Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Blog Tour Author Interview: Sarah MacManus


It's my pleasure to bring to you guys an interview I did with Sarah MacManus, author of Dreamwalk. If you haven't read my review of her book, please do so by clicking here. It's an awesome book!

What are five words that describe who you are as a writer?
Slow. Impatient. Layered. Self-conscious, Private.

Did anyone inspire you to become a writer, or was it just something that came naturally?
Writing was something that just came naturally when I was a teenager. I’m not going to say that I was one of those kids spinning tales from kindergarten, because I wasn’t. Most of my over-active imagination was kept in my own head where I could keep an eye on it. I did start writing a few things out in school when I was required to in Junior High. The feedback from family and teachers was pretty positive and I wrote any number of short stories, poems and scripts when I was in high school and college. I even had an agent. As my reading tastes became more sophisticated, however, some of the really great writers left me intimidated and insecure, rather than inspired. So, I spent most of my adult life doing technical writing, which is much safer and less subjective. Finally, life eventually gave me enough time and space to give it another try and I guess I became mature enough to enjoy the process without worrying so much about the results. I had to spend some time convincing myself that it was okay to let some of those stories outside of my head, if only for a little while.

How do the ideas for your stories come about?
Mostly from my real life, which has been bizarre enough to give me an idea or two, but I do struggle with ideas and I don’t find they come easy. The bits and bobs and scenes come easy enough, and dialogue is the easiest for me. I’ve written scripts for stage and radio and it’s always a blast. It’s not even something that I’m all that shy about. But I do need to work at building a premise, layer by layer. Unfortunately, having had a bit of a strange life has made me feel like all my ideas have been done before. I’m super self-conscious about repeating a theme or a plot arc that’s been done better by someone else and sometimes I walk in to a story idea that I can’t complete because of a feeling of futility. But, I’m working on that.

Could you tell us a little about Dreamwalk?
Dreamwalk is a magical realism love story about two young adults who have been dealt some unlucky blows in life. They find that their love for each other gives them the motivation to rise above their circumstances and their own character flaws. And they find that they need to care enough about themselves in order to care for others. Pretty basic boy-meets-girl stuff, but with kangaroo gods.

What made you dabble in mythology?
I love mythology and always have. And I’m not fussy about who it belongs to. It started in 4th grade English class, which was only tolerable to me because we were studying Greek and Roman mythology. I had one of those awful teachers that likes to be insulting and mean to students in order to be funny. But I got to read excerpts from the Iliad, so I behaved myself. My love of mythology then extended into Celtic myth and the Arthurian tales, East European myths about vampires, Native American myths about the Great Spirit and Coyote. I even love modern mythology: urban legends, rural folklore, sweeping stories about people who changed the world, from Abraham Lincoln to Amelia Earhardt to John Lennon. I adore rock and roll mythology in particular, because I’ve gotten to live through some of it, the stories of the great rock bands that changed the way we look at life. Mythology is the means for understanding a culture, because people put the best and worst of themselves in their mythology. I like to see the glitter of the divine reflecting off the perfectly mundane, because it makes me feel a bit more sane when it’s not just me seeing that sparkle.

What can we expect next from you?
I haven’t really decided at this point. I published a novella called “Lord of the Trash” a short while ago that got some nice response, and I’m considering expanding it to a full-length work based on some of that feedback. It’s contemporary literary fiction about a brother and sister living in the Midwest, trying to deal with the damage that their dysfunctional family has left on their ability to make relationships work. I also have a story based on Irish mythology, really old, pre-Roman mythology, which I have been working on for quite a while. It’s also magical realism, a blend of the contemporary world and the unseen world.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Dreamwalk Review

Sarah MacManus

Publisher: Young Rebel Publications
Release Date:
March 14, 2011
YA, Paranormal
5/5 (Avg 3.5/5)
DREAMWALK is a romantic mixed beat of time travel and mythology for both teens and adults. After the death of her mother, Chloe Hawthorn is haunted by terrifying nighttime hallucinations. Determined to take control of her dreams, she uses them to find Shane Anderson, a charming and troubled musician whose online videos have been holding her in thrall. She finds him in the Dreamtime, sweating out heroin detox in a run-down rehab center.

