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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Guest Post and Giveaway with Fiona Ingram, author of The Secret of the Sacred Scarab

Hi, everyone!




I am pleased to participate in Fiona Ingram's The Secret of the Sacred Scarab Virtual Book Publicity Tour hosted by Pump Up Your Book.



About Fiona:

Although Fiona Ingram has been a journalist for the last fifteen years, writing a children’s bookThe Secret of the Sacred Scarab—was an unexpected step, inspired by a recent trip to Egypt. The tale of the sacred scarab began life as a little anecdotal tale for her 2 nephews (then 10 and 12), who had accompanied her on the Egyptian trip. This short story grew into an award-winning children’s book, the first in the adventure series Chronicles of the Stone. The author has already completed the next book in the series—The Search for the Stone of Excalibur—a huge treat for young King Arthur fans.

Although Fiona Ingram does not have children of her own, she has an adopted teenage foster child, from an underprivileged background who is just discovering the joys of reading for pleasure. Fiona’s experiences in teaching her daughter to read has resulted in her interest in child literacy and in creating ways to get kids more interested in reading, as well as helping parents to instil a love of reading in their children.

Naturally, Fiona is a voracious reader and has been from early childhood. Her interests include literature, art, theatre, collecting antiques, animals, music, and films. She loves travel and has been fortunate to have lived in Europe (while studying) and America (for work). She has travelled widely and fulfilled many of her travel goals.

Fiona’s latest book is the middle grade adventure novel, The Secret of the Sacred Scarab – Book 1 in the Chronicles of the Stone series.



Welcome to Darlene's Book Nook, Fiona!

Fiona has written a guest post, so I will now turn the floor over to her.



Guest Post: Top Ten Tips of Marketing Magic


If you thought writing and producing your book was difficult … actually, that was the easy part. However, once you’ve laid the groundwork for your author platform, it becomes easier with each book. These days an author cannot just be an author. He or she has to be a product or a brand. Readers love information about the author, what inspires them, what new books are coming up, etc. Your marketing must incorporate your author platform. The author platform consists of: your book/s; your website; your author profile/bio; an e-zine or newsletter; a blog; a video interview (vlog); a podcast radio interview; a video preview on sites like YouTube; speaking engagements; articles you’ve written; articles about you.

Although there are numerous marketing possibilities, some of them can be expensive. Here are the Ten Top Tips, in my experience, some of which are totally free.

Press Kits & Releases: it’s vital to have a clearly worded press release detailing what the media need to know about you and your book, as well as contact and website details.

Book Give-aways: Depending on your reader target market, contact libraries, schools, local bookstores, book clubs, on-line review sites and reading groups, and offer them a book. They will also be happy to review it.

Media Magic: Contact your local press, television, and radio stations. Many radio stations have a ‘book talk’ slot. Small regional or neighborhood presses are always looking for news so make your story newsworthy by adapting it to local interests, issues or events, or local groups/clubs.

Write Articles: If you think about your experiences, joys, lows, highs, rejections, and knowledge as a writer, that makes an article in itself. You can add these to your personal website, as well as your book website.

Website Wonder: A good website is a wonderful tool. From this launching pad, you can include all the other elements, such as listing where you are on social websites, what inspired you to write your book/s, info on your book and perhaps a first chapter, a cover image, radio or video interviews, a book video, a contact email, or even your blog. Once you’re in cyberspace you’ll find that people will find you, and when they find you, they find your book.

Create An Online Press Room: Your website is your biggest asset in your author platform. You can put up information on your book and purchasing details, as well as your press release, your bio and a good pic, your reviews, interviews, and anything written about you and your book.

Amazing Amazon: This is the largest book site around and you need to be on it. The Look Inside Option enables readers to read a few pages before buying. Amazon will also review your book if you approach them; you can also put up other reviews on your book.

Online Book Tours: This is by far the most effective way of getting your book out there and worth every penny. Tours usually feature a photo of the book, a review, links to the author’s website and blog, and will include your purchase information. Authors who interact with tour hosts and make themselves available for guest posting, interviews, Q&A sessions with blog commenters, and who respond to comments will have the greatest success from their tour.

Subscribe: Many book publishing and author marketing companies offer free newsletters, which are an incredible source of information as well as offering links to more sites.

Book Competitions: It’s not so much about winning as being seen. Competitions broaden your author profile because people in the industry will read your book. Even if you don’t win, you may get a Best Runner-Up mention, and that’s the kind of detail you will put in your press release.

Do not stop marketing. Even when your book is out there and you’ve sent off your press releases, don’t stop spreading the word! Do something every day (either online or physical) to continue your marketing thrust. Remember—marketing doesn’t sell books … marketing gives you exposure and exposure sells books.


