Three chances to win! How about that?

Thursday, Facebook sharing contest! Stop by Novel Publicity’s Facebook page and share their latest post (you’ll see the In Leah’s Wake book cover included with it). It’s ridiculously easy to win! On Friday morning, one lucky sharer will be $50 richer. An autographed copy of In Leah’s Wake is also up for grabs.

Friday, special contest on the author’s site! Win a $500 Amazon gift card, simply by leaving a comment on Terri’s most recent blog post. Yup, you read that correctly—$500! How easy is that? An
autographed copy of In Leah’s Wake is also up for grabs.

Remember, it’s all about the books!

Terri Giuliano LongAbout In Leah’ Wake: The Tyler family had the perfect life – until sixteen-year-old Leah decided she didn’t want to be perfect anymore. While her parents fight to save their daughter from destroying her brilliant future, Leah’s younger sister, Justine, must cope with the damage her out-of-control sibling leaves in her wake. What happens when love just isn’t enough? Get it on Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

About the Author:
Terri Giuliano Long grew up in the company of stories both of her own making and as written by others. Books offer her a zest for life’s highs and comfort in its lows. She’s all-too-happy to share this love with others as a novelist and a writing teacher at Boston College. She was grateful and thrilled beyond words when her award-winning debut literary novel, In Leah’s Wake, hit the Barnes and Noble and Amazon bestseller lists in August. She owes a lot of wonderful people – big time! – for any success she’s enjoyed! Visit her on her website, Twitter, Facebook, or GoodReads.

Now please enjoy this excerpt from the new edition of In Leah's Wake...

Leah’s head felt like a beach ball. She’d stay in bed all day if she could, cocooned in the blankets and sheets, but she had to pee. She dragged herself up, shivering as she threw off the covers. She’d never been this sick in her life. She probably had cancer. Oh God, she was going to barf. She dropped her head between her knees, staying put until her stomach had settled, and dragged herself to the bathroom.

She could hear her father in the kitchen, fixing breakfast. The odor of maple bacon drifted upstairs, making her gag. In a minute, he would be up here, ordering her downstairs to eat. Her team had a game this morning, at ten, which meant she had to be on the field—she checked her
alarm clock—in an hour. She flopped back onto her bed, and pulled the covers defiantly over her head. No way was she playing soccer today. Not after last night, after her father freaked out.

She turned onto her side, burying her face in her pillow. Around midnight last night, Todd had retrieved a blanket from his truck, and spread it over a pillow of pine needles and leaves. She pictured him on his elbows, staring down at her, the planes of his face accentuated by the shadows. He pushed her hair away from her face.

His hand slid from her shoulder to her hips.

Todd, she whispered. Todd.

Her shades snapped up, startling her. In the harsh light, Todd’s face vanished. Hearing her name—Todd?—she rolled onto her back.

When she looked up, her father was standing over her bed.

“Time to get up, Leah. The Harvard coach is coming today.”

The nerve of that man.

She curled into a ball, pulling the covers over her head. Her father’s hand slid under the covers, and he wiggled her big toe, the way he used to when she was little. She yanked her foot back.

“Come on, kiddo,” he coaxed. “You have to get up.” He’d made blueberry pancakes. As if his stupid pancakes made up for last night.

“Go away,” she spat, her words garbled by the mountain of blankets and sheets.

“Leah, your team is—”

Who cares if you’re tired? She heard in her head. The competition is practicing, even when you’re not . . . “depending on you, Leah.” . . . dedication is what counts . . . “talk to you, honey.” . . . suck it up . . .get up, get up . . . do it . . . time to get up . . . time for soccer . . . time . . . practice . . . do it . . . just do it . . . Just do it.

Leah clapped her hands over her ears. “Go away,” she cried. “Get out. Get away from me.”

Why did her father do this to her? Why couldn’t he let her be?

“I’d like to talk to you, Leah. Please.”

“I’m not playing.” She threw off the covers. “And you can’t make me.”

The toilet flushed in the bathroom between her room and Justine’s. The faucet sputtered, and water splashed into the sink. Leah’s sister was washing her hands. Now she was brushing her teeth. Perfect little angel, never in trouble. Perfect little dork. Leah hated her sister. She hated them all—her mother, her father, Justine. Her parents didn’t care about her. They cared about controlling her. They expected perfection, wanted perfect robots for kids. Well, guess what? She wasn’t a robot. They’d have to be satisfied with just one.

“Fine.” Her father, sighing, sat on her bed. “Stay home, if that’s what you want.” He leaned forward, dropping his hands between his knees. “I blew it, baby,” he said, staring at the floor. “I’m sorry.”

Good. She had him right where she wanted him. Leah pulled the covers over her head, and raised her elbows, creating an air tunnel so she could breathe. She’d forgive her father. Eventually. First, she planned to make him suffer.

Her father’s weight shifted. She felt the spring of the mattress.

No. This wasn’t the way it went. Her father wasn’t supposed to give up. He never gave up. They talked until they’d worked things out. “Dad?” Leah shot of bed and darted out to the landing.

