November 29, 2013

NetGalley November - Week Four Final Wrap-Up


Week Four - Final Wrap-Up

Well, we have reached the end of NetGalley November. I really, really tried to reach my 80% goal. Alas. I failed.


I read a lot of NetGalley books - the reading wasn't the problem. It was the downloading that got me. I got a few really awesome invitations this month that I just couldn't pass up. You understand.

This week, I read three NetGalley books and one Edelweiss book. I completed The Bet and The Wager by Rachel Van Dyken, Bitter Sweet Love by Jennifer L. Armentrout and Rome by Jay Crownover. I may have read four books, but I also downloaded four books. Oops.

The Edge of Always, by J.A. Redmerski – release date 11/5/13
Pawn, by Aimee Carter – release date 11/26/13
Crash Into You, by Katie McGarry – release date 11/26/13
The Temptation of Lila and Ethan, by Jessica Sorensen – release date 10/22/13
Hard to Handle, by Jessica Lemmon – release date 10/1/13
Can’t Let Go, by Jessica Lemmon – release date 9/3/13
The Bet, by Rachel Van Dyken – release date 6/25/13
The Wager, by Rachel Van Dyken – release date 10/1/13
Twisted, by K.A. Robinson – release date 5/7/13
Breaking Nova, by Jessica Sorensen – release date 9/3/13
Foreplay, by Sophie Jordan – release date 11/5/13
How To Run With a Naked Werewolf, by Molly Harper – release date 12/31/13
Rome, by Jay Crownover – release date 1/7/14
Four Seconds to Lose, by K.A. Tucker - release date 11/4/13
Before Jamaica Lane, by Samantha Young - release date 1/7/14
Castle Hill:  A Joss and Braden Novella, by Samantha Young - release date 12/3/13
Before We Fall, by Courtney Cole - release date 12/3/13 

Added:
Bitter Sweet Love, by Jennifer L. Armentrout, release date 12/1/13 
Unhinged, by A.G. Howard, release date 1/7/14 
Bound, by Lorelei James, release date 2/4/14 
Believe, by Erin McCarthy, release date 1/21/14

Current Download-to-Feedback ratio: 69.1%

One good thing - at least my percentage is higher at the end of the month than it was at the beginning of the month. It's something, right? Ultimately, I think NetGalley November was an awesome idea, and I'm so glad I signed up to do it. Something tells me I'll be doing it again next year. 

Penguin Group (USA) and Nora Roberts help tackle hunger with "Be Thankful" initiative


Thanksgiving is a time to gather with family around an extravagant meal and be thankful for all the security and stability in our lives.  But it’s also a reminder that a cold winter is ahead, and it is therefore important to acknowledge our less fortunate neighbors, which is why Penguin is proud to support The Maryland Food Bank, with Penguin’s first ever “Be Thankful” initiative.

Nora Roberts
#1 New York Times bestselling Penguin author, Nora Roberts was born in Silver Spring, Maryland and has a deep affinity for her home state, having set many of her more than 200 novels in Maryland.  Her recent NY Times bestseller, “Thankless in Death” is a suspense thriller which centers around loved ones coming together for Thanksgiving.  The brutal reality of hunger in Maryland sadly has its own frightening narrative. “I was shocked to discover that the Maryland Food Bank distributes more than 34.6 million pounds of food - the equivalent of almost 29 million meals each year - and despite that significant effort, families still go hungry in our region,” stated Nora Roberts.  “I am proud to help raise awareness of this issue and to applaud the incredible work that local food banks do daily to eradicate hunger in Maryland.  The holiday season is a great reminder to capture the spirit of giving thanks and helping those in need.”

Penguin would also like to acknowledge the efforts of Governor Martin O’Malley, who is committed to ending childhood hunger in Maryland by 2015.  “One hungry child is one too many," said Governor O’Malley. “Because of its connection to student achievement, workforce strength, physical health, and behavioral health, we’ve made eradicating childhood hunger a priority in our State.”

“We are delighted to support The Maryland Food Bank for the first time.  The negative cascading effect that food insecurity can have on a person, a child or a family, is devastating. Penguin is proud to recognize the tireless efforts of The Maryland Food Bank and its commitment to lead the fight against food insecurity and hunger,” said Leslie Gelbman, President of Mass Market Publishing, Penguin Group (USA). To mark the occasion, Penguin Group (USA) is making a $10,000 donation to The Maryland Food Bank.  “There are more than 457,000 people in our service area who don’t know where their next meal is coming from, and more than a third are children,” says Maryland Food Bank President & CEO Deborah Flateman.  “The emotional toll of hunger is especially high during the holidays.  Families are struggling to put food on the table, heat their home, and at the same time keep traditions alive, so their children feel normal – at least for one day.  This gift will go a long way, and help many, many families in need.”  The donation ensures that over 20,000 meals will be made available to the citizens of Maryland who are in dire need of food assistance.
 
You too can become involved in the “Be Thankful” initiative by donating food or volunteering; to view a complete list of the affiliated food banks and or participate in a Virtual Food Drive, please visit Feeding America’s national Food Bank Locator at http://bit.ly/9ociO.


November 28, 2013

A Holiday Present from Mari Mancusi

One of the first BEA 2013 books I read was SCORCHED by Mari Mancusi. I freaking loved this book about dragons and time travel and twin hotties. You can check out my review here.

As a special holiday present to you, Mari Mancusi is offering the chance to read the never-before-seen first two chapters of Scorched from an earlier version. These tantalizing chapters feature a scene of Caleb and Connor as kids with their parents on the Surface Lands, as well as a scene of Connor arriving in Trinity’s world earlier and watching her in the school cafeteria. If that wasn’t exciting enough, readers will finally get to meet Caitlin, the friend Trinity always talks about in the novel, and also see what Trinity’s life was like pre-dragon egg!

But, first, a guest post from Mari Mancusi...


Discovering your story’s true beginning…

Sometimes the most difficult part about writing a book is figuring out where to begin. And sometimes authors like myself end up with several false starts before finally discovering the true first page of their book. In the original version of Scorched I started the story with Connor and Caleb at age ten, on the day their father was killed and their destinies changed forever.

But while it’s certainly a dramatic, important scene with tons of dragon action, it doesn’t drop the reader right into the real crux of the current conflict—the dragon egg arriving at the museum and the soldiers trying to steal it. Ultimately, I ended up using a shorter version of this as a flashback later on in the final book. But I do still have some affection for this extended peak into the boys’ family life, before it was torn apart by dragons.
The second deleted chapter shows exactly how much a story’s backdrop can change over the course of editing. In the original version, Trinity goes to an Upper East Side boarding school in New York City, not Texas. And she has a history of hearing voices in her head, rather than hearing the first voice in the museum just before the break-in. And lastly, Connor is already there—watching her, readying to make his move, instead of arriving four months late. In this version you get to meet Trinity’s best friend Caitlin, who is mentioned a lot in the final version of Scorched, but never made a real appearance on the page. 

It’s fun to look back at the story as it might have been. And I hope you enjoy the sneak peek into a writer’s head. Oh and by the way? At this stage the working title of the book was “Scales of Time.” (Which no one seemed to like but me! Sigh.)

