BOOK SPOTLIGHT: Bluescreen by Dan Wells + Giveaway!!

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Bluescreen

Dan Wells

Published February 16th 2016 by Balzer & Bray

YA > SciFi | Dystopia

Purchase links: Amazon | BN | TBD | itunes | Kobo

 

BLURB FROM GOODREADS:

Los Angeles in 2050 is a city of open doors, as long as you have the right connections. One of those connections is a djinni—a smart device implanted right in a person’s head. In a world where virtually everyone is online twenty-four hours a day, this connection is like oxygen—and a world like that presents plenty of opportunities for someone who knows how to manipulate it.

Marisa Carneseca is one of those people. She might spend her days in Mirador, the small, vibrant LA neighborhood where her family owns a restaurant, but she lives on the net—going to school, playing games, hanging out, or doing things of more questionable legality with her friends Sahara and Anja. And it’s Anja who first gets her hands on Bluescreen—a virtual drug that plugs right into a person’s djinni and delivers a massive, non-chemical, completely safe high. But in this city, when something sounds too good to be true, it usually is, and Mari and her friends soon find themselves in the middle of a conspiracy that is much bigger than they ever suspected.

Dan Wells, author of the New York Times bestselling Partials Sequence, returns with a stunning new vision of the near future—a breathless cyber-thriller where privacy is the world’s most rare resource and nothing, not even the thoughts in our heads, is safe.

 

1

[tour schedule

 

 

AUTHOR:

 

 Caroline-Patti-225x300

Twitter | Website  | Facebook

Dan Wells is a thriller and science fiction writer. Born in Utah, he spent his early years reading and writing. He is he author of the Partials series (Partials, Isolation, Fragments, and Ruins), the John Cleaver series (I Am Not a Serial Killer, Mr. Monster, and I Don’t Want To Kill You), and a few others (The Hollow City, A Night of Blacker Darkness, etc). He was a Campbell nomine for best new writer, and has won a Hugo award for his work on the podcast Writing Excuses; the podcast is also a multiple winner of the Parsec Award.

 

 


   

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SNEAK-A-PEEK: Nora and Kettle by Lauren Nicolle Taylor + Giveaway!!

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Nora & Kettle

Lauren Nicolle Taylor

Published February 29th 2016 by Clean Teen Publishing

YA > Historical Fiction | Retelling

Purchase links: Amazon | BN  | itunes | Kobo

 

BLURB FROM GOODREADS:

“What if Peter Pan was a homeless kid just trying to survive, and Wendy flew away for a really good reason?”

Seventeen-year-old Kettle has had his share of adversity. As an orphaned Japanese American struggling to make a life in the aftermath of an event in history not often referred to the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II and the removal of children from orphanages for having “one drop of Japanese blood in them” things are finally looking up. He has his hideout in an abandoned subway tunnel, a job, and his gang of Lost Boys.

Desperate to run away, the world outside her oppressive brownstone calls to naive, eighteen-year-old Nora the privileged daughter of a controlling and violent civil rights lawyer who is building a compensation case for the interned Japanese Americans. But she is trapped, enduring abuse to protect her younger sister Frankie and wishing on the stars every night for things to change.

For months, they’ve lived side by side, their paths crossing yet never meeting. But when Nora is nearly killed and her sister taken away, their worlds collide as Kettle, grief stricken at the loss of a friend, angrily pulls Nora from her window.

In her honeyed eyes, Kettle sees sadness and suffering. In his, Nora sees the chance to take to the window and fly away.

Set in 1953, Nora & Kettle explores the collision of two teenagers facing extraordinary hardship. Their meeting is inevitable, devastating, and ultimately healing. Their stories, “a collection of events, are each on their own harmless. But together, one after the other, they change the world.””

 

1

[tour schedule

 

EXCERPT:

I snort, push my sleeves up, and lean back on my forearms. She watches me, her eyes on my bare skin, and I wonder what she’s thinking. “Dances. Really? What’s to miss?” My experience with dances was one forced event in the camps where we watched the grownups awkwardly shift in lines to scratchy music. It didn’t look very enjoyable.

