Friday, April 18, 2014

[BLOG TOUR] Guest Post by Jo Schneider + Giveaway


I'd like to welcome Jo Schneider, author of NEW SIGHT to Short & Sweet Reviews Blog! On today's New Sight blog tour stop Jo will be talking about the magic system in her debut novel, which is set to hit stores and e-Readers on April 22, 2014! Also don't forget to enter the giveaway at the end of the post!

ABOUT THE BOOK
 OUT APRIL 22, 2014
Pre-order the book on AMAZON|B&N|

 After succumbing to the sudden and terrifying urge to rip people’s eyes out of their sockets, 16-year-old Lysandra Blake finds herself tied down in a psych ward, convinced she’s crazy. The doctors have no answers, and Lys is ready to give up when the mysterious Jeremiah Mason appears, telling Lys that she’s not insane—she’s addicted to a rare and deadly drug that she has no recollection of using. Mr. Mason offers to take her to his facility where he can treat her. Desperate yet suspicious, Lys agrees to go with Mr. Mason to his facility where she meets with a fellow addict, the tall and handsome Kamau. Together they discover that Mr. Mason may not have told them the truth about their condition—they’re thrown headfirst into a world of daunting powers that are not only unbelievable, they are dangerous.




by Jo Schneider

I've never been a big fan of waving a wand and having every aspect of a story sorted out. Well, I wish I had a magic wand that sorted out my current work in process, but that's totally different.

Back to it. Any part of a story should have consequences. You use a gun and you run out of ammo, you punch a wall and break you fist, you tell a lie and get to live with the repercussions and you toss magic around and...what?

What happens?

My mother is a strict woman. I blame her for my need for order. That childhood scarring came out in the magic system for New Sight. I felt like the system needed strict boundaries for the outside, but some room to play on the inside.

I'll bet I have ten pages in a notebook (I still have to plot old-school with paper and pen) titled, “Magic System???????”

I went through a bunch, stealing what others had done and trying to twist them into unrecognizable systems of awesome. But that never really worked. I was drawn to the four elements. Yes, at the time I was watching a little too much Avatar, the Last Air Bender—the cartoon, not the movie. I liked the idea of each character having their own special set of abilities.

Which is what many magic systems are made of. Even the X-Men is like this, they're all mutants, but each mutation limits the person in their abilities. Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn series also uses magic in this way. So it's a popular outline that I decided to fill in. Instead of using the elements or any part of earth's nature, I decided to use the five senses as the basis for the magic system of New Sight. Each character has a sense that is more powerful than their others. The magic channels through that, and manifests itself in slightly different ways for everyone.

For instance, there are two touch users (people whose sense of touch is infused with magic) in the story. One of them can touch a wounded person, feel what the problem is and fix it. The other one is less useful than a Band-Aid in the healing department, but he can manipulate the ground like it’s Play Doh. One sight user can send hallucinations into other people's minds, while another can see through other people's eyes. Both can see in the dark. But you only get one sense. No crossing over. It doesn't work that way.

And while I thought the above was pretty cool, I wanted to toss in a small complication. I remember thinking about what to do right before going to a sparring class for Kempo. All of the martial arts I've learned kicked in, and I thought, “What if you couldn't ever change the amount of power that you have? What if you're stuck with more power than you know what to do with? Or less than you need?”

Thinking about sparring, I came to the conclusion that those with more power were like the white belts in class—hit fast, hit hard and whatever you do, hit something. Pretty much the magic pours out of them at top speed, like a faucet turned on full. As opposed to me, who prefers to wait for my target to get close enough to hit them in just the right place to incapacitate them. (Wow, I sounded pretty cool there. Don't believe it.) The magic users with more control don’t get as much power, so they have to make it count.

So I came up with a power ranking system. It ranges from infant—more power and no control—to ancient—much less power, but a great deal of precision control.

