WINNER of the Touch of Power Contest

Posted: December 26, 2011 in Uncategorized
Hopefully, everyone is having an eventful and pleasant holiday. I have been very blessed to spend the last few days with my amazing in-laws in Northern California. Surprisingly, there is no snow this Christmas. The upside is not having to bundle up in five layers to take the trash out.
Alright, I will get to the good part! The winner of the contest is:
DeAnn from Butterfly Books
Make sure you check out and follow her blog! It seems to be a pleasant mix of reviews, opinions, and other such tidbits. One post was a wishlist of books and Touch of Power was number one. Glad to help Santa out on that one. ;]
Congrats, DeAnn!
Since I am still on vacation until Tuesday, I will not be posting my review of Maria’s novel until then (along with many others throughout the week). I am so excited for the next two weeks that entail me working only one job. That means, book review catch up! I have about five or so to post and lots more reading to do!
Until then, Happy Holidays to everyone and no matter what you celebrate, enjoy family and friends. That is the most important part!
Your Book Heroine

Today, I am lucky enough to have Maria V. Snyder visiting the blog!  She is the author of the Study series, the Glass series, and the Insider series.  As always when reading Maria’s books, I fell for her latest characters and quickly got on board with a whole new story.  When I first asked Maria for an interview, Outside In (book 2 of the Insider series) had just released and Touch of Power was finishing up.

BH:  Thank you, Maria, for taking the time to answer a few questions.  Since you are one of my favorite authors, I must say that it was difficult keeping the list to a minimum!
MVS:  Thank you for inviting me to your blog.  I am honored to be one of your favorite authors.

BH:  After two wonderful series, both set in the lands of Ixia and Sitia, what made you break away and begin a whole new world of adventure in the Insider series?
MVS:  Even though I thoroughly enjoyed writing the Study and Glass books, I was ready for a new creative challenge.  It’s fun to create a new world and meet a number of new characters.  It also helps to keep my writing fresh and interesting…at least I hope it does!

BH:  You have chosen incredibly strong females as your protagonists in all four of your series.  Were they a reflection of yourself or inspired by someone you know?
MVS:  As a reader, I’ve always been drawn to strong female protagonists.  Growing up, my mother and father always encouraged both me and my sister to be very independent and be able to take care of ourselves, and I think that translated into all my lead characters.

BH:  What made you lean toward a more dystopian genre and pick a science fiction setting for the Insider series?
MVS:  Actually, I didn’t pick the genre or the setting – the story came to me in a dream.  I dreamt about Trella, Cog and Broken Man, the Pop Cops, the twists, the setting all in one dream!  I haven’t done it before or since (wish I knew what I had for dinner the night before).  In fact, I didn’t really consider it a dystopian until my editor mentioned how it was similar to the “Hunger Games”.

BH:  Have these stories been building for many years now or did their inspirations come together quickly and unexpectedly?
MVS:  Both.  The Study and Glass books started with an idea for a food taster to be the main character of a fantasy novel. I thought it would be a stand alone book, but it turned into three books and spun off the Glass series.  “Inside Out” was one dream in one night!  A gift from the sandman ;>

BH:  You’ve done a lot of research for your books, like glass blowing, horseback riding, and even studied poisons. What was that like?
MVS:  I love doing hands-on research for my books.  It’s the best way for me to be able to translate an experience into words.  All my classes and lessons have been loads of fun and sometimes scary (horses are big and kilns are hot!) and I learn so much more than what goes into a book.  I would love to do more with glass, but I don’t have the time or resources right now.  What I like best is exploring new subjects and skills – I don’t need to become an expert at anything, but I learn enough to be dangerous ;> I have a legitimate reason to be a dabbler.

