Posts Categorized: Giveaways

Release Day Feature + Giveaway! The Last Camellia by Sarah Jio

May 28, 2013 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Giveaways, Read in 2013, Release Day Feature 1 Comment

I received this book free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Release Day Feature + Giveaway! The Last Camellia by Sarah JioThe Last Camellia by Sarah Jio
Published by Plume on May 28th 2013
Pages: 306
Genres: Contemporary, Historical Fiction, Mystery, Romance
Format: ARC
Source: the Publisher
Amazon
Goodreads

Also by this author: The Violets of March, The Bungalow, Blackberry Winter

three-stars

A romantic and suspenseful tale about two women whose destiny is bound across the years

On the eve of World War II, the last surviving specimen of a camellia plant known as the Middlebury Pink lies secreted away on an English country estate. Flora, an amateur American botanist, is contracted by an international ring of flower thieves to infiltrate the household and acquire the coveted bloom. Her search is at once brightened by new love and threatened by her discovery of a series of ghastly crimes.

More than half a century later, garden designer Addison takes up residence at the manor, now owned by the family of her husband, Rex. The couple’s shared passion for mysteries is fueled by the enchanting camellia orchard and an old gardener’s notebook. Yet its pages hint at dark acts ingeniously concealed. If the danger that Flora once faced remains very much alive, will Addison share her fate?

.

“She always said it would bloom when it sensed peace, and a rightness with the world.”

1940
Flora is approached about a job opportunity that would help save her family from ruin, unfortunately it requires her to set her morals aside in order to help a ring of flower thieves obtain a long lost camellia. It also requires her to travel to England in 1940 when World War II is underway.

2000
Addison and her husband travel to England to stay at the manor his parents have just purchased. Upon their arrival they find themselves immersed in a dark mystery from the 1940’s that involves the mysterious death of the lady of the manor and several girls who went missing. One in particular is a girl named Flora, a nanny who stayed at the manor, who disappeared one night and was never seen from again.

This is now the fourth Sarah Jio book I’ve read in which she’s stuck with her tried and true method of weaving stories of the past and stories of the present together to create something truly engaging. The dual narratives switched back and forth frequently between Flora and Addison but there was never any confusion between the two. I found myself far more interested in the past story than the present, but technically they were one in the same considering how they came together in the end.

I found that the major story was told (for both Flora and Addison) but the smaller stories and details weren’t fleshed out completely. One example is I really wish there had been more of a proper build-up in the relationship between Flora and Desmond. It seemed far too sudden when the confessions of love started happening, but those two managed to be charming nonetheless. Also, I was left with several questions that went unanswered by the end and I can only assume it was left like that for the reader to form on their own interpretation.

The Last Camellia is an intriguing dual-narrative mystery with a hint of romance about a rare camellia that drew two very different women together. It’s a tale of love, friendship and life… and always doing what you know is right.

Giveaway Details
Thanks to the generosity of Plume/Penguin Group (USA) I’m able to offer 5 Winners a copy of The Last Camellia.

Open to U.S. and Canada addresses only!

Giveaway ends June 18th, 2013

To enter use the Rafflecopter form below. Remember to come back for more entry opportunities daily!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Divider

Release Day Feature + Giveaway! Lucky Bastard (Lucky O’Toole series #4) by Deborah Coonts

May 14, 2013 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Giveaways, Read in 2013, Release Day Feature 0 Comments

I received this book free from Netgalley, the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Release Day Feature + Giveaway! Lucky Bastard (Lucky O’Toole series #4) by Deborah CoontsLucky Bastard by Deborah Coonts
Series: Lucky O'Toole #4
Published by Forge Books on May 14th 2013
Pages: 350
Genres: Contemporary, Mystery, Romance
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley, the Publisher
Amazon
Goodreads

Also by this author: Wanna Get Lucky?, Lucky Stiff

three-stars

Lucky O’Toole, the newly promoted vice president of Customer Relations for the Babylon, Las Vegas’s primo Strip property, has never met a problem she couldn’t handle. But when a young woman is found dead, sprawled across the hood of a new, bright red Ferrari California in the Babylon’s on-site dealership, a Jimmy Choo stiletto stuck in her carotid, Lucky’s skills are maxed out. Of course her life is already on overload. Her mother, Mona, is pregnant, hormonal, and bored — a triple threat. A song that Teddie, Lucky’s former lover, wrote for her is getting national airplay as he hits the talk shows, pleading for her forgiveness. Lucky is less than amused by the high-powered “infotainment” spotlight on her personal life. She’s having enough trouble fending off Chef Jean-Charles Bouclet, the Babylon’s tasty new dish. All of this and The Smack-Down Poker tournament, the second-largest poker tournament in the world, is holding its final round at the Babylon. Hookers, thieves, players, cheaters, media, and hangers-on descend, looking to win or to score. When one of the players turns up dead, Lucky starts to make connections between the two murders, putting her in the crosshairs of the killer. After a revelation by someone close to her sends her world reeling even further, Lucky struggles to keep her life in balance, and a murderer from killing again as bodies pile up. Then, just when she’s losing control… life deals another major complication to her personal life… and it’s not going to be pretty. Lucky struggles to keep her life in balance, and a murderer from killing again as bodies pile up.

