Friday, March 30, 2012

Lets Talk: Author’s Commenting On Reviews


“Let’s Talk” is something new I’ve recently started here on Epilogue.  It’s basically a time where I can have a heart to heart with all of you awesome people.  Hopefully it’ll be a time where we can interact and share are thoughts and feelings! 

            This topic is one I am sure many of you are familiar with: authors commenting on reviews.  I have heard a few different opinions on this, some in discussions and some in passing comments.  It strikes me as a “hot topic” right now and I’m not really sure why.

            Personally, I LOVE getting comments from an author, even if it’s just thanking me for taking the time to review their book.  If an author asks me to review their book of COURSE I expect them to read my review, why wouldn’t they?  I feel that they have as much right to comment as anyone else, as long as they remain respectful (just like reviewers should remain respectful in their reviews).  To me that’s no different from what any other commenter should do!  Now one thing I seem to have heard a lot is “I don’t mind if they comment on a positive review, just don’t comment on a negative review.”  To me that’s not very fair. When they give someone a book to review they don’t say “I don’t mind you writing a positive review, just don’t write a negative one” (at least none have said that to me).  The main thing is respect.  If an author, or normal commenter is going to write a hurtful comment: DON”T COMMENT. 

I pride myself on writing fair, respectful reviews.  When I see reviewers who start saying things like, “They should just go kill themselves, they can’t even write a good book” or “Seriously, how could they think ANYONE would EVER read this crap.” I think the reviewers are just being rude.  Someone who would be so cruel is probably not worth the time to comment too. Besides, any comment an author would make would be dissected or taken as mockery. However, on a normal negative review where the reviewer points out what they didn’t like and why the book wasn’t for them, why shouldn’t an author thank them for their time or for their constructive criticism?  They are helping the author become a better writer and oftentimes they (the reviewers) were asked specifically so the author can hear their opinion. I don’t see what’s wrong with that…

So what’s your opinion on the matter?  

If you’re an author do you comment on reviews for your book?  Does it matter if it is positive or negative?  Do you comment even if you didn’t ask them for a review?  

Fellow reviewers: do you agree or am I completely off base and just don’t understand the issues?  Have you ever had a bad experience with authors commenting? 

Let me know what you think, I would love to hear all your different opinions!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Two Terrific Covers Revealed!


Cover #1: Broken by C.K. Bryant. I really really LOVE this cover! It has the same model on the front that captured my attention on the first book (Bound) I love her hair and the stained glass window behind her and... everything.  This book will be sure to look great on any book shelf! Beautiful!


Cover #2: DEFY by Raine Thomas. This is another gorgeous cover.  I really like how the girl's complexion compliments the peacock feathers in her hair.  The girls eyes match the feathers and tie the whole cover together!  I love how the feathers actually look like they are a PART of her hair :) So pretty!

What do you think of these beautiful covers??


Don't forget to enter my 500 follower giveaway!!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

500 Follower Giveaway!!!

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            I. Am. Stunned. Seriously, you guys have blown my mind. I have hit the 500 follower mark and it is all thanks to you awesome people!! =) When I started this blog I didn't think anyone would read it besides a few close, loyal friends... and my mom.  You have all jumped up, showed support, and followed, which means so much to me!  I love seeing you all get involved in my posts and reviews because, well, your opinions matter to me.

            To thank you for being awesome I have prepared a little giveaway for you.  This is an extra special event because I will be having TWO giveaways.  One open for US only and one open Internationally (As long as The Book Depository ships to you).  The giveaways are as follows:

International: One winner will receive any book of their choice (up to $15) from The Book Depository.  To Qualify you must be eligible for their free shipping! If you don't know if that applies to you look here.

US Only: One winner will receive a signed, hardback copy of Tempest by Julie Cross

Review: Toren The Teller's Tale

Title: Toren The Teller’s Tale
Author: Shevi Arnold

Book Summary:

“Have you ever been swept away by a story?  If you have, you know the magic of the storyteller--and you know that magic is real.  This is seventeen-year-old Toren's magic … but is she brave enough to accept the power she holds?  When Toren returns home, her little sister, Noa, is full of questions.  Why does Toren awake only at night?  What causes her almost constant pain?  And above all, why, after completing her apprenticeship, has she has decided not to become a wizard?  To answer, Toren weaves a tale about a journey that leads her to discover the greatest source of magic in her world--herself.  It is a revelation that comes at a high price.  Through her darkest years, Toren finds solace and strength in the stories she tells.  But her greatest tale is not yet finished.  Together with Noa, she sets out on a new adventure.  And in the end, she must choose.  Will she continue to cling to her dream of an ordinary life, or will she dare to let her own magic shine?”

Ever since I was a little girl, my mom has read and told me stories.  Through my experiences with her, I completely understand the magic a storyteller wields.  They are responsible for holding our interest and keeping us entertained, a hard task at times!  Toren is a storyteller, and when she returns home unexpectedly after a long absence, the only story her little sister, Noa, wants to hear is Toren’s.  Over the span of the next several days, Toren spins a tale that stuns and captivates Noa.  At the end of each day, Noa has new questions waiting to be answered.  Only time will unravel all of Toren’s mysteries…

Toren has been through a LOT.  With a brother in charge who cares little for the family, she is forced to grow up fast.  Toren’s strength is evident from the beginning; her little bits of struggling and defiance are really HUGE leaps of inappropriate behavior where she comes from.  She is obviously a very special person, and I am enthralled repeatedly by Toren’s stories.  I even find myself believing that she makes them up on the spot just for me.  I catch myself wondering, “How does she do that in MINUTES?  I would not be able to rhyme that quickly.”

