Saturday, March 30, 2013

Blog Tour: The Grimm Chronicles Volume 2 by Ken Brosky and Isabella Fontaine (Spotlight + Giveaway)

The Grimm Chronicles Volume 2
Published: February 13th, 2013
Pages: 544
200 years ago, the Brothers Grimm changed everything.
With the help of a little magic, fairy tales were made real, manifesting all over the world. Charming princes. Gold-hunting dwarfs. Terrible step-mothers. Heroic animals.
Then, slowly, they began to change. Everyone—from Prince Charming to the old miller—grew more evil. Corrupted. A hero was chosen to stop them, hunting them down one by one and destroying them with the help of a magic pen and a special rabbit assistant.
For 200 years, the hero’s magic pen has been passed on from generation to generation. The newest hero is Alice Goodenough, an 18-year-old junior from Washington High School. While her friends spent their summer working and having fun, Alice found herself doing battle with creatures most human beings don’t even realize exist. A giant snake. A blood-sucking prince. A terrifying half-man, half-hedgehog. Dastardly dwarfs intent on mind-controlling everyone who uses a cell phone.
Now, senior year has begun. With it comes a new challenge at school, where bullies have grown bolder and classes more challenging. As if that’s not enough, Alice must face off against a collection of Corrupted who all share a terrible secret, one that might awaken a creature capable of doing untold damage. To uncover the secret, Alice will have to face off against a man-eating lizard, a bloodthirsty sea captain, and a mysterious wizard who can see into the future …
To find out more about The Grimm Chronicles: Volume 1, check out my post here.
I turned back to the room Alex had slipped into, feeling myself lift off the ground as I became distracted, forgetting about thinking about my feet on the floor. I grabbed the frame of the doorway before I could float back down the hall, then regained my bearings and walked inside.
It was the living room. The one with the old dark drapes and the old couch. There was a bearskin run sitting on the floor in front of the couch—I hadn’t noticed it before but now I found myself stepping sideways to put space between myself and the bear’s terrifying head, frozen in a look of absolute hunger.
The boy was hiding behind the couch, peering around the edge and watching me walk over. In the delicate silence, I could hear the sound of my feet on the hardwood floor, muffled by my socks.
My socks. Last night, I’d taken off my socks before going to sleep. Tonight, I was wearing socks. Whatever ghostly creature I was, I was probably wearing exactly what I wore to bed.
Which meant the ghost standing before Alex was wearing an old teddy bear t-shirt and Hunger Games pajama bottoms. Oy. Some savior.
Thankfully, he didn’t look too disappointed. He was crouched over, his fingers clutching the couch so tightly his little knuckles had turned white. Above us, the ceiling creaked. A door opened, then slammed shut.
“She’ll come back down,” he said in a low voice. “I can’t fight back. I’m so tired. I think they put something in the porridge.”
Carbs, I thought. They loaded it with carbohydrates so the kids got a quick sugar rush. Then the rush wears off and they crash and go to bed. They start it all over again the next day. No protein or fat in their diets would make them groggy and unable to gain much strength to fight back.
Thank you, health class.
“Are you a ghost?”
I shook my head. I tried to talk again, but my voice was silent.
“Here,” he said, reaching into the pocket of his overalls. He pulled out a small chunk of coal. “Can you grab this?”
I could try. I reached out, but nothing happened.
Think about grabbing it, Alice!
I reached out again, imagining my invisible hand grabbing the coal. It floated in mid-air; the boy smiled.
I moved the coal to the floor, writing a simple message:
What’s in the basement?
The boy nodded, understanding. “They have us digging for something. Well, they have us and something else digging for something. Some of us sew clothes, too, and the mistresses sell the clothes for money to keep buying more coal. Some of us have to keep the furnaces going. It’s really hot.”
“Why?” I wrote.
The boy shrugged. “Because the creature likes it hot.” He swallowed, taking a shaky breath. “The younger one is named Marleen.”
Marleen! Of course. It made sense: Marleen was the daughter in “The Juniper Tree.”
The sound of heavy shoes pounding on the stairs caused us both to flinch. I dropped the coal. The boy quickly used his hand to wipe away the words, putting the lump of coal back in his pocket.
