Giveaway: Happy New Year (INT)

welcome to the happy new year giveaway!

In collaboration with I Am a Reader Not a Writer, I'm giving away a book of your choice (up to $13 usd) from the Book Depository!

Don't forget to go to the rest of the hop for more great prizes! 


This giveaway will run until January 7th. 

This giveaway is open to anyone whom Book Depository ships to.  

The winner of the giveaway must respond to my winner e-mail within 48 hours to claim the prize. 

Thanks for stopping by!  

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Cover Reveal: Dear Cassie by Lisa Burstein

Late but still great (hey, look, I rhymed...), here is the brand new cover for Dear Cassie by Lisa Burstein, the companion novel to Pretty Amy.  A book you've seen on my blog a lot if you've been around.  I'm super excited for the new book, and you should be too!  So read all the awesome info below and get stoked. 

Lisa Burstein is a tea seller by day and a writer by night. She received her MFA in Fiction from the Inland Northwest Center for Writers at Eastern Washington University. She lives in Portland, OR, with her very patient husband, a neurotic dog and two cats. Dear Cassie is her second novel.


What if the last place you should fall in love is the first place that you do?

You’d think getting sent to Turning Pines Wilderness Camp for a month-long rehabilitation “retreat” and being forced to re-live it in this journal would be the worst thing that’s ever happened to me.

You’d be wrong.

There’s the reason I was sent to Turning Pines in the first place: I got arrested. On prom night. With my two best friends, who I haven’t talked to since and probably never will again. And then there’s the real reason I was sent here. The thing I can’t talk about with the guy I can’t even think about.

What if the moment you’ve closed yourself off is the moment you start to break open?
But there’s this guy here. Ben. And the more I swear he won’t—he can’t—the deeper under my skin he’s getting. After the thing that happened, I promised I’d never fall for another boy’s lies.

And yet I can’t help but wonder…what if?

DEAR CASSIE excerpt:
We kept walking on the lake trail, the bullfrogs croaking. There was also a humming in my ears from the nicotine.
 It could only be from the nicotine. It had nothing to do with being outside, at night, alone with Ben. It had nothing to do with Ben coming to the cabin and taking me instead of Nez and it definitely had nothing to do with the stars above us shining like they were the sky’s tiara. 
I stopped on the trail and looked up, taking them in, when all of a sudden bright colored lights exploded in the sky—fireworks, one after another, on top of each other, huge kaleidoscopes of light, like sparkling rainbow spiders.
“How did you know?” I asked, my voice going softer, like if I talked too loudly they would stop. It was so beautiful, after weeks of so much ugly. 
Ben turned to look at me, the colored lights in the sky turning his skin pink, blue, green. “I’m magic.” He shrugged.
I geared up to tell him to fuck off, because that was some corny-ass shit, but then I realized that he really kind of was. In that moment he was able to actually make me forget being me.
 “I would try to kiss you,” he said, “but I’m afraid you’d kick me in the balls.”
“I probably would.” I laughed, the sky filling with noisy color like paint launching from a giant popcorn popper. “But like I said, it wouldn’t be about you.”
“I guess I’ll have to figure out how to make it about me,” he said, taking off his boots and socks and standing. “Come on.”
“There is no way I am getting near that water again,” I said.
“I’ll make sure nothing happens to you,” he said, holding his hand out to help me up.
            I looked at his palm, open, waiting, just wanting to hold mine. For once, I didn’t think about anything except that there was a cute, sweet, smart-ass boy standing in front of me with his hand out.
I pulled off my boots and socks and took it.  
We stood at the lakeshore, our hands still clasped, the water licking our feet, fireworks decorating the sky.
I turned to him. He was looking up, his mouth open in wonder like he was trying to swallow the moment.
It was definitely one worth keeping.

DEAR CASSIE pre-buy links:


Additional links to Lisa’s pages:


Random Recommendations: Best Christmas Movies of All Time, Says I

If you're a Christmas celebrator, you have your favorites.  I wanted to share a few of mine, and some books to pair them with!  

