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Saturday, June 28, 2014

Giveaway & Review: Queen & Commander by Janine A. Southard

Title: Queen & Commander
Author: Janine A. Southard 
Publication: May 2014
Publisher: Janine A. Southard 
Source: Author/Publisher
Genre: Science Fiction, Young Adult
Audience: 15+

On a world where high school test scores determine your future, six students rebel. They’ll outrun society as fast as their questionably obtained spaceship will take them.

Rhiannon doesn’t technically cheat the Test. She’s smarter than the computers that administer it, and she uses that to her advantage. She emerges from Test Day with the most prestigious future career possible: Hive Queen.

Gwyn & Victor are madly in love, but their Test results will tear them apart. Good thing Rhiannon is Gwyn’s best friend. Rhiannon can fix this. Queens can do anything.

Gavin is the wild card. Raised off-planet, he can’t wait to leave again... and he’s heard of an empty ship in orbit. The Ceridwen’s Cauldron.

Both Luciano and Alan fit in the system. They don’t need to leave. Only their devotion to Rhiannon spurs them to join the Cauldron’s crew.

Spaceships. Blackmail. Anywhere but here.

My Thoughts: This is a story about friendship and loyalty. Rhiannon is a determined girl as are her friends. She is determined to be queen even though she is natural inclined toward perceiver. He need to be Queen was born out of her desire to be with others. The death of her mother was the driving force of this need. No one thought one could study for the test but Rhiannon found a way. 

This book has great character development. Time is spent getting to know each character a little and a basic understanding of their individual motivation for wanting to create/join the hive. During the course of the story many problems arise. As a result of these problems the hive's first mission could be their last. 

Author Bio:
Janine A. Southard writes and edits speculative fiction in between working on videogame projects. She’s attended more than the average number of universities, which she claims is a FEATURE. (“Oxford educated, but Californian at heart.”) She’s also lived and traveled in Europe, the United States, and Japan. Currently, she lives in Seattle with a husband (and a cat) and sings with a Celtic band.

Giveaway: This giveaway is for three (3) signed copies of both books in the Hive Queen Saga and one (1) ebook copy of both books in the Hive Queen Saga plus an unrelated novella. This giveaway is sponsored by the Author and/or Xpresso Book Tours. Please use the rafflecopter form below to enter. 
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Audio Review: Emily Windsnap and the Monster from the Deep by Liz Kessler

Title: Emily Windsnap and the Monster from the Deep 
Author: Liz Kessler
Narrator: Finty Williams
Publisher: Listening Library
Format: Unabridged Audio
Length: 4 hours 13 minutes
Publication: December 6, 2007
Source: Library
Genre: Fantasy, Middle Grade

An enchanting tale with a fabulous monster, engaging characters, plenty of mermaid magic, and a page-turning story, Liz Kessler's new middle-grade fantasy has all the charm and warmth of its predecessor, THE TAIL OF EMILY WINDSNAP.

Picture an island set in a glittering blue sea, sparkling with white sand and palm trees, a secret place where humans and merfolk live together and where a girl who grows a mermaid's tail when she enters the water is not considered a problem. To Emily Windsnap - half mermaid, half human - her new home is perfect. That is, until Emily ruins everything by waking a legendary sea monster known as the Kraken from its hundred-year sleep. As the Kraken rises from the deep, putting the future of the islanders in jeopardy, Emily makes a desperate attempt to save them. But how could she have dreamed that her best friend, Shona, would stop talking to her, or that Mandy Rushton, her old enemy from junior high, would turn up when least expected?

My Thoughts: Emily drags her best (and only) friend, Shona into a restricted cave in attempts to impress some of the mer girls. In the process Emily and Shona awaken the terrifying Kracken. This action drives the girls apart. Will Emily be able to defeat the Karcken on her own? 

In this second tale of Emily Windsnap Mandy, Emily's nemesis, and Emily's stories intertwine. Neither girl is anxious to encounter the other as they both feel the other has ruined her life. Emily struggles with friendships and jealousy all the while trying to adjust in new surroundings and getting use to having a father. Emily's curiosity could be the end of her new home as she may have crossed Neptune one to many times. 

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday #6

Expected Release: July 1, 2014

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane comes a chilling mystery—Prepmeets The Crucible

It’s senior year at St. Joan’s Academy, and school is a pressure cooker. College applications, the battle for valedictorian, deciphering boys’ texts: Through it all, Colleen Rowley and her friends are expected to keep it together. Until they can’t.