“Will you save us?” he asked.
I nodded.
“Are you going to do it wearing pajamas?”
I smiled and shook my head.
A look of relief spread across his little face. “The creature …” he started to say, but then his big doe eyes glanced over the couch and a look of terror spread across his face. A pair of long, slender hands reached over and grabbed him by his overalls, pulling him over the couch.
“Come along now, my little darling,” said the sweet-sounding Marleen, tucking him under her arm as if he was a football. I tried to follow and felt my feet lift off the ground. I reached out, trying to grab Alex’s hand. But I was floating now, unable to control myself.
“Let go!” Alex shouted, pounding on her back.
Marleen laughed. “Such a strong little boy! Why, two extra hours shoveling coal will be a walk in the park! And if you collapse, all the better! I’m starving and I haven’t had a good leg of child in years.”
The boy screamed louder. I was falling behind, trailing them in the dim hallway.
“Oh, hush,” said Marleen. “I would never, never do such a thing to you. You remind me too much of my dear brother. It was all my fault, you know. I killed him. From that moment on, it was only a matter of time before Death returned to claim him.” She stifled a sob, reaching for the heavy door near the kitchen. “Oh my dear, dear brother. The guilt tears at me so. I fear it will consume me if we don’t find him again!”
I planted my invisible feet on the carpet and stepped quickly, losing my footing again and again. By the time I reached the door to the basement, it was already shut.
And locked.
“But I’m a ghost,” I said in a mute voice. I thought about moving through the door, closing my eyes as I drifted closer. When I opened them again, I found myself in a dark staircase leading down.
Behind me, the door was still shut.
From farther below came the unmistakable sound of Alex’s cries. I willed my feet to touch the steps and take them two at a time, down one landing and then another, where the wooden steps gave way to stones and the wooden walls of the staircase turned to rock. There was no basement, only another winding staircase leading deeper. The air cooled. The noxious scent of burning coal entered my nostrils.
Alex screamed again. I fought to catch up, tripping on the stone steps in the near-darkness. The only sources of light were three small lanterns hanging from the stone walls, and as I passed the last one I found myself surrounded by darkness, carefully plotting my footsteps on the wet stone floor as my invisible fingers followed the rocky wall. I turned right and suddenly, there was light at the end of the tunnel.
I gasped. It was a cavern. A massive cavern with massive iron furnaces on either side with long exhaust pipes crawling up the walls and disappearing into the rocky ceiling. Children lurched from massive piles of black stuff over to the furnaces with heavy shovels full of coal. With every fresh load of coal, the fires inside each furnace belched in satisfaction. The wet rock walls glistened in the firelight.
More kids sat at tables spread out near the entrance to the tunnel, hunched over stacks of jeans, sewing as furiously as their little fingers would allow. Boys, girls, all of them incredibly young, all of them dirty and disheveled and tired-looking. Their eyes blinked furiously in the hot, dry air. On every pair of jeans was a gold “B.”
“Faster now!” said the older Corrupted woman with the gray hair. She was walking between the rows of tables. “Jeans mean money. And money means coal.”
But for what? I thought. Was it to build the furnaces? How long had it taken to build each one? Why were there so few farther down the cavern?
Five of the boys farther down the cavern, tossing another load of coal into the hot furnaces, and the entire cavern brightened.
There, on the other end of the cavern: a lizard. A massive lizard the size of a truck, clawing madly at the walls, tearing away chunks of rock.
I gasped.
The lizard turned, causing the kids to drop their shovels and run back toward the tables. The lizard had bright brown and black spots, like someone had splattered it with paint. It had a fat tail and a wide, spade-shaped head. Its long red tongue jutted out, tasting the air. One of its black eyelids blinked. More shovels full of coal fed the furnaces along the walls and in the brief moment when the fires grew brighter, I could see the creature’s pupil plain as day. A terrible realization crept over me.
It could see me.