Bill Murray is a high-powered executive at a national broadcasting company...and he's about to get a wake-up call about the meaning of Christmas.  Based on the Dicken's classic but modernized (okay, to about the 90s), it's hysterical, irreverent, and very tongue-in-cheek.  Featuring a toaster wielding fairy, a chain-smoking cabbie, a televised Death, and dormice, it's a fun twist on the old classic.  
Pair it with... A Christmas Carol  by Charles Dickens

National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation 
I tend to lean towards comedy, and this one is everything I love (and hate) about Christmas.  Meet the Griswalds.  We have Clark, the slightly-insane father trying to make Christmas perfect, his long-suffering wife, and the invading in-laws.  Exploding turkeys, sleds breaking the sound barrier, kidnapping...everything Christmas should be.  If you've ever experienced a Christmas disaster or have a crazy family, you'll relate.  
Pair it with... Sketchy Santas by Will Zweigart

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer 
Claymation plus old corny songs equals Christmas joy!  Rudolph is an outcast, so he's going on an adventure.  Only now he has a companion: an elf who's sick of toymaking and really just wants to be a dentist.  Add a quirky prospector, an abominable snowman, and a cute doe and you have one of the cutest and most classic kid's movies of all Christmastime.  Plus the songs are really catchy.  "Island of Misfit Toys", anyone?  
Pair it with... How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Suess

The Nightmare Before Christmas 
It's a Christmas movie!  I'll argue with you for ages on this.  Jack is tired of being the Pumpkin King of Halloween town.  He's looking for a change in life.  What better than to try out another holiday?  Only the residents of Halloweentown don't exactly understand the meaning of Christmas...and some of them have others plans for Santa.  Creepy, beautiful, magical.  Honestly, one of my favorite movies of all time, and the music is beautiful.  
Pair it with... It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Zombies by Michael P. Spradin

Musing: Return of the Lemons

So, those of you who follow me regularly or interact with me know that I've basically become a ghost these last few weeks.  I won't bother you with all the gory details.  Suffice to say, grad school is a long, hellish journey and I've been at wit's end.  

So now, the semester is over.  I have some time to breathe.  And I miss my little corner of the internet.  

So I can't promise the snappy regularity with which I was posting for a while, but from now on, I'm going to try to get onto some kind of Monday, Wednesday, Friday schedule with maybe a Teaser Tuesday thrown in.  

It'll take a bit for me to get back on my feet, but thanks to all for still visiting and supporting.  

And a very, very special thanks to Doodle of Doodle's Book Blog, who just brightened my entire month.  I opened my mailbox today to find a copy of Lauren DeStefano's Wither and an adorable Christmas card.  Moments like these remind me why I love book blogging so much, and of the kind of people who make it special.  

Behold, a very blurry and unflattering picture of me being super psyched about my early holiday present! 

Now, with no further ado, I'm going to wade through the 668 emails I have in backlog before vacation starts.  Look forward to those Assassin's Curse and other reviews I promised ages ago. I swear, they're happening. 

You all are awesome. 



Musing: Why I've Been M.I.A.

Bad day in school land.  Grad school is not a big self-esteem booster.  Scheduled programming will resume when my life is back on track.  

Look forward to a review of The Assassin's Curse by Cassandra Rose Clarke and The Believing Game by Eireann Corrigan! 


Prelude to Madness Blog Tour: Author Interview

Welcome to the last day of the Prelude to Madness blog tour, getting ready for Noree Cosper's awesome vampire novel, A Prescription for Delirium. Enjoy this awesome interview with the author.

What was your inspiration for Prescription for Delirium? 
 The characters came from a table top roleplaying game I played with my friends. So a lot of the story came from that. Other parts came from different stories, myths and legends about vampires, demons, and other creatures of the night.

What is your favorite vampire book? Movie? 
 Hmm, so hard to choose. Twi—no, I can’t say that with a straight face. Right now, I would have to say favorite novel would be “Queen of the Damned” by Anne Rice. Favorite movie would be “Let me In.” Which makes me think I really need to read “Let the Right One In,” which is the novel the movie was based on.

