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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Happy Debut YA Book Birthdays!

We've got two titles appearing today from debut YA authors ~ it also happens to be my oldest daughter's 8th birthday today.  Happy birthday, kiddo!!

NOBODY BUT US by Kristin Halbrook

Bonnie and Clyde meets IF I STAY in this addictively heart-wrenching story of two desperate teenagers on the run from their pasts.

They’re young. They’re in love. They’re on the run.

Zoe wants to save Will as much as Will wants to save Zoe. When Will turns eighteen, they decide to run away together. But they never expected their escape to be so fraught with danger....

When the whole world is after you, sometimes it seems like you can’t run fast enough.

Nobody But Us, told in alternating perspectives from Will and Zoe, is an unflinching novel, in turns heartbreaking and hopeful, about survival, choices, and love...and how having love doesn’t always mean that you get a happy ending. Described as “beautiful, heartbreaking, and exhilarating” by Kody Keplinger, author of The DUFF, Nobody But Us will prove irresistible to fans of Nina Lacour, Jenny Han, and Sara Zarr.


In the darkest places, even love is deadly.

Sixteen-year-old Juliet Moreau has built a life for herself in London—working as a maid, attending church on Sundays, and trying not to think about the scandal that ruined her life. After all, no one ever proved the rumors about her father's gruesome experiments. But when she learns he is alive and continuing his work on a remote tropical island, she is determined to find out if the accusations are true.

Accompanied by her father's handsome young assistant, Montgomery, and an enigmatic castaway, Edward—both of whom she is deeply drawn to—Juliet travels to the island, only to discover the depths of her father's madness: He has experimented on animals so that they resemble, speak, and behave as humans. And worse, one of the creatures has turned violent and is killing the island's inhabitants. Torn between horror and scientific curiosity, Juliet knows she must end her father's dangerous experiments and escape her jungle prison before it's too late. Yet as the island falls into chaos, she discovers the extent of her father's genius—and madness—in her own blood.

Inspired by H. G. Wells's classic The Island of Dr. Moreau, The Madman's Daughter is a dark and breathless Gothic thriller about the secrets we'll do anything to know and the truths we'll go to any lengths to protect.

 Sixteen-year-old Rayna sees angels, and has the medication and weekly therapy sessions to prove it. Now, in remission, Rayna starts fresh at a new school, lands a new job, and desperately tries for normalcy. She ignores signs that she may be slipping into the world she has tried so hard to climb out of. But these days, it’s more than just hallucinations that keep Rayna up at night. Students are dying, and she may be the only one who can stop it. Can she keep her job, her sanity, and her friends from dying at the hands of angels she can't admit to seeing?

So, you think these books will end up on your TBR list?

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Happy Debut YA Book Birthday!!

The only debut YA novel I could find that was coming out this week is SLATED by Teri Terry (I kid you not).  This book has been out in the UK since last summer, but is making its US debut today.  And since it's been out elsewhere, you can see on Goodreads that it's getting fabulous reviews.

Kyla has been Slated—her memory and personality erased as punishment for committing a crime she can’t remember. The government has taught her how to walk and talk again, given her a new identity and a new family, and told her to be grateful for this second chance that she doesn’t deserve. It’s also her last chance—because they’ll be watching to make sure she plays by their rules.

As Kyla adjusts to her new life, she’s plagued by fear. Who is she, really? And if only criminals are slated, why are so many innocent people disappearing? Kyla is torn between the need to know more and her instinct for self-preservation. She knows a dangerous game is being played with her life, and she can’t let anyone see her make the wrong move . . . but who can she trust when everyone is a stranger?

Debut author Teri Terry has written a brilliantly compelling, original and thought-provoking novel about an uncomfortably plausible future.

So what say you, dystopian fans?  Will you be reading this one?

Saturday, January 19, 2013


It's here! I can finally share with you the cover of the fourth Soulkeepers novel, Soul Catcher.

Dane Michaels has been to Hell and back and isn't interested in repeating the experience. But as a human caught up in the Soulkeeper's world, his life isn't exactly his own. No one can explain why Dane was allowed through the gates of Eden, but it's changed everything. Now, the only one who can make him feel safe is Ethan, the telekinetic Soulkeeper with a dark past and a heart of gold.

When Malini asks Dane to be part of a mission to find the last Soulkeeper, Cheveyo, more than one team member thinks she's tempting Fate. But Malini suspects Fate has had a hand in Dane's life for some time and that he could be the key to unraveling Lucifer's latest plan of attack.

