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Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween & Debut Book Birthday!

Happy Halloween!  Today, I'm headed to the corn maze with my DD's kindergarten class and tonight we'll be trick-or-treating.  I love costumes and candy and spooky decorations and am sad that it's almost over.

Tomorrow, though, I've got a big day planned on the blog -- it's the kick off of the Destined blog tour AND I'm #keepingOPENMINDS as part of Susan Kaye Quinn's launch of Open Minds.  So, rather than having three blog posts tomorrow, I thought we should celebrate the debut YA book birthdays today.

Hope your day is delightfully spooky and that these new debut YA reads are just the treat you were looking for today!

Touch (A Denazen Novel, #1) by Jus Accardo
When a strange boy tumbles down a river embankment and lands at her feet, seventeen-year-old adrenaline junkie Deznee Cross snatches the opportunity to piss off her father by bringing the mysterious hottie with ice blue eyes home. 

Except there's something off with Kale. He wears her shoes in the shower, is overly fascinated with things like DVDs and vases, and acts like she'll turn to dust if he touches her. It's not until Dez's father shows up, wielding a gun and knowing more about Kale than he should, that Dez realizes there's more to this boy--and her father's "law firm"--than she realized.

Kale has been a prisoner of Denazen Corporation--an organization devoted to collecting "special" kids known as Sixes and using them as weapons--his entire life. And, oh yeah, his touch? It kills. The two team up with a group of rogue Sixes hellbent on taking down Denazen before they're caught and her father discovers the biggest secret of all. A secret Dez has spent her life keeping safe.

A secret Kale will kill to protect.

Dark Inside by Jeyn Roberts
Since mankind began, civilizations have always fallen: the Romans, the Greeks, the Aztecs…Now it’s our turn. Huge earthquakes rock the world. Cities are destroyed. But something even more awful is happening. An ancient evil has been unleashed, turning everday people into hunters, killers, crazies.

Mason's mother is dying after a terrible car accident. As he endures a last vigil at her hospital bed, his school is bombed and razed to the ground, and everyone he knows is killed. Aries survives an earthquake aftershock on a bus, and thinks the worst is over when a mysterious stranger pulls her out of the wreckage, but she’s about to discover a world changed forever. Clementine, the only survivor of an emergency town hall meeting that descends into murderous chaos, is on the run from savage strangers who used to be her friends and neighbors. And Michael witnesses a brutal road rage incident that is made much worse by the arrival of the police--who gun down the guilty party and then turn on the bystanding crowd.

Where do you go for justice when even the lawmakers have turned bad? These four teens are on the same road in a world gone mad. Struggling to survive, clinging on to love and meaning wherever it can be found, this is a journey into the heart of darkness – but also a journey to find each other and a place of safety.

Playground by 50 Cent
Thirteen-year-old Butterball doesn't have much going for him. He's teased about his weight. He hates the Long Island suburb his mom moved them to so she could go to nursing school and start her life over. He wishes he still lived with his dad in New York City - where there's always something happening, even if his dad doesn't have much time for him. 

Still, that's not why he beat up Maurice on the playground. 

Now his school is forcing him to talk to some out-of-touch lady therapist, as though she could ever fix him - as though she could ever figure out the truth. No, Butterball's lips are sealed about what happened that day. But some tales can't help being told. And this is one of them. 

Inspired by 50 Cent's own adolescence, Playground is a hard-hitting and inspirational story of the redemption of a bully.

Interesting... any of these picks going on your TBR list?

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Spooky Short Story Contest + I'm the Judge!

Hi -- Just wanted to let you know about a spooky little short story contest going on over at Bookish Delights.  I'm the guest judge, and I REALLY want to read your BEST scary short stories, so please enter.

There are prizes for first, second and third places.  All three winners receive autographed Destined bookmarks, second place also receives a book valued up to $5, and first place receives a paranormal/horror YA book of your choice up to $10 USD.

So what are you waiting for?  Head over to Bookish Delights for more details on how to enter.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Happy Debut YA Book Birthday

ACK!  It's Tuesday and I forgot to do my book birthday post. *slaps own hand*  I use my weekend trip to the Bahamas as my excuse...
 But as it turns out, I think we only have one debut YA author this week ---

Crave by Melissa Darnell

Savannah Colbert has never known why she's so hated by the kids of the Clann. Nor can she deny her instinct to get close to Clann golden boy Tristan Coleman. Especially when she recovers from a strange illness and the attraction becomes nearly irresistible. It's as if he's a magnet, pulling her gaze, her thoughts, even her dreams. Her family has warned her to have nothing to do with him, or any members of the Clann. But when Tristan is suddenly everywhere she goes, Savannah fears she's destined to fail.