Tell us a little bit about your writing process. 
 This is still a work in progress, so bear with me. Usually my stories start out with a basic idea and a few scenes that play out over and over in my head. I put together my cast. I outline the scenes. Usually this is nothing really in depth, just a summary of what I want to happen, and the motivations of the characters. Then I write.

Who is your favorite Van Helsing brother in your novel, and why? 
 Adrian. There are so many different reasons. One of the main reasons is that I have a thing for arrogant men, especially, when they have the intelligence to back it up.

What was the hardest scene to write? The easiest? 
 This is a difficult question because I actually had to rewrite about 80 of the novel. It changed so much from the first draft that I wrote. I supposed you could say the hardest would be the sex scene that made it into the novel. Easiest for me would be the prologue. I was really in the zone when I wrote that.

Can you tell us more about Gabriella's unusual aura powers? 
 Well, Gabby can see aura, souls, and spirits. She can tell is a person is possessed or even influenced by other forces. The spirits she sees on the brothers are more symbolic while the possession is showing the demon being there. I can’t say a whole lot more, but sight is just the beginning.

What can we expect from your next work? 
 I’m working on the second book in the series, the continuation of the Van Helsing Organization. This takes place in New York and you get introduced to more supernatural beings.

The obligatory question . . . what is your best advice for aspiring authors? 
 Write what you love. Don’t spend too much time worrying about market trends. You love for what you write about will show through in your novel.

Alright, last one. Who is your fictional crush? 
 Oh SO many. I think I will have to go with….Dean Winchester.

Thank you, Noree!  Now that you all are super excited about this awesome classic vampire tale, check it out at Goodreads and look for my review, coming soon! 


Writing Tips: Why Reading Aloud is Your Best Editing Friend

So you've gotten through the hard stuff.  You've written the book.  You've bandaged your typing blisters. You've had a doctor's consultation for carpal tunnel.  What now?  Send it in and rake in the big bucks?  

Pardon me while I laugh hysterically. 


It sucks (unless you're me and you weirdly thrive on it) but it's the thing that will turn your book from .99 cent fanfiction slush to something that people will look at and say, hey.  That's a real book.  Rock on.  Yeah, they'll say that.  

The problem is, you've lived this book.  You've slaved over every word.  You know it too well.  One tactic: put it away for a while.  Another: read it out loud.  

So, it sounds a little painful, but it's one of those things my amazing fiction teacher suggested and it works.  And it's easy.  And it has all sorts of advantages.  You know the old form/from problem?  Where spellcheck doesn't catch it.  Read it aloud and you'll realize all the typos you thought you didn't have, that your brain fixed for you on every readthrough.  


- Boring parts:  So you're reading aloud and you find that you really just want to skip this passage and that reading it is painful.  Maybe that means you should cut it.  If even you think it sucks, what will your reader think? 

- Weird phrasing:  If you're reading it and it sounds like gibberish, time to take another look at that sentence. 

- Long sentences:  If you have to take three breaths to get through it, consider slicing it up.  Yeah, your reader won't be reading aloud.  But they'll still get lost by the end.  Unless that's your intention, in which case, go for it cautiously. 

- Dialogue:  Reading aloud is the best cure for weird dialogue.  If it sounds like you're speaking like a robot or a Shakespearean disaffect or some kind of alien, then it's a good sign you need to edit it.  Make sure it's how people talk.  People use contractions.  People leave out words.  They assume things and skim things.  Think how you talk.  Now think about what you're reading.  

Read aloud and you'll get your book in a new perspective.  Good luck!  


Review: The Caline Conspiracy by M.H. Mead

title:  The Caline Conspiracy

author: M.H. Mead

pages: 212

format: Kindle

isbn/asin: B007LNNHMW

buy it: Amazon

rating: 5/5 [in the genre] or 8/10 [all books I’ve ever read].

recommended for:  Fans of The Da Vinci Code, Michael Crichton, high-tech thrillers, or soft sci-fi. People looking for a fast-paced, quirky read.

Calines are the perfect pets. Smarter than border collies, playful as otters, elegant as cats, calines have been genetically engineered to be everything a pet owner could want.

