Monday, August 31, 2015

Monday Book Review: UNDER A BLOOD MOON by Rachel Graves, #TWRP



Under a Blood Moon, By Rachel Graves
Published 2015 by The Wild Rose Press

About the Book:

Mallory Mors, death witch and detective with Baton Rouge’s Supernatural Investigative Unit, controls every aspect of death; she can even touch a dead body and know how it died. When she’s called to the scene of the city’s first zombie attack, her magic leads her to a voodoo queen who claims to be controlled by werewolves.

The Werewolf Protection League, a political organization fighting for werewolf rights, insists they have nothing to do with the killings. As the kidnappings and murders continue, everyone becomes a suspect. Aided by her boyfriend, a six hundred year old vampire, and all the supernatural citizens of her city, Mallory fights to close a case that may claim her life.


My Take:

In a world where supernatural creatures are commonplace, Mallory Mors is still unusual. She is a Death Witch, the last of her kind, and she works in the supernatural division of her local police department. She can touch a dead body and know how they died, as well as visit a crime scene and "see" the murder occur. She can also raise the dead, but she's not the one creating zombies and stirring up her city. She is, however, the one they call on to solve the crime.

Except, it turns out that the zombies aren't the real problem. That would be the out-of-control werewolves.

This story jumps in midstream and keeps up a swift pace. I kept thinking that maybe I'd missed the first book in the series, but, no, this is book one. The author drags us along for a wild ride, filling in the blank spaces along the way. If you enjoy Charlaine Harris's supernatural South, you will love this sassy take from a new author. Rachel Graves does a wonderful job of revving the engines and keeping her foot on the gas pedal for a fast, fun ride.

I loved Mallory's insecurities, her funky witch friends and her steaming hot vampire boyfriend. The plot twists kept me turning pages, although I have to admit the some of Mallory's choices were head scratchers. When you're investigating bloodthirsty werewolves DON'T GO ALONE. Shades of Jamie Lee Curtis, for goodness sakes!

Despite her occasional lack of good sense, I really liked the main character and can't wait to read her next adventure. (And Rachel Graves, there had better be a next adventure soon! Fans are waiting!)

Totally recommend this book for fans of Harris's Sookie Stackhouse and J.C.McKenzie's Andrea McNeilly. Paranormal romance and adventure at its hottest!

I received an ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Monday, August 24, 2015

MONDAY BOOK REVIEW: ANY WAY YOU SLICE IT, by Kristine Carlson Asselin, #YA

Any Way You Slice It
By Kristine Carlson Asselin
Published April 2015 by Bloomsbury Spark

About the Book:
Penelope Spaulding just can't catch a break. Between long hours at the family restaurant, homework, and her parents' plans for her future, it's hard to find a spare moment to breathe. But when she laces up her skates and steps on the ice, everything slips away...

Racing around the rink allows her to blow off steam after yet another fight with her dad about going to culinary school. So when Jake Gomes, the bad boy who lives down the street, dares her to join the Rink Rats, the local misfit hockey team, she surprises herself and joins in silent defiance of her father and his expectations.

The more she plays, the easier it is to keep lying, and soon Pen finds it impossible to come clean. She’s sneaking out to practice—and loving every minute of it. It doesn’t take long for her to fall in love with hockey…and Jake’s not half bad either. But she knows it can’t last. As soon as her dad finds out, she’ll be benched. For good.

She’s absolutely not going to tell her parents until she’s sure it will be worth the inevitable fight. Not only is she skipping shifts at Slice Pizza while a foodie reality show is on the horizon, but her lies are starting to take their toll on her game. It’s only a matter of time before everything falls apart.

With the team counting on her and with her relationship with Jake on the line, will she have to sacrifice the thing she wants most for the people she loves? Or can she step up and take her best shot?
 My Take:

A wonderful tale of first love and self discovery! This contemporary YA is written in first person POV of the 15 year old narrator, Penelope "Penn" Spaulding, the local "Pizza Princess" of her small NH town.

Her family owns the best pizza restaurant on town, that's just been chosen for a reality show feature, adding stress to the family dynamic. If that weren't enough, Penn is also fighting with her dad about not wanting to be in the pizza business for the rest of her life, or go to culinary school for college. A run in with a local bad boy at the ice rink gives her a way to rebel against her strict father, but things spiral out of control quickly and Penn finds herself lying to everyone in her life.