Thanks so much for joining us today, Fiona! 


Giveaway: 

One lucky winner will win a paperback copy of The Secret of the Sacred Scarab

This giveaway is open to entrants from Canada and the United States only at the author's request.



SYNOPSIS:  

A 5000-year-old mystery comes to life when a scruffy peddler gives Adam and Justin Sinclair an old Egyptian scarab on their very first day in Egypt. Only when the evil Dr. Faisal Khalid shows a particular interest in the cousins and their scarab, do the boys realise they are in terrible danger. Dr. Khalid wants the relic at all costs. Justin and Adam embark upon the adventure of a lifetime, taking them down the Nile and across the harsh desert in their search for the legendary tomb of the Scarab King, an ancient Egyptian ruler. They are plunged into a whirlpool of hazardous and mysterious events when Dr. Khalid kidnaps them. They survive terrifying dangers in a hostile environment (such as a giant cobra, as well as sinking sand), pursued by enemies in their quest to solve the secret of the sacred scarab. They must translate the hieroglyphic clues on the underside of the scarab, as well as rescue the missing archaeologist James Kinnaird, and their friend, the Egyptologist Ebrahim Faza, before time runs out. They must also learn more about the ancient Seven Stones of Power and the mysterious Shemsu-Hor. With just their wits, courage, and each other, the boys manage to survive … only to find that the end of one journey is the beginning of another! Young explorers will enjoy an interactive journey through Egypt, following Justin and Adam’s exciting adventure on www.secretofthesacredscarab.com

Readers can also browse the first chapter of the book. Those who survive the journey and manage to translate the Curse of Thoth will be able to read the first chapter in Adam and Justin’s next adventure—The Search for the Stone of Excalibur—as they hunt for the Scroll of the Ancients.

The Secret of the Sacred Scarab has received the following awards:
  • Finalist Children’s Fiction  USA Next Generation 2009 Indie Book Awards
  • Finalist Juvenile Fiction USA National Best Books 2009 Awards
  • Winner Pre-Teen USA 2009 Readers’ Favorites Awards
  • Number 2 in the USA Children’s & Teens Book Connection Top Ten Favourite Books of 2009 for Kids, Tweens & Teens
  • Winner Silver Medal Teen Fiction 2010 Nautilus Book Awards
  • Finalist Children’s Fiction 2010 International Book Awards
  • Winner Bronze Medal Pre-Teen Fiction 2010 Moonbeam Book Awards
  • Finalist 2011 Rubery Book Awards
  • Winner Gold Award Mystery Pre-Teen 2011 Children’s Literary Classics Awards

Purchase ebook for $2.99 here!





To enter the giveaway, please fill out the Rafflecopter entry form below.

This giveaway is open to entrants from Canada and the United States only until 12:01 AM EST on March 7, 2012.


Waiting on Wednesday: Masque of the Red Death by Bethany Griffin

Hi, everyone!


"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

Here is this week's pre-publication "can't-wait-to-read" selection:


TITLE: Masque of the Red Death
AUTHOR: Bethany Griffin
PUBLISHER: Harper Collins
EXPECTED PUBLICATION DATE: April 24, 2012
FORMAT: Hardcover, 320 pages
GENRE: Young Adult, Science Fiction/Dystopia
ISBN: 978-0062107794

SYNOPSIS: 

Everything is in ruins.

A devastating plague has decimated the population. And those who are left live in fear of catching it as the city crumbles to pieces around them.

So what does Araby Worth have to live for?

Nights in the Debauchery Club, beautiful dresses, glittery make-up . . . and tantalizing ways to forget it all.

But in the depths of the club—in the depths of her own despair—Araby will find more than oblivion. She will find Will, the terribly handsome proprietor of the club. And Elliott, the wickedly smart aristocrat. Neither boy is what he seems. Both have secrets. Everyone does.

And Araby may find something not just to live for, but to fight for—no matter what it costs her.


This sounds like a fantastic post-apocalyptic/dystopian novel! Can't wait to read it!!


What are you waiting on? Please leave a comment in the section below. If you participate in this meme, please leave a link so I can visit your blog!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

BOOK REVIEW: Sleepwalker by Karen Robards


TITLE: Sleepwalker 

AUTHOR: Karen Robards
PUBLISHER: Gallery Books
DATE OF PUBLICATION: December 2011
FORMAT: Softcover, 370 pages
GENRE: Romantic Suspense, Mystery
ISBN:
978-1451664225

SYNOPSIS:

It’s not that Micayla Lange is afraid of the clinking she hears coming from the first floor of the empty McMansion she’s housesitting for her uncle Nicco. She’s a cop, after all. It’s just that finding out her boyfriend was cheating on her was enough drama for one night. Now she’s alone on New Year’s Eve, wearing flannel pajamas and wielding a Glock 22 as she zeroes in on the unmistakable source of the sound: Uncle Nicco’s private office.

