Friday, May 29, 2015

Friday Spotlight (5) and Giveaway: Ara by B.R. Eddy


I am hosting this book blitz on behalf of YA Bound Book Tours

Title: Ara
Author: B.R. Eddy
Genre: Action & Adventure Fantasy
Released 2014

Summary

Ara Vertrees is an advisor to the King in Jimalia, a thriving island nation in the middle of a vast ocean. Her macaws are trained to fly home to the palace to repeat confidential information. When their messages become more and more troubling, she finds herself in the middle of a crisis she never expected. Ara's story is full of adventure, friendship, mystery, love and loss. Join Ara and her companions as they fight pirates, uncover deception, find love and fight for Jimalia (Summary from Goodreads).

Buy Ara now from Amazon!



Excerpt

Archer placed both hands firmly on the desk, “We will need to act quickly. I must confront him.” Ara nodded, “Aye, he must be taken by surprise, we can’t allow him any time to prepare.” She looked directly into Archer’s eyes, “You must sharpen your swordsman’s skills. He will not cede to you peacefully. It will come to swords.”

 Archer snuffed, “My swordsmanship is exemplary.” 

Captain Upshaw faced him aggressively, “You mustn’t underestimate him. He is many years your senior and served the navy when he was your age.” 

Archer laughed, “He’s a fat old man! I have a clear advantage over him, my victory is sure.” 

He was startled by the distinct ring of a sword being drawn from its sheath. All jumped in the small space, Ara’s sword sang over the table, her face was mad with rage, “Outside now!” 

Ara was furious. The damn fool! She chased him out into the officers’ lobby where he fumbled at his sword hilt. Although she was speaking to Archer, all fled the chartroom to escape her swinging sword. She chased Archer out onto the deck where his humiliation would be seen by all, as it would come to pass if he didn’t put his arrogant ways behind him. Except this bout would not end in his death. 

Archer finally freed his sword from its sheath and faced her, but before he could find his footing she sliced his shirt with a controlled swing under his defenses, “He will rend you to ribbons! He has served in battle and is familiar with fighting to kill. If you honestly think your fancy little fencing training by instructors who were too afraid to offend a Cannon gives you a ‘clear advantage’ then you’re a dead man walking!” She struck his blade down hard, rage fueling her. The hilt of her own sword rung from the strike so hard that it hurt her hand. She sliced at him again, this time at his shoulder, this time finding skin. “My own young apprentice could oust you, and I am just a court lady!” 

The men around them hooted and hollered, excited by the confrontation. Shells were being collected left and right for betting. They were all around them, up in the shrouds and on the aft- and forecastles, stomping their feet and chanting something Ara couldn’t distinguish. She was entirely focused on Archer. 

Archer roared and charged her sloppily. She snuffed in distaste as she stepped aside calmly, leaving one foot planted for him to trip over, which he did. He yelped as his face cracked against the deck loudly.

His sword slid away from him, he groaned as he flipped over to his back, grasping his head. Ara stood over him, pressing the tip of her blade to his throat, “You’re dead.” 

The men cheered and hollered. Archer’s face burned red. 

“Now...” She sheathed her sword and took a breath, “You must sharpen your swordsman’s skills.” 

He sat up and hung his head for a moment, but then retrieved his sword and found his feet, “Aye, councilor.”

Giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

About the Author


My name is Brit and I was born and raised in Santa Cruz, California. My work with animals brought macaws into my life. They frightened me, moved me, hurt me, loved me and made me grow. I hope that my novel will help people understand these birds better! They are breathtaking and intelligent, but do not make good pets for most families. They require a lot of space and attention, can be very destructive and can easily outlive you. They can be incredible companions to the right people. Please keep all these things in mind when considering a macaw as a pet!

Author Links: WebsiteGoodreadsTwitterFacebook

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The Hero of Ages by Brandon Sanderson


Title: The Hero of Ages (Mistborn #3)
Author: Brandon Sanderson
Released October 14th, 2008
Bought on Kindle
Rating: 5/5

Summary

(Warning: this summary is a spoiler if you haven't read the first two books!)

Tricked into releasing the evil spirit Ruin while attempting to close the Well of Ascension, new emperor Elend Venture and his wife, the assassin Vin, are now hard-pressed to save the world. This adventure brings the Mistborn epic fantasy trilogy to a dramatic and surprising climax as Sanderson's saga offers complex characters and a compelling plot, asking hard questions about loyalty, faith and responsibility (Summary from Goodreads).


Possible Spoilers Ahead!

