Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Blog Tour: Dive Smack by Demetra Brodsky (Excerpt + Giveaway)


Title: Dive Smack
Author: Demetra Brodsky
Publisher: Tor Teen
Publication Date: June 19, 2018

Synopsis: Theo Mackey only remembers one thing for certain about the fire that destroyed his home: he lit the match.

Sure, it was an accident. But the blaze killed his mom and set his dad on a path to self-destruction. Everything else about that fateful night is full of gaping holes in Theo’s mind, for good reason. Maybe it’s better that way. As captain of the Ellis Hollow Diving Team, with straight A's and solid friends, he's only one semester away from securing a scholarship, and leaving his past behind.

But when a family history project gets assigned at school, new memories come rushing to the surface, memories that make him question what he really knows about his family, the night of the fire, and if he can trust anyone—including himself.

About the Author: Demetra Brodsky is an award-winning graphic designer & art director turned writer. She has a B.F.A from the Massachusetts College of Art and Design and lives in Southern California with her family of four and two lovable rescue dogs. Dive Smack, her debut novel, is dedicated to Pumpkin, the monarch butterfly she once saved from the brink of death. Once you read the book, you’ll understand why. She is a first generation Greek-American and a member of International Thriller Writers. Dive Smack is a 2018 Junior Library Guild Selection.


Excerpt:

I wipe my arms dry with a shammy and rub my feet across the springboard’s pebbled surface. Diving is also like slipping through a door into another world. Everything goes hush quiet after entry, and for a few seconds I can pretend life is back to normal. Mom is watching, Dad is watching. And all is right with the world. But reaching that door in just the right way takes practice, hours of twisting and turning just to whoosh through that addictive portal for less than a minute.

“You need more height,” Chip announces.

I didn’t see him coming and the surprise of his voice makes me circle my arms for balance so I don’t fall into the pool. “I’m already six feet tall.”

“Hilarious.” He straddles a lounge chair by the edge of his family’s pool and takes a seat. “You need another six inches on your flight if you want to make the last twist.”

“How long have you been out here watching?”

“Long enough to see you eat shit on your last two dives. Where’s your girlfriend? You know my mom would freak if you got hurt.”

I fling the shammy over a diving rail and search for his dog from my 3-meter height advantage. “She was here a minute ago. Maybe she saw you coming and gave up her post to look for a bone.”

“Or she got tired of watching you almost crack your skull open.”

Giveaway:

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-Kristen ♥

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Book Blitz: The Final Lesson by Shakyra Dunn (Excerpt + Giveaway)


Title: The Final Lesson
Author: Shakyra Dunn
Series: The Final Lesson, #1
Publication Date: June 13, 2018

Synopsis: "Trust none but yourself."

Leilana Erovina's got a bid for power as she takes the final test to become one of her realm's Warlords. As such, she sets out to travel the lands of Adrylis and log magical totems from respectful folk with only one hitch—no ancestral help. The quest is a pilgrimage to learn the basics of human nature. Some would call concepts like gentleness and passion fables of the heart.

In another perspective, war brews in the kingdom of Linmus, throwing Adrylis into chaos. Prince Remiel Vesarus finds himself in exile, vengeance on his mind for those who tore his life asunder. His attendant Solus Brenner at his side, they plan on restoring their kingdom against all odds.

Fate has drawn these two parties together. Conjoined at the hip, the traveler, prince and right-hand will learn the old saying of magic: "It always comes with a price."

About the Author: Shakyra Dunn can't stray away from the impression that there is always an adventure around every corner! When she isn’t playing the role of the Creator, she is marching through the worlds of her favorite video game characters or taking drives around her city to see the sights. Born in Chicago, Illinois, she currently resides in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, striving to experience more than the little town.


Excerpt:

“U-Um, Leilana?” Leilana glanced up, finding the girl with lavender hair reaching the middle of her back, her bangs covering her forehead, nearly reaching her cerulean eyes. Her cheeks were coated pink, rivaling the shade of her knee-length dress. “There aren’t, um… there’s only a few of us left. Do you want to pair up?”

“Sure thing, uh…” Leilana glanced up at the sky in thought before holding up a finger in realization. “It’s Amelia, right?”

“Amiria,” she corrected sharply, her face reddening more at the affliction of her voice. Sure, the pronunciation had its similarities, but the syllables differed. And that passion of wanting her name to stick was working its wonders in Leilana’s mind. “Amiria Farone.”

“Sorry, sorry,” Leilana interjected, waving a hand in dismissal. “Didn’t mean to upset you.”

