At this time I will no longer be taking any new review requests or participating in any memes. There will still be author interviews, blasts, guest posts and occasionally reviews posted (as I climb through by TBR pile!!). Life is kind of hectic and I have to focus on a few other commitments before coming back full-time to my blog. Thank you to everyone that has supported me and I won't be gone forever. I will still be around on my social media sites!

CURRENT GIVEAWAYS


My interview over at The Art and Craft of Writing Creatively is HERE

Purchase my book Images of America: Detroit Lakes HERE

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Author Interview + Giveaway: Lori Stephens



I know your book, Some Act of Vision is set to publish September 17, 2013 and I really want to talk about that. But first, I’d like my readers to know a little about you.

What is your favorite quote, by whom, and why?

Today it’s this: “The past beats inside me like a second heart.” John Banville (The Sea.) Isn’t that a lovely and perfect statement? The past thrums in me like an echo, too. Soft, yet persistent.

What are you most proud of accomplishing so far in your life?

Hmm. Well, my friends might expect me to say “earning my Ph.D.” or “the day my two sons were born.” But no. Not anymore. I think these days that I feel pretty darn proud when I can make it through the evening without being chained to the Internet. It’s pretty rewarding when I finish writing a chapter or a book, but I’m prouder when I can close my laptop, silence the phone, and enjoy hanging out with my family. Nobody does that anymore because it’s so painful—really painful—to ignore the impulse to check your texts and emails. It doesn’t happen often. So yes: I’m most proud when I can reign in my obsessions and pay attention, be present in the moment.

We’re going to talk about this book that you’ve written, but first, let us learn a little about how you got your start in writing.

What inspires you to write and why?

Whenever I hear someone tell a story (or read a good one), I’m inspired. So that’s basically everyone, everyday. If it’s a damned good story, I’m slayed and wonder if I’ll ever be able to tap into that human experience. I’m also inspired by my own past. I was motivated to write SOME ACT OF VISION by my concern with fracking and…yes, the nostalgic first crush on a blind boy who was my brother’s best friend.

Who or what influenced your writing over the years?

This is such a timely question because several of my writer-friends were just talking about this very topic. When I was in high school, I had an amazing Creative Writing teacher named Sherry Harper. (She’s now Sherry Mendel.) Turns out, several published authors that I know not only were students of Sherry, but also devoted their books to her or thanked her profusely in the Acknowledgements Page. She was a marvelous force on us all. I also had two profoundly influential professors in college: Robert Nelsen and Clay Reynolds. These days, dark chocolate and red wine are deeply influential.

Okay, now we can get to talking about Some Act of Vision.

Tell us a little bit about Some Act of Vision.

An invisible girl.
A blind guy.
A deadly earthquake.
A stalled future.
A secret military project.
The painful truth.
The loss of identity.
The discovery of self.
First love.

…But that might be too vague. So here’s the summary from the book flap:

After ten years of ballet lessons, Jordan Walker has finally landed her first principal role in Romeo and Juliet. Sweeter yet, "Romeo" has asked her to the May Fling Ball at Winston High. But a massive Texas earthquake triggered by the fracking activity nearby tears apart the community and Jordan's future as a dancer. The Walker family survives the earthquake, but wake up the next morning utterly invisible. On the run from a military with nefarious plans, Jordan and her family are forced to abandon their old lives and flee to Galveston. It isn't until she meets Caleb, a blind musician, that Jordan dares to hope again. And the more their secret friendship develops, the more Jordan understands the danger she's placed everyone in.

How did you develop your plot and characters?

A few years ago, I’d heard a few reports about the dangers of fracking, but I didn’t know much more than the shocking reports of contaminated water near the fracking sites. I wanted to write a Young Adult novel, so I played with a “what if” scenario. What if we’re doing terrible things to our environment for cheaper resources, and because we’re ignoring all the signs of danger, we destroy much more than we gain? I also tried to recapture my heartbreaking crush on my brother’s blind friend and my complicated relationship with my little sister, who came along and destroyed my lovely status as being baby of the family. She was cute, too.

What was the hardest part about writing this book?

Making Jordan and her family invisible through pseudo-science. I had conversations with a scientist that made my brain hurt. But the details in the novel about stable elements and the Power 3/2 rule—that’s all real. I fudged the rest.

Who designed the cover?

Don’t you love it? It was designed by a talented man name Tim Pryor. I was thrilled when the publisher showed it to me. I love the reflection of the purple gas plume in the eye and the Mona Lisa palate of her skin.

Thank you again for taking time to answer these questions. Now here are some last parting questions.

Have you started your next project yet? If so, can you tell us anything about it? Yes! Top Secret sequel to SOME ACT OF VISION. I can tell you that Jordan and Caleb travel. Oui!

BONUS FUN QUESTIONS

Do you go out of your way to kill bugs? Are there any that make you screech and hide?

When I was a child, my mother took great pains to share the wonders of insects and arachnids. She was an advocate of catch-and-release. We even had pet tarantulas whenever we were lucky enough to catch them. You’d think I have fuzzy feelings for bugs now. But no. If I find one in my house, I will stalk that spider and kill it. I have no qualms about clapping a fruit fly between my palms and brushing their tiny souls into the trash. Don’t tell my mother.

If you could be anyone for one week, who would you be and why?

Hermione Granger. Who wouldn’t want to be her?

Where is your favorite place to read?

I sprawl out on this couch in the living room. It’s perfect. I read in bed, too, but I have to worry about sleep—will I get enough sleep if I read another chapter?—but on the couch, it’s generally in the middle of the day, which means I am doing something utterly indulgent. Reading is an indulgence that everyone deserves.

What is your favorite song?