The Lucky O’Toole series

Wanna Get Lucky?Lucky StiffLucky in Love

Wanna Get Lucky? (Lucky O’Toole series #1) {Purchase}
Lucky Stiff (Lucky O’Toole series #2) {Purchase}
Lucky in Love (Lucky O’Toole series #2.5) {Purchase}

So Damn LuckyLucky Bang

So Damn Lucky (Lucky O’Toole series #3) {Purchase}
Lucky Bang (Lucky O’Toole series #3.5) {Purchase}

Lucky O’Toole is the Vice President of Customer Relations of the affluent Babylon casino in Las Vegas. She’s a busy woman and her plate is always full but after recent events even Lucky has bitten off more than she can chew. After a woman is found on the hood of a Ferrari in the Babylon’s dealership with a stiletto stuck in her neck and the evidence points to a close-friend being the killer, Lucky knows there’s more evidence to be found. Once she begins digging though she finds far more than she bargained for.
In addition to her work issues, she’s dealing with a broken heart after her long-time love Teddie has chosen a life on the road and fame instead of a comfortable life at home with her. The new French chef Jean-Charles Bouclet has kept her thoughts occupied as he continues to pursue her. Lucky just doesn’t seem to have time to sort through her personal problems as the bodies are piling up and evidence starts pointing to her.

I’ve gotta say, all of the Lucky O’Toole mysteries have left me unaware throughout the book. There are always a crazy amount of facets to these stories, it always keeps you guessing and leaves you questioning everything. Exciting and thrilling, these are definite page-turners.

Lucky has had a crazy love life from the very first installment. What I love is despite that, I can definitely appreciate that it doesn’t consume the story completely. The detailed mystery is first and foremost with snippets of Lucky’s personal life added in as something extra. The romance definitely took the forefront towards the end setting up for some emotional drama in the next installment.

What didn’t work for me (and has been a common trait in this series) is how Lucky completely takes on the police work involved in solving murders. I would be more apt to accept this if she was a member of a security team with the Casino but she’s the Vice President of Customer Relations, tasked to maintain the happiness of the hotel guests. Lucky is one chick that definitely goes above and beyond the call of duty. Lucky doesn’t always make the most genius decisions but they aren’t so outrageous that they’re not forgivable. She usually realizes (in retrospect) that she makes some pretty dumb decisions so at least she realizes it, albeit a tad late. Regardless, these books are definitely fun reads.

This series would likely fall under the terms of a ‘cozy-mystery’ except the mystery itself manages to be quite serious. Killing people with stilettos, people getting cyanide thrown in their face, etc. Despite the seriousness though, Lucky possesses a sarcastic humor throughout which lightens the story considerably and makes it a lot of fun.

Lucky Bastard is my fourth Lucky novel, fifth if you count a novella, and I’ve really enjoyed watching the character growth in Lucky. She’s a hard-working woman who’s had her heart broken but doesn’t let it get her down. Her actions are honest and understandable. The Lucky O’ Toole series is a must for cozy mystery fans and readers looking for a fun, memorable heroine.

Thanks to the generous folks from JKS Communications/Forge Books I’m able to offer two giveaways for two lucky (ha!) winners!!

Giveaway #1: 1 copy of The Lucky Bastard (Lucky O’Toole series #4)
Giveaway #2: 3 digital novellas (Lucky in Love, Lucky Bang and Lucky Now and Then)

Giveaway ends May 28th, 2013

Both giveaways are open to U.S. and Canada addresses only!
To enter use the Rafflecopter form below. Remember to come back for more entry opportunities daily!!

Divider

Release Day Feature + Giveaway! The Mapmaker’s War: A Legend by Ronlyn Domingue

March 5, 2013 Bonnie Giveaways, Release Day Feature 0 Comments

Release Day Feature + Giveaway! The Mapmaker’s War: A Legend by Ronlyn DomingueThe Mapmaker's War: A Legend by Ronlyn Domingue
Series: Keeper of Tales Trilogy #1
Published by Atria Books on March 5th 2013
Pages: 226
Genres: Fantasy, Historical Fiction
Format: Hardcover
Amazon
Goodreads

This will be the map of your heart, old woman. 

In an ancient time, in a faraway land, a young woman named Aoife is allowed a rare apprenticeship to become her kingdom's mapmaker, tasked with charting the entire domain. Traveling beyond its borders, she finds a secretive people who live in peace, among great wealth. They claim to protect a mythic treasure, one connected to the creation of the world. When Aoife reports their existence to her kingdom, the community is targeted as a threat. Attempting to warn them of imminent danger, Aoife is exiled for treason and finds refuge among the very people who had been declared her enemy. With them, she begins a new life surrounded by kindness, equality, and cooperation. But within herself, Aoife has no peace. She cannot share the grief she feels for the home and children she left behind. She cannot bear the warrior scars of the man she comes to love. And when she gives birth to their gifted daughter, Aoife cannot avoid what the child forces her to confront about her past and its truth. On this most important of journeys, there is no map to guide her. In this tale, her autobiography; Aoife reveals her pain and joy, and ultimately her transformation.

Today’s Release Day Feature is The Mapmaker’s War: A Legend by Ronlyn Domingue a new historical-fiction/fantasy novel from the author of The Mercy of Thin Air. Below is an excerpt and a giveaway!
Thank you to Atria Books for providing this giveaway opportunity!
 