Her fantastic storytelling abilities aside, Toren has vast amounts of other talent.  She is apprenticed to a wizard, despite the fact that this is illegal, and her training is very thorough.  I definitely feel a stubborn streak in Toren, and this makes me like her that much more.  Noa also exhibits stubbornness but, for whatever reason, in her I find it rude and insensitive.  I connect strongly with Toren, so whenever anyone tries to harm or cajole, her I don’t like them very much.

Overall, Toren The Teller’s Tale is a FABULOUS book that I Highly Recommend to any Fantasy lover.  This book has magic, love, fighting, dragons, and lots of mysteries!  It is well written from a unique angle … the main character is actually TELLING a story.  Toren The Teller’s Tale also has illustrations at the beginning of each chapter-- a pattern I really enjoy.  I accidentally started reading the forward instead of chapter one, so “the story” initially was really confusing… especially when I began reading who it wanted to thank… but, I figured it out!  Then, once started, I could NOT put it down.

The Cover:

This cover is unusual.  It has a more cartoon-like face instead of a realistic one.  I think the picture is VERY unique, and I really like how the girl (Toren) is surrounded by little images.  I believe these are some of the same illustrations that are shown before each chapter.  This is a very unique cover for a very unique story! 

I give Toren The Teller's Tale 4.5 out of 5 hearts: Very Highly Recommended!

Visit Shevi Arnold on her website here: http://www.sheviarnold.com/ 

Or buy the book here:

paperback                ebook

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

One on One with Karly Kirkpatrick


Karly Kirkpatrick is a YA writer, avid reader, 

high school German and French teacher, and 

mother of a toddler. She is currently pursuing 

an MA in Writing and Publishing at DePaul 

University in Chicago. She lives in Elgin, Illinois

 with her husband, daughter, and two stinky 

                                           Shih Tzus.


Interview with Karly Kirkpatrick:

1)      Skittles or M&M’s?

Definitely Sour Skittles!

2)      Do you have any songs or a playlist for any of your books? If so what songs?         

I don’t have a specific list. While writing Into the Shadows, I listened to a lot of punk, Nine Inch Nails, and Rage Against the Machine. After that I’ve just used music that helped me write. Mostly I listen to Mumford and Sons, Foster the People, Oasis, or Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds while writing, regardless of the topic.

3)      Where do your story ideas come from?

I like to take every day problems and give them a twist. I have a background in history as well, so sometimes historical themes pop up and are mixed in with paranormal elements.

4)      On average how long does it take you from start to finish to write a book?

It’s hard to say. My first book took a year, my second, two months, the third, four months. That’s not including edits, just the first draft. Edits usually take an additional 6-8 weeks. I work full time and lately my schedule hasn’t allowed for a lot of writing time, so my current book will take a few months, I’m guessing.

5)      What is your favorite color?

Hmmm, tough question. Maybe red, but then I don’t wear a lot of red. I do have a lot of it in my house though!

6)      Where is your dream getaway location?

On a beach, anywhere in the Mediterranean. It’s my favorite place to travel to.

7)      What mythical animal would you choose to make real?

Unicorns. Hands down. They’re sooooooo pretty!

8)      When you were a child what did you think you would do for a job?

When I was in 4th to 6th grade, I wanted to be an author. In high school, I wanted to be in musical theater. Then I became a teacher, which I still do now as my day job.

9)       Tell me something that most people wouldn’t know about you!

Most of my readers probably wouldn’t know that I speak multiple languages. In addition to English, I speak German, French, and Spanish, along with a little Italian. I also spend a lot of summers traveling around Europe.

10)   Do you have any big goals you are working towards in the writing world?

 Nothing major. This year I’m working on finishing off the Into the Shadows trilogy. My goals are pretty simple, write books and put them out for readers to read!

11)  Coffee or Tea?

Neither, actually! I don’t drink hot drinks. I’m a water girl, mostly! Not very exciting. If I’m dying for caffeine, I’ll have a Pepsi.

12)  Swimming in the ocean or swimming in the pool?

I like going to the ocean, but prefer swimming in pools. No mystery critters in pools!

13)  What is your advice for aspiring young writers?

Work hard, finish your book, and work with other writers to make it the best it can be.

14)   Any interesting tidbit about yourself or your books!

An interesting tidbit about my books would be that a lot of the places are based off of real places, either where I grew up or live now. I also refer to restaurants that I frequent.

~Thank you so much!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

IMM (#7)

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In my mailbox is a meme hosted by Kristi at the Story Siren

This meme allows bloggers to hop from one blog to another and see  what others are reading.  It is also a way to showcase the books in a  "spotlight of fame" since it might be a while before the review is ready! I haven't done it for a few weeks so here is what I have received since my last IMM :) I have also received several books from giveaways this week!

For Review:

* A special thanks to Candlewick publishing and St. Martin's Griffin.*

So, what did you get in YOUR mailbox?

