Where I share my love of books with reviews, features, giveaways and memes. Family and needlepoint are thrown in from time to time.

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Friday, June 26, 2015

Grey by Christi J. Whitney Book Tour



About the Book:

Title: Grey (The Romany Outcasts Series, Book 1)
Author: Christi J. Whitney
Publisher: HarperCollins/HarperVoyager
Pages: 400
Genre: Young Adult (Urban Fantasy)
Format: Paperback/Kindle
Sebastian Grey always thought he was a fairly normal teenager – good friends, decent grades, and a pretty sweet job in his foster brother’s tattoo shop.

But when strangers arrive in town, Sebastian soon realizes that his world is nothing at all what it seemed. Secretive gypsies surround him, shadowy figures stalk him, and the girl he’s been dreaming about turns up at school.

Now Sebastian must protect this girl at all costs, even if it means he will never be normal again.

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Read an excerpt:


‘Sebastian!’

I hear my name, but I can’t answer. I’m trapped by the image in my head.

It flashes again.

Rainbow-scorched leaves. Gypsy music.

Caravans of faded paint.

‘Sebastian Grey!’

Dark and nothing.

I struggled for words. ‘Yes, sir?’

Are you joining this group or not? I need to get a list . . . ’

Another flash.

Bonfires. Starless night.

A girl dancing. Ribbons in her hair.

‘For the last time, Mr Grey, wake up!’
My mind ripped free. I jolted, launching papers into orbit. For a split second, I wasn’t convinced of my surroundings. Then, as fluorescent lights bored through my skull, it hit me.

I was in the middle of class.

And twenty-five pairs of eyes were staring straight at me.

All my school supplies littered the floor – textbooks, papers, colored index cards. Everything except the pencil that I’d somehow snapped between my fingers. I coughed and hunkered in my seat. Across the aisle, Avery leaned sideways in his desk, giving me the look I’d seen way too many times: the one that questioned my sanity.

‘Crap,’ I whispered.

I’d done it again.

Mr Weir moved closer. He glowered at me from under spidery eyebrows. I prepared myself for the tirade. But just as he took a wheezing breath, the bell rang. I shrugged and gave him my best smile as the room reverberated with slamming books and screeching chairs.

Mr Weir grunted and waddled back to his desk, my outburst promptly dismissed as more important matters – like the end of the school day – took precedence. I dropped to one knee and recovered my textbook.

‘Hey, Sebastian, you okay?’ Avery towered over me. ‘What just happened there?’

I blinked away the lingering haze. ‘It appears I must have dozed off.’

‘Seriously, man,’ said Avery, his brows shooting up. ‘Who talks like that?’ He knelt and picked up one of my library books, examining it with a shake of his head. ‘I swear, sometimes I think you read way too many old books. They’re messing with your head.’

I snatched it out of his hands. ‘I don’t read old books.’

‘You read Shakespeare.’

‘That’s different.’

Avery laughed, shoving papers at me. ‘Sure it is.’

I stuffed them in my bag, taking care to hide my tattered copy of Hamlet from Avery’s prying eyes. We squeezed into the crowded hall, avoiding locker doors banging open and shut around us.

‘You never answered my question, you know,’ Avery continued.

‘I realize that.’

We strolled in companionable silence down the hallway. Okay, maybe I was the one who was silent. Avery Johnson – senior superlative and social giant – had something to say to everybody we passed. At the end of the corridor, he stopped.

‘Okay, what was it this time?’

‘Nothing,’ I replied. ‘I fell asleep.’

‘Yeah, right,’ Avery said in an amused huff. ‘That wasn’t a nap. That was a complete zone out. Same as this morning in gym, when you stood there like a zombie until Alex Graham smacked you in the face with the ball.’

‘I’m athletically challenged.’

‘Try strange,’ he replied.

‘Can you maybe find another expression to stare at me with? It’s not helping.’

Avery went dramatically serious. ‘Sorry.’

‘Oh, that’s better,’ I replied. ‘I feel much more comfortable now.’ Avery’s features didn’t change. There’d be no avoiding it this time. I worked out my confession. ‘Okay, so you know when you stare at a camera flash and then you keep seeing the glow, even after it’s gone?’

