Audio Book Spotlight: Hostage (Bodyguard #1) by Chris Bradford

Today we're featuring a clip of Chris Bradford's release: Hostage (Bodyguard #1).  This book sounds really exciting!




Summary:

ASSESS THE THREAT.
COUNTER THE DANGER.
ESCAPE THE KILLZONE.

In a dangerous world, everyone needs protection.

No one suspects that a teenager could protect someone – but Connor Reeves is no ordinary 14 year old. He’s a professional bodyguard trained in surveillance, anti-ambush techniques, hostage survival and unarmed combat. When he’s summoned to protect the President’s daughter, his protection skills face the ultimate test.

Alicia doesn’t want to be guarded. She just wants to have fun. With no clue that Connor is her bodyguard, she tries to escape the Secret Service and lead him astray. But unknown to her and Connor, a terrorist sleeper cell has been activated.

Its mission: to take the President’s daughter HOSTAGE.
  



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Book Review: Uprooted by Naomi Novik

Summary:
Naomi Novik, author of the bestselling and critically acclaimed Temeraire novels, introduces a bold new world rooted in folk stories and legends, as elemental as a Grimm fairy tale.

“Our Dragon doesn’t eat the girls he takes, no matter what stories they tell outside our valley. We hear them sometimes, from travelers passing through. They talk as though we were doing human sacrifice, and he were a real dragon. Of course that’s not true: he may be a wizard and immortal, but he’s still a man, and our fathers would band together and kill him if he wanted to eat one of us every ten years. He protects us against the Wood, and we’re grateful, but not that grateful.”

Agnieszka loves her valley home, her quiet village, the forests and the bright shining river. But the corrupted Wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life.

Her people rely on the cold, driven wizard known only as the Dragon to keep its powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as falling to the Wood.

The next choosing is fast approaching, and Agnieszka is afraid. She knows—everyone knows—that the Dragon will take Kasia: beautiful, graceful, brave Kasia, all the things Agnieszka isn’t, and her dearest friend in the world. And there is no way to save her.

But Agnieszka fears the wrong things. For when the Dragon comes, it is not Kasia he will choose.
  
Release Date: May 19, 2015
Age Group: Adult
Source: Review copy from publisher
Reviewed By: Kelli
Review:
Oh, oh, oh, was this book good!  I loved Uprooted from the first words to the last.  I didn't want this book to end!  I was completely entrapped by the story, Novik's captivating world, and her lyrical prose.

From the very first page, I knew I was going to love Uprooted.  There is an intrinsic quality to good writing, one I can't even name.  When an author has it, they have it.  Naomi Novik has it and it shows.  Her writing drew me in from the very first words, and I was almost spell-bound as I read.  I simply couldn't put this book down.

In my experience, long books like Uprooted often get draggy in the middle.  That was not the case with this story.  Novik kept a great pace, and the action didn't stop for the entire book.  It was very intense for being such a long read. 

I love it when stories move through a long period of time because it allows for so much action and character development.  Uprooted spanned many months, maybe even a year, and there was just so much going on.  I loved the plot twists, surprises along the way, and the way the story came full circle.

I loved so many things about Uprooted but my favorite thing of all was Agnieszka herself.  She is not your typical heroine.  She's plain, always gets dirty (no matter how hard she tries not to!) and very practical.  Agnieszka loves being outside and especially being in the forest.  If this was a contemporary story, she would have been living on a farm, growing all of her own food.  Agnieszka was that kind of girl.  Novik drew away from the norm with her choice of heroine and I love her for that. 

Agnieszka is a strong young woman, full of self-assurance and determination.  She is true to herself and her calling.  She doesn't need or want saving from a man and I loved that about her.  Agnieszka is true to her calling and accepts it, even though it's not what she expected or desired, with grace and dignity.  The ending of the story was so perfect and true to Agnieszka as a character.  I loved it. 