Jason Davis steals things for a living, so unexpected developments are a natural part of the job. Getting caught red-handed by a hot, pigtail-sporting police officer in what is supposed to be a gangster’s deserted house is just one more twist in the game. Kind of like finding incriminating photos in Nicco Marino’s safe, only to discover the cop—and the security cameras—have gotten a real good look at his face.

Unfortunately for Mick, she also got a good look at the damned pictures. Her “uncle” might love her like family, but if he knows she’s seen evidence that implicates him in the murder of a city councilman, she doesn’t like her chances. Which is why she’s having a hard time reconciling her professional instincts with what she is rapidly concluding is an inescapable fact: She’s about to help a criminal get away with a suitcase full of stolen money. And she’s going with him.

Mick and Jason’s race for their lives hurtles them through the dangerous Michigan wilderness on speedboat and snowmobile. As their adventure heats up and their enemies close in, Mick is torn between her duty to the force and the combustible passion engulfing her and her unlikely partner in crime. She’ll have to turn Jason in sooner or later…if they survive. But will they ever get a second chance at love?

MY REVIEW: 

I received this book for review from the publisher. I did not receive any compensation for my review, and the views expressed herein are my own. 

I am a sleepwalker, so I was immediately intrigued by this book. I am not a screamer like Mick, but I have been known to open doors, put the stereo on, run in the house, and even talk!

Micayla “Mick” Lange, a cop, is house-sitting her “Uncle” (family friend, not related by blood) Nicco’s house on New Year’s Eve. Having broken up with her boyfriend, she shows up a day early and a heist takes place that night when the house is supposed to be empty. The thieves have removed three cases of cash, a half million in each to be exact. During her attempt to take down the thieves, Mick finds photographs in the safe implicating her Uncle Nicco in a multiple homicide. She stuffs the photographs in her pocket and realizes that her life would be in jeopardy if her uncle finds out that she saw them. The security camera in the room has likely recorded everything! When her uncle’s goons arrive on the scene, Mick recognizes that she has no choice but to flee with the thieves.

I like books where cops end up on the wrong side of the law, and especially ones with strong female heroines. Robards created an amazing character in Mick: She’s feisty, tough, and no-nonsense. As much as I loved her character, I had a little bit of a “disconnect” with her for the first half of the book. Even though the pace of the story was fast, I wasn’t swept away in the plot until the last half. By this point, Robards had peeled back more of Mick’s layers and I was able to finally feel that “connect” with her that had been missing earlier on.

The chemistry between Mick and Jason (one of the thieves) is fiery and palpable. I loved their banter! And, Jason...what’s not to love about this bad boy with a heart of gold? Yes, he is completely swoon-worthy!

Robards is a new-to-me author, but I plan to read more of her work. I love the Romantic Suspense genre, and this book had lots of both.

MY RATING: 4 stars!! I really enjoyed the book and would recommend it. Thanks to Simon & Schuster Canada for the opportunity to review this book! 

This book qualifies as:

Sunday, February 26, 2012

In My Mailbox - February 26, 2012



I am participating in this weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren, where we share what books we received this week.

 

I received this hardcover in my "real" mailbox, which I won in a giveaway hosted by Rick at Rhodes Review:

Love and Shame and Love 
by Peter Orner
Thanks again, Rick!


I won this e-book in the Random Acts of Kindness Giveaway hosted by the author:

(Walk the Right Road, Book #1)
by Lorhainne Eckhart

Thanks again, Lorhainne!




I won this e-book in a giveaway hosted by Donna at My Life, One Story at a Time:

(Fifty Shades, Book #3)
by E.L. James

Thanks again, Donna & E.L.!



I won this e-book in a giveaway hosted by Laurie at Laurie's Paranormal Thoughts & Reviews: 

This Bird Flew Away 
by Lynda M. Martin

Thanks again, Laurie & Jaidis!





I received this softcover ARC in my "real" mailbox, which I received for review from the publisher: 

by Nalo Hopkinson

Thanks again, Simon & Schuster Canada!
 



What did you get in your mailbox this week?

If you are also participating in the In My Mailbox meme, please leave me the link to your post so that I can drool over all your goodies!