About The Cover
Adam Bedore of Anjin Design creates all of the covers for The Soulkeepers Series. Book four revolves around Dane, pictured here, and introduces Cheveyo, a Hopi indian boy and the last Soulkeeper on the list Dr. Silva conjured in book 3. Cheveyo is represented by the dream catcher and adobe wall behind Dane.  Fate, also known as Fatima, plays a role in the story.  You can see her shadow hanging from the red stone in the dream catcher. (Yes, she is represented as a spider. She is a master weaver after all!) And if you think there is something up with that shadow behind Dane, you are not mistaken.  There's more to him than meets the eye.

 About The Book
Soul Catcher is slated for a March release and is the fourth book in the bestselling Soulkeepers series.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Happy Book Birthday REAPER'S NOVICE

I have the good fortune of announcing another book birthday this week, this time from the beautiful and talented Cecilia Robert.

17- year- old Ana Maria Tei’s life has always been perfect: loving parents, good grades, and a future so bright it outshone the sun. But now words like “separation” and “divorce” are sending her world plummeting to hell. Determined to keep her family intact, Ana plans a family-bonding trip from Vienna to Tuscany. Except fate has other plans. Ana’s parents and siblings are killed in a car accident on their way to pick Ana up from school.

Enter Grim, aka Ernest. He promises to relinquish the four souls if Ana agrees to trade her soul for theirs and serve a lifetime as his novice. In order for Ana to graduate from her Reaper’s Novice station to a Soul Collector graduate, Grim puts her to test. To her horror, she finds out becoming a Reaper’s Novice didn’t happen by chance. It was preordained, and she is forced to make a choice: save her family’s souls or come to terms with who she really is and complete the task set for her.

To get your copy, just go to Amazon.  Wait - not convinced yet, how the video trailer?  Or what about an excerpt?

As soon as my bedroom door closes, Rolf swings me around and backs me up against the door, his entire length to mine. He slides his arm around my waist, pulling me closer. He leans down, pressing his lips on my forehead. “Your dad doesn’t trust me.” 
I slide my hands up his firm chest and slip them around his neck, tangling my fingers with the silky-soft hair curling on his collar. “I don’t think my dad trusts any boy in my room.”
He chuckles, his warm breath caressing the shell of my ear. “Good thing he doesn’t.” His voice is hoarse, tossing away any decent thoughts from my mind. “I’ve missed you.” My knees barely hold me up as his lips trail my jaw, in a slow torturous pace. His arms tighten around me, melding us together. Hiking to my toes, I push my body forward until all that surrounds me is his light sandalwood aftershave.
“Missed you—” His mouth covers mine, cutting me off. Every sound inside the flat fades. Everything in me veers forward, focusing on him, on his lips on mine, not caring that my parents could walk in on us, or my siblings down the hallway could barge in. His hands travel down the hem of my t-shirt, and under it, wrap around my waist and soon his fingertips whisper into my skin. And I’m burning. They hike farther up. Every nerve in my body narrows to his fingers. I’m sure if he stops, my body will shatter into millions of worthless pieces. And when they do move up to trace the outer line of my lace bra, my body trembles with the promise of combusting. A whimper bubbles up my throat, and I push myself further into him. If only I could get under his skin, then we could be one. He groans low as he pushes me against the door seeming as desperate as I am. I tighten my hold on him at the same time fumble awkwardly with his shirt searching for the path to his skin. As soon as my fingers touch his skin, his whole body trembles. 
He lifts his mouth from mine, then buries his face in the crook of my neck, breathing hard. I clutch him closer, tighter, my breath mirroring his.
“Kissing you has got to be the most pleasurable thing in the world, Ana.” His voice is still rough, his breath deliciously warm on the nape of my neck. I couldn’t agree more. I mean about kissing him.

Wow, steamy huh? Before you go, be sure to find Cecilia at these locations:
Cecilia Robert lives in Vienna with her two children, has an incurable obsession with books, TV and medieval architecture. When not working in her full time job, catching up with her two children, writing or reading, she can be found, knitting or crocheting, taking photos of old buildings. 

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Happy Book Birthday BROKEN!!