‘Yeah . . . ’

I gripped the strap of my backpack. ‘Well, I keep seeing this same thing in my head, like a camera flash. Only not a light. An image. It used to just happen at night, but now I’m starting to see it during the day.’

‘What exactly do you keep seeing?’

‘A girl.’

Avery whistled slyly. ‘Must be some dream, eh?’

‘No, it’s not like that.’ My head throbbed. I pinched the bridge of my nose between my fingers. ‘It’s not a dream.’

‘A vision, then,’ said Avery, lighting up like Christmas. ‘You can see the future! Or maybe the past. You know, like that guy on TV. The one that helps the cops solve cases and junk.’

I grinned sideways. ‘If only. ’Cause that would be kind of cool.’

‘And profitable,’ added Avery. ‘We could totally . . . ’

‘Hate to disappoint,’ I said, holding up my hands before he could spout off some money-making scheme that I would – mostly likely – lose cash on. ‘But I don’t have dreams, visions, premonitions, or anything worth printing up business cards for. It’s just an image. I probably saw it in a book somewhere.’

‘Well, whatever it is, when you come out of it, you do this jerking spaz thing.’ He demonstrated for my benefit. ‘Like a bad episode of Sebastian Can’t Dance. Maybe you should ease up on the caffeine.’

‘Oh, you’re hilarious,’ I said, shoving him towards the exit doors. I wasn’t about to tell Avery I’d seen the image every night for two months, and I couldn’t remember the last time I’d had any decent sleep. I’d reached the limits of sharing. ‘Glad to know I covered all the basics of self-embarrassment. Maybe next time I’ll work up a drool.’

Avery pushed open the set of metal doors, flashing a Cheshire grin as he passed through. ‘Hey, don’t worry too much about it, Sebastian. It’s not like it’s the first time you’ve done something weird.’

About the Author
Christi J. Whitney is a former high school theatre director with a love for the arts. She lives just outside Atlanta with her husband and two sons. When not spending time with them or taking a ridiculous number of trips to Disney World, she can be found directing plays, making costumes for sci-fi/fantasy conventions, obsessing over Doctor Who, watching superhero movies, or pretending she’s just a tad bit British.
Her latest book is the young adult urban fantasy novel, Grey (The Romany Outcasts Series, Book 1).
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The Ark by Laura Liddell Nolen

The Ark by Laura Liddell Nolen

First sentence: On the last day on Earth, I couldn't find my hairbrush. 

This is a very fast paced book that starts out with a race from prison to the last accessible Ark on Earth.  Char is a teenage girl that has been abandoned by her family in prison.  She has been in and out of prison for the last few years. This last stint happened because she was trying to separate herself from her 'crew', but no one who means anything to her believes that - or that is what she thinks.  Her parents actually come to say goodbye before they board the Ark and her mom slips a present into Char's back pocket.  When Char discovers it, it changes everything she feels about this last day.

Oh, maybe this would be a good time to tell you why this is the last day.  A meteor, discovered and identified years earlier is headed towards the Earth.  It is predicted that this meteor, named Pinball, will destroy it and everything on it.  All nations have come together to build 5 Arks that will each hold 100,000 people.  Some of these people are chosen based on what they can contribute, and some have been chosen based on a lottery.  Char's dad is a politician and her mom is a doctor - so they are pretty much a shoe-in.  Of course, Char being in prison eliminates her from being part of the lottery.  Her brother West will be going with their mom and dad though.

When Char realizes what her mother has left her, she elicits the help of a friend, an inmate, Isaiah, who is blind, but has experience in escaping from this prison.  There is a rumor that he knows about a faction of people called the Remnant who are able to get on the Ark. Char doesn't know if this is true, but doesn't know how to get out of the prison without him.

Like I said before - very fast paced book.  I liked Char, even though she has committed some crimes in the past, she seems truly contrite and just wants to apologize to her brother and family for what she has put them through.  It is also easy to have some compassion for her as she is being left behind on Earth.  You want to cheer for her to keep going, that she has to try to make it!  I can't tell you much more without giving too much away - so you will have to read the book to find out!