Except that they might kill you one day.

The world is shocked when geneticist Ivan Frithke is murdered, and his own pet caline, Madeline, is the prime suspect. Is this an isolated case, a flaw in the calines’ design, or something more? The widow doesn’t believe her darling could kill, and hires PI Aidra Scott to prove Madeline’s innocence.

Aidra wants nothing to do with animals—genetically engineered perfection or not. Losing her beloved Doberman was so painful that she’s sworn off pet ownership forever. But the more she investigates, the more Aidra becomes convinced an innocent animal is being framed, and murder is only the beginning of the conspiracy.

The Caline Conspiracy is a novel of the near future by the author of the critically-acclaimed Good Fences and Fate's Mirror.

the basics
I don't read thrillers a lot, even though I watch crime shows like it's my job.  So this was a nice treat.  It grabbed me from the very beginning.  The near-futuristic world is carefully crafted, filled with little details don't necessarily have huge plot significance, but make the world feel absolutely real.  It's a world I hope to visit again.  Aidra is a snappy, confident heroine with some issues of her own.  I thought the thing with her old dog was a little sappy until the true story came out about why she was so broken up over it--then it all made sense.  The plot is nonstop.  Every time you think you're hitting a breakthrough, Mead throws in another wrench.  It was exciting and beautifully well-written. I look forward to their next work.

plot . 5/5
Breakneck.  You're thrown into the world of private investigation and right away, the action picks up.  There were certain characters that didn't really come full circle, like the spinner (like a tabloid writer) who gets his butt handed to him by Aidra, but it was a fun little scene that shows you a lot about her character.  After that, everything was fluid.  We follow Aidra as she follows leads with the delightfully snarky Morris, gets into trouble with the religious fundamentalists, has a sexy (and surprising) rendezvous with the smooth-talking geneticist Edo.  And then it's a race to the finish.  Some of the plot had the potential to feel deus ex machina, but Mead did a good job of keeping the consequences realistic.  My only snag is at the end, because I feel like the widow's actions would have been different.  But judge for yourself.  

concept . 5/5
I was a little iffy at first.  Some huge conspiracy about dogs?  Seemed a little over-the-top.  Yeah, this is the part where I admit that I was being super silly.  This was no campy puppy escapade.  Yes, that's a thing.  The calines, genetically engineered perfect pets, fit perfectly into this futuristic world where technology is paramount.  Humans have used it to shape the world to their every need, from all-in-one data phones to techno-masks that give you a new face and surrounding over video chat to gene therapy that can cure the worst ailments.  It's near-future enough that I could imagine this being our world, and it brings up a lot of issues about how much we should be altering nature, and what the consequences are.

characters . 5/5
Love.  Aidra is a spitfire, but not in your typical brainless foolhardy way.  She may be a little unorthodox, but she's got a good head on her shoulders.  I was able to relate to her instantly.  The supporting cast is fantastic.  Morris, the tech-nerd, is hysterically suave.  Edo is instantly dreamy.  Quinn is clever and adds a lot to the genetics questions.  Baxter has a sleek charm to him that screams businessman.  You don't get to know everything about everyone (for instance, we still know very little about Morris) but you feel like they're real people out there somewhere.

style . 5/5
The style is extremely high quality.  I could see this being something run out of the Big Six.  Mead writes in a concise, snappy way that provides enough detail without harping on it.  There's a sarcastic edge that makes it extremely funny at points, poignant at others.  The snappiness of the tone is perfect for a book populated with techno-terms.  Also, I'll say, I'm not big on sexy scenes but the one in this book was very tasteful.

mechanics . 5/5
Beautifully polished.  Mead clearly went the extra mile to make a professional product.

take home message
A breakneck thriller that mixes technology, murder, and man's best friend to make for a unique and compelling story.

Note: I received this copy free from the authors in exchange for a review.  The price of the book and its origin in no way affected my stated opinions.


