Thursday, September 18, 2014

Review: The Queen of Zombie Hearts

THE QUEEN OF ZOMBIE HEARTS
White Rabbit Chronicles #3
Gena Showalter
Paranormal Young Adult
464 pages
HarlequinTEEN
Available September 30th
Source: ARC from publisher for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
I have a plan.

We'll either destroy them for good, or they'll destroy us.

Either way, only one of us is walking away.

In the stunning conclusion to the wildly popular White Rabbit Chronicles, Alice "Ali" Bell thinks the worst is behind her. She's ready to take the next step with boyfriend Cole Holland, the leader of the zombie slayers…until Anima Industries, the agency controlling the zombies, launches a sneak attack, killing four of her friends. It's then she realizes that humans can be more dangerous than monsters…and the worst has only begun.

As the surviving slayers prepare for war, Ali discovers she, too, can control the zombies…and she isn't the girl she thought she was. She's connected to the woman responsible for killing—and turning—Cole's mother. How can their relationship endure? As secrets come to light, and more slayers are taken or killed, Ali will fight harder than ever to bring down Anima—even sacrificing her own life for those she loves.


MY THOUGHTS
The Queen of Zombie Hearts is a series of battles–physical and emotional–from first page to last, Ali and company barely getting a moment’s rest before Death is chasing them down once again. As a result, the 450+ pages of this final installment absolutely fly by, depositing us on the last page with a damaged heart, a wobbly smile, and a deep sense of denial that our time with these characters is actually over. Ms. Showalter is not afraid to raise the body count of both friend and foe in the final showdown between Ali and Anima Industries, but her books are always a beautiful combination of gravity and humor, ensuring we're never without a little light to see us through the darkness.

Ali is as strong as ever, in possession of zombie-destroying abilities no other slayers seem to wield much to our continued puzzlement. We get all the answers to our questions in this last book however, revelation after revelation ratcheting up the intensity to such a degree we seriously contemplate calling in sick to work the next day just so we don’t have to set her story aside for the night and sleep. She’s the type of young woman who abhors lies, so she’s always the first one to blurt out whatever is on her mind whether it be personal or zombie-related in nature, and we can’t help but want to hug her every time she uses her words instead of keeping them locked up tight.

Cole is much the same as well, delighting us with his alpha badassery and possessiveness even as we sometimes simply have to shake our heads at his posturing. Were he to exist in real life, his growling, smoldering, you’ll-do-things-my-way attitude would likely be extremely irritating, but because Ms. Showalter saw fit to give him a woman who snaps her spine straight instead of going weak in the knees under the force of his personality, all his alpha male characteristics take on that beautiful romantic shine that can only exist in fiction. He’s that enormously fun blend of hard and soft, all his pointed edges suddenly rounding in Ali’s presence, shifting him from attractively distant to charmingly approachable, and we can’t help but fall as hard for him as Ali does.

One of Ms. Showalter’s extraordinary strengths, whether she’s writing adult or young adult, has always been her ability to craft large casts of hugely well-developed secondary characters. While Ali and Cole shine brightest in this series, the crew of people surrounding them are every bit as vital to its overall success, their personalities distinct and layered, and we can only hope that maybe one day Ms. Showalter will give us the gift of revisiting them a few years down the line. Overall, The Queen of Zombie Hearts is the perfect end to this series, old friends lost and new friends found, and through it all stands a lead couple who just bring a smile to our faces.

Rating: 4/5


Find Gena:

*If you haven't already, be sure to check out my interview with the charming and hilarious River and enter to win any book in the White Rabbit Chronicles!

This book was sent to me by the publisher free of charge for the purpose of a review
I received no other compensation and the above is my honest opinion.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The Next Big YA Book Event

http://www.hipsomedia.com/the-next-big-ya-book/

Today I'm thrilled to share a really amazing opportunity for aspiring YA writers: The Next Big YA Book event. The Next Big YA Book event is hosted by Hipso Media (and myself) and gives writers and lovers of all things YA a place to submit their manuscripts for a chance to win a publishing contract as well as a number of other fabulous prizes.

I'm extra excited for this event because not only am I co-hosting, but I'll be designing the cover for the winning book, and I simply can't wait to be a part of bringing the winner's story to life!

Hipso Media ran this event last year as well, so I'm going to let them give you all the details and specifics!

CALLING ALL YA AUTHORS!

If you have ever hashtagged #amwriting, #MSWL, or #IWantToBePublishedSoBadlyMyEyeballsMightPop, then pay attention.