Prologue
By Ronlyn Domingue,
Author of The Mapmaker’s War: A Legend
This will be the map of your heart, old woman. You are forgetful of the everyday. | misplaced cup, missing clasp | Yet, you recall the long-ago with morning-after clarity. These stories you have told yourself before. Write them now. At last, tell the truth. Be sparse with nostalgia. Be wary of its tangents. Mark the moments of joy but understand that is not now your purpose. Return to the places where your heart was broken. Scars evidence harm done. Some wounds sealed with weak knits. They are open again. The time has come to close them.
Here, choose the point of entry. Any place, any time, right now and you have —
Your small finger in the hearth’s ashes. A line appears. You divide space.
Then there were twigs and broom bristles. Scratches and marks and lines until you had the control to create shape. Circle, triangle, square, said your older brother. Ciaran put the first nib under your thumb and first scrap of parchment beneath that. What you drew is missing in substance and memory. In its place, years apart, you transformed the circle into a tub. The triangle was a churn. The square became a table. You marked your spot with an X.
Aoife, said your brother, who taught you to draw a map?
The kitchen as it was when you were five. You could render space and suspend time.
You lived in a large cold house at the edge of a forest. The shady quiet lured, then hid, you. Wild child, said the nursemaid. Uncivilized, your mother declared when you returned home dirty with treasures. She tried and failed to tame you. Wait until I tell your father, said she. Next to his chair, you held your breath and your guard. He saw no harm in the fresh air and exercise. Good habit to start now because what man wants a fat wife? said your father. Indulgent, she called him. She stormed off on stout legs.
You had few ordinary interests as a girl. You didn’t dress your bronze hair, tend to dolls, or join petty quarrels. This perplexed your mother, who tried her best to create a being in her own image. You soon realized you had to give to take. When you were attentive to your morning girlhood duties, she fought less when you asked for afternoon freedom. You acquiesced to learn how to behave regardless of whether you intended to follow suit. The re¬ward was worth the concession.
With meticulous care, you planned your provisions, though not your expeditions. Adventure wasn’t in the hunger to come but in the quest of what to follow. You packed your pouch | nuts and fruit, soft bread and hard cheese | along with parchment and ink, cloth scraps and straight edges.
You mapped the hidden worlds when you were still young enough to see them.
Spiderwebs and honeycombs taught the wisdom of symmetry. To you, everything before your eyes was built upon invisible lines and angles. The very spot where you stood only a point among many. A girl is not always in her place, you thought. A girl can be many places at once. And so you were. When you settled upon a space in the forest or meadow, you made a grid on the earth with small steps and tiny flags until there were row upon row of even little squares. You took your seat within the grid. You moved from square to square, noting what stood still and what passed by. All day long you observed and measured, sketched and colored. That which was off the edges appeared on the parchment as well. There were mysterious realms of bees and ants and creatures never seen before, with tiny castles and bright gardens.
One day, as you traced the uncovered trails of termites, you heard a rustle in the brush. You remained still with hope that the ancient stag or a sturdy bear would meet your eye. What a lovely beast to draw in that place! Instead, you faced a boy with green eyes and chestnut curls. A boy you knew well. Prince Wyl called your name and held up a dead rabbit by its hind legs. You lifted your hand in a polite wave and turned back to your work.
Did you see what I caught? I shall skin it and give the fur to the tailor to make you a fine collar, said Wyl.
It will be cold if you do that, you said.
It’s dead. It has no need for fur now.
So literal,Wyl.You mistake my japes.
You meant no hardness toward him. As you looked to the ground again, you smiled. You knew his gesture was an act of affection. Such regard you had neither sought nor earned. His attentions you tried not to encourage or reject. That you two knew each other at all was a matter of circumstance. Your father served as the King’s most trusted adviser.
On that day, when you wished Wyl had been the stag or a bear, you realized he didn’t ask to see your map. He had on other occasions.You had no way to know that in years to come he would be privy to every chart you made, to the very last one.
See, you became a mapmaker.
Those hours you spent looking at the distance from one point to the next | star to star, rock to rock, blade to blade | were your study of geometry before you ever received formal instruction. You could be both abstract and precise, and sit for long periods. Ciaran gave you lessons in nuthematics and astronomy. He had also taught you to read. You enjoyed the challenge of learning. You also liked the attention from your brother, amiable and patient with you. Your mother encouraged the companionship between her children. However, she saw no purpose for the lessons.
You need to know what is practical for a woman, said she. All this effort leads to nothing.
Nothing indeed would have come of it had you not heard your father and brother in conversation.
The kingdom was in a quiet time. For generations before, there had been years of strife, battles to claim land and battles to control it. At last, there was much to manage and little known about the holdings. They discussed the King’s consideration to map the entirety of his realm. Mapmakers would need to be hired and some trained.
You almost cried out on impulse. This you wanted to do, although you didn’t know why. You banished the thought that you would be denied the training. You wanted to be good at something other than what was expected of you, for life.You threw yourself at chance.
We’ll see, said your father when you asked for a place at the apprentice’s table. Don’t raise your hopes, said Ciaran when you told him of your wish. Your brother, seven years your senior, had begun to serve the King in earnest, the heir to your father’s role as a trusted adviser.You had no such secure inheritance.You suspected your name would not receive mention.
Now. Tell the truth.
You turned Wyl’s affection to your advantage. The pull between you both served in your favor.You didn’t call it manipulation. Perhaps it was. An offhand comment was all it took. I would like to learn to draw real maps. With magical speed, there you were in the mapmaker’s chamber.
Heydar came from another kingdom with an accent, his instruments, and several bound volumes. His ears sprouted whiskers that reached up to his frantic hair and down to his bushy beard. He looked, and ate, like a lion. You passed the tests he gave you, then he tested your courage because he saw your wits. He didn’t care that you were a girl, but twelve. All he cared was whether you could learn the craft, whether you practiced enough. He demanded excellence.You would deliver.
You thought to thank the King for his favor. Wyl arranged a brief meeting. The King said he had been assured of your talents. He said he made exceptions for what pleased him, and it pleased him greatly to have such intelligence, enthusiasm, and tenacity at his service. He gave no mention as to who might have swayed him. Or why he allowed it.
When you sat with your studies at home, your mother bustled to and fro. She stitched and stitched and stitched. She hurried and harassed the servants. She sighed and moaned.You ignored her. She told your father he would have difficulty finding a mate for such a daughter as yourself.
She isn’t crippled or ugly, which is good enough, but no man wants a stupid wife, said he.