Hero of Ages starts off a couple years after the events at the end of The Well of Ascension.  The mists continue to come out earlier in the evening and stay longer in the morning.  The ash falls even quicker, threatening to destroy crops and all life.  The destructive god known as Ruin is set on destroying everything and the protective god Preservation is growing weaker.  Basically, serious shiz is going down and the end of the world does not seem far away.

Ironically, storage caverns prepared by the Lord Ruler give Vin and Elend hope that they can beat this unseen force.  Not only are Vin and Elend doing whatever they can to save their people, but Spook, Sazed, TenSoon, Breeze, and Ham also have roles to play in unlocking the Lord Ruler's secrets left behind in the caverns.

I'M SORRY I HAVE TO USE GIFS TO EXPRESS MYSELF

THAT ENDING HAD ME LIKE



BUT IN A GOOD WAY



ALL. THE. FEELS.

This is starting to look like a Tumblr post.  But seriously, the ending was bittersweet, yet perfect in every way.  It was amazing the way everything clicked together.  Brandon Sanderson must have planned that ending from the beginning of The Final Empire because all the little clues came together, even the little things that I didn't think were significant (like Vin's earring omigosh).  

For me, the best books are the ones that do what the Mistborn trilogy did; they completely take me by surprise and click seemingly unrelated bits of information that appeared throughout the series into an epic ending.  Suddenly all those little things make sense and I sit in awe of how meticulous Sanderson had to be in creating the details of the story.

When reading these books, it's like I'm watching a TV show in my head.  That's how great the story is brought to life.  At times, I admit that too much detail slows me down, but the world of Mistborn is so unique and the pieces of the story fit together so well that I loved every moment of it.

I actually don't want to get into detail about things from the story just because there is so much packed into the book that I think this general overview of my emotions is good enough to express this book (plus I'm a little lazy).  Also, I wouldn't be saying anything too different from my reviews of the first two books (such as how Vin's a badass and I love the world-building and so on and so forth).  So with that, I'm just gonna say that if you read the first two and are planning to read this one, prepare to have your mind blown at the end.  That is all.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Friday Spotlight (4) and Giveaway: The Occasional Diamond Thief by J.A. McLachlan


I am hosting this blitz on behalf of YA Bound Book Tours

Title: The Occasional Diamond Thief
Author: J.A. McLachlan
Genre: Science Fiction
Released May 15th, 2015

Summary

On his deathbed, Kia's father discloses a secret to her alone: a magnificent diamond he has been hiding for years. Fearing he stole it, she too keeps it secret. She learns it comes from the distant colonized planet of Malem, where her father caught the illness that eventually killed him. Now she is even more convinced he stole it, as it is illegal for any off-worlder to possess a Malemese diamond. 

When 16-yr-old Kia is training to be a translator, she is co-opted by a series of events into travelling as a translator to Malem. Using her skill in languages and another skill she picked up after her father s death, the skill of picking locks - she unravels the secret of the mysterious gem and learns what she must do to set things right: return the diamond to its original owner. But how will she find out who that is when no one can know that she, an off-worlder, has a Malemese diamond? (Summary from Goodreads)

Author Interview

Hello, I’m J. A. McLachlan, the author of The Occasional Diamond Thief. I’m so pleased to be meeting you, and I’d like to thank Maria for having me here on Books, Tea. And Cats today. This blog tour is part of my online launch of The Occasional Diamond Thief, and I’ll have something different at each stop – book excerpts, author and character reveals, vlogs, reviews and blog posts – for you to enjoy. You can find The Occasional Diamond Thief at: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00NF9NYJM  And you can find me at: http://www.janeannmclachlan.com
Check here for the other places I’ll be from May 18th until May 29th: http://yaboundbooktours.blogspot.ca/2015/03/blog-tour-sign-up-occasional-diamond.html

An interview with Author J. A. McLachlan and Kia, the protagonist of The Occasional Diamond Thief.

1. What’s your favorite character in the book and why?
J.A.: I like Kia and Agatha equally, but if I had to choose, I’d probably pick Kia, She’s so spunky and tough, but underneath she’s very loving and loyal, and despite her outward cynicism, she does try to do the right thing in the end.
Kia: I like Jumal. Don’t tell him, though.

2. What kind of person is the opposite of you?
J.A.: My opposite would be timid and quiet and always thinks before she speaks. I think I’d like her. Too bad, I know she’d hate me!
Kia: Agatha.

3. Kia is socially awkward, was this written from experience?
J.A.: Unfortunately, yes. Only I wish I’d been cool and stand-offish like her when I was a teenager, not eager and shy. But I do remember what is was like not to feel like I belonged among my peers.
Kia: I am not awkward. I am just choosy about who I talk to and I say what I think.

