Where reading is a way of life

Monday, November 24, 2014

Captive by Leigh Talbert Moore

YA  Fantasy
Behind the Stars #1
My Rating: 4 stars

Right now you can download this for FREE on Amazon HERE


Prentiss Puckett is certain of three things:
-Graduation is two weeks away.
-Summer only gets hotter in south Mississippi.
-She’s getting a job with air-conditioning.

She did not expect to be kidnapped walking to work. 
And she never expected to become a hero.

My 2 Cents

Captive is the first installment of a serial, Behind the Stars. I didn't know too much about it going in, which was probably a good thing, because that's really helped the suspense!

In this first part, Captive, Prentiss is a fairly ordinary hick type girl. She has a boyfriend, Jackson, knows all about farming (Jackson's supposed to inherit his Dad's farm eventually, so all their plans include that) and also works part time with the town vet. Its these skills that become very important later on.

On a normal routine day, Prentiss is kidnapped and wakes up to a "farming concentration camp" is the best way to describe it. Its full of kids from her town, including her brother and some other friends, but Jackson is not there. No one knows what's going on, but they are assigned work shifts in the dairy barn, potato fields, and corn fields. They also appear to have been drugged as most kids seem almost zombie like.

Prentiss is not one of these kids. She spends most of this installment trying to figure out how to bust out of the camp. But what she learns just creates more questions...

So far I'm liking this story. The mystery element really has me hooked, and I really like Prentiss as a character. We also get flashbacks of her and Jackson, whom I like as well. I have a few theories as to what's going to happen next, but nothing concrete. I can't wait to find out!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

4 year Blogoversary Celebration--All Our Yesterdays Spotlight and Giveaway!

Don't forget to enter the other giveaways going on!
Day 1              Day 2                 Day 3             Day 4         Day 5       Day 6

Today I want to talk about one of my favorite books of 2013. All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill. Why you may ask? Because I've recently joined Cristin's Street Team, and have nothing but love to share about this book! Seriously, if you want me to recommend you a original amazing YA book, this one is it! 

Imprisoned in the heart of a secret military base, Em has nothing except the voice of the boy in the cell next door and the list of instructions she finds taped inside the drain.

Only Em can complete the final instruction. She’s tried everything to prevent the creation of a time machine that will tear the world apart. She holds the proof: a list she has never seen before, written in her own hand. Each failed attempt in the past has led her to the same terrible present—imprisoned and tortured by a sadistic man called the doctor while war rages outside. 

Marina has loved her best friend, James, since they were children. A gorgeous, introverted science prodigy from one of America’s most famous families, James finally seems to be seeing Marina in a new way, too. But on one disastrous night, James’s life crumbles, and with it, Marina’s hopes for their future. Marina will protect James, no matter what. Even if it means opening her eyes to a truth so terrible that she may not survive it... at least, not as the girl she once was. Em and Marina are in a race against time that only one of them can win.

All Our Yesterdays is a wrenching, brilliantly plotted story of fierce love, unthinkable sacrifice, and the infinite implications of our every choice.

Sounds amazing, right? It really is! 

One of the best reviews I've ever read was about this book, and no, it wasn't mine! My good friend, Jen @ Today In Jen's Library wrote the most amazing review, and I am going to share it now! By the way, make sure you click on her name to check out her BookTube Channel!

Jen's Review:

Time travel done right. Finally! Thank you, Cristin Terrill! The cover flap of this book says ""All Our Yesterdays is a wrenching, brilliantly plotted story of fierce love, unthinkable sacrifice, and the infinite implications of our every choice." Having just closed the cover, I couldn't agree more.

Time travel inevitably involves a complicated story that is difficult to follow. That is, unless an author sets simple rules and sticks to them. In this story, Terrill has done it expertly. One of her laws - the idea that time has a sentient quality - fixes many of the mistakes made by many storytellers. I also loved the idea that time is not linear as we understand it. What if it's really not? The way she explains paradoxes is brilliant. The bottom line is simply this: when we as readers know the rules the author has created and she doesn't break those rules, we can finally enjoy a great story that makes sense.

