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GIVEAWAY and Spotlight: Ultimatum by K.M. Walton

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Ultimatum was released March 7, 2017! Check the bottom of this post for a chance to win a copy of the book!

From the author of Cracked and Empty comes a gripping, emotional story of two brothers who must make the ultimate decision about what’s more important: family or their differences.

It’s not Oscar’s fault he’s misunderstood. Ever since his mother died, he’s been disrespected by his father and bullied by his self-absorbed older brother, so he withdraws from his fractured family, seeking refuge in his art.

Vance wishes his younger brother would just loosen up and be cool. It was hard enough to deal with their mother’s death without Oscar getting all emotional. At least when Vance pushes himself in lacrosse and parties, he feels alive.

But when their father’s alcoholism sends him into liver failure, the two brothers must come face-to-face with their demons–and each other–if they are going to survive a very uncertain future.

read an except from ultimatum:

I watch the nurse jab the needle into my father’s arm. He doesn’t make a move. He hasn’t made a move on his own in days. I look over at my brother, Vance, and his head is down, lost in his phone. I close my eyes and just focus on breathing.

I feel a gentle squeeze on my shoulder. “That should make him comfortable, Oscar. I’ll be right out in the hall if you need me,” the nurse says.

Vance told me that since Dad had this thing called a living will with a do-not-resuscitate order, there are no IVs or breathing tubes or anything else that will help to keep him alive longer. His liver is in failure, and he doesn’t have time to wait for a transplant. He will not be coming home from this place.

I nod. “Thank you,” I say to the nurse. Why can’t my brother put down his phone and be present?

“How long now?” I whisper. I read her name tag: Barbara.

She purses her lips into a tight smile. “I wish I could tell you. Definitely not today.”

“Tomorrow?” This is the end of day two here at the hospice, and I’ve been told multiple times that he’s not in pain, that they’re doing everything they can to make him comfortable. But I’m not convinced. How do they know he’s not in pain?

Barbara tilts her head and looks back at my comatose father. “Maybe, maybe not. He’ll leave when he’s ready.”

I want to jump up and shake her. She’s a damn hospice nurse! How can she not know? I want her to know.

I want her to tell me when he will die.

Sitting here watching him fail like this, so close, is harder than watching him live. I want it to just be over. I’m done.

“How many times does she have to tell you that she doesn’t know?” Vance asks after she leaves.

I turn away and ignore my brother.

“I know you hear me,” Vance says.

I lift my eyes and stare into his. To annoy him, I put in my earbuds and turn up the volume as loud as my phone allows. He shakes his head, indicating that he can hear the Mozart. Good.

My head fills with the layered richness of Symphony No. 29, and I let my eyes slide closed. While I’m into everything from baroque to classical to romantic, Mozart has always been my favorite. When I listen to his music, I’m taken out of my life.

My life right now consists of being trapped in this damn room with my brother and watching my father slip away one labored breath at a time. If I count the freckles on Dad’s arm one more time, I may start drooling.

I steal a peek at Vance, and he’s still glaring at me. When isn’t he? Having Mozart drown out him and his never-ending dickhead ways is helping right now. I turn and gaze out the window.

Vance has never understood me—and he never will. Even down to the music I listen to. When we were in middle school, he’d make fun of me because of it. I can still see him playing an imaginary violin with wild, insulting movements, doing everything in his power to look weird.

Were Vance and I ever close? I blink and realize the answer. No, we’ve never been close—despite only being ten months apart.

I scroll back as far as I can remember, and my hands tighten into fists.

I think it’s the classic “he took my place as the baby” situation. Vance resents me—like, my very existence. He couldn’t be any more unbrotherly. In fact, I’d say he stands firmly behind enemy lines. Let’s just say that if I needed saving on the battlefield, Vance would probably let me bleed out.

My brother is an attention junkie, and apparently I robbed him of having our parents’ complete and undivided focus. He has never verbalized this to me, of course—that would involve a deep conversation between us. This is all pure guesswork on my part. But I know I’m right.

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REVIEW: Beauty by Robin McKinley

Beauty

Folktales #1

author : robin mckinley

pages : [paperback] 256

memorable quote As I have said, you have no reason to trust me, and an excellent reason not to.

favorite character : the beast

summary :

A strange imprisonment…

Beauty has never liked her nickname. She is thin and awkward; it is her two sisters who are the beautiful ones. But what she lacks in looks, she can perhaps make up for in courage.

When her father comes home with the tale of an enchanted castle in the forest and the terrible promise he had to make to the Beast who lives there, Beauty knows she must go to the castle, a prisoner of her own free will. Her father protests that he will not let her go, but she answers, “Cannot a Beast be tamed?”