If anyone has read either of these books yet, I would love to hear your thoughts!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Spotlight Saturday: Guest Post and Giveaway with Richard Denning, author of The Last Seal

Hi, everyone!

Welcome to another edition of Spotlight Saturday at Darlene's Book Nook, where we feature authors and their books!

We will be joined today by Richard Denning.



About Richard:

Richard Denning was born in Ilkeston in Derbyshire and lives in Sutton Coldfield in the West Midlands, UK, where he works as a General Practitioner (family doctor). He is married and has two children. He has always been fascinated by historical settings as well as horror and fantasy. Other than writing, his main interests are games of all types. He is the designer of a board game based on the Great Fire of London.

CONNECT ONLINE WITH RICHARD:



Welcome to Darlene's Book Nook, Richard!

Richard has written a guest post, so I will now turn the floor over to him!


Superstitions and Omens in 1666
Guest Post by Richard Denning

There is a pub quiz question which goes like this: what started with pudding and ended with pie? The answer is of course The Great Fire of London of 1666 which started at the bakery in Pudding Lane and which at its furthest north west point reached around Pie Corner.

British children cover the Great Fire at school but as a reminder and for overseas readers who may not be aware of it at all, here is a summary. In the early hours of September 2nd 1666 a careless baker in Pudding Lane forgot to put out his fire and it spread creating an inferno which would destroy 13,000 houses. The Lord Mayor failed to act and it was down to the trained bands of militia to fight the fire under the guidance of James Duke of York, brother to King Charles II both of whom were even seen on the streets fighting the fire. In the end, though, it was the wind dropping and changing direction coupled with the blowing up of houses that ended the fire.

It is estimated that the destruction included 13200 houses, 87 churches, 44 Guild Halls, St Pauls Cathedral, Baynard’s Castle, the Royal Exchange, Newgate prison and many other important sites. Maybe 1 person in 3 or 4 of greater London was made homeless. Something like £14 Billion of damages in today's terms was caused.

Eventually the truth came out. It was not the judgement of heaven or the evil act of malicious enemies. No it was merely a baker forgetting to put out his ovens. Thomas Farriner was to blame. Not that he ever admitted to this himself of course.

In the spirit of the best conspiracy theories all sorts of other causes gained support. After the fire a monument was built (there is still one present today) close to where the fire started. This was inscribed upon it: “Here by ye permission of Heaven Hell broke loose on this protestant city.” People believed that the fire was caused by Catholics, foreign spies or was an act of God. They pointed to omens that had occurred.

The 17th century is the age of Newton and Harvey and other scientists that discovered many of the scientific truths we know today. YET it was still a time where people believed in magic, witchcraft and omens. It could be a paranoid time. Today I look at some of those beliefs.


Witchcraft and Magic

Put simply in this time period, despite the growth of science people believed in Magic and in witchcraft. It was during the reign of Elizabeth I that campaigns to catch and try witches began – around 1563 and these were developed during the reign of James I. The estimate of the number of persons hanged as witches in England in the century or so of active trials was about 1,000. The first person hanged for witchcraft was Agnes Waterhouse at Chelmsford in 1566, the last was Alice Molland at Exeter in 1684.

If you were a women who was old, ugly, had warts you were at possible risk of accusation. If you fell out with a neighbour they might just call you a witch. Then the search would begin for “evidence” such a calf being still born in the area or milk turning sour.


Prince Rupert’s Demon Poodle

As an example of how much credence people might sometimes give to tales of magic and demons, in the civil war the Parliamentarians spread a rumour that Boy – Prince Rupert’s dog (prince Rupert was nephew to King Charles I) – was a demon in disguise. Pamphlets circulated claiming that he had the power to predict the future, find treasure, alter his shape and was invulnerable to bullets. Alas if he did have this power, it failed him at the battle of Marston Moor in 1644, because Boy died at that battle.


Omens

The mid 17th century was a time of great superstition and people attributed significance to omens that they saw about them. There were Solar eclipses in the southern hemisphere in 1666. Comets had been seen in the skies in 1664. There was also lunar eclipses. People it seemed were willing to believe that any apparently natural occurrence had deeper meaning. For example it was widely reported that a hen’s egg had been laid in Poland with the mark of the cross on it.

All of these – and many other occurrences circulated and were believed by many to imply that some great catastrophe was looming.


Astrology

There was even a prediction made by William Lilly, the best known astrologer of his day who predicted the plague of 1665 and the Great Fire of London (1666) in 1652. Of course the year 1666 would be likely to attract such predictions due to its significance (see below) and there were many predictions that DID NOT come true that are not reported but many people suggested after the fire that his (and other) predictions were to blame.