BH:  If you could be any one of your countless characters, whom would you be and why?
MVS:  Avry who is the main protagonist in “Touch of Power”.  She’s a healer and I’ve seen so many friends and family members suffer with various problems, that I wish I could just…heal them.  All the money in the world is nothing compared to good health.  Also as a mother – healing would be wonderful.  I hate to see my kids sick or hurt.  My second choice would be Valek – ’cause, well…he’s Valek ;>

BH:  You have a new book coming out December 20, Touch of Power.  Will you give us a little synopsis of what we can expect out of the first book in the new series?
MVS:  “Touch of Power” is a fantasy novel about a healer set in a world that is recovering from a deadly plague.  Avry’s world has blamed the plague on the healers and has hunted them down.  She is finally caught only to be rescued by a group who wants her to heal their Prince.  The group’s leader, Kerrick, knows the healers aren’t to blame for the plague and that she could do some good for a change instead of hiding.  Unfortunately, she believes this Prince is the one who started blaming the plague on the healers so she isn’t risking her life for some pampered Prince.  As they travel to the Prince’s hidden location, they’re pursued by others who have realized having a healer around might just be a good thing for them, but not necessarily for her.

You can read the first chapter of Touch of Power here:

BH:  If you could choose your theme song, what would it be and why?
MVS:  This isn’t quite a song…but I would choose the little ditty Dory sings in the movie “Nemo”.  She sings, “Just keep swimming, just keep swimming…” when it looks like all is lost.  I really love that attitude and it’s so true with writing. Just keep writing and submitting and eventually things will happen. That’s exactly what happened for me.

BH:  What was, is, or would be your favorite toy to play with in the bathtub?
MVS:  I used to take in my Fisher Price toys – those little plastic people with the cars and various furniture.  I’d set up an underwater city for them and they’d have to fight off sea dragons and other denizens of the deep.  LOL – I haven’t thought about that in years!

BH:  What’s quirky and unusual about yourself that one wouldn’t read about in a typical biography?
MVS:  I love office supplies.  My office lacks for nothing and my kids refer to my well-stocked supply closet as “little Staples”.

Want to get more info about Maria V. Snyder and her books? You can learn about her and even read the first chapter of all her books as well as a number of free short stories!

Did you know she’s a blogger? Stay in touch with new books and learn more about this splendid author!

Now for the best part…

The Contest!
Enter for a chance to win an autographed copy of Maria’s newest book:
The contest will end: Saturday, December 24 at 11:59pm ET

The Juliet Spell by Douglas Rees

Posted: November 22, 2011 in Uncategorized

***Spoiler Alert***

Author: Douglas Rees
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Released: September 27, 2011
Pages: 304
Genre: YA, Romance, Realistic Fiction
Source: NetGalley

I wanted the role of Juliet more than anything. I studied hard. I gave a great reading for it–even with Bobby checking me out the whole time. I deserved the part.
I didn’t get it. So I decided to level the playing field, though I actually might have leveled the whole play. You see, since there aren’t any Success in Getting to Be Juliet in Your High School Play spells, I thought I’d cast the next best–a Fame spell. Good idea, right?
Yeah. Instead of bringing me a little fame, it brought me someone a little famous. Shakespeare. Well, Edmund Shakespeare. William’s younger brother.
Good thing he’s sweet and enthusiastic about helping me with the play…and–ahem–maybe a little bit hot. But he’s from the past. WAYpast. Cars amaze him–CARS! And cell phones? Ugh.
Still, there’s something about him that’s making my eyes go star–crossed…

As I read this book, I kept thinking, ‘Yes! This is going to make four or five stars! I am loving this idea, the characters, the flow!’ Then, the book dove…hard. Let me explain.

What a great plot! Girl wants the role of Juliet (what actress doesn’t?). Girl casts a spell to get role after bum audition (what girl wouldn’t?). Girl gets hot Shakespeare from the past instead (what girl couldn’t live with that?). It’s a sweet idea!

Miranda was not my favorite female lead character. Her character seemed flat and it was difficult to get a connection. In other reviews, bloggers have suggested that it was the fact that the author is male, so writing this from a female’s perspective was awkward. I kind of agree to that. He seemed to put his effort into the male characters more than Miranda’s. He did a great job with Edmund! I really enjoyed his persona, his passion, and his spark! My favorite was definitely Drew, though. Such a sweet, head-over-heels in love boy. The best friend that was always there. I think these two saved the book for me.

