Saturday, September 29, 2012

Mini-Interview with Sarah Crossan, author of Breathe

Inhale. Exhale.
Breathe . . .
The world is dead.
The survivors live under the protection of Breathe, the corporation that found a way to manufacture oxygen-rich air.

Alina has been stealing for a long time. She's a little jittery, but not terrified. All she knows is that she's never been caught before. If she's careful, it'll be easy. If she's careful.

Quinn should be worried about Alina and a bit afraid for himself, too, but even though this is dangerous, it's also the most interesting thing to happen to him in ages. It isn't every day that the girl of your dreams asks you to rescue her.

Bea wants to tell him that none of this is fair; they'd planned a trip together, the two of them, and she'd hoped he'd discover her out here, not another girl.

And as they walk into the Outlands with two days' worth of oxygen in their tanks, everything they believe will be shattered. Will they be able to make it back? Will they want to? [Description from Goodreads]

Today we have the pleasure of chatting with Sarah Crossan, the author of the soon-to-be-released book Breathe.

Great to have you on the blog today, Sarah!
Wonderful to be here!

1) What was your inspiration for the world you created in Breathe?
I was inspired to write BREATHE when I witnessed logging in Washington State. It is such a majestic place, and I found it sad that entire mountainside were bare. I am terribly afraid for our planet.

2) That must have been a sad sight to see. It’s awesome, though, that it inspired you to write a book and share your opinion with the world. How are the characters of your novel (Quinn, Bea, and Alina) unique? Tell us a little bit about them.
The characters in the novel might not be the most likeable characters when you first meet them, but they all grow through their experiences and learn to be their best selves, which I think is more important than being perfect to begin with.

3) As a reader, I completely agree with you. Having the characters grow on you as the book progresses is much more memorable and a better experience for the reader. What’s the best advice you have for aspiring authors?
If you want to be a writer, you have to do the work: Sit down at your laptop and get typing because there is no substitute for experience. It’s also very important to read as much as possible. Do both these things because you want to. If it doesn’t feel like a joy, you should stop and try something else. If you love it, keep going!

Great advice! I’ve heard it over and over again from author after author, so it really must be the key! Thanks for sharing that nugget of wisdom with us. It was a pleasure chatting with you! Can’t wait to pick up your new book!
Thanks so much for having me!

Be sure and buy Breathe on October 2nd!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday #7

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.
 What was that? Oh, what am I waiting on this Wednesday, you ask?
In this gripping exploration of a futuristic afterlife, a teen discovers that death is just the beginning. Since her untimely death the day before her eighteenth birthday, Felicia Ward has been trapped in Level 2, a stark white afterlife located between our world and the next. Along with her fellow drones, Felicia passes the endless hours reliving memories of her time on Earth and mourning what she’s lost—family, friends, and Neil, the boy she loved.

Then a girl in a neighboring chamber is found dead, and nobody but Felicia recalls that she existed in the first place. When Julian—a dangerously charming guy Felicia knew in life—comes to offer Felicia a way out, Felicia learns the truth: If she joins the rebellion to overthrow the Morati, the angel guardians of Level 2, she can be with Neil again.

Suspended between Heaven and Earth, Felicia finds herself at the center of an age-old struggle between good and evil. As memories from her life come back to haunt her, and as the Morati hunt her down, Felicia will discover it’s not just her own redemption at stake… but the salvation of all mankind
I need to read this one.
And the cover’s pretty awesome, too. Can you say “butt-kick heroine?”
What are you waiting on this Wednesday? Let me know in the comments!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Top Ten Bookish People I Want To Meet

 Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and The Bookish.

Today’s we’re talking about bookish celebs we’d kill to meet. Or be in the same room with. Or just get a glimpse of jogging down the street…or buying cereal in Wal-Mart…well, this got creepy realllll fast. But that’s what today’s all about, right? (Just nod like you agree with me).
Because this topic is supposed to include mainly authors, bloggers, or an aspiring writer’s pet goat, I’ll try not to expand my list to hot fictional guys (of whom I do so love to ramble about). But give me some grace, here.
1) Jane Austen. Duh.
2) Veronica Roth. She’s epic. Her books are epic. Everything she touches emits a glow of epicness.
3) James Patterson. Even though he never smiles… (that is a little creepy, isn’t it?)
4) Gabrielle Carolina. She’s got an awesome blog and an even awesomer opinion on books. I will totally read anything she prescribes. Oh, and she gives good bookish/blog advice, too. J
5) J.R.R. Tolkien. Master of fantasy. Creator of Middle Earth. Follower of Christ. Can he get any more cooler?!
Wow, that last one sounds totally nerd…
6) Jenny B. Jones. The woman’s so hilarious she’d probably have me rolling on the floor in tears. Besides, she’s just way too cool for an adult.
7) Nathanial Hawthorne. Because he’s always intrigued me.*shrugs*
8) Charlotte Bronte. I’ve always seen her as a deep, interesting person. And I like people like that.
9) Emily Dickinson. Because someone told me I looked like her once. *chuckle*
10) Lisa T. Bergren. Because she’s my new favorite author. And she’s another cool adult. (Review of Waterfall to come!)
Your turn! Leave a link in the comments, or just drop a note telling me who you’d love to meet! Any of ‘em on my list? What would you do if you met that person?

