Thursday, March 29, 2012

Blog Hop: Charity Hopping Around the World

I'm super honored to be a part of the
 Charity Hopping Around the World Blog Hop
hosted by the really cool blogs

Today I would like to share with you an amazing organization,  The Uganda Village Project.

Since 2003, The Uganda Village Project (UVP) has been working with the people of Iganga to promote public health and sustainable development in the rural communities of this marginalized district in southeast Uganda. This organization represents a network of partnerships bridging disciplines and sectors working to innovate and support locally specific solutions that draw together multiple stakeholders for results-based programming. As an international nonprofit organization, they work directly with community based organizations (CBOs) and local government to utilize local knowledge and maximize community ownership.

These are the focuses this organization:

This initiative unifies UVP’s various health projects and advocacy work to provide rural health care and promote public health on a village level. Through community organizing and mobilization, this approach will target the primary health risks of the region by providing education, training and appropriate interventions to Health Center workers, local community leaders, and the general population.

UVP’s approach to safe water sources maximizes community ownership and minimizes the need for external funding. It has been highly successful and so we are scaling-up to help meet the pressing needs for water in the Iganga District.

Orphans are the most marginalized segment in terms of access to education. For this reason, UVP began the Orphan Scholarship Fund in 2004. Since that time, more than 130 students have been been able to realize their dreams of secondary education.
My family and I were lucky enough to partner with the Uganda Village Project to build a well in the village of Bhudabero back in 2008.  It was an incredible and humbling experience to know our financial support gave clean water (which I totally take for granted) to people who didn't have access to simple, clean water.  Above & to the left, find some of the photos we were sent from the build.

So onto the giveaway...
On the theme of the importance of water, I would like to offer an e-book copy of Tidal Whispers.  This enticing collection of four fantasy/paranormal romance short stories won't be out until June 4th, but if you win, I will pre-order your copy to arrive in you inbox first thing June 4th.

Here's the book blurb:

Heart’s Desire by Julie Reece
After a terrible accident, Tessa returns to her family beach house to heal. She doesn’t expect to see her first summer crush from seven years before. Cameron, though, reappears and ignites a relationship that’s far more intense than ever before. The only problem? Summer is once again coming to an end, and this time, Tessa will have to decide whether to choose life with Cameron or to never see him again.

The Sweetest Song by Claire Gillian
Under Poseidon's rule, Circe is the most destructive siren in the Pacific ocean, her songs luring ships and their crew to their watery graves. Not Otis, the best halibut fisherman in the Alaskan waters. His ship, the Calypso, has avoided disaster each time Circe set her sights on him.

Given one last chance to deliver Otis to Davy Jones’ locker, Circe takes to land to waylay the handsome captain. Instead, it may be Otis himself who hooks the Siren.

Pearl of Pau’maa by Kelly Said
Should Miki choose to wed the local wealthy boy she doesn't love, her stomach will stop grumbling. Her soul, however, will suffocate. With one last opportunity before she must concede, she sneaks off for a final dive to her hidden crate at the bottom of the seabed. What waits for her is more than a captured lobster. It's a treasure she cannot claim without great sacrifice or true love.

The Undergarden by Jocelyn Adams
Nixie, a water sprite, lives a solitary existence as she struggles to understand the strange world beyond her waters. When she meets one of the pink ones, a curious boy named Wyatt, their friendship blooms into a love that can exist only upon the sands that divide his solid ground from her underwater paradise. Some love, though, once born, cannot be undone, even in the face of death.

Enticed?  Just fill out the Rafflecopter form below (click here if you can't see it) and then be sure to visit the rest of the blog hop participants listed below :)  Thanks for stopping by!!!!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Blog Tour: Interview & Giveaway with Aimee Laine

Blog Tour
Author Interview & Book Giveaway
with Aimee Laine 

I'm super excited to be here with Aimee Laine on her blog tour for her new release Hide & Seek (Games of Zeus #1)!!!

Yay!  In February I was super lucky to read and review this suspenseful paranormal romance (click here for my rave review).  It was an incredible read and guess what?!?  You have the very special opportunity to win your very own e-book copy of Hide & Seek thanks to our very generous author!  Woo hoo!!!

So let's get to know our author, Aimee Laine:

A romantic at heart, southern transplant Aimee Laine, writes of challenges, choices and introspection – inspired by her work as a parent, photographer, writer and dreamer.

Madly in love with her husband since she was fourteen, the two married six years after surviving a prolonged, long-distance relationship. Since then, they've produced three native North Carolinians, Aimee's gone on to her get her MBA and write seven (and counting!) novels.

Her true interest in writing began, years before, at age twelve, when she wrote, illustrated and bound six hand-made books for a school assignment — and its extra credit. At least one still exists — carefully archived by the story’s main characters.

To Aimee, writing is like a couple’s first kiss. It’s desired, sometimes unbearably. Anticipation and excitement rule the moment. Once the memory is created, it can’t be duplicated rather opens one’s eye to new adventures.

And now, let's chat:

Danielle:  Who or what inspires your writing?

