Friday, February 4, 2011

Before & After: Terry Lynn Johnson


Terry Lynn Johnson has a passion for sled dogs. Her own adventures with her team of eighteen Alaskan Huskies have provided her with a rich background to write from.

She's an award winning member of the Outdoor Writers of Canada for her magazine articles. DOGSLED DREAMS is her first novel. Learn more at terrylynnjohnson.com

Two main emotions:

Stage fright nervous. Like - omg, it's going to be available for ANYONE to read. (Yes, I'm aware this is a lame reaction. What did I think was going to happen?)

Promo frazzled. There is so much to think about and do! I've got a junior musher video contest in the works, blog interviews to set up, dogsled races to send promo packages to, book reading requests are coming in, as are school visit requests. And I've got a publicist that does most of the work! I had no idea promo would take this much time! The advice I've heard from published authors is "writing your next book is more important than promoting your last one." I was glad to hear this, and expected I would just happily ignore my new release. But, how can I not do everything I can to help its success? If I look back on it, I want to make sure I know I did the best I could.


So, I'm realizing that getting cranked and nervous about the whole thing was a slight waste of energy. The book came out. People are buying it (soooo thankful for those people). My family thinks I rock, (but not enough to get out of doing chores around the house) and all the stress and worry melted away as soon as I saw my book on a bookshelf. Such an amazing feeling! Now I have to concede that it's out there alone in the wild. Readers are keeping it alive. I feel so blessed when bloggers take the time to write a review! Or when I get an email from a young reader. That just makes my whole day!

Now, on to the second book!


Praise & Reviews for DOGSLED DREAMS

A captivating and exciting debut novel -- Superior Outdoors Magazine

...demonstrates the bond between mushers and their dogs, the devotion mushers feel for their dogs, and the lengths to which they will go to ensure their dog's well-being -- Pam Flowers, author of Alone Across the Arctic

Any teacher using Gary Paulsen's Woodsong would want Terry Johnson's Dogsled Dreams as a part of their classroom library -- Iditarod Education Department


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Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Review: Vesper, by Jeff Sampson


Vesper (Deviants #1)
Jeff Sampson
Balzer + Bray / HarperCollins
January 25, 2011
Hardcover; 304 pages

Emily Webb is a geek. And she’s happy that way. Content hiding under hoodies and curling up to watch old horror flicks, she’s never been the kind of girl who sneaks out for midnight parties. And she’s definitely not the kind of girl who starts fights or flirts with other girls’ boyfriends. Until one night Emily finds herself doing exactly that . . . the same night one of her classmates—also named Emily—is found mysteriously murdered.

The thing is, Emily doesn’t know why she’s doing any of this. By day, she’s the same old boring Emily, but by night, she turns into a thrill seeker. With every nightfall, Emily gets wilder until it’s no longer just her personality that changes. Her body can do things it never could before: Emily is now strong, fast, and utterly fearless. And soon Emily realizes that she’s not just coming out of her shell . . . there’s something much bigger going on. Is she bewitched by the soul of the other, murdered Emily? Or is Emily Webb becoming something else entirely— something not human?

As Emily hunts for answers, she finds out that she’s not the only one this is happening to—some of her classmates are changing as well. Who is turning these teens into monsters—and how many people will they kill to get what they want?


This was one of those books that I chose randomly from my reading pile, devoured in one sitting, then sat there staring at the novel for a while longer.. just thirsting for more. It's kind of like when you watch the season finale of your favorite TV show. They give you an ending, but they leave enough unanswered questions to keep you hooked for the next season. That's how this was. I read it, was perfectly satisfied with the ending because it ended at a good spot - but that didn't stop me from going, "Well, what's next? I want to know ... NOW!" I felt like Veruca Salt... I wanted to stomp over to my parents' house and scream, "Daddy, I want the second Deviants novel and I want it now," in a completely horrible fake English accent.

Well played, Sampson.

In all seriousness, I did love this novel. The interrogation transcripts placed between some of the chapters left you guessing about what was happening just as much as Emily's actions kept you guessing. It's a little confusing, but by the end it wraps up nicely. That's the easiest way for an author to win my heart with their novel: keep me guessing until the end! I don't like figuring things out too soon in the book... it makes the novel fall flat for me.

Emily, oh Emily. I loved her willingness to accept her geekdom. She was completely wonderful and all of the pop culture references made me nerd out right along with her throughout the book. Actually, I was probably nerding out a little more. I tend to do that. She was also a strong character and didn't go completely head-over-heels for the romantic interest and spend the rest of book talking about how gloriously perfect he was. This also won me over - have a love interest, but don't make that the whole story! The other characters were pretty spiffy too, though the two characters that caught my eyes the most (Spencer and Amy) didn't take the spotlight as much as I'd like. For the story, you get enough of each character. For the series? I need more. Lots more! ;) And the twists on a certain friendship and romantic interest? My head was spinning because I did NOT see either coming. At all.

Alright, so I'm sure that you've probably figured out that I'm in love with this book. I will sing its praises from the highest mountain tops.. well, if I could. The best way I can do this book justice is to just tell you that if you want a great YA paranormal read, you'll want to pick up this book. This is Jeff's debut novel and he definitely does not disappoint!


Source: SFBR, ARC, Publisher


Avg Rating: 3.5

Other Reviews
The Nerd's Wife
Good Books And Good Wine
I Just Wanna Sit Here And Read

**Jeff is participating in my Before & After feature. Be sure to check back soon to read how he feels with his book now published!

