Saturday, September 29, 2012

Weekend Reads


This weekend, I'm reading:

Title:  Outpost (Razorland #2)
Author:  Ann Aguirre
Publisher:  Feiwel & Friends
Published:  September 4, 2012

AmazonB&N | The Book Depository

Deuce’s whole world has changed. Down below, she was considered an adult. Now, topside in a town called Salvation, she’s a brat in need of training in the eyes of the townsfolk. She doesn’t fit in with the other girls: Deuce only knows how to fight.

To make matters worse, her Hunter partner, Fade, keeps Deuce at a distance. Her feelings for Fade haven’t changed, but he seems not to want her around anymore. Confused and lonely, she starts looking for a way out.

Deuce signs up to serve in the summer patrols—those who make sure the planters can work the fields without danger. It should be routine, but things have been changing on the surface, just as they did below ground. The Freaks have grown smarter. They’re watching. Waiting. Planning. The monsters don’t intend to let Salvation survive, and it may take a girl like Deuce to turn back the tide.


Katertot has a book report due, so she is reading:

Title:  Call of the Wild
Author:  Jack London
Publisher:  Macmillan
Published:  1903

'Deep in the forest a call was sounding, and . . . he felt compelled to turn his back upon the fire, and to plunge into the forest.'

Half St. Bernard, half sheepdog, Buck is stolen away from his comfortable life as a pet in California and sold to dog traders. He soon finds himself aboard a ship, on its way to Northern Canada. Surrounded by cruelty, Buck's natural instincts and behaviour begin to emerge as he works as a mail carrying sled dog, scavenging for food, protecting himself against other dogs and sleeping out in the cold snow.


Sold to a group of American gold hunters who are inexperienced living in the wilderness, the dogs are treated badly and as misfortune besets them, Buck is saved by John Thornton. Indebted to his new master, Buck remains by Thornton's side, saving him from drowning and protecting him with fierce loyalty throughout their time together. However, Buck can not deny the strong lure of the wilderness around him.

Exciting and action-packed, THE CALL OF THE WILD explores the timeless relationship between man and dog, and the inevitable draw of primitive instincts that pull Buck away from civilization and humanity towards the lawless and harsh wilderness.


What book are you planning on curling up with?
Hope everyone has a fabulous weekend! 
We'll see you Monday!

Friday, September 28, 2012

Rage Within (Dark Inside #2) by Jeyn Roberts

Title:  Rage Within (Dark Inside #2)
Author:  Jeyn Roberts
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
Published: September 4, 2012

AmazonB&N |  The Book Depository

My Rating:
Aries, Clementine, Michael, and Mason have survived the first wave of the apocalypse that wiped out most of the world’s population and turned many of the rest into murderous Baggers. Now they’re hiding out in an abandoned house in Vancouver with a ragtag group of fellow teen survivors, trying to figure out their next move.     

Aries is trying to lead, but it’s hard to be a leader when there are no easy answers and every move feels wrong. Clementine is desperate to find her brother Heath, but it’s impossible to know where he’d be, assuming he’s alive. Michael is haunted by the memories of his actions during his harrowing struggle to survive. And Mason is struggling with something far worse: the fear that he may be a danger to his friends.     

As the Baggers begin to create a new world order, these four teens will have to trust and rely on each other in order to survive.

Rage Within is the amazing sequel to the phenomenal Dark Inside. I love the insight the author provides with the glimpses into the characters’ lives pre-earthquake. Normally, I like being dropped back into a story exactly where the author left off, but Rage Within’s beginning is an exception to that rule. I LOVED reading about what happened in the days before, all the while knowing what was about to transpire and wanting to claw my way inside this novel to warn these beloved characters of the impending doom and mayhem… well, provided I could find my way out before all hell started breaking loose - I was quite content to be on the outside of this particular story.

Rage Within is just as thrilling as its predecessor. I lost an entire night’s sleep staying up to finish this book and it was well worth it .

“There were warnings. There are always warnings. But we missed them. 
We chose not to see. We didn’t believe. And now we are finished. 
Game over.”

Aside from the thrills, I found this book to be a bit more poignant than the first and was moved to tears at one particular part in the story. I was dying for answers after finishing Dark Inside; and, while Ms. Roberts placated me a bit, she still leaves me wanting so much more!

“Fewer people means less damage to the world. If we can control everything,
we can keep it from getting overpopulated. It wants to put the world back in balance.”

“Then what? We’d ride off into the sunset?
I’ve got news for you. There is no Happily Ever After.”

I love this author in spite of the fact that she can give hope and crush it within seconds of the other. She has definitely made a forever fan of me and I cannot wait to read more of her work.

“And I’m never going to quit fighting for you or any of us.
  I’m going to find a way to bring you back.”


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Dark Inside (Dark Inside #1) by Jeyn Roberts

Title:  Dark Inside (Dark Inside #1)
Author:  Jeyn Roberts
Publisher:  Simon & Schuster
Published:  May 24, 2011
Amazon | B&NThe Book Depository

My Rating:

Since the beginning of mankind, civilizations have fallen: the Romans, the Greeks, the Aztecs… and now us. Huge earthquakes rock the world. Cities are destroyed. But something even more awful is happening: An ancient evil has been unleashed, and it’s turning everyday people into hunters, killers, and crazies.

This is the world Mason, Aries, Clementine, and Michael are living in—or rather, trying to survive. Each is fleeing unspeakable horror, from murderous chaos to brutal natural   disasters, and each is traveling the same road in a world gone mad.