I don't often read high fantasy, but books like Uprooted make me remember just how much I like this genre.  I loved that I didn't have to work to remember the rules of Agnieszka's world.  Sometimes high fantasy books can feel like work to read because I'm trying to keep all of the background information straight in my head as I read.  That wasn't the case here: I fell into the story and grudgingly crawled out as the book ended. 

I can't say enough good things about Uprooted.  I highly recommend it!

Giveaway and Guest Post: Why I Put My Cat In Space by Ava Louise

As part of WOW! Women On Writing's blog tour for author Ava Louise, we are pleased to host Ava today.  She's here to tell us why her main character, Maggie, brings her cat with her to space.  Could you/would you leave your animals behind for a new life?  I know I couldn't, and Ava can't either.  Enjoy this fun post, and see the bottom of the page for a giveaway!

 
Why I Put My Cat in Space
by Ava Louise

Back in 2013 I went on a reading binge. For me, this means I buy loads of books based on a central theme. At that time it was about mail order brides. I love books set in the Old West. History has always appealed to me and mail order brides were a part of our country’s history. A friend and I were talking about how scary it must have been for women back then.

It’s hard to imagine getting on a train or in a stagecoach and traveling across this vast country to meet a complete stranger and marry them. The women who chose that option were very brave, in my opinion.

As we talked, we started questioning different aspects of the mail order brides’ choice. Eventually the questions brought us back to modern times. Right away I noticed a “glitch” in this idea when I tried to think of it from my personal perspective. What about my cats? There is no way I could imagine leaving my cat behind to go off to another life.

Then the part of me that enjoys Science Fiction piped up. What if I were leaving Earth altogether, not just traveling across the country? Again, not going to happen! After a round of what-if questions, “Maggie’s Story” was born.

There is a very real part of me in the character of Maggie. Her love for her pet, and her unwillingness to set it aside for convenience, comes from my own heart and soul. So, naturally, when it came time to name Maggie’s cat, I chose to name her after my very own cat…Mamzell.

So, with “Maggie’s Story,” I sent my cat into space.

One fan asked me how I came up with her name. Originally, her name was supposed to be Mademoiselle. My husband, though, could neither pronounce nor spell it correctly. With a bit of tweaking, I came up with the name Mamzell, and it truly fits. She is a one-of-a-kind cat!

In “Maggie’s Story” there is a scene in which Mamzell runs away with Maggie’s crochet hook. The real-life Mamzell is known for carrying things around in her mouth, too. The entire scene was based upon real life…except for the part where the aliens enter the room and are trying to figure out what is going on with the human female stuck halfway under the bed and threatening the cat with dire punishments for stealing.

Try to imagine how that could be explained to a race of beings that don’t quite grasp the concept of keeping pets. Imagine how you would explain that you wouldn’t really shave the cat’s butt for stealing. Or that you wouldn’t truly tie a knot in the animal’s tail. And how to make them understand you are not mentally deficient because you are talking to the pet in the first place?  >smile<

What better animal than a small cat to introduce the pet concept to aliens? I refuse to believe I am the only person who would forego space travel if it meant leaving behind my pets. How about you? Would you be willing to leave Earth if you had to give up your pets?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
 
 
The Intergalactic Matchmaking Services series begins with Maggie’s Story, Ava Louise’s debut novel. In the series, you’ll meet characters that play a role in all of the books of the series, but this cozy Sci-Fi with romance is easily read as a series, or each book as a standalone. The characters are full-fledged and lovable!
 

Book One 
Maggie’s Story -- Women Wanted: Must have a sense of adventure and be open to new experiences. Must also be willing to relocate. Please contact...Intergalactic Matchmaking Services.

Maggie Cline decides to investigate her romantic possibilities after she becomes a target when she identifies the shooter in a local murder.