First it’s the school’s queen bee, Clara Rutherford, who suddenly falls into uncontrollable tics in the middle of class. Her mystery illness quickly spreads to her closest clique of friends, then more students and symptoms follow: seizures, hair loss, violent coughing fits. St. Joan’s buzzes with rumor; rumor blossoms into full-blown panic.

Soon the media descends on Danvers, Massachusetts, as everyone scrambles to find something, or someone, to blame. Pollution? Stress? Or are the girls faking? Only Colleen—who’s been reading The Crucible for extra credit—comes to realize what nobody else has: Danvers was once Salem Village, where another group of girls suffered from a similarly bizarre epidemic three centuries ago . . .

Inspired by true events—from seventeenth-century colonial life to the halls of a modern-day high school—Conversion casts a spell. With her signature wit and passion, New York Times bestselling author Katherine Howe delivers an exciting and suspenseful novel, a chilling mystery that raises the question, what’s really happening to the girls at St. Joan’s?

Expected Release: July 1, 2014
Kerana is being sent to Earth to begin her duty as an Eldurian. Hers are a perfect people, without flaw and without sin, never experiencing the fall of man. Created by God to shepherd His people on Earth, they remain in the shadows, unnoticed. Kerana looks human, speaks like them, and has been taught to act like them. Above all her mission is to serve the humans.

Arriving on Earth, Kerana meets Eli at school. He is an ordinary human, with a father suffering from alcoholism, and a past that threatens to ruin his life. A star scholarship lacrosse player, Eli has to forget his true passion and live in a shell that doesn’t let anyone in. Until he meets Kerana. They find themselves intertwined in a connection that neither can quite explain. When this connection puts the two of them in danger, they find comfort and protection from each other. When Eli discovers that there is more to Kerana than just her stunning looks and grace, the Eldurians and their home planet of Eden may not remain a secret for very long.

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Teaser Tuesday #3: The Murder Complex by Lindsay Cummings

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading

An action-packed, blood-soaked, futuristic debut thriller set in a world where the murder rate is higher than the birthrate. For fans of Moira Young’s Dust Lands series, La Femme Nikita, and the movie Hanna.

Meadow Woodson, a fifteen-year-old girl who has been trained by her father to fight, to kill, and to survive in any situation, lives with her family on a houseboat in Florida. The state is controlled by The Murder Complex, an organization that tracks the population with precision.

The plot starts to thicken when Meadow meets Zephyr James, who is—although he doesn’t know it—one of the MC’s programmed assassins. Is their meeting a coincidence? Destiny? Or part of a terrifying strategy? And will Zephyr keep Meadow from discovering the haunting truth about her family?

"Do it" she says through tears "I want to die. Do it. Please. We don't have a choice" 
"It'll be quick," i whisper. Then I drive the dagger right into her heart. 
p , The Murder Complex by Lindsay Cummings

Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
Share the title and author, too, so that other Teaser Tuesday participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Audio Review: The Silent Wife by A.S.A. Harrison

Title: The Silent Wife
Author: A.S.A. Harrison
Narrator: Karen White and Donald Corren
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Format: Unabridged Audio
Length: 8 hrs 57 mins
Publication: June 29, 2013
Source: Library
Genre: Psychological Thriller, Mystery

A chilling psychological thriller about a marriage, a way of life, and how far one woman will go to keep what is rightfully hers

Jodi and Todd are at a bad place in their marriage. Much is at stake, including the affluent life they lead in their beautiful waterfront condo in Chicago, as she, the killer, and he, the victim, rush haplessly toward the main event. He is a committed cheater. She lives and breathes denial. He exists in dual worlds. She likes to settle scores. He decides to play for keeps. She has nothing left to lose. Told in alternating voices, The Silent Wife is about a marriage in the throes of dissolution, a couple headed for catastrophe, concessions that can’t be made, and promises that won’t be kept. Expertly plotted and reminiscent of Gone Girl and These Things Hidden, The Silent Wife ensnares the reader from page one and does not let go.

My Thoughts: This story really made me think, what would I do in the same situation? Many times I found myself yelling at Jodi. As a mental health professional I felt that she should know how to respond to the situations she is faced with and not be in denial. At the same time I realize that I probably would have done the same thing. 

Todd is a self made man. He has worked hard to become the businessman that he is today. He is selfish yet he wants to do the right thing. I both loved and hated Todd. I loved him for wanting to do the right thing and hated him for treating Jodi as if she were nothing. In the end I wasn't sure as to who was actually responsible but I was pleasantly satisfied with how things ended. 