Aimee:  It depends! Some days, I'm inspired by scenery I've passed 8000 times as I drive down a road I drive down every single day (this inspired Silent Echoes - Book 2 in the Games of Zeus). Sometimes, it's me finding something neat on the Internet while searching for something totally unrelated. This was how I found the myth behind the Fox and Hound that became Hide & Seek. I just let inspiration find me, but when it hits, I roll with it.

Danielle:  Who are your favorite writers?

Aimee:  I've been a huge Nora Roberts fan for (um ... ) decades. She's an easy answer because she's just amazingly prolific so I always have something new to read from her. I prefer her JD Robb series over everything. I have more of her books than any other writer out there, though I also love Sharon McCrumb who writes historicals based in North Carolina. Oddly, I'm not a historical romance lover, but I do like Sharon's work a lot.

Danielle:  When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

Aimee:  I have a story unlike most. I really didn't want to be a writer ... not a 'since I was 6' kinda of thing. Honestly, one day, I had the idea I'd write a story and I did. 111,000 words (approximately 450 pages) and got addicated. It's like that Pringles commercial where they say you can't eat just one. I couldn't write just one story. Now, probably like the very first batch of Pringles ... it sucked, thus it went into file 13 and I wrote another and another and I'm about to finish number 11.

Danielle:  What one event or person has impacted your writing the most?

Aimee:  Finding the writing site Scribophile. That's where I learned there's more to writing than just putting words to paper. I learned so much about writing from other writers, from reading, from critiquing, from finding my own style and from getting praise and constructive feedback. Because I'm an incredibly competitive person, I pushed myself to get better and better and better. To refine and refine. I did, too. :)

Danielle:  How long did it take to write Hide & Seek? Your first novel?

Aimee:  My first novel took 60 days. Little White Lies - my first published one took 45 days. Hide & Seek took just over 45 days. So, to some, that would be 'not long.'

Danielle:  What is the hardest part of writing a story? The easiest?

Aimee:  The middle. I can get to page 100 without a problem. Pages 100-300 are often very hard. Which way will the story go? What paths will the characters follow. What problems will need to be tied-up at the end. The end FLIES. I mean, i can write 15,000 words of 'the end' when I know how it will end (and I don't always) in a day or two. Literally, that's the best.

Danielle:  Are you a pantster or a plotter (meaning do you let the writing just flow where it will or do you follow an outline)?

Aimee:  Pantser 100%. :) I have never outlined. I often know the characters, the main conflict and what I *want* to happen, but I let the story tell itself.

Danielle:  Do you have a writing ritual? Favorite music you listen to whilst writing?

Aimee:  I don't. I write wherever, whenever. With TV on, without. With radio on. Without. With family all around me being annoying and without. I'm must faster without all that, but I'll take whatever time I can.

Danielle:  Have you been a long time fan of Greek mythology or was the Zeus' paradox theme the result of research?

Aimee:  The paradox was an accident. I was looking for something else and came upon the Fox's side. One more click via Wikipedia and I realized it was an awesome plot for romance.

Danielle:  Hide & Seek is the first in the Games of Zeus series. What can we expect in the future of the Games of Zeus? 

Aimee:  Oh, there's more. ;) Book 2 is called Silent Echoes and it's Ian and Taylor's story. Nope, Ian and Emma are not a pair (they are too much like brother and sister) and in book two, I took Zeus' cheating heart (he was clearly not monogamous) and put them into a very, very dangerous and deadly love triangle. Not just one that anyone could deal with. Oh, no. This one's even more complex that Hide & Seek. But in the end, as anyone who knows me knows ... there will be a happy ending..

So needless to say, I am super crazy stoked that there's more to come from Aimee Laine's Games of Zeus.  Once you read Hide & Seek, you will feel just like me about it ... yup, just wait and see!  So if, you just can't wait another second to read it, you can buy Hide & Seek by clicking here.  Otherwise, if you'd like to try and win a copy fill out the Rafflecopter form below (if you can't see it click here).

Friday, March 23, 2012

Review: Bitten by Kelley Armstrong

by Kelley Armstrong

Amazon Description:
Living in Toronto for a year, Elena is leading the normal life she has always dreamed of, including a stable job as a journalist and a nice apartment shared with her boyfriend. As the lone female werewolf in existence, only her secret midnight prowls and her occasional inhuman cravings set her apart. Just one year ago, life was very different. Adopted by the Pack when bitten, Elena had spent years struggling with her resentment at having her life stolen away. Torn between two worlds, and overwhelmed by the new passions coursing through her body, her only option for control was to deny her awakening needs and escape.

But now the Pack has called Elena home to help them fight an alliance of renegade werewolves who are bent on exposing and annihilating the Pack. And although Elena is obliged to rejoin her "family," she vows not to be swept up in Pack life again, no matter how natural it might feel. She has made her choice. Trouble is, she's increasingly uncertain if it's the right one.

An erotically charged thriller, Bitten will awaken the voracious appetite of every reader, as the age-old battle between man and beast, between human and inhuman forces, comes to a head in one small town and within one woman's body.

Genre:  Paranormal Romance (yup, pretty steamy!)