Waiting on Wednesday


Waiting Until...
March 29, 2011

Don’t miss this spectacular new series that will steal your heart and haunt your dreams, Welcome to Shadow Falls camp, nestled deep in the woods of a town called Fallen…

One night Kylie Galen finds herself at the wrong party, with the wrong people, and it changes her life forever. Her mother ships her off to Shadow Falls—a camp for troubled teens, and within hours of arriving, it becomes painfully clear that her fellow campers aren’t just “troubled.” Here at Shadow Falls, vampires, werewolves, shapshifters, witches and fairies train side by side—learning to harness their powers, control their magic and live in the normal world.

Kylie’s never felt normal, but surely she doesn’t belong here with a bunch of paranormal freaks either. Or does she? They insist Kylie is one of them, and that she was brought here for a reason. As if life wasn’t complicated enough, enter Derek and Lucas. Derek’s a half-fae who’s determined to be her boyfriend, and Lucas is a smokin’ hot werewolf with whom Kylie shares a secret past. Both Derek and Lucas couldn’t be more different, but they both have a powerful hold on her heart.

Even though Kylie feels deeply uncertain about everything, one thing is becoming painfully clear—Shadow Falls is exactly where she belongs…


Okay, I'll admit ... I already have a review copy of this. BUT, I have a nice stack of books I ab-so-lute-ly have to read before I can get to it - so, it's gonna be a week or a few. Until then, I'm waiting on it like everyone else. ;)

I love everything about this book. The cover, the premise... everything.


Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Monthly Wrap-Up: January 2011

Books Read
(Total = 16)


Books Reviewed
(Total = 8)


Featured Authors
(Total = 4)

Before & After Feature
Author Interview


Featured Guests
(Total = 1)

Guest Post


Books Received
(Total = 8)


Notes

If this wrap-up is good for one thing, it's looking on my accomplishments and making note of improvements that I can make. One big thing that I noticed was I read 16 books but only reviewed 8 books, which means I'm not reviewing 50% of what I read in a month. This must change. Having my laptop break (AGAIN) didn't help this, so I'm hoping the review numbers go up in February!

Review: Five Flavors of Dumb, by Antony John


Five Flavors of Dumb
Antony John
Dial Books (Penguin)
Hardcover; 352 Pages

The Challenge: Piper has one month to get the rock band Dumb a paying gig.

The Deal: If she does it, Piper will become the band's manager and get her share of the profits.

The Catch: How can Piper possibly manage one egomaniacal pretty boy, one talentless piece of eye candy, one crush, one silent rocker, and one angry girl? And how can she do it when she's deaf?

Piper can't hear Dumb's music, but with growing self-confidence, a budding romance, and a new understanding of the decision her family made to buy a cochlear implant for her deaf baby sister, she discovers her own inner rock star and what it truly means to be a flavor of Dumb.


I'm going to try to write this review without gushing too much about how it's one of my favorite reads of the century. I'm also going to try to prevent myself from ranting about how a GUY excelled at writing a book from a GIRL's POV. It makes me wonder if we females are getting a little too predictable/readable... Hmm.

I digress.

Okay, so, Five Flavors of Dumb IS on my list of best YA books of all time. I have backing, too. It's won the Schneider Family Teen Book Award and for good reason. Piper, your main girl in the story, is deaf. That doesn't make Piper an outcast in any way. She adapts well with reading lips and signing. As a matter of fact, Piper is pretty average yet strongly unique at the same time. What do I mean by that? She's smart, independent and funny, but she's not popular and never catches the eye of the popular boy at school. She sounds ordinary, yet she somehow manages to shine through on every page with her fierce determination and witty comments. She's also very human in that she has to deal with making mistakes, learning, moving on and struggles to understand her two parents who seem to put more time and effort into her infant sister than her.

The story grips you not in the way that most books do by its action, but rather its intense emotional roller coaster that you go on with Piper as she grows and finally breaks out of her shell. Just when you think she's going to give up, she pulls out more strength that you never realize she has and saves the day.

The supporting characters were all just as amazingly written, each with their own issues and quirks. I think the only ones I was annoyed with in the story was her parents, who drained Piper's funds given to her by her grandparents for college all so they could give her little sister a "chance to be normal" with a cochlear implant. The way they went about it was completely inappropriate and devoid of any concern for how it may affect Piper. If you ask me, it was almost selfish ... like they just couldn't bear the idea of having two deaf daughters. Thankfully, they do somewhat redeem themselves in the story. The love interest in the story completely blindsided me, although looking back I can say that it was there - I was just too wrapped up in other things to notice all of the hints at it within the story. I think of all the characters, Piper's brother Finn ended up with my heart. The love interest was all well and good, but Finn showed that he was much more than what met the eye - and my heart was pretty much jello there at the end.

I don't think that I can do this book justice by just writing a review. Instead, you should go out and buy this book. Read it for yourself, and I dare you to not fall madly in love with it.

Source: SFBR, Publisher

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5/26/2013: If you're here and you're reading this.. thanks for sticking around! I know I've been gone for a while but I am definitely coming back. This blog will be going through some crazy transitions (layout and such) for the next few days, but I should be back up and ready to review VERY soon. Thanks so much for your patience and support!! xoxo, Missy
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