Friday, December 30, 2011

2012 Blogging Resolutions & 2011 Wrap-Up

2011 was a great year for me. It was the year that What's Your Story really took off and became something bigger and better than I ever thought it could be. I want to thank every single person that's followed my blog, left a comment, tweeted about a post, liked on Facebook, and anything else you could have done! It means so much to me. :)

My 2011 Stats:

Books Read- 94
Pages Read- 23,088
Posts in 2011- 276 (Not including this one)
Reviews posted this year- 98

Here are my resolutions for 2012:
  • Read every day. Even if it's only a few pages, I want to be able to read something every day. In 2011, I had many dry spells where I wouldn't read a word for days, sometimes even weeks, and I really don't want that to happen again. Because of this, I didn't meet my goal of reading 100 books, and in 2012 I want to far surpass that goal.
  • Prioritize and organize. This is the cause of so much of my stress, when I don't organize properly. This year, hopefully that will change and I won't lose track of anything. I bought a planner just for that purpose, so there should be a post at least every day. Here's hoping. 
  • Post everyday. I'm going to try my hardest to post everyday, even though we all know that's pretty back breaking work. I'm trying to schedule my posts as far ahead in advance as I can so that I don't have to freak out over trying to write posts the night before. Also, this ties into the planner in the previous bullet.
  • Comment on more blogs! I need to get in the habit of visiting other's blogs and commenting. I'm usually one of those silent readers, that reads the posts or the review, but doesn't comment on it. That needs to change! I also pledge to return comments, meaning that if anyone comments on one of my posts, I will in turn comment on their post. 
What are your resolutions?

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Trailer Debut: Sirenz by Natalie Zaman and Charlotte Bennardo

And it is here! The trailer for Sirenz! If you haven't read Sirenz, it's a funny and fabulous book about.... well, why don't you just watch the trailer to find out, hmm??

Buy the Book: Amazon | Barnes and Noble

Review: Blind Date, Checkmate by Veronica Blade

Blind Date, Checkmate by Veronica Blade
Pages: E-book equivalent to about 100 printed pages.
Publisher: Crushed Publishing
Genre: Adult Romance
Buy the Book: Kindle ($0.99!)

Should a woman who’s unable to forget her first love give “happily ever after” one more try?

Shelby Winters’ one great love went sour. If she can’t feel that way about a guy again, why bother? When Shelby’s best friend sets her up on a blind date with Logan, the guy who broke her heart, he pursues her relentlessly, forcing her to make a choice: give her heart what it’s always desired and risk total devastation or shut Logan out and lose her only shot at happiness. To Shelby, it’s a lose-lose situation. Or is it?
If you're looking for a sweet romance with just enough sizzle to leave you breathless, then Blind Date, Checkmate is your book! It tells the story of Shelby, a successful realtor living in Sacramento who has a habit of exercising when she needs to work off some sexual tension. Her heart was broken 9 years ago, by the love of her life, and now he's back... and he won't take no for an answer!

This novella is relatively short, but it's definitely an emotional roller coaster. From the moment I met Logan, I was rooting him on. It's almost like a chick flick, where you just know that the guy is going to get the girl, because if he doesn't then true love doesn't exist and your whole life is a lie. And even if I didn't like what Logan did to Shelby when they were teenagers, the fact that he moved back to Sacramento just to make things right with her counts for a lot.

Veronica Blade has this innate ability to keep the sexual tension running high throughout the course of the entire story, only allowing some closure at the tail end of it. As was the case with her debut novel, Something Witchy This Way Comes, if you read my review, you would remember this lovely little graphic:
And yes, that still holds true for Blind Date, Checkmate. Just like in Something Witchy, there were so many moments in the novella that I just wanted Shelby to give in to Logan, rip his clothes off and jump his bones. The steaminess was on at all times, and since this is an adult novella and the characters are in their twenties, references to sex don't have to be veiled with innuendos. Shelby wanted Logan, badly, and quite honestly I did too!