That was how you became apprenticed to the old man. Why you, with that silent desperation you hoped he could not detect? You sensed if you could do well there, if you were a good mapmaker, you would avoid the inevitable. You knew what happened to girls like you.
You confess that you weren’t as smart as others assumed. You were no prodigy at figures and measures. What you grasped you did so with diligence and repetition until it became second nature. There had to be precision in your practice. You took pleasure in it. There was room for error in the Land of the Bees and Outlying Environs but not in the case of territory and ownership.
For four years, you apprenticed with the old mapmaker. Heydar tutored you in the pertinent subjects related to the craft. He showed you how to use all of the instruments. He sent you afield with them | heliotrope high in the hot sun |, then allowed you to practice at his side at the table. He gave to you his insight into triangles. That he brought from his distant land of sand. He mapped with three sides as his center and trained you to do the same. This he claimed proudly as his innovation. You claimed his legacy.
Heydar supervised your work as you charted the castle and its immediate lands. He had done so himself, but this was your final test. He praised your effort. He declared you ready to go on your own. Before he left to return to his homeland, he gave you the waywiser given to him by his adept.
Many distances this wheel has measured with its walks. Remember me in a step once in a while. My time is done, and yours has begun, said he.
The old mapmaker gave his leave and the King his permission. You crossed paths with your brother on his travels from holding to holding. With his group of envoys, Ciaran created lists and tallies. He was to collect numbers of people, animals, and goods. He was also to discern what grievances needed attention, what loyalties called for boons, and what troubles might be in brew beyond the borders.
You were instructed to chart all that could be seen, and that was much. The kingdom was wide and broad. There were mountains and rivers, hills and streams, forests and valleys. Within this were the hamlets and towns, mills and smithies, pastures and arables, roads and paths. Ciaran and you were to note the fortifications. Ciaran, the condition. You, the location.
Many times, Ciaran’s work would be done before you finished with yours. He would return to your childhood home, and you would stay behind to tend to the maps, but not only the maps. You explored the nearby regions by yourself. There were birds and plants and on occasion creatures you had never seen. You liked to speak with the people and learn about their customs. They fed you unusual foods and told familiar stories with subtle twists. Sometimes you sketched simple treasure maps for the children and hid coins for them to find.
To you, knowledge of the people was meant to be mapped as well. For whimsy, you would include reminders on your work for the King. They meant something to you and only you. This was how you entered your childhood again. A hut’s roof edged with ribbons for no apparent reason. A place where you ate too much of a succulent pie. A fallow field speckled with blue gentian.
It seemed, though, that just when you had found a comfortable rhythm in your temporary quarters, Prince Wyl appeared with matters to tend on behalf of his father. His presence caused a stir, with people running about to catch a peek at him and share words. He was, in fact, good with the subjects, when he saw them. He exchanged pleasantries. Sometimes he asked questions and listened until the people had had their say. When requested, he touched the crowns of children’s heads with gentleness. But, more often than not, Wyl was within your sight. He rode his horse around the place where you were at work. He sat at the hand of the host who gave shelter and food to the King’s representatives. He seemed to talk longer with others when you were nearby, in conversation with the son of a prominent nobleman. Or a lowly shepherd. Or a man on your crew.
He has the stealth of a squirrel and the modesty of a peacock, you thought.
One summer morning, you leaned over the plane table, your eye in a squint, and stood quickly when the object in your sight went black. There was Wyl with a raspberry between his fingertips and a small metal bowl filled with more.
Thank you, but I’ll wait to eat them. Stained fingers, stained map, you said.
You’re tame enough to feed by hand, said he.
You stood bold before his charming smile and the pride he’d mustered. Such a thing he’d never said to you. Wyl looked at the map in progress and noticed the triangles that branched across the parchment.
Where are we? asked he.
You pointed to an open space yet to be drawn.
This land is flat with little to see. Your work must be difficult.
I have my ways.
What would help you?
Elevation, perhaps. I’ve had dreams of a tower.
Then you’ll have this tower, said Wyl.
So it was. You gave him drawings of the tower in your dreams. Wyl found the woodcutters and smiths to make its pieces. He found stouthearted men to test its design, which did not fail, and hired them to tend to its care.
Innocent Wyl. He could not hide his adoration. You resisted your tender feelings. Was it love? Perhaps. When you were children, you attempted to keep the boundary fixed. Much your mother’s doing. Bow to him, Aoife, he is the prince. Be friendly, not familiar. Be gracious. Be obedient. Be careful. | yes, be that with his dark brother Raef as well |
You liked Wyl. His disposition was sanguine. He seemed more interested in pleasure than power. Grudges didn’t suit him. When you were young, when a girl wasn’t permitted to say aloud she found a boy comely, you thought he was just that. As you grew older, you found him handsome. An exceptional example. He, for whatever reason, found you pretty. No boy orbits a girl as he did unless an attraction, a physical attraction, exists.
When you first saw the tower, you toed the great beams at its base. You tugged the ropes that tethered the tower to the ground for safety. You tapped the metal bolts that locked the heartwood beams into place. Then, the best part of all, you didn’t have to climb the sides like a ladder but could walk the staircase you had envisioned. A spiralled up to the top.
You took your maiden ascent alone, with a crowd below, Ciaran and your crew, Wyl and his brother Raef. It was summer again. All was green and gold. All was alive. You had stood higher before, in the hill country, but this was different. When you leaned over the side, that caused much shouting on the ground. You saw straight down, your shadow a small dark splotch in the grass. So this is what the swallow sees on the wing, you thought. And as if by invitation, a blue swallow appeared above your head. It hovered before your eyes, plunged toward the earth, and darted away with a green head and long legs crushed between its beak. You called Wyl to join you.
The tower is wondrous. I could kiss you, you said.
Yes, you could, said he.
So literal, Wyl.
Then I’ll wait until you mean what you say.
You felt a sting. For the first time, a joke on him barbed you back.You watched him stare afar and wondered why he went to such lengths to please you. Perhaps there is more to this boy I once knew, you thought.You linked your arm with his and leaned into him, both swaying groundless.
_____________________________________________
The above is an excerpt from the book The Mapmaker’s War: A Legend by Ronlyn Domingue. The above excerpt is a digitally scanned reproduction of text from print. Although this excerpt has been proofread, occasional errors may appear due to the scanning process. Please refer to the finished book for accuracy.
Copyright © 2013 Ronlyn Domingue, author of The Mapmaker’s War: A Legend
Giveaway Details
1 copy of The Mapmaker’s War: A Legend open to U.S. and Canada addresses only!
Giveaway ends March 19th, 2013
To enter use the Rafflecopter form below. Remember to come back for more entry opportunities daily!!
Divider