She releases the button she’s been playing with and smirks. “Says someone who’s clearly never been to one.”

“How do you know that?” I say, raising an eyebrow and touching my chest, mock offended.

She laughs. It’s starlight in a jar. I blink slowly. “Oh, I can tell just by looking at you, the way you move. You,” she says, pointing at me accusingly. “Can’t dance.”

The candlelight twinkles like it’s chuckling at me. “I can dance,” I say, not sure why I’m lying to defend myself. I’ve never danced in my life.

She stands up and beckons me with her finger, and I think there’s something wrong with my heart. It’s hurting… but the pain feels good.

She looks like a pirate’s cabin boy, shirt billowing around her small waist, ill-fitting pants rolled over at her hips to stop them from falling down. She points her bare foot at me. “Prove it!”

Shit!

I cough and stand nervously. I don’t know what to do with my hands, so I put them behind my back. She giggles. Touches me. Runs her fingers lightly down my arms until she finds my hands. She grasps my wrists and I gulp as she places one on the small dip between her hips and her ribs, extending the other out like the bow of a boat. Her hand in mine.

I follow her small steps and we wind in circles, avoiding the clumps of debris, painting patterns in the dust.

I stare at my socks and her narrow bare feet, listening to the swish of them across the dirt. “You know, this is pretty weird without music,” I mutter, looking up for a moment and suddenly losing my balance.

She exhales and brings us back to equilibrium. She starts humming softly. It’s a song I’ve heard before, but I pretend it’s the first time. Her voice is sweet, cracked and croaky, but in tune as she gazes at the ground and leads us up and down the back of the tunnel.

This moment is killing me. I don’t want it, but I do. Because I know it won’t be enough and it’s all I’ll get.

The end of the song is coming. It rises and rises and then softly peters out. We look at each other, understanding that something is changing between us, and we have to decide whether to let it. Please, let it.

She sings the last few bars. “And if you sing this melody, you’ll be pretending just like me. The world is mine. It can be yours, my friend. So why don’t you pretend?”

Her voice is like the dust of a comet’s tail. Full of a thousand things I don’t understand but want to.

She stops and starts to step away. She’s so fragile. Not on the outside. On the outside, her body is strong, tougher than it should have to be. It’s inside that’s very breakable. I’m scared to touch her, but I don’t want to avoid touching her because of what she’s been through. That seems worse.

So I do it, because I want to and I don’t think she doesn’t want me to. Her breath catches as I pull her closer. I just want to press my cheek to hers, feel her skin against mine. There is no music, just the rhythm of two barely functioning hearts trying to reach each other through miles of scar tissue.

She presses her ear to my chest and listens, then she pulls back to meet my eyes, her expression a mixture of confusion and comfort. She breathes out, her lips not wanting to close but not wanting to speak. She settles on a nervous smile and puts her arms around my neck. I inhale and look up at the ceiling, counting the stars I know are up there somewhere, and then rest my cheek in her hair.

I don’t know how she is here. I don’t know when she’ll disappear.

We sway back and forth, and it feels like we might break. That we will break if we step apart from each other.

I can’t let her go.

I think I love dancing.

 

a

 

 

AUTHOR:

 Caroline-Patti-225x300

Twitter | Website  | Facebook

Lauren Nicolle Taylor lives in the lush Adelaide Hills. The daughter of a Malaysian nuclear physicist and an Australian scientist, she was expected to follow a science career path, attending Adelaide University and completing a Health Science degree with Honours in obstetrics and gynaecology.

She then worked in health research for a short time before having her first child. Due to their extensive health issues, Lauren spent her twenties as a full-time mother/carer to her three children. When her family life settled down, she turned to writing.

She is a 2014 Kindle Book Awards Semi-finalist and a USA Best Book Awards Finalist.

 

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BOOK SPOTLIGHT: Blackhearts by Nicol Castroman + Giveaway!!