Review: The Keeper

Title: The Keeper
Author: Natalie Star

Book Summary:

“The morning of her sixteenth birthday, Billie feels blessed despite the reoccurring nightmare that wakes her.  Loving parents, a caring boyfriend, and great friends surround her until an heirloom necklace throws her into a world she never imagined.

“Gifted” with supernatural powers and an unexpected destiny as the Keeper, Billie and a mysterious boy from her past must work together to find answers.  But, as they begin to discover feelings for one another, he disappears leaving her to fight evil alone.  Her life spirals out of control.  She breaks up with her boyfriend, Tony, and alienates her best friends Arianna and Jocelyn to protect them from the truth.

As dark forces pursue her, Billie longs to run away from it all, yet a need to do what’s right compels her to face the future as the keeper of more than her own fortune.”

            When I think of the name “Billie”, like many people I picture a boy.  Well, this Billie is as feminine as they come, and she tries to make up for her more masculine name.  When Billie is in kindergarten she has a strange occurrence.  A man who no one else can see appears and gives her a “gift”.  Then at 16, Billie is tossed into a world full of mystery and magic, where love is found only to be lost again.  Billie must work quickly to learn about her gift and to discover the true meaning of being the Keeper…

            Billie starts out as this stuck up girl who degrades people and constantly worries about her appearance.  Over the course of The Keeper, I see Billie start to change.  She reveals her inner thoughts and feelings and starts to act on them.  Her life quickly spirals out of orbit, and she has to adjust quickly.  Now, Billie has to juggle her newfound powers, a budding romance, and dark things trying to kill her.  No big deal.  Throughout all of these, Billie proves her strength and determination.  Yeah, she has some “why me?” moments, but really who wouldn’t?  Overall, I really like her character.

            Star does a fantastic job of weaving a fresh, new paranormal story.  Instead of werewolves, vampires or witches, she creates her own brand of paranormal.  This adds a lot to the story, since it’s a new concept it doesn’t rely on clich├ęs to make it a compelling and captivating read.  Star also does a wonderful job tying all the subplots together.  Many different things happen in Billie’s life: romance, heartbreak, creating new friendships and losing others.  All of these events come into play in a timely manner.  I don’t find them overly rushed or unbelievable… though I wonder at the abnormal number of people who randomly walk into Billie’s house without calling first…

            Overall this is a story I really enjoy.  I think a few of the concepts are hard to grasp, especially concerning Billie’s destiny, but in the end it’s not too confusing.  I do like where the book ends.  It is open for a sequel, and I am very happy with the characters.  Many of my questions are answered… but many new ones have arisen.  Hopefully, a second book will answer them all!!

The Cover:

            I really like how this cover has different hues of red swirling around.  The girl’s face looking down over the title makes it very dramatic and powerful.  The swirls of color around the title remind me of lightning and continue with the powerful theme.  Great cover!
I give The Keeper 4 out of 5 hearts: Great Book

Find out more about Natalie Star at her website here: http://www.authornataliestar.com/

Buy The Keeper here:

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Kick-Butt Characters Giveaway!



            The Kick-Butt Character Giveaway Hop was set up to introduce readers (You) to amazing books with some really fantastic characters.  When I first heard of this giveaway hop I was intrigued, I LOVE kick-buttness in books... especially in a female heroine.  So did I have a book in mind as the prize?  You know I did.  My choice, Bound  by C.K. Bryant, is a YA paranormal/supernatural fiction story.  Basically it's awesome.  The main character Kira is fantastic.  Personally I think the three main characters: Kira, Lydia, and Lydia's brother Octavian are ALL Kick-butt. So thanks to C.K. Bryant's generosity my prize for this giveaway will be a SIGNED, PERSONALIZED copy of Bound!  If you want to know more about Bound read my review below. 

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Review: Smoke and Magic

Title: Smoke and Magic
Author: Patti Larsen

Book Summary:

“Banished to Victorian London


Auburdeen Hayle is the sixteen-year-old daughter of the next leader of her coven.  When the transition of power becomes tense, Burdie is sent from her home in America to stay with old friends in London to keep her safe.  But a handsome young man chooses to hide from the police in her hansom, drawing Burdie into an underground world of magic that challenges even her sense of adventure and puts her at odds with the very people who are meant to protect her.”

            When magic flies… I hide.  That’s always been my motto!  Auburdeen ( Burdie) Hayle, it seems, has never shared my opinion.  Burdie leaves her home in the states to live with family friends in London, for her own protection of course.  While in London Burdie feels very alone and decidedly smothered by her overprotective caretaker.  When she meets a mysterious boy who claims to want nothing to do with her, she is intrigued.  Soon Burdie is caught up in his world and finds that the secrets she is unraveling are closer than she thinks.
              
            When I am first introduced to Burdie, it becomes crystal clear almost instantly that she has a major attitude and a blazing temper.  I almost get the impression that she WANTS to get into a fight with someone.  She doesn’t listen or follow directions particularly well, and when things get tough, she keeps everything bottled up.  Her natural curiosity and fearlessness cause her to be in more than one scrap.  By the end of Smoke and Magic, I really feel like I have a good grasp on her no-nonsense, opinionated character.