Read this yummy excerpt and you'll know just what I'm talking about:
As if I were his prey, he caged me against the wall with his arms. I pressed my back into the cold plaster so I wouldn't feel his thighs brushing mine. He only moved closer, a breath away, the friction of our bodies sending an inferno through me.

Oh yes, that had definitely been missing in my life.

"You want me to follow through, I'm ready right now," he growled softly.
Blind Date, Checkmate was a fun and sexy story about rekindling a romance. And it's a pretty quick read, so buy it! 5 out of 5 stars.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Review: Thief's Covenant by Ari Marmell

Thief's Covenant by Ari Marmell
Pages: 240
Publisher: PYR
Genre: YA Fantasy
Release Date: February 14th, 2012
Buy it (Pre-Order): Hardcover

She is Widdershins, a thief making her way through Davillon's underbelly looking to find answers, and justice with a sharp blade, a sharper wit, and the mystical aid of Olgun, a foreign god with no other worshipers but Widdershins herself.
I started just casually reading Thief's Covenant one evening, but from the very first line, I was hooked. Ari Marmell spares us no detail when it comes to the gritty and the gory, but he also can convey a deep sense of friendship and emotion with the flip of a page. Thief's Covenant is an expertly crafted, epic high fantasy adventure that kept me reading for hours. It's nothing like what you'll expect--I promise, it's a thousand times better.

This novel was a breath of fresh air, because not only was it built on an intriguing mythology, but the writing style itself was something unique. Ari Marmell wrote with a tongue-in-cheek tone, quite often making little jokes about his own characters in the narrative that always made me crack a smile, or sometimes outright laugh. This gave the book a bit of charisma, since it felt like some of Ari's personality shown through his words. I also liked how some of the story is told in backwards chronological order. The novel started at a critical point in time, throwing us in without any context, and then slowly backing up and showing us the events that led to it. It alternates between 'Now' and a certain amount of years in the past, which I thought was a great way of telling the story without information overload.

Widdershins was one of those female main characters that I so love--the kind that can fend for herself and give a good ass-kicking if the need should arise. And in Thief's Covenant, the need arise quite frequently. She had the help of her invisible yet always present companion, Olgun, a god whose following has died out, leaving only Widdershins. Their interaction with each other was cute and funny, and provided a lot of the comic relief in suspenseful moments. I give Widdershins a solid 9 on the Bad-Ass Meter. It wasn't all about kicking butt with her, it was also about protecting those she loved, which I really like in a character.


Overall, I really loved Thief's Covenant! I'm extremely eager for the sequel. I can't wait to know what happens to Widdershins and Olgun. Ari Marmell has absolutely secured himself as one of my favorite high fantasy authors. PYR, Prometheus Books' science fiction and fantasy division, has been coming out with some definite winners in YA, so it'd be a good idea to keep tabs on their new releases including this one. 5 out of 5 stars!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Favorite Books of 2011

I figured since 2011 is coming to a close, that I would do a post on my favorite books published and read this year. There isn't a specific number of them, just the ones I read and loved.

(Clicking on the cover takes you to Amazon, where you can find more information about the book.)



Have you read any of these, what did you think of them?

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

HarperTeen E-book Deals: 10 for $0.99 Each

HarperCollins, in all their amazingness, is offering 10 of their e-books for only $0.99 each! I'm pretty sure this runs through the holidays and into January. I also know that they've lowered the prices at all the e-book retailers, not just Amazon, so if you don't have a Kindle, you can still buy it for whatever e-reader you may have.

Here they are!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

{Blog Tour}: Kelley York Interview


I am lucky enough to be part of the Hushed blog tour today! If you haven't read Hushed, I highly suggest you do as it was amazing, and certainly a dark and thrilling novel. Not typically what I read, but the dark aspect of it was an interesting change. My review of it will be coming very soon!

Hushed by Kelley York
Pages: 260
Publisher: Entangled Publishing
Genre: YA Thriller
Buy the Book:
Amazon
Barnes & Noble

He’s saved her. He’s loved her. He’s killed for her.