The End of the World

‘And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six.’ Revelations 13:17-18

Every few years people predict that the world will end. This year it is the turn of the Mayan Calendar to cause alarm. Many people believed that 1666 was the end of the world!! In the Book of Revelations there is this passage that says that the number of the beast - of the devil - is 666. In 1666 many people thought they were living in the year the world would end (because of that 666 bit.)

So then this is the state of belief at the time of the Great Fire.

When I read about the fire I realised that there was an opportunity here to write a novel which blended history with fantasy. Out of that thought came The Last Seal - my historical fantasy set during the Great Fire of 1666.




Thanks so much for joining us today, Richard! 


Giveaway: 

Richard has generously offered two paperbacks and two e-books to four lucky winners! 




SYNOPSIS:

A powerful demon has been trapped under the city of London for over 300 years. Now, however, malevolent forces are at work in the 17th century, planning to unleash terror and chaos on the world. Two rival secret societies the Liberati and the Praesidum - are caught in a battle that threatens to destroy the city and its unknowing inhabitants.

When a truant schoolboy, Ben, finds a scroll revealing the location of magical seals that bind the demon, this throws him into the centre of a dangerous plot that leads to the Great Fire of London. Ben must overcome his own problems - fear of failure, desire for revenge, guilt over his parents deaths - if he is to protect the city, and confront the evil demon.

As the plot unfolds, a little more of the mystery about Ben s own past and his parents deaths is made known. Ultimately, Ben and his friends must combat sorcery, defeat the evil Liberati and destroy the demon if they are to save their city and themselves.
 

Read part of the book HERE.

 To enter the giveaway, you must complete the Rafflecopter entry form below.

This giveaway open worldwide, and it will close on Saturday, March 3rd at 12:01 AM EST.

Friday, February 24, 2012

BOOK REVIEW: Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice by Phillip Hoose


TITLE: Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice 

AUTHOR: Phillip Hoose 
PUBLISHER: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
DATE OF PUBLICATION: January 20, 2009
FORMAT: Hardcover, 133 pages
GENRE: Non-fiction, Biography, Childrens/Young Adult
ISBN:
978-0374313227

SYNOPSIS:

“When it comes to justice, there is no easy way to get it. You can’t sugarcoat it. You have to take a stand and say, ‘This is not right.’” – Claudette Colvin 

On March 2, 1955, an impassioned teenager, fed up with the daily injustices of Jim Crow segregation, refused to give her seat to a white woman on a segregated bus in Montgomery, Alabama. Instead of being celebrated as Rosa Parks would be just nine months later, fifteen-year-old Claudette Colvin found herself shunned by her classmates and dismissed by community leaders. Undaunted, a year later she dared to challenge segregation again as a key plaintiff in Browder v. Gayle, the landmark case that struck down the segregation laws of Montgomery and swept away the legal underpinnings of the Jim Crow South. 

Based on extensive interviews with Claudette Colvin and many others, Phillip Hoose presents the first in-depth account of an important yet largely unknown civil rights figure, skillfully weaving her dramatic story into the fabric of the historic Montgomery bus boycott and court case that would change the course of American history.

MY REVIEW: 


I read this book aloud to my children. It deals with the racial segregation laws that were in place in the 1950s in Montgomery, Alabama  specifically as they related to bus passengers. Back then, there was a “white” section of the bus and a “coloured” section. All riders entered through the front door and dropped their coins in the fare box. If there were white passengers already aboard, a black passenger had to leave the bus and re-enter through the rear door after paying the fare. The first four rows, each containing ten seats, were reserved for the white folks. Even if there were no white passengers aboard, the black passengers could not sit in those rows and were forced to stand if the rest of the bus was full! If the first four rows were full and a new white passenger boarded the bus, the driver would order the black passengers to relinquish their seat. Unbelievably, every black person in a row would have to give up his seat for one white passenger to sit in the row because whites and blacks could not sit in the same row!!

Claudette Colvin was a mere 15 year-old teenager when she decided to take a stand and refuse to give up her seat for a white passenger. Police were called, and Claudette was removed from the bus claiming that it was her constitutional right that she did not have to give up her seat if there were no empty seats. This young lady’s actions were the catalyst that led to the 381-day bus boycott by blacks, which financially crippled the Montgomery City Lines bus company which lost $3,200 per day. Claudette, together with three other women, sued the City of Montgomery and the State of Alabama [Browder v. Gayle] arguing that segregated buses were unconstitutional. One of the judges said that, “The testimony of...Miss Colvin and the others reinforced the Constitution’s position that you can’t abridge the freedoms of the individual. The boycott case was a simple case of legal and human rights being denied.” The city appealed the case, but the decision was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court. After federal marshals served written notices on city officials, the city was forced to abide by the judge’s decision to integrate the buses.