Yes, the names are lame. One of the characters spends half the book trying to come up with better names for everything. The part that might be my favorite is that with your power level comes your eye color. When a character uses magic, their eyes will swirl either silver, blue, gold, red or black. That's how you can tell how much power they have. This becomes very important in New Sight when the main character is identified as a rare combination. Like having those universal donor blood types

The story goes into how magic interacts with our world, and what will happen if too much comes through at once. There are serious consequences for those who trifle with the balance in the world.


Jolly Fish Press is hosting a tour wide giveaway for 3 SIGNED ARC of NEW SIGHT!
To enter fill out the Rafflecopter below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway



  ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jo Ann Schneider grew up in Utah and Colorado, and wonders how people who live in flat places can tell where they're going. In her sixteenth year, Jo went with her family to Europe. This spawned a travel bug that will never be satisfied. One of Jo's goals is to travel to all seven continents--five down, two to go.

Perhaps the most challenging thing Jo has ever done (besides write novels) was stick with her Shaolin Kempo classes long enough to earn her black belt. Persistence, not an overabundance of mad skill, is what got her there, and she just keeps going back for more. An intervention may be in order at some point.

Being a geek at heart, Jo has always been drawn to science fiction and fantasy. She writes both, and hopes to introduce readers into worlds that wow them and characters that they can cheer for.

Jo lives in Salt Lake City, Utah with her adorkable husband, Jon, who is very useful for science and computer information as well as getting items off of top shelves. By day she is a mechanical designer of disgustingly expensive hand-crafted steel lights, and by night she is a ninja. Woosh, woosh. 

Connet with Jo on Twitter|Facebook|Blog

Thursday, April 17, 2014

[BLOG TOUR] The Ophelia Prophecy Excerpt & Giveaway



ABOUT THE BOOK


Our world is no longer our own. We engineered a race of superior fighters -- the Manti, mutant humans with insect-like abilities. Twenty-five years ago they all but destroyed us. In Sanctuary, some of us survive. Eking out our existence. Clinging to the past.

Some of us intend to do more than survive.
Asha and Pax -- strangers and enemies -- find themselves stranded together on the border of the last human city, neither with a memory of how they got there.

Asha is an archivist working to preserve humanity’s most valuable resource -- information -- viewed as the only means of resurrecting their society.Pax is Manti, his Scarab ship a menacing presence in the skies over Sanctuary, keeping the last dregs of humanity in check.

Neither of them is really what they seem, and what humanity believes about the Manti is a lie.With their hearts and fates on a collision course, they must unlock each other's secrets and forge a bond of trust before a rekindled conflict pushes their two races into repeating the mistakes of the past.


------------------------------------------------------


EXCERPT

Water pooled around Asha’s hips, soaking her thin cotton dress. She studied the glimmering surface of the lake, and the rocky hillside looming on the opposite side.
The reservoir. How did I get here?
 
Closing her eyes, she pressed her fingers to her temples. The last thing she remembered was climbing to the roof of the Archive with her father. It was a beautiful spring evening, and they’d planned to picnic and watch the sunset. She’d stepped off the ladder onto the corrugated, white-washed metal, and then . . . 
Sleep, Ophelia.
She grasped at the words as they breezed across her consciousness. They had the ring of command, yet she had no memory of who had spoken them, or why. 

A masculine moan sounded, so close she rolled into a crouch and skittered into the shallow water. The lithe movement of her own body surprised her almost as much as the unexpected voice.
Just beyond the depression she’d left on the beach, a naked form stirred. A stranger. His gaze riveted on her. He sat up straight, fists digging into the sand. No, not sand. His body rested on a bed of some soft, fibrous material. 

She remembered the flimsy dress—now wet and clinging to her body—and hugged her bent legs, concealing herself as best she could. Her heart pounded against her thighs.
“Who are you?” they both demanded.
So the confusion was mutual. 

“You first,” he said. A command, not a courtesy.
She hesitated. The man now seemed familiar—something about the eyes. They curved down at the inside corners, making them appear to slant under his dark, arched eyebrows. But she couldn’t place him.   

