Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Twisted (Pretty Little Liars #9) by Sara Shepard - Ashley's Review

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Title: Twisted (Pretty Little Liars #9)
Author: Sara Shepard
Publication Date: July 5, 2011

Synopsis: It’s been a year since the torturous notes from A stopped and the mystery of Alison DiLaurentis’s disappearance was finally put to rest. Now seniors in high school, Aria, Spencer, Hanna, and Emily are older, but they’re not any wiser. The pretty little liars have more secrets than ever - twisted secrets that could destroy the perfect lives they’ve worked so hard to rebuild.

Aria’s jealous of her boyfriend’s new exchange student. Spencer’s getting a little too cozy with her soon-to-be-stepbrother. Hanna’s one scandalous photo away from ruining her dad’s Senate campaign. And Emily will do anything to get a swim scholarship.

Worst of all: Last spring break in Jamaica, they did something unforgivable. The girls are desperate to forget that fateful night, but they should know better than anyone that all secrets wash ashore... eventually.


Review: I started reading the Pretty Little Liars books a few months before the TV show aired on ABC Family, because I wanted to know if the show was still worth watching. Then, I kind of gave up on the books for a while because I finished the first eight and thought the series was done.... only to find out that there were like eight more. Plus some other books that were prequels and short stories. So of course I knew I had to read them.

It took me a little bit to get back into this book. Everything was pretty much wrapped up at the end of Wanted, so I didn't make any effort to really try to remember what happened. I forgot who was in what relationship and who had done what terrible things, so I felt like the beginning of this book chugged along really slowly. There's some flashbacks to things that happened before, but I feel like this book would have been better had I read it closer to when I read Wanted.

A lot of this book was ridiculous drama that was helped along by the anonymous "I know what you did" messages from A, but I felt like the girls were just creating their own problems without any help from A. Sure, the stuff from Jamaica was big, but Aria being jealous of Noel's exchange student is something that any normal high school girl would go through. Hanna didn't need A's coaxing to get herself into trouble with her dad's campaign. Spencer and Emily would also have gotten themselves into the same situations with or without A.

I didn't feel any of the danger from previous books or feel like the girls were getting some unjust punishment. Because really, there's not that much here for them to be punished for except bad decision making. A good slap in the face would have solved a lot of their problems, honestly.

Don't get me wrong though, I still enjoyed this book because I'm already invested in these characters. I've read eight books and watched 5 season of the TV show, and now I have to know who this new A is and if Ali is back or if she's gone for good and what's going to happen with the Liars next. It is a terrible cycle to be stuck in, but it could definitely be worse.
If you're looking for a contemporary series filled with drama, revenge, secrets, and lies, you should definitely pick up the Pretty Little Liars series. Although Twisted felt like an unnecessary continuation of the series, I'm still looking forward to picking up the next book and reading more of this series. A 3/5!


Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Across the Ages (Across the Ages #1) by RaShelle Workman - Ashley's Review

* I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review*

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Title: Across the Ages (Across the Ages #1)
Author: RaShelle Workman
Publication Date: December 21, 2014

Synopsis: Ghosts are real. So is time travel.

Eighteen-year-old Lucy Channing discovers this reality after her dead grandmother gives her a beautiful locket. As soon as her fingers brush the cold copper, Lucy is swept out of the nineteenth century and into the twenty-first.

The first person she encounters is twenty-year-old William Godwin. He’s uber-rich, arrogant, exciting, and oh so handsome.

William agrees to help the strange girl find her way home. Or into the nearest mental institution.

But what the two uncover reveals more than ghosts and time travel. Lucy and William discover a love greater than time itself.

A love so strong it reaches...

Across the Ages.


Review: I've thoroughly enjoyed RaShelle's Fractured Fairy Tales series (including Blood & Snow, Vampire Lies, Vampire Secrets, and A Beauty so Beastly), so I was really excited when I found out she was writing something completely different from them. Across the Ages is very different - there's no fairy tale references or fantasy creatures, and about the only thing that remains the same is a little bit of magic. But this book was really excellent, and I'm so glad RaShelle decided to take a chance on it!

From the very beginning, Lucy was an incredibly likeable character. She's not afraid to do whatever she wants, and she's always inventing and tinkering with things. She'd rather capture and release the mice and snakes in her home than kill them, and she's kind to everyone. Her situation is rather unfortunate though, since she's being forced into a marriage with a man she doesn't love. Luckily, she doesn't hate him either and he's a very nice young man, but Lucy has always wanted more. And I wanted more for her.

I really enjoyed the magical elements in this story, especially since they're based on Egyptian mythology. I love when mythological elements are present in a story, especially when I'm unfamiliar with the exact story or deities. I enjoyed learning about them almost as much as I enjoyed watching Lucy time travel and find her true love (who is totally swoon-worthy despite his arrogance, or maybe partly because of it), and I though RaShelle did an excellent job of transplanting Lucy into the future. Lucy is confused about all of the things she should be, but she's smart enough to figure out things that should have seemed impossible. It was fun to watch her interact with Will and the technology of 2015.

This was a really sweet story about the power of love and how it transcends time, and I'm really interested to see what happens next. Especially after that ADORABLE ending! I'm sure there will be more problems for Lucy and Will as the series progresses, but I really want them to work things out and be like Lucy's grandparents. I would definitely recommend this if you're looking for a romance that's partly historical and partly contemporary, with some magic and mythology thrown in. A 4/5 for Across the Ages!

Blue Lily, Lily Blue (The Raven Cycle #3) by Maggie Steifvater - Ashley's Pre-Reading

*I received this book as an eARC from Scholastic Press on NetGalley in exchange for an honest review* | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Title: Blue Lily, Lily Blue (Raven Cycle #3)
Author: Maggie Steifvater
Publication Date: October 21, 2014
My The Raven Boys Review
My The Dream Thieves Review
Paul's The Raven Boys Review
Paul's The Dream Thieves Review
Paul's Blue Lily, Lily Blue Pre-Reading

Synopsis: There is danger in dreaming. But there is even more danger in waking up.

Blue Sargent has found things. For the first time in her life, she has friends she can trust, a group to which she can belong. The Raven Boys have taken her in as one of their own. Their problems have become hers, and her problems have become theirs.

