Saturday, October 10, 2015

Here They Lie by D’Ann Burrow 
(The Bloodstone Legacy #1) 
Publication date: October 5th 2015
Genres: New Adult, Southern Gothic
Reese Everett’s aunt picked a bad time to die. Just weeks after a car accident left Reese’s mother unable to travel, her aunt’s house needs to be emptied and sold, leaving Reese as the only member of the family who can do the job. She typically wouldn’t balk at the opportunity to sift through her aunt’s collection of antiques, but when she arrives in Devil’s Vale, Georgia, she discovers the family house in a state of disrepair she won’t be able to handle alone.

Colton Waters is back in Devil’s Vale – whether he likes it or not. After he loses his acceptance to medical school with no explanation, he’s left with a single job offer…one that will return him to the hometown he’d hoped to escape.

When an errand to help his sister ends in a meeting with Reese neither will easily forget, Colton takes a job as her temporary handyman.

The longer Reese stays in town, the more she realizes the condition of her aunt’s house isn’t the only thing she hadn’t expected when she made the trip to Devil’s Vale. Reese isn’t the only gifted member of the family – her aunt Kate has been practicing the family business…the business Reese has been sworn never to discuss.

After a ghostly visitor arrives one night, Reese and Colton learn Kate wasn’t the only one practicing the darker arts. They begin to uncover secrets that refuse to stay buried.
Here They Lie won the Young Adult Romance Writer’s 2014 award for New Adult fiction.

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“Took you long enough.” I pointed to the clock on the wall. “I’m pretty sure the words ‘on my way’ don’t typically mean in two hours.”

“Had a little delay.” Max stood halfway in the door to the office. When the principal called to tell him to empty his dad’s office or the janitor was going to do it for him, I’d volunteered to help. But I didn’t know that meant I was going to be doing the packing while wondering where in the hell Max was.

I recognized the expression on his face, and it wasn’t one that said I’m-sorry-for-making-you-do-this-alone. Nope. He had been preoccupied with something far different than books or yellowed photographs. “Blonde or redhead?”

“Brunette, if you have to know. But it wasn’t like that.” He shook his head, using his best innocent expression.

I didn’t buy it for a second. It was hard to be angry with him, though. He’d spent the first two weeks after our college graduation dealing with a police investigation, planning a funeral, attending the funeral, and then messing with financial stuff that required a lawyer
Being an only child must suck.

Still, I couldn’t let him off too easy. “Sure it wasn’t.”

“Really.” He held up his hands like he wanted to surrender. “I was driving in from picking up more boxes like you said we needed. I took a wrong turn.”

“Stop right there.” I held my hand up, shooting him a glare. “You took a wrong turn? In Devil’s Vale?”

“Not exactly in Devil’s Vale. Right outside town.” Max shrugged and shook his head in distaste. “I know. I must not have been paying attention. Lucky I did, though. I ran into a girl having car trouble and had to drive her into town.”

“You had to, huh?”

“What was I supposed to do? Leave her stranded out by the bridge?”

He had a point. No one deserved to be stranded out there. Not at night. “You didn’t tell me that’s where she was. What were you doing out there?”

“No idea. Like I said. I got confused. Ended up out on 20. When I came back, there she was.” He ran his fingers through his shaggy, black hair. In the past, he’d always kept his hair almost military-short, and I couldn’t get used to seeing him like this. His hair was just another sign of all the things that had gone wrong since the last week of May. I didn’t think he’d gotten a haircut since before his dad’s funeral, and he’d needed one back then. “Sorry. I shouldn’t have left you with all this mess.”

Come to think of it, I wasn’t sure if he’d been in the office since the day the police had called him. I couldn’t say that I really blamed him for avoiding it. Even after I’d already boxed almost all his dad’s knick-knacks, awards, and old textbooks, the newly painted wall and the new tiles on the ceiling made the memory of what happened in this room too fresh, even for me.

Green eyes just a little too wide, Max toed the threshold like he’d spontaneously combust if he entered the room. That did it. We weren’t staying here any longer. I folded the panels of the box closed and ran a strip of packing tape over them. “Tell you what. I’ve been here long enough. Why don’t we call it a day?”