Rating:  *  *  *  *  *

My Review:

This is my second reading of Bitten (actually this time I listened to it through an Audible download) and I loved it every bit as much as the first time I read it this time last year.  I used to reread books all the time before I got a Kindle, but anymore there's so many new books (thanks Indie authors!!! Yay!) to try that it seems that I don't have the time to revisit old favorites.  Participating in the Women of the Otherworld Challenge hosted by Moonlight Gleam's Bookshelf has given me a chance to do so.

So, onto the reviewing...

I easily connected with Elena. Here she is struggling with the whole werewolf thing. She's certain that her happiness is dependent on her being as human as possible, hating the other part of her, the wolf that was forced upon her. She does grow to accept and even esteem this part of her ... however, she goes kicking and screaming all along the way through this self-discovery. Tee hee hee. Elena is a stubborn women, a kindred spirit to myself (being a wolf would totally rock, but I'd be pretty pissed too about the lack of decision input).

Then there's Clay. Oh, Clay. His crazy love and single minded devotion to Elena is really romantic. Yes, he behaves like a complete idiot much of the time, but he too matures and learns how to express his love selflessly. Ahhh. Sigh. Ahhh. Good... no, perfect... romance! Yay!

Who couldn't love Jeremy, who patience and kindness to Elena is totally endearing? I hope future books will include a romantic development for him.

The plot was also chopped full of mystery and action, lots of twists and turns to keep a gal satisfied. Elena is brave throughout the entire mess, even though we see her vulnerability clearly, making her all the more likable. Courage despite fear is one of my favorite attributes in a heroine.

I'm eager to read the next book and am having a hard time waiting until April when we a slated to read it for the challenge. This may be my favorite challenge I do this year!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Review: Need by Carrie Jones

by Carrie Jones
Goodreads Description:
Zara White suspects there's a freaky guy semi-stalking her. She's also obsessed with phobias. And it's true, she hasn't exactly been herself since her stepfather died. But exiling her to shivery Maine to live with her grandmother? That seems a bit extreme. The move is supposed to help her stay sane...but Zara's pretty sure her mom just can't deal with her right now.

She couldn't be more wrong. Turns out the semi-stalker is not a figment of Zara's overactive imagination. In fact, he's still following her, leaving behind an eerie trail of gold dust. There's something not right - not human - in this sleepy Maine town, and all signs point to Zara.

In this creepy, compelling breakout novel, Carrie Jones delivers romance, suspense, and a creature you never thought you'd have to fear.

Genre:  YA Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Romance
Rating:  *  *  *  *  *
My Review:
Alright.... it's use your imagination time here...  See me doing cartwheels?  See me jumping up and down excitedly and doing a little happy dance?  You should because that's how I feel.  I love, love, love this book!  And the 4th book of this series is set to come out in May!  Yay, no waiting for Danielle.  So what makes this book so great?  Well, let me tell you...

First I loved the writing style.  Need is written in the first-person pov of Zara.  The wording is simple, crisp and clear, but not dumbed-down.  Zara's pain is raw and palatable.  Jones explains it succinctly yet with depth.  Also, I loved how close Zara and her step-father were before his death.  Their back story was beautiful and gave Zara dimension.  I liked all the characters; Zara's friends and grandma each had unique personalities that fit well within the story.  Issie is my favorite as she is bouncy and quirky (maybe, just maybe, just like me).  The supernatural elements were fabulous, but I won't spoil or even hint ;)  The plot was fun, full of action and mystery.

On the down side, I was expecting a bit more scary/creepy elements as the book was marketed as such.  I also felt that some characters could have been developed a bit better, however with first-person pov there is a limit to what can be done with secondary characters.  

Overall everything for which a gal like me could ask.  Yup.  Finished it with a happy sigh.  There's still enough dangling that makes me want to pick up the next book, but not so much that the ending was dissatisfying.

Cover Art:
So, so pretty!  I must have a thing about gold glitter on book covers (see my gushings over the Heven & Hell series).  I guess my kids should be thankful that gold glitter hasn't made it's way into my make-up arsenal.

Review: Between by Cambria Hebert

Expected publication:
April 20, 2012

I grew up in a comfortable house with two parents and a white-picket fence. My brother, Sam, and I used to play with sticks in the backyard and pretend they were swords. There were always cookies on the table and milk in the fridge. Then, one day, things changed. 

Sam changed. 

Life was never the same again. Sam left. My parents abandoned him when he needed them most, and I was left to survive in a house that was merely a shell of what it used to be. Mom cried all the time and Dad expected me to fill the void my brother left behind. But mostly, all we did was pretend. We pretended that things weren’t messed up. We pretended that Sam never existed. 

Until I changed, too. 

Now, everything’s a mess and I’m so confused. It’s like there are two different people trapped inside one body—my body—and one of them wants out. I do things. Bad things and I don’t know how to stop. I’m not sure I want to. The only way I can be normal again is if I find Sam. He’ll know what to do. 

He has too.