The trick with found things though, is how easily they can be lost.

Friends can betray.
Mothers can disappear.
Visions can mislead.
Certainties can unravel.

Why?: I've enjoyed the other two books in the Raven Cycle, and have been looking forward to reading this one since I finished The Dream Thieves. I can't wait to find out what's next for the group, especially after the end of The Dream Thieves. I have so many questions that I hope are answered in this book, although I'm sure I'll have even more after this one.

Expectations: Since I enjoyed the other two books so much, I have really high expectations for this book. I think this one will deal with a lot of loss, and a lot of things will go wrong for Blue and the Raven Boys. But honestly, the synopsis does not give much information at all, so I really don't know what else to expect and I'm looking forward to being surprised.

Judging a book by its cover: I really love everything about this cover. The colors, the way it matches the rest of the series, the birds and the flowers, and even the placement of the title. I would 100% pick this book up off of a shelf if I saw it in a bookstore or library, and I would probably even buy it even if I had no idea what it was about. Gorgeous!


Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The Body Electric by Beth Revis - Paul's Pre-reading

*I received this book as an eARC from Scripturient Books on NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

The Body Electric
Author: Beth Revis
Publication Year: 2014


The future world is at peace.

Ella Shepherd has dedicated her life to using her unique gift—the ability to enter people’s dreams and memories using technology developed by her mother—to help others relive their happy memories.

But not all is at it seems.

Ella starts seeing impossible things—images of her dead father, warnings of who she cannot trust. Her government recruits her to spy on a rebel group, using her ability to experience—and influence—the memories of traitors. But the leader of the rebels claims they used to be in love—even though Ella’s never met him before in her life. Which can only mean one thing…

Someone’s altered her memory.

Ella’s gift is enough to overthrow a corrupt government or crush a growing rebel group. She is the key to stopping a war she didn’t even know was happening. But if someone else has been inside Ella’s head, she cannot trust her own memories, thoughts, or feelings.

So who can she trust?


Why?: I really enjoyed Beth Revis's Across the Universe trilogy. It's a great sci-fi generation ship adventure with mystery in each book. I've heard that this book takes place in the same world, but back on Earth. I like Revis's style of writing, so I am looking forward to reading this book. 

Expectations: I'm expecting some really cool sci-fi elements in a coming-of-age YA story. I know Revis is big into NASA and all things futuristic so I want to see what tech comes into this story.   

Judging a book by its cover: This cover is really cool. I like the colors and the outline of the girl. I'm intrigued by the insects. Te swarm reminds me of a hive or nest technology like the Borg or something. 


Thursday, December 18, 2014

BLOG TOUR: Dead Jed 2: Dawn of the Jed by Scott Craven - Top Ten + GIVEAWAY!

Good morning! Today we're happy to have Jed, from Scott Craven's Dead Jed series, stopping by to talk to us about his favorite zombie movies! We also have a giveaway for you, so be sure to enter via the Rafflecopter form at the end of this post.

And don't forget to visit the other fantastic stops on this tour, which you can find by clicking on the banner above.

About the Book

Title: Dead Jed 2: Dawn of the Jed
Author: Scott Craven
Publication Date: December 9, 2014
Publisher: Month9Books, LLC

Synopsis: The first part of seventh grade was rough on Jed, but things are looking up now that Christmas is almost here. As with past Christmases, Jed asks for the one thing he’s always wanted–a dog–and again, his parents tell him they’re not ready. But fate has a different plan when Jed sees a dog get run over by a car. Then, it happens. Jed suddenly has a pet, Tread, a zombie dog bearing his namesake–a tire tread down his back. Jed may have gained a dog, but he loses his best friend Luke, who fears the way Jed created his undead pet.
When Jed returns to school, he finds a mysterious group called the No Zombies Now Network spreading rumors of the dangers the undead pose to normal people. Forced to disprove Hollywood stereotypes, Jed has his work cut out for him as stories of a zombie dog begin to circulate. Jed could be expelled if he can’t expose the NZN Network as a fraud. Jed needs help from his kind of girlfriend Anna, especially after he discovers Luke has joined the shadowy group.
Once again navigating the treacherous waters of middle school, Jed does his best to stay in one piece. Only this time he’ll need even more duct tape and staples than usual.

About the Author

Proud graduate of Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, have one son who will turn 18 in March 2013, now a features writer for The Arizona Republic.

Connect with the Author: Website | Twitter

Jed's Top Zombie Movies

When is comes to zombies, there is no such thing as a bad movie. I'll admit some are better than others (and all are better than the zombie movie set in a particular club that focuses on adult entertainment), but I find something to like in all of them.

I decided to turn this question over to Jed, whose taste is far more discerning when it comes to films starring the undead. 

JED: Thanks for letting me voice my opinion and breaking the (un)dead silence on the best zombie movies. It's not that I speak of all zombies, except that I do, since Hollywood has given us so few speaking roles.

But I'm not here to rant and rave about on-screen zombie mistreatment, though I could. Instead, I give you my take on best zombie films of all-time (while ignoring the tons of bad ones, since I hate to speak ill of the undead):

“Night of the Living Dead”: The one that started it all. Shame about that sad ending (breathers felt for that one guy getting shot at the end, but I'm talking about the many zombies who fell to marksmen).

“Shaun of the Dead”: Showed that zombies can be regular people too, though fairly stupid. And not too sure about the ending where a zombie was chained up inside a shed. That could have registered protest from the SPZA (Society for the Prevention of Zombie Abuse).

“Zombieland”: Zombies are large and in charge. But why can't they at least learn to drive. Being brain dead is no excuse.

“28 Days”: Not crazy about the “zombies as cannibals” plot, but dang, zombies are super-fast. Nice the see the living dead as an athletic bunch of guys who could make the U.S. Olympic track team.

“Revenge of the Living Dead:” Zombies are a fairly stupid bunch, but it proves being dead doesn't mean losing your sense of humor.

“Dawn of the Dead”: Zombies take over a shopping mall. Sweet. If only they had a better sense of fashion. C'mon, it was all you could carry at Old Navy. You sure you don't want to change out of that decaying burial shroud?

“Day of the Dead:” Zombies take over the country. My dad said this was his favorite – “No politicians.” 