Prologue
Year 100, Post-Scorch

“RAWR!!!”
    Ten-year-old Caleb Johnson leapt from the pile of twisted iron wreckage he’d been hiding behind, arms outstretched and fingers curled into claws. “I am the dreaded ruby dragon, Epsilon!” he declared, a fierce expression on his sunburned, freckled face. “Beware or I will unleash my mighty flames upon you!” He roared again for emphasis.
    His identical twin brother, Connor, squealed into a mixture of delight and surprise as he expertly dodged his brother’s charge and took off running through the Pre-Flag building—down a rubble-filled corridor, beneath a blackened archway, leaping over crumbling cinderblocks and ducking rusty steel pipes, his brother hot on his heels. From above, orange rays of light from the setting sun leaked through cracks in the battered tin roof, effectively illuminating his path.
    "You cannot get away!" Caleb cried from behind him. "No one can escape a dragon! RAWR!"
    Connor dead-ended in a long, chamber, filled with rotting wooden benches that faced some kind of elevated stage and dusty altar. The roof had held here, allowing him a better glimpse into what the room must have looked like, once upon a time. A church, his mother had told them when they’d taken shelter here earlier that day.
    Caleb burst into the room, his crooked teeth bared in a ferocious snarl. Connor laughed, running down the aisle and grabbing a metal scepter that lay abandoned on the ground near the altar. Turning on his brother, he wielded the metal object as if it were a mighty gun-blade.
    “I don’t need to escape,” he proclaimed bravely. “I am a Hunter. And I will take you down!” He leapt forward, ready to destroy the mighty dragon once and for--
    "Caleb? Connor? Get back here where I can see you."
    Connor lowered his gun-blade. "Awh, Mom."
    "We're just having fun," Caleb added.
    Their mother poked her head into the chamber. “Well, dinner’s almost ready," she informed them. "You do want to eat, don't you?"
    It wasn’t really a question. Dropping his makeshift weapon, Conner scrambled after his mother and brother down the rubble-filled hall and into the stifling heat of a smaller entry room with four good walls, ceiling and door. His mother had swept out all the ashes when they'd first arrived and set up a makeshift camp—complete with cinderblock fire, on which she had set her large cast-iron pot. She looked over at her boys and smiled.
    "And how are my brave little Dragon Hunters?" she asked, a teasing look in her eyes.
    "Starving," Connor replied, peering into the cauldron where the soup bubbled and boiled. The smoke stung his eyes, but the smell more than made up for it.
    "Well, you're in luck. My snares caught a couple of rats today. So there's real meat in the soup." She grabbed two cracked ceramic bowls from one of the worn knapsacks she’d piled in a corner, ladling the cauldron's contents into them and handing them to her sons. Mom was an expert at making what Dad jokingly called "stone soup" with the scarce ingredients she could scavenge while camping out on the surface lands.
    The boys settled down on their sleeping mats and Connor brought the bowl to his mouth, burning his tongue on the steaming liquid. It was a bit bland--they'd run out of salt earlier that week--but it would fill his rumbling stomach and that was all that mattered in the end.
    A sudden noise outside made Mom leap to her feet, grabbing the knife from her belt and gripping it tightly in her hand. "Who's there?" she demanded, her voice almost fierce enough to disguise her fear. "We're armed and will not hesitate to defend ourselves."
    "Will you now, my love?" asked the tall, burly man sauntering through the door. The boys squealed in delight as they dropped their bowls to great their father. Mom set down her knife, letting out a sigh of relief, as Caleb and Connor fought to hug Dad first. He dropped down to their eye level and ruffled their matching brown heads of hair.
    "My boys!" he cried, kissing each of them on the cheek. "Have you been good? Keeping your mother safe for me?"
    "Yes, Sir," Connor assured him with a small salute. "She's all right. And there's rat in the soup tonight."
    Dad flashed a smile at Mom. "Rat in the soup," he repeated. "Well, this is a good night indeed then." He rose to his feet and walked over to his wife, wrapping his arms around her and squeezing her close.
    "Any luck today?" Connor heard her ask in a low voice.
    Dad released her from his embrace and walked over to the corner to pull off his dusty jacket and boots. "No," he replied. "But he's out there. I can smell his smoke in the air. And his shadow crossed the sun at least twice today. It's as if he's searching for something."
    Mom handed him a bowl of soup. "Forget him, then," she urged. "We've been out here thirty days now and he's not come down. We're out of food and it's not good for the boys to be out here so long." 
    "Is it really any better down below?" Dad asked her pointedly. "With no dragon heart, we have no money and no means to buy bread or meat. We'll end up living in Shanty Town. At least up here, we're free."
    "Free to get eaten by a dragon or murdered by wandering bandits."
    "But thirty pieces of silver, love! I slay this dragon and we'll live like kings and queens!"
    "Please. I'd rather have you alive and well than be any kind of stuffy royalty."
    Dad chuckled at her grumpy face. "Oh, wife," he teased. "What did I do to deserve you?" He planted a kiss on her sunburned nose. "Okay, you win," he said. "Tomorrow when the sun rises, we'll head straight to the C Gate. Go underground and regroup. Maybe send the boys to school for a bit." He sat down on his mat and started sipping his soup.
    Connor and Caleb looked at one another with distaste. The last thing they wanted was to go below again. Where it was cramped and dirty and crowded with other people. They preferred it up here--a surface land filled with undiscovered treasures from the old world. Even if they did have to worry about--
    An inhuman howl pierced through the evening air.
    Dad was on his feet instantly. "It's him," he announced, looking over at Mom with an excited gleam in his eyes. "My last call must have reached him. He's coming in at last."
    Mom swallowed hard, turning to the boys. "Go to the innermost chamber," she instructed, her voice thick with fear. "The one with the best roof. And wait there until you hear from us." She doused the fire and started grabbing their things, stuffing them into bags.
    “But Mom!” Connor protested. He didn't want to miss out on the action.
    “No backtalk. Do it now!” Her voice left no room for argument.
    The boys reluctantly turned and headed down the rubble-filled corridor, toward the large chamber. When they were out of sight of their parents, Caleb turned to Connor, his eyes shining with excitement. I know a place we can watch from, he told him, using their silent twin speak that no one else could hear. I found it earlier today. Mom will never know.
    Connor grinned. Major. Lead the way.
    He followed his brother through a now darkened corridor, through a caved-in wall and up a pile of rubble until they reached a broken glass window that led out onto the roof. Caleb squeezed his skinny body through and then turned, motioning for his brother to follow him.
    Connor looked reluctantly at the window. I don’t know… he hedged.
    Dad’s going to slay a dragon, Connor. You want to miss it?
    Connor shook his head. “No, of course not,” he said aloud, making up his mind and climbing through the window, careful not to cut himself on the glass. Without proper medicine, the smallest cut out here could be deadly. He followed his brother up the metal roof, slick from a recent rain, until they could peek over to the other side of the building, where Dad was readying for his fight.
    They looked at each other and grinned, then turned back to the scene. Dad had pulled his mighty gun-bade from its holster and readied his shield, the shiny metal gleaming in the dusky eve. As the boys watched, he scanned the darkened sky, eyes locking onto his target, far above. Connor followed his gaze. A Sapphire, he realized. Only half grown by the look of it. Should be an easy fight for an experienced Dragon Hunter like their father.
    "It's so beautiful," Caleb said with a dreamy sigh. "It's almost a shame Dad has to kill it."
    Connor shuddered, seeing nothing beautiful about the hard-scaled creature with razor sharp teeth and vacant eyes. The dragon seemed to dance through the sky, flittering about, toying with their father. Dad shrugged the gun-blade onto his shoulder and readied his first shot. Sucked in his breath, lining up his target. Then he pulled the trigger.
    The dragon let out an angry screech as the bullet bounced harmlessly off its sapphire plated scales. He'd missed the sweet spot. The one soft scale under the left wing. Dad liked to brag about one-shot kills. But today evidently wasn't his day.
    The creature released a stream of fire--scorching the ground mere feet from where their father had stood--Dad leaping backwards, just in time. Connor scooted further up on the roof, to get a better look, his heart feeling as if it would crack his ribs it was beating so hard.
Come on, Dad! he urged his father silently. Kill it!
    Suddenly the dragon whipped its head around, stony eyes locking straight onto Connor as if it had heard his silent cry. Shock caused him to lose his balance on the slippery roof and a moment later he found himself tumbling down the other side, as the dragon's screech reverberated in his ears. He slammed onto the desert floor, a sharp pain shooting up his leg as his ankle crumpled and cracked.
    "Connor!" Dad cried in a horrified voice. He started toward his son. But the dragon was too quick, coming down for a fast landing. Panicked, Connor tried to scramble away, but his foot dragged uselessly--his ankle likely broken.
    He looked up and found himself face to face with the dragon, now standing only a few feet away, studying him with cold eyes. The creature pulled back its head, smoke billowing from its nostrils. Connor swallowed hard. One more moment and the fire would come. And it would be over forever. He squared his scrawny shoulders instead, ready to face death like a man and--
Suddenly Connor found himself being grabbed and thrown--like a sack full of hot potatoes. He hit the ground a few yards away with a hard thump, the pain shooting up his leg all over again. But it scarcely registered as he watched the dragon let loose a stream of fire--striking his father--who had dropped his shield and gun-blade to save his son--full force in the chest. For a moment, his dad's body just stood there, as if frozen in place while being engulfed in a sea of flames. Then he fell to the ground, screaming with agony.
    "No!" Connor cried. In a fit of adrenaline-pumped rage, he dove at the discarded gun-blade. Gripping it in his hands, he turned to the creature, and, before the dragon could conjure up another blast, charged full force. Stabbing the gun-blade straight into the creature's soft spot, just as his father had taught him to do.
    The dragon bellowed in agony, collapsing to the ground and writhing in pain as the blade pierced its unprotected heart. Connor met the creature's eyes with his own, staring it down with defiant rage. He yanked out the blood-soaked blade and stabbed the now helpless creature again. And again. And--
    “Connor, stop! He’s dead. The dragon’s dead!” He felt his mother’s arms grab him from behind and drag him away. He collapsed onto the ground, once again aware of the pain in his ankle. His mother dropped to her knees, searching his face with her own tear-stained one.
    "Dad?" he managed to say, even though he already knew in his heart what her answer would be.
    Mom shook her head. “I’m sorry Connor,” she said, tears streaming down her own cheeks. He buried his face in her chest, letting the grief take him. She held him close, rocking him gently, soothing him in soft whispers.
    "I can't believe he's gone," he sobbed against her.
    "I know sweetie," she murmured. "But he died a hero. Always remember that. And you're a hero, too. The way you killed that dragon..." He could feel the shake of her head. "You must have inherited your father's skills as a Dragon Hunter."
    He shrugged, pulling away from her embrace and limping over to the dead dragon. He spit on the corpse, wishing there was some way to inflict even more pain and suffering on the creature who had taken his father away from them.
    "I'll have my revenge on the rest of your kind," he whispered to the dragon. "I won't rest until dragons have been wiped out for good."