Books by Theme: Young Adult Romance for Cynics

So, I'm what I'd like to call a cynical hopeless romantic.  I can't stand your basic bodice ripper and Twilight made me pound my head against a wall, but give me your typical love-hate Pride and Prejudice subplot and I'm a googly-eyed middle schooler in bobby socks.  I imagine that's what googly-eyed middle schoolers wear.  Anyhoo, if you're like me and you have a taste for not-your-typical romance, here are some books to make your inner hopeless romantic and your inner cynic make a truce.  

Romance for Cynics

Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler
 Min just broke up with dreamy basketball hottie Ed--and she's telling him exactly why.  This quirky break-up novel is a letter from Min to Ed, telling the story of their breakup from start to finish through the most significant objects in their relationship.  Min is a quirky classic film buff with a sharp tongue and a romantic's wide naive eyes.  It's every high school relationship you've ever had distilled into one cheeky, heartwrenching memoir.
Read my review

The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot
If you've only seen the movie, it's time you read the book.  Forget the Disneyfied fairy grandmother and the druggie-looking love interest.  The book is so much more.  Enter Mia:  vegetarian, math failure, political activist with triangular hair.  Her grandmother, a severe fashion fascist with tatooed eyeliner.  Her mother, a free-spirited artist dating her daughter's math teacher.  Her best friend, a super genius with an equally bright (and stunningly attractive) brother.  It's as much a tale of finding yourself as it is of steamy makeout sessions.  And book Michael is a dreamy nerd.

Your typical romcom with an atypical twist.  Girl gets broken up with.  Girl recruits male best friend to teach her how to have sexy one-night stands.  Girl uses friend for sex.  Guy realizes that he's created his own worst nightmare.  Cue hilarious shenanigans, shapeless hemp frocks, 50s movie references, and a whole lot of bow chicka wow wow.  I swear, that's what they call it.  It's a hysterical sex-positive look at modern dating without the syrupy drama of your average romcom.
Read my review

Deep Secret by Diana Wynne Jones
You thought Diana wouldn't come up on this list?  Ha ha ha ha ha.  This book isn't romance per se, but it's got a great love story.  Rupert Venables is a magid.  That's means he keeps tabs on the multiverse and tries to keep things in relative order.  When his mentor dies, he needs to find a new magid.  So why not interview a bunch of options and bring them all to a science fiction convention.  That's where he meets Maree, a beautifully irritating recently-unemployed know-it-all.  Rupert's trying to stay far out of her way while he interviews the other candidates, but magic and strange affairs are afoot at the Hotel Babylon, and it seems that he and Maree are made to keep meeting.  It's a cheeky modern fantasy with a sweet love story and a lot of cool fairy tale elements.

Pretty Amy by Lisa Burstein
You thought your prom was bad?  Amy gets arrested at hers, for being in possession of marijuana.  Suddenly, her fun prom night with a mystery hottie is weeks of community service, disappointed parents, and manipulative ex-friends.  But there's this guy who seems to make everything better.  Right?  A tale of growth and self-discovery through the tough times, and finding the love that's good for you, not the love you think you need.
Read my review

Click the book titles to find out more! 

What are some unconventional romances (or romance-filled books) that you love? 


Release: Embers at Galdrilene by A.D. Trosper

Get The Re-release Of "Embers At Galdrilene" By A.D. Trosper For Only .99 Cents From 11/17/12 Through 11/24/12 - Don't Miss The Dragon's Call!

Embers at Galdrilene has undergone a huge transformation! It now sports a beautifully  redesigned front cover, spine and back cover. It also has an awesome custom designed interior and has been professionally edited. All thanks to the incredible team at Blue Harvest Creative. And as an added bonus, when you read the final page of Embers at Galdrilene, you'll get an exciting sneak peek for the prologue Tears of War, the second book in the Dragon’s Call series.

In celebration of its re-release, Embers at Galdrilene will be available for only .99 cents! But this price only lasts from November 17th to November 24th. Embers won’t turn into a pumpkin at the end of its re-release promotion, but it will return to its regular price of $3.95. Don't miss out on this bestselling fantasy book. Wrap up the holidays with the gift of reading!