Chloe sets out to find Shane in the waking world and discovers her dreams have been taking her into the past. Horrified, Chloe realizes Shane doesn't survive his addictions. In order to save him, Chloe must master her Australian mother's legacy — the secret of walking the Dreaming through time. But what price will Chloe pay for this Dreamwalk and will she save Shane only to lose him forever?

I have to admit that I went into this book with a little hesitation. From the premise, it seemed as though the book could go very good, or very bad. I'm glad I decided to go against my doubts because I ended up finding a great read that has everything going for it. Good writing style, incredible characters and a story that sucks you in from the very first line to the very bitter end. It's all there and I can make no complaints.

When the story ended, I had a hard time letting go of the characters - especially Chloe. The realistic way the characters are portrayed not only makes you connect with them on a deeper lever, but sometimes it even makes you think about your own life and the decisions you make. These characters aren't just typical cliche characters that you see in other novels - you can see these characters as your friends in real life, everything was completely genuine and utterly believable.

Your emotions are sent through a whirlwind throughout the novel. I laughed, I cried and I even got scared. It was complex and surreal. It was lovely, yet so bittersweet. Honestly, I can't sing the praises enough - it was a brilliant read, highly recommended from me. I am now officially a fan of Sarah and I look forward to reading more from her in the future.

I had enough time to hope that I wouldn't hit anyone on the sidewalk below.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Falling Under, by Gwen Hayes

Falling Under
Gwen Hayes

Publisher: NAL
Release Date:
March 1, 2011
Falling Under
YA, Paranormal Romance
Paperback, 324
4/5 (Avg 4/5)
Theia Alderson has always led a sheltered life in the small California town of Serendipity Falls. But when a devastatingly handsome boy appears in the halls of her school, Theia knows she's seen Haden before- not around town, but in her dreams.

As the Haden of both the night and the day beckons her closer one moment and pushes her away the next, the only thing Theia knows for sure is that the incredible pull she feels towards him is stronger than her fear.

And when she discovers what Haden truly is, Theia's not sure if she wants to resist him, even if the cost is her soul.

This review has taken me a while to write because I wanted to make sure that I did it some justice. Though this book is a pretty quick read, it took me a few days to get into it. I think what did it for me was the press release, in which Falling Under was compared to Twilight. After that, Twilight was stuck in my head and I couldn't help but notice every single, solitary thing that it had in common with the widely popular vampire series. It even mentions sparkling vampires in it. I know a lot of people who say the comparison in the book is in jest, but for me it was just... tacky.

With that being said, I took a step back before I wrote this review. To be honest, I don't think that I would have noticed the similarities as much if I wouldn't have read any of the PR - sans the whole 'sparkling vampire' bit... that was a little obvious. When my mind was clear, it was easier to see that Falling Under had traits in common with Twilight that most YA paranormal romances have - the dangerous boy, the insta-love and, well, the paranormal. Oh, and there are no vampires.

Honestly, despite what I just mentioned, I really enjoyed this book. The concept was engaging and its storyline kept me guessing for a good while before I finally caught on - and even then, there were elements of surprise. This book had a much darker, more gothic feel to it than most books that I've read lately and it's something that I have missed.

Theia was a good character that was easy to relate to in most ways, but not in the romance department. The insta-love failed for me because it is beyond my comprehension as to how someone can fall so madly in love with someone so soon after they meet them. Can it happen? I'm sure it can... just not for me, which is why I cannot relate to it at all. The early acceptance of absolute love was the only thing I didn't like. Haden was a swoon-worthy character that I'm sure will leave every girl who reads this book with goo-goo eyes and a goofy grin on their face. I liked him. He reminded me of another old-fashioned, gentlemanly character who felt as though he didn't deserve love because he was a monster. *ahem*

Without saying too much, the dream sequences in this book really worked for me. The descriptions were amazing and everything came together perfectly at the end. I absolutely adored Gwen Hayes' writing style in this book, it's entrancing and poetic. Overall, this book was everything that I expected and then some. I really enjoyed it.

Stalk Find Gwen Hayes Online
Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | The Fictionistas

Purchase Falling Under

0451232682 (ISBN13: 9780451232687)
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | IndieBound

Everything changed the night I saw the burning man fall from the sky.