"World War Z": Not only is this one of the few movies to draw an A-List actor (thanks, Brad Pitt), but it featured undead hordes clever enough to build a zombie pyramid and scale a 40-foot wall. Excellent teamwork, guys. You make me proud to be undead.  

The Giveaway! 

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Month9Books Holiday Gift Blitz!

Welcome to Month9Books’ gift blitz for our amazing winter titles: Crown of Ice by Vicki L. Weavil, Praefatio by Georgia McBride, Endless by Amanda Gray, A Murder of Magpies by Sarah Bromley, Dead Jed (1 & 2) by Scott Craven, and Tracy Tam by Krystalyn Drown! Are you looking for the perfect winter/holiday read? Then these are the titles for you! Oh and as a thank you to our readers we have an amazing giveaway for you!

Crown of Ice by Vicki L. Weavil

Summary: Thyra Winther's seventeen, the Snow Queen, and immortal, but if she can't reassemble a shattered enchanted mirror by her eighteenth birthday she's doomed to spend eternity as a wraith.

Armed with magic granted by a ruthless wizard, Thyra schemes to survive with her mind and body intact. Unencumbered by kindness, she kidnaps local boy Kai Thorsen, whose mathematical skills rival her own. Two logical minds, Thyra calculates, are better than one. With time rapidly melting away she needs all the help she can steal.

A cruel lie ensnares Kai in her plan, but three missing mirror shards and Kai's childhood friend, Gerda, present more formidable obstacles. Thyra's willing to do anything – venture into uncharted lands, outwit sorcerers, or battle enchanted beasts -- to reconstruct the mirror, yet her most dangerous adversary lies within her breast. Touched by the warmth of a wolf pup's devotion and the fire of a young man's desire, the thawing of Thyra's frozen heart could be her ultimate undoing.

Crown of Ice is a YA Fantasy that reinvents Hans Christian Andersen's "The Snow Queen" from the perspective of a young woman who discovers that the greatest threat to her survival may be her own humanity.

Praefatio by Georgia McBride
Seventeen-year-old Grace Ann Miller is no ordinary runaway.After having been missing for weeks, Grace is found on the estate of international rock star Gavin Vault, half-dressed and yelling for help.

Over the course of twenty-four hours Grace holds an entire police force captive with incredulous tales of angels, demons, and war; intent on saving Gavin from lockup and her family from worry over her safety. Authorities believe that Grace is ill, suffering from Stockholm Syndrome, the victim of assault and a severely fractured mind. Undeterred, Grace reveals the secret existence of dark angels on earth, an ancient prophecy and a wretched curse steeped in Biblical myth.

Grace’s claims set into motion an ages-old war, resulting in blood, death and the loss of everything that matters. But are these the delusions of an immensely sick girl, or could Grace’s story actually be true? Praefatio is Grace’s account of weeks on the run, falling in love and losing everything but her faith. When it’s sister against brother, light versus darkness, corrupt police officers, eager doctors and accusing journalists, against one girl with nothing but her word as proof: who do you believe?

Purchase Links: Month9Books | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | TBD | IndieBound

Endless by Amanda Gray

Summary: Jenny Kramer knows she isn’t normal. After all, not everybody can see the past lives of people around them. When she befriends Ben Daulton, resident new boy, the pair stumble onto an old music box with instructions for "mesmerization" and discover they may have more in common than they thought—like a past life!

Using the instructions in the music box, Ben and Jenny share a dream that transports them to Romanov Russia and leads them to believe they have been there together before. But Nikolai, the mysterious young man Jenny has been seeing in her dreams who has now appeared next door, was there, too. Jenny is forced to acknowledge that Nikolai has traveled through time and space to find her. Doing so means he has defied the laws of time, and the Order, an ominous organization tasked with keeping people in the correct time, is determined to send him back. While Ben, Jenny, and Nikolai race against the clock—and the Order—Jenny and Nikolai discover a link that joins them in life and beyond death.

Purchase Links: Month9Books | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | TBD | IndieBound

A Murder of Magpies by Sarah Bromley

Summary: Winter in Black Orchard, Wisconsin, is long and dark, and sixteen-year-old Vayda Silver prays the snow will keep the truth and secrecy of the last two years buried. Hiding from the past with her father and twin brother, Vayda knows the rules: never return to the town of her mother’s murder, and never work a Mind Game where someone might see.

No one can know the toll emotions take on Vayda, how emotion becomes energy in her hands, or how she can’t control the destruction she causes. But it's not long before her powers can no longer be contained. The truth is dangerously close to being exposed, placing Vadya and her family at risk.

Until someone quiets the chaos inside her.

Unwanted. That's all Ward Ravenscroft has ever been. To cope, he numbs the pain of rejection by denying himself emotions of any kind.

Yet Vayda stirs something in him. He can't explain the hold she has on him--inspiring him with both hope and fear. He claims not to scare easily, except he doesn't know what her powers can do. Yet.

Just as Vadya and Ward draw closer, she finds the past isn't so easily buried. And when it follows the Silvers to Black Orchard, it has murder in mind.

Purchase Links: Month9Books | Amazon  |  Barnes & Noble | Kobo  |  Chapters Indigo! | TBD | IndieBound

Dead Jed: Adventures of a Middle School Zombie by Scott Craven

Summary: The first part of seventh grade was rough on Jed, but things are looking up now that Christmas is almost here. As with past Christmases, Jed asks for the one thing he's always wanted--a dog--and again, his parents tell him they're not ready. But fate has a different plan when Jed sees a dog get run over by a car. Then, it happens. Jed suddenly has a pet, Tread, a zombie dog bearing his namesake--a tire tread down his back.

Jed may have gained a dog, but he loses his best friend Luke, who fears the way Jed created his undead pet. When Jed returns to school, he finds a mysterious group called the No Zombies Now Network spreading rumors of the dangers the undead pose to normal people.

Forced to disprove Hollywood stereotypes, Jed has his work cut out for him as stories of a zombie dog begin to circulate. Jed could be expelled if he can't expose the NZN Network as a fraud. Jed needs help from his kind of girlfriend Anna, especially after he discovers Luke has joined the shadowy group. Once again navigating the treacherous waters of middle school, Jed does his best to stay in one piece. Only this time he'll need even more duct tape and staples than usual.

