Category Archives: Giveaway
Confessions of a Queen B*
by Crista McHugh
Alexis Wyndham is the other type of Queen B—the Queen Bitch.
After years of being the subject of ridicule, she revels in her ability to make the in-crowd cower via the exposés on her blog, The Eastline Spy. Now that she’s carved out her place in the high school hierarchy, she uses her position to help the unpopular kids walking the hallways.
Saving a freshman from bullies? Check.
Swapping insults with the head cheerleader? Check.
Falling for the star quarterback? So not a part of her plan.
But when Brett offers to help her solve the mystery of who’s posting X-rated videos from the girls’ locker room, she’ll have to swallow her pride and learn to see past the high school stereotypes she’s never questioned—until now.
MY THOUGHTS: 3 OUT OF 5 FLEURS DE LIS
This short tale gets three stars, but just barely. To be honest, it’s full of stereotypical characters, decisions that make no sense, and predictable moments. But at its’ heart, it had a compelling theme that kept me reading until I finished it in one sitting.
Our main character is Alexis, senior and resident gossip blogger at her high school. There apparently is enough going on at this school that Alexis has gained quite the rep: if you’re trying to hide something nefarious, she will find out, and it will be posted on her blog for the entire school to see!
It should come as no shock that Alexis doesn’t have many friends. Her besties are the outliers; a flamboyantly gay Asian kid, and a sex grazed Goth girl. Other than that, everyone else in school is pretty much scared of her. Except for one boy: quarterback and student body president Brett Pederson.
It just so happens that Brett and Alexis get paired up for a school project. Though Alexis does her bitchy best to repel him, Brett is immune and instead seems to want to get to know her better. Alexis must learn to let her guard down around him, which she never does with ANYONE.
As I said, the book is full of stereotypical characters–the gay boy that can only talk about penis (wtf, I know that’s not all he thinks about), the head cheerleader with fake boobs, the quarterback that is nothing but perfect. I saw another review that said if you can remember Freddie Prinze Jr’s character in She’s All That, then you’ve got Brett–and that is a SPOT ON observation. Even when it comes to his parents putting pressure on him about college. That is literally the only problem he has in his life. He is too good to be true, and that does not make a good YA character.
Alexis does have a bit more depth, and getting peeks into her true feelings is what kept me interested. Alexis cannot let anyone see her true self; I think she does not know how. She’s also concerned about losing her status at school, though she would never admit it. If she’s not the Queen Bitch, then what is she? Her struggles with her identity are a bit buried, but there if you are looking.
Apparently this book is the first in a series, but I’m not sure if I’ll be continuing. I might though, just to see what Alexis turns into once she breaks out of her high school mold.
About the Author
Growing up in small town Alabama, Crista relied on story-telling as a natural way for her to pass the time and keep her two younger sisters entertained.
She currently lives in the Audi-filled suburbs of Seattle with her husband and two children, maintaining her alter ego of mild-mannered physician by day while she continues to pursue writing on nights and weekends.
Just for laughs, here are some of the jobs she’s had in the past to pay the bills: barista, bartender, sommelier, stagehand, actress, morgue attendant, and autopsy assistant.
And she’s also a recovering LARPer. (She blames it on her crazy college days)
For the latest updates, deleted scenes, and answers to any burning questions you have, please check out her webpage, www.CristaMcHugh.com.
UPDATE 7/28/2015: We are still using and LOVING KidsEmail! When my son sees me checking my email, he immediately asks to go check his. I signed him up for a few newsletters, such as those from Nick Jr. and some car magazines (his passion), and he loves seeing that he has new messages. As he uses it more and more, I don’t even really need to show him where to click–he has got the hang of it! I’m so glad we found this program.
KidsEmail is giving THREE readers 1 year of Kids Email (value of $38.95).
As my son gets older, he is definitely wanting to do things more and more on his own, and wanting a bit of privacy. At 6 years old, he has already learned some computer skills in his Montessori kindergarten classroom. I decided now was the perfect time to get him an email of his own.
KidsEmail.org is the perfect solution for kids who want the freedom of their own email address, and parents who want to be able to have some control over what their child sees. Parents have the option to choose who their child can email and who can email them. You can block senders, filter language and attachments, and so much more!