Chapter Two
New York City, Present Day

    "Hey, don't look now, but that vampire over there is staring at you again."
    Sixteen-year-old Trinity Brown set down her sandwich and spun in the direction her best friend, Caitlin Curry was gazing, across the high school cafeteria. Caitlin swatted her arm.
    "I said don't look. Jeez!"
    But it was too late and beyond the trays of mystery meat and half-eaten slices of pizza, Trin found herself locking eyes with the "vampire" in question, who was lounging a few tables away and indeed staring at her intently--not even having the decency to look away when caught in the act. With tousled brown hair, pale white skin and eyes rimmed in black kohl, she had to admit, he did kind of resemble a creature of the night and his dark gaze sent shivers down her spine. Flushed, she hurriedly dropped her eyes and turned back to her friend.
    "That's not a vampire," she replied, disguising her sudden unease with a loud, barking laugh. "There’s not a single sparkle on him.”
    They erupted into giggles, breaking the spell and Caitlin, seemingly satisfied, dug into her cafeteria special--Salisbury steak. It was hard to fathom how the skinny girl wasn't three-hundred pounds, the way she wolfed down her food. Trin reached for her own tofu and cheese sandwich that her grandfather had bagged her that morning and took a bite.
    But today, her favorite sandwich tasted more like cardboard, and she was unable to shake feeling of the boy's stare, scorching her backside with the intensity of a thousand suns. Annoyed, she tossed the sandwich back on the table.
    "What?" Caitlin asked, her mouth full of mashed potato. It was always a surprise to her when people turned down food. Even if it was only tofu.
    Trin frowned. "He's still staring." She wasn't sure how she could tell, sitting with her back to him and all, but somehow she knew it to be true.
    "He's been staring at you all week, girl," Caitlin reminded her. She strained her neck to get another peek. "Don't worry--he looks harmless. Cute, even, if only he got rid of that eyeliner and made friends with a tanning bed. Looks to me like Mr. Goth hasn't seen the sun in the last sixteen years."
    "So who is he again?" Trin asked. Caitlin was a walking Wikipedia when it came to the student body. Especially when it came to boys.
    "New kid. Name's...Connor Johnson, I believe. Came here a week ago. From Seattle or something. They grow 'em scrawny out there. Bi-product of nineties grunge-era parents and too much organic at an impressionable age."
    Trin processed the information. Then she shrugged. "Well, wherever he's from, I don't appreciate him staring at me like that," she replied with a scowl. "It's freaking me out." She squirmed in her seat, weirded out, but not quite knowing why.
    "Don't worry. I'll take care of it," Caitlin assured her. And before Trin could stop her, her friend was on her feet. "Hey dude!" she cried, in a voice loud enough to attract half the cafeteria. "Lay off with the stalker thing, won't you? Girl's not interested!”
    The cafeteria erupted in laughter and conversation as everyone turned to check out the scene. Trin watched as the boy--Connor--rolled his eyes and rose from his seat with a fluid elegance that surprised her. He grabbed his long, black coat and military style backpack, then strolled leisurely out of the cafeteria without another look back.
     "There." Caitlin said, plopping back down on her own stool, a triumphant look on her freckled face. She pushed her glasses up her nose. "Edward Cullen won’t be bothering you again."
    Trin pushed her sandwich away, no longer hungry. "Yeah," she said, her voice sounding more disappointed than she'd meant it to. "Probably not."
    Situation seemingly satisfied, Caitlin launched into a lament about the obscene amount of homework Mr. Murphy had given her A period and how there was no way she'd possibly be able to do it all, especially when she had a date with Todd tonight. Trin tried her best to provide the expected murmurs of sympathy to fill the pauses in her best friend's monologue, but found herself repeatedly stealing glances at the doorway in which Conner had disappeared.
    But the strange transfer student didn't make a reappearance, which was, most likely, for the best. After all, Trin didn't need any more unwanted attention, that was for sure. And even if the guy did have some kind of new-kid crush on her, he'd learn soon enough from the other students why that was a very bad idea.
    Still, there was just something about him. The way he stared at her, with those strange, haunted eyes of his. As if he were desperate to tell her something...
    She shook her head. Don't even go there, Trin. Remember what happened the last time.
    Speaking of eyes, she suddenly realized that by managing to shake off one boy's attentions, she'd managed to gain half of East Side Academy's. Hunching in her seat, she could sense their laughing mouths and bated breath, as if begging her to do something crazy for their lunchtime amusement. It was a small school, after all, and they all knew her history.
    She rose from her seat. "I'm out," she said, grabbing her brown bag and shoving her sandwich into it.
    "But lunch isn't over," Caitlin protested.
    "I've got to hit the nurse's."
    Her friend nodded understandingly and gave her a mock salute. "Love you girl."
    "Love you, too."
    Trin stuffed her ear buds into her ears, turning up her iPod full blast, as she maneuvered her way through the rows of tables, avoiding eye contact with anyone she passed. The deep, soulful crooning of her favorite Goth singer filled her ears--a particularly effective mix for drowning out her fellow student body. Unfortunately, she didn't need her ears to know exactly what they were saying about her as she passed. They even had a chant, made up by Amber Madden during a particularly boring seventh grade recess, which had stuck ever since.
Trin Brown is insane
Something wrong with her brain
Hearing voices in her head
Seeing people who are dead
    For the record, Trin had never, at least knowingly, seen anyone dead. And the voices? The doctors had finally come up with a way to silence those permanently. Unfortunately that wasn't until after the long-ago Sixth Grade Incident of Crazy that no one at East Side Academy seemed willing to forget.
    If only she'd been able to attend a different high school. One on the West Side, maybe, where no one knew about her and her broken brain. But East Side Academy was the only one willing to give her a full boat scholarship with her dubious medical record and her grandfather's dwindling bank account had guilted her into taking it.
    Can't let a few bullies ruin a world-class education, she reminded herself, uttering one of grandfather’s favorite platitudes. Though sometimes she wasn't sure it was worth it.
    Trin turned the corner and headed down the empty, florescent-lit hallway, lined with red lockers, toward the school infirmary. Pushing open the door, she greeted old Nurse Darien, who was sitting at her desk, as always, lost in a romance novel. The nurse gestured vaguely to a table full of prescriptions and Trin grabbed her own, dry swallowing two tablets and setting the bottle back down on the counter. It was a ritual they went through every day.
    Might as well hit the library before class, she decided, having no desire to go back to the jeering faces in the cafeteria.
    Trudging down the hallway, staring down at her black converse, music still blaring in her ears, Trin turned the corner, assuming the next corridor would be as empty as the last. Instead, she found herself slamming into something solid. Make that someone solid. Very solid, in fact.
    "Sorry, she muttered, pulling the ear buds from her ears. "I wasn't looking where..." She trailed off, her eyes widening as she realized just who she'd slammed into.
    None other than Mr. Vampire himself.