Can she find a soul mate away from everything she knows and has worked hard for here on Earth? What about her loyal companion? Will she have to give up her cat, Mamzell, for a chance at love?
Genre: Science Fiction, Romance
Publisher: Amazon Digital Services (January 27, 2014)
ASIN: B00I44AGA8



Book Two
“Shirley’s Story” -- Just as Shirley decides to try opening herself up to a chance at love, a stalker from her past returns. How does she move forward when her past comes knocking? What's going on with her young student, Hannah? Will her dog, Oreo, be okay with Shirley looking for love?

Genre: Science Fiction, Romance
Publisher: Amazon Digital Services (March 4, 2014)
ASIN: B00ISU9RE4

 
 

Book Three
“Penny’s Story” -- Penny was supposed to be dead. At least that is what Claire has believed for ten years. Find out what happens when Claire's sister comes out of the Witness Protection Program. Penny is fighting a losing battle with cancer and needs Claire to raise Sunny, Penny's newborn daughter, once the cancer takes its final toll. Why is Penny's ex-boyfriend, Jason, telling his cronies that Penny has money and information about their illegal dealings? How does the cartel find out she has even left the Witness Protection Program? 

Will Marko have to watch as another woman he cares for dies a horrible death? Will he lose his job as Medical Officer on the starship for bending the rules? Can Pacer finally have the peaceful retirement he desires? How will Claire deal with her quiet life being turned upside down? Catch up with Maggie and Daxon, along with Shirley and Mathenzo.

Genre: Women’s Fiction
Publisher: Amazon Digital Services (November 30, 2014)
ASIN: B00OV8QBXC


All of the Intergalactic Matchmaking Services books are available as e-books on Amazon. 
 

About the Author:

Ava Louise was born a U.S. Army brat overseas, in France. She is the proud mom of two wonderful young men. It's taken her a while to figure out what she wanted to be "when she grows up," but Ava has finally found her niche in the writing world. Since writing came to her later in life, she likes to think she is living proof that it's never too late to reach for a dream or to achieve it. Before writing her own stories, she usually reads from a wide array of genres. She loves Science-Fiction, Fantasy, Romance, Mysteries, Thrillers, and Young Adult. 


Ava Louise can be found online at:

 

Giveaway
One winner will receive the entire Intergalactic Matchmaking Series by Ava Louise in digital format. 
  • This giveaway is open internationally.
  • The giveaway runs from 5/19/15 - 6/1/15.
  • The winner will be notified via email and has 72 hours to respond and claim their prize.  If no response has been received within 72 hours, another winner will be chosen.
  • You do not have to follow our blog to enter this giveaway.
 

A Non-Review: The Selection Series by Kiera Cass



Summary: 
35 girls. 1 crown. The competition of a lifetime. 

Age Group: YA 
Not Reviewed By: Nat

Review:
We have made references and even a post about how much we love this series and expressed our excitement when the series extension was announced but we have never reviewed the books. #moreselection post HERE.

Why?

Simply put, we were really late to the game. By the time I was introduced to this series (by our gushing teens Rocky and Maddie B) the third installment was being released, The One

There were so many great reviews floating around and a huge following behind the series that I didn't think I could add any more humph to the party. Bottom line, if you love dystopian and reality TV, this series is a no brainer.

So a huge #fistbump to Cass for such an amazing series! The verdict is still out on the extension to the series, beginning this month with The Heir. We will see if Cass continues to knock our socks off!

image source: goodreads.com

Guest Post: Game of Thrones Season Five by Spencer Blohm



I am a huge Game of Thrones fan, and my husband is as well.  We've been watching this series since it premiered.  Toby has read all of the books twice now, and loves to see how the show will differ from the books.  We have Spencer Blohm guest posting today about his predictions for Game of Thrones Season Five.  Welcome, Spencer!


What’s in the Cards for Game of Thrones Season Five?
by Spencer Blohm

The season five premiere of HBO's Game of Thrones drew a staggering eight million viewers back to the land of Westeros. The show's success isn't all that surprising, considering the popularity of fantasy-driven shows and novels. It also builds on the mainstream appeal for cinematic fantasy generated by Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings, and it brings a built-in fan base to the show: the readers of George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire novels, on which the show is based.