4. What are three of your favorite things?
J.A.: Books, tea, and cats. Honestly. Maria must be a lot like me.
Kia: Languages, actionvids, and not leaving my home planet, Seraffa!

5. What is the hardest thing about being a character in a book and getting your author to say what you want her to about you, Kia?
Kia: The hardest thing was the title. I had to take matters into my own hands for that, and add “occasionally” into the title before it went to print. Best I could think of in short notice. And I made the mistake of telling her the real story of what happened to me, so then, when I wanted to change or omit the bits I wasn’t so proud of, like taking that first ring, she wouldn’t.

6. How did Kia find learning languages so easy, and was it easy learning to be a thief? Bet she never thought that you would end up having such cool adventures!
Kia: I don’t know, I guess I’m just good at languages, like my father was. I have “an ear” for them, I’m told. And it’s a lot easier than math and science. Just because I live in your future, doesn’t mean I’m all science/technology geeky. I have no idea how the spaceships run. Do you know how an airplane works? Right.
As for my adventures, they didn’t seem so cool at the time. And I’m not allowed to talk much about them now, for political reasons. So I’m told. The O.U.B. were paying me to go, so I have to accept their terms.


7. Are you also skilled with languages like Kia?
J.A.: I speak English, Intermediate French, enough German to get by, and a smattering of Spanish. And whatever Latin I remember from high school. Haven’t had much chance to practice that last one…
Kia: Only three languages? Pretty lame.

8. Do you consider yourself a normal teenager, Kia? What’s the most ridiculous thing one of your language professors told you?
Kia: I am not normal. I am exceptional. Especially in languages. And maybe picking locks, but I’ve decided not to do that anymore. Keeping the tools, though, just in case…
Half the things my language professors tell me are ridiculous. The other half are insightful and essential to a translator. Trouble is, you never know when the next sentence is going to be one of the insightful ones, and not more drivel. So I have to listen to the whole crapshoot.

9. Is the girl on the cover Kia? (Both in the sense of “is she meant to be Kia?” And “is this how you imagine her?”
J.A.: I love the cover. And yes, she’s Kia, exactly as I pictured her. I was so thrilled when I saw the cover – it was like I was finally meeting Kia after knowing her for years!
Kia: If you hadn’t taken so long to write it, you would have seen what I look like sooner.

10. What was your favorite scene to write in The Occasional Diamond Thief?
J.A.: The scene I love most is with Kia and Tira at night – can’t say more, but you’ll know it when you read it.
Kia: That was awful. I was terrified!

11. Are you planning on writing more about Kia? It would be interesting to see where she goes now that her adventure on Malem is over.
J.A.: Yes, there is going to be another one, and if you stay on this blog tour, you’ll get to read a free short story and know where Kia’s going next! I haven’t started writing the next book yet, though - it’s fighting for second place in the cue. So it may be a while.
Kia: What she means to say is, I have to go there and then come back and tell her what happened, before she can write it.

12. If you only had about 1-2 minutes to sell someone on this book, what would you say to them?
Kia: I’d tell them not to buy it. It tells way too much about me; scary things happen so they won’t be able to go do stuff they want to do but will have to keep reading instead; they’re going to cry in places – and who likes being moved to tears? Someone could walk into the room and see them crying! And in other places they’ll laugh out loud - which, if anyone is listening, will make them feel like an idiot.
It is definitely a book that will make it difficult for them to maintain their cool while reading, and besides — I AM NOT A THIEF!


Excerpt

(This excerpt from the novel describes Kia’s first meeting with handsome 17-year-old Jumal.)
The day is cold and overcast again, raining off and on in short, angry bursts. In the three days we’ve been here there’s been as much precipitation as we get in a year on Seraffa. I go out anyway, hoping to walk off the bad feeling I have, and trudge down the muddy road, flapping my arms to keep warm.
I stop when I realize I must look like a duck in the rain. Too late. I’ve already emerged from Prophet’s Lane onto the cobblestone street, and a guy about my age is staring at me as he walks past, his lips curved in a mocking half-smile. I stare back, partly because he’s being rude, and partly because he’s worth staring at: tall and slim, with high cheekbones and dark eyes framed with long, dark lashes my college roommate would kill for.

“Quack,” he says, laughs, and keeps walking. I stand there, trying to think of a clever reply to shout after him, but all my four-and-a-half languages fail me. I turn and walk in the opposite direction, feeling exactly like I must look: not just normal stupid, but major moronic.