Amid the throes of the apocalypse and clinging to love and meaning wherever it can be found, these four teens are on a journey into the heart of darkness—and to find each other and a place of safety.



Although I was tied up with other reading obligations, I bought Dark Inside after it came highly recommended by Christy's Love of Books. I told myself I would NOT begin reading it until I had taken care of all the things on my to-do list. But then, I decided to take just one little peek to see how it started out. Before I knew it, I was turning the last page and scrambling to buy book two, Rage Within. This is not a read-a-little-here-and-there kind of book.  This book consumed me, and I still haven’t been able to think about anything else. It is exciting and thought-provoking and will have you questioning everything you thought you knew about humanity.

Dark Inside is the gripping journey of four teens separately vying to stay alive in the disorder and chaos of the world that once was, eventually leading them to one another, unifying them in their fight for survival.

I love multiple POV’s, but this is probably my favorite example of how brilliantly multiple perspectives can be written. There are four main voices in Dark Inside: Michael, Mason, Aries and Clementine; and, for the first time while reading a book, I have a hard time choosing a favorite character because they are all so incredible.

The chilling voice of “Nothing” is a particular point of view that left me with goosebumps and more suspicions than I could count:

“They know we’re here. They’re coming for us. 
What lies beneath has pushed its way to the surface once again. 
Time to get away while there is still air left in our lungs. 
But they will still come.”

And, although I included this particular quote in my Teaser Tuesday last week, it is worthy of another mention:

“I want to stop. I want someone to help me. Help me, before I kill her.”

Feel those little hairs standing up on the back of your neck? Darlings, I haven’t even scratched the surface.

Amazing writing; wonderful, mesmerizing characters; and an unbelievably intense and thrilling ride have made Dark Inside my favorite post-apocalyptic read this year.

“We carved our names in the fallen tree. Our tiny mark.
  Our proof that we still desired life. 
We would not go gently into that great night.”

Now, I really must fulfill some of those obligations before I begin Rage Within. Well… maybe just one little peek…


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Burning Star (Star #1) by Jessie Lane

Title:  The Burning Star (Star #1)
Author: Jessie Lane
Published:  May 24, 2012
Purchase: AmazonBarnes & Noble

Can she reach her destiny before tragedy strikes?
The doctors have told Kay that she will die before she reaches her eighteenth birthday. Her mother’s determination to save her life leads them to a move outside of Asheville, NC to a new set of cancer specialists in the hopes to help her. But it’s not what Kay and her Mom find in the doctor’s offices in Asheville that lead them on the journey to save her before time runs out. It’s what Kay finds in the woods outside of Asheville, and an inhumanly gorgeous guy named Ryan, instead.

Myths and fairy tales come to life before Kay’s eyes, bringing her closer to the ultimate cure if she can stay alive long enough to get there. And if the cancer doesn’t kill her before she finds the cure the secrets her mother has hidden from her may be the beginning of the end.

I am really loving author duos lately! I can’t imagine writing a book with someone else - I don't always play well with others. I think it is such an accomplishment that two people can achieve such a thing.

The Burning Star follows the life of Kay, who was diagnosed with cancer and whose mom has relocated them from a busy city life to the boondocks of North Carolina. She is surrounded by boxes that she wishes would magically unpack themselves. I love this quote and, in light of my recent move, found it to be very comforting:

"However, a small voice whispered in the back of my mind
that the country might be different and soothing. 
Calming in a way that my soul never knew I needed."

Deciding to take a break from unpacking, she takes an afternoon walk in the nearby woods and runs into a handsome stranger fighting a ghastly and ghoulish…monster-dog? Hell beast?? Is her imagination playing tricks on her? Are the medications she is required to take causing her to hallucinate? After the stranger denies it being anything other than a dog, she begins to wonder. Then, there are the wolves she spots outside her house, the incredible-looking satellite cable provider with a secret of his own, and the stranger from the woods who wants to see her again. Now, the girl who has never had a date in her life has two, which has Kay thinking that, maybe, moving to the country won’t be so dull after all! Secrets, glamours, mystical beings, sworn enemies, and a world she never knew existed are suddenly revealed and Kay is at the center of it all. 

I always enjoy reading about the Fey. The Burning Star has a great premise and is full of magic and endearing characters. The multiple POV’s are a lot of fun, and the way it all ties together in the end was not only unique, but also very absorbing.

I did struggle a bit with conversations between a few of the characters, which didn’t always flow easily and, at times, may have been a bit juvenile for older teens. That could be my age coming into play, since, as some of you know, I haven’t been a teen for *ahem* a long time. There are some grammatical and typographical errors, but the authors are aware and are working diligently to correct those errors and make The Burning Star the best it can be. That aside, this series has so much promise!

While I adore Nick and the sacrifice he made for Kay, my favorite character soon became Kira. She was an added bonus and surprise gem. Her POV quickly became my favorite. Her story is riveting and I love how strong and determined she is. Her life is full of heartbreak and the things she has had to endure may have hardened her, but have also made her into a fierce warrior. I am anxious to see what will become of Kira and learn more about this amazing character and her possible relationship with the intriguing Kane. The Frozen Star is book two in the Star series and I look forward to reading more about these characters.

Thank you to the authors for providing a copy of The Burning Star in exchange for my honest review.