November 27, 2013

BLOG TOUR REVIEW & GIVEAWAY: Death is but a Dream


Mythology lovers unite! Welcome to my stop on the Death is but a Dream tour, organized by Xpresso Book Tours. Check out my review and the other tour stops. Don't forget to enter the giveaway for copies of Death is but a Dream and a Kindle Fire!

Death is but a Dream, by Erin Hayes
Published September 29, 2013
Publisher: CreateSpace
Format:
e-galley, provided by the author and Xpresso Book Tours
Genre: 
Adult Paranormal Romance
To Buy: Amazon * Barnes & Noble
 

Rating:  3.5 STARS

(From Goodreads) Homicide detective Callie Saunders knows that death isn’t all pearly gates and angels. After being hit by a bus, she finds that it's the ancient gods and goddesses of Greek mythology who are in charge of everything.

So when Hades offers her a deal, she accepts. If she wants to be brought back to life, she’ll have to figure out who is trying to kill his son. But if she fails, both her soul and the world will be destroyed.

With the odds mounting against her, it’ll take everything she has within her to wake up from death. But the rules are constantly changing. And someone wants her to stay dead.


I was drawn to Death is but a Dream for two reasons. First, the mythology. And, second, the overall concept is brilliant. I wasn't always thrilled with the execution, but I fell in love with the story idea and sometimes, that's enough to suck you in. 

Callie is a good cop who dies saving someone's life. In the underworld, she's approached by Hades with a job. He tasks her with protecting his son, Plutus from a would-be assassin. In return, he will restore her to life. The job is a dangerous one that puts Callie's life and afterlife at risk on a daily basis. That makes her job protecting Plutus extra hard, and when her feelings for him start to get in the way, it becomes damn near impossible. 

I love Greek mythology. Always have. Any book that features mythological characters is a must-read in my book. And, in Death is but a Dream, we see many familiar faces from the Greek stories of myth - Hades, Apollo, Aphrodite, Dionysus, Ares, Charon. I always love seeing how different authors put their own modern spin on the myths. In this case, the underworld is run like a business. There is a large office building, in which, Hades, as CEO has an office. The underworld has everything you could need - shops, restaurants and even an indoor firing range. 

The concept was awesome. The world building was great. I truly loved the underworld and what Hayes did to modernize it.  And, I loved the mystery to be solved. Mysteries are always fun, especially when the answer isn't always immediately obvious or available. 

Callie never quite did it for me. She was almost there, but some of the things she did didn't fit what we knew of her. Callie was a workaholic. Someone who believed her job was the most important thing in her life. She was in a two-year relationship that she ended with little remorse. I don't believe that she would fall in love with Plutus in mere weeks. It just didn't make sense. 

The pacing of the story was a little choppy. It stalled for awhile in the middle when the story shifted from the Underworld to the mortal world. Plutus and Callie take a cross-country road trip, and there was so much potential for action and mayhem. Yet, almost nothing happened. Callie was constantly getting stabbed with one thing or another, and by the end, it was almost a little funny. Poor girl just could stop getting impaled with things. 

The mystery, although it started out as one of my favorite parts, fell flat too. It was solved pretty quickly. Halfway through the book, we knew who was trying to kill Plutus, who the peons were and what the motive was. Although the final battle was pretty cool, I would've liked to have been surprised by who the bad guy was. 

The happily-ever-after in Death is but a Dream isn't a traditional one. There is one, of sorts, but being a reader who likes my HEAs tied up in a nice bow, I felt a little unsettled at the end. I wish things had happened a little differently. But, all-in-all, it wasn't bad. If you like Greek mythology and crime dramas, you should definitely give Death is but a Dream a go. 

About the Author

Sci-fi junkie, video game nerd, and wannabe manga artist Erin Hayes writes a lot of things. Sometimes she writes books, like the fantasy mystery Death is but a Dream and the sci-fi middle grade book Jacob Smith is Incredibly Average. You can reach her at tiptoegirl87@gmail.com and she’ll be happy to chat. Especially if you want to debate Star Wars.

Learn more about Erin Hayes --> Website / Twitter / Goodreads




Giveaway

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November 26, 2013

NOVELLA REVIEW: Bitter Sweet Love (Dark Elements #0.5)

Bitter Sweet Love (Dark Elements #0.5), by Jennifer L. Armentrout
To Be Published December 1, 2013
Publisher: HarlequinTEEN
Format:
e-galley, provided by the publisher
Genre: 
Young Adult Paranormal Romance
To Buy: Amazon * Barnes & Noble
 

Rating:  5 STARS

(From Goodreads) Dez wasn't just Jasmine's crush. A gargoyle Warden like Jas, he helped her come to terms with her destiny—fending off demons and maintaining balance between good and evil. He was her everything...right until the moment he disappeared without a trace. It didn't help that Jas's father had just announced that she and Dez would one day be mated. Hard not to take that personally.


And now he's back, three years older, ten times hotter, ready to pick up exactly where they left off. But Jas isn't taking that risk again. Dez has seven days to meet all her conditions and earn back her trust. Seven days filled with terrifying danger and sweet temptation. Seven days to win her heart—or shatter it all over again...

Let's talk about gargoyles for a sec here. If you're like me, this is the first thing you think about when you hear about those things:


Well, actually, when I hear the word "gargoyle," pop culture maven that I am, THIS is actually the first thing I think about:







Either way - whether you're talking about the classics from Notre Dame or the Gatekeeper and the Keymaster, I think we can all agree that sexy is absolutely not one of the adjectives that you would pick to describe them. And, when I heard that Jennifer Armentrout was writing a new paranormal romance series about them, I must admit, I was skeptical. 

Leave it to Jennifer Armentrout to obliterate my preconceived notions.