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Blackhearts

Nicole Castroman

Published January 26th 2016 by Balzer & Bray

YA > Mystery | Thriller

Purchase links: Amazon | BN | TBD | itunes | Kobo

 

BLURB FROM GOODREADS:

Blackbeard the pirate was known for striking fear in the hearts of the bravest of sailors. But once he was just a young man who dreamed of leaving his rigid life behind to chase adventure in faraway lands. Nothing could stop him—until he met the one girl who would change everything.

Edward “Teach” Drummond, son of one of Bristol’s richest merchants, has just returned from a year-long journey on the high seas to find his life in shambles. Betrothed to a girl he doesn’t love and sick of the high society he was born into, Teach dreams only of returning to the vast ocean he’d begun to call home. There’s just one problem: convincing his father to let him leave and never come back.

Following her parents’ deaths, Anne Barrett is left penniless and soon to be homeless. Though she’s barely worked a day in her life, Anne is forced to take a job as a maid in the home of Master Drummond. Lonely days stretch into weeks, and Anne longs for escape. How will she ever realize her dream of sailing to Curaçao—where her mother was born—when she’s stuck in England?

From the moment Teach and Anne meet, they set the world ablaze. Drawn to each other, they’re trapped by society and their own circumstances. Faced with an impossible choice, they must decide to chase their dreams and go, or follow their hearts and stay.

 

1

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AUTHOR:

 

 Caroline-Patti-225x300

Twitter | Website  | Facebook

Nicole was lucky enough to come with her very own best friend…she has a twin sister who can read her mind and finish her sentences for her.
At the age of 13, she went to Europe for the first time and it changed her life. She loves learning about different people, languages and cultures and speaks fluent German. She knows enough Spanish to get herself into trouble and can still read the Cyrillic alphabet from when she studied Russian.
She received her B.A. from Brigham Young University and has lived in Germany, Austria and two different places called Georgia. One is located on the Black Sea. The other is the state of Georgia where she now lives with her handsome husband and two beautiful children who continue to amaze her.

 

 


   

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ARC REVIEW: Thicker Than Water by Brigid Kemmerer

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Thicker than Water

Brigid Kemmerer

December 29th 2015

Young Adult > Mystery

432 pages (Kindle edition)

eARC via Netgalley

 

3★★★

 

BLURB FROM GOODREADS:

On his own

Thomas Bellweather hasnt been in town long. Just long enough for his newlywed mother to be murdered, and for his new stepdads cop colleagues to decide Thomas is the primary suspect.

Not that theres any evidence. But before Thomas got to Garretts Mill there had just been one other murder in twenty years.

The only person who believes him is Charlotte Rooker, little sister to three cops and, with her soft hands and sweet curves, straight-up dangerous to Thomas. Her best friend was the other murder vic. And shed like a couple answers.

Answers that could get them both killed, and reveal a truth Thomas would die to keep hidden

 

REVIEW:

I’m here because I’ve been attracted to you since the moment I saw you outside the church.

Yes that totally justifies hanging out with a guy who’s suspected of murder. Come on, he’s cute! Murder? How could he possibly?!

I’m here because you let your guard down around me sometimes, and I don’t think you do that with anyone else.

Seeing as you’re the only one who talks to him, what with him being a murder suspect and all. I can’t imagine anyone else who would willingly offer friendship to him. Well … except for you so yes, maybe that’s why. And also, you’re hot!!11

I’m here because you make me feel like I have something to offer the world, instead of being someone who needs to be sheltered away.

Ugh. 

Basically, what I hated about this book was how Charlotte kept romanticizing Thomas and how the first part of the book mainly focuses on her infatuation towards him that it somehow escaped her mind that the guy who’s making her all tingly inside is also suspected of murdering his mother. No biggie. These two could not be in a room together without either one of them thinking how hot the other is and wanting to tear each other’s clothes off. Like what is even with two of them?

It’s not clear who killed Thomas’ mother. That’s where the mystery begins. What we do know is that he just found her there lifelessly lying in bed. No forced entry. Not even a sign of struggle. Even though Thomas is the main character, I, as a reader, still did not eliminate the chance that he could be the murderer. So yes, I don’t care if Thomas gets Charlotte hot every time they’re near each other, I still think they were being stupid.

