Friday, May 31, 2013

Book Review: The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau

The Testing (The Testing, #1)The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children 
Publish Date: June 4, 2013
Hardcover, 336 pages
ISBN: 9780547959108
The Testing Book #1 

My Review:
I requested this book because I was intrigued by the premise and have to admit I love survival type dystopians. However when it arrived, I think I was just about dystopian-ed out. But I picked it up because I was still intrigued and it needed reviewing. Now I am glad I made up my mind to do that. It's just a little slow going for the first 30-50 pages, but after that, it really takes off. I understand the beginning, getting to know Cia and getting feel for her family and the setup of the society The Testing takes place in. I needed to see how Cia was and how fiercely protective she was of her family to set the stage for the rest of the book.

But for me the book really gained my interest when The Testing started. And wow, I must admit I didn't expect the brutalness of The Testing. I was thinking the typical dystopian I have been reading lately, but this is much more like the Hunger Games in it's brutalness. I don't mind it, and I don't have a problem now handing the book to my 12-year-old who read The Hunger Games when he was 10. We can talk about it if he has any problems with it. I will also be handing it to my husband who really doesn't read YA except for The Hunger Games and The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielson, but I think he will love this one.

While it focuses on Cia, there are other main characters, Tomas is obvious, and another one you will have to wait and read about because I don't want to spoil much. Just know the characters are interesting, and trying to figure out who to trust adds a nice twist to the story. It's every person for themselves in The Testing and that's what makes the book interesting. Once The Testing starts, the books momentum seems to grow page-by-page right up until the end, and what an ending! I will eagerly be awaiting book #2 out in January 2014, and I'm thankful I only have to wait 6 months between each installment!

The Testing is a brutal and stark dystopian, in the vein of The Hunger Games but different. I thoroughly enjoyed reading the book, getting to know the characters and the society they were in. I like the questions that are asked during the book and can't wait to get more answers in the books that follow. This is going to be a great series!

My rating: 4.5/5.0

About the Book:
Keep your friends close and your enemies closer. Isn’t that what they say? But how close is too close when they may be one in the same?

The Seven Stages War left much of the planet a charred wasteland. The future belongs to the next generation’s chosen few who must rebuild it. But to enter this elite group, candidates must first pass The Testing—their one chance at a college education and a rewarding career.

Cia Vale is honored to be chosen as a Testing candidate; eager to prove her worthiness as a University student and future leader of the United Commonwealth. But on the eve of her departure, her father’s advice hints at a darker side to her upcoming studies--trust no one.

But surely she can trust Tomas, her handsome childhood friend who offers an alliance? Tomas, who seems to care more about her with the passing of every grueling (and deadly) day of the Testing. To survive, Cia must choose: love without truth or life without trust.

About the Author:
I am a storyteller at heart. I have performed in a variety of operas, musical theatre and children's theatre productions across the Chicagoland area.

While I'm happy to perform for an audience, I am equally delighted to teach private voice lessons and use my experience from the stage to create compelling characters on the page. I am the author of the Rebecca Robbins mystery series (Minotaur Books), The Paige Marshall Glee Club mysteries (Berkley) and The Testing YA triology (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt).


***I received this book from the publisher for an honest review.  I was not compensated in any other way except receiving the book for free.  ***

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Book Review: Inferno by Sherrilyn Kenyon

Inferno (Chronicles of Nick, #4)Inferno by Sherrilyn Kenyon
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Publish Date: April 9, 2013

Hardcover, 452 pages
ISBN: 9781250002839
Chronicles of Nick #4

My Review:
I love the Chronicles of Nick. Getting the back story on one of my favorite characters in the Dark Hunter novels is really great and Inferno is another good installment.

So Nick is back and he has girl trouble and of course paranormal trouble, but thankfully he has friends at his side to cover his back. I loved seeing glimpses of Bubba and Mark but missed having them more in the book. Caleb plays the most major role besides Nick in the book and it was interesting to see more of his back story. Nick continues to fight his true nature and there is some growth in this book, but it wasn't as much as in the past. Seeing the glimpses into the future was also really interesting and very foreboding. I am intrigued to see where Nick and the others go in the next book and from the ending the next one should definitely be entertaining.

The action is good in this one as well. It lost me a few times, but was well worth finishing the read. Books in a series are like that, one is stellar, the next one not-as-much but again, worth reading and I'm not abandoning this series anytime soon. But for some reason this one just didn't grab me as much as the others in the series did. It could just be me, because it has a high Goodreads rating. But then everyone is different.

Inferno is a good installment in the Chronicles of Nick. While it wasn't my favorite, it was still highly entertaining if just for more of Nick and his smart mouth. There is good action, interesting new characters and definitely a new baddie in town, so if you love Nick and love this series, make sure you grab this one. I just wish it wasn't almost a year until the next one. I love me some Nick!

My rating: 4.0/5.0

About the Book:
The heat is on, and a new threat to humanity has risen…

Nick has his driver’s license and he’s not afraid to use it. But turning sixteen isn’t what he thought it would be. While other boys his age are worried about prom dates and applying for college, Nick is neck deep in enemies out to stop him from living another day. No longer sure if he can trust anyone, his only ally seems to be the one person he’s been told will ultimately kill him.

