Monday, September 29, 2014

The Next Big YA Book!

Calling all YA authors!

If you have ever hashtagged the following:
Then pay attention! 

From September 17th through October 1st, Hipso Media Publishing and Jenny from Supernatural Snark will be hosting the ‘Next Big YA Book Event.’

Why is this good news for #amwriters?

Here’s how the event works. Most publishers work exclusively with agents, which makes it difficult (more like close to impossible) for up-and-coming writers to get their work seen. Well, Hipso Media Publishing will be opening their doors to all YA writers who dream of traditional publication, but can’t seem to catch a break. Writers who have mountainous ideas, along with an actual mountain of rejection letters. Hipso wants to pick one of those writers, and treat them like the literary rock star they are, showering them in every publishing perk someone of their caliber deserves:
- Publishing contract with a generous royalty program
- Custom cover from Seedlings Design
- Candace Book Blog Book Tour
- Exclusive front-page podcast on AuthorsOnTourLive, iReadBooksRadio and iHeartRadio (which gets an average of more than 1 million hits a year)
- Novel as an eBook on all major retailers – Kindle, Nook, iBooks, Kobo, around the world
- A featured post on Supernatural Snark
- Awesome book swag, and more…

Once the winning manuscript is picked, Jenny from Supernatural Snark (Owner of Seedlings Design) will work with the author to create a custom cover that will be sure to shout, “NEXT BIG YA BOOK”. And then she’ll do a featured post on Supernatural Snark, to make sure the world hears.

No agents, hoops, or hassles. The only criteria are that your YA manuscript be finished, you must believe it’s great, and it must not already be published somewhere else.

Here’s the link to the submissions page and contact info:

Good luck and happy writing!

The Dead Tossed Waves - Audio

Title/Author: The Dead Tossed Waves (The Forest of Hands and Teeth #2) by Carrie Ryan.

Narrator: Tara Sands.

Genre:  YA, Post-Apocalyptic, Dystopian, Sci-Fi.

Publisher: Listening Library.

Source: Library.

Synopsis:  Gabry lives a quiet life. As safe a life as is possible in a town trapped between a forest and the ocean, in a world teeming with the dead, who constantly hunger for those still living. She’s content on her side of the Barrier, happy to let her friends dream of the Dark City up the coast while she watches from the top of her lighthouse. But there are threats the Barrier cannot hold back. Threats like the secrets Gabry’s mother thought she left behind when she escaped from the Sisterhood and the Forest of Hands and Teeth. Like the cult of religious zealots who worship the dead. Like the stranger from the forest who seems to know Gabry. And suddenly, everything is changing. One reckless moment, and half of Gabry’s generation is dead, the other half imprisoned. Now Gabry only knows one thing: she must face the forest of her mother’s past in order to save herself and the one she loves.

Midnyte Musings:  I have mixed feelings about The Dead Tossed Waves.  I liked it, but I had a lot of  issues.  I like the way that it is kind of a continuation of The Forest of Hands and Teeth, but not necessarily a sequel.  It is the same world, a few of the same characters, but a different location and a different time.  If you only wanted to read The Dead Tossed Waves, you would not be lost. 

Things got off to a slow start but the story picked up and became more interesting as events became  more complicated.  I love the twists and turns the plot took.  It's a big world out there, but in this story the communities and connections are close and intertwined.  When Gabry discovers her mother, Mary, holds secrets that are a key to their past, she questions who she is literally and figuratively which is already in question because of her actions when she ran to safely while her friends were in danger.

The zombies in this book, or Mudo, or Unconsecrated, are frightening, but not the main aspect of the story.  They are more like the catalyst as to why the world is the way it is. Communities are secluded and the landscape is walled, fenced and barricaded so the undead can't invade and infect.  I don't really consider this Horror or "about zombies" because the story is about Gabry.  The zombies are background.

Although I did like Gabry to a point, she was also a character that for me was a bit too naive and sheltered to the point of her being a little shallow only because she doesn't know better. It worked because of the way she was raised, but it didn't mean she didn't irritate me at times.  I felt as a reader, I was inside Gabry's head more than in the story.  She belabored her thoughts way too much for my taste.  Showing inner turmoil is helpful, but not with every single move and decision.  Was it necessary for plot and character development?  Or was it filler?