The tale is told from the viewpoints of Em and Marina. By alternating perspectives with each chapter, it is far more easy to keep track of what is present and what is past. Even when it starts to get really complicated - and it does near the end - it is not difficult to understand. 

The plot is fairly straightforward. Isn't every time travel story about going back to fix things in the past? The thing that's unique about this particular story is that it's been done 14 times previously by the protagonist. Will she get it right this time? Well, that's the story. 

Em is a gritty main character. She's been through torture, she's been on the run from authorities, she's been part of a rebel/terrorist organization and she's both escaped and been caught. She's been betrayed. She is determined and focused, and yet never seems to have lost her true heart or humanity. She is fiercely protective of Marina. She is somewhat of a study in contradiction, and that's what I liked about her. Every time I thought she was tough and heartless, she was overcome by her love and compassion.

Marina, on the other hand, is a spoiled rich girl who is shallow and a bit silly. These negative qualities can be attributed to her insecurity, though. She is at the same time loyal and loving, devoted to James. Mostly she is simply immature. But even at that, she is not unlikable. So much of today's society is full of teenagers just like her. On a list of the best of them, I'd at least put her at the top.

James is a brilliant character, both in his personality and in the way he is written. Finn is charming and funny, practical and humble. The lesser characters (Richter, Nate, the Shaw family, Marina's parents and Finn's mother) are really just highlights. They serve the plot and are each distinct without drawing attention from the main points we really care about.

The action doesn't stop for a minute. The suspense kept me riveted enough to read the book in one sitting. The climax of the story is terrifying, shocking and complicated at the same time. I found myself shaking my head at the end, wondering exactly what happened, having to think it all through again to make sense of the paradoxical aspect of the events. 

This book is smart, and I like that. It's also not pretentious. It is heart-wrenching, scary and romantic. It may even be possible, and I think that is what may be, for me, its most attractive quality. I do love a story that just might happen. This isn't just a great story for time-travel lovers. Fans of dystopia and apocalypse will also enjoy those elements that it offers. 

And the ultimate irony here is that virtually every novelist goes back and rewrites their book. Isn't that some version of time travel, rewriting the past? Well done, Cristin Terrill. Could you do it again please?

And NOW, let's give this puppy away!

One winner will win a ebook of All Our Yesterdays from Amazon. 5 runner up winners will win some awesome All Our Yesterdays swag! This giveaway is international. Good Luck!

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Friday, November 21, 2014

4 year Blogoversary Celebration--Interview with Leigh Talbert Moore + Giveaway!

Don't forget to enter the other giveaways going on!
Day 1              Day 2                 Day 3             Day 4         Day 5

Today on the blog I have one of my favorite Indie writers, Leigh Talbert Moore! Leigh is the author of one of my favorite contemporary series, Dragonfly!

Welcome to the blog Leigh! So happy you are here! To start off, why don't you tell us about your latest project.

Hey, girl! Thanks for having me here! My current project is BEHIND THE STARS. It’s an action-adventure/paranormal romance set in the woods of south Mississippi. I’m saying it’s like “Red Dawn” meets “LOST” because of how it’s set up and what happens… or what the characters think is happening. I finished it in 2011, and it went to my literary agent at that time. After I became an indie author in 2012, I took it back, but I was in the middle of putting out the Dragonfly series. So I held it until MOSAIC, the last book in that series, was released in June. Now BEHIND THE STARS is ready to shine!

Release date for the novel is Dec. 31. I serialized it, so readers can start reading it now if they want. The complete novel and all episodes are currently available for pre-order, and “Captive,” (episode #1) is FREE! So you can get a little taste and see if you like it. Yay!

There's been a lot of discussion in the book community the last few weeks about negative reviews and how authors handle them. What are your thoughts on this?