He rose to a crouch, eyes moving over her like an extension of his arms, prying at the locked arms that concealed her body from him. 

She reached up to release the clip that held her coiled hair to the back of her head, thinking she would cover herself with it. She gasped to discover her heavy tresses were gone.
Tears of confusion welled in her eyes. Fear knotted her stomach.
“What’s your name?” the stranger insisted.

“Asha,” she whispered, uncertain. There’d been another name a moment ago. A name that had seemed to mean something.
Her throat tightened, strangling her words, as she said, “I don’t understand…”
“What are you doing here?” 

She raised her eyes to his face, shrinking from the heat of his gaze. “I don’t know.”
His eyes bored into hers, probing for the thoughts behind them. He frowned, brow furrowing with doubt. He doesn’t believe me.  

“Who are you?” she repeated, indignation nudging past the fear that gripped her.
He slid his hands up his shoulders to rub his neck, baring the hard lines of his stomach, revealing pale marks under either side of his ribcage. Scars

“Paxton,” he said. One hand moved to the back of his head, and he winced. He probed the sore spot with his fingers.
“Why are you here?”
“I don’t know.”
She glanced again at the fibrous nest. “What’s that?”
“Carapace.” 

She blinked at him, the meaning of the familiar word eluding her. Before she could question him further, he rose to his feet, scanning the horizon. Her eyes lingered on the marks below his ribs.
He stood so long—motionless and studying the edge of the sky—she began to think he’d forgotten her. His composure was troubling. There was a shared mystery here, clearly, but they were not equal participants.   

“How can you be so calm?” she asked, voice lifting with anxiety. “Do you know something I don’t? Has this kind of thing happened to you before?”
Paxton glanced down at the nest. “Yes.”

She gaped at him, but the low whine of an approaching ship changed the subject. Her heart jumped as the black beetle hummed into view, dragging its own reflection across the surface of the lake. 

She sprang to her feet. “That’s an enemy ship!” she cried. “We have to go!”
Technically the war was over. Very little left for the Manti to fight. But they still ruled the air, keeping tabs on the last dregs of humanity. Citizens of Sanctuary were forbidden to wander away from the city, and the reservoir marked the border.

Again his eyes skewered her to the spot. “No, we wait here. That’s my ship.”
“Your ship? I don’t…”

She side-stepped a couple meters down the beach, eyeing him fearfully.
Overhead, the beetle whirred to rest, cupped wings lifting to allow a controlled vertical landing. With a series of loud clicks it nestled into the sand, hover gear lowering and locking back against the hull. The lusterless, black skin of the vessel looked like rubber, but she knew it was a secreted resin. As she stared, frozen to the spot, the hull lightened from jet to blond, until it was almost invisible against the sand. 

“Pax, you okay?” a feminine voice sounded from the ship’s external com.
“I’m okay,” called Asha’s companion. “Drop the ramp.”
“Who’s that with you?” 
Paxton frowned at Asha. “I was hoping you could tell me.”




 Thanks to the wonderful people at TOR BOOKS, I have 3 copies of THE OPHELIA PROPHECY up for grabs! To enter please fill out the rafflecopter below.

*US/CA ONLY*
a Rafflecopter giveaway






ABOUT THE AUTHOR

A Romance Writers of America RITA Award finalist and a three-time RWA Golden Heart Award finalist, SHARON LYNN FISHER lives in the Pacific Northwest. She writes books for the geeky at heart—sci-fi flavored stories full of adventure and romance—and battles writerly angst with baked goods, Irish tea, and champagne. Her works include Ghost Planet (2012), The Ophelia Prophecy (2014), and Echo 8 (2014). You can visit her online at SharonLynnFisher.com.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Ophelia Prophecy by Sharon Lynn Fisher

Title: The Ophelia Prophecy
Author: Sharon Lynn Fisher
Genre: Science Fiction, Romance
Series: N/A

Trade Paperback, 320 pages
Publication: April 1, 2014

Source: I received a review copy from the publicist in exchange for a honest review.