From September 17th through October 1st, Hipso Media Publishing and Jenny from Supernatural Snark will be hosting the ‘Next Big YA Book Event.’

Why is this good news for #amwriters?

Here’s how the event works. Most publishers work exclusively with agents, which makes it difficult (more like close to impossible) for up-and-coming writers to get their work seen. Well, Hipso Media Publishing will be opening their doors to all YA writers who dream of traditional publication, but can’t seem to catch a break. Writers who have mountainous ideas, along with an actual mountain of rejection letters. Hipso wants to pick one of those writers, and treat them like the literary rock star they are, showering them in every publishing perk someone of their caliber deserves:

  • Publishing contract with a generous royalty program
  • Custom cover from Seedlings Design Studio
  • CBB Book Promotions Blog Tour
  • Exclusive front-page podcast on AuthorsOnTourLive, iReadBooksRadio and iHeartRadio (which gets an average of more than 1 million hits a year)
  • Novel as an eBook on all major retailers – Kindle, Nook, iBooks, Kobo, around the world
  • A featured post on Supernatural Snark
  • Awesome book swag, and more…

Once the winning manuscript is picked, Jenny from Supernatural Snark (owner of Seedlings Design Studio) will work with the author to create a custom cover that will be sure to shout, “NEXT BIG YA BOOK”. And then she’ll do a featured post on Supernatural Snark, to make sure the world hears.

No agents, hoops, or hassles. The only criteria are that your YA manuscript be finished, you must believe it’s great, and it must not already be published somewhere else.
Here’s the link to the submissions page and contact info:
http://www.hipsomedia.com/the-next-big-ya-book/
Good luck and happy writing!
If you know anyone who loves YA fiction and dreams of becoming a published author, I hope you'll let them know about The Next Big YA Book event!

In The Afterlight: Pyrokinesis Prize Pack Giveaway


I'm excited today to bring all of you a very special giveaway in honor of the upcoming release of In the Afterlight, the third and final book in the Darkest Minds trilogy by Alexandra Bracken. For those of you who have yet to read any of the books in this series, there are 5 different Psi groups represented in the series, each specializing in one particular paranormal ability.


Throughout September and October leading up to the release of In The Afterlight on October 28th, a number of blogs will be hosting giveaways of prize packs specific to one of the Psi groups. I have the distinct pleasure of putting the Red Prize Pack (Pyrokinesis) up for grabs, but before we get to the giveaway, check out a little bit more about The Darkest Minds trilogy!

IN THE AFTERLIGHT


Ruby can't look back. Fractured by an unbearable loss, she and the kids who survived the government's attack on Los Angeles travel north to regroup. Only Ruby can keep their highly dangerous prisoner in check. But with Clancy Gray, there's no guarantee you're fully in control, and everything comes with a price.

When the Children's League disbands, Ruby rises up as a leader and forms an unlikely allegiance with Liam's brother, Cole, who has a volatile secret of his own. There are still thousands of other Psi kids suffering in government "rehabilitation camps" all over the country. Freeing them--revealing the governments unspeakable abuses in the process--is the mission Ruby has claimed since her own escape from Thurmond, the worst camp in the country.

But not everyone is supportive of the plan Ruby and Cole craft to free the camps. As tensions rise, competing ideals threaten the mission to uncover the cause of IANN, the disease that killed most of America's children and left Ruby and others with powers the government will kill to keep contained. With the fate of a generation in their hands, there is no room for error. One wrong move could be the spark that sets the world on fire.



SPARKS RISE
(The Darkest Minds 2.5)


This New eBook Novella connects the last two novels in The Darkest Minds trilogy.

Sam didn't think things could get worse at Thurmand rehabilitation camp. Then the Reds arrive. Everyone assumed the kids with firepower had been killed years ago. Instead they were taken away, brainwashed, and returned as terrifyingly effective guards. To her horror, Sam recognizes one of them: Lucas, the one spark of light in Sam's dark childhood.

Lucas has a deadly secret--he beat the brutal training that turned his fellow Reds into mindless drones. When Sam defends herself against an attack by a vile PSF guard and faces a harrowing punishment, Lucas must risk his everything to save her.



 • • • • • • • • • •

ALEXANDRA BRACKEN


Alexandra Bracken was born and raised in Arizona, but moved east to study at the College of William & Mary in Virginia.  She recently relocated to New York City, where she worked in publishing and lives in a charming apartment overflowing with books.


Hyperion Teen:


• • • • • • • • • • • 

GIVEAWAY


Set the world on fire! 
Enter via the Rafflecopter form below for your chance to win a custom Darkest Minds candle and The Darkest Minds series & tote bag. Giveaway is courtesy of the fantastic team at Disney Hyperion and is open to US addresses only.