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Book Spotlight: Perception by Lee Strauss

Release date: September 12th, 2012 (ESB Publishing)
Seventeen year old Zoe Vanderveen is a GAP—a genetically altered person. She lives in the security of a walled city on prime water-front property alongside other equally beautiful people with extended life spans.
Her brother Liam is missing.
Noah Brody is a natural who lives on the outside. He leads protests against the GAPs and detests the widening chasm they’ve created between those who have and those who don’t.  He doesn’t like girls like Zoe and he has good reason not to like her specifically.
Zoe’s carefree life takes a traumatic turn.  She’s in trouble and it turns out that Noah, the last guy on earth she should trust, is the only one who can help her. [Description from Goodreads]

Perception is a ( SF/mystery/romance) Young Adult novel that takes place in the not too distant future in a world changed by climate extremes, natural disasters and impending wars, and where scientific breakthroughs cause class divisions—both financially and philosophically.  It explores the clash between faith and science and how differences can separate us as enemies or ally us together. And in some cases, even in the midst of betrayal and personal crisis, there’s room to fall in love. This is the first book in a planned three book series.
Author Bio:
Lee Strauss writes historical and science fiction/romance for mature YA and adult readers. She also writes light and fun stuff under the name Elle Strauss. To find out more about Lee and her books check out her facebook page. To find out about new releases sign up for her newsletter at .

