Review: A Shade of Vampire by Bella Forrest

Interesting vampire story, but not properly developed.

Review: Shadows of the Past by Carmen Stefanescu

I loved the story. The characters, not so much.

Review: The Boys of Summer by CJ Duggan

A cute YA contemporary beach read.

Review: Strength by Carrie Butler

The world needs more Wallace. Swoon.

Review: Incarceron by Catherine Fisher

Amazing worldbuilding, if a tad predictable plot.

Aug 25, 2013

Playing Tyler
by T.L. Costa
Published July 2nd 2013 by Strange Chemistry
Source: ARC from the publisher
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Goodreads syynopsis: When is a game not a game?
Tyler MacCandless can’t focus, even when he takes his medication. He can’t focus on school, on his future, on a book, on much of anything other than taking care of his older brother, Brandon, who’s in rehab for heroin abuse… again.
Tyler’s dad is dead and his mom has mentally checked out. The only person he can really count on is his Civilian Air Patrol Mentor, Rick. The one thing in life it seems he doesn’t suck at is playing video games and, well, thats probably not going to get him into college.
Just when it seems like his future is on a collision course with a life sentence at McDonald’s, Rick asks him to test a video game. If his score’s high enough, it could earn him a place in flight school and win him the future he was certain that he could never have. And when he falls in love with the game’s designer, the legendary gamer Ani, Tyler thinks his life might finally be turning around.
That is, until Brandon goes MIA from rehab and Tyler and Ani discover that the game is more than it seems. Now Tyler will have to figure out what’s really going on in time to save his brother… and prevent his own future from going down in flames.

I've read three gaming-related novels within a month (Ender's Game, Playing Tyler and Ready Player One) and may have accidentally spoiled Playing Tyler to myself by reading it immediately after Ender's Game. Ah, well.

One reviewer described Playing Tyler as "Ready Player One meets Ender's Game", and I can somewhat agree with that. Truth be told, Playing Tyler doesn't have the fascinating writing and characterization of Ender's Game or the geeky kick I got out of Ready Player One. Playing Tyler is more reality-bound, and the game Tyler plays is more of a trigger for the moral issues laying in the core of Costa's novel.

Tyler is rather anti-social teenager with ADHD to whom the world of video games makes more sense than real life. It's also an escape from a messed-up situation at home. Costa uses a specific way of writing (no commas or periods, run-on and broken sentences) to illustrate Tyler's way of thinking. I warmed up to Tyler instantly, so much so that I decided to forgive him committing the deadly sin of YA: a bad case of insta-love.

Costa does something ...interesting, and I don't know how to approach it without spoiling something in the plot for you. In the broadest of terms, both Tyler and Ani are participating in something that gets real people killed, and both of them are living with the consequences and 9/11 and its aftermath. It makes them rather conflicted characters, yet I don't know how I feel about it. There was too little meat to it and I failed to see some stance, some solid opinion. Maybe Costa was afraid of burdening a YA novel with politics? Don't know.

In the bottom line, I was slightly disappointed because I entered the book with very high expectations. Nonetheless, it grabbed my attention and kept me on the edge for most of the time. Give it a shot.

Jul 28, 2013

2013 Summer Author Blitz: Interview With Hafsah of Icey Designs

Hi friends! I hope you're having a wonderful summer!

We're continuing the 2013 Summer Blitz hosted by Belle Whittington and Tabatha Perry, who've come up with all sorts of fun things for the entire July. If you missed some of the fun, don't worry, you can catch up if you check out the full schedule HERE.

For my spot on the blitz I got to interview a wonderfully talented designer *happy dance* whose works (blogs and websites, Twitter backgrounds, book covers etc.) you've surely noticed around the blogosphere. She answered a few questions about the creative process and her own pet peeves, and also offered some goodies for you.
Say hi to Hafsah!
  • What is the first step when you agree to design a blog/ twitter background/ cover?
I usually consult with the client before agreeing to anything. I ask them for details pertaining to the overall look, colors, and in the case of book covers, emotions, characters, and settings. Then I read through the provided information and getting started. I love opening up a blank canvas on Photoshop or Illustrator - there are so many possibilities!
  • Is there a design that you're particularly proud of? Or one that's been especially challenging?
When a design is challenging, I end up loving it even more. Heidi Sinnett wanted a design with a chalkboard feel to it, something I had been wanting to do for the longest time. It was most definitely a challenge - illustrating the banners and giving them that chalkboard look. But like I said, I had wanted to design a site like that for a long time, so it was fun, and in the end, very self-satisfying. 
  • In your opinion, what makes a great design? What do you like to see in other designers' works?
For me, a great design is defined by easiness. No matter how beautiful a design may be, it needs to be easy to navigate and easy to look at. Even if your background is black and your text is white, there's a way to keep it clean and easy to look at. In designs other than my own, I love to see the same thing - clean, beautiful, and easy to navigate. 
  • Do you have some design-pet-peeves (arrangement of elements, colors, fonts etc...)?
I have many pet-peeves. Being a designer, I look at everything a different way - magazine ads, online ads, websites, book covers. Subconsciously, my mind will move things around and switch fonts without me even realizing it. There are certain shades of colors that I'd never use, though I'd use one very close. There are several fonts I'd never use, and some that I've seen around that have made me cringe, but the worst font in the history of fonts would be Comic Sans. Another pet peeve: visiting a blog/website for the first time and not knowing where to look - this especially happens when the background is more catching than the content, it makes my eyes cross. You don't want that!