“No, I can do this,” he protested. But his expression said he couldn’t.

“Look.” I gestured around the room. Almost everything left was property of Devil’s Vale Independent School District. “We can come back in the morning and finish up in an hour. If I pack any more tonight, I’m going to turn into a box myself.”

I didn’t need to say that the old, empty building crossed my creeped-out tolerance an hour ago. I’d only stayed because he wasn’t answering his cell phone, and I wanted to make sure he didn’t try to tackle this himself. Spend enough time in here alone, and anyone would start seeing ghosts.

“I don’t care what they do with the rest of this shit.” Max’s voice rose with the same annoyed edge that it always got when he’d had a pass picked off in an interception.

He was in over his head, and he didn’t have anyone else to help him. Well, he didn’t have anyone who wasn’t a member of the not-quite-dead-yet Sunday school class at his dad’s church to help. He didn’t need their whispers making this any harder. That’s why I was helping my teammate when he was in trouble.

“I don’t have anything better to do. You know that.”

“Too well. When are you going to talk with your dad about your little issue?” Max hit upon the topic I’d been trying to avoid.

My little issue. He’d graced my situation with the nickname to make it seem less important than it was. As I’d driven down the roads leading from campus to home, I’d barely been able to think of anything else. I’d stayed behind, waiting to hear word from my interview. I should have known it wasn’t going to be good news. When the medical school spread good news, it didn’t wait to call you last.

We’d been dancing around my issue for close to a month. Dealing with the loss of Max’s dad had almost made things easier. Almost. No one expected to get the call from the principal yesterday announcing that he had to clear out the office by Sunday, least of all him. He was also the least prepared to deal with cleaning up the aftermath of the end of his only parent.

“Honestly, no idea. I’ve been waiting for him to be in a good mood.”

“With your dad, you’re going to be waiting a while.”

“I know.” I brushed my hands on my jeans. I tucked the worn, leather chair into its familiar home at the oversized desk before heading toward the door. “I have one thing my sister needs me to do, but give me an hour and meet me at my place.”

“You’re Shelby’s errand-boy now?”

“She had to stay late tonight, making sure she was set up for the festival. And besides, she saw a letter from Augusta.”

“Ah, so she’s blackmailing you. That one’s impressive.”

I didn’t need to see that glint in Max’s eye. I’d seen it plenty of times when we were partying at a sorority house. The last thing any of us needed was Max turning his bad-boy vibe on Shelby.

“Just bring the beer.” The discussion was over.

“Your mom will kill you if she finds us drinking.”

“My mom never wanders down to the cabin. Not unless it’s daylight.”

He didn’t pretend like he wasn’t relieved we were heading out of the office. For a while we just walked, and I let myself relax with every step we took.

But I could sense a question hanging in the air. As we passed the humming water fountains, he finally gave up and asked it. “Do you think your dad’s going to let you stay here?”

“Mom’ll probably make him. At least for now. He’s probably going to want me to come to work on the ranch.”

“You’re going to love that.”

I let out a long breath. “Yeah. Not exactly what I had planned.”

“You. On the ranch. That’s…that’s kind of funny.”

“Sure it is. It’s freakin’ hilarious. Dad’s going to be thrilled to trap me in the business. He didn’t want me to go to med school in the first place.” A lifetime of smelling like horses. Exactly what I’d always wanted. Exactly why I’d tried to escape.

Max laughed for the first time in weeks. I didn’t even have to look at him to know he was shaking his head, but I did. Sure enough, he had his best you-have-to-be-fuckin’-kidding-me expression on his face while he ran his fingers through his hair as if someone had dumped a cup of spiders on top of him.

We’d been friends since before either of us could pronounce the word friend. I didn’t remember a time that he wasn’t seated at our family’s table for Sunday dinner. We could finish each other’s sentences, but there were things that even Max didn’t understand. Things I wasn’t allowed to explain.

“That’s going to go well.”