Pretty cool, huh? Want some more? Well, it’s your lucky day. Here’s Chapter 1 (you can thank me later):
Chapter 1
I balanced on my surfboard, right thigh burning and salt water stinging my eyes, while the best wave of the early morning carried me like a goddess on a pedestal to shore. My older brother Liam and I shared a friendly competition, and it gave me a certain, blissful satisfaction to catch the same wave and to get to shore first.
“Beat ya!” I shouted over the noise of the crashing surf.
Seagulls flocked and circled over us, squawking loudly, adding to the cacophony.
The sun glistened off Liam’s damp blond curls as he shook them out. His eyes sparkled as his lips tugged up into a grin. “I let you win.”
“Did not!” I smacked him playfully on the arm. “One more ride?”
Liam unzipped his wetsuit letting the top half fall down past his waist. He was in fine form, and I understood why all the girls raved about him. He was responsible for a long list of broken hearts.
“I gotta get going,” he said, lifting his board.
I fell into stride beside him, my feet sinking into the cold, wet sand. “So soon?”
He nodded, the glint leaving his eyes. My lips tightened into a frown “You’re taking off with Jackson again?”
Jackson was my boyfriend but lately he’d been spending more time with my brother than he had with me. It was starting to tick me off.
Liam stared straight ahead. “Lab stuff.”
“What are you working on?” I rushed to keep up with my brother’s long, strong strides. He flicked his head, tossing the hair out of his eyes but didn’t answer.
“Come on,” I knocked into him sideways. “Tell me!”
“It’s just stuff.”
“Just stuff? Like what? Top CIA stuff? I know you’re smart but I think the government has been doing a good job without your help.”
I meant it as a joke, but Liam huffed. “It’s just stuff, okay? So leave it.”
I stopped short shocked that he’d snapped at me.
He turned around and exhaled, “Zoe, I’m sorry.”
“Fine. If you can’t tell me, you can’t tell me.”
We resumed our trek along the beach, and I pushed back my frustration. Liam used to include me in everything. It was always him and me against everyone else. Him and me against Alison and Paul, aka our mom and dad. Him and me against the surf. We were a team. When did we start keeping secrets from each other? Rather, when did he start keeping secrets from me?
I re-adjusted my board under my arm. Maybe I could get Jackson to unzip his lips. Especially if I helped him. He could be easily persuaded if I poured on the charm. I hated to go behind my brother’s back for information, but something about all this--this, whatever it was that Liam was doing--made me uneasy. I couldn’t pinpoint why, it just did.
We reached our home, a massive glass box with two floors of windows facing the Pacific Ocean. It was built after the San Andreas Fault shifted and triggered the Big Quake that, along with the subsequent tsunami, wiped out ten miles of shoreline.
A nearby white-stucco storage shed housed all our water toys. We stopped there to hang up our wetsuits to dry.
“Thanks for surfing with me today.” Liam said, smiling at me, back to his jovial self. “I know it was a sacrifice for you to get up so early.”
I smiled in return. “No problem. It was fun.” Surfing with Liam was one of my most favorite things to do.
“You’re back for dinner?” I asked.
Liam didn’t know it, but once he left, I’d be spending the rest of the day preparing for his surprise birthday party. He’d turned twenty-one yesterday and had celebrated at a bar with his friends. I couldn’t go because I was underage, and it irked me that Jackson went and that he and Liam had once again shared a significant moment without me. I took consolation in the fact that Alison and Paul gave me free reign to plan this party. My heart beat with excitement, and I couldn’t wait to see his face when he got home and found the house full of his friends.
“Yeah, I’ll be there,” he answered.
I bit my cheek to keep my voice even. “Good.We’ll see you, then.”
Our property tiered twice before connecting with the sandy beach. Three glass doors slid open disappearing into the corner and creating a wall-less view of the stone patio that encased an eternity pool. Its waters slipped over the far edge into a waterfall that was collected again on the second tier.
Liam strode into the house, through the living room and down the hall to his bedroom at the back, his wet shorts dripping on the glossy white tiles.
I tightened the towel around my waist and climbed the open-slat staircase to my room.
As I passed the maid, Saundra something, her brown face blanched. She stumbled slightly before grabbing the rail and catching herself.
“Excuse me,” she said softly at my astonished look.
The woman really didn’t look well, and I was thankful for my enhanced immunization. I was glad I didn’t have to worry about diseases brought in from the outside.
“Are you okay?” I asked.
She nodded weakly, and proceeded to clean the rails. I’d requested extra staff to get the house ready for Liam’s party.
A trill of anticipation reclaimed my thoughts. I couldn’t wait for tonight.
The door beside my bathroom opened into a second room, a walk-in closet big enough to house another bedroom set. Racks of clothes and shoes lined the walls, a well-lit mirror station was located near the sky light and a cushioned leather bench was placed in the middle for sitting. I stood in my closet and stared at the rows of sundresses, blouses and shorts.
What to wear?
I settled on a lace blouse and cotton shorts, then went to take a luxurious shower, rinsing the sea water out of my long, blond hair. I leaned into the built-in seat that was designed specifically for my body height and shape. Laser lights mapped my head and twenty-eight silicon fingers reached out to massage my scalp while shampooing and conditioning my hair. Most days I had to watch or I’d doze off, but today I was excited. I commanded the water to turn off as soon as the rinse was done.
When I was dressed and my hair combed out and tied back, I slipped my platinum Communication Ring onto my left middle finger. I tapped it which produced a holographic image of my phone apps on my palm. I touched the clock icon and holographic digital numbers appeared in the air.
Ten already? Where did the time go? That was the thing with summer holidays; every hour ran languidly into the next.
I imagined the cook and her crew were busy preparing for the party in the kitchen. I’d requested fresh sea food and simulated roast, fresh fruit and vegetables, an assortment of fancy chocolates and baked items plus a three-tiered, surfer-themed birthday cake.
I skipped down the stairs to check on the progress, but in my hurry to the kitchen, I slammed into a body.
“Sorry,” a male voice said.
I stepped back agitated. I recognized the dark-haired boy wearing the white tunic my mother made the male staff wear. He was the maid’s son and I guessed he was part of the extra staff. He held a wet mop in his hand, and I figured he’d been cleaning up Liam’s spotty water trail.
He stepped politely out of the way, but the expression on his face was stoic. Even though he was clearly from the outside and the help, I still expected some small sign that what he saw when he viewed me was pleasing. A twinkle in the eye, a slight upturning of the lips. These were the responses I got from all the boys. The straight ones, anyway.
He wasn't especially attractive but I didn't see people with his appearance very often. He had eyes the color of imported coffee beans and skin like caramel candy. His nose was wide and his jaw-line sharp. I was suddenly intrigued by him and surprised myself by thinking he looked exotic.
“Excuse me, what was your name again?” I asked.
Right. I remembered now. I waited for him to say something, but he stayed quiet.
Footsteps echoed from the hall above. My parents spoke together, their muffled voices floating across the high ceilings.
“Do other maids send their sons to do their work?” Alison's voice had a brassy tone that carried through the cavernous space.
I felt a flare of red creep up my neck when I realized Alison was talking about Noah. My eyes darted to his, but he kept his averted.
“He does a good job,” Paul responded. “That's the main thing. Besides you know they need the money.”
“So we're charity now?”
“What's wrong with a little charity? Besides, they're not just anybody.”
“I don't care. I still don't trust him.”
I was mortified. My feet felt cemented to the floor and I didn’t know what to say. Anything would come off as trite since nothing I could say could undo what Noah had heard.
“Did you know the Pikes have a household robot now?” Alison, again. “Apparently it’s very efficient, and at least Mary doesn’t have to worry about things going missing.”
Noah’s jaw tightened and he turned his back to me. He attacked Liam’s dried and dusty water spots aggressively and soon had disappeared around the corner.
“Zoe?” Alison click-clacked down the wooden stairs. She wore a pale yellow pant suit and high heels even though it was Saturday. She was in-between careers now, having spent the last fifteen years in law. She barely looked thirty years old and with lots of time ahead of her, she could do anything. Probably several things.
“Mom! You have to keep your voice down. How many times do I have to tell you your voice travels in this glass box?
“Oh.” She looked mildly shaken. “No matter. Is everything coming together to your satisfaction?”
“I’m just checking in on things now.”
“Your father and I are meeting people for lunch. What time is the party again?”
I blew a frustrated breath. She could at least pretend she cared enough to remember details I’d told her a dozen times already.
“Right. We’ll see you at seven.”
Things proceeded throughout the day as planned and I was pleased with my ability to pull off an event like this on my own.
The decorators showed up at 1:00 as promised.
The band arrived to set up at 3:00.
I got dressed at 4:30, having bought a thigh-length mini-dress that sparkled with tiny crystals just for the occasion.
My hair and makeup girl arrived at 5:00.
I tapped my ring and called Jackson at 5:30.
“Where are you?” I said to the three-inch holographic image of him that popped up above my palm. “You said you’d help.”
“Sorry, Zo. Got tied up at home.”
“Are you okay? You don’t sound so good.”
It was odd. No one in Sol City ever got really sick, but it wasn’t unheard of to get run down if you pushed yourself too hard. Jackson had been working a lot lately.
“I didn’t sleep well last night. Uh, spent most of the day in bed.”
I felt a little panicky. “You’re still coming, aren’t you?”
“Of course. I’ll be there soon.”
Alison and Paul arrived at 6:30 along with all of mine and Liam’s friends.
I hushed everyone at 6:55, giving instructions on when to shout “Surprise!”
It was all a wasted effort.
Liam never showed.
I don’t know about you, but I’m itching to read this intriguing new sci-fi. Remember to buy your own copy today!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Blog Tour: Reflection by Jessica Roberts (Review + Giveaway)