Don't forget to check out the other participating blogs for chances to win all 5 color prize packs!

Telekinesis (Blue) Prize Pack

Intelligence (Green) Prize Pack

Mind Control (Orange) Prize Pack

Pyrokinesis (Red) Prize Pack

Electrokinesis (Yellow) Prize Pack

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Review: Salt & Storm

SALT & STORM
Kendall Kulper
Young Adult/Historical Fantasy
416 pages
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Available September 23rd
Source: BEA

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
Sixteen-year-old Avery Roe wants only to take her rightful place as the witch of Prince Island, making the charms that keep the island's whalers safe at sea, but her mother has forced her into a magic-free world of proper manners and respectability. When Avery dreams she's to be murdered, she knows time is running out to unlock her magic and save herself.

Avery finds an unexpected ally in a tattooed harpoon boy named Tane--a sailor with magic of his own, who moves Avery in ways she never expected. Becoming a witch might stop her murder and save her island from ruin, but Avery discovers her magic requires a sacrifice she never prepared for.


MY THOUGHTS
Salt & Storm is a heavier read, death and darkness weighing us down with each chapter as we slowly uncover the price Avery must pay to access the birthright of her magic. The beauty of love exists solely in the shadow of Death’s hooded figure, and no matter how Avery tries to escape it, that shadow dogs her heels from page one to four hundred. While the heaviness of this story can be attributed in large part to the subject matter itself, the writing is another contributing factor, this story favoring both descriptive details and tangential anecdotes, sending us on brief jaunts to the past as Avery recalls specific moments in order to introduce us to particular people or places in the present. This style, though helpful in creating a vivid picture of Avery’s small whaling town, does slow the overall pace of her story down quite a bit, combining with the pain and sacrifice required to become the Roe witch to leave us in need of light and happy reads for the weeks following our closing of the back cover.

From the beginning, Avery erects a number of roadblocks that keep us from settling in beside her as she fights to prevent her death dream from becoming a reality, her behavior that of someone exceedingly selfish whose sole focus is the harm done unto her without once looking outward to see what harm her words or actions causes others. With Tane in particular she is at times extraordinarily argumentative, screaming at him for his inability to help her (despite his best efforts) while refusing to acknowledge that she too has failed in her own promise to help him interpret his dreams. She does at least recognize when her anger gets the better of her, but is almost never able to stop it from spilling past her lips and finding its target in either Tane or her mother, and while we’ve all been there many a time when stress levels get to be more than we can handle, the repetitive nature of her actions keeps our capacity for forgiveness frighteningly low.

Avery is in no way all bad however, once she resigns herself to the fact that she won’t be able to escape her dream’s prediction, she puts all her considerable focus into finally aiding Tane. His needs suddenly outweigh her own desires, and she oh-so slowly in the latter half of this book becomes a young woman we actually want to see find her happiness even though we know the chances of her reaching the last chapter without a body or heart riddled with scars is highly unlikely. Tane, for his part, is infinitely patient with Avery, enduring her impressive mood swings with lopsided smiles and calming assurances, and never once stooping to her level to fire back at her with insults of his own.

Overall, Salt & Storm is not an easy read for a number of reasons, a tricky heroine and a story steeped in tragedy and heartbreak making this a book more easily digested in smaller pieces rather than consumed all at once. Despite those issues however, Ms. Kulper is undeniably a talented writer and storyteller, and most certainly someone I would read again.

Rating: 3.5/5



Find Kendall:



This book was sent to me by the publisher free of charge for the purpose of a review
I received no other compensation and the above is my honest opinion.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Vault of Dreamers Blog Tour: Review + Giveaway

VAULT OF DREAMERS
Vault of Dreamers #1
Caragh M. O'Brien
Young Adult/Sci-Fi-ish
432 pages
Roaring Book Press/Macmillan
Available September 16th
Source: ARC from publisher for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
The Forge School is the most prestigious arts school in the country. The secret to its success:  every moment of the students' lives is televised as part of the insanely popular Forge Show, and the students' schedule includes twelve hours of induced sleep meant to enhance creativity. But when first year student Rosie Sinclair skips her sleeping pill, she discovers there is something off about Forge. In fact, she suspects that there are sinister things going on deep below the reaches of the cameras in the school. What's worse is, she starts to notice that the edges of her consciousness do not feel quite right. And soon, she unearths the ghastly secret that the Forge School is hiding—and what it truly means to dream there.