Today is the day -- the book birthday for my Oasis Sister, A.E. Rought and her debut YA novel, BROKEN.  You can't see me, but I'm doing cheerleader-style pikes over here, I'm so happy for her!  (And yes, those do hurt at my age.)
Here's the official synopsis:

Imagine a modern spin on Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein where a young couple’s undying love and the grief of a father pushed beyond sanity could spell the destruction of them all.

A string of suspicious deaths near a small Michigan town ends with a fall that claims the life of Emma Gentry’s boyfriend, Daniel. Emma is broken, a hollow shell mechanically moving through her days. She and Daniel had been made for each other, complete only when they were together. Now she restlessly wanders the town in the late Fall gloom, haunting the cemetary and its white-marbled tombs, feeling Daniel everywhere, his spectre in the moonlight and the fog.

When she encounters newcomer Alex Franks, only son of a renowned widowed surgeon, she’s intrigued despite herself. He’s an enigma, melting into shadows, preferring to keep to himself. But he is as drawn to her as she is to him. He is strangely…familiar. From the way he knows how to open her locker when it sticks, to the nickname she shared only with Daniel, even his hazel eyes with brown flecks are just like Daniel’s. The closer they become, though, the more something inside her screams there’s something very wrong with Alex Franks.

And when Emma stumbles across a grotesque and terrifying menagerie of mangled but living animals within the walls of the Franks’ estate, creatures she surely knows must have died from their injuries, she knows.

And since I've become a person of few words on Goodreads, here's my review ('cause yeah, being friends with an author has perks, like an e-ARC!!!):

Wow. This was creepy in all the right ways. Plus, Emma was a wonderful, believable character. Her family life felt very real (2 parents, both alive and caring though still PITAs). Alex was such a sweetheart I couldn't help but love him too. And the ending!! I won't ruin it for you, but you'll be flipping the pages as fast as you can.

And because you most definitely WANT to read this novel, A.E. is giving you a chance to win your own copy.  One lucky winner from either here or Writer's Ally will get their very own copy of BROKEN from A.E.'s personal stash.  How cool of her is that??

But why wait to see if you'll win, when you can get your copy right NOW on Amazon or Barnes & Noble?  Or, you can stalk, er follow, A.E. at these locations: blog  | website |  twitter  |  Facebook  |  Pinterest

  a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Guest Post: Tara Maya, author of Unfinished Song series

Today I’m excited to join the blog tour for Wing, the fifth book in Tara Maya’s The Unfinished Song series. Now, while I am not personally a fan of epic fantasy, I know that many of you are, and the Amazon reviews for this series look pretty great.  Today, Tara is going to tell you all about why she chose NOT to set her fantasy in a Euro-Medieval World.
WELCOME TO FAEARTH...where humans are trapped between the immortal fae and the minions of Death. But one woman and the warrior who loves her will defy every taboo to protect their people.
This is the fifth book in The Unfinished Song epic fantasy series. Haven’t read the other books yet? Come taste the world of Faearth... The first book is available right now for FREE.
The Unfinished Song (Book 1): Initiate 
The Unfinished Song (Book 2): Taboo 
The Unfinished Song (Book 3): Sacrifice 
The Unfinished Song (Book 4): Root

Three Reasons I Chose Not To Set My Fantasy in a Euro- Medieval World

Here’s a shameful secret: Back when I started my Unfinished Song fantasy, I wasn’t trying to be fresh, original or non-Western. In fact, I wanted to write a “classic” fantasy. I knew I wanted ac- tual pixies and faeries in it. I wanted it to be both epic and a fairytale—an epic faerie tale. I knew I wanted the magic to be based on dancing and color, and that the ability to dance the whole rainbow would be almost extinct in their world. Other than that, I just planned to include all the tropes of the genre. Young scion of farmers sets off on a quest, finds a magic doo-hickey, and turns out to be the only one with the power to save the world. The setting was cliché because I didn’t feel like investing the time in world-building for a mere “practice” story. My original heroine, Dindi, was a peasant girl; my original hero, Kavio, was a prince.

I wrote three chapters in this frame of mind, seat of the pants, no plan, no world-building, not really taking the story seriously.

Surprise! I stalled.

It turns out I love world-building. It’s one of the reasons I read and write fantasy. Without that in- vestment in a unique and gorgeous world, I just couldn’t find the enthusiasm I needed to write the story. I set it aside for a while.