The biggest downfall was towards the end. I was happy with the explanation of Edmund’s time travel to be magic. Bringing into the factor science experiments, battery-water….blah blah blah. It lost me. Then I actually laughed at the whole phone app thing. Really? Magic was more believable. It got way too confusing and too quickly. It was quite the let down.

On the romance-side of things, I did not like the battle of relationships. Edmund was a player. Period. It’s the time-period he came from. For Miranda to just take him later on seemed implausible. He’s dirty in more ways that just needing a good bath. It was obvious from the beginning that Drew had been in love with her. The way it all played out did not make me happy. Miranda was seconds for Edmund and Drew for MIranda. Ick.

In all, I gave three stars just because this story has such good promise. It didn’t make even a fraction more because it just faltered in the end. I would love to get your opinions on this story.

Author: Karen Sandler
Publisher: Lee and Low Books
Released: September 28, 2011
Pages: 384
Genre: YA, Sci Fi
Source: NetGalley

Best friends, Kayla and Mishalla, know they will be separated for their Assignments. They are GENs, Genetically Engineered Non-Humans, and in their strict caste system, GENs are at the bottom rung of society. GENs are gestated in a tank and sent to work as slaves as soon as they reach age fifteen.
When Kayla is assigned to care for Zul Manel, the patriarch of a trueborn family, she finds secrets and surprises; not the least of which is her unexpected friendship with Zul’s great-grandson. Meanwhile, the children that Mishalla is Assigned to care for are being stolen in the middle of the night. With the help of an intriguing lowborn boy, Mishalla begins to suspect that something horrible is happening to them.
After weeks of toiling in their Assignments, mystifying circumstances enable Kayla and Mishalla to reunite. Together they hatch a plan with their new friends to save the children who are disappearing. Yet, can GENs really trust humans? Both girls must put their lives and hearts at risk to crack open a sinister conspiracy, one that may reveal secrets no one is ready to face.

This book grabbed my attention instantly. Just the title alone reminds me of the Matrix, humans being genetically engineered and grown in tanks. I didn’t even read the synopsis before jumping into this novel. I kind of wish I did, though. It might have prepared me for some of the strange language.
The story itself is pretty amazing. The author weaves a world where the caste system is strongly in place and the selfish quality of humans is well portrayed. Earth crumbles and humans move to Loca where they start over. They don’t learn from their mistakes, though. They worsen in their ways. The most important things are status, wealth, and land. Part of that is owning GENs, to abuse and use in whatever way. The GENs have been raised to believe that their god has designed all this and their servitude is a part of the plan. There is some romance, but it does not muddle the plot, nor does it take away from it.
The characters are not as developed as I had hoped for. There is so much action, that it seemed rushed to get to know them. If this was a series, I would have been okay with that as there would be time later, but this seems to be a stand alone novel. What was developed, I loved! Mishalla has such a huge heart, Kayla so courageous, and Zul such an amazing leader despite his handicap.
Back to the language part. Just like most sci-fi books, Tankborn does have its share of slang. For some reason, the words used to replace today’s is odd. For me, it did not flow well and it distracted from the whole point. I don’t know what to recommend because an author has full liberty in science fiction. It didn’t take away to omuch, but enough for me to say something.
In all, I really enjoyed this novel. The struggle of the lower class, the reasoning to explain how the human race got to where it is in the storyline, and the disillusionment of the GENs. I wish the story could have been longer or there was a sequel because I would love to see where Kayla’s life could go from here.

Follow Friday #5

Posted: November 11, 2011 in FF, Follow Friday

This is a weekly blog hop hosted byParajunkee and Alison Can Read for all of us bloggers to find more of our own to share this crazy book-lovin’ world of ours. Their feature blogger this week is MotherLode, so check her out and follow!

Question: In light of 11.11.11 and Veterans’ Day, tell us about your favorite soldier and how he or she is saving the world. Fictional or real life.

My cousin, David, is my soldier hero. He and his wife have been on active duty for the past few years. His childhood was rough and instead of letting his life go to waste, he stood proudly and decided to serve our country. His is incredibly intelligent, loving, and we are so proud of him.

How about you? Leave a comment and join the hop!