My children and I found this book fascinating. Racial discrimination is not something that my kids have ever been exposed to, so they were appalled to find out how African American people were treated back then. The book is filled with black and white photographs depicting the “whites only” and “colored only” signs on buses and establishments such as movie theatres, restaurants, and hospitals. It certainly was an eye-opening look into a sad part of American history, and it taught my children that anyone can be instrumental in making a change, even a child like Claudette Colvin.

MY RATING: 4 stars! We really enjoyed it and recommend it as a wonderful addition to Black/African History studies!

This book qualifies as:

BOOK REVIEW: Everneath by Brodi Ashton


TITLE: Everneath

SERIES: Everneath, Book 1
AUTHOR: Brodi Ashton 
PUBLISHER: Balzer + Bray, an imprint of HarperCollins
DATE OF PUBLICATION: January 24, 2012
FORMAT: Hardcover, 384 pages
GENRE: Young Adult, Fantasy
ISBN:
978-0062071132

SYNOPSIS:

Last spring, Nikki Beckett vanished, sucked into an underworld known as the Everneath, where immortals Feed on the emotions of despairing humans. Now she's returned- to her old life, her family, her friends- before being banished back to the underworld... this time forever.

She has six months before the Everneath comes to claim her, six months for good-byes she can't find the words for, six months to find redemption, if it exists.

Nikki longs to spend these months reconnecting with her boyfriend, Jack, the one person she loves more than anything. But there's a problem: Cole, the smoldering immortal who first enticed her to the Everneath, has followed Nikki to the mortal world. And he'll do whatever it takes to bring her back- this time as his queen.

As Nikki's time grows short and her relationships begin slipping from her grasp, she's forced to make the hardest decision of her life: find a way to cheat fate and remain on the Surface with Jack or return to the Everneath and become Cole's...

MY REVIEW: 

I received this e-ARC for review from the publisher through NetGalley. I did not receive any compensation for my review, and the views expressed herein are my own.
 
This is Ashton’s debut novel, and I found it very hard to put down!

I was immediately drawn to this book because of the gorgeous cover. I love the red/black colour combination, and that dress is simply amazing!

At the beginning of the story, 17 year-old Nikki Beckett is awakening from something called “the Feed.” She is with Cole, the Everliving that she was feeding for 100 years in a place known as the Everneath. Cole has been feeding off Nikki’s emotions, and she shouldn’t have survived the Feed...yet, somehow, she did. Cole wants her to become an immortal, like him, and live with him forever but she wants to return to her home. The only thing that she can remember about her life back on Earth (the “Surface”) is a boy with brown eyes and brown hair, and Nikki feels compelled to find him.

Nikki returns from the Everneath to find that only six months have gone by. She cannot explain her absence, and everyone thinks that she became addicted to drugs and simply ran away. No one would believe her if she told them where she really was. Because of Nikki’s decision not to remain in the Everneath with Cole, she has only six months on the Surface before she has to return to the Tunnels to power the Everneath for eternity. She is determined to make things right and say her goodbyes and not leave without a trace like the last time. Coming back is a selfless act, because she knows that she cannot stay and that she will only have to return to the Everneath. For Nikki, coming back will make it ultimately more difficult on herself because she has to leave again.

The story jumps back and forth from the present tense with a countdown to her time left on the Surface, to the past tense where we learn about the events that led up to Nikki’s trip to the Everneath. I thought that the countdown technique that Ashton employed was cleverly anxiety-provoking! It definitely made me feel uneasy watching Nikki’s time wind down, and it make it hard for me to put the book down!

The boy with the brown hair and brown eyes, Jack, was Nikki’s boyfriend. What’s not to love about Jack? Nikki doesn’t make it easy for him to be around her, but he senses that there is more going on than she is letting on and lets her know that he has her back. He never forces her to talk or open up but, rather, waits until she feels ready to let him in. Jack is the type of boyfriend that is every high school girl’s dream!

I hate to say it, but I even loved Cole! Despite the fact that Cole is supposed to be the “bad guy,” his feelings for Nikki appear to be genuine. I think that Jack said it best: “Trust me, Becks. I know exactly what loving you looks like on a person. And he loves you.”

Ashton did a great job with everyone’s character development. I loved Nikki’s character growth, and my heart just ached for her because she felt that she deserved what she got and that there is no such thing as redemption.

I have always been a fan of mythology, and I love how Ashton integrated it into the story. The ending was a jaw-dropper, and I cannot wait to see what happens next!!