On the kids’ side, they get to pick a fun login name and customize what their email screen will look like. There are many designs to choose from–here are a few examples.
My son chose the “Racing Champion” template, as I knew he would. There are cool designs for both boys and girls, younger kids, tweens and teens.
Speaking of teens, with KidsEmail your child has the option to have his email grow along with him. As your child feels they might be getting a little old to have a “kiddie” email address, their account can be changed to a KMail.org address–but still allowing parents that monitoring option.
All of these features are available at one low price, and you can even get your first 30 days free! Try out the KidsEmail service free for the first month, then choose from one of the low priced subscription plans–as low as $2.99 a month.
(Please ignore my perpetually cluttered desk!)
My child thought it was so cool that he could have an email of his very own, and I could tell that he was proud of it and felt so grown up. It was very easy for him to understand the interface, and he got the hang of his inbox really quickly. He is already asking to check it every day!
If you’re looking for a safe, fun, highly customizable email for kids, look no farther than the award winning KidsEmail.org!
by Michael Omer
Narrowdale Series, Book One
Don’t fall asleep. Don’t dream. Don’t get caught.
Amy knew she’d hate Narrowdale, a boring suburban town. How could it possibly compare to L.A., where she lived her entire life? Being a high school freshman in a new place made things even worse.
And that was before she started having the same nightmare over and over again. Before she woke up every night to a shrill whistle outside her window. Before she met a homeless man who seemed to know way too much.
Some things seem to happen only in Narrowdale, where dark secrets are hiding beneath the surface…
MY THOUGHTS: 3.5 OUT OF 5 FLEURS DE LIS
14 year old Amy isn’t too thrilled when she has to leave LA to move to a small town called Narrowdale right before her freshman year. Not only is it bad enough that it’s taking her a while to make friends, but she’s starting to learn that this own is hiding more than a few secrets. Like the homeless man who seems to be able to read minds and see the future. Like the terrifying dreams that are haunting Amy’s every night.
When Amy decides she can’t take any more sleepless nights, she begins to dig into the truth about what is going on in Narrowdale. And a nearly ten year old crime catches up with her in a life threatening way.
To be honest, this story starts out very very slowly, with Amy overexplaining the mundane details of her day. But the book is only 160 pages so it was a very quick read…although it took nearly to the halfway point for any action to be going on.
I guess you could say Narrowdale is a kind of supernatural town, with things going on no one can explain and that no one really tries to. The citizens just accept that the town’s “quirks” are a way of life. There’s really no explanation given about why the town is the way it is, so I suppose we are going to accept this fact as well.
Amy is just OK as a main character, though at times it seems she can’t make up her mind about what type of person she wants to be. Sometimes she’s shy, others snarky, others a class-skipping rebel. Her constant narration of every little detail became annoying quickly.
Once the story hit its’ stride about the reason Amy was having her dreams/visions, things moved very quickly. Amy and her partners investigate, pry, and just plain get lucky breaks, but they find out the truth. This truth puts them in danger, of course.
I truly appreciated that this story didn’t have some budding romance or awkward meet cutes with its characters. Amy got by with help from her friends, but she didn’t need a boyfriend, and that was great.
The end moved very, very fast in comparison to the beginning, and I wish the climactic moment had been fleshed out more. It’s also interesting to note that Sleepless is the first book in a series set in the town of Narrowdale. Maybe we’ll learn more about this place after all.
About the Author
My name is Michael Omer, and I’m a writer, journalist and game designer. I wrote and published my first novel when I was sixteen, and figured I’d keep at it. Since then, I have published two more novels, and wrote… who can even count how many? I’m happily married to a woman who keeps pushing me to write more, and have three kids who insist I should stop writing and come play with them. I also have two dogs.
by Adam Cesare
Harriet Laurel notices the odor at Mercy House as soon as she sets foot inside, brought there against her will by her son, Don, and his wife, Nikki. In the early stages of dementia, Harriet has grown resentful of Nikki, blaming her daughter-in-law for failing to supply grandchildren. Yet even Harriet must admit that her mind becomes clearer as soon as she crosses the threshold. If it wasn’t for that annoying smell.