But still I trudged on forward even though it took me almost a month to get to the finish line. And wow I was impressed. Not because the mystery was so mind-blowing in the how did it even level. It was a little predictable actually. I was impressed by how this book hooked me and kept me on the edge of my seat for the second half part of the book. To think that just a few chapters ago, I was almost ready to dismiss this book as another careless mystery that couldn’t keep up to the genre (*cough* Never Never *cough*).

I’m no Sherlock and I admit, as soon as bits and pieces of clues were revealed, it was pretty easy to put them all together. But it still kept me wanting more.

All in all, Thicker Than Water is close to being a solid mystery. Like I said, mind-blogging is not what the book is, but what it offered was enough to keep me engaged all the way through the end. I still can’t let go of the characters stupidity though.

MARLAhbt

SNEAK-A-PEEK: Racing Hearts: Compilation by Laura Lascarso + Giveaway!!

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Racing Hearts: Compilation

Laura Lascarso

Published October 26th 2015 by Leap Books, LLC

YA/NA > Contemporary | Romance

 

Purchase links: Amazon | BN 

 

BLURB FROM GOODREADS:

Book One:

Eighteen-year-old Jesse Copeland learns of a local car race sponsored by his father’s nemesis, Shep Bradley, and the prize money might be enough to keep his family from losing their home–if he can win. Brooke, Shep’s daughter, is also aiming to compete, with or without her father’s approval. She’ll do whatever it takes to persuade Jesse to make her car race ready. Both are driven, both are risk-takers, and soon it’s more than engines getting fired up. Jesse tells himself their relationship is strictly business, until it isn’t. Can two star-crossed lovers overcome a family feud as old as Ford vs. Chevy, or will the competition become too explosive for these racing hearts?

Book Two:

See you at the finish line… With the big race weeks away, eighteen-year-old Jesse Copeland struggles to keep his head in the game and his hands off his smoking hot competition. But when Brooke reveals a secret that could destroy Jesse’s family, it sends him into a tailspin of self-doubt. Jesse must pull himself together if he hopes to have a shot at the prize money, save his home, and win the heart of the girl he loves. Can these two competitors overcome the sins of their fathers or will a shadowed history destroy their dreams forever?1

[tour schedule

 EXCERPT:

RH1 two scenes from Brooke’s perspective, first-person

By Laura Lascarso

Not many things held my attention, but that Cobra did, especially speeding down the highway in broad daylight like it was the Daytona 500.

I adjusted my rearview mirror to get a better look. From the shape of the hood I guessed it to be a ‘69 and I might add that the driver was easy on the eyes as well. He pulled up next to me and revved his engine, which roused me from my afternoon daydream. Maybe it was a tease or maybe it was a challenge. There was only one thing I could do—I revved my engine back.

“Nice ride,” he called out, checking me out with just the right amount of discretion. I appraised his lines—powder blue paint job polished to a high shine and not a scratch or dent on her. I appreciated a man who took care of his car. That Cobra was a beloved machine.

“Back at ya, Hotshot,” I called. “Want to race?”

He tilted his head and seemed to give it some thought—for an entire half-second.

“I don’t race girls,” he called. I smiled even though I’d like to slap the smug grin off his face. A lot of guys make the mistake of underestimating me on the racetrack, and then I cream them. And then I laugh.

“Oh no?” I revved my engine again. The sound was like a drug to those of us who chase the thrill of victory. Racing was an addiction like any other and the possibility of an unexpected challenge gave me goose bumps all over. My adrenaline kicked into high gear. “Just this once?”

He might have been reconsidering when the light turned green. I gunned it, slithering in front of him like a snake. I saw his stunned expression in my rearview. Now I had his attention. It took him half a beat to recover and then he was chasing after me.

I darted in and out of a few cars—they seemed happy to oblige. The wind was in my hair and my endorphins were flowing—the best feeling in the world. I was soaring near 60, free as a jaybird.