“Tell me about it. I’m not sure if I really have a choice.” With student loans already begging to be repaid and parents who’d given the We’re Not Paying for Your College lecture not quite four years ago, I never really imagined myself in this scenario.

High school valedictorian. Captain of the football team. Member of the right fraternity. Getting into my choice of med schools should have been a breeze.

Should have.

Seems like I had a whole lot of should-haves lately.

“So you’re just staying here?”

Being a Waters in this town carries a responsibility. Even without my dad in the room, I could hear his voice echoing in my head. “Until I figure something else out, yeah, I’m staying here. I don’t really have much other choice.”

“Sure you do.” He shrugged, and his collar pulled back just enough to reveal the crow tattoo he’d recently gotten. “There’s always a choice.”

“Speaking of choices, you’re still taking that job in Seattle?”

“Money’s great.” Max pursed his lips and nodded like a dashboard bobble head. “It’s a great job. I can’t turn it down.”

He sounded like he wanted me to believe he was excited, but something in his voice was forced. He needed me to believe he wanted to take this job, even though he’d never mentioned applying for it. One day he was the last one standing next to the freshly covered grave in Devil’s Vale’s cemetery, and the next he’d taken a job out of state.

“You ever going to tell me what it is?”

“If I told you, I’d have to kill you.”

I waited for him to laugh, but it didn’t come. “Never really figured you for one of those kind of jobs.”

He swallowed, and a hard edge came into his voice. “Maybe you don’t know me as well as you think you do.”

Was that why couldn’t he look me in the eyes?

“You know, you don’t have to go. Hell, you can stay with me.” I pushed open the heavy doors leading to the locker rooms. Our footsteps echoed through the empty, tiled hallway. I was surprised to realize I was happy not to be alone. The place was filled with spirits of football players past. Even in the dead of summer, the locker rooms never lost their odor of sweat, grass, mud, and teenage hormones gone wild.

“Look, there’s nothing here for me. Except for you, of course. But bro, I just don’t roll that way.” Max half laughed and shoved his hands in the pockets of his jacket. It shouldn’t have been cold enough for jackets. Not in June. Not in Georgia.

“You don’t know how lucky you are to be getting out of here.”

“Trust me, Colton, I do.” He hit the crash bar to the door leading outside. He took a deep breath, and I could almost see the relief spreading across his face. I hadn’t realized how badly he wanted to move, to leave Devil’s Vale and its memories behind. Max had always been a guy of few words. Since he’d taken the job in Seattle, he’d become a man of even fewer.

We descended the steps without talking. We’d been down this path more times than I could count: pee wee football players leaving high school camp; middle school teammates when our school’s field was damaged after a wave of vandalism hit the town; finally, championship co-quarterbacks from the first team to win state. Everyone predicted the guys from our team were destined to do great things.

Destiny was a funny thing.

D’Ann Burrow once told her preschool teacher she wanted to be a witch when she grew up. That simple comment signaled the start of a life-long fondness of things that go bump in the night. As she grew older, she could most often be found with her nose buried in a book, and she was especially fond of the Nancy Drew series as well as anything by Christopher Pike or Stephen King. Occasionally she’d take a trip to the world of the classics where The Scarlet Pimpernel and A Little Princess reigned among her favorites. She’s lost count of the times she’s read Little Women.

Today, D’Ann enjoys the world of Supernatural, stories about guys with fangs, and she’s seldom met a disaster film she hasn’t liked. When she grows up, she’d like to work at the Haunted Mansion. Until then, watching Ghost Hunters will have to count as research.

D’Ann writes about secrets people keep. Even the bravest heroine or a guy with a heart of gold has a few skeletons in the closet they’d rather not share with the world. When those secrets get out, things get interesting.

A Texas native, she knows making great guacamole is an art form. As a theater mom, she’ll happily chat about Broadway musicals by the hour. Molly and Lizzie, the family furry ones, are frequent stars of her Instagram account.
Author Links:
// Website // Goodreads // Facebook // Twitter // 

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Friday, October 02, 2015

Last night, I was very fortunate to have attended Stories of El Paso, an fundraising event for the El Paso Public Library Foundation. For those of you who aren't familiar with El Paso, we are a large city (the 19th most populous city in the U.S, according to Wiki) located on the Rio Grande, right on the Western edge of Texas, bordering Las Cruces, New Mexico and Juárez, Mexico. 