MY THOUGHTS
The Vault of Dreamers is an exceedingly unique story, one that moves forward slowly but purposefully in order to give our minds time to ask questions, theorize, and generally wonder about the darkness hiding behind the watchful eye of The Forge Show. It’s not until nearly a third of the way through this story that the history of The Forge Show is revealed to us, a quick and believable explanation for how a school for the arts transitioned into the highest rated show in the country allowing us to link this piece of fiction to our reality in such a way that we can easily put ourselves in Rosie’s shoes. Once our questions regarding the show are answered, our focus then shifts to the strange nightly activities of those responsible for the students’ welfare, and from there we’re taken on an intriguing journey that tests our ability to detect what is real and what is illusion.

Rosie is a young woman who doesn’t necessarily leap off the first page in a blaze of fiery personality, instead she’s fairly quiet and unassuming, somewhat resigned to the fact that her time on The Forge Show is quickly coming to an end. Once she figures she has nothing to lose, we start to see her character emerge, her passion for filmmaking and her desire to show the public how she sees the world through the lens of her camera something we can relate to on a fundamental level even if filmmaking is not one of our strengths. Her inquisitive nature is a trait that should be considered a flaw–her tendency to disobey the school’s rules something that normally would have us rolling our eyes–but it just so happens that her curiosity is only surpassed by our own, and we can’t help but want her to learn as much as she possibly can.

Rosie’s ranking on The Forge Show is improved over time with the help of the unfortunately-named Linus, a romance between the two of them starting up quickly but staying well clear of the insta-love label. They are friends first before becoming allies as Rosie slowly becomes comfortable enough with him to share her fears over what’s happening during the students’ mandatory 12 hour sleep schedule, and while their relationship isn’t one to be categorized as epic, it’s gorgeously free of all the common YA romance pitfalls.

As we near the end of The Vault of Dreamers, the more unusual aspects of the story are brought to the forefront, our understanding of what those in charge are trying to accomplish with the assistance of the unwitting student body a bit hazy and only getting hazier as we reach the last chapter. Those readers who love to be left unsure and off balance, minds racing with implications, will thoroughly appreciate the final pages of The Vault of Dreamers, but those who like their endings to come with a bit of clarity will likely struggle with the tail end of this first leg to Rosie’s journey. Overall, Ms. O’Brien succeeds with the unusualness of the premise and the fascinating nature of the science relating to the students' dreams, and I for one find myself insanely curious to see where this series is headed.

Rating: 4/5
 

Find Caragh:


Meet her in person on the Fierce Reads tour!

• • • • • • • • • • •

GIVEAWAY

Thanks to the hugely generous team at Macmillan, I have a copy of Vault of Dreamers to give away on the blog today. Giveaway is open to US addresses only. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Don't forget to check out the remaining stops on the tour for more reviews and chances to win!

·         September 9 | Ex Libris Kate & The Book Monsters
·         September 10 | Book Hounds & Candace's Book Blog
·         September 11 | Mundie Moms & Word Spelunking
·         September 12 | My Bookish Ways & Working for the Mandroid
·         September 13 | Fiction Fare
·         September 14 | Icey Books & My 5 Monkeys
·         September 15 | SciFi Chick & Supernatural Snark
·         September 16 | YA Interrobang & I’d So Rather be Reading
·         September 17 | Fiktshun & Book Briefs
·         September 18 | Michelle & Leslie’s Book Picks & The Irish Banana Review
·         September 19 | Alice Marvels & Forever Young Adult
·         September 20 | Good Choice Reading & Step into Fiction

Friday, September 12, 2014

The Queen of Zombie Hearts Blog Tour: Interview + Giveaway

http://www.kismetbt.com/the-queen-of-zombie-hearts-by-gena-showalter

I'm beyond excited today to be a part of the promotional tour for the third and final installment of Gena Showalter's fantastic White Rabbit Chronicles, The Queen of Zombie Hearts. I couldn't love this series more if I tried, Gena has a gift for writing incredibly strong female characters and to-die-for male characters, so if you haven't had the chance to pick this series up yet, I hope this interview sends you running to your nearest bookstore!

Speaking of to-die-for male characters, I have the pleasure of welcoming River to the blog to answer a few questions about his involvement in Ali and Cole's fight against Anima. It's possible I hit on him a little too. Don't judge me ;-)

You and Cole don’t always see eye to eye given the fact you’re both very much the take-charge type, but what’s one thing about him you can’t help but grudgingly admire? Your answer will, of course, never make its way to Cole’s ears ;-)

I admire the way he admires me. Feel free to tell him I said that.

