Thursday, December 1, 2011

Blog Tour Review: Surrender, by Lee Nichols


After a devastating battle at headquarters in New York, the ghostkeeping world is in shambles. When Emma and Bennett return home, they are determined to defeat the wraithmaster, Neos, forever. But it's not going to be easy. Bennett's parents kick him out when they realize he is still using drugs to enhance his powers. Emma is convinced her aunt has come back from the dead to warn her of a new threat. And worst of all, Neos is using wraiths to possess the students at Thatcher Academy.

If the ghosts manage to take over the entire school, even Emma won't be strong enough to stop them. But if either she or Bennett sacrifice his or her powers, they might be able to save the ghostkeeping world once and for all-and break the "ghostkeepers lose their powers when they fall in love" curse. The question is: who will be the one to surrender all power?

Fast-paced and romantic, this conclusion to the Haunting Emma trilogy will thrill readers as it brings the ghostly mystery to a close.

It always makes me sad when a good series comes to an end, but I love it when the conclusion makes you feel completely satisfied. This is exactly what Surrender did for me. Every question that you may have had unanswered with the previous two books are answered in this one. Every little fantasy you may have wanted to come true... well, your wishes are granted in this one - at least for me, anyway. Everything you couldn't have even imagined happening in this book actually happens in this one. Everything you want in a good ending to an amazing trilogy is given to you in this one. I could go on, but my basic point is that this book is good. Really good.

If you've read the trilogy from the beginning, then you will see that Emma is a little different in this book. Not different-bad, but actually different-good. She's still consistently Emma (which is really good), but she's done a lot of maturing and has become a stronger version of herself. It's enchanting to see her go through this transformation through all three books, right before your eyes. The other characters also remained true to themselves and made a few changes themselves, as well as more being revealed about them - especially Bennett. My emotions were a little bi-polar toward him through a good portion of this book. One minute, I would absolutely adore him and the next, I was rolling my eyes and clenching my fists - ready to give him a piece of my mind. In the end, all works out - so, the rollercoaster is definitely worth it. I also really enjoyed the time we got to spend with Harry and Sara. I'm a big fan of those two.

Although I adore this book, there is something about it that is holding me back from liking it as much as I liked the first book in the series, Deception. Perhaps it's just that fondness that one gets for the beginning of a new series, where no matter what the other books simply cannot live up to it? I'm not quite sure - it's just something I can't put my finger on. However, don't let that deter you because this book is still great. It's full of twists and turns you never see coming, along with a romance that will melt you. It's definitely a recommended read.

Rating: ★★★★✩
Source: Author, Teen Book Scene


Author Information

Book Information
Series: Haunting Emma (Book 3)
Paperback, 288 pages
Published December 6, 2011 by Bloomsbury USA Children's Books
ISBN: 1599904233
ISBN13: 9781599904238

Buy The Book
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound

Maria Murnane Q&A

Maria Murnane
· Website
· Blog
· Facebook
· Twitter

Books by Maria Murnane
· Perfect On Paper [Buy]
· It's A Waverly Life [Buy] [Review]



1. Was writing something that you knew you always wanted to pursue, or did you have a different idea for an occupation when you were younger?
Back in high school I liked writing, but I never considered trying to make a career out of it. I ended up majoring in English and working in PR, which included a lot of writing, but certainly not the type of FUN writing I’m doing now. But once email was everywhere, I realized I had a knack for making people laugh through the written word. I remember once my friend Mary told me how much she looked forward the weekly emails I sent to our Sunday co-ed soccer team, in which I’d joke about what we needed to do to win, who was going to show up hung-over, etc. She said the emails always made her laugh out loud, and I remember thinking Wouldn’t it be cool to get paid to make people laugh through my writing? It took a while to make that happen, but it was worth the wait!