But life spent serving the undead is anything except ordinary. And those out to get him have summoned an ancient force so powerful even the gods fear it. As Nick learns to command and control the elements, the one he must master in order to combat his latest foe is the one most likely to destroy him. As the old proverb goes, fire knows nothing of mercy, and if Nick is to survive this latest round, he will have to sacrifice a part of himself. However, the best sacrifice is seldom the sanest move. Sometimes it’s the one that leaves your enemies confused, and you even more so.

And sometimes, you have to trust your enemy to save your friends. But what do you do when that enemy is you?

About the Author (from Goodreads):
Sherrilyn Kenyon lives a life of extraordinary danger... as does any woman with three sons, a husband, a menagerie of pets and a collection of swords that all of the above have a fixation on. But when not running interference (or dashing off to the emergency room), she's found chained to her computer where she likes to play with all her imaginary friends. With more than ten million copies of her books in print in 26 countries, she certainly has many friends to play with.

Writing as Kinley MacGregor and Sherrilyn Kenyon, she is the author of several series, including The Dark-Hunters, Brotherhood of the Sword, Lords of Avalon, Nevermore, BAD (Bureau of American Defense), Sex Camp Diaries, The MacAllisters and Sea Wolves.

Her books have appeared in the top five of the New York Times, Publisher's Weekly, and USA Today lists.


***I received this book from my local library for my reading pleasure.  I was not compensated in any way for this review.  ***

ArmchairBEA Day 2: Genre Fiction

Today's discussion from ArmchairBEA is Genre Fiction, which is one of my favorite types of books to read.  Which genre do I prefer?  Since I've been blogging I think I have read just about everything, but if I had to pick an all-around favorite I think it would be a toss-up between Romance and Mystery/Thriller.  Now I could go one step further and say I prefer contemporary romance, historical romance, paranormal romance, erotic romance and romantic suspense.  There are probably a few other types mixed in as well as you know if you are familiar with the romance genre. Just like I lumped together Mystery/Thriller, but there are political thrillers, medical thrillers, cozy mysteries, regular mystery, etc.  Once upon a time I remember it was just called Romance or Thriller or Mystery, but now there are so many wonderful books of all types out there that these additional classifications seem to help narrow down the field for those that aren't scouring blogs, Amazon, Shelf Awareness or have publicists sending them wonderful announcements.
But back to the questions from ArmchairBEA:
If you’re a reader of genre fiction do you have a favourite author or series? Nora Roberts, Stephen King, James Patterson (yes I still read him for sheer entertainment value) will always be go to authors for me.  I seek out their titles from the library when they release.  Joe Hill is another great one and I still love Dean Koontz as well.  I got my start with horror books, but it seems that slowly my favorite horror authors have gone the way of thrillers.  Has anyone else noticed that?  But then again there are new great horror authors out there as well.

And what keeps bringing you back for more fantasy/sci fi/horror etc?  Well-written books, or just sheer entertainment value.  When I go to read a book, I'm not looking for life lessons unless I read non-fiction. Now if I get one in the process of being entertained, that doesn't bother me.  But I want a pure blissful, fun reading experience when I pick up genre fiction. Yes sometimes the books are heavy, but if I'm in the mood for it then it's perfect.  That's what I love about genre fiction, there really is something for everyone in it.
And if you don’t read one (or more) of these genres what is it that deters you from those sections of the bookstore? I don't think there is a section of the bookstore I am deterred from.  I love to just look and browse.  Now there are sections I will probably never buy from, but I still love to look around.  Who knows a cover or title may catch my eye and one day I may have a new favorite genre!

I’m also curious to hear why you think these genres often don’t get the recognition they deserve. I am hopeful that one day they will get the recognition they deserve.  Just because of the sheer amount of genre fiction these days, I am in hope that one day a high school class will be studying the greats of the current times, the ones that were read and lauded by the masses not the few.  I really feel Stephen King can be there one day, I mean his writing is amazing, he just happens to write genre fiction.  And character studies could be done on Nora Roberts' characters (though the books probably aren't fit for a high school classroom, but hey I read them shortly after high school).  I am pleased to see my middle schooler getting options for his reading program that run from the middle school classics (Hatchet by Gary Paulson) and new YA stuff (the Chronicles of Vladimir Tod by Heather Brewer).  Kudos to them for engaging the kids and hopefully starting a life time of reading with these choices!
What's your favorite genre fiction?  If you've posted during today's BEA question let me know and I'll hop on by your blog as well!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Book Giveaway: Murder As A Fine Art by David Morrell

Murder As A Fine Art by David Morrell
Publisher:Mulholland Books
Publish Date: May 7, 2012
Hardcover, 368 pages
Fiction, Historical
 ISBN: 0316216798

***My review will be coming in the next few weeks.***

About the Book:

Thomas De Quincey, infamous for his memoir Confessions of an English Opium-Eater, is the major suspect in a series of ferocious mass murders identical to ones that terrorized London forty-three years earlier.

The blueprint for the killings seems to be De Quincey's essay "On Murder Considered as One of the Fine Arts." Desperate to clear his name but crippled by opium addiction, De Quincey is aided by his devoted daughter Emily and a pair of determined Scotland Yard detectives.

In Murder as a Fine Art, David Morrell plucks De Quincey, Victorian London, and the Ratcliffe Highway murders from history. Fogbound streets become a battleground between a literary star and a brilliant murderer, whose lives are linked by secrets long buried but never forgotten.

About the Author: 
David Morrell is a Canadian novelist from Kitchener, Ontario, who has been living in the United States for a number of years. He is best known for his debut 1972 novel First Blood, which would later become a successful film franchise starring Sylvester Stallone. More recently, he has been writing the Captain America comic books limited-series The Chosen.