~I received a complimentary Kindle copy of The Ark from the author for her Pump up Your Book Blog Tour.~

About the Book:
Title: The Ark
Author: Laura Liddell Nolen
Publisher: HarperCollins
Pages: 239
Genre: YA Scifi
Format: Paperback/Kindle/Nook
There’s a meteor headed for Earth, and there is only one way to survive.
It’s the final days of earth, and sixteen-year-old Char is right where she belongs: in prison. With her criminal record, she doesn’t qualify for a place on an Ark, one of the five massive bioships designed to protect earth’s survivors during the meteor strike that looks set to destroy the planet. Only a select few will be saved – like her mom, dad, and brother – all of whom have long since turned their backs on Char.
If she ever wants to redeem herself, Char must use all the tricks of the trade to swindle her way into outer space, where she hopes to reunite with her family, regardless of whether they actually ever want to see her again, or not . . .

For More Information




Read an excerpt:


On the last day of Earth, I couldn’t find my hairbrush. That probably seems like a silly thing to worry about, what with the imminent destruction of, well, everything, but my mom was always after me about my usual ratty ponytail. Normally, I’d ignore her. Or, if I were having a really bad day, I’d tell her what she could do with her hairbrush. But like I said, it was the last day of Earth. And I figured, since it was the last time she’d ever see me, I wanted it to go smoothly. I wanted her to remember me, if not fondly, then at least without anger.
A girl can dream.
I slipped out of my cell as soon as the door swung open. I’d done the same every day for the past month, and my family had yet to show up. Their OPT—Off-Planet Transport—took off in eighteen hours, so they still had time. Barely. I couldn’t blame them if they didn’t come. It wasn’t hard to imagine that they’d rather escape to the stars without so much as a backward glance at me, their big disappointment. Even my father’s influence couldn’t persuade the government to give me a spot on an OPT.
Turns out, when humankind is deciding which of its children to save, the last place it looks is in prison.
But I was pretty sure they’d come. West had said as much in his last transmission. The thought of my younger brother actually halted me mid-step, like one of those punches in the gut where you can’t breathe for a few seconds.
“Looking for something?” The lazy drawl floated out of the nearest cell.
Against my better instincts, I turned to see Cassa lying on her bunk, her arm draped across Kip. My Kip. Or at least, my ex-Kip. Whatever. In twenty-two hours, I wouldn’t have to think about him anymore.
See? Silver lining. And they called me a perpetual pessimist at my last psych workup.
They barely fit next to each other on the flimsy mattress, but that wasn’t the weird part. The guys’ ward was separated by a substantial metal wall. We were kept apart during evening hours, for obvious reasons. Not that anyone cared anymore. The med staff had been the first to go, followed by the cleaning crew, followed by the kitchen crew. To show you where girls like me fell on the government’s list of priorities, there was still a skeleton crew of guards lurking around, despite the fact that I hadn’t had a real meal for going on a week. The guards would be gone soon, too, and then there’d be no one in here but us chickens.
I figured either Kip had a key, or the guards had left already. A key could be useful. My curiosity got the best of me. “How’d he get in here before the first bell?”
He cocked an eyebrow. “I got some tricks you ain’t seen, babe. Why don’t you join us? End of the world and all.”
The guards were gone, then. I felt a small trill of anxiety deep in my chest. If the guards were gone, my family was even less likely to show. But it was never smart to show fear. “The Pinball could be headed straight for this building, and I still wouldn’t be desperate enough to touch you. Oh, wait. Guess you don’t have to take my word for it.”
I turned to leave, but he continued. “Now is that any way to treat your dear ole partners? Be nice or I won’t give you back your stuff.”
“Ugh, you were in my room?” I flexed my shoulder blades, making sure my gun was still tightly secured between them.
“Don’t worry, Char. I didn’t handle the merchandise. Didn’t want to wake you up. Just lifted me a few keepsakes.” He pronounced my name the way I like: Char, as in charred. Something that got burned.
I wasn’t sure what Kip and Cassa were planning, but I knew I wouldn’t like it. They were thieves and liars. I would know. I used to be one of them. That was before the last job, when Cassa had attacked an elderly man in the home we were robbing. She’d kicked him until he stopped fighting back. Kip had called her off after a few licks, but I just stood there, staring. The old man looked at me, like right at me, while we made our getaway, and my stomach twisted into a knot so tight that I tasted bile. That was the moment I knew I wanted out.
But by then, no one believed me. Or, if they did, no one cared. Except for Kip and Cassa, of course. They’d taken the news pretty hard, to put it lightly.
If I lunged for the box, I could probably grab my hairbrush and get out of there. I wouldn’t have time for more than that. Then again, I’d be doing exactly what they expected, and I didn’t have time for delays. My family could be in the commissary any second now.
“Ahem. Seeing as it’s your last day of life, I might let you have one thing back,” said Kip.
“In exchange for what?”
“I’m hurt. All our time together, and you still don’t believe in my inherent generosity. But now that you mention it, I’ve got a hankering for some peanut butter crackers.”
“Sorry, Kip. I’m fresh out of food. Kinda like everyone else.”
“Nice try, Charrr.” He drew my name out, as though tasting it. “I saw them yesterday. Figured you were hiding them under your pillow when I couldn’t find them last night.”
“You figured wrong.”
All I could think about was my brother’s face. And how I had this one last chance to apologize to my parents, for everything. I shrugged and turned to leave.