Genre:  YA Paranormal
Rating:  *  *  *  *

My Review:
This is a short story that fits between the first book in the series and it's much anticipate sequel, Charade.  If you haven't read the prequel, Before, or book 1, Masquerade.  You really should head straight over Smashwords and get them (click on the their titles for the link); they are sooo worth the read!!!  Crazy fun and unique; I gave them each 5 stars.  See my reviews here and here.  Currently (3-22-12) Before is free and Masquerade is $2.99.  Woo hoo!!!  I love affordable reading!

Sooo.....  onto Between....

In Between we get to know of Sam's younger brother's experiences between the time Sam was forced to leave and when Logan catch's up with Sam.  The events that unfold are engaging and heartbreaking as Logan faces the same rejection Sam experienced.  The story is a teaser for book 2 thus it crescendos into a tantalizing revelation leaving us anxious to get our hands on Charade.

I love Logan and look forward to his increasing role in this series.  Cambria Hebert does an exceptional job developing both story line and character in so few words. 

Read this series in order.  There's a lot of surprises and mystery that would be ruined otherwise.

Cover Art;
I cannot gush enough about the covers to this series!!!  Captivating!  And I am a huge fan of (and, yes a big dork about) themes being carried from one book cover to the next in a series.  Between's cover doesn't disappoint.  Being Logan's story, it's more masculine, but elements from the first 2 covers are utilized to bring that unity I love.  Look close at this cover.  There's a big hint there you don't want to miss.  I LOVE that!!!!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Cover Reveal: Shadowborn by Jocelyn Adams

It's cover reveal time!
And this one does an amazing job of using shadow and light to give us a mysterious and exciting peek into the 2nd book of the Lila Gray series.  I plan to have book 1, The Glass Man, read and reviewed for you before this one hits the market this October.  
See below for all the juicy details!!!

Release Date: October 1, 2012

Back of the Book:

Why me? 

That’s the question Lila Gray asks every time yet another bad guy tries to destroy the earth, and she learns she’s the only one who can stop it. Once again, something’s on the prowl, leaving hundreds of comatose, soulless victims in its wake.

Couldn’t the deadliest assassins of the Otherworld go after someone else instead of the brand new Queen of the Seelie? One who still hasn’t adapted to her new role. 

Lila would ask Liam Kane, King of the Unseelie, for advice, but something’s off with him, too. He’s holding back. In some way. About some thing. In fact, he refuses to tell her what’s going on.

The truth holds Lila back from the greatness of her role—the people she was born to lead—the man who she desperately loves—and the solution to the latest war raging around her.

To find the answers, she’ll need to fight through her own darkness and embark on a journey through her psyche. 

If she doesn’t succeed, the Shadowborn will claim not only her world, but her soul.

Here's the skinny on book 1 of the series:

Lila Gray is just a human — at least that's her mantra when she accidentally topples a building or bends a paranoid local's gun into modern art. That she can sense and control the minds around her doesn't prove anything, either. Unwilling to put others at risk, she hides in the wilderness from the beautiful creature who hunts her, one who sees her as his ultimate prize.

Alone, the egocentric Glass Man can kill with a thought. Mated with Lila, he's a supernatural weapon prepared to annihilate the humans he loathes.

Caught in the Glass Man's latest scheme, Lila is plunged into a hidden fae realm, faced with a secret birthright and a forbidden romance.

With the Glass Man threatening everyone she loves, can Lila accept who she is in time to end his bloody reign? Or will she succumb to his dark power and become the vehicle of destruction for the human race?

Friday, March 16, 2012

Review: Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers

I may be the luckiest girl in the world.  I keep getting to read these crazy good books!!!  Here is the review for Grave Mercy book 1 of the His Fair Assassin trilogy and it's a holy-cow, stay-up-reading-way-too-late, astounding read!  

Grave Mercy (His Fair Assassin #1)
by Robin LaFevers

Available April 3, 2012

Seventeen-year-old Ismae escapes a brutal arranged marriage into the sanctuary of the convent of assassins - for a price. Packed with love, magic, and deadly games of courtly intrigue and treason, book one of a fast-paced YA trilogy set in 15th-century France combines romance with captivating action.

Why be the sheep, when you can be the wolf? 

Seventeen-year-old Ismae escapes from the brutality of an arranged marriage into the sanctuary of the convent of St. Mortain, where the sisters still serve the gods of old. Here she learns that the god of Death Himself has blessed her with dangerous gifts—and a violent destiny. If she chooses to stay at the convent, she will be trained as an assassin and serve as a handmaiden to Death. To claim her new life, she must destroy the lives of others.

Ismae's most important assignment takes her straight into the high court of Brittany—where she finds herself woefully under prepared—not only for the deadly games of intrigue and treason, but for the impossible choices she must make. For how can she deliver Death’s vengeance upon a target who, against her will, has stolen her heart?

Genre:  YA* Historical/Paranormal

Rating:  *  *  *  *  * 
My Review:
I can hardly explain how much I loved this book!!! The book opens with:

"I bear a deep red stain that runs from my left shoulder down to my right hip, a trail left by the herbwitch's poison that my mother used to try to expel me from her womb. That I survived, according to the herbwitch, is no miracle but a sign I have been sired by the god of death himself."