Arnold Piper is an eighty-five-year-old ex-Marine, a proud man who has cared for himself his whole life. But no longer. Betrayed by his aging body, Arnold is learning that the trials he survived long ago in war-torn Korea pale beside the daily indignities of growing old. Little does he know that his greatest nightmares are still ahead of him.
Sarah Campbell is an idealistic nurse whose compassion has been stretched to the breaking point at the chronically understaffed facility that is Mercy House. But now Sarah’s list of unpleasant duties is about to take a terrifying turn. For something wicked is brewing in Mercy House. Something dark and rotten . . . and deadly.
MY THOUGHTS: 2.5 OUT OF 5 FLEURS DE LIS
The book started out in a promising way, but quickly became a gore fest….it was gore just for the sake of having gore, in my opinion.
In this tale, some sort of change comes over the residents of a nursing home so that they’re not only growing stronger and overpowering the staff and visitors, they are in fact thirsting for their blood! I wouldn’t call this a zombie book, though.
We learn just enough about the main characters so that we care what happens to them; even though some are stereotypes, we still want them to survive. The book is pretty fast paced, with action happening within the first 20%, and ramping up quickly after that.
While I like the author’s writing style and originality, I had a hard time taking this story seriously sometimes. It’s not that the blood and gore turned my stomach, it’s that it seemed it was at times just put into the plot for shock value, not to add anything. I would recommend this book only for strict horror fans who want a different, but still familiar feeling, book about survival horror.
About the Author
Adam Cesare is a New Yorker who lives in Philadelphia. He studied English and film at Boston University. His books include Video Night, The Summer Job, Zero Lives Remaining, and Tribesmen. His nonfiction has appeared in Paracinema, The Los Angeles Review of Books, and other venues.
One reader will win a copy of MERCY HOUSE by Adam Cesare + a Hydra mug
by Heather Herrman
For fans of Stephen King, Joe Hill, and Sarah Langan comes a thrilling new vision of American horror. In Heather Herrman’s heart-pounding debut novel, evil is ready to feed—and it’s got one hell of an appetite.
In the wake of tragedy, John and Erma Scott are heading west in search of a new life. So when car trouble strands them in sleepy Cavus, Montana, they decide to stay for a while, charmed by the friendly residents and the surrounding ambiance. Here, they hope, is the healing balm that their marriage needs.
Then John and Erma find themselves in a fight not just to save their marriage, but their very lives. For this is no ordinary town. Its quiet streets conceal a dark and bloody secret that has slumbered for centuries. Now, that secret is awake . . . and it’s hungry.
Like a slow infection, evil is spreading through Cavus. Soon John and Erma—along with the local sheriff, an undocumented immigrant, a traumatized teenage girl, and an old man with terrible secrets of his own—must join together to battle an all-consuming force that has set its sights on its prey: the entire human race.
“Both the evil that suffuses the pages of Consumption and the motley gang of innocents who defend against it are much more interesting than those usually found in your average scare fare. Solid writing elevates this imaginative fright-fest from an invigorating new voice.”—Sophie Littlefield, bestselling author of the Aftertime series
About the Author
Heather Herrman explores American society through horror fiction. She holds an MFA from New Mexico State University, and her work has appeared in such publications as Alaska Quarterly Review, The South Carolina Review, and Snake Nation Review. Herrman’s fiction has also been honored with a Frank Waters Fiction Prize and a scholarship to the Prague Summer Program for Writers.
Connect with Heather
PRIZE: $25.00 eGift Card to the eBook Retailer of the Winner’s Choice + an eBook copy of CONSUMPTION by Heather Herrman
Dark Screams, Volume 3
Short Story Collection
Peter Straub, Jack Ketchum, Darynda Jones, Jacquelyn Frank, and Brian Hodge contribute five gloomy, disturbing tales of madness and horror to Dark Screams: Volume Three, edited by Brian James Freeman and Richard Chizmar of the celebrated Cemetery Dance Publications.
THE COLLECTED SHORT STORIES OF FREDDIE PROTHERO by Peter Straub
A mere child yet a precocious writer, young Freddie records a series of terrifying encounters with an inhuman being that haunts his life . . . and seems to predict his death.
GROUP OF THIRTY by Jack Ketchum
When an award-winning horror writer on the downward slope of a long career receives an invitation to address the Essex County Science Fiction Group, he figures he’s got nothing to lose. He couldn’t be more wrong.
