Friday, November 29, 2013

Stacking the Shelves 11/30/2013

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews.  It is a list of what books you have received over the previous week, either for review, from the library, from the bookstore, or from trades.

From Authors

Ready to Fall by Daisy Prescott on Goodreads


What goodies did you get this week?

Release Day - THE LITTLE DRUMMER BOY by Sydney Logan PLUS Amber's Review

It's release day for Sydney Logan's latest holiday short story, "The Little Drummer Boy!"

It’s Christmas Eve, and Justin Banks is on the hunt for a last-minute gift for his wife, Megan. With the help of a homeless man and the beat of a drum, Justin stumbles upon the one thing Megan has always wanted. The one thing money can’t buy. It's amazing what we can hear if we just take a moment and really listen.
Rum pum pum pum.

It’s faint, but it’s there. A quiet, rhythmic beat that blends into the night. How this old man heard the sound is beyond me. “You hear it, don’t you?”

With a nod, I look around, hoping to find the source of the sound. The man points toward the coffee shop’s covered alleyway.

“Back there,” he says.

The carolers begin their rendition of “O Holy Night,” and once again, I hear the “rum pum pum pum” coming from the darkness.

Intrigued, I step away from the old man and walk slowly toward the alley. Each step brings me closer to the beat, until finally, I see a little boy, nestled in the corner. His only light comes from a lantern, and a snare drum rests in his lap. The drum is scarred and the strap is frayed, but it’s obviously his most prized possession. 

Probably his only possession.

Does he live here? In this filthy alley? And where are his parents?  
His clothes are dirty and ragged, and the faded blue jacket he wears is about three sizes too big.

“Shall I play for you?” he whispers.

Sydney Logan holds a Master's degree in Elementary Education and lives in East Tennessee. With the 2012 release of her novel, Lessons Learned, she made the transition from bookworm to author. Her second book, Mountain Charm, was released in 2013. She is also the author of three short stories. When she isn't writing, Sydney enjoys playing piano and relaxing on her porch with her wonderful husband and their very spoiled cat.

I want to start this review by saying that there are only a handful of books that have made me cry – intensely. The Lovely Bones, The Fault in Our Stars, the Sea of Tranquility, and Sydney Logan’s the Little Drummer Boy.

Don’t let the fact that I was a blubbering mess over this story deter you in any way. They were good tears, not soul crushing ones. The holiday spirit of grace and love, of giving and receiving, is laced  into every word of this novella. 

There is heavy subject matter in these pages – a lot of loss, a lot of hope, and mostly a lot of love.

The story begins with Justin, a man who is so engrossed in his work that he doesn’t even know its begun snowing outside. He’s busy – he has work to do. He has a wife that he is completely and utterly enthralled with that he must get home to her (it IS Christmas Eve, after all). But as he leaves work, he is momentarily distracted by some baby books in a window and he’s reminded of a time when he thought he and his wife would need them. Suffering such heartbreak has only made them closer, but the holidays are clearly a reminder of what might have been. 

At just the right moment, a homeless man appears and with some simple words, he changes Justin’s life forever: “Do you hear drums?” 

Led into a back alley, Justin comes face to face with a little boy sitting in a cardboard box, his only possessions being a small drum and a little lantern. He’s cold and freezing, but he simply asks if  Justin would like to hear him play. He doesn’t want money. And he doesn’t want to leave his spot because his mother told him to ‘wait here.’ (Yeah, this is the point where I lost it.)

The rest of the story is wrapped up like a giant Christmas present. Like a puzzle that finally, finally has all of the pieces it needs to be complete. It’s heartwarming and heartbreaking – and is such a testament to Sydney’s talents because she puts all of these emotions into a novella and it feels so complete. 