Purchase Links: Month9Books | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | TBD | Chapters Indigo! | Kobo

Dawn of the Jed (Dead Jed #2) by Scott Craven

Summary: As the fall semester ends and kids head home for winter break, Jed and his parents gather for the annual exchanging of gift lists. Once again, Jed asks for a dog, leading to a heated argument and a firm "no." But when Jed spots a stray, he chases it until the dog darts into the street where it is struck and killed by a car. Grief stricken by what he's done, Jed cradles the dead dog in his arms. Soon, ooze from the dog mixes with teardrops from Jed, creating Tread the zombie dog.

Finally getting his wish, Jed must convince his parents to let him keep the undead dog. But a zombie dog turns out to be the least of Jed's issues. It seems some parents don't want Jed attending school with their kids. Enter the mysterious NZN Network.

They've been distributing anti-zombie propaganda in an effort to get Jed expelled. But Jed wonders if the creation of Tread has caused his relationship with Luke to sour.

And why, just as he seems to need them the most, have his best friends abandoned him? Could they have bought in to the anti-zombie way of thinking?

Was creating Tread a mistake Jed will live to regret?

When Tread goes missing, and with his very existence at stake, Jed must rely on his instincts, team up with an old nemesis, and fight for his right to have just as miserable a middle school existence as any other student—undead or alive.

Purchase Links: Month9Books | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | TBDChapter Indigo! | Kobo

Tracy Tam: Santa Command by Krystalyn Drown

Summary: Tracy Tam doesn't really believe in Santa Claus, at least not like the rest of us do. She also doesn't believe that Santa can possibly deliver all of those presents in one night, to children around the world, without a little help from science. A flying sleigh can only be powered by jet engines, after all, and Santa's magical abilities can only be the result of altered DNA. How else could he know what every little girl and boy wants for Christmas and who has been naughty or nice?

In order to test her theories, Tracy sneaks onto Santa's sleigh then ends up at Santa Command, where a team of (gasp!) humans monitor Santa's big night. When Tracy attempts to hack into their computers, she accidentally introduces a virus into the system. As a result, three states get knocked out of sync with the rest of the world (oops!). Santa won't be able to deliver all the presents in time!

Now, Tracy must fix time and help Santa, but she has no idea how. How can a girl who doesn't believe help Santa and save Christmas before it's too late?

With a little Christmas magic, of course!

The Giveaway!

1 Winner will receive A Taste of Christmas Gift Basket 
US Only.

3 Winners will receive eBook bundles of 5 Month9Books.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

BLOG TOUR: Life AD 2: M.I.A.: Missing in Atman by Michelle E. Reed - Playlist + GIVEAWAY!

Hello! Today, we're happy to be a part of the blog tour for Michelle E. Reed's newest book in the Atman series, Life AD 2: M.I.A.: Missing in Atman! We have Michelle's Atman series playlist for you, as well as a giveaway! 

Life AD 2: M.I.A.: Missing in Atman is out TODAY, so go grab your copy ASAP! And don't forget to fill out the Rafflecopter form below for your chance to win one of five digital copies (open internationally!) You can also visit the rest of the tops on this tour by clicking on the banner above.

About the Book

Title: Life AD 2: M.I.A.: Missing in Atman
Publication date: December 16, 2014
Publisher: Month9Books, LLC.
Author: Michelle E. Reed

Synopsis: Dez is finally hitting her afterlife stride. She hasn’t missed a meeting or session in forty-two days, and she’s put the adventures and danger of her first days at Atman behind her. Life after death is becoming tolerable, yet nothing is quite what she’d hoped. Confusion over her feelings for Charlie, residual resentment over losing Hannah, and a continuous stream of unwanted assignments leave Dez restless and argumentative.

In a missed encounter with Crosby, her prying gaze lands upon a single entry in the datebook on his unoccupied desk. These few, hastily scribbled words reveal an enormous secret he’s keeping from her. Possessed by a painful sense of betrayal, she once again sneaks off to Atman City, determined to find answers to an unresolved piece of her life.

It begins as all their adventures do, but as light falls into darkness, a stop in an unfamiliar neighborhood sets forth a chaotic series of events. Dez will have to fight for her very existence, and will face painful, irreparable loss in an afterlife teeming with demons wielding ancient powers.
In M.I.A.: Missing in Atman, the second book in the Atman City series, Michelle E. Reed continues the story of Dez Donnelly, pushing her to her limits and surprising readers at every twist and turn of the vast world that is Atman.

Death was only the beginning.

About the Author

Michelle was born in a small Midwestern town, to which she has returned to raise her own family. Her imagination and love of literature were fueled by a childhood of late nights, hidden under the covers and reading by flashlight. She is a passionate adoption advocate who lives in Wisconsin with her husband, son, and their yellow lab, Sully.

Connect with the Author: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

Michelle's Playlist!

Thanks so much for hosting me during the M.I.A.: Missing in Atman blog tour, and thanks for the great topic!

There are a lot of songs that really speak to the theme and mood of M.I.A., the second installment in my Atman City series. For my playlist, I’ve selected songs that would serve as a great soundtrack for M.I.A., most of which were on my writing inspiration playlist.

Leave- Barenaked Ladies: This song is the one I was listening to during a flight to L.A. in 2006 when the first spark of what would become the Atman City series came to me.
Sirens- Pearl Jam: This song wasn’t out yet when I was writing M.I.A., but it is a perfect anthem for the book.
Nothing Lasts Forever- Maroon 5
Some Nights- Fun
Fix You- Coldplay
The Wind- Cat Stevens
All of Me- John Legend: Again, this song wasn’t out yet, but is very fitting.
You will be Waiting- Barenaked Ladies
Lean on Me- Bill Withers
Fall to Pieces-Velvet Revolver
Just Breathe- Pearl Jam
Sympathy for the Devil- The Rolling Stones
Lovers in a Dangerous Time- Bruce Cockburn: This song could really be the anthem for the entire series. “Nothing worth having comes without some kind of fight. Gotta kick at the darkness ‘til it bleeds daylight.”
Sea of no Cares- Great Big Sea
Just Like Heaven- The Cure
The Space Between- Dave Matthews Band
Tell Me Baby- Red Hot Chili Peppers                                      
F***in’ Perfect- Pink
With or Without You- U2
Everything- Alanis Morissette

The Giveaway!