MY RATING: 4 stars! I really enjoyed it and would recommend it!! Thanks to HarperCollins for the opportunity to review this book!

This book qualifies as:

Guest Post and Giveaway with Morgan Hannah MacDonald, author of Sandman

Hi, everyone!


I am pleased to participate in Morgan Hannah MacDonald's Beware the Sandman Virtual Book Tour hosted by Bewitching Book Tours.


About Morgan:

Morgan Hannah MacDonald writes Romantic Thrillers-Not for the faint of heart. She has always been interested in writing and serial killers, but it wasn’t until she found she had dated one herself that a true writer was born. She belongs to Romance Writers of America’s San Diego Chapter, as well as the Kiss of Death Chapter. She resides in San Diego, California where she is busy working on her next novel.

CONNECT ONLINE WITH MORGAN:

Website | Facebook


Welcome to Darlene's Book Nook, Morgan!

Morgan has written a guest post, so I will now turn the floor over to her.

I Dated A Serial Killer
Guest Post by Morgan Hannah McDonald

I’ve been asked where the inspiration for SANDMAN came from. Well, truth is stranger than fiction. It was November 3, 1998. I had gone away for the weekend to the mountains with a couple of friends from work. There had been rumors of snow, so we put the TV on immediately to track the storm. The minute the news came on, there was a story of a trucker who had walked into the police station, slapped a plastic bag on the counter and stated; I think you’re looking for me. The bag contained the severed breast of a woman.

As the weekend wore on, more information became available. They stated that the man had frequented a Karaoke bar in San Clemente. That perked up my ears. Five years prior, I had dated a guy who ran that Karaoke bar. I might have met this guy! Chilling.

After I got home, there was a message from my best friend. She asked if I had seen the story on the news and wasn’t that the guy I’d dated? I laughed. I’d never dated a Wayne. I would have remembered, that was my grandfather’s name. Then she told me his full name was Wayne Adam Ford, it hit me. I did date a guy named Adam, but he didn’t look anything like the guy on the news.

The Adam I knew was sexy, tall, fit and had a neatly trimmed beard that brought out his gorgeous deep green eyes. It had been the winter of 1993 and he wore flannel shirts with straight legged 501 jeans. I love that lumberjack look! *giggle* The guy on the news was heavier and balding. Of course, I hadn’t seen him in five years and people do change. But I still wasn’t convinced. My friend said that Inside Edition was doing a story on him that night.

So at seven o’clock I sat on my couch and waited. They started the segment with the exact same clip the news had showed all weekend. It was a slow motion shot of him entering a court room in an orange jumpsuit. But this time, when he turned to face the camera, I recognized those eyes. I burst into tears. It was him, it was the man I’d dated! My body trembled, then turned numb as I listened to the frightening tale. He was discharged from the marines for psychological reasons in the early eighties. In 1985 he was arrested for the rape and beating of a prostitute, the charges were dropped due to lack of evidence. That’s when it occurred to me, he was already on the brink of insanity when I’d known him!

In 1994 he’d met a young girl at that same karaoke bar. They’d married and had a child. After the birth, he started to unravel. He’d become possessive, jealous and asked her to do strange things in the bedroom. She divorced him and took the child to live with her mother. He was refused visitation rights.

That was the catalyst that started his murderous rampage. He started picking up prostitutes and hitch hikers at truck stops along his route. He raped and tortured the girls before he killed them, then sliced off a breast as a souvenir.

The camera panned to a trailer surrounded by woods alongside a river. The picture would have been beautiful and serene if not for all the cops parading in and out carrying evidence. They announced his freezer was full of body parts. It seems that one of his victims had her legs, arms and head amputated by an ax. Her torso was found bobbing in the water by a fisherman. They were still searching the Madd River for her head.

In a moment of hysteria, I remembered how overly dramatic the guy had been. If not for the fact that they’d found all that evidence linking him to those grisly crimes, I would have thought he’d confessed just to get attention. Maybe he did. The authorities didn’t know they had a serial killer. He wasn’t even a blip on their radar. So the only way he could get his fifteen minutes of fame was to turn himself in. But the joke’s on him, fifteen minutes is all he got. After all, have you ever heard of Wayne Adam Ford? It is said that there are approximately 50 serial killers active in the United States at any given time. So if in his sick twisted mind he thought he would be another Ted Bundy, or John Wayne Gacy, he was sorely mistaken.

The final twist to this already disturbing story is that I met Wayne Adam Ford on my birthday November 3, 1993 and he turned himself in on November 3 1998. After this revelation, I didn’t trust my instincts regarding men. I didn’t go on another date for over ten years. I’m still single to this day. I guess you could say that this has really messed with my mind!

