Thursday, July 31, 2014

**That's What HE Said ~ #11**



That's What He Said is a weekly meme hosted by the lovely ladies @Chapter Break. Here's the deal: every Thursday, post a line from your book boyfriend to his heroine. Keep in mind, these are direct quotes from dialog in the books. The quote doesn't have to be romantic - just something our hunky hero said to his lucky lady. Be sure to link up over at Chapter Break as well.

This week I'm picking my That's What He Said from:

***

Blood Fever by Karen Marie Moning

"One day you will kiss a man you can't breathe without, and find that breath is of little consequence."
-Barrons to Mac

I mentioned Barrons last week in a comment to Julie and Rose @Chapter Break and that, of course, got me really thinking about him. It's been awhile since I was in the Fever world...I'm anxious to get back to it. ;) I just might have to re-read since Ms. Moning is keeping us waiting...

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

**Author Spotlight, Interview & Giveaway ~ Wormwood ~ Danielle Nevins**


Earlier this year, I read and reviewed D.H. Nevins' Wormwood. If you missed my review, you can read it here. I really enjoyed Wormwood, so I asked Ms. Nevins if I could interview her. Thankfully, she agreed. Recently, Ms. Nevins had some exciting happenings around Wormwood. She had the talented cover artist, Derek Murphy, ask if she'd like to see some designs he'd been inspired to create after reading Wormwood. Now, Wormwood has a new cover (I liked the original cover but I have to say this new cover is much more representative of the story) and the sequel, Angel of Shadow, has a lovely cover as well. Ms. Nevins also had a musician from the band Orca Flights approach her with a song he'd written specifically for the book. It's called Leap of Faith. So along with my interview with D.H., I'm going to share Wormwood's new cover and Leap of Faith for your enjoyment. :) And because I think this is a fantastic read, I'm also going a giveaway. Enjoy!


***


Wormwood by D.H. Nevins
Series: Wormwood #1
Release Date: September 26, 2011
Genre: Adult Fantasy/Post-apocalyptic 
Rating: 5 Bookworms

Synopsis
Against a devastated, post-apocalyptic landscape, a legion of one hundred fierce half-angels is hell bent on purging the Earth of all humans. But one of them, the tormented Tiamat, struggles against his mission, and when he rescues a beautiful woman named Kali, he finds the attraction as troubling as it is dangerous. Can Kali trust the one creature who could be responsible for her ultimate demise? 





You can hop over to D.H.'s blog to read an interview between her and Noah Coty, of Orca Flights. 



Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I grew up in the Toronto area, but roughly 10 years ago, resigned myself to the fact that I wasn’t a city person. So my husband and I moved into a log house in the woods—which is pretty much in the
middle of nowhere. We love it! We don’t have kids, but instead share our house with two cats. Now I don’t know where they got this idea, but they both act like they own the place.

What do you do when you are not writing?

I’m a teacher at a small, rural elementary school. The work keeps me very busy, but it’s gratifying. When I have some extra time—and I’m not writing—I tend to gravitate towards activities that get my
blood pumping: mainly hiking, canoeing, scuba diving and riding around on my motorcycle (which I’ve named Grendel). I’ve also tried white water rafting, hang gliding, sky diving, winter camping
(which was WAY too cold!) and zip lining. But that one thing that tugs at my soul more than anything else is travel, and true to that, my husband and I have dragged our backpacks around the world
twice. 

Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?

Diana Gabaldon, Jean Auel and Stephen King have all influenced me. The first two authors I mentioned have what I consider to be some of the best voices in writing, and they have both created very strong female protagonists in their books. As for Stephen King, I have always been in awe of the multi-faceted worlds and characters he’s created. 

On to questions about Wormwood...

I loved Wormwood. Why do you think it resonates with readers?

First of all, thank you! I’m incredibly flattered by your question. However, I must admit it’s difficult to answer. Naturally, any writer would hope their book would resonate with readers. It helps that most of us write books we’d want to read ourselves and then hope that our readers have the same tastes we do. Perhaps in this case, I luckily enjoy the same sorts of stories as many other readers. 

When I read, I need strong, visual imagery and characters who are not only believable, but likeable enough that I’m happy to throw myself into their world and experience it through their eyes. On top of that, I’m an action junkie, a romantic, a fan of conflict in writing and absolutely need to be surprised by plot twists. With all these elements in mind, I knew I had some work ahead of me if I was to pull this off. So knowing what I needed to do, I spent a year mapping out the story and scribbling extensive notes on the characters before I wrote a single word of Wormwood. Is this why it
resonates with readers? I honestly don’t know. In the end, all I can say for certain is I wrote a story I would love to read myself. 