If that doesn't give you chill bumps, I'm not sure we can continue to be friends. After this we are subject to a very scary and dark moment that had me concerned about where this book was going and did I want to go there with it. Luckily, it was worth the too-scary-for-Danielle moment and we are off on a whirlwind ride.

Ismae is a likable, well-developed protagonist and the book's central theme is her character growth and acceptance of who she is and what that really means.  From oppression to molding to self-discovery, Ismae blooms into an independent, strong individual.  Her transformation is beautiful and is threaded through action, mystery and conspiracy.

What more could a gal such as myself ask for???  How about an amazing setting?  Being a historical novel, I feared the inevitable information dump as the author tries to teach me European history.  Instead I got immersed in gowns of rich fabrics, tricky political intrigue, castles filled with secret passages and  countries at the brink of war.  The author has a rich vocabulary and does a perfect job of drawing us into the story.

I loved all the characters (Duval is much like Austen's Mr. Darcy -- yummy!!!),  I worried over who Ismae could and couldn't trust,  the plot is solid and kept me glued to my Kindle and the romance is warm-tingles worthy.

My very favorite quote of the book was:

“I comfort myself with the knowledge that if Duval ever feels smothered by me, it will be because I am holding a pillow over his face.”

The only thing I question about this book is if it should be marketed as a young adult book.  In 15th century Europe, a seventeen-year-old would certainly be an adult and Ismae acts accordingly.  It's certainly appropriate for the older YA reader (there's a few dark places) and there's no graphic violence or sex.  It just 
didn't "feel" like a YA book.  Nonetheless, I recommend this for anyone who loves magic, action, mystery, intrigue and romance!!! 

And... the next in the series has 2 of the fabulous characters from book 1 and I CANNOT wait!!!!  Yay!!!  I love a good book!

Cover Art:
Isn't this cover amazing!  It presents the perfect tone for what you will find inside!!!  I wanted to read this based on the cover alone!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Quote it Saturday: The Green Edition

For this special edition of "Quote It Saturday"  
I leave you with a few "green" quotes 
and wishes for a wonderful Saint Patrick's Day!!!

St. Patrick's Day is an enchanted time - 
a day to begin transforming winter's dreams into summer's magic.
 ~Adrienne Cook

May your blessings outnumber
The shamrocks that grow,
And may trouble avoid you
Wherever you go.
~Irish Blessing

What do you get when you cross poison ivy with a four-leaf clover? 
 A rash of good luck.
 ~Author Unknown

Special thanks to Quote Garden for these great quotes I found there!

Review: The Curse of Gremdon by Ciara Knight

Genre:  Fantasy/Paranormal Romance
(more like a crazy mix of traditional fantasy, romance, zombie & dystopian)

Rating:  *  *  *  *  *

Goodreads Description:
In a world where marriage is forbidden, sex is only granted to male warriors, and the outer realm is full of murderous creatures, Arianna fights to protect the life of her only living relative, her brother. 

Tardon, an elite warrior, is granted anything he desires by the Elders, but finds little joy in the voluptuous women presented to him. Born for the bloodlust found only in battle, complicated emotions emerge when he discovers his equal in the alluring warrior, Arianna. 

Charged by the Elders with saving the castle from attack, Tardon and Arianna risk the curse when they traverse the vast outer realm to retrieve serum from the Tree of Life. If successful, the Elders have promised Tardon the right to marry and Arianna the cure for her brother’s death fever. Will their love carry them through or will the discovery of a great deception be their ultimate demise? 

My Review:
Amazing!  Amazing.  A-maz-ing.  Holy cow this book was good!!!  Alrighty, you probably want more of an explanation than that, huh?

So let me expound...
First, we find ourselves in an almost historical setting of castles and warriors.  Two warriors clash... a contest, thankfully, not a battle.  One is Arianna.  Yes, a woman, who's intense determination and focus has enabled her to rise in the ranks of warriors as the only woman Elite Warrior.  She fights against Tardon, who is, simply put, the best.  What we find out about these two combatants almost immediately is that they have deep, unspoken and forbidden, feelings for one another. ***chillbumps!!!***

I love how tough Arianna is, both physically and mentally.  Not so much so that she's hard to connect with, but in a way I can admire.  I love a kick-butt heroine!  She's also deeply loyal to both her people and her family and is brave despite her well-founded fears.  Tardon is a rock.  He's honorable, steady and deep and sees Arianna for the incredible woman she is.  He's an easy guy to fall for.

This book is chalk full of action.  Not wasting time setting things up before grasping you by the shirt and pulling you into the fray.  At every twist and turn, you wonder how the heck they are going to get out of each predicament.  It's hard to tell who to trust and what the truth really is.  

There's so much more I want to say about this book, but I don't do spoilers and I won't ruin this ride for you.  Just know this... castles/warriors + zombies + mysterious magic = A M A Z I N G !!! So go get this book now!!!

Cover Art:
I absolutely love this cover!!!  There's so much mystery and the pendant is gorgeous (and an important element in the story).  The atmosphere is dark and looks dangerous, which is where we find ourselves as we start this book.  Amazing!!!

Yay!!! Lunar Love Giveaway Winner!!! Yay!!!

And the winner is....

(This is an awesome blog; you should check it out!!!)