The exciting thing about living in El Paso is that it is filled with culture, is centrally located, and is constantly changing and expanding. Sadly, however, we do not have that many literary events for a city of our size. We almost never have authors do signings here (unless they are local, or have ties to El Paso, like Rachel Caine), we don't have any indie bookstores, and if you'd like to join a book club, the pickings are very slim and narrow. This event in particular also featured local authors (no surprise!), but the main point of the event was to benefit the El Paso Public Libraries' after school programs, so each author chosen told stories that showed the "spirit of El Paso." Here's a look at the authors that spoke last night:

Rus Bradburd // Former UTEP basketball coach


Joe Hayes // Renowned storyteller


Linda Francis Lee // New York Times bestseller


Sergio Troncoso // Premio Aztlan winner


Dan Wetzel // Renowned sports writer


All in all, it was a very enjoyable evening. Each speaker had an interesting story to tell, and not only were they able to enthrall people with their writing, but with their spoken words, as well. It was a magical event, and I'm glad I was able to attend. I had never before been to Ardovino's Desert Crossing, but it was a really beautiful location, and the ambiance was made complete with the alluring Mexican folk music performed by Maria and Yahvi.

I even got to take home a spoil of war by snagging one of the last available copies of The Devil In The Junior League, which Linda Francis Lee happily signed for me! Funnily enough, I had spoken to her before the program outside in the parking lot, when she asked for directions to the venue entrance & I had to apologize, as I had never been there before and didn't know where I was going, either! 

So yes, it was rather embarrassing to go up to her after the event to ask for a signature, but she was very cheerful about it and we ended up laughing about our earlier encounter. The best part? She said that she's working on a series that is set in El Paso! I am always on the lookout for a good fictional novel set in my home city - so far I've only read Benjamin Alire Sáenz's Aristotle and Dante Discover The Universe (which I loved, by the way!) I'm excited to see what she comes out with, and will be reading her other works in the meantime.
One of the many changes that I will slowly be introducing to this blog will be "regularly" posting about either literary events in El Paso or features on local authors. I use quotations on that since, as I've said, there really aren't that many here, but I will definitely keep my fingers crossed! El Paso could definitely use some more lovin'!

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

{September Wrap-Up}

Wednesday, September 30, 2015 with No comments
Books Read

I'm really grateful to have finally read Dave Ramsey's Total Money Makeover. I would recommend this book to everyone! Right now I'm currently on Baby Step 2, and using the debt snowball to pay off my student loans (so far I've paid off 3 out of 5 loans, plus my car!). You have no idea how much these student loans have been plaguing me - I would not wish these worries on anyone!

I also finally finished reading book two of The Heroes of Olympus (which was so much better than book one because it had Percy!!!). And yes, I re-read Twilight, and ended up knocking my rating down from five to three stars. This is like my 4th time or so reading the series, and for some reason this time around I just could not get that into it. I think that before when I read it, I was too busy swooning over Edward (like everybody else) to realize how completely devoid of substance their relationship is. "You are my life now" - GAHHH!!! You barely even know her! [Though if I re-read this once more in a few years, and when I'm in a happier mood, maybe I'll love it again...who knows.]
Movies Seen

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was definitely not as good as the 1990's film. I mean, it was okay, but there really wasn't as much plot substance as their was action. I probably wouldn't really care to see this one again. I did, however, enjoy watching The Mist more than I thought I would. This was the first film I saw to kick of R.I.P. X, and I enjoyed the mystery and twists. I also saw Altar for the challenge, which was an "okay" British gothic horror film that didn't really stand out much from the genre.
Songs I Had On Repeat
Recommended Reads
Thoughts On September
This month was insane. I think I'm already looking forward to next year - it couldn't come fast enough, haha! Fall is normally my favorite season, but it's pretty hard to feel like fall when it's hot as hell and sunny outside. Is it just me, or does summer just keep ending later and later each year? Darn global warming! Where's the sweater weather?!