Bitter Sweet Love introduces us to the world she has created in her new series from HarlequinTEEN, The Dark Elements. It's a prequel novella centering around 18-year-old Jasmine and 21-year-old Dez - both "Wardens," or gargoyles in laymens terms. Wardens are here to protect humans from demons, and six years ago, hell unleashed them enmasse upon the world for reasons as yet unknown.

Jas and Dez planned to be mated before Dez took off without a goodbye. Three years later, he's back and ready to pick up where they left off, but Jas isn't ready to unguard her wounded heart. Dez sets about trying to change her mind and win her back. All the while, Jennifer is teaching the reader about this new world she's created and the rules and characters in it.

We learn that Wardens have their true form which includes wings, horns and stone-like skin that is pretty impervious. Most of their time is spent in their human form, which allows them to blend in. Only their pale eyes make them stand out. Females are considered weaker - they stay home to have babies. But many die in childbirth, so their race is actually dying out. And, the males go out every night hunting the demons that threaten everyone's safety.

We are also introduced to Layla and Zayne, the main characters from White Hot Kiss (Dark Elements #1), and we learn a little bit about them and the type of relationship they have right now. The real stars, though, were Jas and Dez. I loved both of them so much, and I sincerely hope that we'll catch at least a glimpse of them in White Hot Kiss. The chemistry between these two was absolutely ridiculous. I loved every second of their crazy sexual tension.

Jennifer has this uncanny ability to make a novella feel like a full-length novel. It might be shorter than normal, but it is most definitely not short on character development or world building. It's sometimes hard for me to connect with a character over the course of a 400-page book. Jen manages to not only get me to connect with, but to genuinely get invested in her characters in only 100 pages. Although Bitter Sweet Love isn't essential to know what's happening in White Hot Kiss, I would absolutely recommend you read it first anyway. It's a perfect introduction to the series and to characters that are sure to blow your mind. Jennifer has this uncanny ability to make a novella feel like a full-length novel. It might be shorter than normal, but it is most definitely not short on character development or world building. It's sometimes hard for me to connect with a character over the course of a 400-page book. Jen manages to not only get me to connect with, but to genuinely get invested in her characters in only 100 pages. Although Bitter Sweet Love isn't essential to know what's happening in White Hot Kiss, I would absolutely recommend you read it first anyway. It's a perfect introduction to the series and to characters that are sure to blow your mind.

Want a sneak peak at Dez and Jas? Click on the picture and read an excerpt from Bitter Sweet Love. Then, jump to Goodreads and enter to win one of 20 ARCs of White Hot Kiss from HarlequinTEEN!

November 25, 2013

NEW ADULT MONDAYS: Four Seconds to Lose (Ten Tiny Breaths #3)

The New Adult genre - their bad boys and big problems and epic loves make them engrossing tales that are so easy to lose yourself in. What's not to love about that? And, now, thanks to the cool chicks at Bewitched Bookworms, we can show these books the love they deserve in a weekly feature - New Adult Mondays.

Four Seconds to Lose (Ten Tiny Breaths #3), by K.A. Tucker
Published November 4, 2013
Publisher: Atria Books
Format:
e-galley, obtained from NetGalley
Genre: 
New Adult Contemporary Romance
To Buy: Amazon * Barnes & Noble
 

Rating:  5 STARS

(From Goodreads) When a gorgeous young dancer walks through his door, a strip club owner must decide whether to follow his rules or his heart in the third novel by the author of One Tiny Lie and Ten Tiny Breaths.

Owning a strip club isn’t the fantasy most guys expect it to be. With long hours, a staff with enough issues to keep a psych ward in business, and the police regularly on his case, twenty-nine-year-old Cain is starting to second guess his unspoken mission to save the women he employs. And then blond, brown-eyed Charlie Rourke walks through his door, and things get really complicated. Cain abides by a strict “no sleeping with the staff” rule. But being around Charlie challenges Cain’s self-control…and it’s been a long time since any woman has done that.

Twenty-two-year-old Charlie Rourke needs a lot of money, really fast, in order to vanish before it’s too late. Taking her clothes off for men makes her stomach curl but Charlie tells herself that at least she’s putting her acting and dancing skills to good use. And though her fellow dancers seem eager to nab their sexy, sophisticated, and genuinely caring boss, she’s not interested. After all, Charlie Rourke doesn’t really exist—and the girl pretending to be her can't get distracted by romance.

Unfortunately, Charlie soon discovers that developing feelings for Cain is inevitable, and that those feelings may not be unrequited—but losing him when he finds out what she’s involved with will be more painful than any other sentence awaiting her.


Four Seconds to Lose is an absolutely incredible addition to the Ten Tiny Breaths series. I've been curious about Cain ever since he was introduced in the first book. I just knew his story would be captivating and explosive, and was it ever.

Cain hasn't made a real connection with a woman since the one who got away and then died. Until the day Charlie walks into his office asking for a job in his strip club. Charlie needs a good job to help get herself out of a very bad and very dangerous situation. Because of their own personal rules, each tries to deny the attraction they both feel toward one another. Resisting each other might be the safest thing to do, but it's definitely not going to make either of them happy.

Cain is the best kind of hero - the one who doesn't see himself as such. He's made it his life's mission to try and save girls from his sister's tragic fate, and has given up his own life in return. Cain has always seemed untouchable and unflappable in the other books. It was incredibly satisfying to get inside his head and see that he's not as unaffected by what's going on around him as he lets on.

Charlie is exactly what I want to see in a heroine. She's someone who's found herself in a bad situation and is trying to make her own way out of it. She makes hard choices and tries to protect the people she's come to care about. Is she perfect? Hell no. Does she always do the right thing? Most definitely not. But, she doesn't sit around waiting for someone else to save her.

Four Seconds to Lose is told in dual POV so we get to hear both Charlie's and Cain's internal monologues. Their back stories slowly unravel to the reader, with the final surprising twists not being revealed until the very end. I love that K.A. Tucker saves these little bits for us so that, even when we think we know everything, we see that we really don't.

We get to see Kacey and Trent and Livie, although it appears that the events of Four Seconds to Lose overlap a bit with One Tiny Lie, because we do not see Ashton. I don't think Livie has met him yet. The overlap was a good thing, though - it helped me set the timeline. The pacing is perfect. The character and world development wonderful.There's just so much to love here.

Four Seconds to Lose is a must-read for any new adult/contemporary romance lover.

November 22, 2013

DOUBLE ARC REVIEW: Castle Hill: A Joss and Braden Novella & Before Jamaica Lane

Castle Hill: A Joss and Braden Novella (On Dublin Street #2.5), by Samantha Young
To Be Published December 3, 2013
Publisher: NAL (Intermix)
Format:
e-galley, provided by NetGalley
Genre: 
Adult Contemporary Romance
To Buy: Amazon * Barnes & Noble
 

Rating:  5 STARS

(From Goodreads) Braden Carmichael never imagined he’d fall as hard and as fast as he did for Jocelyn Butler. He also could not have anticipated how difficult it would be to convince her to give in to love. But now that he has her, he’s never letting go. He’s got it all planned—the passionate proposal, the dream wedding, the sexy Hawaiian honeymoon—even the perfect family they’ll start.

After trying to flee from her painful past, Joss is finally allowing herself to embrace the future. But when things start moving faster than she anticipated, she finds herself panicking over something Braden can’t understand. After everything they’ve been through, Joss is sure that their love can survive even her worst fears. But, this time, she may push Braden too far—and risk losing everything all over again.


Castle Hill was, like, the PERFECT novella. It overlapped events in other books in the series (and, therefore, we see characters we know from those other books too), and enriched and added so much to Joss and Braden's story at the same time. It packed a powerful, emotional punch in a short package.