2. You started out self-publishing before signing with Amazon. After pretty much giving up with publishing houses to self-publish, how did it feel to finally be recognized and offered a contract?
Signing with Amazon felt great for two reasons. The first was that Perfect on Paper had finally been recognized as being worthy of a publishing contract, and the second was that it was my hard work that made it happen. After I self-published I spent more than a year doing a ton of grassroots marketing to get the book noticed, so it was a wonderful feeling to know that my efforts had paid off. There were many times along the way that I was tempted to give up, and I’m so glad that I didn’t. I have my mom and dad to thank for that—they both loved the book and wouldn’t let me throw in the towel!

3. Waverly is an amazing character. Was her character inspired by a real person?
My friends all say that reading my books is like listening to me talk, so that should answer the question! Personality-wise Waverly and I are very similar, and most of the awful dates she suffers through were ripped from the headlines of my own dating life. (While I have friends who have come close, I have yet to encounter anyone who can beat me in head-to-head comparison of insanely bad dating experiences.) But in other ways she and I are very different. My family situation is a good example of that—my parents have been happily married for nearly 45 years and are extremely supportive of me, and I have two sisters and a brother who are awesome, as are their spouses and kids. Waverly sort of missed out on that, but I felt it made the books more interesting to have her as an only child.

4. When you started writing Perfect on Paper, did you always know there would be a second and third book about Waverly to follow?
Definitely not. When I was writing Perfect on Paper, I never imagined that I would one day write a sequel. It wasn’t after until I got the publishing contract with Amazon that my thinking started to change. I kept getting emails from readers telling me how much they loved the book and asking when I was going to write another one. Nearly every email would mention something about how the reader connected to Waverly, or related to Waverly, or just wanted to hang out with Waverly. People really wanted to know what happened to her next, so despite my fear of a sophomore slump (I dreaded seeing a review with a headline like “She should have stopped at one!” haha), I decided to continue her story. In a way I was curious as well to find out where life would take her!

5. Do you prefer to write series over stand-alone books?
Given that I’ve only written a series, I guess the answer is yes! Ha.

6. What are your pet peeves when it comes to grammar?
Oh gosh, don’t me started! I blog about this all the time. I think my biggest pet peeve right now is the use of an apostrophe to denote a plural. I see that everywhere, and it drives me nuts! There is a huge sign for banana’s in my local grocery story. Every time I go in there I want to take it down. I mean seriously, what IS that? I even took a photo with my phone. Check this out:

7. Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
If you have a book inside of you, just write it! No matter what happens after you’re finished, the sense of pride and accomplishment that comes with typing the words THE END is unlike any I’d experienced before. I remember telling my mom when I was writing Perfect on Paper that if just ONE person I wasn’t related enjoyed the book, I would be thrilled, and I was completely serious! I still love getting emails from readers—for me that is the best part of being an author!

8. Are there any upcoming projects that we can look forward to?
My agent is currently reading the first draft of the third Waverly book, so if all goes well, it will come out next summer. I’m not sure what my next project after that will be, but I will definitely be writing another book, so stay tuned! You can sign up for my newsletter for updates at www.mariamurnane.com.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Blog Tour: Character This or That List with Becca Ritchie {& Giveaway!}



Today, it's my extreme pleasure to welcome Becca Ritchie [back] to my blog as part of her tour with Teen Book Scene for Wynter Chelsea. If you've read my review for Wynter Chelsea: The Legacy or even my review for its sequel, Wynter Chelsea: The Sublimity, then you must know that one of my favorite characters is Dustin - who I seem to have a huge fangirl crush on. That's why I'm excited to have Becca here, giving us some details on things that Dustin likes in today's This or That list! Be sure to read below the post for your chance to win an e-copy of Wynter Chelsea: The Legacy!



Movies or Music?
Movies.

Guns or Knives?
Guns. He prefers the lovely shotgun.

Loving or Fighting?
Loving. His father taught him to fight with his fists, a shotgun, and butterfly knives before he reached his teenage years. He would rather sit in a park and watch the clouds pass by with Amanda than throw a few punches.

Angels or Demons?
Demons. He has never seen an angel. And the unknown for a telepath can be terrifying. That being said, Dustin is rarely ever surprised.

Fantasy or Reality?
Reality.