Thanks, everyone, for participating in the Lunar Love Hop!!!
A big thanks to our lovely hostesses...


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Random Thoughts: Why I Review/Blog

The other morning I got up, crawled out of bed (I'd been sick and my wonderful husband took care of getting the kids to school) and started reading email.  I follow (mostly via email) many other book-related blogs and came across the following post from author J. A. Belfield on her publisher's site:

Not that many readers write reviews. Some don’t simply because they read just to read, and it probably would never even occur to them to write one.

Which is fine.

I’ve been there—I’ve been the reader who didn’t even know there were places to expose one’s thoughts before Amazon sent me an email asking for my opinion on a book I’d bought.

There’s probably a tonne of reasons for a reader not writing a review.

One of the biggest ones I’ve found, however, is that they just don’t know what to write.

I’ve even had it said to me before now.

The majority of people I personally know—as in have actual contact with in the flesh for more than a ‘oooh, she looks familiar’ whilst passing on opposing sides of the street—have not written a review for my works that they’ve read. I suppose one could argue that I never ask. But those who approach the subject to me often say something along the lines of: ‘I’d write you a review but I’m not very good at them.’ or ‘I’d write you a review but I never know what to put’.

I’ve also had people (seriously) concerned over the quality of their review, or about the depth with which they write it not being up to par, or that I might judge them as a writer—not for its content but for their grammar.

I’m not kidding.

For all of those out there who shy away simply because they fear ‘The Review’, don’t. Please don’t.

As a reader, you have the right to express your opinion, in whatever way, shape or form you choose to. Goodness, my own reviews often come with a pre-warning of: ‘Random Musings Alert’ and way too many times I’ve walked away 100% certain my reviews make sense to nobody but me. Whether you want to rate a book 3* with a small comment of ‘I really quite enjoyed this one’, or feel the urge to spew out a biga$ 5* ramble (like I’ve been known to do on occasion *cough*) that might sound like it’s full of gibberish when you read it back but (trust me) someone else will always understand your spilled thoughts and appreciate the point of view.

It doesn’t matter.

You can’t go wrong.

Because there is no right or wrong to writing a review.

So long as what ends up in the review is an honest thought—or thoughts, if you’re feeling adventurous—it DOES NOT MATTER what it says or how complex your sentences are or if the punctuation is in the right place or … need I go on?

Just be true. That’s all it takes.

So … all those who shy away from reviews … have I changed your mind yet?

This article got me thinking about what started me reviewing and ultimately blogging.  Actually, I left a comment on this post and found myself wanting to launch into full explanation of the hows and whys.  I decided that comment blocks were not the forum for sharing such extensive ramblings and decided instead to share here with you.  Aren't you the lucky ones?  Tee hee hee.

So how and why?  The how can be answered in one word: Goodreads.  A friend suggested Goodreads to help me organize my books: which books I've read in a series, which books came next in a series, which books I wanted to read in the future.  To an organization addict as myself, this was pure heaven (think cartwheels) and for the longest time, that's all I did with it.  I had a few friends on there (it's a bit like facebook for the bibliophile) all of whom I knew outside the cyber-world.  In time I started participating in group discussions, writing more extensive reviews and making new friends.

The immense amount of joy these developments brought to my life cannot be overstated.  I was  having so much fun.  I got to dialogue with others who were as nutty about books as myself!!!  It's really nice to know that you aren't the only one who could have an hour long conversation about imaginary people (well, besides those who are institutionalized).

As many of these great new friends were bloggers, I (with much insecurity) decided to try it too.  And that joy I'd been experiencing just grew!!!  I love blogging, who knew?!?  I love when I get to share a new author with someone!  I love the community of friendly and supportive bloggers and blog readers!!!

So now I blog.  I find myself wanting to review everything and anything.  I restrain such impulses, reminding myself that it is unlikely that you would care to know which hair color rocks and which sucks doesn't.  Let's just say one company promised me beautiful dark purple, almost black hair.  They lied.  I was a very pretty red head for that month.

So do you review/blog?  Why or why not?

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Giveaway: My Very First Blog Hop!! Lunar Love

I'm crazy excited to participate in my first ever blog hop!!!

So first, thanks so much for stopping by!  Yay!!!  So glad you came!
And special thanks to I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and Bookworm Lisa for hosting this hop!!!

Here's what I've got in store...
The books you can chose from are (click on the titles for descriptions):

I love, love, love Book 1 for each of these series!  I haven't read Book 2 yet, but wanted to offer them up in case you have already read Book 1.


This is an international giveaway with one winner of any one of the following e-books from Smashwords (winners choice).
Just fill out the rafflecopter form below (click on this post's title if the form isn't there).
Easy, peasy, right?

Then make sure to hop by all the other Lunar Love Blogs.  See the list here.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Review: Destiny Binds by Tammy Blackwell

***Look for this title in my Lunar Love Giveaway
March 8th through 13th 2012***

Destiny Binds
(Timber Wolves Trilogy Book #1)
by Tammy Blackwell

Scout Donovan is a girl who believes in rules, logic, and her lifelong love of Charlie Hagan. Alex Cole believes in destiny, magic, and Scout. When Alex introduces Scout to the world of Shifters, men who change into wolves or coyotes during the full moon and Seers, women who can see your most private thoughts and emotions with a mere touch, the knowledge changes everything and everyone Scout thought she knew.