Thanks for having me, Ivana! It was fun :)

Check out Hafsah's website, and see for yourself how great her designs are :) 

Hafsah has offered to give away a Twitter background design worth $30 to one person. Follow the instructions in the Rafflecopter for your chance to win.
Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

But wait! That's not all!
Now we're sending you on a hunt for a clue hidden in one of my blog's pages. When you find it, got to Exit Ramps and enter the giveaway for a unique bookish necklace. Isn't it lovely?!

Jul 20, 2013

Blog Tour: An Endless Summer by CJ Duggan

Welcome to my stop on the An Endless Summer blog tour hosted by YA Bound Book Tours. Click HERE to see the full blog tour schedule!

An Endless Summer (Summer #2)
by C.J. Duggan
Release Date: 07/17/13

Summary from Goodreads:

Sean looked out over the lake, squinting against the sunlight. He turned to me, his  expression sobering as his eyes flicked over my face in a silent study. “Come on Amy, I saved you once, I’ll save you again.” I met his stare unflinchingly. “I don’t need saving.” A wicked grin formed slowly. “Don’t you?”
After a rebellious summer night that almost claimed her life, Amy Henderson – the Onslow publican’s only daughter – is sent away to suffer a fate far worse than any other punishment:
Boarding School.
Three years on, a now nineteen-year-old Amy returns to Onslow for the summer. What once was a cauldron of activity with live bands, hot meals and cold beers, the Onslow Hotel now lies dark, deserted and depressing. All fond childhood memories of loitering on the hotel stairs and eavesdropping on customers’ colourful conversations are in the distant past. How had her dad let it come to this? With the new threat of putting the Onslow up for sale, Amy reluctantly turns to a local tradesman for help: Sean Murphy, the very same Onslow boy who saved her life all those years ago. With his help and that of some old friends, the task is clear: spend the summer building the hotel back up to its former glory or lose it for good.
In an endless summer, Amy soon realises that sometimes in order to save your future, you have to face your past, even if it’s in the form of a smug, gorgeous Onslow boy.

The Boys of Summer is on sale this week only for $.99!  Get your copy now!

Sean Murphy, ladies. I couldn't get enough of him in the first book. If I had to give you one reason to read An Endless Summer, this hot guy would be it.
There's also everyone's little Amy, now a young woman, and she is determined to restore the Onslow Hotel to it's former glory. I completely sympathized with Amy's frustration watching Onslow going to waste because I enjoyed the energy of the place in the first book. The destiny of the hotel kept me intrigued till the very end.
And so did the developing romance between Amy and Sean. It made for quite a few laughs and heartaches. There's chemistry from page one and some history from four years ago, so I couldn't wait to see them together. I also tremendously enjoyed their constant banter. Two explosive characters as Sean and Amy, you bet there's some hilarious and sizzling situations.

 Just like The Boys of Summer, An Endless Summer was romantic and cute.The Boys of Summer was walking the thin line between YA and NA, which was why I had some mixed feelings about it; some characters appeared too young, while being placed in more mature situation. An Endless Summer is fully a NA novel, for which I could connect to the characters more easily than in The Boys of Summer.
CJ Duggan's Summer series is not to be missed if you're looking for a sweet summery romance and characters that you'll want to have as close friends in real life too.

About the Author
C.J Duggan is an Australian author who lives with her husband in a rural border town of New South Wales, Australia.
The Boys of Summer is Book One in her Mature Young Adult Romance Series.

Author Links:
iconwebsite-32x32_zps1f477f69.png  photo icongoodreads32_zps60f83491.png  photo
icontwitter-32x32_zpsae13e2b2.png  photo iconfacebook-32x32_zps64a79d4a.png

1 Signed paperback copy of either The Boys of Summer or An Endless Summer (INT) and 5 ebook copies of The Boys of Summer or An Endless Summer (INT).

