Friday, June 22, 2018

Surface Tension by Mike Mullin, Review and Book Giveaway!

I've got an intense new release for everyone today. It is the YA thriller, Surface Tension by Mike Mullin. This is one I couldn't put down. To enter the giveaway fill out the rafflecopter form below. If you don't see it click 'read more'.

The Story-
Jake loves to race bikes. One day while training he witnesses a terrorist attack, and ends up in the hospital with no memory of the event. He thinks he was just in an accident until a young lady, claiming to be his girlfriend, shows up and tries to snuff him.

What the heck? Is his brain injury causing him to have delusions? That's what Jake's mom thinks. As his memories slowly return, the attempts on his life step up and soon he is running for his life, but without a full memory of why.  His real girlfriend, Laurissa, is the only one who believes that someone is out to get him. When he is taken into custody by the FBI, Jake finds himself in deeper trouble when an agent threatens to kill Laurissa unless Jake gives up evidence about the terrorist attack. With nobody to trust, Jake and Laurissa must unravel the terrorist plot while trying to stay alive.

My Thoughts-
This was an intense read full of tension building moments and jaw dropping scenes. The threats to Jake and Laurissa are enough to keep the plot building and building, but then the unreal attitude that people seem to have, that Jake is making things up, just gets so annoying that I wanted to scream at the characters to believe him. Talk about ratcheting up the reader's emotions! Wow!

Then we have Betsy, the fake girlfriend that tried to kill Jake in the hospital. The book is told through her alternating POV. She seems totally kick butt, trained to kill and smart enough to plot things, mislead of course, but as she tries to kill Jake, she actually begins to come to an understanding of what she is involved in. She explains things from the terrorist's side, describing an American organization that wants America to start a war with Muslims. At first I found this annoying, why is it always an American that is the bad guy killing Americans to start a war? Why not just actually have radical extreme Muslim terrorists be the terrorists? But then, as I got into the story, especially the final chapter, I realized that it had to be internal so that the story could continue on as a series. And let me tell you, that final Betsy chapter was a heck of a surprise!

Now, the author points out lots of conservative views, mixes them with prejudice, and then sets the stage for violence. Many of the views are common and probably held by many Americans, but the kicker is that the author throws in the "Pure" attitude, and that's where this group heads south. They want a pure America, thinking people are sheeple that need an awakening.  Anytime "pure" comes up I think, "Run Away! Danger! Bad things a comin'." That is true with this homegrown terrorist group, and they have people in every walk of life, which is why Jake has a hard time hiding.

I couldn't put this book down. And the romance between Jake and Laurissa is awesome. You just get a good feeling for  how much they care about each other.I'm giving it 5 stars!

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

#Pubtip 6/20

Welcome to Inside the Publishing World Wednesday! I've found that when I haven't been able to attend conferences I don't have as much to put out on Wednesdays, but I've decided to continue with the Agent and Editor Manuscript Wishlists or #MSWL, but also add #Pubtips and #Querytips to the mix. Hopefully this will give me more fodder to find and help out aspiring authors too. Today I'm going to focus on Twitter Publication Tips #Pubtips.

 Kate Marope
 Jun 12
Short #pubtip you guys: if you are querying a book that has series potential (esp. if you have already planned/plotted the next few books in the series), please include a series outline just so the editor you submitted to can get a sense of where the series is going! #amwriting

Emily Rodmell
 Jun 14

Synopsis tips:
*Save editors' eyes. Double space.
*5-7 pages is ideal length. Avoid more than 10.
*Keep back story to a minimum & focus on what actually happens in the book.
*Make sure to give the entire story. Don't hold back on spoilers. We need to see all twists.

Mackenzie Walton
 Jun 10
Just a reminder that world-building is something you should pay attention to in all fiction, including contemporary. Everyone experiences life differently—give me an idea of characters' home, culture, inner world, etc. #pubtip #submissions

Penny Moore
 Jun 8
When an agent considers a manuscript, not only are they looking for a great story, but they’re also looking for great POTENTIAL in the writer. If an agent can’t get beyond line edits and see the bigger picture, then they probably aren’t the right fit for you. #pubtip

Kate McKean
 Jun 6
Five bucks says your first sentence has too many adjectives. You don't have to cram them all in there right away. #pubtip #writingtip

Mackenzie Walton
 May 29
When including a synopsis, don't end it on a cliffhanger, a will they/won't they question, etc. Editors and agents are looking for a straightforward summary of the book, including the ending. #pubtip

Lisa Rodgers 
 May 24
#pubtip General reminder: if you receive an offer of representation and other agents have partial pages or the full manuscript, please let them know about the offer. It's polite and helps agents prioritize reading time, and it may net you another offer. Options are good. :)

Monday, June 18, 2018

The Un-Friendship Bracelet (Craftily Ever After Book 1) by Martha Maker, Xindi Yan (Illustrator)

Welcome to Middle-Grade Monday! Today I am reviewing The Un-Friendship Bracelet by Martha Maker. This book was recommend to me by my 9 year-old son, so it already comes with high kudos.