Let’s say I was suddenly, and unfortunately, made aware of the zombie’s existence and wanted to join your crew to learn how to fight them. What’s the first thing you would teach me?

To obey my every command. Did your mind just go to the gutter, sweet? Well, get it out. Failure to obey me can get you killed. Not to mention me and my crew. So, if you can’t follow a simple set of orders, there’s no reason to teach you anything else.

Cole has found his perfect girl in Ali. What are a few personality traits the girl of your dreams would possess? If your answer happens to include snarky and paranormal book-loving, then all the better ;-)

I like my women with big…brains. And the snarky booklover. Yep. It’s like you were created in a catalogue just for me. Come over later?

*Jenny dies*

If Gena had written this book series from your point of view rather than Ali’s, what would the titles of all three books have been? 

Book one—See Zombies Die
Book two—See A Lot More Zombies Die
Book three—See Zombies Die BAD

Like Cole, Ali and all of your closest friends, you take some physical and emotional hits in the final battle with Anima. Once all the dust settles, what will you most look forward to with regard to your future and that of your crew’s?

A little R and R. Rest and Romance. See you at eight.

*YES YOU WILL, RIVER* *Beats all the rest of you away with a stick*

• • • • • • • • • • • 

THE QUEEN OF ZOMBIE HEARTS


I have a plan.

We'll either destroy them for good, or they'll destroy us.

Either way, only one of us is walking away.

Alice 'Ali' Bell thinks the worst is behind her. She's ready to take the next step with boyfriend Cole Holland, the leader of the zombie slayers; until Anima Industries, the agency controlling the zombies, launches a sneak attack, killing four of her friends. It's then she realizes that humans can be more dangerous than monsters; and the worst has only begun.

As the surviving slayers prepare for war, Ali discovers she, too, can control the zombies and she isn't the girl she thought she was. She's connected to the woman responsible for killing and turning Cole's mother. How can their relationship endure? As secrets come to light, and more slayers are taken or killed, Ali will fight harder than ever to bring down Anima even sacrificing her own life for those she loves.


THE WHITE RABBIT CHRONICLES

Find Through the Zombie Glass:


Find Alice in Zombieland:


• • • • • • • • • • • 

GENA SHOWALTER


GENA SHOWALTER is the New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author of the Intertwined novels and several other popular YA and adult series. Her stories have been featured on MTV and in Seventeen magazine and have been praised as unputdownable.” Growing up, she always had her nose buried in a book. When it came time to buckle down and get a job, she knew writing was it for her. Gena lives in Oklahoma with her family and three slobbery bulldogs. Become a fan on Facebook, follow her on Twitter @GenaShowalter and visit her at genashowalter.com/young-adult/ and at HarlequinTEEN.com.


• • • • • • • • • • •

LOOK FOR THE WHITE RABBIT CONTEST


Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, the white rabbit will appear on a different blog and stay there for 48hrs. Once you have found the rabbit, click on it and you will be directed to a Rafflecopter entry form for the Grand Prize Giveaway! To enter, you must answer the daily question found at the tour stop (see below)!!!

Where could the rabbit appear? On all book blogger tour hosts and The Harlequin Paranormal Blog, so go now and hunt the rabbit. Will you find it?

And what do you win if you track this bad boy down you ask? A prize package of AWESOME:


One lucky grand prize winner will receive a $100 gift card and a complete set of the White Rabbit Chronicles. To enter for the grand prize, you MUST follow the tour each day, hunt down the white rabbit, and answer the daily question.

Want to win? Then find that rabbit!

TODAY'S QUESTION: If you could ask River one question, what would it be?

• • • • • • • • • • •

DAILY GIVEAWAY

In addition to the fabulous grand prize giveaway featured above for the White Rabbit Contest, I also have a copy of either Alice in Zombieland, Through the Zombie Glass OR The Queen of Zombie Hearts (winner's choice) to give away on the blog today! To enter, just fill out the Rafflecopter form, and don't forget to check out all the participating blogs below for more unique content, interviews and chances to win!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, September 8th – Two Chicks on Books & Harlequin Paranormal Blog 
Wednesday, September 10th – The Book Swarm
Friday, September 12th – Supernatural Snark 

Monday, September 15th – Such a Novel Idea
Wednesday, September 17th – Bewitched Bookworms
Friday, September 19th – Katie’s Book Blog

Monday, September 22nd – The Y.A. Bookworm Blogger
Wednesday, September 24th – Adventures of a Book Junkie
Friday, September 26th – Book Rock Betty