A quick and totally absorbing read, I finished this in a few hours and loved every minute. The pacing was perfect and the narrator's anxiety as she loses control of the situation was almost palpable. I loved Penn's fresh, honest voice and the dynamics between her family. Wish this was in paperback so I could give it to my niece to read, but for now it's ebook only.

Grab your copy on AMAZON today

Monday, August 17, 2015

MONDAY BOOK REVIEW: MAP TO THE STARS, by Jen Malone #YA

Map to the Stars, by Jen MalonePublished 2015 by Epic Reads Impulse, an imprint of Harper Collins

About the Book:
Author Jen Malone draws on her real-life experiences as a movie studio publicist to bring you an insider peek at love, Hollywood-style.

The California dream was supposed to give seventeen-year-old Annie Shelton a fresh start far removed from her dad’s unusual betrayal. But when things don’t go according to plan in La La Land, Annie’s mom snags a last-minute gig as makeup artist to a teen movie idol and finagles a spot for her daughter on his European promotional tour.

Down-to-earth Annie would rather fangirl architectural sights than an arrogant A-lister. That is, until behind-the-scenes Graham Cabot turns out to be more sweetly vulnerable than she could have imagined.

Too bad falling for a poster boy isn’t all red carpets and star treatment, especially when you factor in obnoxious fans, an overprotective assistant, a stage mom/manager, and a beefy bodyguard.

But it isn’t until the paparazzi make an appearance that things get really sticky…
My Take

What a fun contemporary YA romance! Yes, the premise of the movie star falling for the nobody narrator is a cliche at this point, but Jen Malone does it so well, and adds such realistic details that it made it such fun to read! The first person POV is both fresh and refreshing as her small town heroine gets her first taste of Hollywood, making a mess of things along the way.

Annie Shelton grew up in Georgia, so far from the bright lights of LA that she was never interested in tabloid gossip or crushing on hot movie stars. Her best friend Wynn was the total opposite and a great counterpoint to Annie's hard focus on reality. When Annie and her mom move out to California, its not to pursue dreams, but to escape the reality of her father's deception.

Graham Cabot grew up in LA-LA-land, on screen from an early age, and now a genuine movie star at seventeen. Girls throw themselves at him all the time, but the real Graham is actually a little shy and insecure. He admits to Annie that he's never had a real girlfriend, hasn't even had real friends since his elementary school years, before the fame and fortune changed his life.

Their budding relationship is cute and sweet, and the one-POV storytelling has the reader riding along with Annie's confusion at Graham's shifting attitudes and emotions. I won't give away any more of the story except to say the ending is totally satisfying and everything worked out the way I wanted it to.  This is a standalone read, no series or setup for the next book, which I also found refreshing. Quick, satisfying contemporary YA romance of first love and self discovery that I can totally recommend!

Get it on Amazon HERE

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Writing Wednesday: Have you heard of Book Gorilla?

In a meeting with my new YA publisher last week, she gave me a to-do list of items to complete and social media sites to investigate. Now, I consider myself fairly competent on the social media front, but I'd never even heard of Book Gorilla.

I spent a chunk of my morning investigating, and it seems to be similar to Book Bub: another free newsletter you can sign up for, indicate your preferences, and they will send you a daily email with all the bargain ebooks that fit your reading needs. It's also different than Book Bub in that it's slightly more interactive for the authors, who can set up author pages and presence on the site.

I signed up. We'll see how it goes. I'm still not sure how I monetize a presence there, but I'm there.

The thing is, there are new social media sites and spots you need to be cropping up all over the place. In March when I participated in a YA round table at a few local schools, I ended up having to create an Instagram account, because I was the only one out of the six of us who didn't have an account. And not because I was the oldest, either.

And then there's my lame Triberr account - I haven't signed on in so long that my feed went inactive. Again. So my Twitter friends/Triberr buddies haven't been tweeting my posts out like they used to, and my blog traffic has definitely fallen off as a result.

How does anyone keep up with it all?

I just want to write. Edit. Sell books. Ebooks and social media make keeping an online presence a necessity. But they take up such a chunk of time that it cuts into actual writing time.

Anyone have ideas as to how to handle this social media pressure to be present? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?