            This book is FULL of magic.  Burdie and her whole family are witches and so is the family she stays with in London.  This adds many fantasy elements to the book and definitely helps keep my interest.  Smoke and Magic features other unique types of magic, and I think Larsen does a great job of explaining and working them into the story.  In addition to being full of magic, Smoke and Magic also features lots of plot twists and turns.  Some are predictable, while others… I’m still surprised that they happened.

            Some of the dialogue seems unnatural to me, but it isn’t too distracting. I don’t like how the book ends; it cuts of very abruptly, making me reel in shock. I’m reading along, find some really surprising twists, experience a few moments of “Oh no they DIDN’T”, and then BAM. Story. Over. I guess the saving grace is that the next book is already out. But if it wasn’t, I would be REALLY upset at the abrupt ending!

The Cover:
           
First: I LOVE blue.  Second: This cover has lots of BEAUTIFUL shades of blue in it.  Meaning: I REALLY like this cover.  I like the misty white swirls at the bottom of the cover; they give off a mysterious feel.  The glowing ball of power looks awesome and dangerous!  I also really, really want to steal her top hat… just sayin’.

I give Smoke and Magic 4 out of 5 hearts: Great Read!

Find put more about Patti Larsen at her website: http://pattilarsen.blogspot.com/

Or Buy the book here:

Monday, March 19, 2012

Spring Cleaning Giveaway!


            Thanks for stopping by!  Here on Epilogue I am celebrating reaching 400 followers with this fantastic Spring Cleaning Giveaway Hop.  Which means not only am I giving my lovely followers (YOU!) a chance to win here, I am also showing you 100+ other giveaways they can go enter to win!  Sound awesome? Of course it does!

            As most of you know I recently shot up in numbers so I still need to do a 500 follower giveaway.  This hop is taking the place of my 400  follower giveaway.  (I currently have my a giveaway for a SIGNED, PERSONALIZED copy of Bound by C.K. Bryant here and a giveaway to win a copy of Lichgates and Swag here.) The Spring Cleaning giveaway is only open to the US (sorry I am a student and can't afford shipping anywhere else.) The idea behind this hop is to pass along the following types of books:
  • Books that you've read but will never read again.
  • Books you've started but just couldn't get through.
Or
  • Review copies you've accepted but have never read.
    So that in mind I am offering ONE lucky winner their choice of ONE of the following books!!




    (Paperback) Wake: I heard this was being made into a movie and thought you guys might like a chance to read the book first!



    (Both Paperback) Left: Shadow Kiss (Vampire Academy #3) Right: Masquerade (Blue Bloods #2)


    (Both Hardback) Left: Revelations (Blue Bloods #3) Right: the Van Alen Legacy (Blue Bloods #4)

    * Note: All of these book are ones that I have read before! Some of them DO have a little wear on them.


    Like my blog? Grab my button!
    *Let me know in the comments section so I can come check out your blog. :)*



    Epilogue



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    Continue on with the hop here:


    Sunday, March 18, 2012

    Let's Talk: Word Verification

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                “Let’s Talk” is something new I’m trying here on Epilogue.  It’s basically a time where I can have a heart to heart with all of you awesome people.  Hopefully it’ll be a time where we can interact and share are thoughts and feelings! 

    Over the last two months I have been around to a TON of different blogs whether to join giveaways, participate in a meme, or just because I think they need a little stalking.  As I go from blog to blog I notice a common theme that drives me up a wall.  Comment. Word. Verification.  When I go through a giveaway hop I may hit 40 blogs in a half an hour (okay maybe not quite that many) and on most of the stops a comment is required.  Even if its not for a giveaway most memes require a comment and when I'm just coming to stalk your blog I usually like to leave a little love.

                It usually takes me around 5 minutes figuring out what to say, how to phrase it, and what emote to include with it before I’m ready to post.  I don’t need to spend another 3 minutes trying to decipher what random letters are displayed to “prove that I’m not a robot”.  Half the time they have something weird like “Ltepighrn” only it’s italicized and has different font sizes so the “rn” at the end looks like an “m”.  Then I have to spend another 3 minutes figuring out the next one!  Well maybe you have the word verification turned on for a good reason.  Maybe you have been spammed one time to many times and have just had enough?  I (grudgingly) accept that.  BUT if you just didn’t think to uncheck it, or left it on before you had a spam problem I urge you to reconsider.  I know I have a much happier experience when I don’t have to worry about it!

                What do you see that gets on your nerves?  Do you use or like the word verification feature?  Why or why not? Who knows maybe you’ll win me over... 

                                                                                                   ~Lauren

    Saturday, March 17, 2012

    Lichgates Review + Giveaway

     

     My Review:


    Title: Lichgates
    Author:  S.M. Boyce

    Book Summary

    “The Grimoire turns its own pages and can answer any question asked of it, and Kara Magari is its next target

    Kara has no idea what she's getting herself into when she stumbles across the old book while hiking a hidden trail.  Once she opens it, she's thrown into Ourea: a beautiful world full of terrifying things that want the Grimoire's secrets.  Everyone in this new world is trying to find her, and most want to control the new-found power the book bestows upon her.  Even if Kara does escape, Ourea will only drag her back.

    Braeden Drakonin grew up in Ourea, and all he’s ever known of life is lying.  The Grimoire is his one chance at redemption, and it lands in his lap when Kara Magari comes into his life.  He has one question to ask the book—one question that can fix everything in his broken world—and he’s not letting Kara out of his sight until he gets an answer.