Click HERE to buy at Amazon
Click HERE to buy at Barnes & Noble

“A ray of light, a stain of shadow, shall endure to breathe life and death into the future” 

The war between the Guardians and the Shadow Riders ended in total devastation. The final battle killed all the dragons and left nothing but fields of ash. A small clutch of dragon eggs was all that remained to provide hope for the future.
Five hundred years later, the ability to use magic is a death sentence and dragons are remembered as a curse. But the unhatched dragons sing for their riders...and soon six lives will be changed forever.
The elements of magic are drawn together as the dragons’ call leads them on an epic and dangerous journey of discovery. They soon learn everything they’ve been taught to believe about magic and dragons is wrong.
With the last of the dragons and the world at stake, they will risk everything to heed the call.
But an evil from the past soon threatens their discovery and newfound joy. Shadow Dragons ride the dawn once more...


Evil lurks at every corner and eventually bursts, bringing forth a vivid confrontation that kept me at the edge of my seat, turning page after page.” ~ Annamaria Bazzi

“The characters are well thought out, and the plot is great. I loved Galdrilene itself, and the idea of the dragon eggs singing to those who are meant to hatch them.” ~ The Crooked Word

“I was so impressed by this excellent story! The characters and setting were vividly detailed, and the storyline was unique and enticing. I loved that the characters had strong bonds and connections to other beings, and Trosper did a magnificent job with pacing and stringing together the plot.” ~ Katie Jennings (author of the Dryad Quartet and When Empires Fall)

“There is something about dragon stories that is truly captivating and Trosper has certainly encapsulated this in her novel. This story follows the lives of young men and women as they escape a life of control and fear to find their true talents and true selves… Expect to be entertained with dragon fights, romance and witty comebacks in Trosper's creation of an idyllic world. You are even given a rare insight into the workings of a dragon's mind.” ~ Elizabeth Wright of Bestchicklit.com

“Anne McCaffrey's Legacy… I was extremely wary when this book was immediately evocative of every story Anne ever told about dragons, their 'Impression' on their destined riders, and the immutable bond between the two. Like Asimov's laws of robotics, Pern's dragon lore is indelibly etched as 'fact' in my psyche and anything markedly different does not sit very well with me at all.

I am immensely pleased to say that A.D. Trosper did not let me down. There was enough of Pernish dragon-lore to satisfy my need for continuity, whilst at the same time enough differences to make this clutch of dragons her very own. Well done Ms. Trosper!” ~ Richard King

Here is where I'm supposed to talk about myself in third person for whatever reason. But, even though there are a lot of people in my head, referring to myself in third person still sounds too strange.

Born in Kansas, I spent a lot of my childhood moving around. I lived in Kansas, Oklahoma, Washington State (around Seattle), and southern California. I had many great adventures growing up. I'm now settled down in Kansas with my wonderful husband, three children, my wonderful dog Katie, assorted cats, and small flock of chickens.

I've been an avid lover of fantasy since I was young child. Dragons, elves, fairies, dwarves, and other denizens of the fantasy world as well as magic have always fascinated me. As I grew up, I developed an interest in vampires, zombies and my interests branched out to take in paranormal and urban fantasy.

I don't have any special writing credits to my name other than a wildly active imagination and the ability to form that imagination into written stories.
Want to know more or connect with me? Follow the links, I promise there is no wicked witch of the west at the end…most of the time.



ARC Review: Sam Cruz's Infallible Guide to Getting Girls by Tellulah Darling

title:  Sam Cruz's Infallible Guide to Getting Girls

author: Tellulah Darling

pages: 244

format: Kindle

isbn/asin: 978-0988054004

buy it: Amazon

rating: 5/5 [in the genre] or 8/10 [all books I’ve ever read].

recommended for:  Fans of The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot, the Georgia Nicolson books by Louise Rennison, or similarly funny, quirky, sex-positive teen lit.  Humor-lovers.  People who don't get squeamish about blatant references to sex and sexual activity.

Why the hell can’t chicks be more like guys?