Robin McKinley’s beloved telling illuminates the unusual love story of a most unlikely couple, Beauty and the Beast.

review :

Retold fairy tales are my favorite. These days, there are a plethora of them, which delights me to no end. Unfortunately, that means that I’ve read many variations of the more popular fairy tales, and Beauty and the Beast is a story often dealt with, over and over again. While I don’t mind knowing that some aspects of the fairy tale are obviously going to be predictable, I do expect there to be some degree of originality in the story.

Robin McKinley’s Beauty is certainly . . . lacking that. We get nearly 70 pages into the 250 page book before the Beast is even mentioned. Then, when the relationship between Beauty and the Beast is actually kind of cute and interesting, it’s rushed over because of course we already know what’s going to happen so we don’t need all of the details. But I do! I want all of the cute moments when the two of them are learning to trust one another–or when Beauty is finding more about magical, because I did think that the complex layers of magic in the castle was fascinating. What wasn’t fascinating was spending so much time explaining how Beauty’s family came to the point where her father would end up in the woods to offend the Beast.

It was utterly disappointing. Believe me, the writing was great; it put me in the exact mood of a fairy tale and it was gorgeous. But superfluous, when it came to lingering over the setting of Beauty’s home, before the family uproots and moves elsewhere, to a new setting that needs more pages of detail.

I also don’t understand why authors find it necessary to introduce characters who spend a lot of their time going on and on about how ugly they are and how no one will ever like their looks . . . only to end up with everyone assuring them that they’re gorgeous, princess-ly, and all. Obviously, I don’t mind girls embracing how they look and owning it, but that is not what happens here. Unearthly beauty is definitely not always necessary and the plot (and the seemingly ironically named Beauty) would have been fine without that addition.

If you’re a fan of fairy tales, or Beauty and the Beast, or good novels, I’d say you can skip over this short rendition and find another one which is more unique and less frustrating.

2/5 stars

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GIVEAWAY + SNEAK PEEK: The Greatest Zombie Movie Ever by Jeff Strand

The Greatest Zombie Movie Ever

Author: Jeff Strand

Release Date: March 1, 2016

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

About THE GREATEST ZOMBIE MOVIE EVER:

After producing three horror movies that went mostly ignored on YouTube, Justin and his filmmaking buddies decide it’s time they create something noteworthy, something epic. They’re going to film the Greatest Zombie Movie Ever. They may not have money or a script, but they have passion. And, after a rash text message, they also have the beautiful Alicia Howtz—Justin’s crush—as the lead.

With only one month to complete their movie, a script that can’t possibly get worse, and the hopes and dreams of Alicia on the line, Justin is feeling the pressure. Add to that a cast of uncooperative extras and incompetent production assistants, and Justin must face the sad, sad truth. He may actually be producing The Worst Zombie Movie Ever…

About Jeff Strand:

Jeff Strand has written more than twenty books, and is a four-time nominee (and four-time non-winner) of the Bram Stoker Award. Two of his young adult novels, A Bad Day For Voodoo and I Have A Bad Feeling About This, were Junior Library Guild picks. Publishers Weekly called his work “wickedly funny.” He lives in Tampa, Florida.

Website

@JeffStrand

Excerpt from The Greatest Zombie Movie Ever:

The vampire, whose fangs were too big for his mouth, turned to the camera and hissed.

“Don’t look at the camera,” said Justin Hollow, the director.

“I keep poking my lip on these things,” said Harold, spitting the plastic fangs out onto the ground. He hadn’t been a very frightening example of the undead before, and he was even less scary with no fangs and a thick line of drool running down his chin.

“Cut!” shouted Justin, loud enough to be sure that the command was heard by his production crew of two. “C’mon, Harold. Stay in character. We’re three hours behind schedule.”

“I don’t care. I hate this. You promised that I’d get all the girls I wanted. So where are all of the girls I want?”

Justin let out his thirty-ninth exasperated sigh of the night. “The movie has to come out first.”

“It’s not even a real movie.”

Justin bristled. It was a full body bristle, head to toe, which he hadn’t even realized was physically possible. Bobby, who handled sound recording, and Gabe, who handled everything else, both stepped back a couple of feet. Neither of them truly believed that they were about to witness a murder, but they wanted to get out of the splash zone, just in case.

Had this been one of Justin’s movies, he would have very slowly lowered his camera, stared directly into Harold’s eyes with a steel gaze, and then after an extremely dramatic pause asked “What…did…you…just…say?”

His actual response, delivered in a squeakier voice than he would have allowed from his actors, was: “Huh?”