Eighteen-year-old Archer couldn’t protect his best friend, Vivian, from what happened when they were kids, so he’s never stopped trying to protect her from everything else. It doesn’t matter that Vivian only uses him when hopping from one toxic relationship to another – Archer is always there, waiting to be noticed.

Then along comes Evan, the only person who’s ever cared about Archer without a single string attached. The harder he falls for Evan, the more Archer sees Vivian for the manipulative hot-mess she really is.

But Viv has her hooks in deep, and when she finds out about the murders Archer’s committed and his relationship with Evan, she threatens to turn him in if she doesn’t get what she wants…And what she wants is Evan’s death, and for Archer to forfeit his last chance at redemption.

Kelley was able to do a quick and fun interview with me, so I hope you enjoy it!

Hey Kelley! Firstly, I¹d like to say that I loved Hushed, it was so dark and intense wow! Speaking of that darkness, in regards to the main character Archer, he was a bit of a sociopath. What was it like getting inside his head and writing things from his morally skewed perspective?
Surprisingly easy. (Maybe there's something wrong with me??) Even if Archer does things I could never do, it wasn't hard for me to get into his mind frame. He comes across as this distant, cold guy, when in reality Archer's problem is that he loves too much. He cares so intensely about the people he loves—Vivian, Marissa, his mom, Evan—that there really is nothing he wouldn't do for them. I think it's the love he has that lets me really connect to him.

Hushed has been compared quite a bit to the (AWESOME) tv show Dexter, which is about a man that is also a serial killer who kills for what he believes are good reasons. Do you watch Dexter, and if so, was Hushed inspired by it in any way?

No, HUSHED wasn't inspired by it. I watched a few random episodes a couple years back, but never got around to watching the whole thing. I've definitely heard the comparisons and I certainly don't think it's a bad thing to be compared to such a popular series. It's kind of flattering, really, that anyone would think my book could even hold a candle to it!

Okay, let¹s have some fun now! :) Use the letters of Hushed to create an acrostic poem of words that describe your book.

This is going to be embarrassing. You asked for it...
H oping to make
U p for past mistakes, while
S ilently suffering
H imself. But
E ven in the
D arkness, he finds the light.

Don't laugh! Poetry has never, ever been my strong point.

And lastly, are there any things in the book, such as characters or subplots, that changed drastically from the first draft to the final copy?

Not really. Some subtle changes were made, but nothing that required massive rewrites. The only thing I rewrote was the ending: I took out the last chapter and added in two or three new ones going a different direction. At first, I was really hesitant because I liked the ending I had...but my editor and I tossed ideas back and forth and now the ending is so much better than what I started with.

Thank you so much for doing an interview with me Kelley, I appreciate it so much! :)

Thank you so much for having me!

About Kelley

WebsiteBlogTwitter

Kelley was born and raised in central California, where she still resides with her lovely wife, daughter, and an abundance of pets. (Although she does fantasize about moving across the globe to Ireland.) She has a fascination with bells, adores all things furry - be them squeaky, barky or meow-y - is a lover of video games, manga and anime, and likes to
pretend she's a decent photographer. Her life goal is to find a real unicorn. Or maybe a mermaid.

Within young adult, she enjoys writing and reading a variety of genres from contemporary with a unique twist, psychological thrillers, paranormal/urban fantasy and horror. She loves stories where character development takes center stage.

What Are Others Saying?
"Kelley York delivers in this impressive debut. I was at the edge of my seat waiting to see what would happen next! Bottom line, this was unputdownable!!!"
--- YA Fantasy Guide

"How exciting that we live in a time when gay teen protagonists can be just as screwed up as straight ones -- and their stories just as creepy!"
--- Brent Hartinger, award-winning author of Geography Club and Shadow Walkers

Monday, December 5, 2011

Little Holiday Break

The holidays are drawing near, and things are already getting pretty insane right now. For me, my acting competitions are coming up this weekend, as well as auditions the following week for the new play, and several other things that have me extremely stressed out. So, as a result, I haven't been posting on the blog as much I would have liked. I have decided that rather than be sleep deprived, I'm going to take a little blogging break for the holidays, and instead of focusing my energy on making posts for now, I'll be scheduling posts for January, so I won't be in a constant state of being behind. This also frees up tons of time for reading, so yay! I will still be posting things here and there, don't you fear, such as a blog tour that I have coming up on the 11th. :) So, I won't be totally silent. I just decided that I'm not going to kill myself trying to get everything done.