He finally caught up, or maybe I slowed down a bit to let him catch me, because after all, he was pretty cute and his taste in cars was something to be admired. Maybe if I got to know him, he’d let me drive his Cobra. We could take our cars down to the Circle-Circle and race for real. There I could beat him proper, maybe put some money on it, just to make it interesting, Mr. I-Don’t-Race-Girls.

“What’s your name?” he called out. Distraction was a method my brother Junior often employed, one I’d trained myself to become immune to. I pulled ahead just a tad, making sure he couldn’t overtake me.

“Brooke,” I shouted, keeping an eye on the road. My exit was coming up fast. No more time for small talk.

I sprinted ahead and dirt-tracked a turn onto the bridge. My tires burned some rubber and an oncoming car laid on their horn like a demon. A thrill of panic raced through me—I nearly sideswiped the car—and then my backend straightened out and I was safely in my lane. I blew my racing partner a kiss and drove on.

I thought maybe he’d follow me, but alas…

Sure it was fun, but this small time stuff was for amateurs. I needed a real racecar on a real track—a professional outfit. That’s where I needed to focus my energy. I had two months before my father’s race, and whether he liked it or not, I was going to enter. Now, all I needed was to find someone to make my car race ready, and fast.

This summer I’d prove to my father that I was a contender. I’d make it so that he couldn’t do anything but sponsor me in the racing circuit. Other girls might have opportunities—marriage, college, career… But for me, there was only racing. That was the one thing I was good at. And everything else was just a blur outside my window.

 

*****

 

I went to visit Jesse that Sunday, despite my brother’s warning, partly because I wanted to see him again, but more because I saw his potential—his potential to help me, that is. Here under my very nose was a first-rate mechanic who wasn’t in my father’s pocket, who could not only make my car race-ready, but who might also be able to keep it under wraps—something unheard of in my family.

I found him in the back garage, banging away at the inside of his Mustang with the music on full-blast. I may have paused for a moment to admire his arms, which were ripped with muscles from hard labor, and his shoulders, broad as an ironing board. His thin t-shirt clung to his back and outlined the V-shape of his torso. I may have noticed those things, but I wouldn’t go as far as to say I was distracted by them.

“Hiyah, Hotshot.” I had to shout to be heard above the music.

He looked surprised and stopped what he was doing mid-swing. He climbed out of the car—sweaty, grimy and completely adorable.

“Hey, yourself,” he said with a little half-smile, one of those you don’t even know you’re giving.

“Don’t you ever get a day off?” He seemed to always be working, and though I didn’t know for sure, the fact that he didn’t have his own car or cell phone made me think that he wasn’t too well-off. Maybe he spent all his money on cars. Or drugs. I hoped not drugs.

“This is my day off.” He walked over to the sink and turned on the water, splashing his face and running his hands through his hair. It still stuck out every which way. He pulled up his t-shirt to wipe the sweat from his neck, affording me a glimpse of his finely chiseled midsection. Can I get an order of fries with that?

“Your brother know you’re here?” he said, completely ruining the moment.

This was a delicate situation. My brother could be pretty intimidating and my father would blow a gasket if he found out I was building myself a racecar. Jesse would be taking a risk to help me out, which meant I’d have to offer him something in return, something he needed.

“No, and I’d like to keep it that way.”

I took a tour around the garage, stalling for time while checking out his Mustang. It looked like a hell of a lot of work, and the way he was swinging that crowbar made me think that it would take me three times as long to complete a job like this.

Time was not on my side.

“Looks like you’ve done this before,” I said.

“A couple times. Well, I helped my dad. Sam helped him. They always worked as a team. Sam was my dad’s pit boss, when he was still racing.”

“Was he now?”

He nodded and turned over two buckets, offering me a seat. It was such a gentlemanly thing to do without any thought to what reward he might get in return. I’d noticed that about him. The way he was generous for no reason. In my family, it was always tit for tat—what’s in it for me? With Jesse, he seemed so trusting and open. It gnawed at me a little bit, knowing what I was about to ask him.