About the Authors…
Ken Brosky received his MFA in fiction writing from the University of Nebraska-Omaha. He also teaches English at Madison College. This is his first Young Adult series.
Isabella Fontaine owns a farm in Wisconsin and enjoys reading weird books like House of Leaves. This is her first Young Adult series.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Blog Tour: Ixeos by Jennings Wright (Spotlight + Giveaway)

Published: February 13th, 2013
Pages: 358
The McClellands are enjoying a lazy summer vacation at the beach when they are lured from our world into Ixeos, an alternate Earth. Finding themselves lost in a maze of tunnels under Paris and surrounded by strangers, they discover that they have been brought to Ixeos for one purpose:  to take the planet back from humanoid aliens who have claimed it. With the aid of the tunnels and a mysterious man named Landon, the teens travel the world seeking the key that will allow them to free Darian, the long-imprisoned rebel leader. But the aliens aren't the only problem on Ixeos -- the McClellands have to deal with brutal gangs, desperate junkies, and a world without power, where all the technology is owned by the aliens, and where most of the population has been killed or enslaved. The worst part? There's no way home.
Marty chewed his crusty bread thoughtfully. “They’ve got a pretty amazing set up down here,” he observed. “Fresh food, the air is okay, there’s apparently water for drinking and washing and bathing. Dorms, a library… It’s pretty sweet!”
“Sweet?” Clay asked in amazement. “We’re two hundred feet underground, apparently recruited to fight some kind of alien serial killers, and we can’t get home! How is that sweet?”
Neahle laid a hand on his wrist just above his tattoo. Her thumb rubbed the spot. “We’ll be okay, Clay,” she said quietly. “We just need to get our bearings. You know. Figure out what we’re supposed to do.”
Clay put his hand over hers for a minute, then pulled his arm away. “How do we know that what these people are saying is true? It’s nuts! And this Landon — who’s he supposed to be? How come he can leave here, and we can’t?”
“We’ll find more out tomorrow,” Marty said. “But we were chosen, dude. There’s something we can do here to make a difference in this rebellion thing, and that makes us special. I mean, Landon chose us for a reason, right?”
“Because we were the only ones stupid enough to follow the ducks…” Clay muttered, taking a large swallow of water from his mug.
About the author…
Born and raised in Florida, Jennings Wright spent her early years reading anything she could get her hands on, when she wasn't spending time in and on the water. She won a prize in the 6th grade for her science fiction stories.
Jennings attended the University of Tampa, graduating with a B.A. in Political Science, and almost enough credits for B.A.s in both English and History. She attended graduate school at the University of West Florida, studying Psychology. She spent time over the years doing various kinds of business writing, editing, and teaching writing, but mostly having and raising her family, homeschooling her children, owning and running a business with her husband, and starting a non-profit.
Thanks to a crazy idea called NaNoWriMo Jennings got back into creative writing in 2011 and hasn't stopped since. She currently lives in North Carolina with her husband, also a business owner and writer, and two children, and travels extensively with her family, and her non-profit in Uganda.
Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and sponsored by the authors. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Trailer Reveal: The Flame in the Mist by Kit Grindstaff

There's evil-a coming from up on the hill
If the Mist doesn't get you, the Agromonds will.
   —From an old Anglavian rhyme


Thunder roared, and lightning speared down. In its brief flashes, Jemma could see more shadows gathering. They looked like pale Mordsprites, small, bedraggled, skeletal. She lengthened her stride, but the ground was slick and she slipped, slamming face down in black mud. Hauling herself to her feet yet again, she came face to face with one of the shadows.

It was not a Mordsprite at all, but the gray silhouette of a child, a sunken-cheeked, hollow-eyed boy of no more than five, his ragged arms reaching out to her through the Mist.

Jemma stood petrified, her heart pounding as he swayed closer, oblivious to the chaos raining down around him. Others closed in behind him, a straggling band of waifs, all moving in the same direction.

Toward her.


"Fast, creepy fun. A bit of The Addams Family, a bit of dark fantasy, and a boatload of monsters and magic make this read a ghoulish delight." - Stefan Bachmann, author of The Peculiar

About The Flame in the Mist:

The sun never shines in the land of Anglavia. Its people live within a sinister mist created by their rulers, the cruel Agromond family. The Agromonds' control is absolute; no one dares defy them. But things are about to change, for the youngest of them is not like the others...

Fiery-headed Jemma has always felt like the family misfit, and is increasingly disturbed by the dark goings-on at Agromond Castle. The night before her thirteenth birthday, Jemma discovers the terrifying reason why: She is not who she thinks she is, and the Agromonds have a dreadful ritual planned for her birthday—a ritual that could kill her.

But saving her skin is just the first of Jemma's ordeals. Ghosts and outcasts, a pair of crystals, a mysterious book, an ancient Prophecy—all these gradually reveal the truth about her past, and a destiny far greater and more dangerous than any she could imagine.

With her trusted friend, Digby, and her two telepathic golden rats, Noodle and Pie, Jemma faces enemies both human and supernatural. But in the end, she and her untapped powers might be the only hope for a kingdom in peril.