What knocked sense into me? I don’t know. A fairy whispered in my ear that I needed to change the setting. It needed to be set in a time I had never seen a fantasy set before: with Neolithic rather than medieval technology. The Neolithic Era was a particular time period in human history, but it also re- fers to a stage of civilization, and I use it in the later sense. Neolithic, or “new stone age” technology means that the people primarily use flint and obsidian tipped arrows and spears. They don’t
have bronze or iron. They don’t have swords. They don’t have castles. They don’t have scrolls or books or libraries. They don’t have lamps or arches or sails. They aren’t cavemen, however. They have sophisticated pottery, weaving, rugs, sewing and dyes. They smelt gold. They don’t have kings or feudal lords or priests, but they do have the beginnings of a more caste-divided society and hier- archy. While I don’t know how this idea came to me, I do remember how it energized me. The whole story excited me again. The early time period worked for three reasons.

One, the main storyline was inspired by a Polynesian myth, so this was a tip of the hat to that non- European setting. Two, it fit my fancy that the events of The Unfinished Song were the “original” and “primordial” events which are the secret roots of all our fairy tales. We know that the story of Cinder- ella as recorded by the Brother’s Grimm was not the only or original story. What if it were a distorted version of something that happened during the Dreamtime of the human race, when all myths and fairytales were real? I don’t actually use the term Dreamtime in my story (which is from Aboriginal legend), but I drew on that concept in how I thought about the story.

Two, every culture around the world has gone through a stage of Neolithic level technology. Some cultures, like Asia and Europe and the Incas and Aztecs and great empires of West Africa, later moved on to more sophisticated technologies, involving iron and feudalism, but everyone at one time
used spears and swords.

Every place on earth has immense, mysterious monuments made from dragging big stones around. This meant that I could easily mix and match my cultural inspiration. I could use Hopi agriculture, Celtic pig-farming and musical traditions, Zulu warfare, West African Initiation ceremonies, and so on. For the hero and heroine’s people, I drew strongly on Hopi and Zuni cultures, which has led some readers and reviewers to think that the entire culture is based on Native American history. One reviewer expressed disappointment when horses turned up. That was actually a difficult choice for me, and sometimes I do wish I had left them horse-less. However, I included it because there are so many interesting horse-centered cultures in the world, and I wanted to explore that with one of the tribes.

Three, the excuse to research obscure and exotic Neolithic cultures ignited my enthusiasm for the story, and has kept me excited about it ever since. The biggest problem with the standard fantasy pseudo-medieval-pseudo-European setting is not that it is medieval or that it is European or even that it has been done before. It is because the writer doesn’t take the time to study real history (or “real” mythology) as a model, but simply bases their own world on worlds in other fantasy books. The result has much the same problem as cloning a clone, or xeroxing a xerox. The quality fades the more derivative your product is. The original research behind Kushiel’s Dart by Jacqueline Carey or The Hallowed Hunt by Lois McMaster Bujold, shines through, and those stories don’t come across as McClones of McFantasyLand at all.

I have a Master’s Degree in History, admittedly, so that’s a clue about how deeply I adore history. I adore research in musty old libraries and when I do internet research, it’s in JSTOR, not Wikipeadia. I’m a glutton for eight hundred page tomes on the kinship systems of Melanesian islanders. I also love anthropology, archeology, sociology, just about any –ology you can think of. I’m a nerd’s nerd, in the liberal art’s spectrum of the Geek Rainbow.

This is not to say that there weren’t challenges in leaving the beaten path. Do you know how many times I would have a character about to open a door, or knock on a door, or slam a door before I remembered that they don’t have doors! Oy. People! Invent hinges already! It’s also hard to give my hero a truly Cool Weapon of Power when they don’t have swords. But even challenges can create interesting opportunities. I gave a supporting character a Singing Bow, which can also be made
into a harp. This idea came from a historian who speculated that the first stringed instruments were actually bows that warriors plucked when they were sitting peacefully around the campfire, bored and (almost certainly) drunk.

There’s so much human history and so many different cultures to study for inspiration for fantasy which have yet to be mined. The real is so much more fantastic and bizarre than most of what is portrayed in fantasy and science fiction as exotic or alien. One of the reasons to read these genres is to stretch our imagination and our empathy. We shouldn’t shortchange ourselves by re-treading the same worn paths, but should be brave enough to follow history back along rarely explored by-ways for inspiration. 

To learn more about Tara and her Unfinished Song series, check out these links:
Tara's Blog