I cannot recommend this enough for a Christmas read. It will definitely put you in the holiday spirit. And every tear is completely worth it.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Don't Stand So Close to Me - A Review of THE WEIGHT OF WORDS by Georgina Guthrie

(Goodreads Blurb)

Aubrey Price is in the final months of her undergraduate degree at the University of Toronto. Bright, witty and fiercely independent, Aubrey works part-time for the college Dean and has her sights set on graduating with distinction. When she meets Dean Grant’s son, Daniel, the TA in her senior Shakespearean studies course, a shared love of the Bard’s works and an instant mutual attraction draw Aubrey and Daniel together. Unfortunately, a strict anti-fraternizing policy, made more perilous by a black mark on Daniel’s record, keeps them apart.Against this academic backdrop, Aubrey and Daniel navigate their way through a steamy courtship, their forbidden romance aided, abetted and sometimes thwarted by a colorful cast of friends, family and classmates. 

Thank you to the author for providing an ARC in exchange for a fair and honest review.

I have to start by saying that I read this story in its very first form a couple of years ago.  While I enjoyed it the first time, I was pleasantly surprised to find that there had been many changes and upgrades between that first version and the copy that I have read for review.  I recognized some major events and people, but in no way did I feel like I was re-reading the same story.  

The Story...

In the last semester of her undergraduate degree at the University of Toronto, Aubrey Price is instantly in lust with Daniel Grant, the gorgeous TA in her Studies in Shakespeare.  After receiving some very mixed messages from Daniel, he finally confesses that he is very attracted to her also.  Unfortunately, he is unable to act on those feelings due to the university's anti-fraternizing policies.  

Aubrey and Daniel decide to try to get to know each other while keeping a platonic relationship.  This becomes difficult as texts become risque and moments alone find Aubrey wrapped in Daniel's arms.  

Trouble comes when Daniel lets his past cloud his present judgement.  Tension rises as the couple counts down to the days until they can truly be together.  Secrets kept threaten to tear down everything that Aubrey and Daniel have been building up.

What Worked...

The author set this story up in a fantastic way.  The sexual tension is so very thick that it becomes its own separate character in the story.  The stolen moments between Daniel and Aubrey are therefore passionate and intense, always with the threat of discovery.  Every whisper of breath or slight brush of fingers causes the tension to jump another level.  It's delicious and kept me awake turning pages long after I should have been asleep and snoring.

What Didn't...

Sometimes I felt like the extreme emotions and reactions from Aubrey and Daniel seemed disproportionate to the events of the story.  Also, I know that this is a trilogy, but the ending was a little unsatisfying.  I'm a fan of books that can stand alone, without the help of the stories that come after.

This was a great debut for Georgina Guthrie and a good read.
3.5 out of 5 Stars.

On Amazon
On Goodreads

Don't Stand So Close to Me by The Police

With this story and this plot, I couldn't help but use this song.

My Hero - A Review of MAKING FACES by Amy Harmon

Ambrose Young was beautiful. He was tall and muscular, with hair that touched his shoulders and eyes that burned right through you. The kind of beautiful that graced the covers of romance novels, and Fern Taylor would know. She'd been reading them since she was thirteen. But maybe because he was so beautiful he was never someone Fern thought she could have...until he wasn't beautiful anymore.
Making Faces is the story of a small town where five young men go off to war, and only one comes back. It is the story of loss. Collective loss, individual loss, loss of beauty, loss of life, loss of identity. It is the tale of one girl's love for a broken boy, and a wounded warrior's love for an unremarkable girl. This is a story of friendship that overcomes heartache, heroism that defies the common definitions, and a modern tale of Beauty and the Beast, where we discover that there is a little beauty and a little beast in all of us.
About Amy:
Amy Harmon is a USA Today, Wall Street Journal and New York Times Bestselling author of eight novels - the USA Today Bestsellers, Making Faces and Running Barefoot, as well as The Law of Moses, Infinity + One, Slow Dance in Purgatory, Prom Night in Purgatory, and the New York Times Bestseller, A Different Blue. Her latest novel, The Song of David, was released on June 13, 2015. 
Amy Harmon knew at an early age that writing was something she wanted to do, and divided her time between writing songs and stories as she grew. Having grown up in the middle of wheat fields without a television, with only her books and her siblings to entertain her, she developed a strong sense of what made a good story. Her books are now being published in several countries, truly a dream come true for a little country girl from Levan, Utah.
Find Amy online:

The Story...