Reflection by Jessica Roberts

Release Date: 02/17/12


289 pages

Book Description from Goodreads:

Bright, spunky Heather Robbins has escaped her small hometown and is anxiously beginning her freshman year of college. Rising above her rocky childhood, she’s found a place where good things are finally starting to happen: her own private apartment, refreshing college classes, and an intense attachment to a mysterious and rugged classmate, Nick Richards.

But when her dreamy college life turns out to be nothing more than a wonderful dream while resting in a coma, questions threaten.

Now, Heather must press forward to unlock the real past, and find the answers buried deep in her mind. What she unlocks instead is a roller coaster ride through flashbacks, embellished memories, and a whirlwind romance.

And when it’s all over and she comes face to face with the truth, will she lose everything she’s fallen in love with?

About the Author…

Jessica Roberts grew up in the San Francisco, California Bay Area where she spent most of her time playing sports alongside her six siblings. She was crowned Miss Teen California her senior year of high school, and went on to Brigham Young University where she graduated in Human Development. Her love of family, church, writing, athletics, and singing and dancing keeps her life busy and fulfilled. She currently resides in Utah with her husband and three children.


I was pleasantly surprised when I realized how much I liked Reflection. I wasn’t expecting to like it as much as I did. And I honestly don’t know why I had that preconception, but I did. Maybe it was because I tend not to like e-books (odd, I know, but sometimes I just downright dislike having to read books in that format). Or maybe it was because it’s a self-published book, and I haven’t had the best of experiences with self-published literature. But whatever reasons I had not to like it, I ended up throwing them out the window after I became completely engulfed in Reflection.