Orleans Giveaway Winner!

March 1, 2013 Bonnie Giveaways 0 Comments


Just a quick post to congratulate my recent giveaway winner…

by Sherri L. Smith

Winner – Bekka @ Pretty Deadly Reviews
I really enjoyed this dystopian I hope you do too!

To all other who entered, I want to thank you all for visiting and I wish you the best of luck in future giveaways! 
Divider

Guest Post + Giveaway! The Nightmare Affair by Mindee Arnett

February 27, 2013 Bonnie Book Reviews, Giveaways, Guest Post, YA 0 Comments

Guest Post + Giveaway! The Nightmare Affair by Mindee ArnettThe Nightmare Affair by Mindee Arnett
Series: The Arkwell Academy #1
on March 5th 2013
Pages: 367
Genres: Fantasy, Mythology
Format: Hardcover
Amazon | Book Depository
Goodreads

Also by this author: The Nightmare Affair

Sixteen-year-old Dusty Everhart breaks into houses late at night, but not because she’s a criminal. No, she’s a Nightmare.

Literally.

Being the only Nightmare at Arkwell Academy, a boarding school for magickind, and living in the shadow of her mother’s infamy, is hard enough. But when Dusty sneaks into Eli Booker’s house, things get a whole lot more complicated. He’s hot, which means sitting on his chest and invading his dreams couldn’t get much more embarrassing. But it does. Eli is dreaming of a murder.

Then Eli’s dream comes true.

Now Dusty has to follow the clues—both within Eli’s dreams and out of them—to stop the killer before more people turn up dead. And before the killer learns what she’s up to and marks her as the next target.

Today is my stop on ‘The Nightmare Affair’ blog tour hosted by Shane @ Itching for Books! I’m featuring a guest post from Mindee where she talks about how she came up with such an original premise and last but not least there’s a giveaway (and it’s signed!!)

 ‘Genesis of The Nightmare Affair ‘

Hey there! I’m so happy to be guest blogging here today at Sweet Tidbits about the genesis of The Nightmare Affair.

I suppose in reality, the very first spark for the idea came from an anthology of short stories called, Horse Fantastic. Published around the time I was in the sixth or seventh grade, I picked it up because (1) it was about horses (Best. Thing. Ever. in other words) and (2) it contained short stories by both Jennifer Roberson and Mercedes Lackey, two of my favorite fantasy authors.

Jennifer Roberson’s story is called “Riding the Nightmare,” and it’s a weird, scary little story about a rodeo cowboy and a black bronc called—you guessed it—Nightmare. Of course, the bronc is no ordinary horse, but a front (or channel or tool, the story doesn’t make it clear) for the nightmare of myth and legend, a succubus who makes a very brief appearance.

Although artfully written, I didn’t care much for the story. The rodeo holds little romance for me. I’m way more interested in riding horses and building relationships with them than that macho-stupid cowboy crap. Still, the nightmare of that story left a lasting mark on my subconscious.

A decade or so later, sometime around 2009, as I sat down at my desk to brainstorm short story ideas, I found myself thinking about Roberson’s story once more. At the time I was searching for a new monster to play the part of villain. I had just attempted a story about a Wendigo that wasn’t as successful as I’d hoped. I needed a replacement. So why not a Nightmare like the kind in that short story I’d read as a kid?

I immediately jumped on Wikipedia, and soon stumbled across John Henry Fuseli’s painting The Nightmare.

Naturally, my interest in the painting first centered on the horse, “the mare,” which you don’t even notice right away. But gradually my creative brain began to focus on the demon in the picture, the true “nightmare.” I’m not sure how it happened, but I started wondering what it would be like if the demon were a girl instead, someone more or less human, more or less ordinary, but cursed to spend her nights sitting on people’s chests. I imagined it would be pretty sucky, but also pretty funny, too.

And just like that my search for a monster to play a villain in a short horror story became the protagonist of a novel.

Not long after, I sat down and wrote the opening scene where a twenty-something college student named Dusty—yes, this was her name from day one—breaks into a house to “dreamfeed” on a stranger who turns out to be a hot guy, and who wakes up while she’s in the process of sitting on his naked chest. Shenanigans and chaos ensued.

But when I got to the end of that opening scene, the story abruptly died from “I have no idea what happens next” disease, and I set it aside and wrote a completely different novel, one that would now be regarded as New Adult. Fast forward about a year, once I’d finished the New Adult novel and unsuccessfully queried it, I returned to my little idea about Nightmares.