I have to start out by saying that this story is not what I was expecting.  It was so much more.

Awkward wall-flower, Fern Taylor, has been in love with Ambrose Young since they were ten years old and he sang with her at a spider's funeral.  She knew that someone like Ambrose would never look at her the same way.  He was big, and beautiful with the face of a model, and she was...well, unremarkable.  Ambrose was the star of the high school wrestling team and beloved of the entire town.  Fern's posse consisted of her wheelchair bound cousin, Bailey and the beautiful Rita, who once dated Ambrose in high school.

After the attacks on September 11, 2001, Ambrose and his high school friends join the army and were sent to Iraq immediately following boot camp.  They came across a road side bomb that killed all of the boys expect for Ambrose.  While Ambrose's body was mostly unharmed, just some cuts and breaks, his face was severely damaged, losing one ear and eyesight in one eye.

Ambrose returns home and hides from everyone in town.  He feels guilty that he has returned home.  Alone.  He also feels very self-conscious about how scarred he is now.

Unexpectedly, Ambrose reconnects with Fern and Bailey.  Through Fern, Ambrose learns that he can be accepted for who he is, not how he looks or what he can do.  Bailey teaches Ambrose about Faith and accepting the hand that he has been dealt.

What Worked...

The way the story it told it perfect.  The author could have chosen to tell the story from after Ambrose's time in Iraq, with flashbacks to high school happenings, but I think too much would have been lost that way.  We are able to get a full picture of each of the characters.  There are many secondary characters in this story, but the author does a fantastic job of introducing them in a way so that I did not get them confused.  I had a clear picture in my mind of each of the soldiers that died.  I feel like I got to know them and mourned the loss of them in the story.

Bailey's character is simply amazing.  He is one of those people that tells it like it is.  He doesn't hold back.  Even though he is severely limited because of his muscular dystrophy, he doesn't let that stop him from having fun, being a good friend, and living life.  I need a Bailey in my life.  As a matter of fact, the world could really use more Bailey's.

Ambrose and Fern's relationship was unusual and unexpected, for both of them.  It was tentative and fragile at first, but I loved that Fern was able to talk to Ambrose and help him face some truths about his new situation.  There was a sweetness and innocence in their relationship that seemed to make it all the more special.

The author has an amazing way with words.  She is able to make HUGE statements with seemingly very little effort.  I was sharing quotes with my husband left and right as I was reading.

What Didn't...

The cover.  To me, the cover takes away from what this story is about and actually almost kept me from reading the book.

This was an excellent read.  4.5 out of 5 stars for me.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Dual Cover Reveal - LEGEND OF ME & THE WINTER PEOPLE by Rebekah Purdy

Today Rebekah Purdy and Entangled Teen Ember are revealing the covers for LEGEND OF ME, releasing in early 2014. And THE WINTER PEOPLE, releasing July 1, 2014! Check out the gorgeous covers, exclusive excerpts, and enter to win an eARC of each!

On to the reveals!

About the Book
Author: Rebekah Purdy
Release Date: Early 2014
Publisher: Entangled Teen

Sixteen-year-old Brielle has grown up hearing tales of a beast that kills humans, leaving behind only a scattering of bones and limbs. Or so the village elders say. She thinks it’s just their way of keeping children in line, though it doesn’t explain her grisly premonitions of blood, claws, and severed heads.

When Lord Kenrick, Knight of the Crowhurst Order, shows up asking questions about the legendary monster and Brielle finds a mangled body in the woods, she begins to wonder if the grim stories are true. Her attraction to the handsome knight grows as she spends time with him searching for clues to the creature’s existence, and she becomes even more determined to help him discover the beast’s location.