That question plagues high school senior Sam Cruz. Sam is perfectly happy being a player. He just wishes girls wouldn’t change the game from sex to relationships. It makes him look like an asshole. But when Sam’s best friend, Ally Klinger, gets dumped, she begs him to transform her into someone who can screw around then screw off. No risk of heartbreak that way. It’s Sam’s chance to create the perfect female AND cheer up his best friend. Armed with Sam’s Three Step Guide to Backseat Success, Ally gets the game better than Sam thought she would and before long, Sam has his wish: the female version of himself. Too bad it’s driving him nuts. Told from Sam’s and Ally's alternating POVs, Sam Cruz’s Infallible Guide to Getting Girls is a fast-paced romantic comedy that follows these teens as they navigate the minefield of sex, love, and friendship.

This book contains strong language, drinking, euphemisms, and lots of “bow chicka wow wow.”

the basics
This book grew on me with every page.  At first I thought it was a bit over-the-top, a bit too down-and-dirty with some of the sex references and language, but the style caught me like a cold.  (I swear that makes sense.)  Yeah, it is a bit over the top.  A bit too clever for its own good.  But I loved it.  The writing is laugh-out-loud hysterical, the scenarios are romcom ridiculous but without the saccharine aftertaste, and the two POV characters are relatable and quirky.  Don't think this plot goes where you expect it to.  Darling spins the old stereotypes on their head in a believable way.  I thought Sam's final revelation was a little unnatural, but that's one of few complaints.  I lost a lot of sleep just not able to put this book down.

plot . 4.5/5
So you think you know where this is going?  You don't.  It's a little like She's All That (which, coincidentally, I watched for the first time in years a few weeks ago) if Rachael Leigh Cook were to turn the tables on Freddie Prinz Jr. entirely.  This isn't your typical boy changes girl, girl becomes sexy, boy falls for girl and tries to win her back story.  It's more like, boy changes girl, girl uses boy for sex, girl likes other boy, boy gets annoyed at being used, girl and boy get caught in hilarious antics with several people falling into the mix. In the end, I loved that Ally learned how to stay true to herself and feel more empowered and confident, and I loved that Sam didn't turn into some gushy prince charming.  Like I said, there was just that scene towards the end that I thought was way too quick and unrealistic.  Other than that, I can't complain.

concept . 4.5/5
It's not new.  It's been done in She's All That, No Strings Attached, insert-rom-com-here.  But Darling takes it to a different level.  It's not about girl becoming ideal slutty boytoy.  It's about girl getting what she wants out of sexual relationships and taking control.  I felt like maybe the scenarios felt a little too mature for high schoolers.  I'd have bought it more with college kids.  However, if you let that aside, it's a great fresh spin on the typical story.

characters . 5/5
So clever and funny.  Over the top but somehow still realistic and true, as only a good writer can do.  Sam is a cad with heart who realizes that he does want friendship and sex...but does he want it in the same girl?  Ally is a formless-hemp-dress-wearing brainiac taking trip on the wild side after her skeazy vegan boyfriend breaks her heart.  The cast is fleshed out with a revolving door of Sam's conquests, the snobby adorable indie lovebirds Rachel and Ian, and the delightfully catty diner staff.  Reminds me of the character style in the show Peep Show, which is much less risque than it sounds but delightfully British.  Anyway, I love them.  I want more.

style . 5/5
Maybe a little Bridget Jones?  I haven't read it, but for some reason that comes to mind.  See back to Cabot and Rennison.  It's a little risque, a little sexy, a little crazy, a little whimsical.  There were at least four or five things on every page that made me chortle and I swear, I was laughing so loudly that my cat freaked out.  Which is sad, I know.  Don't judge my spinster lifestyle.  :P  Darling has a way with bringing things to life and putting slapstick into print.

mechanics . 5/5
Great, nothing much to say here.  The switching POVs was awesome because the time periods didn't overlap perfectly, so sometimes a chapter would end with Sam deciding to do something or feel a certain way, and then in Ally's chapter, it would become obvious that he had totally changed his mind.  Which was cool, because even though you were in both of their heads, you were still surprised.

take home message
A hilarious, sex-positive take on modern dating relationships.