I approached it this time with a weird mixture of fear and determination. I was a little heartbroken over my lack of success with the New Adult, which, while a decent enough story, didn’t really have a place in the market. I’d come to understand that stories with college-aged protagonists that weren’t quite “adult” were a hard sell. And this is when something fundamental changed for my story and for me as a writer. I asked myself, what if Dusty were a teenager?

It was as if someone had turned on the most powerful light switch in the world, one that completely opened my eyes to something new. Although I liked young adult and children’s stories, I had never considered writing one myself. But once I got turned onto the possibility, all of these ideas began to fill my head—about Dusty and her friends, and her school for other magical creatures like herself, and for Eli, the elusive boy we meet in that opening scene.

To give you an idea of what I mean, here is a sample from one of my early brainstorming sessions, complete with doodling (fifty points if any of you can actually read this mess—even I can’t read all of it):

 

After many longs days, and a lot of hard work, and hard thinking, this mess of ideas became The Nightmare Affair. A couple of months later, it caught the eye of my rock star agent, and sold to Tor Teen in a little over two weeks.

I’m not entirely sure what the moral to this story is or if there even is one. But thank goodness I read “Riding the Nightmare” all those years before. And thank goodness all those agents rejected that New Adult. Otherwise, I might not ever have arrived at this moment, with a book about to make its way into the world, and right where I always wanted to be.

Happy Writing!

Two signed copies will be available for giveaway and it’s open to International readers!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I’d like to thank Mindee for taking the time to guest post for me, I love the concept for this story and loved even more reading about the entire process! So what do you guys think?

Divider

Giveaway Winners!!

February 8, 2013 Bonnie Giveaways 0 Comments

I have had several giveaways end in the past couple of weeks and I wanted to do a quick spotlight on those winners to congratulate them!

Signed ARC of The Testing
by Joelle Charbonneau

Winner – Alyssa S.

by Megan Shepherd
Winner – Kirsten W.

ARC of Everbound (Everneath #2)
by Brodi Ashton

Winner – Karen Maldonado

To all other who entered, I want to thank you all for visiting and I wish you the best of luck in future giveaways!
Current Giveaways still Open:
Current Giveaways!!

 

Divider

Early Review + Giveaway! Orleans by Sherri L. Smith

January 31, 2013 Bonnie Book Reviews, Early Review, Giveaways, Read in 2013, YA 3 Comments

I received this book free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Early Review + Giveaway! Orleans by Sherri L. SmithOrleans by Sherri L. Smith
Published by Putnam Juvenile on March 7th 2013
Pages: 336
Genres: Dystopian/Post-Apocalyptic
Format: ARC
Source: the Publisher
Amazon
Goodreads

Also by this author: Pasadena

four-stars

First came the storms.
Then came the Fever.
And the Wall.

After a string of devastating hurricanes and a severe outbreak of Delta Fever, the Gulf Coast has been quarantined. Years later, residents of the Outer States are under the assumption that life in the Delta is all but extinct… but in reality, a new primitive society has been born.

Fen de la Guerre is living with the O-Positive blood tribe in the Delta when they are ambushed. Left with her tribe leader’s newborn, Fen is determined to get the baby to a better life over the wall before her blood becomes tainted. Fen meets Daniel, a scientist from the Outer States who has snuck into the Delta illegally. Brought together by chance, kept together by danger, Fen and Daniel navigate the wasteland of Orleans. In the end, they are each other’s last hope for survival.

Sherri L. Smith delivers an expertly crafted story about a fierce heroine whose powerful voice and firm determination will stay with you long after you’ve turned the last page.

‘The shape of our great nation has been altered irrevocably by Nature, and now Man must follow suit in order to protect the inalienable rights of the majority, those being the right to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness, the foremost of those being Life.’

After Hurricane Katrina ripped through the South, six more Hurricanes followed, each more powerful than the last. Hurricane Jesus hit in 2019 and left the South changed irrevocably. Not only did it come bearing death and devastation but a new sickness as well: Delta Fever. Everyone in the affected areas became infected and The Blood Rules were formed.

Types AB, B, and A
Need to stay away
From O and from each other,
Plus from minus, sister from brother.
O positive can feed
All positives in need, But O neg is the one
For all tribes beneath the sun.

A new form of racism grew from the sickness as skin color no longer mattered, it became all about what blood type you were. AB’s required constant blood transfusions in order to keep the fever at bay, O positives were constantly being hunted and thrown into the blood farms, and it became survival of the fittest for all.

‘My name is Fen de la Guerre… I am an O-Positive. I’ma find a tribe, or let the swamp take me. But one thing for sure, I ain’t never gonna cry again.’

Orleans is told from the point of view of Fen de la Guerre, a fifteen year old girl that has had to adapt to survive in this treacherous world that is the only one she’s ever known. When her tribe’s chieftain dies in childbirth, Fen vows to honor her dying wish: to give the baby a better life. Fen struggles to keep the baby healthy and Fever free so that she can give her a better life, over the Wall. She encounters a scientist that risked exposure to study the Fever in hopes of discovering a cure who ends up being a huge asset to her and the baby.

The medical detailing throughout the book felt well-researched and certainly explained a lot but there was still a lot left unsaid. I attribute this to the fact that neither of the two narrators, Fen and Daniel, had all the answers and they were trying to understand it all too. For that reason I think details were left intentionally vague, because even by the end you still didn’t have all the answers.