Buy|AMAZON|BOOK DEPO|

Our world is no longer our own. We engineered a race of superior fighters -- the Manti, mutant humans with insect-like abilities. Twenty-five years ago they all but destroyed us. In Sanctuary, some of us survive. Eking out our existence. Clinging to the past.

Some of us intend to do more than survive.
Asha and Pax -- strangers and enemies -- find themselves stranded together on the border of the last human city, neither with a memory of how they got there. Asha is an archivist working to preserve humanity’s most valuable resource -- information -- viewed as the only means of resurrecting their society. Pax is Manti, his Scarab ship a menacing presence in the skies over Sanctuary, keeping the last dregs of humanity in check.

Neither of them is really what they seem, and what humanity believes about the Manti is a lie. With their hearts and fates on a collision course, they must unlock each other's secrets and forge a bond of trust before a rekindled conflict pushes their two races into repeating the mistakes of the past.
I became a fan of Fisher’s after reading her first novel, Ghost Planet and couldn’t wait to dive back into another science fiction romance.  Like Ghost Planet, Fisher did an amazing job combing two types of genres, creating a harmonious balance that showcased her writing/ storytelling ability. The world-building was very detailed and plot just as engaging; accomplishments in itself…as there are many books out there that lack one or the other.

Fisher surprises readers yet again with a unique concept that I’ve never read in science fiction, human-insect hybrids.  Yup, you read that right. The Ophelia Prophecy is narrated in third person POV, alternating between our protagonists Asha, the human and Pax, the Manti ( human-insect hybrid). The story opens up with Asha and Pax waking up on the edge of The Sanctuary (one of the supposedly last remaining human camps) with no clues as to how they got there. It isn’t long till Asha recovers her lost memories and the truth is revealed as to why she woke up on the outskirts of town with Pax of all people…for he is the prince of the Mantis. 

My favorite aspect of this novel is definitely the world-building; it was very well written and most importantly everything was explained in great depth. Fisher explained exactly how the Mantis hybrids came about, and why they ended up dominating the humans, when it was the humans who perfected the Mantis gene.  I like that the information was easy to understand and never once was I overwhelm with the information or terminology. The plot and pacing was also good, there was never a dull moment as it kept me constantly engrossed in the story and our two lead characters.

Asha and Pax are like two star-crossed lovers, except when they first meet they’re not exactly…lovers. In reality they’re enemies that have a strong attraction/connection to one another. I appreciate the author trying to tone down the ‘instalove’ but it is still there somewhat, at least for Pax. As the prince of the Mantis, Pax practically breaks all law possible and risks his life to protect Asha…even when she tries to distance herself and double crosses him on multiple occasions in the book. Asha on the other hand is on a one track goal for most of the book, trying to find someone important in the Manti’s main capital. There is no doubt that she is attracted to Pax, but for the most part that was left at the back of her mind. I didn’t like how Asha would repeatedly betray Pax, especially when he was going out of his way to protect her and tell her the truth. Thankfully she came to her senses toward the end of the book, because it was starting to bug me (pun not intended).  

Overall, The Ophelia Prophecy is a commendable second book by Fisher. It has many of the same qualities as Ghost Planet such as a unique and fascinating world building, realistic characters and an action filled plot. I highly recommend this book to already fans of Ghost Planet, and those who enjoy scifi with a dash of romance. I will definitely be on the lookout for Fisher’s future works!


Thursday, April 10, 2014

[Blog Tour] Ask Me by Kimberly Pauley

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18209531-ask-me 



Title: Ask Me
Author: Kimberly Pauley

Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Paranromal
Series: N/A

Hardcover, 304 pages
Publication: April 8, 2014 by Soho Teen

Source: I received a review copy from the publicist in exchange for a honest review/blog tour.
 