Author: Lisa McMann
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Released: March 4th, 2008
Pages: 210
Genre: YA, Paranormal
Source: Library

For seventeen-year-old Janie, getting sucked into other people’s dreams is getting old. Especially the falling dreams, the naked-but-nobody-notices dreams, and the sex-crazed dreams. Janie’s seen enough fantasy booty to last her a lifetime.
She can’t tell anybody about what she does because they’d never believe her, or worse, they’d think she’s a freak. So Janie lives on the fringe, cursed with an ability she doesn’t want and can’t control.
Then she falls into a gruesome nightmare, one that chills her to the bone. For the first time, Janie is more than a witness to someone else’s twisted psyche.. She is a participant.

Ok, we all have dreams and remember only a small fraction of them. Some we wish we could forget. While some can be a haze in the back of our minds, others can be so vivid, they seem real and it’s hard to shake off throughout the day. In Janie’s case, she not only remembers them, she lives them. But, they aren’t hers. Janie has the uncontrollable ability to view the dreams of others that are near her.
After reading the back of the book, I still had no idea where it would lead. Dreams in and of themselves are a world of fascination. We can spend so much time trying to dissect the meaning of them. Some are filled with our personal fears: spiders (ugh), monsters, loved ones dying, or even being chased. Our fantastical hopes could be lived: flying, changing into an animal, exploring a new country. Even our erotic desires: enough said! (think of your own examples!)
But for Janie…she witnesses everyone else’s dreams. She has no control of it, no way of stopping what she sees or when it happens. That is scary! I could never imagine what that could entail, the secrets one would possess. I think the author does a fantastic job portraying how that would look, the emotional terror one would experience.
Relating to Janie should be easy for any reader. We all have wondered what it would be like to control our dreams or to be more conscience of them as they happen. Is there a meaning to them? Are they a mirror of the past or the future? Or are they just a reflection of the emotional hurricane that is building inside of us? McMann took it a step further. She planted to protagonist inside someone else’s dreams. To watch another’s embarrassing fear of standing naked in front of their peers and then seeing them the next day without making a single twitch would be extremely difficult. As the reader, I felt her struggle and knew her desire to never have to experience that.
The written flow was beautiful. You fell for the characters and could easily close your eyes and follow the storyline. And of course, in the end you wanted more…

Author: Lisa McMann
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Released: March 4th, 2008
Pages: 248
Genre: YA, Paranormal
Source: Own

For Janie and Cabel, real life is getting tougher than the dreams. They’re just trying to carve out a little (secret) time together, but no such luck.
Disturbing things are happening at Fieldridge High, yet nobody’s talking. When Janie taps into a classmate’s violent nightmares, the case finally breaks open — but nothing goes as planned. Not even close. Janie’s in way over her head, and Cabe’s shocking behavior has grave consequences for them both.
Worse yet, Janie learns the truth about herself and her ability — and it’s bleak. Seriously, brutally bleak. Not only is her fate as a dream catcher sealed, but what’s to come is way darker than she’d feared…

Talk about a fast ride from page one! I don’t feel like I can delve too much into a review without spilling the beans on this one. Just know that what you learn in the first of this trilogy is nothing compared to the adventure that follows these two. Throughout the pages, you will squeal, tear up, and possibly scream as McMann reveals the next stage in Janie’s life  as she jumps from dream to dream. It is unpredictable and you will not be able to set the book down. I can’t wait to read Gone and Cabel’s Story.

Follow Friday #4

Posted: November 5, 2011 in FF, Follow Friday, parajunkee, Uncategorized

This is a weekly blog hop hosted by Parajunkee and Alison Can Read for all of us bloggers to find more of our own to share this crazy book-lovin’ world of ours. Their feature blogger this week is In Which Ems Reviews Books, so check her out and follow!

Today’s question is something new, an activity! We want to see what you look like! Take a pic with you and your current read. Too shy? Ok! Just post a fun pic that you want to share.

Here’s me! I am not shy, but I am at work and cannot take a picture of anything in the background. Very mysterious! I stepped away from YA for this week to read a lend from a Paranormal/Romance reviewer, Book Savvy Babe. I actually like it! If you have read it, let me know what you thought or post a link with your review! Have a great weekend everyone!

The Book Heroine