Sunday, September 23, 2012

Covet (The Clann, #2) by Melissa Darnell

Title:  Covet (The Clann #2)
Author:  Melissa Darnell
Publisher:  Harlequin Teen
Expected Publication: September 25, 2012

Amazon | B&N | The Book Depository

My Rating:

Dangerous to be together. Painful to be apart.

Savannah Colbert knows she broke up with Tristan Coleman for the right reasons. Most of all, to keep from killing him with her new vampire abilities. But try telling her heart. Now, lost in a sea of hostile Clann faces, Sav tries to come to terms with what she's becoming and what that means for her future. And that someone is doing their best to bully her into making a terrible mistake.

Tristan can't believe Sav won't even talk to him. If being apart is her decision, fine. Just don't expect him to honor it. But even as he prepares to fight for the girl he loves, forces beyond their control take them both in directions neither could have foreseen or prepared for.

A reckoning is coming… and not everyone will survive.


Covet, the second book in Melissa Darnell’s Clann Series, picks up exactly where we were left in Crave. Tristan, Savannah, and her father are on an uncomfortable return trip home, when one phone call changes their unpleasant homecoming to a terror-filled race against the clock. An intense few chapters later, I was in tears. There is so much heartbreak so early on in this novel. I truly felt Sav’s pain, and my heart ached for her and those closest to her.

Savannah is still dealing with all the changes she is going through physically and emotionally; but now, she has to add grieving to the long list of struggles she must endure, and second on that list is realizing just how dangerous she’s becoming to the boy she loves. It is forbidden love and self-sacrifice at its strongest:

“Sometimes love doesn’t conquer all. Sometimes we just have to let go.”

Tristan’s attributes are just as endearing as they were when we first met him in Crave, reminding readers why they fell so hard for the handsome Clann boy. Tristan goes through his own changes in Covet and experiences new hurt and responsibilities that change him from boy to man faster than it ever should.

Aside from the two main love interests, readers are given a lot of interesting details about their friends and family, as well as their enemies. We get a great deal of insight as to why Dylan is the way he is, Ron’s family secret was a fun addition to the story, and we learn a lot more about Sav’s best friend Anne, who has a love interest of her own to figure out.

I love that the author included the history that she does in Covet. So many stories involving vampires have us relying on what we’ve learned in other books or movies. Melissa does a fantastic job of world building and explaining these origins involving Lilith and her offspring. Too much back story can be tedious and, at times, boring; but Ms. Darnell excels at providing answers while keeping a fast pace and intriguing the reader.

Vampire Councils, Clann members and descendants, Keepers, blood lust, spells, and blood memories are just some of the things that make this series so riveting. The way the author brought it all to a head and the unexpected twist at the end have me wanting to Consume book three.

Thank you to Harlequin Teen for providing me with an ARC of this book. The quote included in this review is taken from the ARC and subject to change.


Iron Fey Boxed Set

Title:  The Iron Fey Boxed Set (The Iron Fey #1 -4)
Author:  Julie Kagawa
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Expected Publication:  September 25, 2012

Barnes&Noble | Amazon | The Book Depository

My Rating:   

Available for the first time: the complete New York Times bestselling IRON FEY saga—THE IRON KING, THE IRON QUEEN, THE IRON DAUGHTER and THE IRON KNIGHT—in a single breathtaking boxed set. Order yours now and receive a stunning limited edition IRON FEY poster, autographed by author Julie Kagawa!!


After devouring this series and falling in love with all things Julie Kagawa, I knew my digital copies of these books weren't enough.  I needed these gorgeous covers for my shelves.  I was so excited when my boxed set arrived yesterday!  The books are beautiful, the box is so pretty, and the autographed poster has a sly Puck on one side for Puck girls (aka MEEEEE)...

...and the brooding Ash on the other for Team Ash (aka Katertot).  Both sides include a quote and one side has Julie's signature.

My mini review of The Iron King that I excitedly posted on Goodreads:

I loved every ingredient in this book:

2 cups of the magic of Narnia
3 tbsp of Alice in Wonderland-like fantasy
A dash of The Mortal Instruments' glamour and humor
And a huge heaping of Ms. Kagawa’s amazing story-telling ability and beautiful poetic writing.

Serve with a nice brewed pot of Puck’s kiss-my-ass tea.

While this cools, I‘m on to the next book!

Favorite quotes:

“Oh, we're playing nice now? Shall we have tea first? Brew up a nice pot of kiss-my-ass?”

“So what?" I challenged, pulling the quilt tighter around myself. “All you're telling me is I won't betray my friends or family. If that's a weakness, it's one I want.”

You can purchase your boxed set here:

So happy to have myyyyyy preciousssssss on my bookshelves!


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Guest Posts: Bullying

I have very special guest posts on the blog today
all surrounding an extremely important topic: 

 I believe the more attention we can give this frightening epidemic, the better.  
My guests are three women of varying ages, from different backgrounds, sharing their thoughts and experiences. I hope these ladies' posts will touch your hearts as much as they touched mine. 

The first post is from Heidi at Rainy Day Ramblings.  Heidi and I have been friends since our pre-blogging days when we would send private messages on Goodreads, gushing about our favorite books and planning for our future blogs. We don't always share the same opinion on our books - she abhors cliffhangers and love triangles and I live for them, but we always enjoy each other's thoughts and what the other brings to the table.  Heidi wrote a couple of posts a short while back for Cambria Hebert's Tell Me Something Tuesday meme.  She spoke about bullying and social media, and I was so impressed with her posts, I asked her to share her thoughts here:

Take a Stand Against Bullying

I am thrilled that Michele invited me here to talk about bullying. I recently ran a post on my blog as part of a weekly meme I participate in called Tell Me Something Tuesday. I was astonished at the number of painful stories that people shared with me about their own bullying experiences, making me realize that this epidemic is far wider than most people realize (myself included). I was thankfully never bullied in school, but that doesn't mean that this issue doesn't speak deeply to me. As a mother of a four and two year old, I know I must prepare myself for the time when my children must go out and face the real world daily. No longer will I believe that taunting and teasing is a part of growing up. My older brother teased me relentlessly as a kid, and I think for the most part my parents overlooked it thinking it was just part of being a kid, and wrote it off as sibling rivalry. I know we have all experienced the pangs of growing up. The problem with this old belief is that constant teasing and tormenting over time can cause big problems. I can say that while my brother's tormenting was never physically harmful, emotionally and mentally it was hurtful. After awhile it got to the point where I could not stand my brother, in fact I hated him. I know that is harsh, but unfortunately it is true. I carried that baggage around for years until finally in my mid twenties I let it go, and what a weight off my shoulders. I am happy to say that we have repaired our relationship and get along great now, I only wish that we could have been closer growing up. Those petty names and belittling did a lot of damage.

It is never an easy road to adulthood and there are sure to be plenty of bumps along the way. I think that for generations people have been brought up to believe that bullying and teasing was all part of the process. Kids were likely to encounter the mean boy or girl in the school yard, but it was no big deal. Tangling with a bully would thicken your skin and it was best to adopt the old adage: Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me. The problem is: names do hurt. Constantly subjecting someone to name calling over time can be detrimental. So much so that it can lead to depression, anxiety, anorexia, bulimia, cutting, suicidal thoughts and death. I know we have all seen the headlines and heard the stories of teen and even preteen suicides that are the result of bullying. Today it is even worse with social media. Youth like never before can be intimidated and made fun of online by anonymous attackers. Imagine being bullied everyday but by an unknown assailant? Even worse being bullied by a faceless enemy on a public stage? It is a sickening thought! We are finally starting to see some action taken to curtail this behavior, but it is not moving fast enough. We all need to do everything we can to help stop this abhorrent behavior.

So what can we do?

Take a stand. Start fighting against the bullies. Monitor your kids, especially their online activity. Make sure they aren't participating in these heinous acts or worse that they are the victims. Talk to your kids, make it known that it is not okay to bully and be mean. Teach them to walk away and not partake in bullying and get help for someone in trouble. Furthermore, lead by example. Keep your thoughts and tongue in check, in your personal, public and online life. This includes refraining from gossip, making snide comments about people, talking behind someone's back, even if they are on tv, and not judging people based on appearance. I know this sounds ridiculous, but your kids are like sponges, if they are hearing you constantly talking bad about people they will think it is perfectly acceptable to adopt this behavior. Setting a positive example is the first big step.

Next, you can help promote anti bullying and spread the word. It is time to change the thinking on bullying. Taunting, teasing and tormenting is not acceptable and it won't thicken your skin. We live in a small world and with the rise in social media our world is smaller than ever. Messages good and bad can have far reaching consequences. Do your best to spread positive words and help make the world a little brighter. I know that it is easier said than done and those of you out there who have suffered through bullying may think I am overly optimistic, maybe I am, but a big wave starts as a small ripple. I am not willing to stand back and let this current trend of bullying continue to grow. I want to do what I can to make the world a better place and the first thing I will do is start at home with my children by teaching them to be positive, kind people. Another thing that I can do is spread the word on my blog. I think as a blogger one of the things that bothers me the most when reading books especially in the YA genre is the constant use of the mean kid theme. It is alright to a point, but I have read numerous books where the mean kid does not see the consequences of their behavior or the protagonist keeps quiet and watches others bully. I am not okay with books that let this issue slide. An author has a chance to speak out and let their message be heard. No one should sit idly by and watch others terrorize someone. No one deserves to be tortured and made to feel inadequate. I plan to continue in the upcoming months to spotlight books that deal with this tough topic.

 I know that many authors have used their books to speak out on the wrongs of bullying. Goodreads has a list on bullying books. Some titles I plan on reading and promoting:

Dear Bully Anthology, Keep Holding On by Susane Colasanti, Send by Patty Blount and Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver, to name a few.

I know it doesn't seem like much, but every little bit helps, so stand up do your part. Let's take a stand against bullying together. Please weigh in and let me know your thoughts and on ideas on how to prevent bullying. Thanks for hosting me today Michele!

Heidi's Bio: I am currently a stay at home mother of two toddlers, who keep me very busy. I also have a wonderful, supportive husband without whom my blog would not be possible. I am a recent transplant to the rainy region of Portland, Oregon; thus the reason for Rainy Day Ramblings. The many rainy days here provide me ample time to snuggle up under a comfy blanket with a cat and read while the rain drips down my window. I also, when I find time, enjoy baking, candle and jewelry making, cross stitching and spending ample time with family.

Many of you have heard me speak about my next guest, Nyssa.  It is so hard to put into words what she means to our family.  When I was in high school, I began babysitting her when she was only three years old.  I watched her grow into a beautiful, incredibly smart young woman.  Nyssa was in high school when my husband and I welcomed our baby girl into the world.  Nyssa became a baby sitter / big sister figure to her.  My relationship with Nyssa has had many labels over the years.  When she was a child, she was my adopted daughter.  As we both grew older, she became my little sister.  Today, she is my best friend.  I am so proud that Nyssa agreed to share her experiences here today.   

A Lesbian’s Perspective on Anti-Gay Bullying

Anyone who has made it successfully through the teenage years can attest to the many struggles endured during this period of time—the acne and awkward body transformations, the juggle of friendships and studying and extracurriculars, all while being trapped on a mental and emotional rollercoaster that turns minor predicaments into earth-shattering melt-downs. I know you might be thinking this description is a bit clichĂ© and overblown, but I definitely remember feeling out of control most of the time in both middle and high school.

Now imagine if you were coming to terms with being gay on top of these every day stresses of being a teenager.

I didn’t know I was gay until I was a junior in high school. Looking back, there were a few signs—flirting with the point-guard on my middle-school basketball team—but it wasn’t until I was at boarding school that I first fell in love with a girl. I didn’t admit it to myself (or anyone else for that matter) until three years later.

There’s a program called “safe-space” that provides LGBT education in a forum-type setting, and one of the first exercises in this program is to write down on a sheet of paper three important things about your life. Then you go around and talk to others in the group, with the one caveat being you can’t discuss those three things you wrote down on the sheet of paper. The desperation to talk about who you are while being restrained imitates the ultimate secret of being gay, the state of being “in the closet.” And what starts as a deep, dark secret often morphs into a giant lie that gets told over and over, changing each time. “No boyfriend yet, but I’m still looking…” and “it’s not what you think…we were just experimenting.” The sheer terror of constantly feeling like someone will out you to your closest friends or parents, and that when this finally happens, their whole perception and treatment of you will change.

And the thing that kept me trapped in this fear-based lie was overhearing the whispering of a few senior girls down the hall in my boarding school dorm one night…“what’s up with those two” and “are they gay?” I guess this second-hand gossip could be perceived as bullying, and although I was never directly confronted and harassed for being a lesbian, this sensed prejudice held me back from embracing who I truly was and thus prevented me from developing a healthy relationship with my partner, friends and family.

Framed in the context of bullying—both in-person and cyber forms—gay youths are an easy target. The statistics speak for themselves:
· Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) students are 3x’s more likely than non-LGBT students to say that they do not feel safe at school (22% vs. 7%) (The Trevor Project)
· 90% of LGBT students (vs. 62% of non-LGBT teens) have been harassed or assaulted during the past year. (The Trevor Project)
· LGB students were more likely than heterosexual students to have seriously considered leaving their institution as a result of harassment and discrimination. (Miami Herald)

And when the anti-gay bullying becomes too much to handle for these LGBT teens, especially in schools where teachers either turn a blind-eye or are restricted from reacting to such bullying (as in the recent Minnesota cases), these teens often turn to suicide as the final escape.
· 34,000 LGBT deaths by suicide each year (The Trevor Project)
· 30-40% of LGB youth have attempted suicide (Suicide Prevention Resource Center)
· LGBT youths attempt suicide 4x’s more frequently than their heterosexual peers (The Trevor Project)

Every time I hear of another LGBT teen death, I feel sick and angry. The bullies responsible for harassing these youths to the point of death are often not held accountable for their actions, and in some cases have even been caught rejoicing in the death of their peer via social media outlets.

What can we do?

It starts with education. Both the American Psychological Association and the World Health Organization have provided research evidence that homosexuality is a normal and positive variation of sexual orientation; yet, many LGBT youths that have found the courage to come out to their parents have been subjected to “reparative” or “conversion” therapy in attempts to “turn them straight.”

It starts with support programs, like the “It Gets Better” campaign, and organizations, like PFLAG for parents of lesbian and gay youths. The Trevor Project provides additional support specifically for suicidal LGBT teens, and GSLEN and the Human Rights Campaign are LGBT educational sources to help shape classroom discussions on bullying.

It starts at home.

The worst anti-gay bullying I’ve experienced was from my own family members. I’ve gotten several nasty letters informing me that I’m hell-bound, from people who celebrated my birth, who have attended my piano recitals and basketball games and helped me out when I’ve been in a rough patch, whom I’ve spent Thanksgivings and Christmases with. They’ve said that it was “a phase” or some kind of “life-choice” I’ve made, and have spitefully asked what they “did wrong” in raising me. My grandparents have disowned me, while still sending the hate-filled letters, and I can only feel that this unnecessary separation is just wasted time that could be spent making memories and learning about my heritage before it’s too late.

I think the worst was my mother telling me that I had broken her heart. Growing up, I idolized her for being the strong, independent woman who single-handedly raised me, and I’ve always just wanted to make her proud. So in breaking her heart, I had my own broken. Coming out to her was hands-down the single most difficult thing I’ve ever done in my life. This form of anti-gay family bullying is often downplayed or overlooked, but had I been younger and heard the same hateful things that have been said to me at 26, I can honestly admit that I may have had suicidal thoughts. When you can’t even find acceptance and support at home, with the people that know you the best, it becomes even harder to admit who you are to classmates or even yourself.

As parents, we must teach our children, both gay and straight, to not only be tolerant of beliefs and worldviews different from our own, but also to stand up against these bullies before more lives are needlessly taken. And most importantly of all, as parents, we must provide a safe environment at home so that children struggling with their sexual orientation can establish a basic support system with the people who matter the most to them, the people who are most likely to catch the “red-flags” before it’s too late.

It starts with you. Please voice your disapproval of anti-gay bullying, regardless of whether you’re gay or straight, because you never know who might be listening and whose life you might help to save.

I have those people in my life (including my wonderful Cheles Bells (Mama Michele), her hubby (Daddy Mike), and Katertot) who truly understand what it means to love me unconditionally. These friends and family members have helped me to not only come to terms with my sexual orientation, but also to confront the irrational fears, to strengthen my courage and pride in who I am, and to ultimately become a role model for other LGBT youth. Today, I’m celebrating the recently acquired domestic partnership with my wonderful Sandy, and I am so proud of how much I’ve grown to get to this point. But there is so much work left to do, and I’ve got to do everything I can to ensure that our children won’t be bullied for having two moms, for being a gay advocate, or for being a transgendered teen; or for being a “nerd,” having a handicap, or falling in love with a person of a different race or the same sex. Because no matter who you are, you don’t deserve to be bullied.

More Information: resources and classroom guides to anti-gay bullying --Preventing LGBT suicide for parents and friends of the LGBT community --LGBT teen suicide prevention -- Raises LGBT support and awareness

My last guest today is one who is near and dear to my heart.  Most of you know her around the blog as "Katertot."  She is my thirteen-year-old daughter, Mckenzie Kate.  I've said many times that, as a parent, we teach and lead our children, but I learn something from this kiddo every day about how to be a better, more loving person.  She's an old soul, and, though I may be biased, I believe she is wise beyond her thirteen years.

Thankfully, I’ve never been a victim of bullying, nor have I witnessed it. Often, I lay awake at night wondering how I would prevent someone from mistreating a friend, a classmate, or me. I think about how grateful I am to have parents who have taught me to love everyone, no matter their differences. I think about how unfair it is for so many kids to be going through this with no one doing anything about it. And over things like the way they dress, their race, what they believe, who they love -- even the way they talk or how well they do in school. I could pour my heart into pages of things like this, but my main point here is this: in no way, and under no circumstance, should anyone be treated any differently than anyone else because of something that makes them different from other people.

We are all created equally, and everyone, even young kids, should realize that and think about it before they say something to someone that they can never take back.

A couple of my favorite quotes/lyrics about love and acceptance are:

“Hatred ever kills, love never dies. Such is the vast difference between the two.
What is obtained by love is retained for all time.
What is obtained by hatred proves a burden in reality for it increases hatred.”
 -- Mohandas K. Gandhi

“Imagine all the people living life in peace.”
-- John Lennon

"Hatred paralyzes life; love releases it. Hatred confuses life;
love harmonizes it. Hatred darkens life; love illumines it.”
-- Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

“You are beautiful, no matter what they say. Words can’t bring you down.”
-- Christina Aguilera

The world and society have been darkened with judgment and bullying. I only hope that, one day, we all have a different way of seeing things concerning other people and ourselves. That’s something else: bullying other people is wrong, but so is bullying yourself. Hurting yourself because of personal problems, starving yourself so you can look like a particular model, or emotionally beating yourself up because you failed at something. My favorite lyric above is the one by John Lennon. If we can all live in peace and get along, the world can be such a beautiful place.

Thank you so much, ladies, for sharing these amazing, heartfelt posts today.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Teaser Tuesday (5): Dark Inside by Jeyn Roberts

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading.
Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (Make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

This week's teaser comes from the following book:


Title:  Dark Inside (Dark Inside #1)
Author:  Jeyn Roberts
Publisher:  Simon & Schuster
Published:  May 24, 2011

Amazon | B&NThe Book Depository

Since the beginning of mankind, civilizations have fallen: the Romans, the Greeks, the Aztecs… and now us. Huge earthquakes rock the world. Cities are destroyed. But something even more awful is happening: An ancient evil has been unleashed, and it’s turning everyday people into hunters, killers, and crazies.

This is the world Mason, Aries, Clementine, and Michael are living in—or rather, trying to survive. Each is fleeing unspeakable horror, from murderous chaos to brutal natural   disasters, and each is traveling the same road in a world gone mad.

Amid the throes of the apocalypse and clinging to love and meaning wherever it can be found, these four teens are on a journey into the heart of darkness—and to find each other and a place of safety.


My teaser is:

"I want to stop.  I want someone to help me.
Help me, before I kill her."
-pg. 192

How magnificently creepy and frightening is that?  I have to say, I just started Dark Inside after it came highly recommended by the fabulous Christy at Love of Books, but I can already tell it is destined to be a favorite.  I have a feeling I'm going to be up late tonight with this one!

I'd love to know what your Teaser Tuesday is! Leave me a link in the comments so I can visit you!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Giveaway: New Novel by Summer Day


Summer Day is giving away one digital copy of her brand new novel!  In fact, it's so new that the title and cover have not even been released yet!  This book is inspired by the classic Austen novel 'Persuasion' (about love lost and found again), suitable for YA readers and anyone who likes Austen-inspired teen novels.

Fill out the Rafflecopter form for your chance to win!

Summer Day is the writer of PRIDE & PRINCESSES, WUTHERING NIGHTS, and ANNE EYRE - all Young Adult novels inspired by classics.

You can visit Summer's blog here, where the first chapters of all of her novels are posted.

Tomorrow (September 18, 2012), you can get Anne Eyre FREE.  Just click on the book covers to purchase.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, September 14, 2012

Weekend Reads


This weekend, I'm reading:

Can she reach her destiny before tragedy strikes?

The doctors have told Kay that she will die before she reaches her eighteenth birthday. Her mother’s determination to save her life leads them to a move outside of Asheville, NC to a new set of cancer specialists in the hopes to help her. But it’s not what Kay and her Mom find in the doctor’s offices in Asheville that lead them on the journey to save her before time runs out. It’s what Kay finds in the woods outside of Asheville, and an inhumanly gorgeous guy named Ryan, instead.

Myths and fairy tales come to life before Kay’s eyes, bringing her closer to the ultimate cure if she can stay alive long enough to get there. And if the cancer doesn’t kill her before she finds the cure the secrets her mother has hidden from her may be the beginning of the end.

Katertot is reading:

The unforgettable novel of a childhood in a sleepy Southern town and the crisis of conscience that rocked it, To Kill A Mockingbird became both an instant bestseller and a critical success when it was first published in 1960. It went on to win the Pulitzer Prize in 1961 and was later made into an Academy Award-winning film, also a classic.

Compassionate, dramatic, and deeply moving, To Kill A Mockingbird takes readers to the roots of human behavior - to innocence and experience, kindness and cruelty, love and hatred, humor and pathos. Now with over 18 million copies in print and translated into forty languages, this regional story by a young Alabama woman claims universal appeal. Harper Lee always considered her book to be a simple love story. Today it is regarded as a masterpiece of American literature.


What book are you planning on curling up with?
Hope everyone has a fabulous weekend! 
We'll see you Monday!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Guest Review from The Reclusive Reader: Story of a Girl by Sara Zarr

I am so excited to have the lovely Leanne from The Reclusive Reader join me on the blog today!  I know you will all love her as much as I do.  Her reviews are beautiful, expressive, and honest, and her writing is so eloquent and insightful. I love curling up with her gorgeous blog! So, without further ado, here is a bit about Leanne, followed by her fabulous review of Story of a Girl by Sara Zarr:


The Reclusive Reader
About Leanne:

Books will always be Leanne’s life-long love, and she admits to developing quite a few fictional crushes over the years. She loves to travel with a passion, and has been everywhere from the Alaskan Glaciers to ancient castles in Italy, and from all four quarters in Jerusalem to experiencing NYC at midnight. She possessively carries a neon pink journal with her where she writes down quotes and thoughts that strike her at any particular moment. Her hobbies include reading books and writing on her spare time, karate, fitness, painting, and studying at law school. Leanne also has a fixation with tea aromas, fresh baked goods and wandering aimlessly at night snapping photos.


Leanne's Review:

Title:  Story of a Girl
Author:  Sara Zarr
Publisher:  Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication Date:  January 10, 2007
Leanne's Rating:


Goodreads Premise:

When she is caught in the backseat of a car with her older brother's best friend--Deanna Lambert's teenage life is changed forever. Struggling to overcome the lasting repercussions and the stifling role of "school slut," she longs to escape a life defined by her past. With subtle grace, complicated wisdom and striking emotion, Story of a Girl reminds us of our human capacity for resilience, epiphany and redemption.

There are those who see beauty in flashy, meretricious and glittery things, objects that easily catch the eye and captivate those who admire it. No matter if the outside is the same within; it's the outside beauty - from a cover model to a gorgeous cover you may spot in the bookstore - that enchants us.

Story of a Girl is not one of those books. Im sure youve heard of the phrase: “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”? Im positive the majority of readers wouldnt perceive this novel as a thing of beauty- but I did. While the outside appearance is ordinary and simple, its the content within that I found to be breathtakingly lovely and emotional. 

This book is about Deanna Lambert, the protagonist of the story. Deanna is that girl, you know, that girl? The slut who slept with her older brother's best friend when she was thirteen. A girl who later had to deal with the repercussions of her past mistake. Deanna is a girl who can easily be dismissed as a skank, a clingy freak with no life, as most presume in her backwards, blue collar town. But what if there
s something more to the five thousand variations of this same story? What if this piece of gossip that
s circled around her school for years and has been so belittled so that people laugh off such a horrible experience as if it were a joke; what if there is more to it than people bother to care?

And there is so, so much more to this story than people would realize at first. Albeit, it isn
t clear where the author stands regarding this subject matter, but Ive realized earlier on that this is simply Sara Zarrs way and Ive accepted that. However, I do marvel her open-mindedness and the compassion she shows towards her characters. Deanna Lambert is not a likable heroine. In fact, she makes some regrettable mistakes and choices, and has quite a few flaws. Yet she was only thirteen years old and no thirteen year old truly has the mental maturity to make adult decisions, and Im sure most dont have the foresight to speculate on how their decisions will affect their future. Not to mention, Deanna is a damaged, suffering character with a dreadful father who wont forgive and understand her, nor listen to his daughters side of the story. Instead, he makes quick judgments and refuses to acknowledge her as being someone other than a disappointment. Her mother is no help either; in denial about her daughters suffering and husbands flaws. But its clear that the author doesn
t depict them as villains or underdeveloped caricatures, alternatively, she depicts them as intensely imperfect and complicated characters. 

ve always admired Sara Zarrs uncluttered, poignant prose, but in Story of a Girl, even more so. I loved how she was able to convey this story in its rawest, barest form. She doesn
t lather her writing with sappy, overly- sentimental crap too often seen in this genre- rather, Story of a Girl affected a deep section of my heart that is rarely acknowledged by other authors. I cried so much while reading that my chest hurt and I collapsed in a heap on my bed and refused to budge for an hour. Sara Zarr has guts for tackling this topic and she has the intelligence, insight, empathy, and writing capabilities to deliver a realistic, heart rendering story that resonated with me.

This is a slim novel- merely 192 pages in length. And in those 192 pages, Sara Zarr wrote one of the most exceptionally well-realized, profoundly affecting, thoughtful and exquisite novels I have read, ever. Don
t miss out on this, dear readers. This one is a keeper. 

Thank you so much, Leanne, for sharing your wonderful review of this powerful book!  I've added it to my TBR  - I certainly don't want to miss this one!

Click on Leanne's blog badge above or her link to be taken to her blog - you won't be sorry!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Touching Smoke (Touch Series #1) by Airicka Phoenix

Title:  Touching Smoke (Touch Series #1)
Author:  Airicka Phoenix
Publisher:  TreasureLine Publishing
Published:  July 31, 2012
Amazon | Smashwords | All Romance

My Rating:

For sixteen-year-old FALLON BRAEDEN, being on the run had always been a mystery, until the day she starts an earthquake and everything falls apart. Suddenly, she finds herself hunted by creatures with unusual abilities, haunted by a ghost baring a frighteningly familiar resemblance and falls in love with the last person she should ever give her heart to. So as her foundation crumbles beneath her, Fallon finds herself teetering on the brink of two devastating revelations: follow her heart or save the world.


After being on the run most of her life, but never knowing the reasons why, one might think finally getting those answers would bring Fallon peace, understanding, or, at the most, closure. But when pieces of the puzzle start falling into place, all those years of being kept in the dark may have been a blessed state of oblivion. Will being hunted and haunted and nursing a painful loss keep Fallon from trusting a complete stranger? Or will trusting him be the key to everything she’s been searching for?

Touching Smoke was a wonderful and unique story. Fallon is a great female lead and her inner monologue was so much fun to read: 

“I wasn’t Buffy, but Mom had taught me enough self-defense routines
 to make a grown man cry if I had to.”

There were many humorous moments in this book, but there were a lot of heartfelt and heartbreaking events as well. Fallon and her mother have a truly unique relationship. They’re very close in spite of having so many secrets between them. When Fallon’s mother makes the incredulous decision to enroll her at an upper crust academy in their new town so she can begin a new job… things start unraveling fast.

“Like any other town in the world, Rettop County had an elementary school, a high school and a community college, but it was also home to Lady Clare’s Academy, an exclusive boarding school for the very gifted and very rich — I was neither.”

Fortunately for Fallon, Isaiah shows up just as her world begins to crumble. But how can she be sure whose side Isaiah is really on? And why does she have such strong feelings for someone she’s not even supposed to know… yet she feels so sure that she does?

Isaiah is one of the reasons I would never do well in a run-for-your-life type of situation like this. I’m pretty sure any coherent thought I possessed would go out the window, never to be recovered, if my rescuer was anything like him:

“He was a walking symphony of predatory magnetism.
Every motion rippled with the prowess of a very large jungle cat,
all feral and mesmerizing.”
One of my favorite things about Fallon was the things that went through her mind at the most inopportune times (something I am guilty of on a daily basis).

“The night was actually kind of beautiful when we weren’t running for our lives.”
“Man, he had a nice voice. It was probably a bad time to notice, but it was true all the same. It was all low and husky, the kind that should have been reading poetry —
something deep and meaningful — in a smoky cafĂ©.”
Touching smoke was filled with secrets, twists, and enough action to make one’s heart beat at accelerated levels! And speaking of making the heart beat faster:

“‘What am I?’ I whispered, my eyelids already drooping in the promises of sleep.
If at any point I doubted that he felt half of what I felt, he pressed his lips to my ear, and whispered,

Airicka Phoenix has a vivacious style of writing that flows easily and captures the reader’s attention, making it hard to put her book down.

“And when I strained to hear the roar of traffic in the distance, the faint buzz of the florescent light just outside the door, twilight was all I really heard. It roared in my ears like the call of the ocean. It was such a normal sound, a haunting sound. I hated and loved it. I hated it because it always felt like something sinister was lurking just beyond the door. I hated it because I felt like I belonged on that side of the door with whatever was calling to me, but I loved it for that reason as well.”
I’m very excited that Touching Eternity, a novella in the Touch series, has an expected release date of December 20, 2012. There is an exciting Scavenger Hunt for the novella that you can find out about here:


Book two, Touching Fire, is expected July 31, 2013, and I can hardly wait to find out what happens next for Fallon and Isaiah.

Author Bio:
Airicka Phoenix is the author of TOUCHING SMOKE (Touch Series Book #1) and TORRID, a short story as part of the Whispered Beginnings: A Clever Fiction Anthology.
Whispered Beginnings ~ A Clever Fiction Anthology
When she's not hammering away at the keyboard, she can be found banishing pirates or crawling through the attic looking for lost treasure with her kids. She loves baking, gardening and reading. She also likes to travel and take pictures of everything she comes across. When asked, Airicka describes herself as a sarcastic basket case that has an unhealthy addiction to chocolate, old movies and really bad jokes. She loves to laugh, make friends and write. If she could have one wish granted, it would be to spend one day as a fly-on-the-wall inside Stephen King's mind. If she could have two wishes granted, she would ask for a castle dedicated entirely to her overwhelming collection of books.

For more about Airicka, also on how to win giveaways, read author interviews and reviews, you can click here to visit her website.

You can add Airicka on any/all of her social networks. Making new friends is the highlight of her day! 

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A huge thank you to the author for graciously sending me a copy of Touching Smoke in exchange for my honest review.