    There’s no going back now.”

                If I went on a hike and found a whole new world... I would probably hyperventilate, throw up, and basically freak out.  Kara Magari has a similar reaction when she actually finds herself trapped in a room with a book that tells her that she can’t go home.  Seriously?  She does what any normal human being would do--  she tries to make her own destiny.  With the help of Braeden, a mysterious man with a horrifying past, Kara comes to terms with her new abilities.  And, she learns what it means to be the Vagabond…

                The first thing that strikes me while reading Lichgates is that Boyce’s writing style is very detailed.  I really enjoy how she describes the woods and that, right from the beginning, I know how Kara thinks.  I am quickly introduced to her likes and dislikes, her strengths and her weaknesses.  When Kara is first transported into Ourea, she pretty much flips out and breaks down.  I really, really like this.  If Kara just blindly accepts everything that happens to her, she seems an idiot.  If she isn’t scared when her world is completely shaken, then she appears an unbelievable character!  The fact that she has flaws and doesn’t try to hide them makes me like her that much more.  Kara isn’t perfect, and she does make mistakes throughout the book, but she learns from them and grows as a character.

                Braeden is a very interesting character.  I mean, just look at his name!  It screams unique, original, and special, which he is.  But, he’s also so much more.  Braeden, like Kara, is a slave to circumstance.  Throughout Lichgates I see varying sides of Braeden.  Sometimes I want to hug and comfort him, while other times I want to punch him in the face.  He is definitely stubborn but, to travel with Kara, he has to be!  Braeden has a protective streak that is endearing, and he creates those “awww” moments as I read.

                Lichgates captures my attention.  Boyce reveals details about Kara’s and Braeden’s lives at different times during the story, so I don’t know everything about them up front.  This means that while I’m reading I get to figure out not only this new, unfamiliar, world but also the characters.  This keeps me in suspense and full of intrigue.  While reading Lichgates, I notice that some of the dialogue seems forced and awkward.  This only happens in a few places, and I notice it more when Kara and Braeden are off somewhere alone.  They seem to say things in a more awkward way, or speak very differently from how they normally speak.  Lichgates is the first book in  The Grimoire Trilogy, and though certain things have closure and are accomplished, I feel the book serves more to stage the next books than to present an actual self-contained story.  Lichgates is definitely a great read that I highly recommend to fantasy lovers!

    The Cover:

                When I first see this cover, I am very unimpressed.  To begin with, it’s brown.  Yes, I’m pointing out the obvious, but it bothers me!  It doesn’t catch my eye, and if I were to see it at the library, I probably wouldn’t pick it up.  However, after reading Lichgates, I see why this cover was chosen.  It is obviously fashioned after the ancient Grimoire and is meant to resemble its cover.  So, the cover definitely fits the book; I just didn’t understand this before reading it!

    I give Lichgates 4.5 out of 5 hearts: Very Highly Recommended! 
      

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      More on Boyce here:

    ·         Main Site: http://www.smboyce.com/
    ·         Blog: http://blog.smboyce.com/
    ·         Official Book Website & Encyclopedia: http://www.thegrimoirebooks.com/
    ·         Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/thesmboyce
    ·         Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/user/thesmboyce

     

    Buy Lichgates here:

    ·         Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B005W5L38G
    ·         Smashwords: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/96682
    ·         CreateSpace: https://www.createspace.com/3689753
    ·         Directly from Boyce: http://www.thegrimoirebooks.com/buy-direct/

    Enter for a chance to win!




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    *Thanks for stopping by! Leave comments and let me know what you think :)

    Friday, March 16, 2012

    Lucky Leprechaun Giveaway Hop!



                 Thanks for stopping by!  Here on Epilogue I am celebrating reaching 300 followers with this fantastic giveaway hop.  Which means not only am I giving my lovely followers a chance to win here, I am also showing them 200+ other giveaways they can go enter to win!  Sound awesome? Of course it does!

               What I’m offering for this giveaway is your choice of one of the fantastic books listed below.  Don’t like my books?  Well, fine.  If you DON’T like any of these books I will allow you to choose one book up to $15 from the Book Depository. This giveaway IS open internationally AS LONG AS the Book Depository ships to you for free. Don’t know if you qualify?
    Check here:  Book Depository

    Well, now that I'm done rambling, lets move on to what you could win!
      

    Thursday, March 15, 2012

    Feature and Follow Friday (#6)

     

    Hosted by the lovely ladies Parajunkee and Allison Can Read

     

    Q: What is the best book you've read in the last month? What is the worst book you've read in the last month?

     

    The best book I have read this month is probably Tempest by Julie Cross.  It is so hard to choose because I have read so many great books! Least favorite? I would have to choose "Lake Monsters" because I read it for Brit Lit class and Non fiction has never been my favorite genre! Luckily I haven't dealt with many bad books this month!

     

    What about you? What has been your top read this month? 

     

    *And if you know of any good nonfiction books by British Authors, or with British themes please let me know!!