The Story-
Emily and Maddie are best friends. They do everything together, even crafting. They each wear a friendship bracelet the other friend made as a sign of their true friendship, or Mad-ily, as they call it. One school day a new student arrives and is assigned to Maddie as a buddy. At first, Emily is okay with things, but as Maddie and Bella grow closer, Emily feels left out. Then, during soccer, Emily loses her friendship bracelet, and she thinks it is a sign of their new un-friendship.

Back at school, Emily begins spending time with Sam, a boy who loves to paint and draw. He tells her to tell Maddie how she feels about being left out. And she would too, but that day, Maddie stays home sick, and Emily ends up spending time with Bella. Turns out she's pretty neat. She has an old work shed behind her new house that she hopes her parents will let her turn into a clubhouse. Together, Emily, Maddie, Bella and Sam end up converting the shed into a craft club where they all have a space to do the special things they love.

My Thoughts-
Great, basic story about friendship at a middle grade level. There are no big surprises to the plot, but it is a good story that kids will enjoy. Both Emily and Maddie love crafts, and at the end of the book there are instructions, easy to follow, that kids can do to make their own friendship bracelets.

I particularly liked that Sam is a character. It is not only girls who love to craft, and by including Sam into the mix, the book is opened up to be a good read for both boys and girls. One critique about the story though, about halfway through the story the author switches for one chapter only, from Emily's POV to Bella's POV. In my opinion, that is a mistake that shouldn't be made.

Overall, a cute and readable story about friendship and personalities. I'm giving it 3.5 stars, Though my 9 year old gives it 5, lol.

Friday, June 15, 2018

The Time Zero Series by Carolyn Cohagan

Welcome to YA Friday! Today I am spotlighting the first two books in the Time Zero Trilogy by Carolyn Cohagan. So first, book one-

Time Zero.

The Story-
Mina Clark lives in a future Manhattan that is surrounded by a large wall to kept the Apostates out and the believers safe. Life is control by energy and water, the more you have, the wealthier you are. Women are counted as property, forced to observe severe religious rules like wearing capes, veils, and arranged marriages. They aren't allowed to read or write. They are observed by Twitchers, policemen that will beat or zap them for any infraction.

One day Mina is rescued from a male riot by Juda, a young man who works for one of the wealthiest families in town. They form an immediate, illegal bond. At Mina's marriage negotiation, they meet again, when Damen, Juda's employer's son, decides he wants to marry Mina. Of course, it is only after her mother catches Mina's cloak on fire, severely burning her, but allowing all the men to see her hair and face.

Contracted to marry Damen, but with feelings for Juda, Mina faces a crisis of all she believes. Can she follow the will of the prophet? Add to that the secret fact that Mina's grandmother has been teaching her to read, and the seeds of rebellion are set.

My Thoughts-
A good dystopian view of a severe future where women are suppressed. Actually, it seemed like A Handmaid's Tale at the YA level to me, but with Islamic values instead of Gilead values. Still, it was a good read. I enjoyed following Mina's path to rebellion and her budding love for Juda. What honestly kept me reading was the hint that Mina might somehow escape from behind the wall (yes, a little like Divergent).

I felt like the author took the worst things about many religions and grouped them all together, which makes for a horrifying look, but also negates all the good things of religion. That said, horrifying does keep a reader turning the pages. The book is well written, with interesting characters and a plot that keeps you reading. I'm giving it 4 stars!

Time Next- Book 2

Let's take a look at book 2, Time Next. Don't read if you don't want spoilers before book one. So, Mina, Juda, and her group escape from the Wall, and now find themselves it what seems like the modern world. Track houses, electricity, food, malls, and freedom. But, once again, this group is ruled by their own prophet/leader. We see another form of religious oppression, but this one feels like freedom to Mina, but with the cost of being separated from all her friends.

To stay in this new location, Mina is asked to believe that her old world was full of lies. She finds this hard to do since she believed in her original prophet. I felt this an odd thing because she just left a place full of anger, hatred and repression, but somehow she is shocked when told that it wasn't true. Anyway, now she is a puppet of this new leader, one who thinks Mina and her group, the Manhattan Five, are the answer to prophecy. Get ready for a whole new ride. I love that the author now takes a detour and new view at the same old problem. 4 stars!

Monday, June 11, 2018

MMGM- Book Review- Aru Shah and the End of Time (Pandava Quartet #1) by Roshani Chokshi

Hi everyone, welcome to Middle Grade Monday! Today I am reviewing Aru Shah and the End of Time (Pandava Quartet #1) by Roshani Chokshi, a Rick Riordan Presents book. Don't forget to check out MMGM Central at .

The Story-
Twelve year-old Aru Shah lives with her mother in The Museum of Ancient Indian Art and Culture. She is really good at making up stories, so when her schoolmates take off on jet setting vacations while she'll be stuck at home, she tells everyone she's going to Paris.