About Kit

Kit Grindstaff was born near London, and grew up in the rolling countryside of England. After a brush with pop stardom (under her maiden name, Hain), she moved to New York and embarked on her successful career as a pop song writer. Kit now lives with her husband in the rolling countryside of Pennsylvania, where she still writes songs as well as children's books. The Flame In The Mist is her first novel. 

Find Kit:


Buy Links:

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Review: Timekeeper by Alexandra Monir

Published: January 8th, 2013 (Delacorte Books for Young Readers)
Pages: 288
Rating: 3/5
When Philip Walker appears as a new student in Michele Windsor's high school class, she is floored. He is the love she thought she lost forever when they said goodbye during her time travels last century. Overjoyed that they can resume the relationship they had a lifetime ago, Michele eagerly approaches him and discovers the unthinkable: he doesn't remember her. In fact, he doesn't seem to remember anything about the Philip Walker of 1910.

Michele then finds her father's journals, which tell stories of his time-traveling past. As she digs deeper, she learns about his entanglement with a mysterious and powerful organization called the Time Society and his dealings with a vengeful Windsor ancestor. Michele soon finds herself at the center of a rift over 120 years in the making, one whose resolution will have life-or-death consequences.

Alexandra Monir's Timekeeper combines breathtaking romance with a tale of complex magic in a sequel that will have every reader believing in the transcendent power of love [Description from Goodreads]
Michele’s life couldn’t get any better, right? Wrong. When Phillip Walker, flesh and blood, struts into her classroom at school, it’s more than she can believe. It’s also more than he can believe. When she tells him that they met long ago in an age of long skirts, horses and buggies, and no internet, he only stares at her like she’s an idiot before turning on his heel and leaving girls swooning in his wake. Just when Michele thought they could be together forever, Phillip seems to have forgotten all about them. Dangerous mysteries are discovered, long-dead relatives turn up, and death threats swirl; will Michele be able to sort out her life and keep Phillip in her grasp at the same time?
I’m not going to lie. I downright wasn’t impressed with this second book. Considering I wasn’t all that fond of the first book, Timeless, I didn’t really expect to love Timekeeper. I disliked this book for most of the same reasons I disliked the last book. I absolutely couldn’t connect with Michele, and I felt her character lacked depth. She felt needy, immature, and predictable. When Phillip’s amnesia of their relationship got in the way of them being together, she’d constantly pester and stalk him, which sat on the verge of being reeeealllly creepy.
Everyone’s reaction to Rebecca’s existence and threats seemed artificial somehow. Mentioning Rebecca, she wasn’t all that terrifying as far as villains go. When the characters are majorly creeped out by the villain but you as a reader wouldn’t wet your pants if you met him/her in a dark alley, something is quite wrong. Just saying.
So, as some of you might know by now, I’m an avid Doctor Who fan. Translation: I understand the ins and outs of time travel as theorized by Steven Moffat. And I can usually wrap my head around any other time travel theories you throw my way. But the way Alexandra explains time travel in this book…*shakes head* I was lost. So, so lost. The numerous rules about deceased folk going to one time period and having to stay seven days before they’re visible but they can be killed if they’re slain in oh-so-many time periods and so on and so forth…it just got all jumbled up. If you’ve read this one and understood this concept better than I did, by all means, feel free to comment and shed some light on the issue!
So I guess you could say that Timekeeper just wasn’t my book. I didn’t expect much out of it, but I did hold onto a small shred of hope that it might impress me more than Timeless did. But no. *sad face* I can’t really say whether or not I’ll read the third and last book (granted there’ll be one) but going off of how I feel about the series right now, I’d say not. For the sake of not writing a review that’s completely negative, I will say that Timekeeper gets five shiny gold stars out of five for clean content. Some violence ensues, but I’d have no problem giving this book to a middle-grade reader. In fact, middle-grade readers might enjoy this more than mature readers (teens and adults, etc.).  But as far as my opinion goes, this one definitely didn’t make a big impression on me.
 Quick Content Review: *may contain spoilers*
Language: None (possibly only one or two words…)
Violence: Mild (a violent ending scene with the villain)
Sexual: Mild (some kissing)

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Top Ten Books I HAD To Buy...But Are Still Sitting On My Shelf Unread