This was an intense, realistic story of survival in the bleakest of worlds. Fen was an amazing narrator full of strength and perseverance. Her story of survival in her earlier years is told in bits and pieces and it’s certainly heartbreaking the things she experienced. The bit I loved most was that there was not a single drop of romance anywhere within these pages! Quite rare, indeed. The bit that I didn’t like as much was the dialect Fen uses which she refers to as ‘talking tribe’ was extremely hard to get used to. Reminiscent of the dialect used in ‘Blood Red Road’ this one definitely takes some patience, but there ends up being a reason behind this that you find out later.

Orleans is a very mature and gritty read that I think would be better read by an older YA reader even though it’s tagged as okay for 12+ readers. There were some very brutal aspects of the story that I felt would be inappropriate for a reader that young (i.e. rape and other forms of violence). This is one of those instances where I feel the book is tagged as YA but for no other reason but because the main character is a teen.

The ending didn’t leave off with a cliffhanger (as I don’t believe this is an intended first in a series) but it’s definitely an ending that left you with questions as to what comes next. Orleans is an extremely captivating and entrancing read that fans of the dystopian genre will likely enjoy.

Giveaway Details

This is for my personal (ARC) copy of Orleans and since I am covering the shipping charges this is open to U.S. addresses only. Sorry international followers!

Giveaway ends February 28th, 2013

To enter use the Rafflecopter form below. Remember to come back for more entry opportunities daily!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Divider

Giveaway! Jodi Meadows Prize Pack (Incarnate and Asunder!)

January 22, 2013 Bonnie Giveaways 28 Comments

Incarnate (Newsoul #1)
by Jodi Meadows
Published January 31st 2012 by Katherine Tegen Books

New soul
Ana is new. For thousands of years in Range, a million souls have been reincarnated over and over, keeping their memories and experiences from previous lifetimes. When Ana was born, another soul vanished, and no one knows why.

No soul
Even Ana’s own mother thinks she’s a nosoul, an omen of worse things to come, and has kept her away from society. To escape her seclusion and learn whether she’ll be reincarnated, Ana travels to the city of Heart, but its citizens are afraid of what her presence means. When dragons and sylph attack the city, is Ana to blame?

Heart
Sam believes Ana’s new soul is good and worthwhile. When he stands up for her, their relationship blooms. But can he love someone who may live only once, and will Ana’s enemies—human and creature alike—let them be together? Ana needs to uncover the mistake that gave her someone else’s life, but will her quest threaten the peace of Heart and destroy the promise of reincarnation for all?

Jodi Meadows expertly weaves soul-deep romance, fantasy, and danger into an extraordinary tale of new life.

Asunder (Newsoul #2)
by Jodi Meadows
Expected publication: January 29th 2013 by Katherine Tegen Books

DARKSOULS
Ana has always been the only one. Asunder. Apart. But after Templedark, when many residents of Heart were lost forever, some hold Ana responsible for the darksouls–and the newsouls who may be born in their place.
SHADOWS
Many are afraid of Ana’s presence, a constant reminder of unstoppable changes and the unknown. When sylph begin behaving differently toward her and people turn violent, Ana must learn to stand up not only for herself but for those who cannot stand up for themselves.
LOVE
Ana was told that nosouls can’t love. But newsouls? More than anything, she wants to live and love as an equal among the citizens of Heart, but even when Sam professes his deepest feelings, it seems impossible to overcome a lifetime of rejection.
In this second book in the Incarnate trilogy, Ana discovers the truth about reincarnation and will have to find a way to embrace love and make her young life meaningful. Once again, Jodi Meadows explores the extraordinary beauty and shadowed depths of the soul in a story equal parts epic romance and captivating fantasy.
Giveaway Details
This is for my personal hardcover copy of Incarnate and my personal ARC copy of Asunder and since I am covering the shipping charges this is open to U.S. addresses only. 
Sorry international followers!
Giveaway ends February 12th, 2013
To enter use the Rafflecopter form below. Remember to come back for more entry opportunities daily!!
Divider

Early Review + Giveaway! Everbound (Everneath #2) by Brodi Ashton

January 15, 2013 Bonnie Early Review, Giveaways, Read in 2013, YA 0 Comments

I received this book free from a Giveaway, the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Early Review + Giveaway! Everbound (Everneath #2) by Brodi AshtonEverbound by Brodi Ashton
Series: Everneath #2
Published by Balzer + Bray on January 22nd 2013
Pages: 358
Genres: Fantasy, Greek Mythology, Romance
Format: ARC
Source: a Giveaway, the Publisher
Amazon
Goodreads

Also by this author: Everneath

three-stars

Nikki Beckett could only watch as her boyfriend, Jack, sacrificed himself to save her, taking her place in the Tunnels of the Everneath for eternity — a debt that should’ve been hers. She’s living a borrowed life, and she doesn’t know what to do with the guilt. And every night Jack appears in her dreams, lost and confused and wasting away.

Desperate for answers, Nikki turns to Cole, the immortal bad boy who wants to make her his queen — and the one person least likely to help. But his heart has been touched by everything about Nikki, and he agrees to assist her in the only way he can: by taking her to the Everneath himself.

Nikki and Cole descend into the Everneath, only to discover that their journey will be more difficult than they’d anticipated — and more deadly. But Nikki vows to stop at nothing to save Jack — even if it means making an incredible sacrifice of her own.

In this enthralling sequel to Everneath, Brodi Ashton tests the bonds of destiny and explores the lengths we’ll go to for the ones we love.