This is a multi-voiced unabridged audio production. The original work is appropriated for the audio medium. The narrators bring feeling and depth to the story. Each narrator clearly differentiated each character. Pace is well maintained throughout the production and plot flows with interruption. 

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday #5

Expected Release: June 24, 2014
Private investigator Cormoran Strike returns in a new mystery from Robert Galbraith, author of the #1 international bestseller The Cuckoo's Calling.

When novelist Owen Quine goes missing, his wife calls in private detective Cormoran Strike. At first, Mrs. Quine just thinks her husband has gone off by himself for a few days--as he has done before--and she wants Strike to find him and bring him home.

But as Strike investigates, it becomes clear that there is more to Quine's disappearance than his wife realizes. The novelist has just completed a manuscript featuring poisonous pen-portraits of almost everyone he knows. If the novel were to be published, it would ruin lives--meaning that there are a lot of people who might want him silenced.

When Quine is found brutally murdered under bizarre circumstances, it becomes a race against time to understand the motivation of a ruthless killer, a killer unlike any Strike has encountered before...

A compulsively readable crime novel with twists at every turn, THE SILKWORM is the second in the highly acclaimed series featuring Cormoran Strike and his determined young assistant, Robin Ellacott.

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Waiting On Wednesday #4

Expected Release: June 2014
If high school is all about social status, Indigo Blackwood has it made. Sure, her quirky mom owns an occult shop, and a nerd just won’t stop trying to be her friend, but Indie is a popular cheerleader with a football-star boyfriend and a social circle powerful enough to ruin everyone at school. Who wouldn’t want to be her?

Then a guy dies right before her eyes. And the dusty old family Bible her mom is freakishly possessive of is stolen. But it’s when a frustratingly sexy stranger named Bishop enters Indie’s world that she learns her destiny involves a lot more than pom-poms and parties. If she doesn’t get the Bible back, every witch on the planet will die. And that’s seriously bad news for Indie, because according to Bishop, she’s a witch too.

Suddenly forced into a centuries-old war between witches and sorcerers, Indie’s about to uncover the many dark truths about her life—and a future unlike any she ever imagined on top of the cheer pyramid.

Expected Release: June 2014
Welcome to Gardnerville.

A place where no one gets sick. And no one ever dies.

There’s a price to pay for paradise. Every fourth year, the strange power that fuels the town exacts its payment by infecting teens with deadly urges. In a normal year in Gardnerville, teens might stop talking to their best friends. In a fourth year, they’d kill them.

Four years ago, Skylar’s sister, Piper, was locked away after leading sixteen of her classmates to a watery grave. Since then, Skylar has lived in a numb haze, struggling to forget her past and dull the pain of losing her sister. But the secrets and memories Piper left behind keep taunting Skylar—whispering that the only way to get her sister back is to stop Gardnerville’s murderous cycle once and for all.

Expected Release: June 2014
The capital has fallen. The Darkling rules Ravka from his shadow throne.

Now the nation's fate rests with a broken Sun Summoner, a disgraced tracker, and the shattered remnants of a once-great magical army.

Deep in an ancient network of tunnels and caverns, a weakened Alina must submit to the dubious protection of the Apparat and the zealots who worship her as a Saint. Yet her plans lie elsewhere, with the hunt for the elusive firebird and the hope that an outlaw prince still survives.

Alina will have to forge new alliances and put aside old rivalries as she and Mal race to find the last of Morozova's amplifiers. But as she begins to unravel the Darkling's secrets, she reveals a past that will forever alter her understanding of the bond they share and the power she wields. The firebird is the one thing that stands between Ravka and destruction—and claiming it could cost Alina the very future she’s fighting for.

Expected Release: June 2014
Forgive us, Father, for we have sinned

Brooklyn Stevens sits in a pool of her own blood, tied up and gagged. No one outside of these dank basement walls knows she’s here. No one can hear her scream.
Sofia Flores knows she shouldn’t have gotten involved. When she befriended Riley, Grace, and Alexis on her first day at school, she admired them, with their perfect hair and their good-girl ways. They said they wanted to save Brooklyn. They wanted to help her. Sofia didn’t realize they believed Brooklyn was possessed.
Now, Riley and the girls are performing an exorcism on Brooklyn—but their idea of an exorcism is closer to torture than salvation. All Sofia wants is to get out of this house. But there is no way out. Sofia can’t go against the other girls . . . unless she wants to be next. . . .
In this chilling debut, Danielle Vega delivers blood-curdling suspense and terror on every page. By the shockingly twisted end, readers will be faced with the most haunting question of all: Is there evil in all of us?