I also didn't enjoy the love triangle between Gabry, Catcher (her childhood crush), and new boy Elias.  I thought her dilemma was interesting, but at the same time thought it was kind of convenient.  The issue with her childhood crush, Catcher, made reality easier, her choice obvious.  However, I did like how guilt and loyalty came into the equation.  The ending had Gabry making her choice in many aspects, but obviously there is another book.  If I can find it on audio I would listen to it, but I don't think I would read a print copy.

Narration: Tara Sands gave Gabry a very appropriate performance.  Her voice matched the youth and innocence of the main character and made the book exciting when needed.  I think people who loved Forest of Hands and Teeth, fans of Carrie Ryan, and lovers of YA will appreciate this book.

Starstruck Over:  The world building and mysteries.  

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Feature & Follow - Blogger Pet Peeves (September 19, 2014).

Feature and Follow is hosted by Parajunkee and Alison Can Read.  Click on the links to visit their blogs and find out more about this great meme.

Blogger pet peeves? 

~Not being able to do everything I want on my blog.  In other words, I wish I was a bit more technically savvy with graphics and coding.

~Not having enough time!  We all know by now that blogging takes up more time than we ever realized...but still.  I want more time to visit other blogs, to promote my own blog and more time to create posts in general.

~I can't come up with enough unique stuff!  Hey you other bloggers out amaze me!  You have so many amazing features and memes, creative ideas and unique events. Seeing all your blogs inspires me, but that next great idea always seems just out of reach.

Does any of this sound familiar?  What are your blogger pet peeves?

Halloween Hootenanny - 2014!

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Please join me for my 4th Halloween Hootenanny, celebrating all through October!

  • Creepy reviews. 
  • Ghoulish giveaways.
  • Scary posts. 
  • Frightening interviews.
  • Spooky goodness.

If you would like to contribute with a guest post, please contact me at

Please grab the button!

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If you are hosting your own Halloween bookish event on your blog sign up here so that others can celebrate Halloween all over the web!


Monday, September 15, 2014


Title/Author: Victims (Alex Delaware #27) by JonathanKellerman.

Narrator: John Rubenstein.

Genre:  Thriller

Publisher: Random House Audio.

Source: Library.

Synopsis: Not since Jack the Ripper terrorized the London slums has there been such a gruesome crime scene. By all accounts, acid-tongued Vita Berlin hadn’t a friend in the world, but whom did she cross so badly as to end up arranged in such a grotesque tableau? One look at her apartment–turned–charnel house prompts hard-bitten LAPD detective Milo Sturgis to summon his go-to expert in hunting homicidal maniacs, Alex Delaware. But despite his finely honed skills, even Alex is stymied when more slayings occur in the same ghastly fashion . . . yet with no apparent connection among the victims. And the only clue left behind—a blank page bearing a question mark—seems to be both a menacing taunt and a cry for help from a killer baffled by his own lethal urges.

Under pressure to end the bloody spree and prevent a citywide panic, Milo redoubles his efforts to discover a link between the disparate victims. Meanwhile, Alex navigates the secretive world of mental health treatment, from the sleek office of a Beverly Hills therapist to a shuttered mental institution where he once honed his craft—and where an unholy alliance between the mad and the monstrous may have been sealed in blood. As each jagged piece of the puzzle fits into place, an ever more horrific portrait emerges of a sinister mind at its most unimaginable—and an evil soul at its most unspeakable. “This one was different,” Alex observes at the start of the case. This one will haunt his waking life, and his darkest dreams, long after its end.

Midnyte Musings:  I used to love Jonathan Kellerman.  I started with When the Bough Breaks and tried to continue on with the Alex Delaware adventures.  There are many of them (as you can see from the title above) and it was difficult to keep up with all the books for me.  But whenever I did pick one up, I was thrilled with psychiatrist Alex and his sidekick cop pal, Milo Sturgis.  The crimes were scandalous, sometimes horrifying and at times even a bit titillating.  Also, while events occur in Alex's life, if I happened to read one out of order, I may have wondered what happened with some things in his personal life, but it never hindered the mystery. 

The particulars behind solving the case came across very realistic.  There is a lot of hard work portrayed.  Phone calls, going back over the case, files and "pounding the pavement."  I did appreciate this attention to details.  There was no wondering how they got from point A to point B. 