Giveaway

About the Author

J. A. McLachlan was born in Toronto, Canada. She is the author of a short story collection, CONNECTIONS, published by Pandora Press and two College textbooks on Professional Ethics, published by Pearson-Prentice Hall. But science fiction is her first love, a genre she has been reading all her life, and Walls of Wind is her first published Science Fiction novel. Her new science fiction novel is The Occasional Diamond Thief. She is represented by Carrie Pestritto at Prospect Agency. 

Author Links:

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell


Title: Fangirl
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Released September 10th, 2013
Bought on Kindle
Rating: 3.5/5

Summary

A coming-of-age tale of fan fiction, family and first love. 

Cath is a Simon Snow fan.

Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan...

But for Cath, being a fan is her life—and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving.

Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.

Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.

Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words... And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

For Cath, the question is: Can she do this?

Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories?

And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind? (Summary from Goodreads)


Fangirl follows Cather (“Cath”), a college freshman and shut-in who struggles with anxiety, and as one can tell by the title of the book, a fangirl of a fictional series of books that seem very much like Harry Potter.  She is the complete opposite of her identical twin sister Wren who is super charismatic and isn’t afraid to party hard.  There isn’t a real “plot” to the story, but there are several struggles that Cather and Wren go through throughout the book. 

Spoilers Ahead!

It’s hard to talk about the book without possibly giving away spoilers.  On top of Cath’s anxiety and trouble fitting into the college life, her and Wren’s mother left them when they were only eight years old, and the twins are left to pick up the pieces of their father, who tends to have nervous breakdowns.

I feel a bit guilty because there was a lot of hype about this book and I didn't enjoy it as much as I thought I would.  Cather’s roommate, Reagan, offered much needed humor to the story, but I found most of the attempts at humor from the other characters were not very funny to me.  It was like it was supposed to be quirky but it just didn't work.  Some of the descriptions were difficult for me to visualize, as well.  For instance, it was hard for me to imagine Reagan’s ex-boyfriend and best friend (and Cather’s boyfriend) Levi smiling throughout most of the book.  I just went through my first year of college, and let me just say that I could never imagine someone actually doing that.  Also this:


"His lips were thin but dark, the same color as the inside of his mouth."

and this:


"His mouth was small, but bowed.  Like a doll's.  She wondered if he had trouble opening it wide enough to eat apples."

and especially the last sentence of this:


"Inside, her internal organs were grinding themselves into nervous pulp.  Her intestines were gone.  Her kidneys were disintegrating.  Her stomach was wringing itself out, yanking on her trachea."
Ew. Just no.

Another pet peeve of mine was that Levi would call Cather “Sweetheart.” Seriously? My mom calls me sweetheart.  And, it seemed like Cather was pointing out all of Levi's physical flaws almost every time she saw him, which I thought was annoying.  I don’t know. Maybe I’m being a bit harsh. However, I did truly enjoy the exchanges between Cath, Levi, and Reagan in the beginning.  Reagan actually had me laughing whenever she made fun of Cath's social ineptitude.  Levi had me swooning a couple times.  I did like Levi, but I felt like his character was really unrealistic. 

On the other hand, I could relate to Cath in a few ways.  I think a lot of college freshman have to deal with friends (or in this case, Wren) wanting to practice their independence and meet new people.  This is definitely something I’ve experienced this past year.  While I’m not a writer, I can relate to Cath’s love of Simon Snow.  I was pretty obsessed with The Mentalist for the last two years, and I’d spend hours reblogging on Tumblr until the season finale this past February.  Lastly, I admired Cath’s willingness to help her father when Wren wouldn't.


I’m sorry I didn't enjoy Fangirl.  It felt like something was missing – it could be the lack of a real plot or the fact that I’m so used to reading epic fantasies, or maybe just the writing.  Actually, this may be the first contemporary YA book I’ve read so far!  This could totally just be my personal preference.  Even though I didn't care for Fangirl much, I encourage you guys to read it because so many other people loved it.
Friday, May 15, 2015

Friday Spotlight (3): Beyond Reach by Siobhan Davis


I am hosting this tour on behalf of Lola's Blog Tours

Title: Beyond Reach (True Calling #2)
Author: Siobhan Davis
Genre: Science Fiction
Released May 30th, 2015

Summary

Back on Earth, Ariana is caught in a dangerous crossfire between clandestine rebel organization Clementia and the power-hungry government. Refusing to divulge the location of the secret information entrusted to her by her late father, she desperately tries to bargain for her Mom, Lily, and Cal’s rescue. She’s fighting a losing battle, and the clock is ticking.

Presented with evidence of her fiancĂ© Cal’s apparent betrayal, she loyally defends him despite her concerns. With her emotions in turmoil, matters become even more complicated as she grows closer to her ex-boyfriend Zane.