“Dad,” she called, leaning over the railing. “Daddy?”

By the time Zoe reached the office park, she’d worked herself into a funk. She parked her Volvo by the service entrance behind the building, in a spot reserved for tenants. Normally, she walked to her second floor office, a penitent’s offering to the exercise god she’d forsaken. This morning, anxiety fueling her fatigue, she waited for the elevator.

She’d worked for Cortland Child Services for eight years. She used to love this job. Physicians trusted her, and rewarded her with a constant flow of referrals. Too popular for a while, she’d been temporarily forced to close her practice to new patients. Now she dreaded coming to work.

Five years ago, patients treated her with respect; they’d listened eagerly and followed her advice. Today, everybody knew everything. Parents, armed with information from the Web, came to her seeking validation, letters attributing their child’s misbehavior to brilliance, drugs to give their child an edge. Zoe’s education and experience meant nothing. She was a service provider. She was tired of that game.

If she and Will could afford it, she’d leave the counseling center, build her seminars and branch out, write a book, go on the lecture circuit, where she could help thousands of people. But that was a pipedream.

She accidentally pressed “Down,” forcing her to ride to the basement and back up.

The stress at home had ratcheted her anxiety, adding to her unease. The small things she used to let slide had begun to get her: a missed appointment, a defiant gesture, an insolent remark. Doing a half-assed job made her feel crappy; these days, she felt like crap most of the time.

Zoe’s mood lifted as she opened her office door. This office, with its soft coral walls, was her sanctuary. Sunlight filtered through the blinds on the picture window, the flecks of sand in the carpet around the turtle-shaped sandbox glittering. Zoe’s grad school books lined the top shelf of a wall-to-wall bookcase. On the lower shelves were toys for the kids: cars and trucks, picture books, puzzles, stuffed animals, dolls.

From her iPod, she selected a soothing Thai instrumental piece, and logged onto her antiquated desktop computer. Her refusal to upgrade to a laptop was a running joke in the office. Zoe still handwrote her notes and transcribed them at the end of each day, the inconvenience a small price to pay for the ability to give her patients her undivided attention.

In no time, she’d printed and scanned her notes.

With ten minutes to spare before her first appointment, she decided to run check on the Corbett boy. (Last night, in her drunken stupor, Leah had blurted his name.) Zoe typed Corbett’s name in the Google dialogue box; feeling guilty, she immediately back-spaced. A Google search felt invasive, like reading her child’s diary or listening to a phone conversation. Yet how else was she to obtain information? She could hardly rely on Leah to fill her in. Other parents Googled their kids’ friends. “I do all the time,” Sheila Li, a
colleague, had confided one day. “Can’t be too careful these days.” Corbett had gotten her daughter drunk and driven her home at three a.m. That revoked any right to privacy. She tapped her desk, impatient for the page to populate.

On the first page she spotted an entry, dated July 10, 1998, the keywords Corbett and Massachusetts emboldened. Something about a drug arrest. The URL linked to an article on the Dallas Star website. Dallas? Drugs? Had to be a mistake, a misnamed file, an erroneous entry.

She hit the link, her pulse racing as she scrolled down the page.

EL PASO, Texas – A Massachusetts man was arrested early this morning outside the Roadhouse restaurant in downtown El Paso on suspicion of drug possession and trafficking. Todd Corbett, 21, from Massachusetts, works as a sound technician for the alternative rock band, Cobra. Jeff Jones, the band’s manager, was arrested on similar charges in November.

Insufficient evidence in the Jones case forced the district attorney’s office in El Paso to drop the charges. “We expect to hand down an indictment later today,” said Assistant District Attorney Len Ahearn. Ahearn declined further comment regarding the details of Corbett’s arrest, citing a judge’s gag order. If prosecuted, Corbett faces a sentence of up to twenty years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

A later article reported that the charges had been dismissed.

Zoe had expected to find something—a DUI, a petty theft, a drunk and disorderly— nothing like this. Leah pushed boundaries. She’d been drinking last night; she’d come in at three a.m. No way was she was mixed up with a drug dealer. She was a good kid, a talented athlete, with a bright future in front of her. She was too smart to throw it all away.

Zoe clicked back to the first article, reread it, and logged on to, the website for the Globe. In the “Metro” section of the July 11 edition, she found a single paragraph that began:

“Todd Corbett of Cortland, Massachusetts, was arrested. . .”

Reeling, she logged off. This was impossible. Zoe was a therapist. She worked with teenagers. If her daughter were involved with drugs, she would know. She’d recognize the signs. Moods? What sixteen-year-old girl wasn’t moody? Slipping grades? In high school, Zoe and Will had both flunked biology; maybe Leah had inherited the gene. Leah had missed her curfew a few times, until last night never by more than ten minutes. Granted, Leah had lied about being with Cissy. Yes, Cissy’s being MIA this last month
was certainly strange. But girls fight. Junior year, Zoe’s best friend had dumped her cold, all because the girl’s crush had called Zoe “pretty.” Normal teenage behavior—all of this.

Zoe’s stomach went hollow.