Monday, December 15, 2014

BOOK BLAST: Elf Hills by S.S. Dudley - Excerpt + GIVEAWAY!

Happy Monday! Today, we're excited to be featuring Elf Hills by S.S. Dudley. We even have an excerpt and a giveaway for a $25 Amazon or Barnes & Noble gift card for you! Make sure to enter via the Rafflecopter form below, and visit each stop on the tour and comment for more chances to win. You can find the tour schedule by clicking the banner above.

The ebook of Elf Hills is also free until December 19th, so make sure you grab it now!

About the Book

Title: Elf Hills
Author: S.S. Dudley
Publication Date: October 2nd, 2014

Amazon | Goodreads

Synopsis: Something strange, something magical, is going on in the dusty hills behind the small town of Villaloma. Yet each time Linda Peters puts on her running shoes and sets out to find the enchanted kingdom she imagines—full of dancing elves, unicorns, and more—something stops her. And with school starting soon, she only has a few more chances to really search the hills.

While Linda’s frustration and doubt grow, her cousin, Nugu, looks for answers in his books and wonders if maybe, just maybe, Linda’s stories are for real.

The day finally arrives when Linda can run far, the day she is sure she will find her magic city. But when she and Nugu feel their goal must lie just beyond the next hill, they only find more hill.

Is it all a figment of an over-active imagination; a wistful fantasy?

Or is there truly something magical in those hills that only the strong of heart—and leg—can discover?

Read an Excerpt!

Excerpts from Elf Hills © 2014 by S. S. Dudley

From Chapter 4:
A rustle from a bush to the side of the trail attracted his attention. He watched, expecting a rabbit or ground squirrel to pop out and hoping for a snake or something he could actually catch. Distracted from his search, he quietly picked his way down from the rocks, watching the bush. It rustled again as his foot touched down.

A wave of apprehension washed over him. Something about the moment was familiar, as if he had been in this situation before. The images were vague, so he dismissed them. His imagination got away from him sometimes. 

He tiptoed toward the bush, his eyes scanning and probing, looking for a sign of the critter hidden underneath. 

He reached out to grab a branch and pull it back—again the images washed over him, memories… There! It was a… a raccoon? Big round eyes, a wide face with a black, furry mask, short stubby ears, and lots of fur. It was holding something shiny in its hands—paws? The creature quickly concealed what it held and growled, showing a mouthful of teeth.

"Augh!" Nugu fell back, scrambling like a crab.

A safe ten feet away, Nugu watched the bush. It rattled again. The raccoon—it could only be a raccoon, he thought—waddled out into the open. It was walking on two feet. Do raccoons walk on two feet? Nugu tried to remember all of the animal documentaries he had seen. Maybe? And do raccoons get so big? This guy looked like he could take on Jeremiah, Nugu's four-year-old (almost five) brother. It reminded Nugu of something else entirely, some creature from a book… or a movie. 

Unconsciously, feeling more nervous, Nugu took a couple steps backward.

The big, standing raccoon looked at him, and threw its arms in the air. "BaaaagahLOO!" it grunted. Nugu jumped straight up, turned, and ran.

About the Author

S. S. Dudley grew up in Wyoming, USA, an avid reader and lover of the outdoors. He studied at the University of Wyoming and the University of Illinois. He started his first book (an epic fantasy hand-written in with a blue fountain pen…) when he was 13, but never finished it. At some point (as his mother recently reminded him), he decided that he needed to go do something (like get a job) for a while before he could, or should, write. He did, and spent time in Colombia, Panamá, Antarctica and the dark recesses of large science buildings on college campuses. That done, he now writes, lives and runs in Northern California with his wife and two children. He can be found at: 

The Giveaway

Saturday, December 13, 2014

No Such Thing as Perfect by Sarah Daltry - Ashley's Review

Title: No Such Thing as Perfect
Author: Sarah Daltry
Publication date: December 11th 2014
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult

Amazon | Smashwords | Kobo | Paperback | Goodreads

Synopsis: College was supposed to be perfect. She was supposed to be perfect.

For Lily Drummond, life is about following the rules. To be specific, her mother’s rules. College fit into the plan – maintain perfect grades, date the perfect guy, and live the perfect life. On her own, though, Lily realizes that she doesn’t actually have a plan. Without being told what to think and do, she keeps making mistakes.

Away from home, the perfect facade is beginning to shatter. When Lily herself starts to break, it’s the support of an unlikely friend that teaches her how much of a lie perfect really is – and how to be whole on her own terms.

No Such Thing as Perfect was inspired by Sarah's Flowering series, but it stands completely alone as its own title. The same characters appear and some situations are similar, but this was written with a different goal in mind. There is NO on-camera sex in this novel and it is not a "romance" novel by most standards, but a story of growing up and being okay with who you are.

For more info, visit Sarah's website


Review: I've been a huge fan of Sarah Daltry's books since I stumbled across Backward Compatible, and when I heard she was writing a new book inspired by her Flowering series, I knew I had to read it. And while I really liked the Flowering series, I'm so glad that No Such Thing as Perfect came out of it, because I think this is the story that was aching to get out and be heard. 

Although Lily's experiences were not entirely my own, there were parts of her life that I could completely understand. I was lucky in that I had friends and family supporting my decisions and not holding me to ridiculous standards, but I know what it's like to be afraid of failing. I've known people who are terrified of disappointing their parents or who refuse to let go of the past and can't see the present for what it is. I felt for Lily throughout this whole book, and most of the time I just wanted to give her a huge hug and be there for her.

I'm not huge on contemporary realistic YA. I mean, I know there's a place for it and I know a lot of people enjoy it, but I'd rather lose myself in a fantasy world than have to read about the problems that run rampant in this world. But Sarah's writing is captivating and drew me in from the first sentence, and I found that I couldn't put this book down. I stayed up well past my bed time, wanting to know what was going to happen next in Lily's life. I had to know if she could break through her chains and be her own person. 