Love you guys, and enjoy your holidays! :D

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Book Spotlight: Shattered Dreams by Ellie James {GIVEAWAY}

Shattered Dreams by Ellie James
Pages: 352
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Genre: Paranormal
RELEASE DATE: December 6th, 2011

Sixteen-year-old Trinity Monsour wants nothing more than to live a normal life. But that isn’t as easy as it seems. Trinity is different. She is special. She sees visions, and for those she’s seen, it’s already too late.

Trinity arrives on her aunt's doorstep in New Orleans with virtually no knowledge of her mysterious heritage. She begins settling into life at a new school and even starts making friends. But all too quickly her dreams accelerate; twisted, terrifying visions of a girl locked in a dark room. And when the head cheerleader, Jessica, goes missing, Trinity knows she has no choice but to step forward with what she's seen.

But people believe that Trinity has information about Jessica's disappearance not because of a dream, but because she is involved. She is kind-of dating Jessica's ex-boyfriend, Chase, and Jessica did pull a nasty prank on Trinity. Revenge seems like the likeliest scenario.

Nothing prepares Trinity for the dark odyssey that ensues while searching for Jessica, including the surprising romance she finds with Chase, or the shocking truths she learns, not just about the girl who has gone missing, but the past that has been hidden from her.
Doesn't Shattered Dreams sound awesome? It seems like it'll be a good paranormal romance, but with quite a bit of mystery thrown in. I'm eager to see why the girl disappears, and in general, just find out what's up with Trinity. I just downloaded the short story prequel, called Haunted Destiny, which is free for e-readers, so I'm excited to jump into this world!

I also have a giveaway for you guys! A *signed* bookmark is up for grabs!



Friday, December 2, 2011

Bargain Priced Books (2)

Books can get really expensive, so that's why I always keep an eye on the bargain priced books to see if I find any gems for cheap. And I always do! I figured that I should share my findings with you, because there just might be a book you've really wanted for a while!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Review: The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab

The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab
Pages: 282
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Genre: YA Paranormal Fantasy

The Near Witch is only an old story told to frighten children.

If the wind calls at night, you must not listen. The wind is lonely, and always looking for company.

And there are no strangers in the town of Near.
These are the truths that Lexi has heard all her life.

But when an actual stranger—a boy who seems to fade like smoke—appears outside her home on the moor at night, she knows that at least one of these sayings is no longer true.

The next night, the children of Near start disappearing from their beds, and the mysterious boy falls under suspicion. Still, he insists on helping Lexi search for them. Something tells her she can trust him.

As the hunt for the children intensifies, so does Lexi’s need to know—about the witch that just might be more than a bedtime story, about the wind that seems to speak through the walls at night, and about the history of this nameless boy.
The Near Witch was a novel that once I picked it up, I absolutely could not put down. I finished it in about 4 hours, not even putting it down to eat.

This was a unique book with a lyrical and bewitching writing style. I loved the rhymes and songs that the kids sang, it added an extra layer of a sort of Gothic creep-factor that the book had going. I especially love how a lot of the crucial information pertaining to the plot and what would happen later on was in the bedtime stories that Lexi told her sister Wren, and the stories that Lexi's father told her.

The characters in the Near Witch were all so well fleshed out. Not only Lexi, who was a strong and steadfast heroine, but also the members of her family. Her uncle, Otto, basically took over the role of the male figure in the house since Lexi's father died, and while his actions weren't always the best, he only did what he did in the interest of keeping his family safe and I could understand that. Lexi's 5 year old sister, Wren, was just the cutest thing! All while I was reading, she reminded me of my little brother, who has the same spirit and playful, loving nature that Wren does, so I instantly warmed up to her. Lexi's mom had to be one of my favorite characters, though, because of the subtle things she did throughout the book to help Lexi when Otto put her on lockdown. She showed a quiet strength.