Genre:  YA Fantasy
Rating:  *  *  *  *  *

My Review:

I read this back in July and this is what I wrote on my Goodreads review (pre-blogging days):

This was either a free or $.99 Kindle download and I really wasn't expecting much. Instead I am completely and blown away!!! As romantic as Twilight... enough said. There's nothing about the next book in this series that I have found and I am dying. Please Tammy, tell us more of Scout and Alex!!!!!

The good news is that second book is out and currently sitting on my Kindle!  Yay!!!!!  I've got some books I have commitments to first, but I hope to read it soon!  Woo hoo!!!

Cover Art:
This is a new design than what I have.  Great improvement.  It's an AMAZING cover!  I love the subtle reflection of "Destiny" that flows with the shadows and fog.  The wolf, silhouetted trees and moonlight streaming through is perfect.  This is definitely one I'd grab off a bookstore shelf!

Review: Prince of Wolves by Quinn Loftis

***Look for this title in my Lunar Love Giveaway
March 8th through 13th 2012***

Prince of Wolves
(The Grey Wolves #1)
by Quinn Loftis

Jacque Pierce was just an ordinary 17 year old girl getting ready to start her senior year in high school in Coldspring, Texas. When a mysterious foreign exchange student from Romania moves in across the street, Jacque and her two best friends, Sally and Jen, don't realize the last two weeks of their summer was going to get a lot more interesting. From the moment Jacque sets eyes on Fane she feels an instant connection, a pull like a moth to a flame. Little does she know that the flame she is drawn to is actually a Canis Lupus, werewolf, and she just happens to be his mate; the other half of his soul. The problem is Fane is not the only wolf in Coldspring, Texas. Just as Fane and Jacque are getting to know each other, another wolf steps out to try and claim Jacque as his mate. Fane will now have to fight for the right to complete the mating bond, something that is his right by birth but is being denied him by a crazed Alpha. Will the love Fane has for Jacque be enough to give him the strength to defeat his enemy, will Jacque accept that she is Fane's mate and complete the bond between them?

Genre:  YA Fantasy
Rating:  *  *  *  *

My Review:
An amazing, romantic, fun read!!! I had a hard time putting it down and pretty much finished it in 3 sittings. The only reason I didn't give this one 5 stars is it desperately needs the guidance of a good editor. Typos and grammar issues aside, the author needs help with the teen dialog. Honestly, I read the 1st page and thought "How am I going to finish this one?" But after 3 more pages, I couldn't give up on the characters. What a fabulous story and I cannot wait to read more of the Grey Wolves!

Cover Art:
I love covers that exude mystery!  This is such a pretty cover.  The close-up, off center composition gives the cover character, the tattoo like wisps add visual texture and the use of a complementary, yet subtle color scheme brings the piece together.  It's wonderfully done!

Review: The Creative Call by Janice Elsheimer

The Creative Call:
An Artist's Response to the Way of the Spirit
by Janice Elsheimer
Perhaps you're a "closet writer" who's been scribbling in journals for years. Maybe you once had a passion for playing the piano or violin--a passion that is still flickering somewhere deep inside you. You may have a knack for photography, drawing, gardening, cooking, or some other creative gift. Or you may long to express yourself creatively, but have yet to discover your unique talents.

Your creativity was meant be used. Whether you are an artist who has already identified your gifts or you believe that you have artistic talent that has never been developed, working through this book will help you grow closer to becoming the person God has designed you to be.



Genre:  Non-Fiction, Spiritual
Rating:    *  *  *  *  *

My Review:
This is an amazing book!!!  So many people have moved away from or never discovered their creative outlet (and yes, we ALL have creativity running through our veins) and need direction and inspiration to get back to it.  This book is about reconnecting with that creative self and connecting with the Great Creator in the process.  When I started reading this book, I had already started the process of reconnecting to my art, but I found so much in this book that spoke to my soul.  This is a must read for anyone who wishes to connect to God through that creative part of themselves.

While I'm talking art, I want to invite you to check out mine.  I'd love to hear what you think.  Just click on the link below.  Thanks!!!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Series Review: Stephanie Plum by Janet Evanovich

by Janet Evanovich

Genre:  Romantic Action/Adventure with Humor
Series Rating:   *  *  *  *  *

Book 1 Description:
Welcome to Trenton, New Jersey, home to wiseguys, average Joes, and Stephanie Plum, who sports a big attitude and even bigger money problems (since losing her job as a lingerie buyer for a department store). Stephanie needs cash--fast--but times are tough, and soon she's forced to turn to the last resort of the truly desperate: family.

Stephanie lands a gig at her sleazy cousin Vinnie's bail bonding company. She's got no experience. But that doesn't matter. Neither does the fact that the bail jumper in question is local vice cop Joe Morelli. From the time he first looked up her dress to the time he first got into her pants to the time Steph hit him with her father's Buick, M-o-r-e-l-l-i has spelled t-r-o-u-b-l-e. And now the hot guy is in hot water--wanted for murder.