About the author: Laura Liddell Nolen grew up in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, where she spent lots of time playing make-believe with her two younger brothers. They supplemented their own stories with a steady diet of space- and superhero-themed movies, books, and television. The daughter of a comic book collector, she learned how to handle old comics at an early age, a skill she’s inordinately proud of to this day.

Laura began work on her first novel, The Ark, in 2012, following the birth of her daughter Ava, a tiny rebel and a sweetheart on whom the novel’s main character is loosely based. Completion of The Ark was made possible in part due to an SCBWI Work-in-Progress Award.

Laura loves coffee, dogs, and making lists. She has a degree in French and a license to practice law, but both are frozen in carbonite at present. She lives in Houston, Texas, with her husband and two young children, and their dog Miley, who is a very good girl.
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Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black

I listen to a lot of books in my car as I am tooling around town, to and from work, to and from the grocery store, etc.  Some of them adapt quite well to being listened to in short bits - this one did not.  I did enjoy the book, but I think this is one I would have enjoyed more had I read it, or listened to it somewhere other than the car.

It starts out very quick paced - Tana wakes up in the bathroom of a farmhouse after a party, and discovers that all of her classmates have been killed by vampires.  All of them but one - Aidan.  He is tied to a bed, and while he has been bitten, he is not a vampire yet.  If you are not killed by a vampire when they bite you, then you turn Cold.  After turning Cold, if you drink human blood within 88 days, then you die and become a vampire.  If you are able to lock yourself away somewhere for 88 days - and actually survive, then you will beat the infection and be human again.  Also in the room with Aiden is a vampire who is chained up.  His name is Gavriel.  You learn very quickly what kind of person Tana is, as she cannot leave either one of these two behind - because, you see, there are vampires in the basement - and when night falls, they will be killed.

The story is told from many different points of view - Tana's, Gavriel's, Pearl's (Tana's little sister) - and it jumps back and forth from the present, to Tana's recent past, to Gavriel's long ago past.  I think this is one of the reasons that it didn't work well for me to listen to it in bits and pieces.

So once Tana frees Aidan and Gavriel, she gets them into her car and they set out for Coldtown.  There are many Coldtown's across the U.S. where vampires, or those who have been infected, are imprisoned.  They are entire cities and this one is in Springfield.  (Sort of like Springfield from The Simpson's - you have no idea where).  Along the way to Coldtown, they pick up two siblings - Midnight and Winter - who want to go to Coldtown because they want to be vampires. Oh - and I almost forgot - Tana was "scratched" by one of the vampires upon fleeing the farmhouse, so is afraid that she hasn't got a lot of time before she turns Cold.

You would think that this being a Vampire book - where there is lots of killing and death, that it would be a grim book - but Tana has an outlook (or she is just naive and lucky) that she can accomplish pretty much anything.  I don't think she starts out believing this about herself, but she does a lot of things in the book to stay alive - and to keep others alive -- that she didn't know she could do.  Tana teaches us about loyalty, and family, and hope -- and of course, love.











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