Lexi and Cole together are one of my favorite couples. Everything in their relationship is so subtle, but there was this instant connection between them. When Lexi first met Cole, she just knew that he wasn't bad, and she's protective of him from the start. It's hard to explain, but Lexi and Cole just fit so naturally together, and even if they did fall for each other a bit fast, I didn't mind it because it wasn't out of place. Plus, Cole just has this brooding attractiveness about him. He's not a hunk by any means, but still very sexy in a subdued way.

I'm just a bit confused as to what genre this is. No reference was made to a setting outside of Near, so for all we know, it could be in some magical other world, or it could be our own. There was also never any mention to a time frame of when this took place. While the atmosphere in the novel is decidedly old-timey, there were some points when a modern feel would creep in.

I recommend The Near Witch to fans of darker fantasy, almost verging on paranormal. Fans of historical fiction or fantasy will also really enjoy this book. 5 out of 5 stars.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Google Friend Connect- My 2 cents

There's a bit of commotion lately over Google's decision to remove GCF for all non-blogger websites. And while I do think that this isn't a great move on the part go Google, I don't think it warrants all the stress it's getting.

A lot of people who use blogger are now stressing over whether GCF will go away for them too. But, chances are it most likely won't. You have to look at this from the perspective of Google, who is looking at this from the perspective of a company trying to get all its users onto its websites and platforms. The only reason that Google is taking away GCF for non-Blogger users is to encourage people to use Google +. They even say so in the official blog post about it:
Google Friend Connect—Friend Connect allows webmasters to add social features to their sites by embedding a few snippets of code. We're retiring the service for all non-Blogger sites on March 1, 2012. We encourage affected sites to create a Google+ page and place a Google+ badge on their site so they can bring their community of followers to Google+ and use new features like Circles and Hangouts to keep in touch.
What reason would they possibly have to take it out of Blogger blogs? The answer: none. It would only harm them detrimentally, something they obviously don't want. There are tens of thousands of people using Blogger, most of whom use GCF and like it. If they were to take that away from their own product, they would be harming themselves. Bloggers would get irritated and most likely switch to another platform out of protest, and then where would Google be? They know that, so they won't do it. It's really a business decision more than anything.

I really think that they should keep GCF for everyone, because there are a lot of bloggers that I follow using it that aren't Blogger bloggers (haha, that looks kinda funny) and it's just going to make it a bit more difficult to follow them since I don't use my feedreader very often. But, Google is trying to herd everyone into using Google +, so, they are unfortunately probably not going to go back on their decision.

So, if you're stressing, my advice is to not give it anymore thought. If you're a Blogspot blogger, don't worry about it. And if you're a blogger using another platform, then I'll gladly follow you via feed burner. :) It's that simple. And who knows? Maybe someone else will step up to the plate and make another type of follower widget, a better one, in the absence of GCF! Necessity is indeed the mother of invention.

Waiting on Wednesday (8)

Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard
Pages: 400 pages
Expected publication: July 24th 2012
Publisher: HarperTeen

There’s something strange and deadly loose in Philadelphia…

Eleanor Fitt has a lot to worry about. Her brother has gone missing, her family has fallen on hard times, and her mother is determined to marry her off to any rich young man who walks by. But this is nothing compared to what she’s just read in the newspaper—

The Dead are rising in Philadelphia.

And then, in a frightening attack, a zombie delivers a letter to Eleanor…from her brother.

Whoever is controlling the Dead army has taken her brother as well. If Eleanor is going to find him, she’ll have to venture into the lab of the notorious Spirit-Hunters, who protect the city from supernatural forces. But as Eleanor spends more time with the Spirit-Hunters, including their maddeningly stubborn yet handsome inventor, Daniel, the situation becomes dire. And now, not only is her reputation on the line, but her very life may hang in the balance.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Review: Retro Demonology by Jana Oliver

Retro Demonology by Jana Oliver
Pages: 15
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin

A Demon Trapper’s bonus story.