For more information on David Morrell and his novels, please visit the official website.  You can also follow David on Facebook, Twitter and Google+.

Thanks to the publisher and Historical Fiction Book Tours, I have one copy of Murder as a Fine Art to giveaway.  Book will be mailed directly from the publisher.  Open to US only. Ends 6/4.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Armchair BEA Introduction

Welcome to ArmchairBEA!  While I would love to be in New York this week, it's just not in the cards for me, so I'm joining in from home.  And it's day one, so here's my answer to the interview questions!  Can't wait to see the others and learn more about my fellow bloggers!
  1. Please tell us a little bit about yourself: Who are you? How long have you been blogging? Why did you get into blogging? My name is Crystal, I live on the beautiful coast of NC with my husband of 15 years (we've been together 21, since the end of high school), our two sons (12 & 8), a black cat, Buckwheat and our pound puppy Chewbacca, oh and a goldfish. I work in marine science (hurricane storm surge work) and read every chance I get. I've been blogging since March 2009 when I started having health problems and was home from work more. I really did it to keep up with what I was reading, but it blossomed into so much more.  I've kept up blogging because I enjoy it.
  2. Where in the world are you blogging from? Tell a random fact or something special about your current location. Feel free to share pictures. I live outside of Beaufort, NC in the beautiful world called Down East.  I actually live in Otway which is named for Otway Burns who was a privateer during the War of 1812.  Also Blackbeard's ship, the Queen Anne's Revenge was found just off of Shackleford which is where we spend a lot of our time when we are boating, though we spend more time at the Cape Lookout end, which you can see the beauty here: 

  3. What are you currently reading, or what is your favorite book you have read so far in 2013? I'm currently reading Infinity by Sherrilyn Kenyon. I love the Nick Chronicles books and this one is pretty good.  My favorite book changes at least once a month, but right now I would say it has been Whiskey Beach by Nora Roberts.
  4. Tell us one non-book-related thing that everyone reading your blog may not know about you. I'm what my husband calls a lizard. I love to be out in the sun all warm and cozy. It can be 90+ and high humidity (like we have anything else around here) and I will be on the boat laying out while Mitch and the kids are playing in the water complaining about the heat.  That makes me happy.  Oh and I have to have a book of course.
  5. What is your favorite part about the book blogging community? The camaraderie, the friendliness and the helpfulness of so many bloggers.  I haven't been commenting like I use to but I plan on getting back to it as soon as my son's ball season is over and summer starts.  I also love getting feedback on books, finding new-to-me authors and just enjoying reading posts.
Click on the banner for the original post to visit lots of blogs and read their intros.

If you are new to my blog or new to the blogosphere please comment and let me know you stopped by and I will get by your blog as well.  I hope to make my way through the list, but it's usually huge.  Also if you are an oldie like me, please comment as well, I know I'm missing some great blogs out there! 

Book Review: Acheron by Sherrilyn Kenyon

Acheron (Dark-Hunter, #15)Acheron by Sherrilyn Kenyon
Publisher: Macmillan Audio
Publish Date: Aug. 5, 2008
Audiobook, 23 hours 39 minutes

My Review:
This is one long book, but to get it all in it really had to be. I decided to tackle it on audio instead of reading and it took awhile (not because of the book, but because of me), but it was well worth it in the end.

This book is comprehensive. First you get a look at Ash's past. Something I knew nothing of before. Of course Ash was the most mysterious as leader of the Dark Hunters and now I understand. I think the past was handled well and I never felt like "hurry up and get to the present", I was enthralled by Ash's backstory. It really explains so much. Then it moves forward to the now, when Ash meets Tori and they are thrown together because of the danger to her. This part was amazing as well. It felt slightly more rushed, at least in the romance department than the first part, but I was okay with that. They were thrown together in danger and there was an obvious attraction. Then there is a lot of excitement and an epilogue that has me anxious for what happens next.

I felt Ash and Tori were both well-developed in Acheron. Ash more so than Tori, but it was his book. However I did feel I got to know Tori and I really liked her. Another plus, more of Simi in this book, I love Simi!

The story is great, moving from past to present was seamless and the whole storyline kept my interest through all the hours of listening. I loved this installment to the Dark Hunters series and loved how Ms. Kenyon handled everything. I just wasn't sure how things could be done with a book about Ash before the end of the series, but now I understand (no spoilers).

I listened to the audio version and I think Holter Graham did a great job. The reader is male, but he did well changing his voice for the various roles and he did great with the female voices as well. I again especially loved Simi, I felt like he nailed her. If you are going to listen to a very long audiobook it's great to have a good narrator and he was very good. He will definitely go on my list of narrators that I enjoy.

Overall this was a great installment in the Dark Hunters series. More things were explained but more mysteries were opened as you would expect. I am anxious to play catch-up and see what happens after this book now, especially with Styxx coming out soon. I am very curious to see his side of things. Acheron is an excellent book with great characters and a plot that keeps you enthralled from page 1 to page 700-something. So don't fear the large book, it's well worth your time!

My rating:  5.0/5.0

About the Book:
Eleven thousand years ago a god was born. Cursed into the body of a human, Acheron spent a lifetime of shame. His human death unleashed an unspeakable horror that almost destroyed the earth. Brought back against his will, he became the sole defender of mankind.