When the stakes are raised, a succession of shocking revelations rocks her world, setting her on a path that will not only change her destiny but the fate of humanity. 

Confronted by a memory so abhorrent comes a truth she would do anything to forget. 

But some things just can’t be undone (Summary from Goodreads).


Excerpt

Jax helps me up, coughing loudly. Then strong arms tug me back against a solid chest. “Are you hurt?” Zane asks.

“No, I think I’m okay.” Though it’s hard to decipher anything in the dust cloud. My heart rate spikes painfully as I hear the sound of harried footsteps approaching. Pulling out of Zane’s embrace, I swivel around.

“Zane?” Ben yells. Materializing in front of me, he grabs me into his rough embrace. “I thought I told you not to pull any stupid stunts?”

“Can we save the lecture? Agent Leena says we need to go now,” Zane says, holding his fingers to a small metal gadget affixed to his ear. Grabbing my hand, he propels me forward. Ben and Jax follow at my heels.

We push out into the stairwell and pick our way over the layer of debris coating the floor. Peering over the edge of the railing, I see evidence of further destruction stretching the full length of the building. “What happened?” I ask, confused.

“Commander De Luca is in a stealth-craft overhead. He blasted the building with a low-level incendiary bolt to act as a diversion. He’s drawing some of the Rangers away so that we can escape on foot,” Zane says, thrusting a gun into my hand and offering a smaller one to Jax. “Be careful, it’s unlocked,” he adds.

“I know how to handle a gun, Zane.” My lips tighten into thin lines, and Jax chuckles. Zane grins as he starts descending the stairs. A shot whizzes past my head, and we all instinctively drop to the floor. Visibility is still somewhat poor, but I can just make out a couple of shapes approaching. Raising my hand, I fire indiscriminately, intending it as a warning rather than a deliberate attempt to kill. But one of the bodies falls to the ground, and I have to swallow the lump in my throat.


Follow these blogs to find out what happens next!


1 May
Natural Bri - Pursuits of Life
Paranormal Books

3 May
Reading Addict

4 May
Kimber Leigh Writes

5 May
Word to Dreams

6 May
Book Lovers Life

7 May
Deal Sharing Aunt

8 May
3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, & Sissy, Too!

12 May
MichaelSciFan

13 May
T's Stuff

15 May
Books Tea and Cats

16 May
SoulCleverBooks

18 May
Books and Ashes

20 May
Romance that's 'Out Of This World'

21 May
Love, Laughter, Friendship

Giveaway

Enter for a chance to win 2 e-copies of Beyond Reach by Siobhan Davis and 2 10$ amazon gift cards!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

About the Author

Siobhan Davis is the author of YA science fiction romance series True Calling.

A self-diagnosed ‘teenager forever’—at least when it comes to books, music and movies; Siobhan is totally addicted to teen fiction and superhero/blockbuster movies. Siobhan loves baking, crime novels, shoes, bags, make-up, anti-wrinkle cream, anything pink, Kelly Clarkson, Katy Perry, and Robert Pattinson (definitely Team Edward).

Siobhan has forged a successful corporate career, in Human Resources, over the last twenty years.

A member of the IWI writers group, Siobhan resides in the Garden County of Ireland with her husband and two sons.

Author Links:


Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Nice Dragons Finish Last by Rachel Aaron

Title: Nice Dragons Finish Last (Heartstrikers #1)
Author: Rachel Aaron
Released July 15th, 2014
Bought on Kindle
Rating: 5/5

Summary

As the smallest dragon in the Heartstriker clan, Julius survives by a simple code: keep quiet, don’t cause trouble, and stay out of the way of bigger dragons. But this meek behavior doesn't fly in a family of ambitious magical predators, and his mother, Bethesda the Heartstriker, has finally reached the end of her patience. 

Now, sealed in human form and banished to the DFZ--a vertical metropolis built on the ruins of Old Detroit--Julius has one month to prove that he can be a ruthless dragon or kiss his true shape goodbye forever. But in a city of modern mages and vengeful spirits where dragons are considered monsters to be exterminated, he’s going to need some serious help to survive this test. 

He only hopes humans are more trustworthy than dragons...(Summary from Goodreads)


Julius is considered a "bad" dragon because he is too nice and tries to stay out of the way of his ambitious older siblings.  Julius is just trying to survive, but his mother Bethesda finds his behavior lazy, and the great Heartstriker clan has no use for lazy dragons.  So his mother decides to banish him to the one place where dragons are illegal: the Detroit Free Zone, where he is stuck in his human form due to a seal placed by his mother.  Julius must prove that he is a ruthless dragon or else his mother will eat him.