However, Victims is not one of my favorites.  In fact, when going into Goodreads to update my reading list, I almost forgot about it.  When I read Kellerman's books in the past, I was always fascinated by the human behavior of the characters and the reasoning behind their crimes.  I don't know if I am now jaded or if it just this book.  The plot kind of fell flat for me and while the crimes were gruesome the mystery behind them, including the criminals themselves were a bit anti-climactic.  Alex's involvement is important but he wasn't an important character for me. 

Although Victims was not that entertaining for me, I would keep trying Kellerman's books on audio.  I'm not sure I would continue with the printed books.

Narration:  My favorite character that Rubenstein portrays is Milo.  He sounds exactly like the grizzled, sarcastic, jaded cop that I had in my head.  A little gravelly and a lot of attitude.  There were many characters in this book and I was impressed that the narrator was able to distinguish all of them without going over the top. 

Starstruck over: The portrayal of Milo Sturgis is stellar. 

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Guest Post by Spencer Blohm - Outlander: Another Successful Trip From Print to Television.

            It may seem like odd timing for Diana Gabaldon’s award winning book Outlander to be turned into a television series, some 22 years after it was published, but fans of the book and Diana Gabaldon don’t seem to mind one bit. The story of WWII era British Army nurse Claire Randall and her sudden transportation into 18th century Scotland has become something of a cult-favorite television series on the Starz network with both fans of the books, (the show’s first season is based on the 1st novel in a series of 8) and those who had previously never even heard of Gabaldon’s work.

            Given that Starz has just ordered a second season already, after only 5 episodes have aired, some might be wondering what all the fuss is about, and if the series stay true to the beloved books. If you haven’t read the books (which you can purchase in all its forms here), or watched the series, (which is easy enough to catch up on with a Starz subscription from your cable provider), but are planning to, be warned! This will contain some spoilers, so go out, catch up, and then come back and finish the article!

            The book and the television series both center around the story of the aforementioned Claire Randall and her sudden and unexpected time travel from 1945 back to 1743, where she first stumbles upon an ancestor of her husband’s, named Captain Jack Randall. Though the two look nearly identical, Captain Jack Randall is a very different man than Claire’s 1945 husband, and Claire finds herself in a dangerous situation almost immediately.

Claire is luckily (or not so luckily) saved by Scottish highlanders, who aren’t keen on leaving a woman to the whims of Jack Randall, but also are hesitant to trust a British woman who may or may not be a spy. Claire is kept as a medical aid on house arrest at the Mackenzie castle while the clan decides if she’s to be trusted. There, Claire meets Jamie Fraser, who presents himself as one of the few relatable faces at the castle. It’s known from the series premiere that we will watch Jamie and Claire develop a relationship. Though Claire was concerned about the state of her marriage in 1945 prior to her time travel – she and her husband Frank had been separated by war for the better part of 5 years – the introduction of another man is not easy and Claire finds herself unsure of her complicated feelings, a dilemma which is further explored in both print and on the screen.

As if that wouldn’t be difficult enough, Claire must cope with the challenges that faced everyone in the 1700’s, such as disease and a lack of women’s rights, plus those difficulties that she must battle herself, like figuring out how to live without the modern conveniences she’s used to, as well as how to return home and avoid suspicion regarding her history. Of course, she’s found herself a captive of not just any rural citizens, but the notorious Scottish highlanders who, during this time period, are in the midst of the Jacobite risings. For non-history buffs, the risings were the Irish and Scottish rebellions against the British in an attempt to return the House of Stuart back onto the English throne. Since thousands of highlanders were brutally killed, including many of Claire’s host clan, and the rebellion ultimately failed, to say that she picked a bad time to travel back to is an understatement.

            The series was picked up by Starz after Sony Pictures TV acquired the rights to the books back in 2012. Sony then quickly hired Battlestar Galactica developer and producer Ron Moore to write the screenplay. Gabaldon herself had made it clear in recent years that she was skeptical about the idea of a television series or film. On her website she said, “ I don't think I'd want absolute control over a process that I don't normally work in and am not familiar with. I know people who work in film, and I think it would suck my soul, waste my time, and prevent me from writing books.”

In fact, Gabaldon even revealed her skepticism at the series getting picked up by anyone, stating the books had been optioned four times in the past with no results. She did, however, become a consultant after meeting with Moore and finding his script worthy of her material. Her involvement in the project was welcomed with much relief from diehard Outlander fans. While she didn’t exert a massive amount of control over the script or casting (though she did heartily approve of Sam Heughan and Caitriona Balfe), she surely yields influence over the general direction of the series, and gives final approval of any script - especially when it comes to proposed changes that veer from her original plot line.