Only it was never that simple. For centuries, he has fought for our survival and hidden a past he never wants revealed - until a lone woman who refuses to be intimidated by him threatens his very existence.

Now his survival, and ours, hinges on hers, and old enemies reawaken and unite to kill them both. War has never been more deadly...or more fun.

About the Author (from Goodreads):
Sherrilyn Kenyon lives a life of extraordinary danger... as does any woman with three sons, a husband, a menagerie of pets and a collection of swords that all of the above have a fixation on. But when not running interference (or dashing off to the emergency room), she's found chained to her computer where she likes to play with all her imaginary friends. With more than ten million copies of her books in print in 26 countries, she certainly has many friends to play with.

Writing as Kinley MacGregor and Sherrilyn Kenyon, she is the author of several series, including The Dark-Hunters, Brotherhood of the Sword, Lords of Avalon, Nevermore, BAD (Bureau of American Defense), Sex Camp Diaries, The MacAllisters and Sea Wolves.

Her books have appeared in the top five of the New York Times, Publisher's Weekly, and USA Today lists.


***I received this book from the publisher for an honest review.  I was not compensated in any other way except receiving the book for free.  ***

Monday, May 27, 2013

Book Review: Whiskey Beach by Nora Roberts

Whiskey BeachWhiskey Beach by Nora Roberts
Publisher: Putnam Adult
Publish Date: April 16, 2013
Hardcover, 496 pages
ISBN: 9780399159893

My Review:
Whiskey Beach is one of the best Nora Roberts' stand-alone romantic suspense novels I have read in awhile. I loved the characters, the setting and the suspense was top-notch. I love that Nora Roberts can keep bringing books like this out that keep me engaged from cover-to-cover and have me involved with the characters right from the beginning.

I'll start with the characters. Characters have always been one of Nora Roberts' strong-suits as far as I am concerned, and here Whiskey Beach does not disappoint. Our broken hero has been accused but never charged with the murder of his wife who he was separated from at the time. Eli was once a top-notch lawyer on the move in Boston, now he's escaping to Whiskey Beach to write and hopefully regain some of the person he was before. I loved Eli and love how I learned his story little-by-little through the book. It really added to the suspense, is he a killer, no you probably don't think so, but getting to the bottom of who he is was important for the growth he goes through to take place. And where would that growth be without Abra, who is pretty much a jack-of-all-trades and an amazing woman who has a past of her own. I loved her confidence and her honesty in the book. She doesn't pull any punches. She also knows how to care for those that need it and Eli really needs it. Together Eli and Abra are amazing. The romance and heat are off the charts. I like how their relationship develops. It's fun, flirty and he's determined not to get involved, but they both just can't help it and when they do, the sparks really do fly (and you will be amused, trust me on this one).

The suspense is also interesting. First Eli wants to just move on but he is still dogged by a persistent homicide detective who is trying to catch him doing the wrong thing. Then there is the PI that seems to be following him and asking questions. And then strange things start to happen in the normally sedate Whiskey Beach and slowly Eli and Abra start to put things together and realize that all is not what it seems (I don't want to give anything away here). Like the relationship, the suspense slowly builds until I just could not put the book down and this is not a short book. The pacing was perfect and I loved the secrets discovered and getting to know the town and the town-folk as well.

Whiskey Beach is one of those romantic suspense novels that just grab you from the first page and do not let you go until the last. I found the characters to easy to relate to and the plot to be amazing. Whiskey Beach reminds me why I like Nora Roberts so much and that I still have some of her backlist of stand-alones to work through. This one is currently at the top of my favorites, somehow surpassing Divine Evil (even though it really is hard to pick a favorite). But Whiskey Beach has all the elements I love and make it a book that I could easily re-read which is not something I often do.

My rating: 5.0/5.0

About the Book:
For more than three hundred years, Bluff House has sat above Whiskey Beach, guarding its shore—and its secrets. But to Eli Landon, it’s home…

A Boston lawyer, Eli has weathered an intense year of public scrutiny and police investigations after being accused of—but never arrested for—the murder of his soon-to-be-ex wife.

He finds sanctuary at Bluff House, even though his beloved grandmother is in Boston recuperating from a nasty fall. Abra Walsh is always there, though. Whiskey Beach’s resident housekeeper, yoga instructor, jewelry maker, and massage therapist, Abra is a woman of many talents—including helping Eli take control of his life and clear his name. But as they become entangled in each other, they find themselves caught in a net that stretches back for centuries—one that has ensnared a man intent on reaping the rewards of destroying Eli Landon once and for all…

About the Author (from her website):
Nora Roberts was born in Silver Spring, Maryland, the youngest of five children. After a school career that included some time in Catholic school and the discipline of nuns, she married young and settled in Keedysville, Maryland.

She worked briefly as a legal secretary. "I could type fast but couldn’t spell, I was the worst legal secretary ever," she says now. After her sons were born she stayed home and tried every craft that came along. A blizzard in February 1979 forced her hand to try another creative outlet. She was snowed in with a three and six year old with no kindergarten respite in sight and a dwindling supply of chocolate.

Born into a family of readers, Nora had never known a time that she wasn’t reading or making up stories. During the now-famous blizzard, she pulled out a pencil and notebook and began to write down one of those stories. It was there that a career was born. Several manuscripts and rejections later, her first book, Irish Thoroughbred, was published by Silhouette in 1981.