Before Riley Blackthorne can take on Grade Five demons, she has to trap her very first. Her debut solo trapping experience should be a breeze, just a harmless Grade One after all. But throw in some dippy hippies (whose peace signs and Patchouli really aren’t driving any demons away), one mischievous demon, and a run-in with the police, and Riley might not be able to pull it off...
I downloaded Retro Demonology after I finished A Demon Trapper's Daughter because I loved the world that Jana Oliver created so much and I wanted more of it. At that time, the sequel hadn't been released yet, and I was wanting more of Riley's kick butt-ness. It's only a short story, a very short story, 15 pages, so don't expect a full length novel or anything. It's just a quick foray into Riley's first trapping mission alone. If you haven't read A Demon Trapper's Daughter yet, I definitely recommend downloading this story to give you a taste of what's in store.

Riley is cool as ever. She's excited to be on her first solo mission, even though it's only a biblio-fiend, which basically means it's a relatively harmless little demon. It was an interesting situation that Riley got herself in, and actually, this story provides some insight into Riley's world as a whole. It shows how much the world has degenerated, so much so that people are resorting to living in the past--literally, living totally retro.

Give Retro Demonology a try if you have 15 or 20 minutes to spare! 4 out of 5 stars.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Discussion: The Non Threatening Vampire {told in gifs}

Guys. I am here today to talk about something that has been seriously invading the YA community for quite some time now:

The non-threatening vampire.

What do I mean by the 'non-threatening vampire'? I mean a vampire that, even though he/she is all immortal and rocking the fangs and super-strength, they're about as dangerous as this dude:

Exactly.

This whole trend started with one Edward Cullen from Twilight--let's be honest people, it did. Before the Cullens and their sparkly butts stepped onto the scene, everyone saw vampires are something to be feared. Just look at all the badass vamps that came before sweet Eddie's time: Blade, Lestat and Louis, Nosferatu, and let's not for get the sugar daddy of all vampires, DRACULA. Now, when people just hear the word vampire, this is all they can think of:

SPARKLES FOR EVERYONE!
People, this trend NEEDS TO STOP, okay? I've had it up to hear *puts hand next to forehead* with all this "I love you, but I'm dangerous for you" crap, and then Mr. BIG, BAD, AND FANGY turns out to be nothing but a little kitten with oversized fangs. Hell, walruses are scarier than most of these vamps.

Not a gif, but... OH LOOK SOMETHING SHINY.
Vampires, by definition, are:

1. a preternatural being, commonly believed to be a reanimated corpse, that is said to suck the blood of sleeping persons at night.
2. (in Eastern European folklore) a corpse, animated by an undeparted soul or demon, that periodically leaves the grave and disturbs the living, until it is exhumed and impaled or burned.

Now doesn't that sound even a bit scary? I want MORE of that! I want vampires that, when I'm reading, they make me go like this:


There are, of course, YA authors that do have ruthless and scary vampires, and I applaud those for keeping the spirit of all the badass vampires alive. I do enjoy those novels.


So, in summary, I want less brooding and moody emo vampires, and I want more badass vamps.

What do you guys think?

Sunday, November 27, 2011

In My Mailbox (42)

I got some pretty great books this week!

Allegiance by Cayla Kluver. I got this one from the Harlequin Teen Panel for review. It's the sequel to Legacy, which I read ages ago when it was first self-published. Really good story, I definitely recommend it.

Remembrance by Michelle Meadow. I got this one because Michelle had offered it for $0.99 on Black Friday, and it was really too good of a deal to pass up! I've heard great things about it, so very eager to read it.

Brightest Kind of Darkness by P.T. Michelle. This was another one I bought because it was only $0.99, and to me, 99 cent e-books are the best things in the world. :) The cover looks absolutely gorgeous!

Darkride by Laura Bradley Rede. I got this one for review. It seems really interesting, so I can't wait to read it!

What did you guys get in your mailbox?

6 prize packs to win, 1-5 open US, #6 open INTERNATIONAL!
This giveaway is to say thank you to everyone this holiday season. :)

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