NANCY by Darynda Jones
Though she’s adopted by the cool kids, the new girl at Renfield High School is most drawn to Nancy Wilhoit, who claims to be haunted. But it soon becomes apparent that poltergeists—and people—are seldom what they seem.
I LOVE YOU, CHARLIE PEARSON by Jacquelyn Frank
Charlie Pearson has a crush on Stacey Wheeler. She has no idea. Charlie will make Stacey see that he loves her, and that she loves him—even if he has to kill her to make her say it.
THE LONE AND LEVEL SANDS STRETCH FAR AWAY by Brian Hodge
When Marni moves in next door, the stale marriage of Tara and Aidan gets a jolt of adrenaline. Whether it’s tonic or toxic is another matter.
MY THOUGHTS: 4 OUT OF 5 FLEURS DE LIS
This is a fine collection of scary short stories. While some offer more chills than others ( I wouldn’t read Nancy alone at night), they all had great twists and led to pretty cool conclusions.
My favorite story is probably Nancy by Darynda Jones. It’s the story of a high school girl who seems to be tormented by a poltergeist–but when a new girl in town tries to help her, she discovers a shocking secret. This story was rather scary…I DID read it late into the night and kept looking over my should to make sure nothing was there!
Another great one is I Love You, Charlie Pearson by Jacqueline Frank. As the story of a young boy who seems to have a very creepy crush on an older girl unfolds, you get squirmy and by the end you have your mouth open in shock…because the ending was definitely unexpected!
Dark Screams Volume 3 is a gathering of perfect little bites of fiction, and as you finish one story you’ll definitely be ready to move on to the next one. Reader beware!
The giveaway is for a $25 e-gift card to the e-retailer of your choice,
plus a copy of Dark Screams, Volume 3.
Let Me Die in His Footsteps
by Lori Ray
On a dark Kentucky night in 1952 exactly halfway between her fifteenth and sixteenth birthdays, Annie Holleran crosses into forbidden territory. Everyone knows Hollerans don’t go near Baines, not since Joseph Carl was buried two decades before, but, armed with a silver-handled flashlight, Annie runs through her family’s lavender fields toward the well on the Baines’ place. At the stroke of midnight, she gazes into the water in search of her future. Not finding what she had hoped for, she turns from the well and when the body she sees there in the moonlight is discovered come morning, Annie will have much to explain and a past to account for.
It was 1936, and there were seven Baine boys. That year, Annie’s aunt, Juna Crowley, with her black eyes and her long blond hair, came of age. Before Juna, Joseph Carl had been the best of all the Baine brothers. But then he looked into Juna’s eyes and they made him do things that cost innocent people their lives. Sheriff Irlene Fulkerson saw justice served–or did she?
As the lavender harvest approaches and she comes of age as Aunt Juna did in her own time, Annie’s dread mounts. Juna will come home now, to finish what she started. If Annie is to save herself, her family, and this small Kentucky town, she must prepare for Juna’s return, and the revelation of what really happened all those years ago.
4 OUT OF 5 FLEURS DE LIS
This book is set in the South in the early to middle 1900’s, and it moves at about the same pace as I expected life did back then: slowly, taking time for things to happen, but they are oh so delicious when they do.
The girls in this rural Kentucky town have abilities called the “know how”; some are both with the gift of being able to predict when things will happen, or just strong feelings about certain things, and some are born without gifts. The book tells the story of two sets of sisters, a generation apart, in which one sister has strong abilities and the other has none.
Our main character is Annie Holleran. On the verge of becoming a woman, she and her sister go down to a forbidden property one night to perform the tradition of seeing one’s future husband in the well. But instead of seeing a boy, Annie sees a body. Events only get more sinister from there, as we begin to learn the story of Annie’s mother and her sister, and how events from the past can affect the present in ways we never expected.
I definitely liked Annie as a character. Because of who her mother was, some people in their tiny town were wary of her and what her abilities might hold. Annie is like her mother in some ways, but she’s her own person in the most important ones. She abides by tradition but doesn’t focus her life around it. She has her own thoughts on who she should marry and how he should treat her.