From the very first page, I knew I was going to like this book.  I'm not quite sure why.  It could have been the writing, the witty main character, or the plot, but either way I loved it.  My friend recommended this book to me, and I am soooo happy I picked it up.

First of all, the plot was interesting, and there were some nice action-packed  scenes but with humor thrown in, which just made it perfect for me.  I love it when a story can mix action and humor.  I also like how there seems to be an even greater conflict going on between dragon clans, so I'm really looking forward to the next book to see what happens with that.

The characters had personalities of their own that I really enjoyed getting to know, especially Julius' elder brother Bob, a seer who was crazy and hilarious, and Marci, a human mage with a bold and adorable personality.  There is a little romantic interest going on between Marci and Julius, but it doesn't go very far in this book (I always love me a good ship!).

Also, I loved the magic system.  There were rules to the magic that made it feel believable.  For instance, dragons make their own magic, while human mages have to use a magical source to draw magic.  I found it really interesting when Marci explained how she writes script on things to use magic (kind of like computer programming).  Not sure if this makes sense to ya'll, so you'll just have to read it!

Gahhh all I can say is that I really liked this book. Now I need to stop procrastinating and study for my final exam tomorrow *sigh*.
Friday, May 8, 2015

Friday Spotlight (2) and Giveaway: The Gatekeeper's Son by C.R. Fladmark


I am hosting this blitz on behalf of Xpresso Book Tours


Title: The Gatekeeper's Son
Author: C.R. Fladmark
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Released October 1st, 2014

Summary

Junya’s grandfather is a billionaire who keeps the secret to his success hidden in a heavily guarded safe.

His mother is a martial artist who wields a razor-sharp katana—and seems to read his mind.

And a mysterious girl in a Japanese school uniform can knock him over—literally—with just a look.

What do they know that he doesn’t?

Junya’s life takes a dangerous turn on his sixteenth birthday, when someone sets out to destroy not only the family’s business empire—the one that he’s set to inherit—but Junya himself. He’s fighting for his life, and doesn’t know who to trust.
What has his family been keeping from him?

Junya’s journey takes him from the narrow streets of San Francisco to Japan, and through hidden portals to the top of the ancient Japanese Izumo Shinto shrine, to places where death and violence are a way of life. And in a mystical world he’s never imagined, he finds his true destiny (Summary from Goodreads).

Buy now from Amazon or B&N!

Author Interview

Your book, The Gatekeeper's Son, takes place in two very different worlds and cultures, and you manage to slide from one into the other without any problem - even gracefully. How do you do it?   
Japan is so different from any other place I’ve visited; it was as if I was on a different planet! On my first visit, I just walked around in awe. Huge glass towers, bullet trains and so many people! But then, you’d round a corner and find yourself in the quiet garden of a 800 year old Buddhist temple. The ultra-modern and the ancient co-exist everywhere so for me, it’s not hard to describe an ancient world beside a modern San Francisco.  
Like most writers, I noticed on your website that you also work a full-time job. (Yes, we all need to eat and pay bills.) Do you have any secrets for juggling both at once?
Finding time is a constant struggle. With a busy family and a job, writing often ends up at the bottom of a long to-do list. I keep my laptop with me and when I’m waiting for my kids at music class or sports practice, I write. Then, of course, there is the late-night writing sessions that leave me bleary-eyed at work the next day. That’s all I can do until this becomes a full-time gig.  
What is your favorite part about writing?
I love it when I lose myself in a scene and become so engrossed that my fingers can’t keep up with the story. It’s also fascinating how my characters surprise me by doing something unexpected. They take on a life of their own.
And what would you rather eat worms than do?
I would happily chomp worms to avoid anything involving heights. “Want to bungee jump or go skydiving?” Chomp, chomp.
Many authors were avid readers during their childhood. What were you favorite books while growing up?
I read like crazy! I can’t really remember specific books but I know there a lot of mysteries and comic books. In my teens, I read a wide variety of novels but westerns were my mainstay.
What are you reading right now?
The Shadow Of What Was Lost (The Licanius Trilogy, #1) by James Islington

When you aren’t writing, what do you like to do? 
Sleep? No, there are many beaches near my home and we try to get to them as much as we can, rain or shine. And of course, reading is one of my favorite things to do.
What’s your advice for aspiring writers?

I know it's a boring answer but you need to write, write, write. We get better by doing. As we say in martial arts, 10,000 times to master something, a lifetime to perfect it. You need to read a lot too; you can't write if you don't. And read a broad range of genres, not just the type you want to write about. Inspiration for a space fantasy story could come from a Jane Austin novel.
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About the Author

Award winning author, C.R. Fladmark lives in a small, historic town in British Columbia and travels often to Japan, where he researches his novels among the ancient sites in Shimane Prefecture.