“I’ve got a proposition for you, Jesse.” I’d be up front about it. He seemed to be the type to appreciate directness.

“I’m listening.” He slouched back a bit and crossed his arms. I took a deep breath.

“It would require me divulging some information that I’d like to keep private.”

“You got a secret?”

“I do.”

“I’m no gossip.”

I believed that he wasn’t, but Sam seemed like the head biddy in the henhouse with the way he scratched at the dirt. I glanced over to where he was chatting up another mechanic.

“Sam? Yeah, he’s a blabbermouth, but he can keep quiet, if it matters.”

I’d have to take the risk. I had no other options. “I’ve got a racecar.”

“The ’97 Camaro?” He had a good memory for cars.

“Yep. But it isn’t a racecar just yet.”

His grin faded a little like I might have hurt his feelings. Maybe he liked me. Maybe I liked him too, but that was beside the point.

“You need someone to make it race ready?” he guessed.

I nodded, doing my best to appear as a damsel in distress. It wasn’t my favorite look, but it worked so often that I couldn’t give it up.

Jesse groaned. “What for?” he asked. I knew he was entering the race, and I didn’t want him to worry about me being his competition, so I decided to keep it vague.

“I’d like to have a little practice behind the wheel.”

“Why don’t you ask your dad? He’s got plenty of mechanics at the dealership. I’m sure they take on side work.”

Because if my dad knew about this, he’d ground me for life or send me to some boarding school run by nuns or worst of all, take away my cars—both of them. “The truth is, Jesse, he doesn’t want me racing.”

I had a little pout, poor me. He narrowed his eyes and studied me—seeing right through my act. I could see he was having some inner argument with himself. It seemed this wasn’t going to be as easy as I thought.

“I don’t think I can help you,” he said at last.

I sighed, all slow and dramatic-like. He checked out my boobs, but tried to act like he wasn’t, and though I didn’t want to have to resort to this, it seemed he was giving me no alternative.

I did my sexy walk over to his car and laid my hands on the hood. I’d deliver him a two-fer. If my looks didn’t persuade him, then maybe my pocketbook would.

“Must be expensive,” I said, “doing all this work to a car, just for one race. I’d pay you, of course, for your time and labor.”

He didn’t say anything, but I knew I’d piqued his interest. I tossed my hair over my shoulder and bent over a little. I’m not proud, but like my father always says, you got to use whatever advantages you’ve got. Being the daughter of a car salesman I’d learned a few things in that regard.

“I know the realities of racing Jesse. It’s expensive and it’s dangerous, but what can I say? I love it—like our fathers, and like you. If you’re trying to protect me from the big, bad world of racing, you’re about ten years too late.”

He groaned and I knew I was wearing him down. “You know the heap of trouble I’d be in, if your father caught wind of this?”

“I’m very good at keeping secrets.” I gave him my most innocent look.

“I don’t think it’s a good idea.” He stood, but I could already tell he was coming around. Some kind of sixth sense, I suppose. I reached into my back pocket and pulled out a scrap of paper that had my phone number on it.

“I could really use your help, Jesse. You’re the only person I can trust with this.” I took his hand in mine—big and calloused and caked with grease—the hands of a working man or a race car driver. “Here’s my number. Think about it.”

I smiled and walked away, praying that he’d swing my way. I needed him to get my car in shape. That’s all there was to it. Without him, I was sunk. And if we had to spend a little more time together, if I had to watch him work in his garage with his muscles slick with oil and his hair all disheveled like he just got out of bed. Well, I suppose it was a sacrifice I was willing to make.

So long as it didn’t become a distraction.

 

AUTHOR:

 
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Laura Lascarso aims to inspire more questions than answers in her young adult fiction. Her debut novel COUNTING BACKWARDS, which deals with mental illness, was awarded the Florida Book Award gold medal for YA lit in 2012. Her most recent novel, RACING HEARTS, tells the story of two star-crossed lovers set in Daytona Beach, the mecca of motorsports, and has been described as a Romeo & Juliet on wheels.

She lives in North Florida with her husband, two children and a menagerie of animals.

 

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