Seriously, though, I've been pretty stressed out this month. I know I should be grateful that I'm making some headway on my student loan debt, but I just discovered that our broker hasn't paid any money towards the bank for the original owners' home loan in over a year! We pay our mortgage every month and never miss a payment, and to find out that our house was heading slowly towards foreclosure is pretty devastating. If it's not one thing, it's another! Now I'm trying to learn all I can about this home buying process, because I've pretty much been in the dark about it (I live with my mom & sister, so this is actually my mom's house I'm talking about). Sometimes, people can really suck!

At any rate, I haven't read much this month, but I did make a lot of progress on The Sixth Extinction, which I'm pretty proud of since it's a rather slow read due to the writing style of the author. I also saw some pretty great television premieres, and am recommending the following shows: Scream Queens, The Muppets, & Grandfathered.

Thank goodness October is upon us - I love the Halloween season! Please let me know of any Halloween reading challenges or blogger events that are out there - I'd like to participate in as many as possible!

Monday, September 21, 2015

I am so excited that WALK ON EARTH A STRANGER by Rae Carson releases today and that I get to share the news, along with an awesome giveaway! If you haven’t yet heard about this wonderful new series by Rae Carson, be sure to check out all the details below.

This blitz also includes a giveaway for a set of the GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS series (in paperback format). US only. So if you’d like a chance to win, enter in the Rafflecopter at the bottom of this post.

About The Book:

Author: Rae Carson
Publication Date: September 22, 2015
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Pages: 448
The first book in a new trilogy from acclaimed New York Times bestselling author Rae Carson. A young woman with the magical ability to sense the presence of gold must flee her home, taking her on a sweeping and dangerous journey across Gold Rush–era America.

Lee Westfall has a secret. She can sense the presence of gold in the world around her. Veins deep beneath the earth, pebbles in the river, nuggets dug up from the forest floor. The buzz of gold means warmth and life and home—until everything is ripped away by a man who wants to control her. Left with nothing, Lee disguises herself as a boy and takes to the trail across the country. Gold was discovered in California, and where else could such a magical girl find herself, find safety? Rae Carson, author of the acclaimed Girl of Fire and Thorns trilogy, dazzles with this new fantasy that subverts both our own history and familiar fantasy tropes.

Walk on Earth a Stranger, the first book in this new trilogy, introduces—as only Rae Carson can—a strong heroine, a perilous road, a fantastical twist, and a slow-burning romance. Includes a map and author’s note on historical research.

Read chapter 1 of WALK ON EARTH A STRANGER, annotated by Rae Carson, HERE!

Rae Carson is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the acclaimed Girl of Fire and Thorns trilogy. Her next book, Walk On Earth A Stranger, will be available September 22, 2015. She lives in Arizona with her husband.

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

1 winner will receive a set of the 3 books in the GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS series (in paperback format). US Only.

Ends on September 30th at Midnight EST!

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Over the last half-billion years, there have been five mass extinctions, when the diversity of life on earth suddenly and dramatically contracted. Scientists around the world are currently monitoring the sixth extinction, predicted to be the most devastating extinction event since the asteroid impact that wiped out the dinosaurs. This time around, the cataclysm is us.

In prose that is at once frank, entertaining, and deeply informed, The New Yorker writer Elizabeth Kolbert tells us why and how human beings have altered life on the planet in a way no species has before. Interweaving research in half a dozen disciplines, descriptions of the fascinating species that have already been lost, and the history of extinction as a concept, Kolbert provides a moving and comprehensive account of the disappearances occurring before our very eyes. She shows that the sixth extinction is likely to be mankind's most lasting legacy, compelling us to rethink the fundamental question of what it means to be human.  

Chapters 1 - 8 Discussion Questions

Have you learned anything that’s really surprised you so far? 

Yes! The most surprising thing to learn so far was how quickly the Great Auks were extinguished! It was a real eye-opener to see things from a broader perspective after it had all happened - and it was terribly sad to read about the death of the last two known living Great Auks.