Everything would have been fine, if she hadn't got caught in her lie. To prove she is cool, she tells her classmates that she will light a forbidden lantern within the museum. Curses are just mumbo jumbo, right?

Not in this case. With the lighting of the lamp a long hidden evil is released and the world around Aru freezes while The Sleeper begins to rampage the world. She is told by a mysterious bird that she is actually a descendant of the Pandava Brothers, ancient heroes, and that her and another descendant must save the world. Easy Peasy, right? Nope, to begin with she must find the reincarnations of the five legendary Pandava brothers and journey through the Kingdom of Death, and then the real battle begins.

My Thoughts-
Great Book! I loved reading about Hindu traditions and culture. Aru Shah is a fierce character with a major flaw, she lies. The other descendant she is chosen to work with, a girl named Mini, is also flawed. She not only has anxiety and is a hypochondriac, but it was her older brother that is the hero of her family and was supposed to go on the adventure. These two, flawed and funny girls take on the world. Loved it!

I have to give the author kudos for creating a character that I felt angry with, Aru's mother. This women seems to ignore Aru, not even giving her the time of day. The reason Aru lies about Paris is because her mother actually says she'll take her, but then, as has happened many times before, she cancels. I felt so sorry for Aru, alone in a big museum, with no real friends and a mother who seems to be off on big missions, but is failing at her most important mission, being a mother. Huge empathy points for Aru!

As with all good quest stories, this one includes having to find mysterious objects under a deadline. Our heroines not only unravel riddles and conquer friendship issues, but they battle The Sleeper, some Hindu minor deities and discover their true potentials. This story is a real good time, with fun characters, great history and colorful scenes. I'm giving it 5 stars! I can't wait to see where this series goes.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

And the winners are...

I've been gone for a bit. Not out of the Country, just out of time, lol. We got a new puppy 5 weeks ago, and holy moly, I had no idea how much time it would take up. It is like having a new baby, but you have to go to puppy training and take them out to potty every 20 minutes. Needless to say, I've let my reading suffer a bit. However, hopefully now that Summer is coming, and kids will be home to help with the puppy, things will get easier. The puppy is named Percy, and he always wants to be by my side.

So, I have some catch-up to play. Two contests that have gone too long without winners.

The winner of This Heart of Mine by CC Hunter is Calvin Fung! Congrats!

And the winner of 806: A Novel by Cynthia Weil is Bina Edwards! Congrats!

Friday, May 11, 2018

Interview Q&A – Cynthia Weil / 806: A Novel

Today is the last day to enter to win 806: A Novel by Cynthia Weil. Fill out the Rafflecopter form below.

Author Interview- Cynthia Weil

As one of the first women in Rock & Roll, what was that like? Was it more difficult when you started or now? 
Neither Carole King nor I ever thought about our being female standing in our way. We just did our thing! Carole had always been encouraged by her family and it served her well. I had always been discouraged by my mom who wanted me to marry a doctor or a lawyer and throw fabulous dinner parties. I was encouraged to pursue my dreams by my mother’s sister, the family rebel, my Aunt Toni, dancer, choreographer and later a literary agent.

Your new young adult novel, 806, is the story of three very different teens—a songwriter/musician, a golden boy jock, and a magic-obsessed nerd with very sensitive allergies, who are forced by circumstances to band together to find their mutual sperm donor father. Are any of the characters based on yourself or people you’ve known?
None of them are based on me but, of course, KT as a teen songwriter is the closest to me. I often turned to writing to comfort me when I was a teen. I created them from my imagination cause that’s what writers do, however I often think that the search for a father is a part of me because my father killed himself when I was 9.

In general, what inspires your writing/where do you get your ideas? …both lyrics and fiction. 
I often got lyrical ideas from my life and my friends’ lives or something I have read about. I am a voracious reader. I am always inspired by other writers even as a lyricist. As a lyricist I always think “could I have written that?”

Will you share a little about your writing process: what kind of setting do you prefer when you write, do you have a certain room or special place that helps get the creative juices flowing? Do you usually write at a particular time of day, or whenever an idea comes to you?
Once I’ve begun something, I go to my desk first thing in the morning after I’ve fed the dog, as that time is quietest in my household, so it’s about 7ish. Then I wade in and slog on until my brain gives out, and then I rest and return the next day to do it again.

What kind of reader will be drawn to 806, and what do you hope they’ll take away from the story?
I think anyone who wonders about family, the one they have and perhaps the one they don’t have, but have dreamed about, will be drawn to 806. I hope they will take away the idea that people aren’t necessarily the image they present to the world. We are all many layered and so much more than who we appear to be and there are many kinds of modern families. The traditional family doesn’t really exist that often but families of all different kinds can provide a nurturing environment for children, teens, and parents. As some great songwriters once said…”All You Need Is Love.”

806: A Novel
by Cynthia Weil (
Tanglewood Publishing (
March 13 2018 // Ages: 13+
$16.99-Hardcover // ISBN: 978-1-939100-14-6