Negative reviews are part of the process, even when authors think they’re unfair or unfounded. When it happens to me, I vent to a trusted friend and then go read the 1-star reviews on Harry Potter or one of my most favorite books of all time. You can’t please everybody!

What's a typical day look like for you?

Get up, get kids to school, sit down, check email, check Facebook, try not to waste too much time on either. Write. Get kids, finish day, write some more, sleep. Repeat.

What made you decide to become a writer?

Well, I’ve been a published writer since I was in my 20s. I started out as a journalist. Then in 2009, I decided to try my hand at books, and I wrote the Dragonfly series. The rest is history!

What books have you read in the past that were inspiring to you? Especially when you were a kid?

I read inspiring books all the time, honestly. Some of my favorite books as a kid were the Judy Blume books. When I was in college, I was a huge Barbara Kingsolver fan. When I started writing books, I really fell in love with Sarah Dessen and Deb Caletti. Now that I’m Indie, I get amazing books from FAB indie authors all the time. Too many to name!

I just love all your book covers, especially your latest! How involved are you on the creation of your book covers?

Hey, thanks so much! When I first started out, my super-talented author-friend Jolene Perry did all my covers. She and I would chat and look at stock art and put something together—usually she had read the book as a beta reader, so that helped. Steven Novak did the cover for BEHIND THE STARS, and honestly, the process was very similar, except he hasn’t read the book. I described what the story was about, and he came back with that amazing design. Steven’s really great. (www.novakillustration.com).

Do you have any unique talents or hobbies?

Hmmm…. I don’t think so! LOL!

What book have your read do you think should get more hype and recognition than it does?

So many great books sort of cruise by until they find the right audience. I’m currently beta-reading the second season of the Debt Collector series by Susan Kaye Quinn. It’s an amazing Urban Fantasy series that everyone should read. Susan has the greatest imagination, and she’s a fantastic writer.

What is your favorite “fan” moment?

I met the Monkees once! It was very anti-climactic… >.<

What is one tip you could pass along to beginning writers?

Just keep writing. I used to say “just keep swimming,” which is basically the same thing. Writing is an extraordinarily difficult career path, but if you’re in it because you love to tell stories and can’t imagine doing anything else, keep that goal in the front of your mind.

What is the most important thing you've learned so far on your own journey?

Things never happen in the time or in the way you think they should. Just keep swimming. (LOL!)

 Thanks so much for visiting us today Leigh! To wrap things up, share one random fact about yourself.

Hey, you’re welcome! Random fact… I can cross my little toes without touching them. Tah daah!!!!

Leigh Talbert Moore wrote her first graphic novel at the age of nine--about a lady scientist burned by acid. Sadly, the text of "Fury Woman" was lost, and Leigh's novelist aspirations went on hiatus. 

After working more than a decade in journalism, editing, marketing, and public relations, she began writing books again, and in 2009 completed Dragonfly. Today, Leigh is the author of several popular young adult and new adult novels, all with a strong romantic slant. 

She lives with her husband and two young children in the middle of the country, where she conjures new worlds, characters, and situations while playing chauffeur, chaperone, group activity leader, and referee. 

And she's still trying to remember the plot of "Fury Woman"...

And NOW, for the Giveaway!!

One lucky winner will win a signed collector's copy of "Captive" the first serial in Behind the Stars! (US only)

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Thursday, November 20, 2014

4 year Blogoversary Celebration--Interview with Jodi Meadows + Giveaway!

Don't forget to enter the other giveaways going on!
Day 1              Day 2                 Day 3             Day 4

Today on the blog I have Jodi Meadows, author of one of my favorite fantasy/dystopian series, The NewSoul Series, and author of soon to be coming The Orphan Queen! 

Welcome to the blog Jodi! So happy you are here! To start off, why don't you tell us about your latest project.