“O-Oh!” Amiria held up both hands and took a step back from Leilana, trembling a bit. “It’s fine, you didn’t! I-I’m sorry if I made it seem like I was angry, I’m really not, I promise-”

“Hey now, Amiria, no need to be so scared.” Kindall wrapped an arm around the girl’s shoulders, smirking. “Lei doesn’t bite, not usually.” Amiria held her arms behind her back and turned her head to keep from looking him in the eye.

“It’s Leilana,” Leilana said abruptly. “Not Lei, not Leila, it is Leilana. Live it, learn it, love it.”

Kindall raised an eyebrow at her words as he set Amiria free and allowed her to run off towards Hinju to prepare for her own duel. “Geez, no need to be so crabby. It was just a little fun with friends.”

“We aren’t friends, Kindall.” He jumped back at the proclamation. “We’re students at the same school fighting for the same goal. That doesn’t make us friends, does it?”

“Well, I, uh… I guess not…? But don’t you think it’s better for everyone that we tried to get along and be friends? You’re right, we’re all fighting for the same goal. Some of us are going to be Warlords someday, and we can all support each other until we get there. Right?” Leilana pondered his words before she cleared her throat.

“…I’m sorry. I’ve got a match.” She stepped past him, and Kindall stared at her back a moment longer before sighing, reclaiming his spot on one of the logs.

“You really are just a kid after all,” Kindall mumbled.

Leilana stood opposite Amiria, revealing her grimoire for her opponent to view. Amiria clutched the silver flute in her hands for dear life but kept her attention on the girl and even managed to narrow her eyes to try and stir up some intimidation.

“Come to think of it,” Lancett whispered to Kindall, “I’ve never seen Amiria fight before. She doesn’t seem like she’d hurt a fly.”

“No, she doesn’t,” Kindall replied, retaining focus on the two. “But Amiria has skills that a lot of people don’t understand.”

“Begin!”

Leilana rapidly flipped through the pages of her grimoire and an array of fireballs shot out at the girl. Amiria put the flute up to her lips and closed her eyes, playing out a small melody on the instrument before reflecting the magic back in Leilana’s direction. Leilana side-stepped out of the way, her eyes darting between the singed grass and Amiria herself, who was starting up another melody on her flute. She scoffed before flipping through the grimoire, stopping on a page, mumbling a scripture.

From the book, a pair of teeming hands cloaked in shadows emerged, grabbing the flute from Amiria’s grasp and snapping it in half before her very eyes. Amiria blinked away the tears starting up as she stared at her destroyed instrument, collecting the fractured pieces. With each passing second, her eyes grew dark and clouded. Leilana outstretched her right palm, sending the hands propelling towards her. Before they could reach her, Amiria inhaled deeply and closed her eyes, belting out a single high note in a pitch of middle C.

The single note, prolonged over several seconds, caused the hands to shatter away. Leilana froze as the note progressed, the ground around her beginning to tremble before giving way under her. She let out a shriek as the chasm opened, reaching out a hand as she fell. Amiria gasped when she realized what was occurring, covering her mouth with both hands.

“Leilana!” Lancett raced forward, sliding on his side as he ran, grabbing her by the arm. Several other students rushed to his aide, helping the girl out of the chasm. Leilana laid a hand on her chest, finding it difficult to regain herself, her frame quivering from shock. Lancett gently placed both hands on her shoulders, forcing her to face him. “Are you all right?”

“Y-Yeah, just… just a little shaken up…”

He bowed his head, hands still on her shoulders, sighing heavily. “Good. I’m glad.” Hinju was still in a bit of shock himself, his gaze reflected on Amiria now, who continued to put the pieces together in her mind about what she had done. After coming to his senses, he held up his staff, moving stalagmites of the earth back into place to mend the open crater, sealing it shut.

“I-I… I am so sorry, Leilana!” Amiria choked out, taking one step back after another. “I-I don’t… I don’t know what happened, I just…! I’m sorry!”

“It’s okay,” Leilana replied softly. “I’m not dead or anything.”

“B-But-”

“Hey, don’t beat yourself up over it,” she interjected, “Don’t worry. I’m fine. I promise.” Leilana heaved a sigh. “Okay, maybe not completely true, I’m a little bummed that I lost so terribly, and so fast. After all that work I put into learning the concepts of the Lasette…” 

“Remember what Master said,” Lancett told her, smirking. “It’s all a learning experience. You can definitely do better next time.” She averted her gaze from him.

Giveaway:

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-Kristen ♥

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Nerd Blast: Surface Tension by Mike Mullin (Giveaway)


Title: Surface Tension
Author: Mike Mullin
Publisher: Tanglewood
Publication Date: May 8 2018

Synopsis: After witnessing an act of domestic terrorism while training on his bike, Jake is found near death, with a serious head injury and unable to remember the plane crash or the aftermath that landed him in the hospital.