Now I know it’s a cliché, but it’s true. I never had a clue. The guy I dated was charming, handsome and had lots of friends. We dated only a short time. I questioned his relationship with his ex-girlfriend who was cooking him meals and leaving them in his freezer. He broke up with me because he said I had a suspicious mind. Funny, but I ran into him some months later and we went out to grab a bite to eat. That’s when he confessed he had to stop seeing her because he was still in love with her.

Now, when you read SANDMAN, you will find bits and pieces of these things in the story. I borrowed some facts from his case and mixed them up between the suspects so no one would be able to guess the killer’s true identity.



Thanks so much for joining us today, Morgan! 


Giveaway: 

One lucky winner will win an e-book copy of Sandman.

 
SYNOPSIS:

Beware the SANDMAN he’ll put you to sleep...forever.

A serial killer on the loose, a woman being stalked, and a homicide detective who must find the connection between the two before she becomes the next victim.

He collects women. He imprisons them, plays with them, tortures them. Until they bore him.  Then he removes a souvenir. They call him the Sandman.

Meagan McInnis is being plagued with late night calls, yet when she answers, no one is there. Then one night she makes a grisly discovery in her own backyard.

The caller is silent no more.
    
Homicide Detective, J.J. Thomas, realizes Meagan is the key to finding the Sandman. Now not only must he protect her, but he must find the connection between Meagan and the killer before she becomes his next victim.

WARNING: SANDMAN is a Romantic Thriller that contains adult language, explicit sex and graphic violence.


Excerpt:



Sean climbed out of the water with his board under his arm. He dragged his hand down his face to brush the salt water away from his eyes. His breathing was labored; he’d gotten in a good workout today. He walked up the beach a good distance before he detected a strange odor. As he neared his destination, the stench invading his nostrils became more pungent.

I hope there wasn’t another damn sewage spill.

Soon he heard a strange buzzing sound. He stopped, brows furrowed, and concentrated on zeroing in on the exact location of the noise. Failing at this, he shrugged, and then continued up the strand. But with each step his uncertainty grew. The irritating cacophony had increased in volume.

Within seconds Sean found himself about fifty feet from where he’d left his gear. Before him lay a blanket of black that appeared to be moving. “What the fuck?” He hesitated, waiting for the synapses in his brain to start firing, before taking another step.

When he found no logical explanation, he gently rested his board on the sand and made his way closer until he stood directly in front of the sight. His hand cupped his nose. The stench reminded him of hard-boiled eggs gone bad. Very, very bad.

Okay, strike the moving blanket crack. It was more like a black cloud hovering over his belongings. Flies. He had an inkling that it was not the seaweed they found interesting. Something dead had washed up on shore and he was less than eager to find out what it was. A seagull? A fish? A seal? Whatever it was, it would not be pretty no matter how long it had been dead.

Slowly, he reached down to pick up his sweater with one hand, while the other reached for the strap on his backpack. The flies swarmed up for a brief moment, just long enough to reveal their prey, before settling back down into a dark writhing carpet.

An unintelligible sound escaped Sean’s lips. He gasped for air while instinctively taking a step back. He’d seen some hairy things in his life, but nothing even close to this. Icy fingers of fear raced up his spine; his heartbeat hammered in his chest.

Sean couldn’t look away even if he had wanted to. Some strange fascination took hold of his brain and wouldn’t let go. Systematically, his mind dissected the grisly scene before him.

Sticking out of the rolling mound of seaweed was a woman’s arm. It was stiff as a mannequin’s, extending skyward as if reaching to him for help. The mottled blue hand wore long red fingernails, two of which had been broken down to the quick. Seaweed was wrapped around her arm like a feather boa.

Sean’s gaze then locked onto another object protruding from the sandy grave: a leg that seemed to be severed mid-thigh, but closer inspection revealed that it was really half-buried. It too appeared tangled in the bubbly brown vegetation.

The foot, like the hand, wore a shock of bright red polish on its perfectly manicured toes, clashing with the bluish pallor of the flesh. His eyes grew wide at the sight of flies and sand crabs greedily devouring the soft tissue. He choked back bile.

The spell was broken.

Sean stepped backward so fast he tripped over his own feet and landed on his butt. He scrambled up and raced toward the shore. He couldn’t get away fast enough. He reached the water’s edge before collapsing to his hands and knees. His insides lurched so hard that he thought he would spew his stomach lining. Dry heaves continued long after his stomach had emptied. He collapsed on the sand, exhausted. A wave washed over him, but he hardly noticed.




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