The one thing I loved about this book was the romance. Some might call it fluff, but I liked it despite whatever stereotype it’s put in. I will admit that it was a bit laughable at first, especially Heather’s physical reactions to seeing (or even hearing) Nick. I honestly thing I laughed once or twice. Out loud. No joke. But after the rough initial part, it became much more amazing. It wasn’t that there was a lot of physical affection- don’t read me wrong. I’ll spoil a little something for you: they didn’t even kiss until about 2/3 of the way through. Which was a little annoying at times, yes. I often found myself screaming “Hurrrrryyyy upppppp!” at my computer screen, and no, I’m not referring to tech problems. Maybe I liked it so much because Jessica wove their love story like it was first love. First love is dreamy and scary and utterly adorable and that’s how it was with Heather and Nick. I think first love is sometimes so unreal that it seems like it might not be reality- like it might be a dream. Jessica captured this perfectly in Heather and Nick’s relationship.

Now, I did have a little trouble with the characters at first. Heather was difficult to relate to. Very difficult. She was hard to figure out. Half the time I felt like I was in Nick’s shoes; curiously trying to figure out what made her tick, and sometimes coming back a little disturbed. She’s a piece of work, y’all. I wanted to yell at her and shake her and tell her to just drop her stupid “I have a crappy family and I’m poor and I’ve lied about it to Nick” act and just tell him the darn truth. At first I was absolutely confused as to what was holding her back from connecting with people, and then once I was finally enlightened on why she was acting like some deranged hermit, I became frustrated with her. Because there was no reason for her not to make friends and grow close to people. Ok, she lost one loved one. Doesn’t mean everyone’s going to die once she starts loving them. But somehow that logic was lost on her. Anyways, I was confused about her for ½ of the book, frustrated with her for 1/3 of it, and finally started figuring her out after the ¾ point.

I was frustrated with Nick at first, too. He was being a complete jerk. I don’t care if who you’ve lost or what you’ve given up- no one needs to be that cold. That hard. That indifferent. His personality grew on me, though, especially after he stopped being so unemotional toward Heather. He even turned kind of hot after a while. *winkwink*

All in all, I really enjoyed Reflection. The concept of it completely blew my mind (reminded me of Inception, too, which also blew my mind). The ending holds a painful cliffhanger, so as you can imagine, I’m eagerly awaiting the next book, Reaction, which is due out this fall. I highly recommend this to all romance junkies and anyone who is fascinated with the concept and power of dreams, like I am. *grin*

Quick Content Review: *may contain spoilers*

Language: None

Violence: Mild (a girl is hit by a car and goes into a coma)

Sexual: Mild (a few kisses, some playful cuddling)

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Saturday, September 1, 2012

A Cry from Egypt (Book One, The Promised Land) by Hope Auer

Published: May 24th, 2012 (Great Water Press)
Pages: 176
Rating: 5/5
Adventure, excitement, love, and faith come together when Jarah and her family, Israelite slaves in ancient Egypt, find themselves at the culmination of four hundred years of history.
 Twelve year old Jarah lives in a world very different from the one we live in now. Her home, her prison, is ancient Egypt. Her Israelite family, like all the other Hebrews of that time, is forced to serve their captors. Jarah struggles to see Yahweh’s Hand in a family of different faiths, but as He works miracles with plagues, she progressively begins to see how strong her God really is. This story of courage, faith, and love will not only entertain the whole family but remind them of the awesome power of God.  
I have to say, hands down, that this was the best historical “fiction” that I’ve read in a long time. I was surprised at how accurate and real the story seemed, and how smoothly the made-up parts fit with the true, Biblical facts. Hope’s writing style is engaging, entertaining, suspenseful and easy to read. I kept thinking as I was reading how great this book would be as a read-aloud for families. It would also make a great supplement for family devotions.
To be honest, when I first heard that the main character was a twelve year old, I thought that maybe this book might be too young for me. I wasn’t expecting it to be as diverting as it was. Also, the subjects that are addressed in the story range a wider age-span than I expected. It’s fantastic for younger kids, but it also presents issues that would be great discussion starters for tweens and teens, too. There’s only one scene that I might advise parents to skip if they’re reading to very young kids (two siblings are beaten by an Egyptian; description is brief but might disturb very young children).   
In conclusion, A Cry from Egypt is definitely one that every family needs to read together. Hope does a fabulous job of making Jarah’s story appealing for girls and boys of all ages. I loved getting to dive into the story of the Israelite’s plight and God’s amazing work to free them. The historical detail and accuracy is like none that I’ve ever read, which makes this book truly unique. You’ll realize that you wish there were more books like this one; thankfully, there’s a sequel to look forward to! I highly recommend this book especially to families, but also to anyone of any age who would like to know more about what it was like to live during the plagues of ancient Egypt, and to see God’s Mighty Hand at work among His Chosen People.
Quick Content Review: *may contain spoilers*
Language: None
Violence: Mild (Israelite slaves are beaten; brief description)
Sexual: None