Regular Life or Your Life?
Regular life. Only because Amanda is in it. He would be fully gray by thirty if he left her in the legacy alone.

Normal or Super Powers?
Normal. Telepathy, his ability, caused him five years of pain before he was able to control it. A bit of normalcy is a treasure in the Wynter family.

Family Orders or Amanda?
Amanda. He adores Amanda above the legacy, but sometimes those lines blur since she wants to be a part of the family business.

Dustin's Power or Jack's Power?
Jack’s Power. Conjuring items is more convenient and less painful than listening in on private thoughts.

Chelsea or Wynter?
Chelsea. In the past, Chelseas are seen as noble whereas Wynters verge on psychopathic. Dustin’s father, Killian Wynter, is one of them. So Dustin would choose Chelsea. Every time.


Thanks for having my on your blog, Missy!

As a special part of this tour, I get to offer you guys an e-copy of Wynter Chelsea: The Legacy! Simply comment on this post with a valid e-mail address to be notified if you're the winner.

This contest will end one week from today at midnight, after which the winner will be selected and contacted via e-mail.

Good luck!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Double Clutch Blog Tour: Guest Post with Liz

Today, it's my pleasure to bring you the final chapter in Liz's amazing stories about all of her firsts. But don't worry, we're not completely done with the tour.. there are still many more fabulous interviews and reviews to come!



First Comes (True) Love...

The lovely, sweet, talented, amazing Missy is my final guest post on my blog tour. I've talked about first romantic interests, first crushes, first kisses, first boyfriends, first failed rebounds...and now comes the story of my first date with my true love, or how I met my deliciously patient, awesome, adorable husband. (I like him. I like him a lot.)

I've blogged about poor Frank before. He knows that I do, but he never reads them. It makes him way too nervous. But here's the story, in black and white, of how we got going with our first date.

My parents owned this awful 50s style drive-in restaurant. I was in college, and I had to come back, every weekend, to the antiquated county of my youth and put on a stupid poodle skirt and do my stupid waitressing job. Needless to say, I wasn't the happiest camper.

I know it looks adorable and sweet, but it's not! I assure you, if it's your life and you're stuck there day in and day out, it's a living nightmare.

Frank had taken a job making hamburgers. It was a tedious, thankless job, and the one that was easiest to mess up, since the burgers were cooked to order. I'm sorry... the burgers were supposed to be cooked to order. Frank was the world's worst burger cook, and that didn't endear him to the waitresses who had to carry his charred messes to their tables. I was foremost among the complainers.

But on late, slow nights at the restaurant, there was often nothing to do and no one to talk to, and Frank and I would strike up desperate conversations. It wasn't even flirting. It was just talking. We had both just gotten out of long term relationships, so we both agreed that there was no reason to rush into anything with anyone new. When we got around to deciding to go out to the movies, it was as friends, not romantic interests.

Our first nonromantic date was scheduled for the last day of the spring semester at college. I had an exam in Women in Art, then I went home and put school behind me for a few months so I could have a wild, free summer.

Okay, this was my dream summer. In fact, I usually worked back-to-back shifts at my parents' place. But a girl could dream.

The night before our date, I'd gotten all dressed up to go out to dinner with a professor and a group of students from my 18th Century Art class. He'd invited the best students out, and we had such funny, loud conversations and ate and drank such amazing food, I was disappointed when the night ended, and I was left all alone in my almost empty dorm room. All I had there was my bedding and a few things tacked on the wall. Including Frank's number. I picked up the phone and dialed.

Okay, this was back when people had land lines, and the phone could wake up the whole house. What I didn't know was that Frank lived with his grandparents. I was calling a little on the late side, but I didn't think it would be too big a deal.

Frank's little sister picked up. When he got to the phone, he sounded a little out of breath.

"Oh, hey!" I said, examining my cute shoes and wondering where else I could go tonight. Maybe Frank would want to drive down to my college town for some fun? "So, we still on for tomorrow?"

He paused for a second. "Yes."

"Okay. So, did you have a nice day?" This didn't feel promising.

"Yes."