My name is Shelby, and I’m guilty of purchasing books out of pure devotion and admiration, then promptly neglecting them. Anyone else done this? *wide show of hands* Awesome, at least I feel a little better now.
1) Yukon Quest series by Tracie Peterson…honestly, it’s been collecting dust now for at least three years.
2) Jane Austen Collection…a set of four that I’m itching to read but haven’t made the time yet.
3) The Fault in Our Stars…this one barely qualifies for the list, since I have it on my schedule for next week. In bold pen, highlighted. *nods*
4) Delirium…in my defense, I just bought this one recently.
5) Torrent…um…I may or may not have taken a break from the series and kinda forgot about getting back to it…
6) Radical…got it for Christmas, but I will finish it before next December. I will.
7) The Scarlet Pimpernel…a nice hardback copy that’s calling my name at this very instant.
8) Kim…I don’t know. I just haven’t had a hankering for it. *shrugs*
9) Wuthering Heights…quite thick, but a must-read classic. It’d be book-felony to overlook this one.    
10) Great Expectations...even though I could get this one from the library, I know I’d never have enough self-discipline to make myself read it if it wasn’t mine. So I made it mine. And I still haven’t read it. *facepalm*
Any of these books on your list too? Remember to comment or leave a link below!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Review: The Essence by Kimberly Derting

Published: January 1st, 2013 (Margaret K. McElderry)
Pages: 352
Rating: 5/5
At the luminous conclusion of The Pledge, Charlaina defeated the tyrant Sabara and took her place as Queen of Ludania. But Charlie knows that Sabara has not disappeared: The evil queen’s Essence is fused to Charlie’s psyche, ready to arise at the first sign of weakness.

Charlie is not weak, but she’s being pushed to the brink. In addition to suppressing the ever-present influence of Sabara, she’s busy being queen—and battling a growing resistance determined to return Ludania to its discriminatory caste system. Charlie wants to be the same girl Max loves, who Brook trusts, but she’s Your Majesty now, and she feels torn in two.

As Charlie journeys to an annual summit to meet with leaders of nearby Queendoms—an event where her ability to understand all languages will be the utmost asset—she is faced with the ultimate betrayal. And the only person she can turn to for help is the evil soul residing within [Description from Goodreads]
Everything’s fine and dandy. Charlie’s on the throne as Ludania’s queen, Max is by her side, and her family has nothing to fear ever again. She’s vanquished Sabara from the throne, and she’s ready to become the queen everyone always wanted and needed.
At least that’s what she thinks.
Little does she know that she’s about to become her own greatest enemy.
Oh my gosh, how I loved this book. I can say without doubt that I liked it even better than The Pledge. While the last book was good, it wasn’t as unpredictable and all-around exciting as The Essence. Charlie has so much more on her plate in this book, and to say the least, she has no idea what she’s doing. She wants to be the just, kind, approachable queen that Sabara was most definitely not. But of course, that’s not protocol. I will say that Charlie’s down-to-earth mentality about her queenship seemed kind of mediocre; I mean, how many Disney princesses have we gone through that have that same mentality? But it didn’t bother me that much, mainly because something else overpowered it.
The “evil soul residing within.” *cue creepy piano music*
I really enjoyed this aspect of the book. Charlie’s own fight against the essence within her parallels the Christian fight between God’s will for us and the temptations of the devil. I don’t know if Derting purposely meant to insert this analogy or did it by mistake, but it’s very clear and vibrant throughout the book.
Because of some rebel activity in the capital, Charlie and her entourage head to a queenly business meeting of sorts in a far off region. This requires some traveling, so much of the book is taken up in that. I liked this, though I’ve hear that some other reviewers didn’t. My opinion: I love road trip books, and I love that this book kind of turned into one. *shrugs*
Mmmk. The romance. Here we go. I could have gone for more, honestly. But Charlie wasn’t even with Max half the time, so thus, slim chance on much romance happening.  But then Derting introduces a certain someone (whose name I won’t mention- don’t you just hate when I do that?) and things get all be-jumbled. Let’s just say I LOATHED the idea of Mystery Man with Charlie, even if it was the essence that…made…her attracted to him. See what I mean by be-jumbled? *sigh*
So that’s that, ladies and gents. The Essence is soaked in that unique voice we all read and loved in The Pledge, and is even more action-packed. Mentioning action, there’s quite a bit of blood spilt in this one- just a warning (if you can handle Hunger Game-level violence, you’ve got this one in the bag). While some small portions were “eh,” overall, it won me over. Now all I have to do is not so patiently wait on Book 3. Easier said than done, folks. Easier said than done.      
Quick Content Review: *may contain spoilers*
Language: Mild (a few minor words scattered here and there)
Violence: Moderate-Heavy (bloody battle/attack sequences, description)
Sexual: Mild (some kissing)