Buy|AMAZON|BOOK DEPO|

Ask Aria Morse anything, and she must answer with the truth. Yet she rarely understands the cryptic words she‘s compelled to utter. Blessed—or cursed—with the power of an Oracle who cannot decipher her own predictions, she does her best to avoid anyone and everyone.
 
But Aria can no longer hide when Jade, one of the few girls at school who ever showed her any kindness, disappears. Any time Aria overhears a question about Jade, she inadvertently reveals something new, a clue or hint as to why Jade vanished. But like stray pieces from different puzzles, her words never present a clear picture.
 
Then there’s Alex, damaged and dangerous, but the first person other than Jade to stand up for her. And Will, who offers a bond that seems impossible for a girl who’s always been alone. Both were involved with Jade. Aria may be the only one who can find out what happened, but the closer she gets to solving the crime, the more she becomes a target. Not everyone wants the truth to come out.

I jumped on the chance to review Ask Me immediately when I found out it was about a 17-year-old girl who happens to be an oracle. Aria our main protagonist is cursed to always answer a question truthfully. Whether the question is directed at her, someone else or if she overhears a question…she must ALWAYS answer it. There isn’t many YA, or books in general for that matter that, that focuses on oracles. They usually play a minor role as a secondary character or are mentioned for quick references only. So hearing about this book was a nice surprise. I think I was so intrigued by the prospect of reading about an oracle that I missed who the author was! It turns out Kimberly Pauley is the same author that wrote the Sucks to Be Me series! I adore that series so much; it was one of the first paranormal young adult novels I’ve ever read!

Ask Me was an enjoyable read. It was a nice balance of contemporary and the paranormal; neither genre out doing one another. I found the idea of Sibyls completely fascinating. I loved that Pauley incorporated oracles in a high school, contemporary setting…because if you’ve read any of her novels she writes well for MG/YA audience (although, this book is leaning more toward older YA). Pauley definitely has a way with words because I was glued to the pages till the very end. Ask Me is narrated by Aria, as readers follow along as she tries to solve a murder, and navigates the ups and down of high school and boys.

I liked Aria for the most part. She lives with her grandparents in the middle of nowhere Florida because her parents didn’t want to raise her after her ability manifest. Aria is an outcast amongst her classmates, because her ability makes it hard to socialize. She resorts to music to drown out the random questions she’d hear. Regardless of her situation, Aria came off as real and humble and never uses her ability for any personal gains. However, as I got closer to the end and having figured out whom the ‘killer’ was…that Aria got a bit on my nerves. She seemed like a smart chick, but was so oblivious to the clues! I also didn’t understand how someone like her, who has trust issues could trust a certain boy she barely knows/talks to so easily? Usual YA trope, don’t ya think? I mean the school’s hottest guy finally notices you…shouldn’t you be at least a little wary?

I had some issues with the believability of Aria’s curse (since we don’t really learn much about her Sibyls line), I guessed ‘whodunit’ early on, and wished it was a bit longer (I think that would have helped the plot somehow) but overall thought Ask Me was still an entertaining and engaging read. Would I still recommend this book? Definitely. I think the cross-genre aspect will appeal to a lot of people (those who enjoy a mystery/thriller but don’t want too much paranormal in it). The book may not be perfect, but I think it’s still worth the time to read.


Tuesday, April 08, 2014

[Blog Tour] Guest Post: 10 Places to Visit When You’re in Atlanta by Alex Hughes + Giveaway

I'd like to welcome Alex Hughes, author of Marked, the third book in her Mindspace Investigation series to Short & Sweet Reviews blog today! It is her first time on the blog, yay! Today Alex is going to discuss some awesome places you can visit in Atlanta, which is the setting for her Mindspace Investigation series. Don't forget to check out the giveaway at the end and my review of MARKED here!



ABOUT THE BOOK

 FORESEE NO EVIL.

Freelancing for the Atlanta PD isn’t exactly a secure career; my job’s been on the line almost as much as my life. But it’s a paycheck, and it keeps me from falling back into the drug habit. Plus, things are looking up with my sometimes-partner, Cherabino, even if she is still simmering over the telepathic Link I created by accident.