“I said it’s not a real movie.” Harold started to wipe the fake blood off his mouth. It didn’t come off, and probably wouldn’t for several days. Justin had planned to feel guilty about this later, but now he wouldn’t bother. “Nobody’s ever going to see it. You probably won’t even finish it.”

“I finished my last three movies!” Justin insisted. “I got hundreds of hits on YouTube!”

That statement was technically accurate, though it was the lowest possible number of hits you could get and still use “hundred” in its plural form. The only comment anybody posted about his latest film had been “This twelve year-old filmmaker sort of shows promise,” which really frustrated Justin since he was fifteen.

Harold shrugged. “This is a waste of time. I’ve got better things to do on a Friday night.”

“Nobody ever said this was going to be easy,” said Justin, who had indeed said that it was going to be easy when luring Harold into the role. “You can quit now, but what are you going to think about your decision ten years from now?”

“I’m going to think, wow, it sure is nice to be such a well-paid dentist.”

Harold walked off the set. It wasn’t an actual set, but rather a small park near Justin’s home, where they were filming without a permit. Justin knew he should shout something after his ex-actor. Something vicious. Something devastating. He thought about shouting “You’ll never work in this town again!” but, no, it had to be something that Harold would consider a bad thing.

“Fine!” Justin shouted. “But when we record the audio commentary track for the Blu-Ray, I’m going to talk about how you abandoned us, and how much happier everybody was with the new actor who took your role, and how we all agreed that he should have been cast in the first place, and how he had so many girlfriends that he couldn’t even keep track of them, and how they all found out about each other and had a great big awesome catfight in his front yard! And I’ll pronounce your name wrong!”

Harold continued walking, apparently not heartbroken.

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My First GIVEAWAY: To Thank My Readers!

Hello friends! Today I’m SO excited to share with you a wonderful giveaway–the first ever that I’m hosting here on my blog! I’ve been wanting to do something for a while to share the love and brighten someone else’s day with something bookish. What would be better to give away than a little buddy for your shelf?

I’m sure that I’m not the only one who loves decorating book shelves, bookcases, or even stacks of books. Currently the theme is, of course, Halloween.

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I also love to keep tons of quotes (from books, movies, and more!) around to keep me inspired and in my happy place.

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Now, on to the info for the giveaway!

The wonderful RaeAnne creates lovely crocheted pieces and is making a special bookish creation for the winner! It’s the perfect piece to make a shelf look a little cuter, brighter, and more whimsical! The book buddy is shaped like a book, complete with pages, and will have a book worm friend as well! Here are a few sample pictures:

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Find out more about RaeAnne’s pretty awesome creations at her Etsy shop!

A few rules:

-U.S. only, please.

-Use the Rafflecopter to enter

-Giveaway will run from October 30, 2015 to November 8, 2015.

And hopefully this will be the first of many giveaways to come, so stay tuned!

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Contest Winners!

Random.org has spoken, and the 3 winners of The Glamour of Grammar are *drumroll please*:

Amymckie

Debbie D

JHS

Thanks to everyone who entered! I’ll be emailing the winners shortly, but if you see that you won before I’ve contacted you then feel free to drop me a line. You have 48 hours to respond to my email, or else a new winner will be chosen in your place.

To those who did not win, I apologize, but hopefully I’ll have more contests up soon.

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The Glamour of Grammar—Giveaway

Hello everyone! I’ve had my book blog for a while, and it’s about time that I hosted a contest! Anna Balasi of Hachette Book Group offered up a new book for a giveaway and I grabbed the chance.

THE GLAMOUR OF GRAMMAR
By Roy Peter Clark

 

Early in the history of English, the words “grammar” and “glamour” meant the same thing: the power to charm. Roy Peter Clark, author of Writing Tools, aims to put the glamour back in grammar with this fun, engaging alternative to stuffy instructionals. In this practical guide, readers will learn everything from the different parts of speech to why effective writers prefer concrete nouns and active verbs. THE GLAMOUR OF GRAMMAR gives readers all the tools they need to”live inside the language”–to take advantage of grammar to perfect their use of English, to instill meaning, and to charm through their writing. With this indispensable book, readers will come to see just how glamorous grammar can be. 

 

3 Winners!

Rules and Info:
1. Only residents of U.S. or Canada can enter
2. No P.O. boxes
3. Giveaway copies will be sent out by the publisher
4. I’ll email the winners as well as post them on the blog
5. Giveaway ends at midnight August 5

Entires:

+1 for commenting
+1 for following my blog
+1 for following me on twitter
+3 for tweeting about this [must provide link]
+5 for posting/adding to sidebar [provide link]

You must leave an email address in your comment!

Good luck!