Everneath series

Everneath (Everneath, #1)Neverfall (Everneath, #1.5)

Everneath (Everneath #1)
Neverfall (Everneath #1.5)

**Spoilers to follow for those of you who have not yet read Everneath!**

Everbound was quite the adventure! I wasn’t the hugest fan of the first installment was this one was fun, entertaining, and even a bit exciting. Everbound picks up where the last left off with Nikki desperately trying to come up with a plan to rescue Jack. Once she realizes that she requires Cole’s help for this to ever be possible, she also realizes she has to put more trust in him than she ever has before. He’s never given her a reason to trust him but she’s not left with much choice if she ever wants to see Jack again.

Over 100 of the first pages is wasted on Nikki and her planning on how to save Jack. I understand the need for developing but I can’t help but feel some of it could have been cut out because once the action really started, it was quite the interesting story. Everbound took bits from several mythological stories: Persephone and Hades (Greek), Orpheus and Eurydice (Greek), Inanna and her descent into the underworld (Sumerian), Daedalus’ labyrinth (Greek), and Dante’s Inferno (Italian). The entire plot of the story was heavily based on these myths and it was interesting to see how these myths were altered to suit the story.

Everbound put major focus on the development of Cole and Nikki’s relationship which continued building that love triangle that I knew was inevitably coming. Considering I was a bigger fan of Cole than Jack, this wasn’t too big of a gripe for me. It’s a sure bet readers will end up liking Cole a lot more as the story progresses, as he shows a noble and honest side to him that wasn’t evident previously.

This was an extremely close to a 4 star read for me… until the end. The ending really ruined any fun I had over the course of the previous 350+ pages and made me confused and irritable and other related adjectives. I know I will now have to read the final installment in the trilogy and hope that all the time I spent on this series ends up being worth it. As it stands right now though I’m not impressed and I’m crossing my fingers for a big finish at the very least.

Divider

Early Review – The Madman’s Daughter by Megan Shepherd

January 11, 2013 Bonnie Book Reviews, Early Review, Giveaways, Read in 2013, YA 27 Comments

I received this book free from a Giveaway, the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Early Review – The Madman’s Daughter by Megan ShepherdThe Madman's Daughter by Megan Shepherd
Series: The Madman's Daughter #1
Published by Balzer + Bray on January 29th 2013
Pages: 432
Genres: Fairy-Tales/Retellings, Gothic, Horror
Format: ARC
Source: a Giveaway, the Publisher
Amazon
Goodreads


two-half-stars

In the darkest places, even love is deadly.

Sixteen-year-old Juliet Moreau has built a life for herself in London—working as a maid, attending church on Sundays, and trying not to think about the scandal that ruined her life. After all, no one ever proved the rumors about her father's gruesome experiments. But when she learns he is alive and continuing his work on a remote tropical island, she is determined to find out if the accusations are true.

Accompanied by her father's handsome young assistant, Montgomery, and an enigmatic castaway, Edward—both of whom she is deeply drawn to—Juliet travels to the island, only to discover the depths of her father's madness: He has experimented on animals so that they resemble, speak, and behave as humans. And worse, one of the creatures has turned violent and is killing the island's inhabitants. Torn between horror and scientific curiosity, Juliet knows she must end her father's dangerous experiments and escape her jungle prison before it's too late. Yet as the island falls into chaos, she discovers the extent of her father's genius—and madness—in her own blood.

Inspired by H. G. Wells's classic The Island of Dr. Moreau, The Madman's Daughter is a dark and breathless Gothic thriller about the secrets we'll do anything to know and the truths we'll go to any lengths to protect.

‘Dead flesh and sharpened scalpels didn’t bother me. I was my father’s daughter, after all. My nightmares were made of darker things.’

I feel the need to start off by saying I didn’t dislike this book but obviously considering my rating I have some explaining to do. There was creepiness, there was a decent story line, but the pacing was so incredibly slow that it had an adverse effect on my overall opinion on this gothic retelling.

Let me tell you guys, the beginning of this story had so much creepy going on it was amazing. I remember starting this book, finishing the first couple of chapters, stopping for a second and saying to myself, “This is going to be so awesome.” Juliet seemed to be a very promising main character and I couldn’t wait to hear her story. But the gothic thriller aspect seemed to be put on the back burner and definitely became less of a focus. What did it end up focusing on? Romance, of course.

There was so much emphasis put on the romance and her being torn between two men, her swooning and constant need to fan herself that I would go so far as to consider this ‘historical-romance-lite’. If not for the creepy and exceptionally gruesome bits in this story I don’t believe I would have finished this. As it was though, the romance didn’t feel fitting in this type of story, like an irregular puzzle piece.

I had been forewarned that the middle dawdled but that the ending was a big shocker so that gave me hope. The pacing was definitely off for the vast majority of the middle portion and didn’t actually start picking up until almost the very end of the book. The big reveal happened and it was definitely the most interesting aspect of the entire story but it happened a little too late for me. There wasn’t a slow build-up to the grand finale which would have made this immensely better. Instead we received a storyline that plodded along, lacking in intensity, never quite gaining enough steam, and then we’re hit with the big ending. The middle section certainly required something more for me to still be invested enough in the story to be excited for when the big conclusion finally did happen.

Oh, and there’s a cliffhanger. Naturally. I think my response to that final page was something along the lines of, “Dude. For real?” Considering I was more than a bit bored through the majority of this story I was at least hoping we’d get some answers. I had still considered giving #2 a shot since sometimes it takes the first book to build the story (in a series) and book 2 is where we can finally get to the meat of the story. But my understanding was that this was a retelling of the Island of Dr. Moreau, however, the summary for book 2 states it was written: with inspiration from Robert Louis Stevenson’s ‘THE STRANGE CASE OF DR JEKYLL AND MR HYDE’ and I’m not sure I feel about the mixing of multiple retellings.

Divider