For years, Tristan has been forbidden to even speak to Savannah Colbert. Then Savannah disappears from school for a week and comes back…different, and suddenly he can't stay away. Boys seem intoxicated just from looking at her. His own family becomes stricter than ever. And Tristan has to fight his own urge to protect her, to be near her no matter the consequences….

Will you be picking this one up?

Monday, October 24, 2011

Halloween Guest Post with Lauren Hammond

Happy Monday, everyone.  Today, the lovely and talented Lauren Hammond is taking over my blog.  She's got some creepy Halloween-esk things to talk about, so I'll let her take it away!


Who's ready for Halloween?

Halloween just happens to be my favorite holiday...The one day of the year where you can dress up and be whoever you want, eat as much candy as you want, and watch every horror movie on the planet! (Of course you can watch horror movies anytime, but I think I'm ten times more terrified on All Hallow's Eve.)

Today's guest post is about my favorite scary story...And I'd have to say out of all of them, it has to be Bloody Mary. I'm sure most of you know the story behind Bloody Mary, but in case you don't I'm going to tell you.

Bloody Mary was the nickname of Mary Worth, a killer whose terrifying tale originated in British folklore. Apparently, there's even a tombstone in England that's connected to the legend of Bloody Mary. It's said that if go into any room with a mirror and shut off all the lights, then say Bloody Mary...Bloody Mary...Bloody Mary... three times that the ghost of Mary will appear and well, I'm sure you can assume what the outcome of the summoner would be.

I don't know about you, but I love anything dark and creepy. That said, I still can't muster up the courage to say her name three times alone in front of the mirror, in the dark. On Halloween, anything goes and you never know who might be lurking behind the looking-glass waiting for you.

If you're a fan of the dark side, check out my book, A Whisper To A Scream... I promise... It's to die for.

Happy Halloween!

BLURB: Sometimes love....can be deadly.



Twitter: @NovelistLauren

Ellory Graham detested high school. She relished the fact that she was a rebel. A wild, carefree, type of girl. She basked in the glory of being the type of girl who stood up to authority. Unfortunately for her, her upfront, honest and bitchy nature always managed to land her in some kind of trouble.

Adam Jacobs was everything Ellory was not. Not only was he beautiful, but he was smart, artistic, and sweet. To almost every girl he seemed like the total package- that all around perfect guy. But in a town were nothing particularly interesting happens, and gossip seems like the only fun thing to do, sometimes those perfections become flaws. And it doesn’t take long for Ellory to find out, even Adam has secrets.

But Adam’s secrets, are the kind of secrets people die for...

Where you can purchase:


Barnes and Noble :


Spooktacular Giveaway Hop

Hi everyone -- thanks for hopping by my blog today.  Halloween has got to me one of my favorite holidays.  I love the decorations and costumes.  And candy!  I wish I could give you all a peanut butter cup just for dropping by, but instead I'm offering up an autographed ARC of DESTINED and an author-made bookmark. 

(Ok, so it's my book.  And it's not exactly spooky.  But people dress up for Halloween like the Greek gods all the time, so in my mind, this totally works.)

To enter, fill out the form below.  And please be sure you follow the blog.  That's the only prerequisite.

Winner will be selected using

Once I contact the winner, you will have 48 hours to respond to my e-mail before I pick another winner.

Must be 13 years or older to enter.

 Even if you don't win, keep your eyes out for the DESTINED release -- coming November 17th!!  And after you enter here, be sure to hop by the other blogs who are participating.  

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Happy Debut YA Book Birthday!

Tuesday.  Time to get out your party hats and horns.  The debut YA book birthdays are happening!
Up this week are:

Virtuosity by Jessica Martinez
Now is not the time for Carmen to fall in love. And Jeremy is hands-down the wrong guy for her to fall for. He is infuriating, arrogant, and the only person who can stand in the way of Carmen getting the one thing she wants most: to win the prestigious Guarneri competition. Carmen’s whole life is violin, and until she met Jeremy, her whole focus was winning. But what if Jeremy isn’t just hot...what if Jeremy is better?
Carmen knows that kissing Jeremy can’t end well, but she just can’t stay away. Nobody else understands her—and riles her up—like he does. Still, she can’t trust him with her biggest secret: She is so desperate to win she takes antianxiety drugs to perform, and what started as an easy fix has become a hungry addiction. Carmen is sick of not feeling anything on stage and even more sick of always doing what she’s told, doing what’s expected.
Sometimes, being on top just means you have a long way to fall....

Dearly, Departed by Lia Habel

Love can never die.