The story has a slight supernatural touch, just enough to give the plot a darkly mysterious edge but never fully explained. The entire town is affected by “the know how”, whether a girl has it or does not, and the townsfolk all believe in the powers and hold them in high reverence.
As I said, the plot moves slowly, but watching it unfold in the way it did was a fantastic plot device within itself. You find yourself feeling many different things about the characters as you learn more about them, and you will change your mind completely on some things by the time all is revealed.
This is a great summer read for anyone who likes their mystery with a bit of the unknown.
About the Author
Lori Roy was born and raised in Manhattan, Kansas where she graduated from Kansas State University. Her debut novel, BENT ROAD, published in 2011, was awarded the Edgar Allen Poe Award for Best First Novel by an American Author, named a 2011 New York Times Notable Crime Book and named a 2012 notable book by the state of Kansas. BENT ROAD has been optioned for film. Her second novel, UNTIL SHE COMES HOME, was named a New York Times Editors’ Choice, and was nominated for an Edgar Allen Poe Award for Best Novel. Her upcoming novel, LET ME DIE IN HIS FOOTSTEPS, will be published June 2nd. Lori also serves as treasure for the Sisters in Crime organization and is a liaison to the Author Coalition. She currently lives with her family in west central Florida.
One reader will win a copy of LET ME DIE IN HIS FOOTSTEPS. US/CAN ONLY PLEASE.
To enter, please leave a comment on what your favorite flower is!
Winner will be drawn June 13.
American Sniper took theaters by storm when it was released. Now, you can own the film on BluRay and DVD–and help out Wounded Warriors in the process.
From director Clint Eastwood comes “American Sniper,” arriving onto Blu-ray Combo Pack, DVD and Digital HD on May 19 from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment in association with Village Roadshow Pictures, A Mad Chance Production, A 22nd & Indiana Production. “American Sniper” stars Bradley Cooper as Chris Kyle, whose skills as a sniper made him a hero on the battlefield. But there was much more to him than his skill as a sharpshooter.
A two-time Oscar® nominee for his work in “Silver Linings Playbook” and “American Hustle,” Cooper stars alongside Sienna Miller, Luke Grimes, Jake McDorman, Cory Hardrict, Kevin Lacz, Navid Negahban and Keir O’Donnell.
Oscar®-winning filmmaker Clint Eastwood (“Million Dollar Baby,” “Unforgiven”) directed “American Sniper” from a screenplay written by Jason Hall, based on the book by Chris Kyle, with Scott McEwen and Jim DeFelice. The autobiography was a runaway bestseller, spending 18 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, 13 of those at number one.
The film is produced by Eastwood, Robert Lorenz, Andrew Lazar, Bradley Cooper and Peter Morgan. Tim Moore, Jason Hall, Sheroum Kim, Steven Mnuchin and Bruce Berman served as executive producers.
“American Sniper” will be available on Blu-ray Combo Pack and includes the film in high definition on Blu-ray disc, a DVD, and a digital version of the movie in Digital HD with UltraViolet. Fans can also own “American Sniper” via purchase from digital retailers.
Warner Bros. Home Entertainment will donate a portion of the proceeds across physical and digital sales to Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP). One dollar of each purchase will be donated up to $1,000,000 from April 21, 2015 through December 31, 2015, void in Alabama, Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, Mississippi and South Carolina. To get involved and learn more, visit http://www.woundedwarriorproject.com.
The mission of Wounded Warrior Project is to honor and empower Wounded Warriors. WWP’s purpose is to raise awareness and to enlist the public’s aid for the needs of injured service members, to help injured servicemen and women aid and assist each other, and to provide unique, direct programs and services to meet their needs. WWP is a national, nonpartisan organization headquartered in Jacksonville, Florida. To learn more about WWP’s life-saving programs and services, please visit http://www.woundedwarriorproject.org/programs.
Thanks to our generous sponsor, one reader will win a copy of the American Sniper Blu-Ray/DVD combo pack. Please leave a comment letting me know whether or not you’ve seen the film, or your thoughts on it. US only please. Giveaway ends May 31.
by Krys Fenner
Bella has lived a rather boring life, but that all quickly changes. A new position in school forces her to take charge. A new boyfriend (her first), Jeremiah, hands her a confidence she has never known before. A new role in her church’s Fall Production makes her a leader. But that all gets destroyed when an attack by her father’s enemy turns her into the center of attention. Bella believes things couldn’t get worse, but they do. Can she survive the road of destruction and emerge stronger? Or has all that she gained been destroyed forever?