Did you always intend this story to continue?

No. In fact, in an early incarnation of the plot, I killed off the main character, Kali. But realizing that ending was a little too dark, I changed it. Within this change, I left it open for a possible sequel and by doing so, fell in love with some of the possibilities! Before Wormwood was finished, I had already plotted out my ideas for a trilogy. 

Why did you choose this particular mythology and was it challenging weaving a story around it?

There are already innumerable apocalyptic scenarios that include viruses, natural disasters, aliens, nuclear war, rebelling technology and even zombies, and I knew if I wanted to write something fresh, I’d have to go a different route. When I started looking into religious mythologies, I was fascinated. There are detailed apocalyptic scenarios within literature from a wide range of religions, from Modern Christian to Hindu to Ancient Babylonian. I took various elements from many different religions, including some of the names of my characters—names which I wrote to have significant meaning within the story. Fortunately, it was time consuming but not particularly challenging. If anything, it enthralled me.

I liked that you made the Nephilim fallible. Why did you decide to do that? 

Thanks! I got the idea from my husband, actually, and built the entire story around this first seed of discussion. Very early on, when I established that I wanted to base the apocalypse on a weaving of
religious mythologies, my husband said, “Wouldn’t it be cool if this angel had to do it—had to destroy the Earth—but he was incredibly conflicted and tormented about it?” Naturally, my answer was a resounding, “Yes!” So from that, I built the character, Tiamat. The other Nephilim were written to have very human emotions and weaknesses as well. It made them far more real for me.

Is Tiamat's grief over what he has to do part of that fallibility?

Absolutely. It is also his strength.

I love that Kali is such a strong heroine. Was it important to you that she be that way?

I don’t think I could have written her any other way. I would have been bored composing a story about a character who was weak-willed, selfish or whiney, and probably wouldn’t have finished
writing the book! No, she needed to be strong in order to drive both the story and the author!

Thanks, D.H.!!


a Rafflecopter giveaway



Tuesday, July 29, 2014

**Teaser Tuesday ~ #29**


Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!



***

Control (Songs of Submission, #4)
Control by CD Reiss
Songs of Submission #4 
Release Date:
Genre: Erotic Romance

"You are the sea under my sky. We're bound at the horizon."
-Jonathan to Monica

I had to laugh when I went to type up the synopsis for Control. Why? Because the synopsis is the entirety of the quote from which my teaser comes. So I didn't bother with the synopsis. :)

Monday, July 28, 2014

**Sky Reviews ~ The Book Thief ~ Markus Zusak**

The Book ThiefThe Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Release Date: 2005
Genre: Teen Fiction
Source: Bought at B&N
Rating: 5 Bookworms

Synopsis:
It is 1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier, and will become busier still.

By her brother's graveside, Liesel Meminger's life is changed when she picks up a single object, partially hidden in the snow. It is The Grave Digger's Handbook, left there by accident, and it is her first act of book thievery. So begins a love affair with books and words, as Liesel, with the help of her accordion-playing foster father, learns to read. Soon she is stealing books from Nazi book-burnings, the mayor's wife's library, wherever there are books to be found.
     But these are dangerous times. When Liesel's foster family hides a Jew in their basement, Liesel's world is both opened up and closed down.
     In superbly crafted writing that burns with intensity, award-winning author Markus Zusak has given us one of the most enduring stories of our time.