Nora met her second husband, Bruce Wilder, when she hired him to build bookshelves. They were married in July 1985. Since that time, they’ve expanded their home, traveled the world and opened a bookstore together.

Through the years, Nora has always been surrounded by men. Not only was she the youngest in her family, but she was also the only girl. She has raised two sons. Having spent her life surrounded by men, Ms. Roberts has a fairly good view of the workings of the male mind, which is a constant delight to her readers. It was, she’s been quoted as saying, a choice between figuring men out or running away screaming.

Nora is a member of several writers groups and has won countless awards from her colleagues and the publishing industry. Recently The New Yorker called her "America’s favorite novelist."



***I received this book from my wonderful local library for my reading pleasure.  ***

Friday, May 24, 2013

Book Review: The Offering by Angela Hunt

The Offering by Angela Hunt
Publisher: Howard Books
Publish Date: May 14, 2013
Paperback, 320 pages

 ISBN: 9781439182055

My Review:
Wow, just wow. This book explores so much in a realm I have never really thought about even though I have a friend who used surrogacy.  The Offering is touching, painful at times and joyful all at the same time and well worth the read.  The characters add a richness, especially Amanda's (Mandy's) extended family.  Even though Mandy is a gringa, and doesn't understand their Spanish all the time, she seems to fit in well with this Cuban-American family her husband has brought her into.  While there are some difficulties with her and the family, I think Ms. Hunt nails it with the closeness and the fact that when there is trouble the family will always be there for you.  I enjoyed Mandy, she had a naivete about her that made her the right character for the book.  But then again I was right with her when thinking about some of the ethical things that have to do with surrogacy.  She's also very much in love with her husband which is evident, even though he is in and out of the book.  Amelia is a great secondary character in that she has her own problems but she and Mandy are there for each other even when they don't see eye-to-eye.  While I would have liked a little more of Gideon in the book, I understand that he was in and out of their lives because of his job.  And of course the surrogate family, they are an entity of their own and while we mostly see them through Mandy's eyes, I find a realism in that, especially when things change.  That's when you realize that what you might be seeing might just be something different from the reality.

There are so many layers to this book, yet it reads quick and I never felt bogged down when I was reading it.  Mandy battles with whether do be a surrogate, how to best fit into family, how to love a husband that she never knows what he is doing, and then what to do when the unforeseen happens.  Through the book each trial strengthens Mandy into becoming the woman she is by the end of the book.  It's not easy, but life seldom is.  I felt for her during the whole book.  I shed tears at one point and felt complete joy at others.  Ms. Hunt had me so involved in the plot that I felt I was there in the middle of Mandy and her family.

Thought-provoking, non-preachy, hard-to-put down all describe The Offering.  It is a book who's message and characters will stay with me for awhile as I peel through the layers and really think through what happened in the book.  I like books that do that.  Entertain me while reading, but make me really think when they are over.  The Offering is a stellar book and one I can highly recommend.

My Rating: 4.5/5.0

About the Book:
From bestselling author Angela Hunt, the heart-wrenching story of a young mother who unknowingly gave away her own child after serving as a surrogate for a childless couple.

After growing up as an only child, Amanda Lisandra wants a big family. But since she and her soldier husband can't afford to have more children right away, Mandy decides to earn money as a gestational carrier for a childless couple. She loves being pregnant, and while carrying the child she dreams of having her own son and maybe another daughter.  Just when the nearly perfect pregnancy is about to conclude, unexpected tragedy enters Mandy's world and leaves her reeling.

Devastated by grief, she surrenders the child she was carrying and struggles to regain her emotional equilibrium.

Two years later she studies a photograph of the baby she bore and wonders if the unthinkable has happened---could she have inadvertently given away her own biological child? Over the next few months Mandy struggles to decide between the desires of her grief-stricken heart and what's best for the little boy she has never known.

Purchase a copy:

About the Author : 
With over four million copies of her books sold worldwide, Angela Hunt is the bestselling author of more than one hundred books, including "The Nativity Story". Hunt is one of the most sought-after collaborators in the publishing industry. Her nonfiction book "Don't Bet Against Me", written with Deanna Favre, spent several weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. Angela's novel "The Note" (with sales of over 141,000) was filmed as the Hallmark Channel's Christmas movie for 2007 and proved to be the highest rated television movie in the channel's history. Angela's novels have won or been nominated for several prestigious industry awards, including the RITA, the Christy Award, the ECPA Christian Book Award, and the Holt Medallion. She often travels to teach writing workshops at schools and writers' conferences, and she served as the keynote speaker at the 2008 American Christian Fiction Writers' national conference. She and her husband make their home in Florida with mastiffs. In 2001, one of her dogs was featured on Live with Regis and Kelly as the second-largest dog in America.

Learn more at


Win a Nook HD from Angela Hunt and RSVP for her June 5th Facebook Party!

Angela Hunt is celebrating the release of The Offering with a Nook HD Giveaway and an Author Chat Party on Facebook {6/5}.


  One winner will receive:
  • A Nook HD
  • The Offering by Angela Hunt 
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on June 4th. Winner will be announced at the "The Offering" Facebook Author Chat Party on June 5th. Connect with Angela for an evening of book chat, trivia, laughter, and more! Angela will also share an exclusive look at her next book and give away books and other fun prizes throughout the evening.

So grab your copy of The Offering and join Angela on the evening of June 5th for a chance to connect and make some new friends. (If you haven't read the book, don't let that stop you from coming!)