Abject poverty is a great motivator for learning new skills, but being trained in the school of hard knocks by people like psycho prizefighter Benito Ramirez isn't. Still, if Stephanie can nab Morelli in a week, she'll make a cool ten grand. All she has to do is become an expert bounty hunter overnight--and keep herself from getting killed before she gets her man.

Series Review:
This isn't a completed series, but as I sucked down Explosive Eighteen last week, I just had to  dish about this series.  It's sooo freaking awesome!!!  If you haven't read this series yet, go get book 1, One for the Money, right now.  Go ahead, I'll wait.  ...Just come back, K?  'Cause it does get lonely without you.

So the first thing you'll notice, is the Stephanie Plum series is out of my usual genre of all things paranormal.  You'll find a great deal of the pnr/urban fantasy crowd loving them some Janet E.  I think it's because all the ridiculous situations into which Stephanie gets herself feels almost fantasy-like.  This isn't the silly, slap-stick stuff at which I tend to roll my eyes.  This is laugh out loud 'til tears leak out of your eyes and strangers are staring funny.  The cast of characters aren't the most well-rounded, but they are charismatic.  The two men in Stephanie's life are quite yummy and make for a perfect love triangle (Team Ranger anyone?).  These books are a fun, quick ride you do not want to miss.

Once you get started, there's plenty of Stephanie, Joe & Ranger to keep you entertained.  There's currently 18 books in the main series with a promise of a few more to come as well as 4 "between the novels" holiday themed books (skip these unless you are a BIG fan; Plum Spooky was the only one I really liked).  They've also made the first book into a movie, but it hasn't hit the dollar theater yet, so I haven't seen it (I'm cheap that way).  I've heard mixed reviews, but I want to judge for myself.  Here's the trailer...

Friday, March 2, 2012

Series Review: Strange Angels by Lili St. Crow

by Lili St. Crow (aka Lilith Saintcrow)
Genre:  YA Urban Fantasy
Series Rating:  *  *  *  *  *
(with grave concerns over the ending)
Book 1 Description:   
Dru Anderson has what her grandmother called "the touch." (Comes in handy when you're traveling from town to town with your dad, hunting ghosts, suckers, wulfen, and the occasional zombie.)
Then her dad turns up dead - but still walking - and Dru knows she's next. Even worse, she's got two guys hungry for her affections, and they're not about to let the fiercely independent Dru go it alone. Will Dru discover just how special she really is before coming face-to-fang with whatever - or whoever - is hunting her?
Books 2 through 5 descriptions can be found here (to avoid spoilers).

My Series Review:
This is a 5 book young adult series written by Lilith Saintcrow under the pen name Lili St. Crow.  I happened upon the first book a few years ago in the library.  I haven't read any of her other work.

The writing is amazing.  Dru's character is fantastic.  She's tough and yet vulnerable, dealing with her life the best she can.  She grows throughout the 5 books, but remains true to herself.  
The action is intense.  Right off the bat, Dru is attacked by a zombie; but not just any zombie... someone had turned her father, the only family she had, into a zombie and sent him to kill her.  Pretty intense, huh?  Though there is romance (a well-done love triangle), the action is what carries this series.   Each book is filled with nail-biting suspense and avid action.  Definitely movie material.  The third book, Jealousy, does suffer a slow down for the 2/3 of the book, but the explosive ending is worth the slower pace of the rest of the book. 
The aforementioned love-triangle is between the mysterious, sexy Christophe and Graves who is loyal and tough.  Both of these guys and the rest of the cast are well-developed, dynamic  and dimensional.  I've remained team Christophe throughout the series, despite him being a jerk at moments.  Graves really does shine in book 5, Reckoning, but ultimately, couldn't win me over.
I've given this series a 5 star rating, but noted that I have grave concerns about the ending ... or non-ending as it sadly turns out.  Yup, the villain was indeed vanquished (with the realistic understanding another will eventually rise in his place), but that's as much resolution that the reader gets. This is the last book. What the heck?!? I'm horribly disappointed with the total lack of resolution. The love triangle that teases us throughout... UNRESOLVED! The new mystery of Drew's heritage on her father's side... UNRESOLVED! Ugh!!! Grrr!!!! Ugh!!!! The ending is fine for a middle-of-the-series book, but stinks as a series finale. 

I don't know what to think of this? Is this typical for this author? Did the publisher ax books 6 & 7? Anyone with any insight please take pity on me and explain what happened here. I'm good with some details left in the wind at the end of a series (Stiefvater's Wolves of Mercy Falls for example), but the level of unanswered questions in just unacceptable.

I'm hoping that a change of heart will occur and more books will be written.  This is an unfinished story as it stands.

So, should you read this series?  Yes!  It's too good to miss, even unfinished.

Cover Art:
I'm fairly indifferent on these covers.  I like that they fit one another, but the model seems too old to be Dru.  My favorite is Defiance; I like her hair pulled in a braid (very Dru) and the teal background.  Obviously the covers did their job, I picked book 1 up because the library had it displayed on top of a half shelf.