My next book coming out -- and the latest book that's finished finished, as opposed to the books that are finished and being revised until I get new gray hairs -- is THE ORPHAN QUEEN. It's the first in a duology. Think YA Batman meets Game of Thrones, about an orphaned princess fighting to reclaim her kingdom, set in a world where magic isn't just illegal, but destroying everything. And the fact that she has magic means she has to work extra hard to avoid the masked vigilante who looooves to capture people like her.

I absolutely LOVED your New Soul Series, and fell in love with Ana and Sam. Who is your favorite character that you've written?

Oh gosh, I don't have a favorite at all! I love them all equally and I'm proud of them all equally!

What's a typical day look like for you?

I don't really have typical days, I think. There's always a lot of email (which sometimes I put off), maintenance of my social media accounts (fun!), and of course writing. I used to write until I crashed, but I've been trying to do better about stopping after a reasonable amount of work has been completed.

What made you decide to become a writer?

I've always been a storyteller and loved making things up. It wasn't until seventh grade, though, that I realized writing could be a legitimate job. My teacher read WAIT TILL HELEN COMES by Mary Downing Hahn to the class. I don't know what it was about that book that switched my brain like that, but it sure did it.

What books have you read in the past that were inspiring to you? Especially when you were a kid?

Oh tons of books! WAIT TILL HELEN COMES, as I mentioned, THE BLUE SWORD and THE HERO AND THE CROWN by Robin McKinley. SABRIEL by Garth Nix. WINTER OF FIRE by Sheryl Jordan. Others I will think of immediately after sending this email.

What is your favorite thing about being a writer? What is your least favorite?

All the things are my favorite. Except taxes. Taxes is my least favorite.

Do you have any unique talents or hobbies?

They're certainly not unique, but I think they're interesting: I knit and crochet, and I can spin my own yarn on both a spinning wheel and drop spindles. I've also recently learned how to do calligraphy (for THE ORPHAN QUEEN), so that's been fun!

What book have your read do you think should get more hype and recognition than it does?

One of my favorites is DEFIANCE by C.J. Redwine. And lots of others. But off the top of my head, that's it.

If you woke up to your house on fire, what is the one thing you would grab and save if you had time? (And assuming all people and animals were safe already)

My computer. It has my books on it!

What is one tip you could pass along to beginning writers?

Keep writing. You're going to get rejections, and that's okay. Keep writing anyway.

 What is the most important thing you've learned so far on your own journey?

Eyes on your own paper.

 Thanks so much for visiting us today Jodi! To wrap things up, share one random fact about yourself.

Once I knit a stuffed hedgehog. 

Oh, I'd love to see that!

Jodi Meadows lives and writes in the Shenandoah Valley, Virginia, with her husband, a Kippy*, and an alarming number of ferrets. She is a confessed book addict, and has wanted to be a writer ever since she decided against becoming an astronaut. She is the author of the INCARNATE Trilogy and the forthcoming ORPHAN QUEEN Duology (HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen). Visit her at www.jodimeadows.com
*A Kippy is a cat.

And now, on to the Giveaway!!
Today's prize--a paperback copy of Asunder! (US only)

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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

4 Year Blogoversary Celebration + Interview with Rysa Walker + Giveaway!

Don't forget to enter the other giveaways going on!
Day 1              Day 2                 Day 3

Today on the blog I have Rysa Walker, a very lovely lady that I had the pleasure of meeting at UtopYA in Nashville this last summer! Rysa is the author of the Chronos Files, with her latest release being Time's Edge (which I wholeheartedly recommend!)

Welcome to the blog Rysa! So happy you are here! To start off, why don't you tell us about your latest project.

I'm currently working on the final book in the CHRONOS Files series, still untitled. It's due out in September, so I need to be finishing up the draft fairly soon. And I'm simultaneously hashing through the plot for the second novella, which comes out in May, but because of publishing schedules for the full-length books, that will actually be written last. It will be from Prudence's perspective, and I have a feeling it's going to be…shall we say interesting…to write.