This is a very character driven book, and it was nice to read something that wasn't so heavily focused on plot. I very much enjoyed getting to know Lily, Jack, and Alana, and I'm really hoping that we get to learn the rest of their stories soon. I did not enjoy getting to know Derrick, and I'm glad that things happened the way they did. I know he was important in Lily's story and her growing up, but I hope we never have to see him again. He's basically the worst. Ugh. Just thinking about him makes me angry. 

If you enjoy contemporary YA, I think you'll really enjoy this book. Sarah's writing is just so fluid and beautiful, and the words become reality as they draw you into the page. I am so glad that No Such Thing as Perfect is out there in the world, because I think it can help give voice to some of the problems that many young girls face and help them to know that they are not alone. Go grab your copy ASAP! You won't regret it. 5/5.


Thursday, December 11, 2014

Month9Books FRIDAY REVEAL: Horror Business by Ryan Craig Bradford - Chapter 1 + GIVEAWAY!


Welcome to this week’s M9B Friday Reveal!

This week, we are revealing the first chapter for

Horror Business by Ryan Craig Bradford

presented by Month9Books!

Be sure to enter the giveaway found at the end of the post!


Armed with a passion for classic B-grade horror movies, a script co-written by his twin brother, and a wicked crush on his death-obsessed neighbor; hardcore horror fan Jason Nightshade must finish his student film.

But his plans are derailed when the children of suburban Silver Creek start disappearing – his twin brother among them. Battling a possessed video camera, a crazy zombie dog, a monstrous bully, and a frighteningly broken down family life, Jason embarks on a mission to find his lost brother so the two can write an ending for his story.

As any horror fan knows, saving the day won’t be easy, as Jason finds himself forced to face the real world where death isn’t just a splash of fake blood on a camera lens.

add to goodreads

Title: Horror Business
Publication date: February 2015
Publisher: Month9Books, LLC.
Author: Ryan Craig Bradford


Chapter 1

Warm colors sharpen as the focus reveals an image of a boy. The boy sits patiently and stares at you. He giggles and sticks his tongue out as the image softens before settling on an appropriate focus. You recognize this boy because he looks a lot like me. A voice from offscreen tells the boy that everything’s ready, that he can begin whenever he feels like it.
Boy: What do you want me to say?
Offscreen: What’s your favorite scary movie?
Boy: Like in Scream?
Offscreen: Just answer the question.
Boy: What’s this for anyway?
Offscreen: Nothing really. Maybe a school project.
Boy: Fine. But a favorite scary movie? That’s like picking your favorite child.
Offscreen: Well, what are some of the ones you like?
Boy: I like ghost movies.
Offscreen: How come?
Boy: I think the only thing more frightening than opening a closet door and finding a knife-wielding maniac is opening up that closet door and finding nothing. If you take away all the monsters and serial killers, all we have to fear is ourselves. We create ghosts when there isn’t anything else left to scare us.
Offscreen: That’s deep.
Boy: Are we done yet?
Offscreen: Just state your name. You know, for legitimacy.
Boy: My name is Brian Nightshade and you’ve just tuned in to What I Think About Horror Movies.
Offscreen: Thanks.
The image goes black.