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Teaser Tuesday #2: Letting Ana Go

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading

In the tradition of Go Ask Alice and Lucy in the Sky, a harrowing account of anorexia and addiction.

She was a good girl from a good family, with everything she could want or need. But below the surface, she felt like she could never be good enough. Like she could never live up to the expectations that surrounded her. Like she couldn’t do anything to make a change.

But there was one thing she could control completely: how much she ate. The less she ate, the better—stronger—she felt.

But it’s a dangerous game, and there is such a thing as going too far…

Her innermost thoughts and feelings are chronicled in the diary she left behind.
"Wednesday, October 17
Weight: 110

I hate myself right now.
Everything was going great today. Got up this morning and did a hard forty five-minute run. I weighed in a pound lighter than i was on Sunday, the ate an egg, a plum, and a spoonful of peanut butter for breakfast. At lunch I only had a salad, and then Mom grilled fish for dinner and i had a few pieces of broccoli. Then I was upstairs doing my homework and I smelled it: cookies."
 p 211, Letting Ana Go by Anonymous
Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
Share the title and author, too, so that other Teaser Tuesday participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Audio Review: Beauty Queens by Libba Bray

Title: Beauty Queens 
Author: Libba Bray
Narrator: Libba Bray
Publisher: Scholastic Audio
Format: Unabridged Audio
Length: 14 hrs 37 mins
Publication: May 24, 2011
Source: Library
Genre: Young Adult

The fifty contestants in the Miss Teen Dream pageant thought this was going to be a fun trip to the beach, where they could parade in their state-appropriate costumes and compete in front of the cameras. But sadly, their airplane had another idea, crashing on a desert island and leaving the survivors stranded with little food, little water, and practically no eyeliner.

What's a beauty queen to do? Continue to practice for the talent portion of the program - or wrestle snakes to the ground? Get a perfect tan - or learn to run wild? And what should happen when the sexy pirates show up?

Welcome to the heart of non-exfoliated darkness. Your tour guide? None other than Libba Bray, the hilarious, sensational, Printz Award-winning author of A Great and Terrible Beauty and Going Bovine. The result is a novel that will make you laugh, make you think, and make you never see beauty the same way again.

My Thoughts: I love, love, love this read. Libba Bray has created a funny and heart warming story of competition, friendship, and individual growth. Libba has capitalized on multiple stereotypes and debunked each one. The girls begin there journey as competitors in the Miss Teen Dream Pageant. The all have the singular goal of being crowned winner, each for different reasons, but there can only be one winner. I loved watching the characters survive, thrive and grow while stranded on the island. I loved how Libba addressed issues that teens are currently facing. In the end each girl realizes that she is more than just a pretty face. I look forward to more book by Libba Bray. 

This is a single voiced unabridged audio. Libba Bray narrated this audio. She does an excellent job with differentiating each character through tone, inflections, and accents. Her accents are well done. Libba's narration brings the story to life and made the audio entertaining. Pace is maintained throughout the production. 

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Audio Reivew: The Tail of Emily Windsnap by Liz Kessler

Title: The Tail of Emily Windsnap
Author: Liz Kessler
Narrator: Finty Williams
Publisher: Listening Library
Format: Unabridged Audio
Length: 4 hrs 38 mins
Publication: August 25, 2004
Source: Library
Genre: Fantasy, Middle Grade

For as long as she can remember, twelve-year-old Emily Windsnap has lived on a boat. And, oddly enough, for just as long, her mother has seemed anxious to keep her away from the water. But when Mom finally agrees to let her take swimming lessons, Emily makes a startling discovery - about her own identity, the mysterious father she's never met, and the thrilling possibilities and perils shimmering deep below the water's surface. With a sure sense of suspense and richly imaginative details, first-time author Liz Kessler lures us into a glorious undersea world where mermaids study shipwrecks at school and Neptune rules with an iron trident - an enchanting fantasy about family secrets, loyal friendship, and the convention-defying power of love.
My Thoughts: This story is both about Emily's tale and her tail. Emily has been begging her mother for years to let her have swimming lessons. They do live on a boat after all. Emily is drawn to the water and is a natural in the pool. But something happens to her legs after a time in the pool. This is the story of discovery, challenges, and love. Middle Graders will love this heart warming story. 