A terrorist leader’s teenage daughter, Betsy, is sent to kill Jake and eliminate him as a possible witness. When Jake’s mother blames his head injury for his tales of attempted murder, he has to rely on his girlfriend, Laurissa, to help him escape the killers and the law enforcement agents convinced that Jake himself had a role in the crash.

Mike Mullin, author of the Ashfall series, delivers a gripping story with memorable characters and all-too-real scenarios.

About the Author: Mike Mullin’s first job was scraping the gum off the undersides of desks at his high school. From there, things went steadily downhill. He almost got fired by the owner of a bookstore due to his poor taste in earrings. He worked at a place that showed slides of poopy diapers during lunch (it did cut down on the cafeteria budget). The hazing process at the next company included eating live termites raised by the resident entomologist, so that didn’t last long either. For a while Mike juggled bottles at a wine shop, sometimes to disastrous effect. Oh, and then there was the job where swarms of wasps occasionally tried to chase him off ladders. So he’s really glad this writing thing seems to be working out. Mike holds a black belt in Songahm Taekwondo. He lives in Indianapolis with his wife and her three cats. His debut novel, Ashfall, was named one of the top five young adult novels of 2011 by National Public Radio, a Best Teen Book of 2011 by Kirkus Reviews, and a New Voices selection by the American Booksellers Association. He is represented by Kate Testerman of kt literary.


Giveaway:

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-Kristen ♥

Monday, June 11, 2018

Blog Tour: Wavehouse by Alice Kaltman (Guest Post + Giveaway)


Title: Wavehouse
Author: Alice Kaltman
Publisher: Fitzroy Books
Publication Date: June 15, 2018

Synopsis: Sixteen year-old Anna Dugan is a super surfer who feels most at home when taking off on a ten-foot wave. But surf culture bores Anna big time. While other surfers follow trends and speak the lingo, Anna harbors a secret desire to be an artist, drawing houses made of waves. It’s not the most practical dream for the daughter of a single mom living in Kendall’s Watch, a beach town where most kids are so surf-centric they think ‘Current Events’ have something to do with ocean tides.

Anna is not only the best surfer in Kendall’s, she’s also the shyest. When a surf scout comes to town to gage her talent, Anna freaks out and refuses to let him watch her. To protect herself from the pressure and the panic, Anna decides to only surf at her private break, Secretspot, for the rest of the summer. But Secretspot becomes treacherous in ways Anna never imagined, and the danger has nothing to do with waves. When a gorgeous stranger paddles out, smiling a bewitching smile and surfing like a god, their chemistry is impossible to ignore. A series of events are set in motion that will change Anna’s life forever; events that raise difficult questions about love, honesty, betrayal and family ties.

In the end, is it worth it? Dive in to Wavehouse, life-preserver recommended, and the decision is yours.

About the Author: As a young girl Alice longed to be a mermaid. Her idol sat demurely on the Chicken of the Sea tuna fish cans. She peeled labels off to save her image. Every night before bedtime Alice squeezed both legs in to one side of her pajama bottoms and shuffled around the house pretending she was as beautiful as the tuna fish mermaid. Real mermaid-hood proved elusive, so Alice became a modern dancer instead. For over twenty years she worked with brilliant choreographers and performed in amazing places. And while she’s still paid to do the occasional pirouette, Alice also works as a Parenting Coach/Writer helping out moms and dads, and talking to kids also, about their (often annoying) parents. But Alice is most at home when upside down and underwater. She’s been swimming her entire life, and surfing for the better part of adulthood. It’s no surprise that Wavehouse her forthcoming novel from Fitzroy Books is about a surfer. And maybe it is a bit about Alice, too. Alice also writes fiction for adults. Her story collection Staggerwing is filled with oddballs and odd events. Her work appears in numerous journals including Hobart, Whiskey Paper, Joyland, and BULL: Men’s Fiction, and in the anthologies The Pleasure You Suffer and On Montauk. Most recently her story ‘Maid Service’ was selected as a semi-finalist for Best Small Fictions of 2017. Alice splits her time between Brooklyn and Montauk, New York where she lives with her husband and daughter. She now wears her pajamas regular style.


Guest Post:


Giveaway:

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-Kristen ♥

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Blog Tour: Looking for Dei by David A. Willson (Guest Post + Giveaway)


Title: Looking for Dei
Author: David A. Willson
Publisher: Seeker Press
Publication Date: March 22, 2018

Synopsis: Fifteen-year-old Nara Dall has never liked secrets. Yet it seems that her life has been filled with them, from the ugly scar on her back to the strange powers she possesses. Her mysterious father refuses to say anything about her origins, and soon, she and her best friend must attend the announcement ceremony, in which youths are tested for a magical gift.