Love conquers all, so they say. But can Cupid’s arrow pierce the hearts of the living and the dead—or rather, the undead? Can a proper young Victorian lady find true love in the arms of a dashing zombie? 

The year is 2195. The place is New Victoria—a high-tech nation modeled on the manners, mores, and fashions of an antique era. A teenager in high society, Nora Dearly is far more interested in military history and her country’s political unrest than in tea parties and debutante balls. But after her beloved parents die, Nora is left at the mercy of her domineering aunt, a social-climbing spendthrift who has squandered the family fortune and now plans to marry her niece off for money. For Nora, no fate could be more horrible—until she’s nearly kidnapped by an army of walking corpses. 

But fate is just getting started with Nora. Catapulted from her world of drawing-room civility, she’s suddenly gunning down ravenous zombies alongside mysterious black-clad commandos and confronting “The Laz,” a fatal virus that raises the dead—and hell along with them. Hardly ideal circumstances. Then Nora meets Bram Griswold, a young soldier who is brave, handsome, noble . . . and dead. But as is the case with the rest of his special undead unit, luck and modern science have enabled Bram to hold on to his mind, his manners, and his body parts. And when his bond of trust with Nora turns to tenderness, there’s no turning back. Eventually, they know, the disease will win, separating the star-crossed lovers forever. But until then, beating or not, their hearts will have what they desire.

In Dearly, Departed, romance meets walking-dead thriller, spawning a madly imaginative novel of rip-roaring adventure, spine-tingling suspense, and macabre comedy that forever redefines the concept of undying love.

Ok, and I know it's not a debut, but have you SEEN this cover?  OMG.  Love it!
Swear by Nina Malkin (sequel to Swoon)

Any of these going on your TBR list??

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Exciting News - DESTINED launch party!

I am SO EXCITED to get to tell you that DESTINED will be having an official launch party at Jane Doe in the Five Points area of Jacksonville from 6-8 p.m. on the evening on November 17th.  There will be wine and hor d'oeuvres.  And of course, lots of copies of DESTINED for me to sign (assuming you would want such a thing.)

So please MARK YOUR CALENDARS and make plans to join us at Jane Doe on Park Street.  (I promise you will love this new store!)

Friday, October 14, 2011

Review: Instructions for a Broken Heart by Kim Culbertson

I loved the premise of this novel, and I love travel (especially in Italy), so the premise of this story had me hooked from the get-go.

Three days before her drama club's trip to Italy, Jessa Gardner discovers her boyfriend in the costume barn with another girl. Jessa is left with a care package from her best friend titled "Top Twenty Reasons He's a Slimy Jerk Bastard," instructing her to do one un-Jessa-like thing each day of the trip. At turns hilarious and heartwrenching, Instructions for a Broken Heart paints a magical Italy in which Jessa learns she must figure out life-and romance-for herself.

The writing is wonderful and I got sucked into Jessa's world very quickly.  I loved all the details we got about the different Italian cities that Jessa's class traveled to.  As seen through Jessa's eyes, the Italian countryside has this almost magical glow that played with and impacted her moods.

While there were many times that I wanted to cry right along with Jessa (I mean, her ex keeps making out with the other girl, a/k/a"Boob Job" right in front of her after all, and she keeps following the instructions to the point of absurdity sometimes), the novel had many light moments too.  Jessa's drama club is balanced out by a companion class of rich kids who apparently came to Italy only for the fashion and ask inane questions all the time.

And Jessa isn't alone on the trip, interacting with many of her classmates in ways that enlightened her and that forced her to be a better person by the time it was over.  She also had a kick-butt best guy friend who watched out for her when she was hurting too bad to look after herself.  I thought he might end up as a potential love interest, but he stayed platonic, which was nice to see.  We don't have to have every boy-girl friendship develop into a love that lasts forever... (oh, who am I kidding -- I really like those stories).

The teachers on Jessa's trip are awesome too.  Great characters who play a meaningful role without being overbearing at all.  And they have the best One Rule ever: "don't be a jerk." We have a new credo in our family now because really, if you follow that one rule, you're pretty much going to stay out of trouble.

But really, the story is about Jessa. About how you have to mend a broken heart on your own. About how even "slimy jerk bastards" have their redeeming qualities, and the boyfriend-stealing vixens aren't as bad as you thought.  And how you have to keep your chin up if you're going to notice the good things just waiting for you to come along.  