Don't miss a moment of the fun; RSVP todayTell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 5th!

***I received this book from Litfuse Publicity and through Netgalley for an honest review.  I was not compensated in any other way except receiving the book for free.  ***

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Book Review: Pulse by Patrick Carman

Pulse (Pulse, #1)Pulse by Patrick Carman
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books 
Publish Date: February 26, 2013
Hardcover, 384 pages
ISBN: 9780062085764


My Review:
I was extremely excited to receive Pulse through Amazon Vine. From the description it sounded like a book that I would really enjoy. And I don't think I even knew it was a series when I first requested it, but the thought of that now just makes me happy (and a little impatient too!)

The first little bit of Pulse was a little hard for me to get into. I was thrust into this world and really didn't understand much about it or the characters, but after about 75 pages, I was completely enthralled. The story just keeps building on itself, adding more characters (but not too many to get confusing) and more plot with each page. The world becomes more clear, the characters more defined. By page 200, I was amazed at what Patrick Carman had done with a little over half of the book. I was now clearly invested in the characters and couldn't wait to figure out just what was going on.

The characters are interesting. I really enjoyed getting to know Faith, Hawk and Liz in the beginning and continuing to get to know them as well. Then throwing Dylan, Wade and Clara made things interesting and murky at the same time. Just who is good and who is bad and what exactly is going on? But that was the fun.

The plot zooms along building on the world and conspiracies and who is who. No spoilers here but let me tell you the build up leads to one pulse-pounding scene. I also like how things are taken to the ending of this book, but lead into the next book. There is definitely interest building for the second book, but I don't feel like I'm going to kill the author or other people before it comes out. Though I will be eagerly awaiting book number 2!

Pulse is a great young adult dystopian with another different feel. I admire authors for coming up with ways to really change things up and I feel Patrick Carman did here with the story and how he crafted the story. If you want an exciting thrill ride then this is one I can definitely recommend.

My rating: 4.5/5.0

About the Book:
From New York Times bestselling author Patrick Carman, a teen fantasy-adventure of epic proportions. In 2051, some teens have a “pulse,” the power to move objects with their minds. Compulsively readable, with thrilling action scenes and a tender love story.

The year is 2051, and the world is still recognizable. With the help of her mysterious classmate Dylan Gilmore, Faith Daniels discovers that she can move objects with her mind. This telekinetic ability is called a “pulse,” and Dylan has the talent, too.

In riveting action scenes, Faith demonstrates her ability to use her pulse against a group of telekinesis masters so powerful they will flatten their enemies by uprooting street lights, moving boulders, and changing the course of a hurtling hammer so that it becomes a deadly weapon. But even with great talent, the mind—and the heart—can be difficult to control. If Faith wants to join forces with Dylan and save the world, she’ll have to harness the power of both.

Patrick Carman’s Pulse trilogy is a stunning, action-filled triumph about the power of the mind—and the power of love.

About the Author (from Goodreads):
I have been a lifelong writer and storyteller. Salem, Oregon is where I spent my formative years and I graduated from Willamette University. After college, I spent a decade living in Portland, Oregon where I worked in advertising, game design, and technology.

I've written young adult and children's books for Scholastic, Little Brown Books For Young Readers and Katherine Tegen Books/ HarperCollins Publishers.


***I received this book through Amazon Vine for an honest review.  I was not compensated in any other way except receiving the book for free.  ***

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

NameYour Prize iPad Mini Giveaway at BestSellingReads

Name Your Prize
Well, it’s not quite that good ... ever heard of too good to be true? But it’s close!
BestsellingReads is at it again, giving away an iPad mini on June 1st at 6 pm EST as well as four $25 Amazon gift cards. All avid readers are eligible. Just click on the badge below to go to the contest.
But there’s more this time. BestsellingReads wants you to name your dream prize so they can come up with unique prizes to please you better in future giveaways. Look for a question on their rafflecopter asking that you leave a comment naming your dream prize. The first 50 commenters win a free e-book of their choice from any of the BSR member authors.
Enter to win an iPad mini or a $25 Amazon gift card now, and while you’re at it name your dream prize!

Book Review: Tempestuous by Kim Askew and Amy Helmes (Twisted Lit #1)

Tempestuous: A Modern-Day Spin on Shakespeare's The Tempest (Twisted Lit, #1)Tempestuous: A Modern-Day Spin on Shakespeare's The Tempest by Kim Askew and Amy Helmes
Publisher: Merit Press
Publish Date: December 18, 2012
Hardcover, 224 pages
ISBN: 9781440552649


My Review:
I read a review of Tempestuous months ago that made me want to read it and now I am really glad I did. It's a really cute story of a mean girl who gets in trouble for something she didn't do and in the course of one night while working at the mall hot dog stand, learns how she's been a nice girl all along. And the fun of the book is it's not done in a preachy way.

Miranda was popular to the core, hot boyfriend, Amex from Daddy and powerful girlfriends until a little scandal lands her working at the hot dog cart at the local mall and suddenly she's the social pariah. However one snowy night where everyone is trapped in the mall, Miranda's attitude begins to change. And it's that change that is so fun to watch. Well that and the other hijinks that are in store for the night. Lock a bunch of teenagers and mall employees in a snowed in mall where a lot of them don't like Miranda, Miranda is out for revenge and there is a robber on the loose and there are all grades of craziness that are bound to erupt. Miranda was a fun character, yes she's stuck up and looks down her nose at people at the beginning, but she seems to like Ariel and she likes to help people and then there is her situation so I couldn't help but like her. Add in the handcuffs, with Caleb and the craziness and I fell in love with her. Caleb is also a great supporting character along with Ariel, both were interesting and fun additions to the story. And of course there are the mean girls and the ex-boyfriend, lots of fun there as well.