The differences between the book and the show so far this season are numerous, and they're not small changes but major reinventions of the story. Littlefinger, who smuggled Sansa Stark out of King's Landing last season and is now tutoring her in subterfuge, plans to marry her to Ramsay Bolton, who currently resides in Winterfell. In Martin's novel A Dance With Dragons, it is Tywin who arranges a marriage between Ramsay and Jeyne Poole, in an attempt to pass Jeyne off as Arya Stark. Both the book’s and show’s plot line concern Roose Bolton's attempt to control Winterfell through Ramsay by marrying him to a Stark. Theon Greyjoy is currently in Winterfell in the show as well, having been Ramsay's captive for some time now. He grew up there with Sansa, and it seems likely they will plot something together, since both of them have ample reason to hate the Boltons.

In addition to these differences in Winterfell, major changes have happened in and around King's Landing as well. Instead riding off to take Riverrun back from Brynden Tully as he did in the books, Jaime Lannister sails with Ser Bronn of the Blackwater to Dorne in the show. His mission is to sneak his illegitimate daughter Myrcella out of the Water Gardens, believing she is not safe there after Dornish prince Oberyn Martell was killed in King's Landing. In the fourth book in the series A Feast for Crows, it is Arianne Martell who tries to move Myrcella out of Dorne, in an attempt to crown her under Dornish law.

Arianne is nowhere to be found in the show. In fact, a great number of narrative threads from the novels have been excised altogether—Quentyn Martell and his trip to Essos, the reemergence of Rhaegar Targaryen's son Aegon, and anything going on in the Iron Islands, which dominated much of A Feast for Crows through two distinct characters.

Jaime and Bronn's visit to Dorne should prove highly entertaining. They are bound to viciously clash with the Sand Snakes, Oberyn's pugnacious bastard daughters, and Ellaria Sand, his vindictive paramour. The loss of Jaime's sword hand has lowered his skill, and he'll have to find other ways to be effective in battle.

Book readers know that Cersei Lannister's story will be at the forefront this season. The show writers have wisely chosen to add scenes developing her son King Tommen and his newly wed Queen Margery, who are not point-of-view characters in the books. This change gives more weight to their relationships and increases the emotional stakes of the politics being played in King's Landing.

While some purists decry these changes as unnecessary or even harmful to the show's integrity, they streamline the plotting, which contributes to better pacing—a key element in any successful television show. The fifth season of this highly anticipated series has already made fans yearning for more and racing to their television sets as new episodes premiere (check here for listings or here for the latest recaps). As Game of Thrones moves ahead of its source material, and the showrunners demonstrate their willingness to make radical changes, the element of surprise comes into play for readers and non-readers alike, resulting in a fresher, more exciting fantasy-driven experience.

Book Review: Love and Miss Communication by Elyssa Friedland

Summary:
This unforgettable debut novel asks us to look up from our screens and out at the world...and to imagine what life would be like with no searches, no status updates, no texts, no Tweets, no pins, and no posts.

Evie Rosen has had enough. She's tired of the partners at her law firm e-mailing her at all hours of the night. The thought of another online date makes her break out in a cold sweat. She's over the clever hashtags and the endless selfies. So when her career hits a surprising roadblock and her heart is crushed by Facebook, Evie decides it's time to put down her smartphone for good. (Beats stowing it in her underwear--she's done that too!)

And that's when she discovers a fresh start for real conversations, fewer distractions, and living in the moment, even if the moments are heartbreakingly difficult. Babies are born; marriages teeter; friendships are tested. Evie just may find love and a new direction when she least expects it, but she also learns that just because you unplug your phone doesn't mean you can unplug from life.
  

 
Release Date: May 12, 2015
Age Group: Adult
Source: NetGalley
Reviewed By: Kelli

 
Review:
Love and Miss Communication was such a fun read.  I really enjoyed it from the first page to the last.  Evie is completely addicted to her phone.  She is constantly on Facebook, email, and other social media.  Evie is caught up with making her life online look perfect, when in reality, it's not.  It's all about image.  Until she stumbles upon some crushing news about an ex on Facebook. 