Castle Hill takes us from Braden's proposal through the wedding and honeymoon and into the weeks following. We've seen bits of this story in On Dublin Street, Down London Road and in the upcoming Before Jamaica Lane, and now they're all coming together to paint this tumultuous and romantic picture.

It only took me a few hours to read the entire thing, and I was completely lost in the story the entire time. The best part about Castle Hill is that it knocked Braden down from the pedestal on which I had set him. Trust me - that's a good thing. Guys that are too damn perfect are a fallacy - they don't exist, and therefore make stories seem less believable. For once, Joss isn't the one to make some bad choices. I was so mad at Braden for a good half of the story, and I LOVED THAT. It humanized him and made him come to life even more. Now - NOW - Braden really is the perfect guy. Bravo, Samantha Young.

The only problem with Castle Hill is, it left me wanting even more!! :)


********************

Before Jamaica Lane (On Dublin Street #3), by Samantha Young
Published January 7, 2014
Publisher: NAL
Format:
e-galley, provided by NetGalley
Genre: 
Adult Contemporary Romance
To Buy: Amazon * Barnes & Noble
 

Rating:  5 STARS

(From Goodreads)
Despite her outgoing demeanor, Olivia is painfully insecure around the opposite sex—usually, she can’t get up the nerve to approach guys she’s interested in. But moving to Edinburgh has given her a new start, and, after she develops a crush on a sexy postgrad, she decides it’s time to push past her fears and go after what she wants.

Nate Sawyer is a gorgeous player who never commits, but to his close friends, he’s as loyal as they come. So when Olivia turns to him with her relationship woes, he offers to instruct her in the art of flirting and to help her become more sexually confident.

The friendly education in seduction soon grows into an intense and hot romance. But then Nate’s past and commitment issues rear their ugly heads, and Olivia is left broken-hearted. When Nate realizes he’s made the biggest mistake of his life, he will have to work harder than he ever has before to entice his best friend into falling back in love with him—or he may lose her forever.

I think I will buy anything that Samantha Young writes. Seriously. Before Jamaica Lane is yet another homerun in the sexy, emotionally-charged On Dublin Street series. The men she writes about are complex and hot and... oh yeah. SCOTTISH. Yum. Their women are damaged, love-starved and desperately in need for someone to open them up and scoop their insides out. Before Jamaica Lane is a bit lighter than its series mates, but no less angsty and emotional.

Liv, having had to take care of her dying mother during her teenage years, missed out on the wild and craziness that goes along with being young. Now 26, she's terribly shy and inexperienced when it comes to guys. There's one guy in particular that she has her eye on, but she freezes every time she sees him. Liv decides to enlist the help of her man-whore BFF, Nate, to help educate her on the dating game. The lessons, though. go further than either of them had initially planned, and when commitment-phobe Nate finally puts the brakes on things, he becomes the personification of the saying, "you never know what you have until you lose it."

Olivia is slightly pathetic. She's painfully shy. I mean, PAINfully. It was embarrassing to even read at times. Hiding under restaurant tables, hanging with her boss to avoid the hot guy at the library - she is the queen of avoidance. But, when she's with Nate, she's totally different. Their banter is sweet and hysterical and endearing. They're super comfortable with each other. It's obvious that they're the very best of friends. But, it's also obvious that there's something else there too, ever since they first met.

Nate lost his first love to cancer, so he's determined that superficial hook-ups are the way to go from now on. The only real relationship he has with a girl is the one he has with Olivia. It's so obvious that he loves her, despite his efforts to keep her in the friend zone. But, when she propositions him. the temptation was too much. Soon, he and Liv are essentially boyfriend-girlfriend. But, when she points that out to him and confesses her true feelings, he freaks and this foreign, awful douchebag takes over. Gah - that scene between he and Liv was so emotionally-charged and sad. And incredibly frustrating.

Samantha Young has this uncanny ability to create these characters that just stay with you, you know? You have real feelings for them and you cheer for them and you want to throttle them and you cry with them. The characters are multi-dimensional and amazing on so many levels. Nate and Olivia were incredible characters, and their relationship with each other was so special.

Before Jamaica Lane is told from Olivia's POV. You know, I think this is my only complaint about Samantha Young. I love dual POVs, and most of her books are told from our female MC's POV. I love knowing what's going on in both MCs' heads. And I really would've loved to know what was going on in Nate's head during most of this book.

Although you could definitely get away with not reading Castle Hill: A Joss and Braden Novella (On Dublin Street #2.5) before reading Before Jamaica Lane, I really think it adds a lot to the backstory if you do. Events definitely do a lot of overlapping. And, there was one very important, pivotal scene in Castle Hill that we didn't get to see in its entirety. That complete scene is in Before Jamaica Lane, and I am so glad it was.

The sex is pretty hot, but there's not as much of it as there was in previous On Dublin Street series books. The story was the real star here. Make sure you block out a good chunk of time when you sit down to start Before Jamaica Lane. Because, once you do, you are not going to want to put it down.

NetGalley November - Week 3 Update


Week 3 Update

Yeah. I totally kicked NetGalley November's ass this week.


I was able to knock out four NetGalley books this week, and only downloaded one. Go me! Perhaps I'm starting to get a bit of a handle on this addiction? So, here's where my list stands:

The Edge of Always, by J.A. Redmerski – release date 11/5/13
Pawn, by Aimee Carter – release date 11/26/13
Crash Into You, by Katie McGarry – release date 11/26/13
The Temptation of Lila and Ethan, by Jessica Sorensen – release date 10/22/13
Hard to Handle, by Jessica Lemmon – release date 10/1/13
Can’t Let Go, by Jessica Lemmon – release date 9/3/13
The Bet, by Rachel Van Dyken – release date 6/25/13
The Wager, by Rachel Van Dyken – release date 10/1/13
Twisted, by K.A. Robinson – release date 5/7/13
Breaking Nova, by Jessica Sorensen – release date 9/3/13
Foreplay, by Sophie Jordan – release date 11/5/13
How To Run With a Naked Werewolf, by Molly Harper – release date 12/31/13
Rome, by Jay Crownover – release date 1/7/14
Four Seconds to Lose, by K.A. Tucker - release date 11/4/13
Before Jamaica Lane, by Samantha Young - release date 1/7/14
Castle Hill:  A Joss and Braden Novella, by Samantha Young - release date 12/3/13

Added:
Before We Fall, by Courtney Cole - release date 12/3/13 

Current Download-to-Feedback ratio: 67.3%

So, how did you do this week? 

November 21, 2013

Introducing Embrace from Entangled Publishing

An imprint specially focused on new adult books? Um, yes, please! Embrace is a new adult imprint from Entangled Publishing, and it is launching with four exciting titles—RUINED, HUSHED, TROUBLE COMES KNOCKING, and DEFINITELY, MAYBE IN LOVE. Check out some more about these new exciting titles, and then enter a giveaway at the bottom. While you're at it, visit these other blogs to read reviews of these new books.

Definitely, Maybe In Love, by Ophelia London
Published October 28, 2013
Publisher: Entangled Embrace
Genre: 
New Adult Contemporary Romance
To Buy: Amazon * Barnes & Noble


(From Goodreads) Spring Honeycutt wants two things: to ace her sustainable living thesis and to save the environment. Both seem hopelessly unobtainable until her college professor suggests that with a new angle, her paper could be published. Spring swears she’ll do whatever it takes to ensure that happens.

“Whatever it takes,” however, means forming a partnership with the very hot, very privileged, very conceited Henry Knightly.

Henry is Spring's only hope at publication, but he's also the ├╝ber-rich son of a land developer and cash-strapped Spring’s polar opposite. Too bad she can't help being attracted to the way he pushes her buttons, both politically and physically. As they work on her thesis, Spring finds there's more to Henry than his old money and argyle sweaters…but can she drop the loud-and-proud act long enough to let him in? Suddenly, choosing between what she wants and what she needs puts Spring at odds with everything she believes in.