***Sky's Review***

This book was amazing in a manner that is almost beyond words, and has definitely made it into my extensive list of favorite books -- although it may have actually reached top five. I’ve heard from numerous people that The Book Thief was an incredible read, but this is one of those books where you have to read it to believe it.
The Book Thief tells the story of Liesel Meminger, who, in the beginning, is a mere ten years old. Her story begins in 1939 Germany at her brother’s graveside. They were both to be delivered to a foster family by their impoverished mother, but, obviously, her brother never made it. It is here where Liesel Meminger commits her first act of book thievery, a habit which will continue despite the fact that she is illiterate when she first steals The Grave Digger’s Handbook.
Liesel’s new foster family is composed of Hans and Rosa Hubermann, who live on 31 Himmel Street in Molching. Hans Hubermann -- Liesel’s Papa -- is a kindly accordionist who rolls his own cigarettes and whose kindly silver eyes are always there for Liesel. He is the one who, despite being barely literate himself, eventually teaches Liesel to read, and thereby truly instills a love of books in Liesel. Rosa Hubermann -- Liesel’s Mama -- is a rough, swearing, cardboard-faced wardrobe of a woman with elastic hair and an enormous heart beneath all of her more intimidating layers. She supports the family by doing the laundry of the more wealthy families in Molching.
Liesel’s life is quickly turned upside down when her family takes in a Jew named Max Vandenburg. He comes to the Hubermann household in desperation, as a last-resort option stemming from a promise made by Hans Hubermann over 20 years ago. It’s probably the most dangerous thing a family could do, but Rosa, surprisingly, doesn’t curse at the situation, and Hans says, “A promise is a promise.” Liesel, although at first terrified of the stranger in her basement, comes to love Max as family. The reader, too, comes to love Max, with his swampy eyes, hair like feathers, and daydreams of battling the Führer. He’s rather selfless, and it pains him to put the Hubermanns in so much danger, although he has no other option.
The Book Thief is filled with a whole host of interesting side characters. Most prominent is Rudy Steiner, a little boy with hair the color of lemons, an obsession with Jesse Owens, and the biggest crush on Liesel. He’s Liesel’s best friend, and, although she won’t admit it, a little bit more than that. Also a part of Liesel’s story are the ever-twitching Tommy Müller, Frau Holtzapfel -- who for an inexplicable reason has an intense rivalry with Mama -- the kind-hearted food thief Arthur Berg, the intimidating whistler Pfiffikus, and the fluffy-haired and very strange mayor’s wife, Ilsa Hermann. Zusak does a fantastic job of utilizing these characters to shape Liesel while making sure that they develop as well.
Perhaps what I enjoyed most about The Book Thief is the narrator and the exquisite description. The entire story is narrated by Death himself, which is a fascinating and fitting perspective. I enjoyed the writing style of the book even more, though. Zusak often makes use of synesthesia, where you use one sense to describe another, and colors are highly emphasized. They make for wonderfully vivid descriptive passages, and are a descriptive style that is more rarely utilized.
The Book Thief  was an unbelievably astonishing book that I highly recommend. It is full of emotion, and I found myself laughing, serious, and, for the last fourth of the book, crying so hard that I struggled to see the words on the page. It was also fun to read a book about World War II from the perspective of a German. This book was intense and breathtaking, and is not likely to be a book I’ll forget.


Sunday, July 27, 2014

**Bought, Borrowed, & Bagged ~ #29**


Bought, Borrowed, & Bagged is a weekly meme, hosted by TalkSupe, where I share with you the books I have bought, borrowed, or bagged (gifted or won) plus a recap of the previous week's reviews, upcoming reviews, and any other bookishness I want to share. :)


Here's what was added to my ereader and/or my physical library this week:

BOUGHT


I was too busy getting ready to leave on my vacation to one-click anything. And that's probably a good thing. ;) Although, I did get my signed copy of Bend in the mail from a fellow Hussie. She had it signed for me at Book Bash. Thanks, Katie! *smooches*


BAGGED

 

Kissed by a Dark Prince (Eternal Mates #1)Claimed by a Demon King (Eternal Mates, #2)
Check out all these good I won from Sharrice @Reese's Reviews in her Blogoversary Giveaway! I got 7 books, a bag o' swag, and 2 totebags from RT...one of which is a roller bag. Can I tell y'all how tickled I am over that one?!? ;) Thanks so much, Sharrice!

And I won Kissed by a Dark Prince and Claimed by a Demon King from Berls @Fantasy is More Fun in her Blogoversary Giveaway. Thank YOU, Berls!!


Last Week's Reviews
Soul Twister by Robyn Jones
Come Back by JA Huss
The Anonymous Blog of Mrs. Jones by Ellen Harger

Upcoming Reviews
Control and Burn by C.D. Reiss

And because my kiddos read almost as much as I do and I like to put them to work during the summer, here are a few reviews coming from them:
Berk reviews Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan
Jax reviews Paperboy by Vince Vawter
Sky reviews The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Saturday, July 26, 2014

**#COYER Review ~ Come Back ~ JA Huss**

CoyerSummerVacation

***

Come Back (Dirty,  Dark, And Deadly #2)
by JA Huss
Genre: Erotic Suspense
Release Date: July 21, 2014
Source: I received an eARC in exchange for an honest review. I also purchased an ecopy.
Rating: 5 Bookworms

Synopsis
“Secrets keep the darkness alive,” Harper tells me. But that’s not how I see it at all. Secrets keep me alive. The truth is overrated. Honesty is never the best policy. And when your job involves killing the most dangerous men on earth, knowing more than you should, will get you killed.