Blog Tour: The 17 Day Diet, by Mike Moreno

The 17 Day Diet
Dr. Mike Moreno

Publisher: S&S
Release Date:
March 15, 2011
Non-Fiction, Health & Fitness
Hardcover, 256
S&S Free Press
4/5 (Avg 3.5/5)
“We’ve all pledged, promised and bullied ourselves to eat better and exercise more, but so many times even the best intentions fall short. I incorporate healthy habits into my work and home life and you can too.” –Dr. Mike Moreno

If you need to shed pounds fast and in a safe, effective, and lasting way, this is the book for you! Unlike many diet programs that starve you down to size, Dr. Mike Moreno’s 17 Day Diet relies on proven methods to help you take weight off and keep it off for good—whether you’ve got 10 pounds to lose or 100. His revolutionary program adjusts your body metabolically so that you burn fat day in and day out. The program is structured around four 17 day cycles:

Accelerate—the rapid weight loss portion that helps flush sugar and fat storage from your system

Activate—the metabolic restart portion with alternating low and high calorie days to help shed body fat

Achieve—this phase is about learning to control portions and introducing new fitness routines

Arrive—a combination of the first three cycles to keep good habits up for good. On weekends, enjoy your favorite foods!

Each cycle changes your calorie count and the food that you’re eating. The variation that Dr. Mike calls ‘body confusion’ keeps your metabolism guessing; this means that you can expect big changes in the first 17 days alone!

This is not a diet that relies on a tiny list of approved foods, grueling exercise routines, or unrealistic calorie counts that leave you hungry and unfulfilled. Moderation and proper portions are key factors in the 17 Day Diet—the trick is to figure out the foods and routines that work best with your real lifestyle. That’s why the book is filled with tips for how to avoid the usual food pitfalls like holidays, eating out, or even just a tempting candy jar. Along with a comprehensive explanation of how each segment works, every phase comes with an extensive list of foods, recipes, and sample meal plans to help make grocery shopping a breeze. Because of the diversity that you are allowed from the very beginning of the program, there is a way to make this diet work with almost any food allergies you might have or what cuisine you’re used to eating.

The 17 Day Diet is a simple plan that gets big, long-lasting results if you stick with it and let Dr. Mike help you along the way. Whether this is your first attempt at dieting or your fiftieth, you must believe that you can do this. What matters now is focusing on your goals, identifying what you need to get there, and taking action to begin the process. Your health and happiness are important, so stand strong, believe in yourself, and let your 17 Day Diet begin now!

Dr. Michael Rafael Moreno, better known as “Dr. Mike,” is a graduate of the University of California at Irvine and Hahnemann Medical School (now Drexel University). Following his residency at Kaiser Permanente in Fontana, California, Dr. Mike moved to San Diego, where he now practices family medicine and sits on the board of the San Diego Chapter of the American Academy of Family Physicians. In 2008, Dr. Mike launched “Walk with Your Doc,” which he participates in every Tuesday and Thursday morning before his workday begins. The program began when Dr. Mike offered to walk with a patient to motivate her to exercise and has since grown into a thriving community Dr. Mike takes pride in being viewed not only as a doctor, but also as a friend and confidant.

Pretty long-winded synopsis, right? There's nothing that I can say that will describe this book better than that. What I can tell you is that, like every other diet there is out there, this book will not be for everyone. If you have some restrictions, you may want to look into asking someone's advice on if this book would be beneficial for you or not.

For me, I have no general restrictions so I decided to give it a try. Like every diet technique out there, I was a little skeptic. So, I let my husband go over the book. He said it was worth a shot, so I took it. I can't tell you for sure how everything works. I was late on starting this and am only not even half-way through the first 17 days. What I can tell you is that the book is informative, the recipes are easy and wonderful, and I do feel as though I am starting to improve. That's saying something for this more than others... where, after a day, the newness wore off and I didn't feel much of anything.

Don't go by my rating because it is specifically for me. I suggest picking up this book and trying it yourself before you judge.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

In My Mailbox

Hosted By: The Story Siren
Inspired By: Pop Culture Junkie

I've been very negligent the past few weeks, so I thought that I would catch you up on my review requests and winnings. *I actually have a lot of purchases as well (thanks to buying a Kindle - it's addictive!), but since this post is so large already... I will make a separate post for those next week, along with any other books I may get or may have forgotten about on this post!

Also, don't forget that if you'd like more information on any of these books then all you have to do is click the pics!

For Review:

My Requests:

Portland Book Review:

Sacramento Book Review:

Book {Blog} Tours:

My Purchases*:


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