When my ex, Kara, shows up begging for my help, I find myself heading to the last place I ever expected to set foot in again—Guild headquarters—to investigate the death of her uncle. Joining that group was a bad idea the first time. Going back when I’m unwanted is downright dangerous.

Luckily, the Guild needs me more than they’re willing to admit. Kara’s uncle was acting strange before he died—crazy strange. In fact, his madness seems to be slowly spreading through the Guild. And when an army of powerful telepaths loses their marbles, suddenly it’s a game of life or death.…
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 


10 Places to Visit When You're in Atlanta
by Alex Hughes 


Next time you’re in Atlanta, drop by some or all of these places recommended by me. Most of them exist in the world of Mindspace, and they’re all fun to see.

1. The Georgia Aquarium. Because fish. Also jellyfish, beluga whales, and one of the biggest ocean tanks I’ve ever imagined. Amazing. It’s close to the CNN Center and the Coca-Cola Museum, just for kicks.

2. Decatur Square. A key area in the Mindspace Investigations novels, it’s easily accessible by the MARTA subway system, and has a lot of fun shops and restaurants to see. Bonus points if you make it to the Decatur Book Festival.

3. The tunnel. A real tunnel under the railroad tracks on the same street as Twain’s, it’s how you’d walk from the Square to Agnes Scott campus, where I went to school. It’s also the location where Joey told Adam the critical clue in Clean.

4. Fernbank. Fun science, and the Martinis and Imax night is how deep space should be experienced.

5. The King and Queen buildings in Perimeter—though you can just drive by. They look like chess pieces, and I used to work in one of them. Also, a pretty courtyard around them, with a lake!

6. Little Five Points. Haven’t set something there yet, but it’s a really cool mix of cultures and fun shops. Check out the burgers at the Vortex.

7. Peachtree City. Take your bike and ride along dozens of miles of cartpaths under the trees. There’s also a triple lake where I used to go fishing as a child.

8. East Atlanta. There is no Thai restaurant as referenced in Clean, but there are dozens of small shops, restaurants, and old brick buildings you’ll love to visit. Do take a friend or two at night, however; some of the streets are safer than others.

9. The Varsity. You’ll either love or hate this classic Atlanta greasy spoon (I hate it), but many locals drive hours to come back. While you’re there, take a walk on the Georgia Tech campus, and perhaps see a play at their student center, swing dance in their ballroom, or drop by a football game.

10. Gladys Knight’s Chicken and Waffles. How chicken and waffles should be done—seriously, try it. Well worth the trip. While you’re in the area, stop by the Fox Theatre. They do plays, concerts, and they also show old movies in the summertime. Not far from the Varsity and Georgia Tech if you’re making a day of it.


 

 Alex has generously offered to give one lucky Short & Sweet Reviews reader a copy of either Clean (Book 1) or Sharp (Book 2) in the Mindspace Investigations series and the lovely Nita at Penguin is giving away the newest released third book MARKED.


book 3Book 1Book 2


So there will be 2 WINNERS!
(1) Winner's choice of either Clean or Sharp
(Print or eBook in the US, eBook ONLY in Canada/UK/S. Africa/Australia)
(2) Print copy of MARKED (US only)
To enter fill out the Rafflecopter Below! 


a Rafflecopter giveaway

 
ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Alex Hughes, the author of the award-winning Mindspace Investigations series from Roc, has lived in the Atlanta area since the age of eight. She is a graduate of the prestigious Odyssey Writing Workshop, and a member of the Science Fiction Writers of America and the International Thriller Writers. Her short fiction has been published in several markets including EveryDay Fiction, Thunder on the Battlefield and White Cat Magazine. She is an avid cook and foodie, a trivia buff, and a science geek, and loves to talk about neuroscience, the Food Network, and writing craft—but not necessarily all at the same time! You can visit her at Twitter at @ahugheswriter or on the web at www.ahugheswriter.com.