    XOXOXO Blog Tour Interview and Exerpt



    About Bethany:

    Bethany Lopez was born in Detroit, Michigan, and grew up in Michigan and San Antonio, Texas. She went to High School at Dearborn High, in Dearborn, Michigan, which is where she has set her Young Adult novel. She is married and has a blended family with five children. She is currently serving in the United States Air Force as a Recruiter in Los Angeles, California. She has always loved to read and write and has seen her dream realized by independently publishing her first novel through Amazon with CreateSpace and Kindle Direct Publishing. Ta Ta for Now! is also now available through Smashwords at Barnes and Noble.com, on the Nook, and the Sony eReader. Her second novel in the series, xoxoxo, will be released on March 2, 2012.

    http://www.independentauthornetwork.com/bethany-lopez.html
    www.bethanylopez.weebly.com
    @bethanylopez2
    http://www.amazon.com/Ta-Now-Bethany-L-Lopez/dp/1463563388/ref=ntt_at_ep_dpt_1
    https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/67690
    http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/bethany-lopez

    Interview:

    Hello and welcome to YA author, Bethany Lopez.

    XOXOXO is your latest release and is also book two in the stories about Melissa. Can you tell the readers about Melissa? What sort of a heroine is she? 

    "Melissa is a freshman in high school and the eldest of five children. She is a typical teen, who loves hanging out with her friends and wants to find love. I think Melissa is a positive role model for girls. Sure, she makes mistakes, just like anyone else, but she is confident, and is always growing and learning."

    Do you think it’s important for young adults to have good role models in books?

    "Absolutely! I have two teenage daughters and I want them to read about strong and independent characters, rather than weak and dependent ones!"

    What qualities do you most admire about Melissa?

    "She is very loyal to her friends and to her family. No matter how crazy they make her, or how much she sometimes wishes they weren’t around, she truly loves and supports her family."

    Which of your characters would you most like to invite to dinner, and why?

    "This one was funny… I asked my daughters who they would like me to invite for dinner. My sixteen year old said Brian and my fourteen year old said Jimmy, but I think I would invite Ben!"

    What would your ideal career be, if you couldn't be an author?

    "I am in the Air Force, as well as being a writer, and that career has been wonderful for me. I also would love to be a Chef!"

    If you were to do your career as an author again, what would you do differently, and why?

    "I would have submitted more to beta readers and critique groups, just to get a feel of what they responded to."


    Thank you, Bethany.

    Melissa has learned a lot since her freshman year began, but it isn’t over yet! Her world is about to change again with the birth of her new sibling, and she has to figure out how she will adjust to being the eldest of five kids. She, Jess, andJimmy are inseparable, and she is having a fantastic time although she can’t help but miss Brian as she tries to learn how to deal with his relationship with Layla. Everything seems to be happening at once and that is when she is introduced to Ben Campbell, a senior at Dearborn High, who becomes an interesting distraction as he helps her deal with the new developments in her life.


    Excerpt:

    ENTRY ONE

    First New Journal Entry:
               I know, I know, I know… it has been a really long time since I have written anything. In fact, it has been so long, that I decided to get this pretty new journal to replace my other one. That one is old news anyway! When I noticed that the last entry was in October, and it is now April, I knew that I needed to start fresh.
               A lot has changed in the last six months. Jess, Jimmy, and I have been inseparable. My parents call us the Three Musketeers (Such an old person saying). I am glad that Jess and Jimmy never actually dated because now we are the best of friends! Brian and Layla are still hanging out and are annoyingly sweet to me whenever we run into each other (which seems to happen all of the time!). Megan has started seeing Mark, and he is at our house all of the time now. I can never seem to be in the living room or kitchen for five minutes without them running in and taking over the TV or grabbing a snack. Nothing has really changed with Mikey or Monica, and Mom is still pregnant. She looks like she is about to burst. It seems like she is always in pain and eating weird food, like grits with maple syrup. I feel bad for her!
    Have I mentioned that I really do not want to have kids, EVER!!??
               Jess, Jimmy, and I completed our first semester of freshman year, and we did so great in our Photography class, that we were asked to join the Yearbook staff second semester. It is the best class ever! We are in charge of getting great action pics of the freshman class. So, we spend a lot of time going to events and takings pictures for Yearbook. It has been so much fun, and it has really kept our social calendar full. We get invited to all of the best parties and have been to every sporting event. We are always there to hang out and back each other up, and I couldn’t imagine having better friends than Jess and Jimmy.
               I am not going to lie… I took the whole Brian and Layla thing pretty hard. I mean, I really liked Brian and thought that we were going to have a shot at a great romance, but the whole fiasco with the dance and my parents really messed things up. Then you throw in the Layla thing, and I was totally bummed for a while. Jess and Jimmy did everything they could to cheer me up, but with Brian on the swim team and Layla joining freshman track, they are often the subject of our photos. I see them everywhere! And whenever I see how he is with Layla, I am reminded of how great Brian is! Plus, she is in my Physical Science class… Ugh! We have been friendly to each other, and I really don’t have anything against her anymore… It just makes me sad more than anything. I can’t help thinking, “What if?”
               Christmas was a lot of fun. We had the festivities at my Uncle Lou’s house this year. He lives on Runyon Lake in Fenton, and we had family members travel from all over Michigan to get together at his place for the holidays. It was sooo much fun! I love going to Uncle Lou’s. He has this great house with so many beds in it that you could sleep in a different bed every night! Everyone just shares rooms and space and kind of snuggle together like a gigantic slumber party. I don’t get to see my cousins that often, but when we do get together we have a blast - especially at Uncle Lou’s! Even though it gets pretty cold at Christmas, we all go outside and make snow angels and snow men. I have this new totally cute set of gloves, hat and scarf. They look like they are crocheted with pink yarn, but they actually have a thick and fuzzy liner, so they keep me warm while looking totally fab! I bought this beautiful charcoal grey coat to match, and I have to say, they look really good together.
               There was one day where it was cold enough that the shallow end of the lake froze, and my cousins and I went out and tried to skate around on it. Boy, did my Mom and aunts flip out when they saw us doing that… My Mom still brings it up when she gets mad at me! (“What if Monica would have seen you and tried to go out there? You could have been seriously hurt if the ice had broken!) Blah, blah, blah… nothing bad happened, and we had a great time!
               Dad and my uncle’s went out on the last day and built an igloo for the little kids to play in. They just made a big mound of snow and then tunneled into it and hollowed out the inside. The bigger kids went out when they were almost done and decorated the outside to make it look like bricks. It looked pretty cool, and I got some awesome pictures of the kids going nuts as they played in there.
               After the holidays, Jess, Jimmy, and I would go sledding on a big hill down the street from Jess’s house. I know, sledding is for little kids, not high school freshman, but we had the best time. We would take turns going down together, and we would laugh until our sides hurt. We had such a great time, that for the first time, I was not happy to see the snow start melting. Of course, that only lasted for a minute until I felt the sun on my cheeks. I started imagining flowers blooming, walks at Henry Ford Mansion and Greenfield Village, sun dresses, shorts, tank tops and flip flops, and I immediately felt anxious in anticipation of spring… Not to mention Spring Break, which begins next week!
               It is 11 o’clock now, and I have school tomorrow, so I need to get some sleep. I have caught up, for the most part, from the last entry, and will fill in the rest tomorrow!