For their part, Starz has been investing adequate time and effort to ensure that the series stays true to Gabaldon’s vision. Detailed and inspired costuming and scenery have provided a stunning background for the show. The creators have also made use of Gaelic, resulting in an excellent use of a language barrier that excludes Claire as well as the viewers from the foreign, extinct, lifestyle. So far the series has been warmly welcomed by both fans and critics. The Hollywood Reporter has praised Moore and the series, saying Moore “successfully translates” the books into a show and dubbed the effort “well-executed,” despite its slow pace. On a similar note Time called it “the most promising show in years for Starz” and “a very writerly TV show,” which is a promising sign for fans of the books.

            For those of you wondering whether or not the series is going to be for you, regardless if you’ve read the books or not, it simply comes down to personal preference. It’s not a network series, so don’t expect the series to be fast paced and filled to the brim with action and high octane content. Like the books, the takes its time to establish the mood, setting, and atmosphere, but in a visually dazzling way. It’s less Game of Thrones and more The Notebook at times, but it certainly proves to be an interesting story for history buffs and Outlander fans. It’s a series that proves that, especially in this day and age, sometimes good things come to those who wait.

Spencer Blohm is a freelance entertainment, culture, and lifestyle blogger. He lives and works in Chicago. When not working he can be found camped out in his apartment watching the latest films and newest television shows.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Sword at Sunset.

Title/Author: Sword at Sunset by Rosemary Sutcliff.

Genre:  Arthurian/Historical Fiction.

Publisher: Chicago Review Press, 1963.

Source: Purchased.

Synopsis: This brilliant reconception of the Arthurian epic cuts through the familiar myths and tells the story of the real King Arthur: Artos the Bear, the mighty warrior-king who saved the last lights of Western civilization when the barbarian darkness descended in the fifth century.

Artos here comes alive: bold and forceful in battle, warm and generous in friendship, tough in politics, shrewd in the strategy of war - and tender and tragically tormented in love.

Out of the braiding of ancient legend, fresh research, soaring imagination and hypnotic narrative skill comes a novel that has richly earned its reputation as a classic.

Midnyte Musings:   Oh how I've missed the world of Dark Ages and Medieval Britain in literature.  I used to read a lot of re-tellings about the legend of King Arthur and I had heard of Sword at Sunset but had never gotten to it.  I wanted to note the year of original publication above, because this book stands the test of time and reads beautifully today even though the language immediately immersed me in the world of King Arthur's Britain.  Although I am no scholar on Medieval Times, Sutcliff either did her research or utilizes expressions and language that serve the time period.  Much of the language is mixed in so you can interpret it via context.  Also well researched is the landscape, history, culture and warfare.

This is not a story featuring Kings and Queens in golden palaces and tournaments for honor, but a gritty and dark story of Artos, who is a soldier and inherits his uncle's dream of a unified Britain.  However, mixed in with the history lesson and fighting is a Britain that mixes Roman history, Welsh Mythology and Celtic culture into a haunting landscape of a beautiful tale of long ago. 

At the heart of this story is our hero "Artos the Bear," who meets his nemesis early on in the story, his half-sister who is his undoing.  In this incarnation she is called Ygerna instead of Morgana or Morgan.  Later on in the story we meet Medraut (Mordred), who takes up the mantle of his mother's vendetta.  However, the main meat of the story is Artos's campaign to keep the raiding Saxons out of their land. 

Are you afraid to hear the music of the Silver Branch?  Are you afraid to hear the singing of Rhiannon's birds that makes men forget? ~Ygerna.

His wife Guenhumara is included in this story and she is portrayed in a unique way, a mix of other versions I have read and quite human and very likable.  Unfortunately, and although I always know it is coming, my stomach still clenches over the imminent betrayal. 

The whole feel of the book is noble and romantic in the same way that following a dream is. The way that Sutcliff describes Britain is real, but there is a touch of underlying magic to it. The way that Artos's mother's tribe, the Little People and other legends such as The Lady of the Lake are presented contain kernels of truth that are the foundation of these rich myths.

Starstruck Over: The language of this story which put me in the thick of Artos's journey. 

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