What do you think is the hardest part about writing time travel?

Keeping everything straight is probably the hardest part. A close second would be trying to explain things to people who take it rather literally—or perhaps I should say linearly. I need to just point them toward the little clip of the 10th Doctor Who (played by David Tenant) where he describes the nature of time. I remember watching that episode when I revising the first version of Timebound—back when it was still Time's Twisted Arrow—and screaming, "Yes! Yes! That's it. What he said!!!" I wanted to reach into the TV and hug him, although admittedly that wasn't the first time. #10 is definitely my favorite Doctor.

What's a typical day look like for you?

Get up far too early and drive the kids off to school. Come back and handle correspondence and social media until my brain is sufficiently caffeinated to write. On a good day, I get in a few hours of writing before the kids come in. Put on the headphones after they get home and try to write a bit more before dinner or chauffeur duties to soccer, piano, etc. Exercise. Maybe get another hour of writing in before bedtime.

In my ideal universe, kids would go to school at night. I'm much more creative in the wee hours of the morning. My kids are also night-owls, so this whole up-before-dawn thing was clearly invented by someone from a different species. I consider it an act of war, but haven't been able to pinpoint who's behind it, so I'm reduced to just shaking my fist feebly. Or home-schooling, but every time I even think about that, I decide that the fist-shaking is a much wiser response.

What made you decide to become a writer?

I don't think you decide to become a writer, or at least I didn't. It's something you do because it's part of who you are. It's kind of like being a reader. I never decided that—once I had the tools, it was just part of my personality.

I did, however, make a decision to write professionally. That was helped along tremendously by winning the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award. The grand prize was almost exactly what I made in a year of teaching, so that was my cue to take a leave of absence…which morphed into a leave of (hopefully) permanence.

What books have you read in the past that were inspiring to you? Especially when you were a kid?

This would be a very, very long list. When I was a kid, I literally read whatever I got my hands on. My parents weren't really readers, so I got a lot of books from one of my grandmothers—everything from Louis L'Amour westerns to Barbara Cartland romances. I was always drawn more toward speculative fiction, even as a kid, but I didn't find most of the children's books in that genre until I was much older due to an understocked library and the fact that my grandmother wasn't into ghosts, demons, space aliens, and so forth. There were a few exceptions—she did have a couple of romance books that included time travel and those stick out in my memory. And the library had a book called Bid Time Return by Richard Matheson (repackaged later as Somewhere in Time). No one else got a crack at that book for a very long time, because I kept rechecking it until I got my own copy.

I encountered Tolkien's work as a teen, Watership Down, by Richard Adams, and also Stephen King, Robert Heinlein, Madeleine L'Engle, Douglas Adams.

What is your favorite moment in history?

It's more of an era than a moment. I geek out over pretty much anything dealing with the Progressive Era, and also the Gilded Age. Things were changing very rapidly—technology, social customs, politics—and women were beginning to step into the public sphere in larger numbers.

Do you have any unique talents or hobbies?

I play a mean game of Galaga and also Scrabble. I enjoy cooking, as long as it's creative—let's just say that my creations can be hit or miss. ;) I also know just enough Photoshop to be dangerous. Family members don't trust me with their photos because I've been known to be…creative.

What book have you read that you think should get more hype and recognition than it does?

It's definitely not YA, so I often avoid mentioning it in interviews, but Frank Bardessono's The Kindness of Ravens was excellent. On the YA front, I think Marie Lu's Legend series is much better than many of the other dystopian series out there, but it never quite reached the same height. And in terms of indie authors, there are many, many that I'd love to see get a wider audience. David Estes is one. I also just read the first book in an excellent series by John Corwin, Sweet Blood of Mine, and have added more of them to my Kindle. And there are others, but I'm blanking right now.

If you were able to time travel yourself, where and when would you visit?

It's no coincidence that Kate travels to the 1893 World's Fair and, in this last book, to New York in the 1870s. Those are the first places I'd go if I had a CHRONOS key.