A gifted youth has not been announced in the poor village of Dimmitt for decades. When Nara uncovers the reason, she uses her own powers to make things right. The decision sets her on a path of danger, discovery, and a search for the divine. In the process, she learns the truth about herself and uncovers the biggest secret of all: the power of broken people.

About the Author: David A. Willson has worked as a restauranteur, peace officer, and now, author. Taught by his mother to read at a young age, he spent his childhood exploring magic, spaceships, and other dimensions. In his writing, he strives to bring those worlds to his readers. Much of his material is inspired by the “Great Land” of Alaska, which he has called home for over 30 years. He lives there with his wife, five children, and 2 dogs. He is passionate about technology, faith, and fiction—not necessarily in that order. Looking for Dei is Willson’s debut novel, set in a land where many more adventures will take place.


Guest Post: How to Make Magic Unique

This is such an important part of fantasy novels. You can do a lot of things wrong in a novel, but if you spark the imagination of the reader, taking them to a new world, you have won half the battle. Fantasy readers love the escape, we love the journey to an entirely new place. Traditional authors, especially when they write in a contemporary setting, can research existing culture, technology, and political climates in order to build their story. Fantasy authors don't have that luxury. This is a tall order, requiring us to construct a new world, inventing new systems of politics, religion, and culture. Then we have one other task: we write about magic, and we better do it well.

I think an essential part of a good magic system is that it has to make sense. It has to work. Just saying, 'abracadabra' isn't going to satisfy the astute readers who consume these types of stories. Having some training in math and science helps with this, allowing an author to think logically in developing a system that the reader can respect. It's also important to tie that system into the story, allowing its characteristics to be revealed gradually as the plot progresses. If you can be in the head of the protagonist as they discover the magic, exploring the system as the tale develops, it further increases the joy of the reader.

Not only should it make sense and follow consistent principles, but it needs to be personal. It needs to be an essential part of a person. Magic that is simply throwing some colored powder about and saying fancy words isn't personal. I like how J.K. Rowling used wands to make magic personal. I was thrilled with how Patrick Rothfuss used hard work and study to make magic personal. Best of all, I liked Tolkien's individual quest to defeat evil, and a magic that changed a person at a core level like the ring did to Bilbo.

I've often found myself applying the magic that I've read about to my own life, wondering as I commuted to work what it would be like to burn metal like Sanderson's Mistborn novels, or to have my very own shardblade. I've wondered what it would be like to have powers like Kelson in Katherine Kurtz' Deryni series or to be running from evil while I carried the One Ring.

Fantasy readers are a special lot, with incredible imaginations and a profound desire for adventure. They buy books that they hope will enchant them, and magic is a big part of that. We dare not disappoint!

Giveaway: 

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-Kristen ♥

Monday, June 4, 2018

Blog Tour: Bring Me Their Hearts by Sara Wolf (Giveaway)


Title: Bring Me Their Hearts
Author: Sara Wolf
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Publication Date: June 5, 2018

Synopsis: Zera is a Heartless – the immortal, unageing soldier of a witch. Bound to the witch Nightsinger ever since she saved her from the bandits who murdered her family, Zera longs for freedom from the woods they hide in. With her heart in a jar under Nightsinger’s control, she serves the witch unquestioningly.

Until Nightsinger asks Zera for a Prince’s heart in exchange for her own, with one addendum; if she’s discovered infiltrating the court, Nightsinger will destroy her heart rather than see her tortured by the witch-hating nobles.

Crown Prince Lucien d’Malvane hates the royal court as much as it loves him – every tutor too afraid to correct him and every girl jockeying for a place at his darkly handsome side. No one can challenge him – until the arrival of Lady Zera. She’s inelegant, smart-mouthed, carefree, and out for his blood. The Prince’s honor has him quickly aiming for her throat.

So begins a game of cat and mouse between a girl with nothing to lose and a boy who has it all. 

Winner takes the loser’s heart.

Literally.

About the Author: Sara Wolf is a twenty-something author who adores baking, screaming at her cats, and screaming at herself while she types hilarious things. When she was a kid, she was too busy eating dirt to write her first terrible book. Twenty years later, she picked up a keyboard and started mashing her fists on it and created the monster known as Lovely Vicious. She lives in San Diego with two cats, a crippling-yet-refreshing sense of self-doubt, and not enough fruit tarts ever.



Giveaway:

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-Kristen ♥
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