And if the teenage angst (in a light way) wasn't enough to power the story, there is also a mystery to be solved. Where is Mike the missing employee and also who keeps breaking into mall stores? These crazy kids are on the job and determined to solve the mystery since there is no one to help but mall cop Grady. The mystery is good and adds to the interest of the story, it was a nice backdrop to everything else going on and kept the action moving at times. I think it was a great addition but didn't weigh the story down too much. It was just the right dose of mystery. The authors did an excellent job using this as part of the plot.

Fun to the core, Tempestuous is equal parts light and humorous with just a hint of teenage worry and angst plus an added spoonful of mystery. Overall it's one of the most fun books I have read lately. Nothing heavy here, just pure fun. And I really enjoy that in a book every now and then. This is the perfect beach read so grab a copy throw in your beach/pool/sit-outside bag and enjoy!

My rating: 4.5/5.0

About the Book:
Recently banished, unfairly, by the school’s popular crowd, former “it girl,” Miranda Prospero, finds herself in a brave new world: holding dominion amongst a rag-tag crew of geeks and misfits where she works at the Hot-Dog Kabob in the food court of her local mall. When the worst winter storm of the season causes mall workers and last-minute shoppers to be snowed-in for the night, Miranda seizes the opportunity to get revenge against the catty clique behind her social exile. With help from her delightfully dweeby coworker, Ariel, and a sullen loner named Caleb who works at the mall’s nearby gaming and magic shop, Miranda uses charm and trickery to set things to right during this spirited take on Shakespeare’s The Tempest.

About the Authors:

Kim's Twitter
Amy's Twitter

***I received this book through Amazon Vine for an honest review.  I was not compensated in any other way except receiving the book for free.  ***

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Book Review: Sketchy by Olivia Samms

Sketchy (Bea Catcher Chronicles, #1)Sketchy by Olivia Samms
Publisher: Amazon Children's Publishing
Publish Date: January 1, 2013
Hardcover, 238 pages
ISBN: 9781477816509

My Review:
While dark, I found Sketchy to be a very enjoyable book. Bea was a great character, the backstory was interesting and the mystery was great. Also the promise of more books to come really has me excited.

Bea is a drug addict just coming out of rehab so right up front you know this is not a warm fuzzy book. Bea is real, she doesn't want to go to AA, she struggles with sobriety, she struggles with high school, but the one thing she doesn't seem to struggle with is who she is now. I like that. While she has to struggle not to drink or do drugs, she is comfortable in her skin. She likes to draw and she is happy to reconnect with Chris a distant friend from art camp. Chris is a great character as well. Often Bea's voice-of-reason and also some comic relief at times, he is fun and another character that is sure of himself even though his lifestyle is not one of the mainstream. I liked him for him as well. Ms. Samms did an excellent job with the characters. Another note with the characters is the parents are not absent in this book. No they are there right on top of Bea, sometimes to the point of being overbearing, but as a parent I do understand. It is refreshing to have parents present in a novel but even I will admit I was frustrated with them, but I had the benefit of knowing Bea was behaving.

The plot is great, it's driven by the mystery of figuring out who is raping and murdering girls, leaving Willa alive after being raped. The plot goes back and forth from past to present to bring us up-to-date on Bea but it really flows. I enjoyed the mystery of Bea using her talent to try and work out who is doing this. It was also interesting to watch her convince others of her talent.

Sketchy was amazing to me, it kept me interested, it felt real and I can't wait to read more of the Bea Catcher Chronicles. Bea has pulled me in and I like her and can't get enough of her. I will be interested to see what Ms. Samms shows us next.

My rating: 5.0/5.0

About the Book:
The first book in a series about 17 year old Bea Washington, an edgy, charismatic outsider and recovering addict, who discovers that with her new-found sobriety, she has a disturbing new ?skill? ? an ability to see, and draw, people's thoughts. Alarmingly, these visions are only getting stronger and increasing in frequency. As another girl in school is raped and left for dead, Bea must come to terms with her talent, learn to face her own truth, and try to help identify and stop the killer before he strikes again.

About the Author (from her website):
Raised in southern Michigan, Olivia Samms started writing stories as a young girl—she just didn’t realize that was what she was doing. She built forts in the dense woods, grew gills under the water of small, muddy lakes, and created a fictional universe with a cast of colorful characters. Olivia’s active imagination prompted her to pursue acting and musical theatre, and after receiving her degree from Cornell University, she took on the streets of New York, acting and singing in off, off-off, and off-off-off Broadway shows, regional theaters, sang in Nashville and cried  on soap operas. She now lives in Los Angeles with her husband and two children. SKETCHY is her first novel.


***I received this book from Amazon Vine for an honest review.  I was not compensated in any other way except receiving the book for free.  ***

Monday, May 20, 2013

Book Review: The Program by Suzanne Young

The Program (The Program, #1)The Program by Suzanne Young
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publish Date: April 30, 2013
Hardcover, 416 pages
ISBN: 9781442445802

My Review:

Wow, I knew I wanted to read this book but I didn't realize just how good it was going to be until I read it. The Program was amazing to me. Everything I wanted in a dystopian, and while some of it reads similar to other dystopians out there, there is a lot that is different and fresh about this book as well and that is what drew me in and kept me reading!