"What did you do?"

"Work."

"I'm going to let you go," I said with a sigh, kicking off my adorable shoes and shrugging out of my sexy dress. The night was over, I was about to go on a date with a dud, and life was miserable.

The phone call was so disappointing, I stopped thinking about the date. In fact, my mind was reeling over the fact that I'd gotten a C on a paper for my Women in Art class. Yes, I had written it in one night, after a shift at my parents' place. Yes, I had been so rushed I actually spelled the artist's name wrong twice in the paper. Yes, a C was probably a mercy grade from a teacher who knew that I was a straight A student and that pathetic scribble must have been a flub, but I was torn up about it.

Plus I had this date, and I was sure it would suck. Positive.

Sometimes the letter C makes me sublimely happy. Maybe if I'd gotten this C on my paper, I wouldn't have been so bummed.

I went home and got ready. Hair curled, makeup on, cute outfit, but not too cute. I might need to save my cutest clothes for a real date. It was coming up on the agreed-upon hour, and there was no sign of Frank. My baby brother came in my room.

"You look pretty, Lizzie."

"Thank you, Jack." I looked at his gorgeous little brown eyes and shiny hair and sweet cherub face. "Buddy, when you get to be a big boy and you ask a perfectly nice girl on a date, pick her up on time, alright? It's not nice to be late. Only big jerks are late. Come watch Scooby Doo with me."

I was snuggled with my favorite little man when my mom brought the phone in.

"Is it him?" I asked.

"Yeah. But maybe you shouldn't go too hard on him. He sounds pretty frantic." She smiled. Evilly. My mom knew I wouldn't listen to her.

"Hi," I said flatly.

"Elizabeth! Hi!" I could hear him swallow hard. "Um, look, I'm getting in the truck, like, now. My dad took me to this car show, and I told him about the date, but he lost track of time. By the time I managed to find him, we were already late. I know you must be pissed. I'm not usually late for stuff."

Some of the iciness melted. "Well, if you're on your way, I guess we should still go."

"Thank you! Seriously, I promise, this won't happen again. And, if it makes you feel better, I got sunburn on my neck. Bad sunburn."

It did make me feel better, because I'm mean. I finished watching Scooby, gave Jack a million smooches, and got my purse. Frank was waiting in my foyer, nervously fidgeting, his neck lobster red. He was wearing a blue shirt, kind of dressy, not his usual style, and jeans so stiff I knew he'd probably just ripped the tags off of them and thrown them on. I appreciated his strange clothing efforts.

We walked out to his enormous truck and he opened my door and offered me a boost. "No thank you," I said as his hand hovered an inch away from my butt. "I'm almost six feet tall. I don't need a boost."

He climbed into the driver's seat with a huge smile on his face. I felt a tad bit better about the date. The nonromantic date, I reminded myself firmly.

Hmm. This seemed like a closed-case sucky date, but there are clues that indicate this might be a fun, sweet outing. Well, gang, what do you think?

I made an attempt to start things off right, and got the conversation going.

"I like your id bracelet," I said.

He looked at it for a minute. "Oh. Thanks. My ex gave it to me."

He was wearing jewelry from his ex? The girl he'd told me had basically taken his heart out of his chest cavity and trampled on it? "Well, it's cool," I finally managed.

He cleared his throat. "So, do you still want to see Blow?"

"Yeah! I try to make it a point to never miss a Johnny Depp movie if I can help it."

"Cool. I agree. Um, do you want to listen to some music?" He drummed his fingers on the steering wheel.

"Do you have CDs? I can't stand the radio."

"Yeah. Sure. Right in the center console." He pointed.

I popped it open and there was a black CD case and a pile of pictures. They were of a pretty blonde girl smirking at the camera. I fanned them out and looked at Frank, whose face was on fire. "This is your ex?" I asked.

"Um, yeah." He rubbed his sunburned neck and winced. "She went to this wedding with another guy, and we saw each other after, and she gave me pictures from the wedding. I guess that's weird, right?"