Jul 4, 2013

Blog Tour: Shudder by Samantha Durante

Welcome to my stop on the Shudder Blog Tour! Thanks to Samantha, I have an excerpt and a giveaway for you. 

Shudder is the sequel to Stitch, and if you haven't read the first book yet, make sure to check it out on  Amazon (Just $0.99!) and Goodreads.

It’s only been three days, and already everything is different.

Paragon is behind her, but somehow Alessa’s life may actually have gotten worse. In a wrenching twist of fate, she traded the safety and companionship of her sister for that of her true love, losing a vital partner she’d counted on for the ordeal ahead. Her comfortable university life is but a distant memory, as she faces the prospect of surviving a bleak winter on the meager remains of a ravaged world. And if she’d thought she’d tasted fear upon seeing a ghost, she was wrong; now she’s discovering new depths of terror while being hunted by a deadly virus and a terrifying pack of superhuman creatures thirsting for blood.

And then there are the visions.

The memory-altering “stitch” unlocked something in Alessa’s mind, and now she can’t shake the constant flood of alien feelings ransacking her emotions. Haunting memories of an old flame are driving a deep and painful rift into her once-secure relationship. And a series of staggering revelations about the treacherous Engineers – and the bone-chilling deceit shrouding her world’s sorry history – will soon leave Alessa reeling…

The second installment in the electrifying Stitch Trilogy, Shudder follows Samantha Durante’s shocking and innovative debut with a heart-pounding, paranormal-dusted dystopian adventure sure to keep the pages turning.
Purchase Links
Amazon (Kindle $2.99, print $8.99)
Barnes & Noble (Nook $2.99)

Smashwords (multiple e-book formats $2.99)

Also available ($2.99 e-book) in the iTunes store, Kobo, and wherever e-books are sold

Add Shudder to Goodreads

 Samantha Durante lives in Westchester County, New York with her husband, Sudeep, and her cat, Gio. Formerly an engineer at Microsoft, Samantha left the world of software in 2010 to pursue her entrepreneurial dreams and a lifelong love of writing. A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania’s Jerome Fisher Program in Management & Technology, Samantha is currently working full time for her company Medley Media Associates as a freelance business writer and communications consultant. The Stitch Trilogy is her debut series. Learn more about Samantha at
Twitter: @SamanthaDurante | Hashtag suggestions: #Stitch, #StitchTrilogy, #Shudder
LibraryThing: Stitch | Shudder | Author Samantha Durante


But no one spoke.  In a harsh whisper, he put the final nail in her coffin, slowly and deliberately taking pleasure as his mouth formed each solitary syllable: “Or should she be punished?”
The crowd replied with a deafening roar of condemnation, snarling and howling like a rabid animal just itching for blood.  As the mob whipped itself into a frenzy, she could feel his wry smile branding itself into her back.  His job was done – now all he had to do was watch.
Finally the tears came, a single drop of heartache snaking its way down her cheek.  So that was his plan – he would use her to draw out the allies of the resistance, and if they didn’t save her from the wrath of the mob, so be it – one less rebel to deal with.  She was glad then that her face was covered, that they could not see her break.
Because someone did come forth then, but not the savior she’d been holding out for.  No, on the contrary – someone had cast the first stone.
A stinging sensation buried itself in her shoulder.  And then another, in her gut.  And another, on her thigh.
And then she was nothing but pain, every inch of her body pounding with the impact of each jagged rock.  She tried to stand tall, to fight through the agony, but it was too much.  The blows ripped the air from her lungs and she doubled over, trying in vain to shield herself.
Her mind shut off, all conscious thought leaving her body as the crippling ache took over, and some distant part of her prayed quietly for the torture to end. 
And then one violent strike connected with her temple, and she was gone.

Enter the Giveaway HERE!!!

About the first book in the series...
Her heart races, her muscles coil, and every impulse in Alessa’s body screams at her to run… but yet she’s powerless to move.
Still struggling to find her footing after the sudden death of her parents, the last thing college freshman Alessa has the strength to deal with is the inexplicable visceral pull drawing her to a handsome ghostly presence. In between grappling with exams and sorority soirees – and disturbing recurring dreams of being captive in a futuristic prison hell – Alessa is determined to unravel the mystery of the apparition who leaves her breathless. But the terrifying secret she uncovers will find her groping desperately through her nightmares for answers.
Because what Alessa hasn’t figured out yet is that she’s not really a student, the object of her obsession is no ghost, and her sneaking suspicions that something sinister is lurking behind the walls of her university’s idyllic campus are only just scratching the surface…
The opening installment in a twist-laden trilogy, Stitch spans the genres of paranormal romance and dystopian sci-fi to explore the challenges of a society in transition, where morality, vision, and pragmatism collide leaving the average citizen to suffer the results.
Stitch Purchase Links
Amazon (Kindle $0.99, print $8.99)
Barnes & Noble (Nook $0.99)
Smashwords (multiple e-book formats $0.99)
Also available ($0.99 e-book) in the iTunes store, Kobo, and wherever e-books are sold!