A light and well-paced read, I give Instructions for a Broken Heart 3 out of 4 Greek Coins -- a URA* rating.
Fans of contemporary YA who enjoy reading a good emotional arc in their main characters will want to pick this one up.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Happy Debut YA Book Birthday

Tuesday = Release Party!! If you're a dance lover, this week's releases will have you tapping your toes. Let's celebrate with these debut YA authors:

Oct. 10th - 
Bunheads by Sophie Flack
On-stage beauty. Backstage drama.
As a dancer with the ultra-prestigious Manhattan Ballet Company, nineteen-year-old Hannah Ward juggles intense rehearsals, dazzling performances and complicated backstage relationships. Up until now, Hannah has happily devoted her entire life to ballet. 

But when she meets a handsome musician named Jacob, Hannah's universe begins to change, and she must decide if she wants to compete against the other "bunheads" in the company for a star soloist spot or strike out on her own in the real world. Does she dare give up the gilded confines of the ballet for the freedoms of everyday life?

Audition by Stasia Ward Kehoe

When high school junior Sara wins a coveted scholarship to study ballet, she must sacrifice everything for her new life as a professional dancer-in-training. Living in a strange city with a host family, she's deeply lonely-until she falls into the arms of Remington, a choreographer in his early twenties. At first, she loves being Rem's muse, but as she discovers a surprising passion for writing, she begins to question whether she's chosen the right path. Is Rem using her, or is it the other way around? And is dancing still her dream, or does she need something more? This debut novel in verse is as intense and romantic as it is eloquent.

Ashfall by Mike Mullin

Many visitors to Yellowstone National Park don't realize that the boiling hot springs and spraying geysers are caused by an underlying supervolcano. It has erupted three times in the last 2.1 million years, and it will erupt again, changing the Earth forever.

Fifteen-year-old Alex is home alone when the supervolcano erupts. His town collapses into a nightmare of darkness, ash, and violence, forcing him to flee. He begins a harrowing trek in search of his parents and sister, who were visiting relatives 140 miles away.
Along the way, Alex struggles through a landscape transformed by more than a foot of ash. The disaster brings out the best and worst in people desperate for food, clean water, and shelter.  When an escaped convict injures Alex, he searches for a sheltered place where he can wait--to heal or to die. Instead, he finds Darla. Together, they fight to achieve a nearly impossible goal: surviving the supervolcano.

(Sorry for the wonky fonts and spacing -- blogger and I are not getting along so well today.  Grrr!)

Monday, October 10, 2011

Kick A** 2011 Debut Author Spotlight

Today, several of us in the blog-o-sphere are giving a great, big, gratuitous shout out to a 2011 debut that made us swoon. Thank you, Christina Lee, for parenting this brain-child and organizing us all!  Be sure to swing by her blog so you can check out some of the other spotlight debuts.

Now, there are some obvious choices, but I wanted to give my shout outs to some fantastic books that you might not know about: one mainstream, one indie.

My mainstream shout-out goes to Cara Lynn Shultz for Spellbound.  Why should you read it?
* Past lives meets an
* An unending curse meets
* Fantastic and relatable characters

My indie should out goes to Willow Cross for The Dark Gifts: Birthright.  Why should you read it?
* Because vampires are awesome
* Especially when they're warring with each other
* And a girl is the one who is kicking butt & taking names.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Blog Tour Stop & Giveaway - The Willows: Haven by Hope Collier

Today I have the great honor of being the next-to-last stop on Hope Collier's blog tour for her debut YA novel The Willows: Haven.  The cover alone is awesome, but toss in a cross-country road trip and some mythological heritage and you've got the makings of a great novel!

When tragedy strikes, seventeen year-old Ashton Blake sets out on a cross-country road trip, leaving the comforts of Malibu for the mountains of Kentucky. Along the way, she encounters Gabe Willoughby—the mysterious drifter with eyes like the sea and a knowing smile. Getting to know Gabe raises questions about her past. But no secret can be buried forever, and Ashton soon finders herself in a world where water is air and myth becomes reality. 

Just as Ashton comes to accept her newfound heritage, she’s summoned to fulfill a treaty laid down centuries before — a treaty that will divide her love and test her loyalty. In the end, her future isn’t her biggest concern, her humanity is. To run may mean war, but is she strong enough to stay?

Hope is a gifted author.  A great part of the story is spent on the road trip, with Ashton really finding herself and truly falling in love for the first time.  While a spoiled rich girl may not be the first character most of us would naturally connect with, Hope makes Ashton instantly lovable. And Gabe is just plain dreamy -- although post-Twilight I'm more sensitive to the fact that it's weird that he's actually far older than he looks (but NO - he's NOT a vampire).  Putting that aside though, I was rooting for the two of them to connect.