I took a deep breath. "Are you asking if I think it's weird that you have pictures your cruel ex-girlfriend gave you from a date she had with another guy? Yes, Frank, it's super weird. Look, you seem like a really nice guy, and I know this isn't, like, a real date, so I'm saying this as a friend. Take these pictures, dip them in gasoline, and light them on fire. Okay? Because you deserve better than that crap. Or, if you still love her, go run out and win her back. But this whole scenario..." I gestured at the pictures. "This is just sad."

"No!" I looked up at him, surprised by his exclamation, and he got all red again. "I mean, yes, I will get rid of those pictures. Just, no about this date. I mean, I think it's real. Not that you have to be my girlfriend, or whatever, but you must think I'm still into her. I'm not. At all. I wanted to take you out. I was really upset when I thought I messed it all up. And it seems like maybe I still am? Messing it up? But I've been looking forward to today. To spending time alone with you."

Our date was a little like this image...weird, but sweet, fun but weird. And kind of awesome.

Yep. I was a little smitten. I thought about what I should say or how I should phrase what I was thinking, but, in the end, but it all sounded lame or mean or sappy in my head, so I said, "You wanna go old school and listen to Pearl Jam?"

We did. When we got to the movie theater, I offered to pay for the tickets if he would pay for snacks. Little did he know 'snacks' included a Slurpee, a hot dog, popcorn, and Rasinets. We got all of our goodies and went to the theater, where Frank headed right to the very last row.

I stood in the aisle. "No way."

He shook his head. "No way what?"

"No way am I sitting in the back row of a movie theater with you. No way." I crooked my finger and he jumped up and followed me to the dead center (which is the best place for reasonable people to sit.

During the movie, he leaned over so his head was on my shoulder. "This cool?" he whispered.

I took his hat off and smoothed his hair back with my fingers. "It's cool."

We walked around the mall, stopping to look at random things, sometimes grabbing hands, sometimes brushing shoulders. When I finally checked my watch, I was sad to see I had to go.

"We need to head back," I said. "Mom likes me home by eleven."

"Even though you're in college?" he asked, clearly disappointed.

"Jack is so little. Mom doesn't want people coming in and out super late."

We drove home in relative quiet, and when we pulled into the driveway, he looked at me for a long time.

"I had so much fun," I said, feeling awkward. "Seriously. I had a great time. Maybe we can hang out again?"

Frank put his hand out, and I reached mine back and shook. Like we were two CEOs closing a merger.

Frank laughed and blushed again.

"What? It was weird to shake, right?" I asked. "We can, I don't know, hug or something."

I leaned over and wrapped my arms around him tight, took a deep breath and just smelled him. And I loved the way he smelled and felt. A good hug is a truly underestimated romantic gesture, and this was an awesome hug.

Awwww yeah! Now that's an awesome hug!

When we pulled away, he got out of the truck and came around to open my door and help me out. "I didn't want to shake your hand," he said next to my ear. "I was going to kiss it."

Which was so adorably romantic, I was at a loss. "Okay. Well, maybe next time?"

"Yeah. Let's do this again. Soon."

And we did. We dated again, and again, and soon we were talking on the phone every night, and I was calling to see if he wanted to see another movie or he was telling me about a great waffle place he found that he just had to take me to, or we were just making up any excuse to see each other until we gave up and officially became boyfriend and girlfriend. Then we got engaged, then married, and had our daughter. Finding Frank was one of the most awesome, unexpected joys of my life, and we still have a blast together all the time.

So it all worked out. The faulty starts, the unrequited crushes, the Mr. Wrongs and Mr. Okays all led to the guy who I still check out on a daily basis and who just might be the inspiration for pretty much every guy I've ever written into a book.

You know when somebody just feels like home? And has the added perk of being super sexy? That's Frank. Ah, love!

And Liz and Frank...natch! (Is there anything better than love and cupcakes?)
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Me & The Family



Top Left
Husband (Nick) and Me

Top Right
Dilla (top) and Optimus Prime (bottom)

Bottom Left
Stormy

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Mimi (left) and Taz (right)

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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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