Note: I received this copy free from the publisher in exchange for a review.  The price of the book and its origin in no way affected my stated opinions.


Feature & Follow: Reach for the Stars ... and the Books

Q: Books are turned into movies all the time! Turn it around. What movie would make a great book? 

A:  Great question!  Donnie Darko immediately came to mind.  I could see someone like Chuck Palahniuk writing it, or Susanna Kaysen, or David Leviathan or John Green.  Someone dark and cerebral but with some whimsy.  There's just so much narration in it already, so many things that could be delved into further.  I'd want it to be something surreal and a little hard to follow, with snippets of Sparrow's book interspersed like in the director's cut.  That or The Dark Crystal or Labyrinth.

All follows loved and appreciated!  I can't wait to meet everyone! 
I'll stop by your blog as soon as I can! 

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Guest Review on I Am a Reader, Not a Writer

Hey guys!  Short post today.  

Check out my guest review for Among the Hidden by Margaret Peterson Haddix. 

You can find it at I Am a Reader, Not a Writer, a great book blog hosted by the most awesome Kathy. 



Treason Blog Tour: Character Interview with Braeden Drakonin

Welcome, one and all, to the Treason blog tour for S.M. Boyce's stunning new high fantasy novel!  You may recall that the Lichgates tour was my first ever tour here at Sarcasm & Lemons, and also one of my favorite new series.  Well, guess what?  The sequel is just as amazing!  

Today, we have a special guest: Braeden Drakonin, heir to the Stele and one of the main characters in Treason.  Also my favorite character, incidentally.  He'll be telling us more about his wonderful self. 

But don't stop there.  Check out my review of Treason and once you realize how fantastic it is, go look at the other tour stops for more fun, reviews, giveaways, and much more!  

Without further ado... 

Alright, Braeden.  I have a few questions for you today.  Will you marry me?  Ha, oops, how did that get in there.  I mean . . . when did you begin to realize that your feelings for Kara were stronger than just friendship? 

(Laughs) I’m afraid I’m taken, but thank you. This is a bit of a personal question to start off, but I guess we can roll with it. To be honest, I don’t even know when I actually fell for her. It happened sometime while we were travelling to each kingdom. Even after I realized the Grimoire couldn’t…uh, help me, I couldn’t bring myself to leave her.

I think that’s the thing with love, though. It sneaks up on you.

Gavin makes some big changes in this book.  How were you feeling about him by the end?  Do you think you'll ever be close to him again?  

Eh…Gavin. I hope so. We grew up as brothers, and I want that back. I don’t know if I could ever truly trust him again, but I’d like to hope that’s possible.

What was it like for you when Kara was playing the protective card and afraid to get close to you? 

Infuriating. Maddening. Frustrating. Adorable. That woman…I don’t know how she hooked me like this.

We see a lot of darus in this book, from Aislynn's shimmering extra-sensation to Gavin's thorny armor.  Can you tell us more about the daru?  

Well, I’m not sure how detailed you want me to get, but the daru is a royal’s raw power. Some say it’s our soul, but we’ll never know for sure. The only known fact is that we become absolutely powerful and draw energy from our subjects. Some of us have added powers, like Aislynn’s heightened senses. I don’t have that.

What's your favorite kind of Earth music? 

Good one! I haven’t gotten that question before. I’d have to say I love dark cinematic music. You know, those scores and soundtracks made for movies. I get lost in those songs.

If the other yakona were no longer prejudiced against Stelians, would you consider living full-time in your Stelian form?  

Probably not. I spent the better part of my life in my Hillsidian form. It’s comfortable. It’s what I know. If I don’t have to change, I won’t.

Alright, last one.  Would you really consider going to live in Scotland if the war never ends?

Hell yes. Scotland is an amazing place, haggis and all.  

Well, that wraps up our interview.  Thanks for visiting Sarcasm & Lemons!  

(Winks) My pleasure.

Oh, stop, you'll make me blush.  

And for the rest of you...go check out the rest of the tour, and don't forget to get your very own copy of Treason!