    Wednesday, March 14, 2012

    Review: Soleri

    Title: Soleri
    Author: G.R. Holton

    Book Summary:

               “On an ordinary day, while their parents are out, Wesley uses his father's transducer in the robot he is building for the school science fair.  Upon putting in the transducer a combination of cell phone signals, the robot, and a freak meteor storm; Wesley, Macy, their dog Pugston and a companion are teleported to another planet.  Wesley and company meet the leader of the Soleriens named Giradious on the planet Soleri, in the Heledrium Galaxy, which is 120 light years from the Milky Way.  Giradious tells them of the Tojinians, a warring race, who are holding the Soleriens as slaves and trying to amass all the planets Setrinous, a high protein grain.  The teens are compelled to help the Soleriens in their fight from tyranny and to get back home.  Will he and the others survive the perilous catacombs, creatures, and Tojinian guards?  Will they make it home alive?”

               I would not last five minutes on an alien planet.  IT WOULD NOT HAPPEN.  Wesley, Macy and Ashley are already light years ahead of me-- they have to navigate THROUGH the catacombs of an alien planet ( Soleri ) just to have a chance of returning home.  All this because Wesley decides to mess around with his father’s new transducer. However, he soon discovers that consequences await their every action.  As the teens are thrown onto a planet they have no desire to visit, they discover that each of them is uniquely important and that through working together they just might be able to get back home...

               When I read Soleri’s plotline, I am instantly intrigued; the story’s concept is very well thought out!   I also really like the morals and life-lessons Holton ingrains into Soleri.  For example, Macy checks through the peephole before she opens the door when her parents aren’t home.  This is something all kids should do; one just doesn’t open the door when the bell rings without checking it first!   I also like how Holton establishes that the teens have not been raised to hurt others.  They are very hesitant to use weapons, even in self-defense. I really admire Holton’s ability to create a brand new world with different rules and guidelines.  It takes a lot of skill to be able to come up with that kind of detail.

               However, I do have a few problems with Soleri.  The first real issue I have is that this book is clearly NOT a YA book (which is how it was presented to me.)   I don’t classify anything about this book as YA/ teen, and if that’s the audience it is geared towards (ages 15-19), Soleri does not hit the mark.  This book has a very simple story line and, though I am intrigued at certain points, I find most of the plot to be fairly predictable.  Another issue is that, though Soleri is only 178 pages long, it has an in-depth forward/summary that reveals huge plot details.  This drastically takes away from the story.  Knowing so many details up front (in such a short story) makes it hard to be surprised or feel suspense while reading the book.

               Macy, Ashley, and Wesley are the three main characters, yet I still don’t know what color hair they have, how tall they are, if they are athletic or obese.   Nothing.  This lack of detail extends beyond their mere physical appearances, leaving characters that aren’t really fleshed out and feel pretty stereotypical; the homemaker mom, the working dad, the flirty teen girl, and the pesky younger brother.   I know little about them, and they in turn change little (if at all) throughout the book.  Of these characters, I feel I know the dad the best.  He is hard working and passionate about his job.  Another thing that sidetracks me while reading is that the teens just don’t talk like normal kids – their dialog feels unnatural.  I don’t see an 11 or 16 year old speaking with such refined English.  No way, especially not in the situations they’re in!  That makes it very hard for me to accurately picture them, or relate to them, when they are talking (which is a large portion of the book.)