"Death is a business deal," I tell her back. And I make that deal every chance I get. Secrets are currency in my world. I pay my debts with them. I feed on them. They ground me in the present and they promise me a future.

But Harper Tate is everything I've ever wanted. She is my promise, she is my past, she is my future. She can be mine. She will be mine. All I have to do is complete the mission.

There's just one problem.

I have no idea what it is.






I have reviewed more books by JA Huss on my blog than by any other author. Yep, I've read everything she's written - at least all her fiction. :) And every time she blows me away. She has this way of writing a pulse-pounding, suspenseful story. She creates these characters that are flawed and so real you can't help but love them - even if they're not exactly the definition of a 'good guy'. And all her stories are like puzzles. She gives you a little piece here and a funny-shaped piece there - you think you've found the perfect place for the pieces and then she knocks the table and all the pieces are scrambled again. *sigh* And I love her writing all the more for keeping me guessing.

Come Back provides several more pieces to the James and Harper puzzle. We see them, along with the newest member of their 'team', Sasha, moving towards an end goal. However, they each just might have different end goals. They're not sure they can trust one another and yet they're the only ones they have to trust. And they all believe they're being set up but don't know by whom. Nor are they sure who's working for whom.

James and Harper's relationship moves forward and then seems to take two steps back. James makes very clear his end goal where Harper is concerned. But Harper is leery. For her part, Harper is falling - and falling hard for James. I liked the history between them that was revealed. And it provided another small piece in the puzzle. 

I can't imagine living the sort of life these three have. But Huss does a great job of conveying it. And it seems as though Harper was untouched, relatively, by the life her father has given her. Then we see just how much that world touched her. 

I was thrilled with the reappearance of Sasha. We first meet Sasha in Slack and she stole my heart right along with Ford's. This is a worldly, world-weary 13 year old, despite not having traveled all that much. She was raised around the 'business' and she is a tough cookie. She doesn't pull any punches and will call James on his shit. Sasha definitely kept things interesting.

So, I loved every nail-biting, head-scratching, confounding minute of Come Back. I think I picked out some corner pieces of the puzzle. I can't make out any of the pieces that are going to fill in the final puzzle...well, I could put forth a few theories on what I think the final picture will be but knowing Huss, I'm completely wrong. I can't wait for the next pieces to be revealed and I'm absolutely certain I'll enjoy the assembly.



**Sidekick Showcase ~ #50**



Sidekick Showcase (previously known as Sidekick Saturday) is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by Jaclyn at JC's Book Haven. There are many secondary characters that are as great as the primaries. In some cases, the sidekicks actually steal the show and you like them better than the heroine or hero. Maybe they didn't have enough page time for how great they were. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:


• Choose a sidekick *or someone other than the hero or heroine* that you would like to put in the spotlight that fits in this week's type

• Share a picture (if possible) and information about the character
• Give the title and author of a book the character can be found in
• Please don't include too many spoilers when describing why the character is such a great sidekick
• Put your link in the Linky thing and comment


**********************************
Wow! This is my 50th Sidekick Showcase post!
I hope y'all enjoy this firecracker of a girl. ;)

July's themes are Patriot, Red-head, or Firecracker

My pick this week:
Sasha Churin

from JA Huss' Slack and her Dirty, Dark, & Deadly Series

We first met Sasha in Slack. I fell for her immediately. She knew how to needle Ford and that is hard to do. Sasha hasn't had the best of luck lately but she doesn't give herself time to feel sorry for herself. This 13 year old girl knows how to handle herself AND a gun. She's intelligent and straight-shooter - both literally and figuratively.  ;)

***

"You friend is buying guns from my dad, doofus. Do I look stupid? I know what you guys do."
-Sasha to Ford, Slack

"Yeah," she says with a sigh. "You guys never have girlfriends. I used to think your work looked exciting, but then I figured out you have no lives. No offense," she says with a shrug.
-Sasha to Ford, Slack

"I know what I'm up against. You don't have to sugar-coat life for me. I'm used to living the lie. I'm used to living with death now."
-Sasha to James, Come Back