Are the descriptions of how science is done matching your expectations? 

So far, yes. The author really gets into detail while explaining things for readers who may be less familiar with the processes taking place.

So far, do you have any ideas for things people could do to prevent causing more extinctions? How likely do you think it is that we’ll make the necessary changes? 

Not really - this book is rather depressing. It just isn't likely that we can make the changes necessary in time to truly have any major impact - especially when you consider that the majority of the population seems to care more about either money and profit (such as in terms of the agriculture industry, etc) or themselves to really care enough about how their actions are impacting the environment, and what will be in store for future generations. Though, when too many people think that their actions can't make a difference, it also has an impact...

Have the many topics the author has covered made you want to learn about any specific topic in more detail? 

Actually, this book has really made me want to get started on reading Charles Darwin's The Origin of Species.

What location the author visited would you most like to visit? 

Gola del Bottaccione, in Gubbio, Italy. The moment I read about it, I looked up Gola del Bottaccione online and knew I wanted to visit one day. I was fascinated at the idea of getting to see (and perhaps even touch!) actual traces of the asteroid that brought about the end of the Cretaceous period. Plus, the town of Gubbio itself looks fascinating in and of itself!

(as a reminder, she’s been to El Valle de Anton, Panama in a volcanic crater, which used to have golden frogs; the Museum of Natural History in Paris; Reykjavik with the Icelandic Institute of National History and last island of the auks; Gola del Bottaccione, the ravine with the asteroid remains just North of Rome; Scotland with the Dob Linn stratified rock; Castello Aragonese, the castle on an island with acidic oceans; and One Tree Island, Australia’s Great Barrier Reef)

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Literary Kickstarters, Vol. 1

Saturday, September 12, 2015 with 1 comment

I am completely obsessed with the Kickstarter platform! I just love the idea that hardworking, talented artists can crowdsource the funds to create such amazing projects. As a frequent browser & backer on the site, I couldn't help but notice the significant amount of bookish Kickstarter projects that get funded - I didn't realize that there would be so many "literary Kickstarters," and that authors would turn to crowdsourcing to fund their novels, until I discovered Kelly Thompson's The Girl Who Would Be King

Since then, I've discovered many other great projects to back, and I just couldn't help but share them with the world! Thus came the idea to start a new feature to showcase what I believe to be the "Best of the Best" - projects so neat that I just had to spread the love! Through this feature, I hope to introduce you to some great Kickstarters, so without further ado, here are three awesome projects that are currently available to back:

This is a reproduction of Lewis Carroll's original Alice story, Alice's Adventures Underground, which he wrote for young Alice Liddell (and of which there only exists one handwritten copy!). This reproduction will stay true to the original by keeping Carroll's handwriting & drawings intact, as seen in the picture above. Plus, proceeds from the sale of this book will benefit the British Library! Once this Kickstarter ends, there won't be any way to purchase this again, as the British Library holds the license to the original book, and is granting permissions to this project for a limited time only!

Strays is an amazing webcomic created by Samantha Whitten and Stacey Pefferkorn. The series has just come to an end, and already has the first two volumes of the comic in bound form available to purchase on their website. This Kickstarter is to help fund the creation of a physically bound copy of the third and final volume, and there are some really nice perks available, including a lovely necklace that's featured in the comic! If you're interested in checking it out, the whole comic is available to read online for free HERE. I highly recommend it!

Pernille Ørum is making an art book! Pernille is an incredibly talented Danish artist who is currently working as a character designer for Warner Bros (she's also worked for Disney, Nick Jr, & Mattel). You can check out her work on her website or also on Tumblr. I love her artwork, and this book looks really does look beautiful - I look forward to seeing how the finished product turns out!

So, what do you think? There are some other great bookish projects up on Kickstarter that I encourage you to check out. The three projects above were chosen because I'm truly excited for them to come out, and I hope you'll check them out. If there's a particular Kickstarter  project that you're excited for, please feel free to let me know about it in the comments!