               I will say that Soleri has huge amounts of detail pertaining to the transducer: how it works, what it takes to fix, etc.  That part is very well written and thought out-- I just wish the rest of the book had been that detailed.  In all fairness, this book would be a GREAT read for middle schoolers or juvenile fiction, as those age-appropriate stories tend to be more streamlined and less complex.   I would definitely recommend Soleri to a younger crowd!

    The Cover:

               I really like this cover.  When I look at the planets on the front, I feel like I am in outer space.  The cover has a distinct sci-fi feel that I really like!  It is very colorful and fun to look at. I definitely think this cover is a good choice for the book!

    *Assigning a rating to this book is difficult.  For a YA book I would give Soleri a 2 heart rating, but for a middle grade book I would give it a 4 heart rating.  So, my final rating here will be 3 hearts because I think this story is simply being targeted at the wrong audience.

    I give Soleri 3 out of 5 hearts: Worth Reading

    For more information on G. R. Holton visit his website here: http://www.grholton.com/

    Or buy Soleri here:

    Monday, March 12, 2012

    Review: Starters

    Title: Starters
    Author: Lissa Price

    Book Summary:

    “In the future, teens rent their bodies to seniors who want to be young again. One girl discovers her renter plans to do more than party--her body will commit murder, if her mind can't stop it. Sixteen-year-old Callie lost her parents when the genocide spore wiped out everyone except those who were vaccinated first--the very young and very old. With no grandparents to claim Callie and her little brother, they go on the run, living as squatters, and fighting off unclaimed renegades who would kill for a cookie. Hope comes via Prime Destinations, run by a mysterious figure known only as The Old Man. He hires teens to rent their bodies to seniors, known as enders, who get to be young again. Callie's neurochip malfunctions and she wakes up in the life of her rich renter, living in her mansion, driving her cars, even dating Blake, the grandson of a senator. It's a fairy-tale new life . . . until she uncovers the Body Bank's horrible plan. . . .”

               If I lived in a world where people rented out their bodies for older people to use like a car, I would have no part of it.  If, however, I had a sick younger brother that I had promised my parents I would protect, I might very well give in.  Callie is in this exact situation.  Left alone with her seven-year-old brother Tyler and close friend Michael, Callie takes on the responsibility for her sick sibling.  When their bad situation turns worse and her brother’s health starts to deteriorate further, Callie makes the horrific decision… she will rent her body for the money.  Now some elder can be young again for a week, and she can pay for medicine for her brother. Unless, of course, something goes wrong…

               This book captives me from the first page.  Almost instantly, I am rooting for Callie and feel a connection to her.  I view situations through her eyes: her relationship with her brother, her parents’ death, even her struggle to hold onto who she is as a person.  Callie is tough, but loveable and truly has the heart of a fighter.   Starters has more twists and turns than a haunted house -- I’m walking along and glimpse the exit door, so I let my guard down… then BAM out jumps a clown.  I love when a book catches me unawares; so this one is a definite winner!

               While reading this book, at no point in time do I feel bored or rushed.  Price knows exactly the right speed and keeps it steady throughout Starters.  As I first pick up Starters and read the blurb on the back, I admit I am skeptical. My first thought is: “ Wow, Prime Destinations is going to use her to be in some secret army while she’s blacked out… what’s new with this plotline?”  Let me toss out a little hint-- that’s not what happens.  I can’t even describe how hooked I am on this book.  I interrupted my reading ONLY to go to the Tempest book signing at my library (and even then I met my friend there 10 minutes late.)

               For those book lovers that are reading this review and thinking, “ It sounds interesting, but I normally go for something with a little more romance,” let me say that this book has a delicious romantic undertone that is surprising and sweet!  Starters ends on a DEFINITE cliffhanger (which is frustrating, but really makes me anticipate book two.)   I highly recommend reading Starters!  Really, there is NO good reason not to run out and order a copy today.

    The Cover:

             Okay, when I first see this cover, the two different eye colors strike me as a little odd, but then I begin to understand.   I think it symbolizes both Callie and the person who is “using” her body.  I really love this cover! It’s hard to tell in the picture, but it is very shiny and the title lettering is raised up!  The girl’s hair and skin blend together causing her bright blue eye to pop out.  I love this cover and cannot wait to see the cover of book two!

    I give Starters 5 out of 5 hearts: I LOVED IT!

    For more on Lissa Price go here: http://www.lissaprice.com/

    To buy Starters go here:

    Sunday, March 11, 2012

    IMM (#6)

    Photobucket
    In my mailbox is a meme hosted by Kristi at the Story Siren
    This meme allows bloggers to hop from one blog to another and see  what others are reading.  It is also a way to showcase the books in a  "spotlight of fame" since it might be a while before the review is ready! I haven't done it for a few weeks so here is what I have received since my last IMM :)

    For Review






















































    Won
    Perception from Kathy @I Am A Reader Not A Writer

    The Faerie Ring and SWAG from Christi @The Fiction Enthusiast

    Fateful from Tiffany @Tiffany Reads

    Bought

    I went to a book signing and got my copy of Tempest (and a few extras [= ) signed by Julie Cross!!
    Enter my current giveaway to win one!

    Gifted
    Laura Elliott sent me some AWESOME Transfer Student SWAG (and I will be sharing the love sometime in the future ;) )

    * A special thank you to Random House for sending me Starters
    And thank you to all the authors who sent me books for review*