If we shoot a movie in black and white we use chocolate syrup. If it’s in color we use corn syrup with red food coloring.
So much sugar goes into blood.
Chocolate syrup was used for Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho. Corn syrup was used for The Evil Dead. It was my brother who told me that.
Death needs to be sweetened.
I pedal past a row of shuttered buildings on my way to the grocery store. The faux-cabin exteriors only deceive the tourists that flood our town during the summer and winter months. Most shops simply shut down during the fall. Silver Creek has been dead since Labor Day and will remain that way until Christmas.
I check over my shoulder, hold my breath, and swerve into the road. A gust of wind blows a swarm of dead leaves into my spokes, some of which get shredded. The others get caught between the wheel and the fork. I enjoy the gory death of the red and gold foliage. A minivan pulls up alongside me. I make eye contact with the driver, a middle-aged woman with a sour face. She shakes her head and speeds away. I flip her off.
I cut to the left and let the momentum take me up the slight incline of the parking lot. I set my bike against the rack and leave it unlocked.
There’s a cork bulletin board at the entrance to the grocery store—a place where people can advertise yard sales, community events, or lost pets. It’s covered with brightly-colored flyers. The flyers declare their purpose with bold, 20-point font.
The parents who make the flyers use the most attractive pictures, as if that will get their children found faster. I feel bad for the parents with ugly kids. The faces look at you, smiles frozen with gapped and crooked teeth because they haven’t had the benefit of a good orthodontist yet.
Some of the kids have taken to collecting them like baseball cards. Sometimes you’ll see a grief-stricken parent replacing a flyer of their missing kid. It’s awkward.
Hot pink, neon green, electric orange. I look down to avoid them. The neon looks awful and inappropriately bright. Like they’re trying to sell something.
I think again of sweetened death.
The corn syrup is expensive. I check for a knock-off brand on a lower shelf, but it turns out I’m holding the knock-off. The higher-priced bottle’s label shows an abstract illustration of a farm and boasts 100% organic. Mountain prices for a mountain town. Silver Creek loves to spend money on products that make it feel rustic.
There’s barely enough money in my wallet to cover the corn syrup, and I briefly contemplate changing the movie to black and white. I’m sure we’ve got a shitload of chocolate syrup back at the house. It’s been so long since my family’s eaten ice cream.
But no, it has to be in color. I’m not fucking around with this one. It’s going to be my masterpiece.
I wait behind Marilyn Mackie while the cashier rings her up. Mrs. Mackie fills the aisle; her ass grazing the gum and breath mints on the display behind her. She stares ahead until the cashier—a similarly large girl with braces—tallies the total of her groceries. The sum is humongous, and I can’t wait to tell Steve about how much the Mac Attack spent on food the next time I see him. Mrs. Mackie snaps out of her daze and notices me. The recognition makes her gasp and she puts a hand to her chest. It’s like she saw a ghost.
“Hi, Mrs. Mackie.”
“Oh, I’m sorry, Jason. You startled me.”
I nod and look down at my shoes. I pass the bottle of corn syrup between my hands. Mrs. Mackie pays.
“How are your folks?” she asks.
“Oh, you know.”
“That’s good,” she says. “I mean, not good, but. …” She trails off. She exhales and her entire being deflates; her chin sinks into the comfort of her neck. “I’m sorry. It’s been hard for all of us.”
“It’s okay.”
The printer uncurls a receipt, and the checkout girl folds it three times before handing it to Mrs. Mackie. Mrs. Mackie pushes her cart of groceries forward while she reads the scroll of her purchases. I put the bottle on the conveyer belt and watch as it’s pulled toward the cashier. I wonder if she and Mrs. Mackie regard each other as past and future selves.
“You remind me of someone I’ve seen before?”
The checkout girl smiles at me and waits for my reaction. It’s not a question, really, but the upward pitch in her last word forces a glaring question mark. The white bands on her braces have turned yellow from neglect and she holds my corn syrup hostage while I think of a response. Mrs. Mackie looks up from her receipt. The terror returns to her face.
“Maybe it’s my brother. We’re twins.”
“Maybe. Or maybe someone famous?” She twists the bottle around in her hands. It’s disturbing the way she caresses it while she thinks. Her tongue sweeps her broad-set, braced teeth. I want to tell her again that it’s probably my brother who she’s thinking about, but I know that’s not true.
“Excuse me,” says Mrs. Mackie. “Are you new here or something? Don’t you know who he is?”
The checkout girl frowns and gives up. “I don’t know.” She sighs and chucks my syrup into a plastic bag. “They just tell us to be nice to the customers.”
She hands me the bag with a limp wrist. I take it without saying thanks. Mrs. Mackie, embarrassed from her outburst, waddles to the exit, and the automatic door swings open. I maneuver around her before she fills the doorframe and the electric eye senses my urgency. I jump out into the parking lot to feel the cooling-but-still-warm autumn air. I realize I’ve been sweating.
“Don’t listen to her. What does she know, anyway?” Mrs. Mackie calls out to me from the entrance of the store. She reaches into the pocket of her sweatpants and pulls a yellow flyer out, folded into fourths. “Things will work out, you’ll see.” She slaps the flyer onto the corkboard and tacks it in.
The automatic door closes slowly on Mrs. Mackie like a fade out.
My brother, Brian Nightshade, was the first to go missing.
Since then, Donny Yates was second, and then a week later it was Collin Stephenson. Bobby Islo, Andy Stoner, Clint Something and the girlish-looking Sean Fornier disappeared within a three-month span. Wendy Dee was the first and only girl to go missing so far. After her disappearance, the town’s cruel irritability toward these “runaways” was replaced by a surging fear of kidnappers and child-molesters. Every recluse and old person became a target for suspicion.
It’s funny how a girl can change things.
Greg Mackie was the latest one. He went missing last week.
Nine children so far.
I’m positive that The Lost Boys is the greatest vampire movie ever made, only because it’s the dumbest. Most vampire movies become bogged down by romance and other boring stuff. Or what Greg Mackie called it: moral ambiguities and penetration motifs. He was into that kind of theory stuff.
I lean my bike against the window of King Kong Video, Silver Creek’s only rental store. The clerk, a balding twenty-something, stares through the glass and frowns. He wears glasses and has a beard shaved to create a fake jaw line on his soft face.
A large portion of King Kong’s selection consists of VHS tapes. They don’t stock new releases, which is fine by me—I just download whatever I can’t find. New movies aren’t really scary anyway. I’m pretty sure the store stays in business because of their adult section, but it’s possible to find gems that only exist in analog: B-grade films with lots of gore and nudity. Some of them are actually okay.
“Please don’t lean your bike against the window,” the clerk says. “It could break it.” He’s got some pretentious foreign movie playing on the TV. Waves of an incomprehensible language float through the air. There’s a MISSING CHILD poster taped on the wall behind the counter. It’s Collin Stephenson, the third kid to go missing.
“You got The Lost Boys in?” I ask.
The clerk tsks, but types the request into King Kong’s ancient computer system. He hits a key, and the machine lurches to life. It sounds like actual gears are carrying out the function. Collin smiles at me from over the clerk’s shoulder. It's been a long time since Collin's parents have printed any new flyers, making this poster somewhat of a collector’s item. I wander into the inventory while the computer thinks.
I peruse the horror section, admiring the artwork on movie boxes, noting which ones have the scariest screenshots on the back. Re-Animator 2 is a good one; Chopping Mall is all right but it has the best name of any movie. Frankenhooker is one of my favorites. I watched that twice in one night before.
When we were little, my brother and I were so scared of these boxes that we’d dare each other to look at them. Our mom made us stop when Brian started seeing monsters in the closet.
I pick up another box. The movie’s called Basket Case. On the cover, a claw pokes out from the rim of a wicker basket and a frightening set of eyes peer out from deeper within.