Evie decides to stop using the Internet for a year.  She learns a great deal about herself in the process, and finds a different kind of lifestyle than the one she had before.  Evie is able to focus on her passion, and what makes her happy, instead of being caught up in the frenetic pace of her former life. 

I loved the metamorphosis in Evie.  It was fascinating to watch her change and grow into a better person.  She had a few stumbles along the way, but always managed to pick herself back up again. 

The love story was super sweet and perfectly done.  I liked that Love and Miss Communication is an adult read, but a fairly clean one.  One of my favorite aspects of this book were the minor characters, particularly Evie's grandmother Bette.  She was so much fun!  And Bette's paramour, Sam, was a great addition to the story as well. 

Love and Miss Communication was a fun, light-hearted read.  It made me consider how important it is to put my phone down and interact with those around me.  I liked that the focus on connectedness was delivered in such an engaging and entertaining way.  I highly recommend Love and Miss Communication and will definitely read Elyssa Friedland again! 


 

Guest Post: 10 Most Memorable Moms in New Fiction by Andrea Lochen

Happy Mother's Day! 
Natalie and I wish our fellow moms a day of rest, appreciation and love.  We have author Andrea Lochen here today to share her thoughts on ten memorable mothers in fiction.  Welcome, Andrea!
 
Ten Most Memorable Moms in New Fiction
What better time of year than Mother’s Day to showcase some of the most memorable fictional mothers in some of the best new novels?  From loving, supportive mothers to complex, trailblazing mothers to selfish, vindictive mothers, this list has it all!    
 
1) The Perfect Son by Barbara Claypole White (Lake Union, July 2015)
Ella Fitzwilliam, the mom in THE PERFECT SON, quit a successful career in jewelry design to be full-time parent, mental health coach, and advocate for her son, Harry, who has a soup of issues that include Tourette syndrome. She has devoted 17 years of her life to his therapy, to educating teachers, to being Harry’s emotional rock and giving him the confidence he needs to be Harry. Thanks to her, Harry is comfortable in his own skin, even when people stare. After Ella has a major heart attack in the opening chapter, her love for Harry tethers her to life. But as she recovers, she discovers the hardest parenting lesson of all: to let go.
  
2) Rodin’s Lover by Heather Webb (Plume, January 2015)
In RODIN’S LOVER, Camille’s mother, Louise Claudel, is spiteful, jealous, and disapproving of Camille’s pursuit to become a female sculptor in the 1880s. She also shows signs of mental illness. Because of this relationship, Camille struggles with all of her female relationships the rest of her life, and ultimately, to prove to her mother that she’s truly talented. 
  
3) Imaginary Things by Andrea Lochen (Astor + Blue Editions, April 2015)
In IMAGINARY THINGS, young single mother Anna Jennings has a unique power that most parents only dream of—the ability to see her four-year-old son’s imagination come to life.  But when David’s imaginary friends turn dark and threatening, Anna must learn the rules of this bizarre phenomenon, what his friends truly represent, and how best to protect him. 
 
4) The Magician’s Lie by Greer Macallister (Sourcebooks, January 2015)
In THE MAGICIAN'S LIE, Arden's mother is remarkable both for what she does and what she doesn't do. As a young woman, she bears a child out of wedlock and runs away with her music teacher, never fearing the consequences. But later in life, her nerve fails her—just when her daughter needs her most.
  
5) Five Days Left by Julie Lawson Timmer (Putnam, 2014)
In FIVE DAYS LEFT, Mara Nichols is, in some ways, a typical mother: she loves her daughter fiercely, thinks about her constantly and goes to great lengths to balance her high-stress legal career with her daughter’s needs. But there are two ways in which Mara isn't typical at all. First, she adopted her daughter from India, making good on a lifelong promise to rescue a baby from the same orphanage where Mara herself lived decades ago. And second, when Mara is diagnosed with a fatal, incurable illness that will render her unable to walk, talk or even feed herself, she has to make the kind of parenting choice none of us wants to consider—would my child be better off if I were no longer alive?
 