Using Psychology in Writing
by Krys Fenner
There are two ways to use psychology in writing. One gets very technical, while the other is more descriptive and action-oriented. There are two questions I would ask. Whose perspective is the story being told? And who is your audience? Once those are answered, then you’ll know how much terminology should be included in the manuscript.
Theoretically a work of non-fiction directed at a psychology student, psychologists, psychiatrist, or any counselor will be filled with more terminology than say a work of fiction intended for a young adult (12-18), new adult (18-25), or adult (25+) audience. Pieces of fiction are more likely to be action-based than using terminology. However, this again depends on the point of view character and your audience.
If the novel is written from the perspective of a counselor, psychologist, psychiatrist then the use of technical terms is highly probable. But if the book is written from a character suffering a particular psychosis, the character isn’t going to think “I have an adjustment disorder with a depressed mood.” Instead, actions and words of that character will display the psychological issue. If I was an author writing this character, then I would take into consideration how to demonstrate their problem.
Let’s say Jane has just gotten divorced. To describe an adjustment disorder with depression, I would reference her problems sleeping or lack of appetite. I would write about Jane’s refusal to spend time with friends. Or how she misses time from work. I could show her crying a lot or getting frequent headaches. All of these things would be symptoms of the psychological issue without verbally giving it a name. So, what if the point of view were changed?
With all that is going on, Jane recognizes she has a problem and decides to go see a psychologist. The doctor Jane chooses consults with another psychologist in their practice. We’ll call Jane’s psychologist, Dr. Tracy. If I were writing the scene from Dr. Tracy’s point of view, then I am more likely going to use technical terms, especially if she is speaking to a colleague. However, as a writer I will take into consideration my audience. Who am I writing the story for? Do I expect people who read the novel to understand these terms? If not, I have two options: define the terms in the book or dumb the terminology down.
It isn’t hard to write a book using psychological issues without technological terms. You just have to know who your audience is and whose perspective the story should be told from. The difficulty is in making sure the actions and feelings the character displays are accurate and appropriate for the situation. If you can do that successfully, the terminology won’t matter; the story will.
About the Author
At the age of 16, Krys Fenner fell in love with Psychology and Creative Writing. At that time she wrote her first short story dealing with sexual abuse and forgiveness. Psychological issues in her family filled her with the desire to help others using her own experiences. So in 2004, she earned an Associate of Arts in Psychology. And while her sister is the one with dreams of becoming a Psychologist, Krys Fenner returned to Creative Writing. She is currently working on a Bachelor of Arts and plans to continue on to a Masters degree, where she can major in her first love (Creative Writing) and minor in her second (Psychology).
by Jennifer Latham
Expected Publication: May 19, 2015
Meet Scarlett, a smart, sarcastic fifteen-year-old, ready to take on crime in her hometown. When Scarlett agrees to investigate a local boy’s suicide, she figures she’s in for an easy case and a quick buck. But it doesn’t take long for suicide to start looking a lot like murder.
As Scarlett finds herself deep in a world of cults, curses, and the seemingly supernatural, she discovers that her own family secrets may have more to do with the situation than she thinks…and that cracking the case could lead to solving her father’s murder.
Jennifer Latham delivers a compelling story and a character to remember in this one-of-a-kind debut novel.
About the Author
I write because it’s the only job I’ve been able to stick to for more than two years. Seriously.
I’ve lived lots of different places. Here’s the list: New York City; San Francisco; Augusta, GA; Buffalo, NY; Philadelphia, PA; Madrid; Providence, RI; and now…Tulsa, OK.
I’ve had some really weird and really normal jobs. The weirdest was helping out with autopsies. The one I’d go back to if I couldn’t write is being a school psychologist. The one I still do sometimes is teach yoga.
I live with my two daughters, two dogs, a cat, three turtles, three hermit crabs, a bunch of fish, and a husband (mine, of course).
I love watching people.
And I love writing about the people who live inside my head, even when they don’t play nice.
PURCHASE THE BOOK:
10 winners will receive a finished copy of SCARLETT UNDERCOVER. US Only.