Sloane and James are in love but worried about the sickness that can land them in the program. Life as a teenager in the normal world is stressful enough. But in the world that Suzanne Young has created, there is so much more to worry about. What happens when you go in The Program and why don't you have any memories when you come out. James and Sloane are determined to not get "the sickness" or at least not get caught with it. But when all good intentions fall aside what do you do with the hand that life deals you? Well Sloane is a smart cookie and I love that about her. Yes she is dependent on James, but when the cards are down, she really comes into her own.

The first part of the book gives the back story and what is happening in the now up until the breaking point. Then the story is broken up into two more parts, one being The Program and the other (I can't remember the actual title) but it's the time after The Program. I won't go into details to keep this spoiler free, but let me just say that once this story gets rolling and I found myself invested in the characters and interested in the world I could not put the book down. It also read very fast. I think I sped through 200 pages in no time at all. It's just that interesting.

I've read The Hunger Games, I've read the Crossed trilogy, and while I see shades of similar dystopian features here (it's like all types of books, there are similar formulas), the formula is where it stops. The Program is a very original story. Centered around an outbreak of teen suicide and what the government is doing to try and stop it. Once it again it shows the lengths some people will go to to control people (it's not a political statement, it's very generic in the book). It's scary and fascinating at the same time and I found myself pulling for Sloane through the whole book. She has spunk and love. And I love that about her.

Are you looking for the next great YA dystopian or just a quick summer read? The Program is it. From the way it ends I am guessing it's part of a series and must admit I did not do my homework here. If it is I am looking forward to the next book. But don't worry, it's not a huge cliffhanger that will leave you miserable, just teased for the next book. With tight writing and engaging characters this may just be one of my favorite books of the year. I can't say enough how much I loved this one and can't wait to read the next in the series (if it is a series, oh please tell me it's a series!)

My rating: 5.0/5.0

About the Book:
Sloane knows better than to cry in front of anyone. With suicide now an international epidemic, one outburst could land her in The Program, the only proven course of treatment. Sloane’s parents have already lost one child; Sloane knows they’ll do anything to keep her alive. She also knows that everyone who’s been through The Program returns as a blank slate. Because their depression is gone—but so are their memories.

Under constant surveillance at home and at school, Sloane puts on a brave face and keeps her feelings buried as deep as she can. The only person Sloane can be herself with is James. He’s promised to keep them both safe and out of treatment, and Sloane knows their love is strong enough to withstand anything. But despite the promises they made to each other, it’s getting harder to hide the truth. They are both growing weaker. Depression is setting in. And The Program is coming for them.

About the Author:
Suzanne Young currently lives in Tempe, Arizona where she teaches high school English and obsesses about books. She's the author of A NEED SO BEAUTIFUL, A WANT SO WICKED, and THE PROGRAM. 


***I received this book through Amazon Vine for an honest review.  I was not compensated in any other way except receiving the book for free.  ***

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Descendent Blog Tour - Excerpt #3 & Giveaway

Descendant blog tour excerpt 3 -


Seventeen-year-old Abigail Johnson is Gifted.

Blessed-or cursed-with Sight and Healing, Abby lives an unsettled life, moving from place to place and staying one step ahead of the darkness that hunts her. When she arrives in Jackson, Wyoming, she is desperate to maintain the illusion of normalcy, but she is plagued with visions of past lives mixed with frightening glimpses of her future. Then she meets Kye, a mysterious boy who seems so achingly familiar that Abby is drawn to him like he's a missing piece of her own soul.

Before Abby can discover the reason for her feelings toward Kye, the darkness catches up to her and she is forced to flee again. But this time she's not just running. She is fighting back with Kye at her side, and it's not only Abby's life at stake.

Buy Links:

Praise for DESCENDANT: "A hot new spin on paranormal, Descendant is refreshingly imaginative and powerful. I can't decide which was best -- piecing together Abby's sinister past or keeping up with her heartbreaking future. If you like your YA laced with melt-my-heart romance and a good helping of heart-pounding suspense, you'll love this book!" -- Michelle Davidson Argyle, author of The Breakaway

"Nichole Giles has crafted a story that breathes from the pages. Her characters are authentic, the action intense, with powerful emotions that will keep Descendant on your mind long after the book ends. Open your eyes to another facet of our world in Descendant and you'll be sucked into an adventure with Abby and Kye, that will explore the power of gifts, courage, and love. With top-notch writing, Giles has crafted a story that breathes from the pages." --Rachelle J. Christensen, award-winning author of Wrong Number and Caller ID

"Nichole Giles brings a fresh new voice and flawless writing technique to the world of Young Adult fiction. I was swept away to another place and never wanted to come back." --Tristi Pinkston, author of Turning Pages and the Secret Sisters mystery series

"This debut novel delivers in all the right ways, with heart-pounding action and a delicious romance that sweeps centuries. I loved it!" --Elana Johnson, author of Possession and Surrender

About Nichole Giles: Nichole Giles was born in Nevada, and moved with her parents to a number of cities in and around the West. Writing is her passion, but she also loves to spend time with her husband and four children, travel to tropical and exotic destinations, drive in the rain with the convertible top down, and play music at full volume so she can sing along.   

To embed the Google form in your post: