Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Guest Post & #Giveaway - The Wanderers by Kate Ormand!

The Wanderers by Kate Ormand
Publisher: Sky Pony Press
Release Date: September 1st 2015
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Paranormal


A Unique Twist on Shape-Shifters with Fast-Paced Action, Thrilling Adventure, Mystery, and a Bit of Romance

Flo lives an eccentric life—she travels with a popular circus in which the main acts star orphaned children with secret shape-shifting abilities. Once Flo turns sixteen, she must perform, but she’s not ready. While practicing jumping a flaming hurdle in a clearing beside the circus, she spots a dark figure in the trees and fears he saw her shift. The news sends the circus into a panic.

In Flo’s world, shifters are unknown to humans with the exception of a secret organization—the EOS, referred to as “hunters.” Hunters capture and kill. They send some shifters to labs for observation and testing—testing they don’t often survive—and deem others useless, a danger to society, and eliminate them. To avoid discovery, shifters travel in packs, constantly moving and keeping themselves hidden. Up until now, the circus was the perfect disguise.

Believing she has brought attention to the group, Flo feels dread and anxiety, causing her to make a mistake during her performance in front of the audience—a mistake that triggers a violent attack from the hunters.

Flo manages to flee the torched circus grounds with Jett, the bear shifter who loves her; the annoying elephant triplets; and a bratty tiger named Pru. Together they begin a new journey, alone in a world they don’t understand and don’t know how to navigate. On the run, they unravel secrets and lies that surround the circus and their lives—secrets and lies that all point to the unthinkable: Have they been betrayed by the people they trusted most?

THE WANDERERS is set in our world but the places within are fictional, though some are based on places I’ve been to, or at least details are. I like to pull from various locations rather than specify real settings.

When I first started writing I dived right into the circus itself, and didn’t really build up much around it to begin with. This was mostly down to excitement, great interest in the circus, and eagerness to create the characters’ home.

When it came to thinking more about what’s going on outside the circus the real world made me WORK. I asked myself endless questions about the human world and their view on the circus, their reaction to things that happen, how the circus runs, how shifters feel about humans, how they fit into our world. This is crucial for a realistic setting, especially when creating a world within our own, and fortunately I had a whole group of people who also asked me these questions to better strengthen the story. Examples: my agent suggested news reporters and my dad suggested protestors.

Now, when starting a new project, these questions tend to come first before I dive in. So my new method is to have fun with building the setting, but think hard and often about how things fit from the start (or I’ll regret it later when I’m working back through it all!).

THE WANDERERS was a dream to write. Like every project, it had its ups and downs, hard moments and quick successes, but it’s a book I truly love and hope readers will enjoy being in this world as much as I do.

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Follow the The Wanderers by Kate Ormand Blog Tour and don't miss anything! 
Click on the banner to see the tour schedule.

KATE ORMAND is a YA writer represented by Isabel Atherton at Creative Authors Ltd. She lives in the UK with her family, her partner, and a cocker spaniel called Freddie. She recently graduated from university with a first class BA (Hons) degree in Fine Art Painting. It was during this course that Kate discovered her love of reading YA books, prompting her to try a new creative angle and experiment with writing. Kate is also a member of an online group of published writers and illustrators called Author Allsorts. And she writes children’s picture books under the name Kate Louise. 

You can see more about Kate and her writing by visiting her website (www.kateormand.wordpress.com) or on Twitter (@kateormand).


Monday, August 31, 2015

[Coffee Shop Talks] Share a Teaser from Your Current Read!

Katherine Tegen Books (October 6, 2015)

What a shock you've had. Taken from that world into this. You used to move about in light and lavender, with the laughter pouring from you, and now it's all blood and darkness, with your throat closed so tight your own breath is choking you.


Friday, August 28, 2015

Review: The Girl's Guide to the Apocalypse by Daphne Lamb

Release Date:August, 2015
Publisher: Booktrope
Source: NetGalley
Author Links: Goodreads

Welcome to the Apocalypse. Your forecast includes acid rain, roving gangs and misplaced priorities, in this comedic take on the end of the world as we know it, from debut author Daphne Lamb.
As a self-entitled, self-involved, and ill equipped millennial, Verdell probably wouldn’t have ranked very high on the list of those most likely to survive the end of the world, but here she is anyway. Add in travelling with her work addicted boss, her boyfriend who she has “meh” feelings for, and a handful of others who had no businesses surviving as long as they have, and things aren’t exactly going as planned. But despite threats of cannibalism, infected water supplies, and possibly even mutants, Verdell is willing to put in as little effort as she can get away with to survive.

Doomsday for Dummies? Sounds funny!
But...no. I just didn't get the humor. At all. 
Maybe it's because I'm too old to think that millennial's are funny?  
No, that's not true. I laugh my ass off at those "self-entitled, self-involved, and ill equipped" whiners all the time. This should have had me in stitches.

The plot had massive potential, and there were a moments that rang true, but for the most part this was just an exercise in ridiculousness.
The main problem is that Verdell isn't awful enough to be truly funny, and she isn't good enough to be anyone's idea of a heroine. She's just THERE...sucking up space on the planet. 
The quintessential oxygen thief.

And she's not the only one. Apparently, everyone on the planet is mouth-breather. 
Again, that could have been funny!

Except it wasn't!
I know the author wanted to show how the world would be if it were taken over by morons, but without at least one intelligent person left on the planet, the jokes fell flat. Without anyone who had two brain cells to rub together, there was no one to play the straight man. It was nothing but stupid, petty, idiots trying to find gluten free low-carb snacks. Or getting upset about the lack of name-brand bottled water, trying to suck up to actors, and starting lame cults.
And believe me, that sounds a hellava lot funnier than it was. 
I knew going into it that this was a tongue-in-cheek look at the apocalypse, and I was prepared for it to be somewhat corny.
I took all of that into consideration, and I tried. I really tried to get the humor. I tried to get what the author was saying. I tried to laugh at the way these people flailed around like idiots, desperately grasping at their old lives, and scrabbling around for necessities like...ChapStick.
What's trending? Twitter + Armageddon = Catty Post-It Notes.
Har. Har. Har. Har.

This was a great idea with poor execution, but I can't bring myself to give it one star, because there were solid moments sprinkled in with all the dumbassery. Unfortunately, that's about the nicest thing I can say. However, this is a debut novel, so I'm not giving up on this author yet.
Also, there were quite a few reviewers who loved this one, so check out what some of the other people thought before you make up your mind.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Review: The Martian by Andy Weir

Release Date: February 11, 2014 (originally published 2011)
Publisher: Crown
Source: Library
Author Links: Goodreads | Website

Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars. Now, he's sure he'll be the first person to die there. After a dust storm nearly kills him & forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded & completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive—& even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue could arrive. Chances are, though, he won't have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment or plain-old "human error" are much more likely to kill him first. But Mark isn't ready to give up yet. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills—& a relentless, dogged refusal to quit—he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. Will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?

Has anyone not heard of this book yet?
I see one hand up there towards the back! Yes, you! The one next to the potted fern. Ok. Well, then this review is for you. Everyone else, feel free to hit the buffet!
Pile your plate high! I've been trying to get rid of that seafood salad for a few days...

Does The Martian really need one more glowing review?
No. No, it does not.
But I'm going to do it anyway. Because even though I'm the last person on the planet to read this one, I still feel the need to put in my two cents worth.

So this is set in the very near future, when manned missions to mars are somewhat commonplace, but not all futuristic and cool. The technology is much like moon landings...just farther away. Nobody watches the launches anymore, and nobody remembers who the crew members are anymore.
But everything changes when a freak accident strands astronaut Mark Watney on Mars.
In a crazy-bad storm on the surface, Watney gets stabbed with flying debris, knocked away from his crew, and his suit's vital readings flatline. They're forced by the storm to abandon the mission, and head home weighed down with the knowledge that their friend and crew member was dead.
The memorial service on Earth for Mark was lovely.

Except he's not dead. Due some sciency mumbo-jumbo, his suit sealed itself around his coagulating blood, and he wakes up all alone on a planet that's determined to kill him.
However, he's a really smart boy with a good sense of humor, and those two things carry him through the rest of the story. He knows that another mission is scheduled to land several years down the road, and after getting to (relative) safety inside this dome/tent/trailer-thingy, he starts hatching ways to survive until they can arrive.

Ok. Science isn't my strong suit. I'm not even going to pretend to tell you I understood much of anything Mark did to survive. And the downside of someone like me reading a book like this, is that there's A LOT of it that blew over my head.
Garble-mumble molecule + Mumble-garble molecule = Fizzy-pop molecule
Which means Mark survives for another day!

Between the science (damn you, smart people!) and the diary/log entry way that most of this story is written, you'd think I would've hated this sucker. But I didn't! And part of the reason may have been because it's not an overly long book. I picked it up, was hooked by the first few pages, and ended up finishing it in 2 days. Watney is an accessible character that made me giggle, and I was rooting for him for his entire journey.
So, yeah, I'd recommend this one.
It's a smarty-pants book even us dummies can read & love!
Plus, he uses duct tape. Proving, once again, there's nothing you can't do as long as you have that stuff.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Comic Review: Archie Issue #1 & #2 by Mark Waid & Fiona Staples!

Change is coming to Riverdale in this can't-miss kick-off to Archie's new ongoing series! Familiar faces return in new and unexpected ways in this must-read #1 issue! As the new school year approaches, you'd think Archie Andrews would be looking forward to classes and fun -- but nothing is as it seems in the little town of Riverdale. But is this a one-off or a sign of bigger changes awaiting for America's favorite teens -- and the entire town? Find out in this exciting and remarkable first issue!


The new school year continues to bring with it daunting new challenges and interesting changes for the teens of Riverdale High. But there's one thing that remains constant: Archie's car is still a piece of garbage! With car problems comes money problems, which means that Archie's on the hunt for a new job. Fortunately, a mysterious new building in Riverdale is offering some career opportunities for Archie and his friends. Who's behind this new conglomerate and what are their intentions for Riverdale? Find out in the second issue of this all-new Archie series!


When I was younger, I read the Betty & Veronica comics. I had a big girl crush on both of them and would cut out my favorite pictures and put them on the wall by my bed. But even though I enjoyed their stories as a kid, I wasn't too excited when I heard that there would be a new Archie series...that is until I realized that Mark Waid would be writing and Fiona Staples would be illustrating. I couldn't pass up the opportunity to try a new series by these 2 brilliant minds.

The first 2 issues of Archie met my expectations and I definitely plan on continuing to follow the series. The story begins in the aftermath of Archie and Betty's break up, an event that shocked all of Riverdale. While his friends plot to get them back together and Betty seems to regret splitting up, Archie just wants to find his own purpose and identity. He has spent most of his young life as Betty's other half and now he's venturing out on his own. The second issue ends with the introduction of Veronica and I'm looking forward to the drama that her character will undoubtedly stir up. 

If you're new to comics or if you've been looking for something outside of the sci-fi, fantasy, or superhero genres, then I would recommend giving this a try. Waid is a wonderful writer. Staples is an amazing artist. Together they make a fantastic team. 

[Coffee Shop Talks] Attending Book Conventions

I am so out of the loop when it comes to book conventions that I'm not even sure how to answer this! I love seeing my friend's pictures on their blogs and on Facebook when they've attended a convention, but I don't keep up with dates and locations anymore. Having a teenager with a disability makes it nearly impossible to travel, so a convention would pretty much have to be right next door for me to be able to attend.

What about you? Do you plan on attending any book conventions this year? ~Cat