Definitely, Maybe in Love is a modern take on Pride and Prejudice that proves true love is worth risking a little pride.



Ruined, by Jus Accardo
Published November 11, 2013
Publisher: Entangled Embrace
Genre: 
New Adult Paranormal Romance
To Buy: Amazon * Barnes & Noble


(From Goodreads) Jax lost the genetic lottery. Descended from Cain, the world's first murderer, he's plagued by a curse that demands violence in exchange for his happiness. He left everything behind, including the girl he loved, but thriving on the pain of others is lonely… And it's killing him.

After a series of heartbreaking losses, Samantha put rubber to pavement and headed for college as fast as her clunker could carry her. But she can't outrun her problems. When an attack at school drives her back home, she's thrown into the path of a past—and a guy—she's been trying to forget.

Sam strains Jax's control over his darkness, but running isn't an option this time. Someone—or, something—followed her home from school: a ruthless monster with a twisted plan centuries in the making. Forced together to survive, and fighting an attraction that could destroy them both, Jax and Sam must stop a killer bent on revenge.



Trouble Comes Knocking, by Mary Duncanson
Published November 11, 2013
Publisher: Entangled Embrace
Genre: 
New Adult Contemporary Romance
To Buy: Amazon * Barnes & Noble


(From Goodreads) A girl who can’t forget…

Twenty-two-year-old Lucy Carver is like Sherlock Holmes in ballet flats, but her eidetic memory is more albatross than asset, and something she usually keeps hidden. When she notices that something’s amiss at her dead-end job, she jumps at the chance to finally use her ability for good. That is, until, a man is murdered, and she becomes the target of the killer.

A detective on his first case…

Detective Eli Reyes is overbearing, pompous, way too hot for Lucy’s own good, and seems as determined to ruin her relationship with her boyfriend, John, as finding the murderer. He brings Lucy in on the case, thinking she can help him get to the truth, only to cut her loose when he realizes he’s gotten far more than he ever bargained for.

A past that won’t go away…

When memories from her childhood invade her present, Lucy discovers a mystery bigger than she could have imagined. With the killer still after her, and Eli nowhere to be found, she takes things into her own hands, determined to expose the truth no matter what—before trouble comes knocking…again



Hushed, by Kelley York
Published November 11, 2013
Publisher: Entangled Embrace
Genre: 
New Adult Contemporary Romance
To Buy: Amazon * Barnes & Noble


(From Goodreads) He’s loved her. Killed for her. Yet he may not be able to save her.  


Eighteen-year-old Archer couldn’t protect his best friend, Vivian, from what happened when they were kids. Since then, he’s never stopped trying to shelter her from everything else. It doesn’t matter that Vivian only uses him when skipping from one toxic relationship to another. Archer is always there, reeled in and tossed out, waiting to be noticed.


Then Evan Bishop breezes into town with a warm smile and calming touch, and Archer can’t deny his attraction to him. Evan is the only person who keeps him around without a single string attached. And the harder Archer falls for Evan, the more he sees Vivian for the manipulative hot-mess she really is.
But Viv has her hooks in deep, and once she finds out Archer’s dark secret, she threatens to expose the truth if she doesn’t get what she wants. And what she wants is for him to end his relationship with Evan...permanently. 


About Embrace:
EMBRACE…endless possibilities.  A new adult imprint from Entangled, launching November 11th! You can follow them and get more information about future titles @EPEmbrace or their facebook: https://www.facebook.com/EmbraceImprint .


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November 20, 2013

PUBLICIST INTERVIEW: Cassie McGinty, Disney Publishing Worldwide


I may have mentioned that I'm turning *cough*thirty-something*cough* later this month. This past year has been a pretty good one for me, actually, in relation to my blog. I've read tons of amazing books, met some incredible authors, and gotten some fascinating insight into the publishing world through contacts made at some of the biggest publishing houses in the world. I'm living the dream, baby.

One such contact that I've recently made is the super talented Cassie McGinty, Marketing/Publicity Coordinator at Disney Publishing Worldwide. She graciously agreed to give us an insight into her world.


Thank you so much for participating in this interview, Cassie! – No problem!

*Note: All comments are my own opinion and not official statements or views of The Walt Disney Company.*

1.    My own undergrad degree is in marketing and public relations. When I was looking into careers, honestly, doing marketing and publicity for a major publisher didn’t even cross my mind (wish it would have!). Is this something you always wanted to do, or was it more of a “right place at the right time” kind of thing?

I always loved reading ever since I was little, and was the nerdy kid that always had her head stuck in a book. I didn’t think about working for a publishing company until college. I am from rural Nevada originally and I had never really been exposed to the publishing industry.

Because I love to read and write, when I started thinking about what job I would be qualified to do with my degree (English Major with a Minor in Creative Writing) that would make me happy, it was a no brainer. I was lucky enough to get an internship at Charlesbridge Publishing in Boston. I also interned for my school’s Literary Magazine, SHENANDOAH: THE WASHINGTON AND LEE UNIVERSITY REVIEW, and I also helped a local author with publicity for her book. My alumni network was a huge asset when it came time to job hunt because I got to meet so many fantastic people that work at different publishing companies in New York. They were so supportive and encouraging and it was through their sharing of resources that I got my first job here at Disney Publishing Worldwide!


2.    What skills are essential if one wants to break into the world of publishing house publicity?


In Publicity (and Marketing) you need to know how to multitask. Be organized, efficient, and creative. There is always something new going on and there is never a dull moment in the day.

3.    What does a day in the life of Cassie McGinty look like?

I usually come in around 8:30-8:45 and catch up on emails. Then the day can consist of anything from creating sell sheets, coordinating author travel, processing invoices, keeping track of author events, corresponding with bloggers, checking NetGalley, submitting books for awards and events, mailing books or promotions, and more! I really enjoy corresponding with bloggers and reading their book reviews! It is one of the highlights of my job because I get to see how the book impacts readers in a very real way.

4.    Do you find time to read strictly for your own pleasure? What are you reading right now?

Totally! I read every day on my commute to and from work and usually when I get home as well. I am a Science Fiction/Fantasy nerd. Right now I am reading CROWN OF VENGEANCE by Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory (TOR) which is just amazing. I also just started THE FOUNDRY’S EDGE by Cameron Baity and Benn Zelkowicz (Disney-Hyperion).

5.    What 2014 Disney Publishing releases are you especially excited to help introduce to the world?


DON’T LOOK BACK by Jennifer Armentrout, and not just because of the killer cover designed by Tyler Nevins! I am also super excited about PERCY JACKSON’S GREEK GODS by Rick Riordan and THE HUNT by Stacey Kade.

For December 2013 I am very excited about the release of THESE BROKEN STARS by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner. I have gotten to know Amie over email (she is from Australia and is HILARIOUS!) and am so excited for this book to come out. There are so many great things going for this book and I can’t wait for it to be out in the world!

6.    From your perspective, what are the things you like to see in a blogger’s review post?


I love it when a blogger falls head over heels in love with a book! Blogger reviews are such a great way to create Buzz about a book.

7.    What is the most challenging aspect of your job?

Just making sure that I have dotted my “I”s and crossed my “Ts”. There is always so much going on in any given day and I keep lists for everything that I have going on that is essential.

8.    Since this is happening in my birthday month, I have to ask – what is your favorite kind of birthday cake?

Hmmmmmm….. I love pumpkin spice cake with cream cheese icing!

Happy Birthday!


Thank you so much, Cassie, and OMG - I want cake now. Specifically the aforementioned pumpkin spice cake with cream cheese icing. Yum-o.