6) House Broken by Sonja Yoerg (Penguin/NAL, January 2015)
In HOUSE BROKEN, Helen Riley has a habit of leaving her grown children to cope with her vodka-fueled disasters. She has her reasons, but they’re buried deep, and stem from secrets too painful to remember and, perhaps, too terrible to forgive.
  
7) You Were Meant for Me by Yona Zeldis McDonough (Penguin/NAL, 2014)
In YOU WERE MEANT FOR ME, having a baby is the furthest thing from Miranda Berenzweig’s mind.  She’s newly single after a bad break up, and focused on her promotion at work, her friends and getting her life back on track.  Then one frigid March night she finds a newborn infant in a NYC subway and even after taking the baby to the police, can’t get the baby out of her mind.  At the suggestion of the family court judge assigned to the case, Miranda begins adoption proceedings.  But her plans—as well as her hopes and dreams—are derailed when the baby’s biological father surfaces, wanting to claim his child.  The way she handles this unforeseen turn of events is what makes Miranda a truly memorable mother. 
  
8) The Far End of Happy by Kathryn Craft (Sourcebooks Landmark, May 2015)
In THE FAR END OF HAPPY, Ronnie has hung in there as long as she can during her husband's decline into depression, spending issues, and alcoholism and he will not accept her attempts to get him professional help. She is not a leaver, but can't bear for her sons to witness the further deterioration of the marriage. She determines to divorce—and on the day he has promised to move out, he instead arms himself, holes up inside a building on the property, and stands off against police. When late in the day the police ask Ronnie if she’ll appeal to him one last time over the bullhorn, she must decide: with the stakes so high, will she try one last time to save her husband’s life? Or will her need to protect her sons and her own growing sense of self win out?
  
9) Your Perfect Life by Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke (Washington Square Press, 2014)
In YOUR PERFECT LIFE, long-time friends, Rachel and Casey wake up the morning after their twenty year high school reunion to discover they’ve switched bodies. Casey is single with no children before becoming an instant mom to Rachel’s two teenagers and baby. Despite her lack of experience as a parent, and her often comedic missteps with the baby in particular (think: diaper blow outs and sudden sleep deprivation) Casey’s fresh perspective on her new role helps her connect with each of the children in a very different way than Rachel. And when the oldest, Audrey, is almost date raped at her prom, it is Casey’s strength that she draws from an experience in her own past that ultimately pulls Audrey through. Although it is hard for Rachel to watch her best friend take care of Audrey when she so desperately wants to, she realizes that Casey can help her daughter in a way she can’t. And Casey discovers she might have what it takes to be a mom to her own children someday.
 
10) The Life List by Lori Nelson Spielman (Bantam, 2013)
Elizabeth Bohlinger, the mother in THE LIFE LIST, is actually deceased. But she still has a big presence in her daughter's life—some may say too big! With heartfelt letters, Elizabeth guides her daughter, Brett, on a journey to complete the life list of wishes Brett made when she was just a teen. Like many mothers, Elizabeth has an uncanny ability to see into her daughter's heart, exposing buried desires Brett has long forgotten.
 
 
AUTHOR BIO:  Andrea Lochen is a University of Michigan MFA graduate. Her first novel, The Repeat Year (Berkley, 2013), won a Hopwood Award prior to its publication. She has served as fiction editor of The Madison Review and taught writing at the University of Michigan. Her latest novel, Imaginary Things has garnered the highest of praise with features on Barnes & Noble.com, Huffington Post, Brit + Co., Luxe Beat Magazine and many more.
 
Book Links for Imaginary Things:
Publisher:  http://bit.ly/1HJ3VW9