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Audio Review: The Host by Stephenie Meyer

Title: The Host
Author: Stephenie Meyer
Narrator: Kate Reading
Publisher: Hachette Audio
Format: Unabridged Audio
Length: 23 hrs 5 mins
Publication: May 6, 2008
Source: Library 
Genre: Science Fiction

Melanie Stryder refuses to fade away. The earth has been invaded by a species that take over the minds of human hosts while leaving their bodies intact. Wanderer, the invading "soul" who has been given Melanie's body, didn't expect to find its former tenant refusing to relinquish possession of her mind.

As Melanie fills Wanderer's thoughts with visions of Jared, a human who still lives in hiding, Wanderer begins to yearn for a man she's never met. Reluctant allies, Wanderer and Melanie set off to search for the man they both love.

Featuring one of the most unusual love triangles in literature, THE HOST is a riveting and unforgettable novel about the persistence of love and the essence of what it means to be human.

My Thoughts: This is one of my favorite novels. I have not seen the movie and read this long before a movie was even in the makings. Melanie and Wanda are two strong women and when wills like theirs share a body trouble is bound to happen. It was so easy for me to connect with both Melanie and Wanda. Their love/hate relationship is akin to sisters. By the end of the story it was easy to tell that they felt the bond as well. I know that 2 other books are in the works and I'm ready for the next book in the series. 

This is a single-voiced unabridged audio production performed by Kate reading. This was my first audio with Kate Reading as narrator. The original novel lends well to audio presentation. Each character is clearly differentiated. The narrator makes the characters more understandable and gives them life. Pace is well maintained throughout the productions and the plot flows without interruption. 

Waiting On Wednesday #3

Expected Release: June 2014
The fifth and final book in The Books of Elsewhere, the award-winning, New York Times bestselling, fan-favorite series--absolutely not to be missed.

Annabelle McMartin is gone for good, but something worse lurks just out of sight--watching, waiting, preparing to strike. Then a field trip to the local art museum reveals a shock. What Olive discovers will create a chain of events that propel her to discoveries she may not wish to uncover, involving Morton's vanished parents and the very deepest, darkest roots of Aldous McMartin's creepy painted world. In this fifth and final book, Olive must seek the full, complex story of Elsewhere, its magical origins, and its creator, and in so doing, face her own fears and limitations--and possibly the destruction of Elsewhere itself. How far will Olive go to save the people and home she loves? And what will be the final cost?

Expected Release: June 2014
Everyone has a lot to say about Alice Franklin, and it’s stopped mattering whether it’s true. The rumors started at a party when Alice supposedly had sex with two guys in one night. When school starts everyone almost forgets about Alice until one of those guys, super-popular Brandon, dies in a car wreck that was allegedly all Alice’s fault. Now the only friend she has is a boy who may be the only other person who knows the truth, but is too afraid to admit it. Told from the perspectives of popular girl Elaine, football star Josh, former outcast Kelsie, and shy genius Kurt, we see how everyone has a motive to bring – and keep – Alice down.

Expected Release: June 2014
An inspiring, real, and fresh young adult novel about how life can change in an instant by Chelsie Hill, one of the stars Sundance Channel's unscripted series Push Girls, based on her own life

Kara is a high school junior who's loving life. She's popular, has a great group of friends and an amazing boyfriend, and she's a shoe-in for homecoming queen. Even though her parents can't stop fighting and her ex-boyfriend can't seem to leave her alone, Kara won't let anything get in the way of her perfect year. It's Friday night, and Kara arrives at a party, upset after hearing her parents having another one of their awful fights, and sees another girl with her hands all over her boyfriend. Furious, Kara leaves to take a drive, and, as she's crossing an intersection, a car comes out of nowhere and slams into the driver's side of Kara's car. 

When Kara wakes up, she has no memory of the night before. Where is she? Why are her parents crying? And, most importantly -- why can't she feel her legs? As Kara is forced to adjust to her new life, where her friends aren't who they seemed to be and her once-adoring boyfriend is mysteriously absent, she starts to realize that what matters in life isn't what happens to you -- it's the choices you make and the people you love.

Co-written by "Push Girls" star Chelsie Hill, whose real life closely mirrors Kara's experience, this novel will open the eyes of readers everywhere who have never met someone who lives with paralysis.

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.