The movie is about two brothers: Duane and Belial. Conjoined twins. Doctors separate them at birth because of Belial’s monstrous appearance—like a tumorous mound growing out the side of Duane. Just a pile of skin molded into teeth and arms, really.
As adults, Duane carries Belial around in a wicker basket to exact revenge on the doctors that separated them. Because that’s what brothers do.
Last year me and Brian wanted to be Duane and Belial for Halloween, but we couldn’t agree on who got to be the deformed twin.
“Hey kid!”
I drop the box and catch it in mid-air before setting it back on the shelf.
“It’s out,” says the clerk. “The Lost Boys. Computer says so. Says it was rented two weeks ago.”
“Can I put a hold on it?”
“What’s the name?”
It’s annoying. I’ve been in this guy’s store nearly every weekend for the last two years and he still doesn’t know my name. Fuck his window. I hope my bike does break it. “Nightshade.”
The guy clacks away at the keyboard. His brow furrows. “Interesting. Says here that you were the last one to rent it.”
“What?” The clerk turns the ancient monitor toward me. The name NIGHSHADE reads out in green text. “I don’t have it.”
“Are you sure? You weren’t the one who rented it?” He slides his glasses up the bridge of his nose. “I’m pretty sure it was you.”
“I rent a lot of movies here, but not that one. I don’t have it.”
“Pretty sure it was you. I have a good memory, Nightwing.”
“Mmhm.” A victorious breath. “I don’t know. Not my problem. It’s on your family’s account, so either find it or pay the fine.”
The cassette playing the foreign movie cuts out. Dialog becomes muddled. Lines of static roll down the screen and the picture jumps from left to right. The image freezes and a loud clicking comes from inside the VCR. Interior whirring speeds up until the machine’s mouth spews out the tape in long strands.
“Shit,” says the clerk with more resignation than annoyance. I leave without renting anything.
The main streets of Silver Creek eventually feed into the suburban neighborhoods where houses are modern and earth-toned. You used to be able to walk outside at night and watch your neighbor’s big-screen TV from the street. You could even hear the pummeling action through their surround-sound. Most everyone keeps their blinds closed now. I stand at the entrance of my own house, hand on the door. Vibrations from my parents’ expensive sound-system massage my palm in spurts. This evening’s attempt at twilight is filtered through haze; shadows look smeared. It’s as if a far-off volcano has spewed its evil, and dominant winds have brought the ashes of creatures to settle in the atmosphere over our town, a dusty swarm of spirits that dims the sunlight.
I turn the knob and push. The house is vaguely humid. Mom’s watching a show about historical hauntings. On the screen, some guys are using night vision cameras and EVP recorders to prove the existence of ghosts. They never find anything, but my mom’s completely addicted. She doesn’t even know what EVP stands for.
They’re playing back the audio recording, enhanced for home viewers. The result is a high-pitched squeal that drops out in rapid successions. The ghost hunters try to convince us that this pattern is a ghost saying, Get out of my house.
“Mom,” I say. “Hi!”
Mom looks up from the TV. The screech continues. She waves. “Jason. I didn’t see you.”
I fall onto the cushion next to her. She has no scent anymore. In fact, a faint antiseptic odor has overtaken everything, muting out any sense of home. It’s the smell of keeping yourself busy, keeping your mind off things.
Mom points to the screen. “This house. They say it’s the most haunted house in America.”
“Don’t they say that about all the houses?”
On the screen, a stationary camera catches a door closing by itself. The creak is deafening.
I shout my question again. Mom laughs. The crew runs toward the camera. The night vision filter makes their eyes look simultaneously alive and soulless, like wild animals. The host’s fear—captured by the green filter—is by far the scariest thing about these shows, not the closing doors or muffled audio. Darkness makes everyone look feral.
The show cuts to commercials that are nearly twice as loud as the ghost show. I stand to leave. Mom grabs my hand, squeezes, and lets it go. A loving acknowledgement. A wordless I know, or I’m sorry, or another deep-meaning pleasantry. I leave her alone to watch her show.
I push through the kitchen door and into an overbearing cloud of smoke, like walking through a sweaty cobweb. The smoke detector buzzes; its alarm sounds weak from overuse.
A pot sits on the stove; flames reach up the side with demonic glee. I shut the monster down. There’s no water left, just burnt spaghetti stuck to the bottom. I turn the sink faucet on and put everything under the cooling rinse. The pot, relieved of its torture, gives off a heavy sigh and unleashes one last puff of steam into the air. I silence the smoke alarm by taking it off the wall and removing the battery.
My dad walks in, waves smoke away like he’s used to it. He opens the fridge and pulls out a diet root beer. He empties half of it in one gulp. A belch blossoms out of his throat, and I smell a day’s worth of closed-mouth.
“What’s with all the commotion in here?” He nods toward the disassembled smoke alarm in my hand. “That’ll kill us, you know.” He winks and finishes his soda.
“It was going crazy. Somebody left the food on the stove.” I pick the pot up out of the sink and show him the caked-together mass of spaghetti, brown and drowning in the tepid water.
“Wasn’t me,” he says and lets the room suffocate on scalding air while he opens another can.
We eat sandwiches that night. Peanut butter and honey. The ghost show is still running (some sort of marathon, I guess). We eat at the table, but all our heads are turned to the TV. I peel the crusts off my bread and dangle them above my mouth before dropping them in.
The screech of an EVP recording makes us all wince. I look over to my mom, and her eyes are hidden behind glasses reflecting the images of men running from invisible pursuers.
At the commercial, my mom turns the sound down.
“How was school?” she asks.
“It’s Saturday,” I say.
“That’s my boy,” my dad says. He crams a last bite of sandwich into his mouth.
“Can I spend the night at Steve’s?”
“Sure,” Mom says. “Whatever you want.”
“Oh!” Dad says. “Honey, did you know you left the pot on the burner today?”
Mom looks down at her sandwich as if it’s a piece of evidence. “Oh.”
“Sorry,” she says. “Must’ve forgot.”
Dad nudges me. “Must’ve forgot.” He chuckles. “Get it?” He says this like an inside joke. “Get it?”
“I knew I forgot something,” she says.
“Damn near burned the house down. Ask Jason.” He looks at me for approval. I stare at the crumbs on my plate.
“She must’ve forgot,” he says again with some mysterious emphasis. He mouths it to me while Mom watches the ghost hunters. I clear my place without asking to be excused. Mom turns the soundtrack up to ear-splitting levels. Dad grabs my wrist; he’s laughing so hard that the crumbs on his belly are shaking off onto the carpet. Tears stand in his eyes. I still don't know what he finds so funny.
“Get it?” he keeps asking.

Horror Business
We didn’t fuck around when it came down to business: just like how the original Evil Dead was a better movie than Evil Dead II. Just like how the original Halloween was better than Friday the 13th, but still not as good as Nightmare On Elm Streets I and III. Just like how The Ring was good, but every other remake of a Japanese horror movie sucked. Just like how the Re-Animator might be the best comedy-horror ever made, and how there really hasn’t been a good vampire movie since The Lost Boys.
Like how we knew that the original Dawn of the Dead was filmed at the Monroeville Mall in Monroeville, Pennsylvania. Like how it’s lame that you now have to say “the original” when talking about a lot of horror movies.
Like how we thought Pinhead was a good villain but Hellraiser was confusing.
How 28 Days Later is not a zombie movie, technically.
And how movies aren’t really as scary as they used to be.
Horror business was our business, and we didn’t fuck around.



Ryan grew up in Park City, Utah. His fiction has appeared in Quarterly West, Paper Darts, Vice, Monkeybicycle and [PANK]. He currently lives in San Diego where he acts as Creative Director for the nonprofit literary arts organization So Say We All. He’s the co-editor of the anthology Last Night on Earth and founder of the literary horror journal, Black Candies.

Connect with the Author:  Website | Twitter


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