And when they do, some of the scenes are downright steamy. Like toe-curling, put me in a cold shower steamy.  But no worries parents, the intensity between the characters may be HOT, but they never get too far -- classic YA frustration!

 Since I'm trying not to include any spoilers, let me just say that the Treaty referenced in the book description made me so furious.  I was proud of Ashton for seeing that her choices were bigger than she was and had far-reaching implications.  I just wished there was one character in particular that didn't have to get hurt in the process of Ashton's decision-making.  That's as much as I can say without giving anything away -- and yes, I know not everything can work out perfectly in life -- but that was the only part that felt a little off to me.

Otherwise, I really loved this novel and would definitely recommend it.  It was a quick, entertaining read and you'll have no doubt that you're in the hands of a very gifted author as soon as you dive in.  To pick up your copy for only $2.99, head to Amazon.

And to learn more about Hope and her writing, please visit her blog and website or find her on twitter.

BONUS: Everyone who leaves a comment on the blog will be entered to win a free e-copy of The Willows: Haven.  Be sure to include your e-mail addy so we know how to find you. ;)
And swing in to the last tour stop tomorrow at A Tale of Many Reviews to enter for a chance to win a signed copy of the novel and some swag.

To check out the earlier tour stops for other reviews, excerpts, character and author interviews and more, you can visit the following blogs (blogs without an event next to them are reviews):

09/01/11 The Wormhole Interview
09/02/11 Me My Shelf and I  
09/03/11 Writing Crazy Me  
09/04/11 Stuck In Books Excerpt
09/05/11 Books Over Boys  
09/06/11 Mocha Latte Reads Character interview with Gabe
09/08/11 Two Readers Review  
09/09/11 Bookwork Lisa  
09/10/11 We Fancy Books  
09/11/11 A Tale of Many Reviews  
09/12/11 A Casual Reader's Blog  
09/13/11 Songs and Stories  
09/14/11 Fantasy Fairy  
09/15/11 Booc Looks  
09/16/11 The Light of Asteria Guest Post
09/17/11 SpadesHighReads  
09/18/11 Cicis Theories  
09/19/11 Literature Monsters  
09/20/11 Letters Inside Out excerpt
09/21/11 A Written Rhapsody  
09/22/11 aoBibliophere  
09/23/11 Book By Book Review  
09/25/11 YA Bound Character interview with Ash
09/26/11 Young Readers Excerpt
09/27/11 The Ending Unplanned  
09/28/11 Meghann Daugherty  
09/29/11 Alison Hess  
09/30/11 Megan Curd Guest Post
10/01/11 Cup of Tea Reviews  
10/02/11 Charissa Weaks  
10/03/11 The Awesome Magic Attic  
10/04/11 Tori Scott  
10/05/11 Jessie Harrell  
10/06/11 A Tale of Many Reviews Video interview with author

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Happy Debut YA Book Birthday

I was afraid this week might be anti-climatic given all the releases last week, but there are some great debuts this week too!  Happy debut YA book birthday to:

Carrier of the Mark by Leigh Fallon

Their love was meant to be.

When Megan Rosenberg moves to Ireland, everything in her life seems to fall into place. After growing up in America, she's surprised to find herself feeling at home in her new school. She connects with a group of friends, and she is instantly drawn to darkly handsome Adam DeRÍs.

But Megan is about to discover that her feelings for Adam are tied to a fate that was sealed long ago—and that the passion and power that brought them together could be their ultimate destruction.

Variant by Robinson Wells

Benson Fisher thought that a scholarship to Maxfield Academy would be the ticket out of his dead-end life.

He was wrong.

Now he’s trapped in a school that’s surrounded by a razor-wire fence. A school where video cameras monitor his every move. Where there are no adults. Where the kids have split into groups in order to survive.

Where breaking the rules equals death.

But when Benson stumbles upon the school’s real secret, he realizes that playing by the rules could spell a fate worse than death, and that escape—his only real hope for survival—may be impossible.

October 8th
Mercy Lily by Lisa Albert

I take the bees outside, unscrew the lid of the bee jar, and listen to their angry buzzing.
"I hate you," I whisper.

Lily's mother has slowly been losing herself to multiple sclerosis. After traditional treatment fails, she uses bee sting therapy, administered by Lily, to alleviate her pain. Lily is trained as a veterinary assistant, so she can easily handle the treatments. What she can't handle is what happens when the bee sting therapy fails and it becomes clear that her mom wants to die.

One beautiful spring day, Lily's mother asks her for the most impossible thing of all—mercy. While navigating first love, friendship, and other normal worries faced by high school sophomores, Lily also has to choose: help her mom go, or cling to her fading life for all it's worth.