My favorite song changes, but I love Amanda Palmer’s “The Bed Song.” It slays me every time I hear it. God.

What book would you love to see turned into a move and why?

The History of Love. I think Warner Brothers optioned it in 2005. Please. Make that movie now.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Lori Ann Stephens grew up in a sprawling suburb of Dallas with a little red barn and goats in her back yard. Her earliest memory is being chased by the resident gander. She has suffered from big-city-envy ever since. Lori teaches at Southern Methodist University by day and writes whatever she fancies by night. Her debut novel, Song of the Orange Moons, was published in 2010. Guilty of tackling DIY projects with almost reckless optimism, Lori now lives with her very patient family in Plano, Texas.

ABOUT THE BOOK

After ten years of ballet lessons, Jordan Walker has finally landed her first principal role in Romeo and Juliet. Sweeter yet, "Romeo" has asked her to the May Fling Ball at Winston High. But a massive Texas earthquake triggered by the fracking activity nearby tears apart the community and Jordan's future as a dancer. The Walker family survives the earthquake, but wake up the next morning utterly invisible. 

On the run from a military with nefarious plans, Jordan and her family are forced to abandon their old lives and flee to Galveston. It isn't until she meets Caleb, a blind musician, that Jordan dares to hope again. And the more their secret friendship develops, the more Jordan understands the danger she's placed everyone in.

GIVEAWAY
The publisher has graciously offered a signed copy of SOME ACT OF VISION for one of my readers. Giveaway is international and ends on September 11, 2013. Just fill out the Rafflecopter form below. Prize will be mailed by the publisher.
a Rafflecopter giveaway


Monday, August 26, 2013

ARC Review: Heart of Venom (Elemental Assassin 9) by @Jennifer_Estep



Series: Elemental Assassin, #9
Publisher: Pocket Books
Publication Date: August 27, 2013
Format: ebook
Source: edelweiss

Finally a Sophia and Jo-Jo book! This duo has always been involved in everything that has to do with Gin but it has always eluded me as a reader what their back-story is. Now we are introduced to some very sick villains. These guys, a brother-sister team, really do take the cake for evil. Harley has always had a thing for Sophia and is coming back to collect her now that the Tin Man is no longer protecting her. Little does he know that The Spider is now in charge of Sophia’s safety and she is not happy when her loved one is snatched. Harley’s sister Hazel is a piece of work and her jealousy is pretty apparent along with her obvious insanity.

There wasn’t much progression on who the mysterious M.M. Monroe is but I can tell we are getting close. I think this was more of a filler book and to give us more insight into the powerhouses of Sophia and Jo-Jo. We do get a glimpse into what might possible happen with Owen and Gin and I am ready for them to decide which way they are going to go. The roller coaster that Estep takes us on is always a thriller and sometimes I just don’t want it to end.

As is typical with a series there is a lot of recapping what happened in previous books but for me this is a much needed refresher considering the amount of books I have read in between this one and the last one to come out. For most it could be a lot or repetition but I don’t base my rating on recapping. The one flaw I have and have had this entire series is that sometimes Gin is just too hard on herself and twists everything into her fault. I would like to see a little growth in her character in this aspect. This is still an amazing series and I can’t wait to read the next installment which is a prequel novel titled The Spider due out in December.


PURCHASE HEART OF VENOM

DISCLOSURE: I received this book from the publisher via Edelweiss at no charge and in no way influenced my review. 


Thursday, August 22, 2013

Book Review + Giveaway: Spartan Frost + Midnight Frost by @Jennifer_Estep



Series: Mythos Academy, #4.5
Publication Date: June 25, 2013
Format: e-ARC
Source: Netgalley

The much anticipated e-novella from Jennifer Estep has come! Logan’s POV is something fans of Estep’s Mythos Academy series have been patiently for. Although I wish that it wasn’t such a short insight into the tortured Spartan, most fans will be slightly satisfied.

I don’t want to give much away and it is hard to write a review on something that is about 46 pages long so in short Estep gives her readers a look into how much Logan is beating himself up about what he did when his body was controlled by Loki. The emotionally impact that Estep packs into this novella will have you wanting more and looking forward to the next book in this series, Midnight Frost. 

PURCHASE SPARTAN FROST

Series: Mythos Academy, #5
Publisher: Kensington Books
Publication Date:July 30, 2013
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher

Once again Jennifer Estep floors me how she keeps her characters and settings fresh and exciting. She blends our beloved characters with new faces without overloading the reader. There is enough familiar elements that as a fan of the Mythos Academy series, I didn’t feel that she was leaving the comforts of home behind.

In Estep’s fifth installment, Gwen avoids being poisoned by a Reaper but unfortunately someone near to her is caught in the botched assassination attempt. Gwen must now travel to the ends of the earth to locate the plant that is the cure. The rest of the gang immediately snaps to attention knowing they are heading into a Reaper trap. With Logan’s absence, Gwen is left with a big hole in her heart. As she sets out on her mission she wonders if she will ever see him again. Once the group reaches the sister Academy, Gwen meets someone that she didn’t know existed and finds out more about her parents and her relatives, some things Gwen wishes she didn’t know.

I don’t want to give away much more then that but I will say that this series is heading in the right direction. I like how we aren’t pigeon holed into one setting or just one group of people and yet the familiar characters continue to grow. If you haven’t tried this series yet, now is the time to start!

 

PURCHASE MIDNIGHT FROST

DISCLOSURE: I received these books from the publisher at no charge and in no way influenced my review.

GIVEAWAY
Kensington was gracious enough to offer a copy of Touch of Frost, the first book in this great series to one of my lucky readers! Just fill out the Rafflecopter form below. Contest ends September 4th and open to U.S. and Canada only.
a Rafflecopter giveaway



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