Don't forget to enter to win either a box of books (US only) or a book of your choosing from The Book Depository (International). Perhaps you might want to get These Broken Stars - I met Amie Kaufman and Megan Spooner at BEA this year and they were so incredibly nice. Good luck!

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November 19, 2013

REVIEW: Crash Into You (Pushing the Limits #3)

Crash Into You (Pushing the Limits #3), by Katie McGarry
To Be Published November 26, 2013
Publisher: HarlequinTeen
Format:
e-galley, obtained from NetGalley
Genre: 
Young Adult/Mature YA Contemporary Romance
To Buy: Amazon * Barnes & Noble
 

Rating:  5 STARS

(From Goodreads) The girl with straight As, designer clothes and the perfect life-that's who people expect Rachel Young to be. So the private-school junior keeps secrets from her wealthy parents and overbearing brothers...and she's just added two more to the list. One involves racing strangers down dark country roads in her Mustang GT. The other? Seventeen-year-old Isaiah Walker-a guy she has no business even talking to. But when the foster kid with the tattoos and intense gray eyes comes to her rescue, she can't get him out of her mind.

Isaiah has secrets, too. About where he lives, and how he really feels about Rachel. The last thing he needs is to get tangled up with a rich girl who wants to slum it on the south side for kicks-no matter how angelic she might look.

But when their shared love of street racing puts both their lives in jeopardy, they have six weeks to come up with a way out. Six weeks to discover just how far they'll go to save each other.


Best Katie McGarry Book YET. I am so unbelievably in love with Isaiah, I can't even tell you. And Rachel was so awesome... I know I'm gushing and fangirling, and I almost never do that, but this book seriously deserves it. Between the romance, the friendships, and all the hot cars and car talk, there was so much to love here.

Isaiah, still stinging from the rejection of the one girl he allowed himself to love, is in a pickle. He needs money to make his rent, so, he decides to race in an illegal street race. He did not plan to race against a timid, but beautiful girl who very obviously doesn't belong there. A near miss with the cops, and an unexpected fallout from the raided race, forges a friendship between Isaiah and Rachel, which then becomes something much more than friendship. Now, circumstances beyond their control will force both of them to confront the people who have been ruling their lives in order for them to even have a chance at being together. 

My heart broke for Isaiah in Dare You To (Pushing the Limits #2). He's such a good guy. He has an incredible sense of loyalty and dedication to his friends. He's been dealt a crap hand in life, and yet, he ducks his head and keeps going, trying to make himself better. I get why Beth rejected him. But, gosh - I just really wanted something to go right for this guy for a change. His homelife sucks, the girl he loves rejected him and he's constantly having to prove to people that the tats and piercings do not mean that he's a thug. In Crash Into You, my heart was STILL breaking for Isaiah. Then, in walks Rachel.
In the span of one week, I've done the two things the system taught me never to do: felt too much and dreamed of a different life. Wandering thoughts and feelings lead to an impending wreck. 
Rachel appears to have everything. Except, she's not living the life she wants. Rachel is the replacement part to her family. The family's eldest daughter died when she was a teen, and her mother had Rachel to fill the void. Except Rachel is not her sister. She loves cars and speed and hates shopping and mani pedis. She has severe panic attacks when she's stressed out or made the center of attention. This poor girl is a ghost in her own life.

But, holy crap on a cracker - when Isaiah and Rachel get together, it was like a thing of beauty. They were exactly what each other needed. Rachel needed someone who understood her love of cars and accepted that about her. She needed someone to protect her and help her feel safe. And she needed someone to help her stand up for herself and bring that inner fierceness out. Isaiah needed someone to shelter him from all the storms that buffered him every day. He needed someone to see through his rough exterior to the good man underneath it. He needed someone to believe in him and to love him unconditionally. Isaiah and Rachel needed each other.

Katie - mad props to you. There were so many awesome boys in this one book, it was easy to go a little cross-eyed from all the man candy. There was, of course, Isaiah. Noah and Ryan from books one and two are also very much present. Then, there's Logan, Ryan's BFF; Zach, a boy Isaiah knows from school; and Rachel's FOUR hot brothers - Gavin, Jake, West and Ethan. (Take Me On, the fourth book in the series, will focus on West, the token man-whore of the group) I hope Katie has many more books planned for this series, because I need to know more about all of them.

There are other girls present too, of course. There's definitely some time spent with Echo, who seemed to be going through her own troubles. There's also Beth who spends the book trying to smooth things over with Isaiah. And we are introduced to Abby, Isaiah's other female friend who gets tight very quickly with Rachel. What an odd couple those two made. I absolutely loved it.

The romance between Isaiah and Rachel was so painfully sweet. This is NOT a new adult book. There are no super sexy scenes between these two. The sexy times between them are fueled more by emotions than by hormones. Which almost makes it better. The words these two had for each other made me melt.
I can't give you the world, Rachel. But, I'll give you all I got. 
So, I guess the only question left at this point is, what are you doing still reading this when you should be out there pre-ordering Crash Into You? Go! Shoo! Do it now, because seriously, you need to read this book.

November 18, 2013

COVER REVEAL: Taut: The Ford Book (A Rook and Ronin Spin-Off)

For my second cover reveal of the day, I can't wait to show you the cover for one of the most anticipated new adult spin-offs on my TBR - TAUT: The Ford Book (A Rook and Ronin Spin-Off). If you've read the Rook and Ronin series, you've met and likely fallen in love with the complicated enigma that is Ford, same as me. I did a little happy dance when I found out that J.A. Huss was writing companion books for both Ford and Spencer. And, now - FINALLY - Ford's book is here.

Coming in January 2014

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Ddigital-text&field-keywords=Rook%20and%20Ronin%20husshttp://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/Rook-and-Ronin-huss?store=allproducts&keyword=Rook+and+Ronin+huss

About TAUT: The Ford Book (A Rook and Ronin Spin-off) by J.A. Huss
Ford Aston is getting the f*ck out of Denver. He does not give a shit about blizzards, getting his old ass Bronco over the Rocky Mountains in one piece, or a girl knocking on his hotel door looking to be saved.
Ford Aston is known for many things. Being an emotionless, messed up bastard, a freakishly smart social outcast, and a cold, domineering master who keeps “pets” instead of girlfriends.
And after Rook broke his heart, he plans to keep it that way.
******
Ashleigh is getting the f*ck out of somewhere, but she’s not quite sure where she’s coming from, let alone where she’s going.

Ashleigh is known for nothing, and that’s exactly what she’s got going for her. She’s broke, stranded in the mountains with a three month old baby, and Ford Aston is f*cking with her head.

Big. Time.

And she plans to f*ck with his right back.
******
It’s a coy game at first, filled with flirting, and innuendo—but Ford soon realizes something is not quite right with Ashleigh. In fact, something is seriously, seriously wrong and the closer they get to their final destination, the closer Ford gets to the truth.

One night of devastation, self-loathing, and emptiness turns into the best thing that ever happened to Ford Aston. But one day of in-your-face reality threatens Ashleigh's whole existence. Can Ford allow another woman into his heart and risk the possibility of being hurt, or will he walk away from Ashleigh just when she needs him most?


About the Author

J. A. Huss likes to write new adult books that make you think and keep you guessing. Her favorite genre to read is space opera, but since practically no one reads those books, she writes new adult science fiction, paranormal romance, contemporary romance, urban fantasy, and books about Junco (who refuses to be saddled with a label).

She has an undergraduate degree in horses, (yes, really–Thank you, Colorado State University) and a master’s degree in forensic toxicology from the University of Florida. She used to have a job driving around Colorado doing pretty much nothing but shooting the breeze with farmers, but now she just writes, runs the New Adult Addiction and Clean Teen Reads Book Blogs, and runs an online science classroom for homeschoolers.

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