Jun 16, 2013

Blog Tour: The Georgia Corbins-Top 5 Romantic Couples with Kara Leigh Miller

Thanks to Entranced Publishing, I'm participating in the blog tour for  The Georgia Corbins by Kara Leigh Miller, who's also sharing her Top 5 Romantic Couples with us.

Title: The Georgia Corbins
Author: Kara Leigh Miller
Publisher and Imprint: Entranced Publishing
Genre: YA contemporary romance
Release Date: June 10 2013
Length: 265 pages

Ali Philips never thought anything could be more devastating than the day Levi and Tucker Corbin, her two best friends—her only friends—moved away. Three years passed without a single phone call, text message, or email from them and she’s resolved to the fact that she will probably never see them again. Until one morning when she comes face-to-face with Levi Corbin in physics class. 
Little does she know, the Corbins have returned to Haldeen with only one thing on their minds: winning Ali’s heart. Ali soon finds herself in the middle of a love triangle she doesn’t want any part of. As she tries to reclaim the friendships she’s lost and to adjust to the unfamiliar feelings she’s having, she struggles with making the one decision that will forever change their lives: Levi or Tucker Corbin? 
She’s always had a special bond with Tucker and feels most comfortable when she’s with him. But Levi brings her to life in a way she didn’t think was possible and makes her feel things she didn’t think she would ever feel. Torn between the two, Ali is certain of only one thing–by the time it’s over, she’ll lose one of her best friends.

About the Author:

Born and raised in the small town of Mexico, New York, Kara was an only child who was forced to find ways to entertain herself. Playing make believe with her Barbie dolls and stuffed animals was her first real taste of storytelling before she became old enough to develop a love affair with the written word. In early 2010, Kara picked up her very first erotic romance novel, and she was instantly hooked. She loves to write contemporary romance, erotica, and young adult romance. Currently she has several full-length novels in the works, a series of novellas, and a handful of short stories. Kara is an active member of the CNY Creative Writers CafĂ© and the CNY Romance Writers. Today, Kara resides in New Haven, New York with her husband, five kids, and three cats. When she’s not reading or writing, she’s thinking about reading and writing. And when she’s not doing that, she’s spending time with her family and friends.

Author Social Media Links:


Okay, before I start sharing my favorite fictional characters with all of you, I should clarify that when I say fictional, I'm not limiting myself to just books, but that the term encompasses movies and TV as well. As you'll soon see, this list is very diverse, and you might be asking yourself: what criteria do I use to determine what makes certain couples my favorite? Well, I don't really have any. A couple has to cause a strong, visceral reaction in me. They have to make my heart race, my pulse pound, my palms sweat, bring tears to my eyes, and make me root for them at all costs.

So, without further ado, here are my favorite fictional couples:

Elena & Damon (The Vampire Diaries) – I'll be honest, I haven't read these books, but I love the TV show and I'm always yelling at my television when they get together, or fight, which they seem to do a lot of.

Kate & Jack (Lost) – What I enjoyed so much about this couple is that Kate was the bad girl and Jack was the good guy. Typically it’s the other way around: good girl falls for the bad boy. Jack was constantly trying to save her from herself, and he succeeded several times.

Hannah & Aubrey (The Park Service Trilogy) – This is a very dysfunctional relationship, and it's not one of my favorites because I want them together. It's just the opposite, actually. Hannah isn't very nice, and I'm on the fence as to whether I want Aubrey to send her packing or fight to try and redeem her.

Scully & Mulder (The X-Files) – Okay, so these two were never technically a couple, but they should've been. The tension between them was palpable.

Peyton & Lucas (One Tree Hill) – These two went through so much together, and through it all they managed to find love and happiness.

Katniss & Peeta (The Hunger Games) – I should mention that this couple was my favorite in the first book only. The love between them was innocent and pure. In books two and three it went straight to hell, in my opinion, but they still make it on my list because I truly feel for them and how things ended up for them.


To celebrate the release of The Georgia Corbins, Kara Leigh Miller is giving away exciting prizes. The Grand Prize, which is open to US residents only, includes a signed copy of The Georgia Corbins, The Georgia Corbins hardcover journal and postcards, The Georgia Corbins tote bag, Kara Leigh Miller pens and notebooks, and Legasea bookmarks. 

Second and third prizes are an ebook copy of The Georgia Corbins, and one lucky person will win a first chapter critique. International entries are welcome. Good luck! Winners will be announced July 1st.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...