But as her seventeenth birthday approaches, her nightmares worsen. If Brielle doesn’t figure out the connection between Kenrick, the monster, and visions of a ghostly woman in the woods soon, more people could die. Including those closest to her…

Exclusive Excerpt!

Brambles scratched my legs, snagging my skirt. Gnarled trees bent in gruesome forms, while thick shadows splayed out beneath them. A heavy gloom settled over the woodland as wisps of fog slithered like snakes against the ground. I shivered.

Don’t think. I picked an animal trail to follow, stepping over dead branches and forest debris. Blood pounded in my ears and the hair on the back of my neck prickled. I twisted around to glance behind me.

Nothing there. Only the trees. Urgency gripped hold of me and I picked up my pace once more. As I scrambled through the thicket, an overwhelming scent of rotten meat made me gag. I covered my mouth with my hand and stopped running when a bright red piece of fabric caught my eye. With hesitant steps, I moved toward it.

“Oh God.” I stumbled. There, sticking out from beneath a barberry bush was a severed arm, its finger pointed at me in accusation. My breath came in gasps as I scanned the rest of the clearing.

My foot nudged against something and I looked down in horror to find the head of Liam Gatekeeper staring up at me.

I screamed, backing away as fast as I could. All around me were pieces of his body scattered like breadcrumbs. I shielded my eyes with my hands, until I bumped into something else.

With another scream, I whipped around only to find myself faced with an oak tree covered in dried blood and deep claw marks. My vision darkened and I prayed I wouldn’t faint, that I wouldn’t be stuck in the woods. Because somewhere out here, a monster lurked. If I didn’t believe it before, I did now. The beast was real.

About the Book
Author: Rebekah Purdy
Release Date: July 1, 2014
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Pages: 320
ISBN: 978-1622663682

An engrossing, complex, romantic fantasy perfect for fans of Kristin Cashore or Maggie Stiefvater, set in a wholly unique world.
Salome Montgomery fears winter—the cold, the snow, the ice, but most of all, the frozen pond she fell through as a child. Haunted by the voices and images of the strange beings that pulled her to safety, she hasn’t forgotten their warning to "stay away." For eleven years, she has avoided the winter woods, the pond, and the darkness that lurks nearby. But when failing health takes her grandparents to Arizona, she is left in charge of maintaining their estate. This includes the "special gifts" that must be left at the back of the property.

Salome discovers she’s a key player in a world she’s tried for years to avoid. At the center of this world
is the strange and beautiful Nevin, who she finds trespassing on her family’s property. Cursed with dark 
secrets and knowledge of the creatures in the woods, his interactions with Salome take her life in a new 
direction. A direction where she’ll have to decide between her longtime crush Colton, who could cure her 
fear of winter. Or Nevin who, along with an appointed bodyguard, Gareth, protects her from the darkness 
that swirls in the snowy backdrop. An evil that, given the chance, will kill her.

Exclusive Excerpt!

The sky darkened with ominous storm clouds. Giant flakes fell onto my face, sticking to my eyelashes and cheeks. Snow blew unhindered across the yard into what looked like small tornadoes.

Oh God. It’s happening again. The frigid air. The creaking of the treetops beneath the wind. Even the way the snow blew across the yard.

I only had one more feeder. Just needed to toss the seeds in then I could leave. Be safe.

The pond water rippled, while the trees bent beneath the strong gusts. Soon, everything became so white I couldn’t see the house. In the distance a strange tinkling sounded, like dozens of wind chimes.

What had the shrink told me to do?

Ten, nine, eight. Breathe. Seven, six, five. Shit!

Panic stole my thoughts. I backed away from the pond as the flurries swirled toward me. Chasing me.

Then, I bumped into something—something that felt quite human. A firm chest, arms, hands. Not something, someone. A shriek tumbled from my lips and I spun around to face my captor.

“It’s okay. I won’t hurt you,” a soft masculine voice said, pale hands clinging to my arms as he kept me from falling.