Author Links:






Wednesday, May 6, 2015

The Boy Who Knew Too Much by Jeffrey Westhoff

Title: The Boy Who Knew Too Much
Author: Jeffrey Westhoff
Released June 1st, 2015
ARC sent by publisher
Rating: 4/5

Summary

The adventure of his dreams just became a nightmare.

The Boy Who Knew Too Much is an action-charged YA adventure that blends the suspense of Alfred Hitchcock with the thrills of James Bond.

While on a school trip to Europe, Milwaukee teenager Brian Parker hopes for just a taste of the glamour and excitement of his favorite spy novels. Yet Brian gets way more than a taste when he stumbles across a wounded spy in a Lucerne alley.

The man's dying words catapult Brian into a desperate chase across the continent. America's latest super weapon is at stake, and everyone from a rogue CIA officer to a sadistic criminal mastermind is after it - and Brian. New enemies emerge at every turn, but Brian soon finds a welcome ally in Larissa, a beautiful French girl who loves the Ramones and is handy with a blast of pepper spray.

Brian faces a deadly path, but reading all those spy novels has taught him a few tricks of the trade. They just might save his life (Summary from Goodreads).

This is the first YA spy novel I've ever read, and it was everything I would expect in a spy-type novel: action, adventure, and your somewhat cliche mad scientist and criminal mastermind. Since this book has not yet been released, I will try not to include any spoilers to you guys.

15 year-old Brian starts off on an adventure when he stumbles upon a nearly dead spy while on a school trip in Europe who gives him cryptic information to pass on to the American embassy in France.  Although Brian is a huge fan of spy novels, he never would have thought he'd be kidnapped multiple times and hunted down by a criminal while on his school field trip.

One of the things I liked most about this book was that each chapter ended with something unexpected that really made me want to keep reading.  I tend to like books with short chapters that end in mini-cliffhangers and they remind me of the Mary Higgins Clark mystery/thriller novels I used to be obsessed with in middle school.  It keeps the story fast-paced.

Also, one of the characters named Jack Silver brought back pleasant memories of Treasure Island's Long John Silver.  Not only do these two characters share the same last name, but they also have a limp and do morally questionable things. For some reason I found Brian to be a know-it-all but I warmed up to his character by the end.  

I'm not sure if it was my reading slump or the fact that I'm getting stressed out about finals week coming up, but there were a couple things that bothered me. I found that the dialogue felt rather plain and the characters lacked personality a bit. Sometimes the writing felt more middle-grade, so I think my younger self would have appreciated this book more.  However, if you like spy novels I think you'll enjoy this more than me.

Overall, it was a very pleasant read that I probably could have finished in three days if I wasn't going through an end-of-semester burnout and reading slump (it took me about a week to finish even though it's only 268 pages!) While this wasn't a genre I typically read, I enjoyed it nonetheless.


Friday, May 1, 2015

Friday Spotlight (1) and Giveaway: Suspected by Rori Shay


 I am hosting this book blitz on behalf of Lola's Blog Tours

Title: Suspected (The Elected Series #2)
Author: Rori Shay
Genre: Dystopian
Released April 22nd, 2015

Summary

East Country upheld the laws. Mid destroyed them.

In the year 2185 Earth is rebuilding after a global eco-crisis. Countries maintain complete isolation so there's no warfare over scarce resources. One Elected family is chosen to lead each country for one hundred years to ensure stability. Women aren't allowed to take office and must reproduce at all costs. Technology is banned to preserve what's left of the environment.

Yet, I'm my country's Elected. I've just sanctioned technology use to ready us for war. I'm about to cross the border to spy on our neighbor. And...I'm a girl. Shhhhhh.....(Summary from Goodreads)

Purchase Suspected now from Amazon!

Opening Scene Excerpt


Even the terrain in Mid Country senses we are intruders. Jagged rocks and thorny brown weeds jut out of the earth, scraping our ankles and slowing our progress. I didn’t have as much trouble hiking up East Country’s side of the border, but now that the three of us, me, Griffin, and Margareath, descend the steep slope into Mid, we’re constantly catching ourselves mid-stumble.

“You ok?” Griffin asks, reaching out a hand to steady me.

“Uh-huh.” The lie sounds hollow, even to my own ears. But I say it anyway and pick up my pace. I don’t want Griffin to convince me to turn back again like he tried to do as we waited for Margareath at the hill’s crest. Going back to East Country is the one thing I can’t do, and Griffin doesn’t even know the whole reason why. All he thinks is, I left East Country to spy on our neighbor and to help him escape our country’s death penalty. 