"I was never in Cheyenne. Sorry, Smurf."
"No, but you were in Boise that year I turned nine. You bought four FN Five-SeveNs and two thousand rounds of cartridges. That was a nice paycheck for us. We bought that cabin. You know, the one where my father was killed."
-James and Sasha, Come Back

"Can you make sure if I die, then I don't die for nothing?"
-Sasha to James, Come Back

"I tell you what. If you hit that target in this light, I'll let you keep that gun forever. We can trade, huh? I'll take that Glock off your hands and you can have this Five-SeveN."
She gets a wide grin but tries to hide it. "I can hit that target."
-James and Sasha, Come Back

"Are you a bad guy, James?"
I nod slowly. "Yes."
"I'm a bad guy too."
-Sasha and James, Come Back

"Ha," Sasha says from the back seat. "James, you really are the big bad wolf. He was gonna tell Merc wolves ate me out on the prairies if I didn't behave, Harper. You better watch out."
-Sasha, Come Back

"You're wrong. I'm on his side, so if you're not, then it's you who's on the wrong side."
-Sasha to Harper, Come Back

Friday, July 25, 2014

**#COYER Review ~ The Anonymous Blog of Mrs. Jones ~ Ellen Harger**

CoyerSummerVacation



The Anonymous Blog of Mrs. Jones
The Anonymous Blog of Mrs. Jones by Ellen Harger
Release Date: July 21, 2014
Genre: Adult Contemporary
Source: I received a complimentary copy from the author in exchange for an honest review
Rating: 4.5 Bookworms

Synopsis
An apartment fire costs everything, including the illusion of a tolerable marriage.

Gillian is depressed, her moods shifting like earthquakes raising deep, roiling anger. Convinced her friends and family won't understand, she turns to strangers through a blog she writes as Mrs. Jones, a nondescript anyone.

Despite exposing herself on the internet, she assumes no one will notice her among millions of voices. Cathartic writing helps her to transform as she makes new friends, seeks help from a non-traditional therapist, and considers divorce.

Then Mr. Write answers. A strange man who asks questions, who peels away the layers. Gillian finds love, but life is absurdly stubborn. She must confront her husband, Evan, before she can move on.




The Anonymous Blog of Mrs. Jones is a well-crafted, provocative, and moving novel. Told, in part, through blog posts and comments, it is a unique look at soul searching and finding a second chance at love.

Gillian is trapped. Trapped in a mediocre job. Trapped in a marriage. Trapped in the chair her depression won't let her leave. Following a fire where she and her husband lose everything, Gillian and Evan seem to have lost each other as well. After almost a year, Gillian feels it's time to make some changes. She begins seeing a therapist, accepts the offer of friendship from a coworker, asks Evan for a divorce, moves in with a roommate, and she starts an anonymous blog.

It is through all these changes that Gillian begins on the path of finding herself. Oh, she changes and had changed following the fire. But she finds the Gillian at her core - her inner self - and that's what leads her towards love.

The blog allows Gillian to express herself and explore herself in a way where there is no judgement. She finds a lot of freedom in this. Particularly when Mr. Write, whom Gillian began writing to as Mrs. Jones, answers her. Mrs. Jones and Mr. Write really converse with one another and, in turn, realize what they're missing...what they want in life.

I think there is probably a point in every marriage where one or both spouses wonder whether or not the marriage is built to last. So I could relate to Gillian's feelings. I enjoyed living through Gillian's soul searching experiences. She found friends and new hobbies. She learned things about herself - about her needs in a relationship and how to just be. I think her most important lesson was how to communicate. Through everything - but especially the connection with Mr. Write, Gillian was able to shed her old self and embrace the new Gillian. And she was able to fall in love.

I love stories of second chances. The Anonymous Blog of Mrs. Jones is endearing and fulfilling. Ms. Harger drew me into Gillian's life and struggles. And in the end, I was happy to have been on the journey with her.




I’m a word gypsy and emotion sifter, writing about broken condoms, unhappy marriages and women’s issues at the chick-lit end of women’s fiction and women’s fiction end of chick-lit.
I believe great storytelling asks readers to confront what they've stuffed deep down. We all get blinded by emotion and stuck in ruts. In June 2005, I woke up to a wall of fire. Watching the flames eat away my life was my biggest turning point in life. 

My first novel Strong Enough released February 2013. My sophomore work, The Anonymous Blog of Mrs. Jones, debuts this July.

Find us at: ellenharger.com. Contact me at ellen@ellenharger.com.