What is one tip you could pass along to beginning writers?

Read where you write. You can also flip that around: write where you read. If you are going to write YA, you need to know the field. I've spoken to two writers in the past year who read only literary fiction. One is currently writing a paranormal romance and the other is writing a YA sci-fi, because they feel that they'll stand a better chance of "making it" than with literary fiction. That's probably true—but if you don't enjoy the genre in which you're writing, if you're just "slumming" in order to make a buck, the readers can usually tell. If you only read literary fiction, you probably need to stick to writing lit-fic. And if you don't read YA by choice, you probably need to write for adults.

What is the most important thing you've learned so far on your own journey?

Trust that little voice inside that pushes you forward. It's usually more insightful than the dozens of voices pushing you back.

         Thanks so much for visiting us today Rysa! To wrap things up,                share one random fact about yourself.

I am addicted to Inner Peas.

People look at me very strangely when I sweep my arm across the shelf and pull *all the bags* into my cart. (In my defense, my two teen boys will eat an entire bag in one sitting.)

I'm also addicted to chocolate and coffee, but I have multiple suppliers for those addictions that fortunately do not necessitate a special trip across town to Trader Joe's.

RYSA WALKER grew up on a cattle ranch in the South. Her options for entertainment were talking to cows and reading books. On the rare occasion that she gained control of the television, she watched Star Trek and imagined living in the future, on distant planets, or at least in a town big enough to have a stop light.

Timebound, the first book in the CHRONOS Files series, was the Young Adult and Grand Prize winner in the 2013 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards. A CHRONOS Files novella, Time's Echo, is now available exclusively on Kindle, with an Audible version scheduled for release in early June. Time's Edge, the second book in the series, is scheduled for release in October of 2014.

For updates, check her website: www.rysa.com.

And NOW, for the giveaway!

One lucky winner will win a signed copy of Timebound, Time's Edge, and an ecopy or audiobook of Time's Echo! (US only)
Enter below and GOOD LUCK!

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Monday, November 17, 2014

What Are You Reading Monday 11/17

Welcome to It’s Monday!  What Are You Reading!  This is a meme done by Book Journey.  This is a great way to plan out your reading week and see what others are currently reading as well… you never know where that next “must read” book will come from!

What I Read Last Week

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin--4 stars
The Sea of Monters (The Graphic Novel) by Rick Riordan--4 stars
The Vicious Deep by Zoraida Cordova--4 stars
Sparks Rise by Alexandra Bracken--4 stars
Illusions of Fate by Kiersten White--4 stars

What I Am Reading Next Week

 I'll keep planning on reading my TBR, although I might have an extra library book thrown in. I think I will be reading:

In the Afterlight
Born Wicked
Sapphire Blue
Behind the Stars

Currently Reading

Have a great week everyone!

4 Year Blogoversary Celebration--November Book Haul on BookTube + HUGE UtopYA 2014 Swag Pack Giveaway!

I have learned so much over the past 4 years, but one of the biggest and most challenging things is making and editing videos. I'm not really that tech saavy, although I do have a very techie hubby who helps me a lot! When I learned about BookTube, I had to get on board....

So I started my own BookTube channel, Juliababyjen! Its been a lot of fun, and is a constant learning process! I love just sitting in front of the camera and talking about books, and watching everyone else's videos too! 

I've extended the channel over the last year to also include some of my artwork and art updates as well. 

Here is my latest video, my November Book Haul! Enjoy! Don't forget to enter the giveaway below!

And NOW, for the GIVEAWAY!!

Today's prize: A HUGE swap pack from UTopYA 2014! This Giveaway is US only, but I do have a compensation prize of signed bookmarks if you win and you are International.

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Don't miss the other giveaways going on now!

Day 1 of Blogoversary Celebration--$20 Amazon GC Giveaway
Day 2 of Blogoversary Celebration--David Estes Interview + Win A Signed Copy of Brew!