Yet there is another reason, and thus far, there has been no good time to tell Griffin he’s going to father not one, but two children in the Elected family. My pregnancy is something I want to divulge in a special way, not as we run like fugitives, breaking almost every law of our forefathers.

When the lights from Mid catch my attention again and almost set me into a forward tumble, I try to focus on doing one thing at a time: get down the hill, cross into Mid Country, then tell Griffin the news. 

Everything about Mid so far is offensive: their flagrant display of electricity, the strange way Margareath didn’t remember her family when asked about her children moments ago, even the air on Mid’s side of the Nirogene mines smells different than ours. There is a faint scent of wet metal and something sweetly acidic, which I can’t quite place, but that’s causing me to gag. I stop for a second, burying my face into the fabric of my shirt sleeve to take a deep, clean breath. Vienne warned me that newly pregnant I’d have a heightened sense of smell. That, on top of my perpetual nausea, is overwhelming to say the least. 

I blink my eyes once hard before proceeding forward again. The massive amount of illegal light emanating from Mid’s epicenter miles to our west is tremendous. It’s so dark on the mountain and so bright in the distance; our direct path seems even bleaker.

“Just a little more to the bottom of the hill,” says Margareath. She pants in between every other word, the exhaustion of our trek down this treacherous mountain evident on her features. “Once we reach the bottom, it’s about a day and a half walk to Mid’s city.” 

I try to estimate the number of miles from the border to Mid’s center. Maybe fifty, given Margareath’s statement and the fact that our pace is relatively slow. How long, I wonder, would it take a group of fighters from East to traverse the plains if an invasion was required? Every nugget of data on Mid gets me one step closer to understanding why they’re trying to invade my country, steal our resources, and kill my people. And closer to figuring out how to stop them.

I turn my head to peek at Griffin. Even in the inky darkness, I can see his brow furrowed in concentration. He’s been trying to act calm as we make our unlawful descent into enemy territory, but I can see the uneasiness in his eyes. He’s an escaped convict, and I’ve just broken at least two of the world’s Eco Accords. He’s as determined to thwart Mid as I am, but sneaking into the country is dangerous for both of us.

And Margareath is only barely helping. She’s been strange ever since we met her at the hill’s peak, giving hints about Mid Country, but not really telling us anything tangible. Her apparent glorification of our enemy and its “amazing” capabilities is unnerving. 

What if it’s a trap? Could Margareath, the first and only spy I sent into Mid, have defected? Would she dare lead us straight into the hands of Mid’s Elected? Breaking the Eco Accords and country isolationism would be a good enough excuse for their leader to execute me and Griffin right on the spot.

Giveaway

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About the Author

Rori Shay is a strategic management consultant living in the Seattle area with her family, black lab, and cat. In the writing world, Rori is primarily know for her science fiction trilogy, The Elected Series. She enjoys running, reading, snow-shoeing, pumpkin-picking, and right now…writing the third ELECTED novel! Rori is also a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI).

Author Links:

Website | Goodreads | Twitter | Facebook


May TBR & Other Blog News

So I only managed to read three books in April:

1. The Unlikely Disciple: A Sinner's Semester at America's Holiest University by Kevin Roose
2. The Final Empire (Mistborn #1) by Brandon Sanderson
3. The Well of Ascension (Mistborn #2) by Brandon Sanderson

Here is my rather ambitious list of books I *hope* to get through in May:

1. The Boy Who Knew Too Much by Jeffrey Westhoff - I was hoping to finish this in April but I've been reading so slowly lately.  I think it's due to end-of-semester burnout with exams coming next week.

2. Nice Dragons Finish Last (Heartstrikers #1) by Rachel Aaron - This one was recommended to me by a friend and looks really interesting! 










3. Fairy, Texas (Fairy, Texas #1) by Margo Bond Collins - I was asked to join in on a book tour and I was sent a copy by the publisher for review.  It will be a nice coincidence that I will be in Texas next month!









4. The Hero of Ages (Mistborn #3) by Brandon Sanderson - Time to make some more progress on this series!










5. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell - I've heard such great things about this book and I think it's time I jump on the bandwagon.










6. Paper Towns by John Green - This will be my first John Green book! I figured May would be a good time to read it since the movie is coming to theaters on June 5th.









In other news, since I tend to post most book blitzes/spotlights on Fridays, I'm going to start the meme "Spotlight Friday." Any time I host a promo, it will be on a Friday from now on.

What are you guys planning to read this month?  Feel free to comment below!
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