My gaze followed those long fingers, up black leather sleeves, to the most gorgeous face I’d ever seen. My breath caught in my throat. I’m gawking. But I couldn’t help it. His raven hair shot with strands of blue, his face pale and perfect, like an ice sculptor had chiseled it into existence. His eyes—oh God, his eyes. They were the palest blue I’d ever seen. Glacial. He had to be over six feet tall, muscles evident through the tight shirt he wore beneath an unzipped jacket.

His mouth turned up at the corners as if enjoying my scrutiny. A cocky grin that made my cheeks warm. 

“You’re trespassing.” I tried to keep the tremble from my voice. “This is private property, or can’t you read the signs?” Bravo, that’s right, scare him off with your bitchiness.

He chuckled. And it sounded like the low song of the chimes. “Doris doesn’t mind me coming around. In fact, I’ve met you before, Salome.”

My name on his lips made my knees go buttery. I groaned inwardly.

“You know my grandma?” I fidgeted with the bucket still in hand.

He gave a nod. “Yeah, I’ve known her for years. But I haven’t seen you since you were a child.”

Warning bells went off in my mind, but I pushed them aside. If he knew my grandma, then he must be okay. “Funny, I don’t remember you at all.”

“Don’t you, Salome?” Strands of my hair blew about my face. He reached a hand out as if to touch them then stopped, dropping his arms back to his side.

“No. Grandma’s never mentioned you.”

He gave me another cocky grin. “Well then, maybe we should be reacquainted.”

“Or maybe not.” I snorted. “I’m not sure how you got on the property, Grandma keeps all the gates locked.”

He produced an antique-looking skeleton key. “She gave me this. Like I said, Doris has known me for a long time.”

“I’m sorry. I’m not trying to be a jerk or anything, it’s just my grandma never mentioned I’d have visitors.” In fact, I wondered why she didn’t ask this guy to watch her house instead of me.</ i>

The arrogance left his face and he stared at me. “Perhaps, we can try this again.” He held his hand out to me. “I’m Nevin.”

About Rebekah: 

Rebekah was born and raised in Michigan (just look for the mitten-shaped state on the map). She’s lived there most of her life other than the few years she spent in the U.S. Army.  At which time she got a chance to experience MO, KS, SC, and CA.
She works full time for the court system and in her free time she writes YA stories. Pretty much any genre within the YA realm is game for her, but her favorites are fantasy, urban fantasy, paranormal romance, thrillers, light sci-fi, and some time travel.
She also has a big family–she like to considers them the modern day Brady Bunch. When her hubby and her met and got married, he had 3 children from a previous marriage, she had 2 and  have 1 together. It’s a lot of fun though.
And she can’t forget her other family members–yep, they’ve got some pets: 4 dogs, 3 cats,  and 1 turtle. Everyone in the family has one…she won’t bore you all with their names (unless you really want to know). Okay, you talked her into it! Jack, Pearl, Grr…(yes that’s her dog’s name), Callie, Shadow, Mooshoo, Grouchy, and Sorbert. Other than writing some of her other hobbies include: reading (mostly YA of course), singing, swimming, football, soccer, running, camping, sledding, church, hanging with her kids, and traveling.

She belong to a fabulous writing group called YA Fiction Fantatics (YAFF) and you guessed it they all write YA!

REPPED by Jennifer Mishler and Frances Black of Literary Counsel.
And that’s her in a big ‘ol nutshell.

Giveaway Details:
1 eARC of LEGEND OF ME International
1 eARC of THE WINTER PEOPLE International
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, November 22, 2013

Stacking the Shelves

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews.  It is a list of what books you have received over the previous week, either for review, from the library, from the bookstore, or from trades.

From Authors for Review


Not a ton of books, but I'm looking forward to reading them all.

20+ Free Kindle Books From Amazon

It's that time again.  Time for more freebies.  And just in time for Thanksgiving.  Pick up a few books to spend your holidays reading.  What?  You have a better way to spend your time off?  lol

Please note that these books are free at the time of listing.