The Skinwalker's Apprentice: Review (w/ Giveaway)

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The Skinwalker's Apprentice
by Claribel Ortega
Release Date: 02/24/14

Summary from Goodreads

New York City 1984: It’s Emerald Kipp’s sixteenth birthday, and nothing has changed. She’s still the biggest loser in school, she’s still trying to find a place for herself and yeah, she’s still a witch. Her last year of high school is turning out to be the worst yet, and Emerald thinks it can’t possibly get any worse. Unfortunately for her, she’s dead wrong.

East Hampton, NY 1658: The Pennyfeathers are the black sheep of their small English settlement. As hard as they try to keep the family secrets just that, the magical bunch just can’t seem to fit in. But when a High Priestess witch chooses 16-year-old Margo Pennyfeather as an apprentice, Margo’s luck finally begins to change. What she doesn’t know, is there’s a lot more to her apprenticeship, and to being a witch, than she could ever imagine.

Discover the mysterious beginnings of The Empire Witch Series in "The Skinwalker's Apprentice: An Emerald Kipp Novella."
Purchase The Skinwalker's Apprentice
About the Author
Claribel Ortega is a graduate of the SUNY Purchase journalism program, and got her start writing for the school’s Independent Newspaper. There, she quickly rose the ranks from editing the student’s often times hilarious ads and ramblings on the back page of the paper to staff and feature writer.

After graduation, Claribel worked as a reporter for The Rivertowns Enterprise, a local paper in lower Westchester County, New York. As a reporter, she enjoyed going to board of education meetings and texting the town mayors about the line at Starbucks.

Today, Claribel works for The Combined Book Exhibit, a book marketing company in Westchester NY.

She lives in New York with her really awesome boyfriend, her suspiciously intelligent yorkie Pancho Villa and is surrounded by an impenetrable fort of books she gets from her job.

“The Skinwalker’s Apprentice” is her first book, and cheese is her favorite food.


A signed paperback copy of The Skinwalker's Apprentice
Plus, a Forever 21 Prize Pack including:
Posh Stackable Rings
Cameo Bow Necklace
Shopper Tote (design may vary)
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White Hot Kiss: Release Day Launch w/ Giveaway

I am beyond excited to participate in the Release Day Launch for Jennifer L. Armentrout's WHITE HOT KISS! WHITE HOT KISS is a young adult paranormal romance being published by Harlequin Teen TODAY! This is the first full-length novel in The Dark Elements Series and one you'll want to grab as soon as you finish reading this post.

White Hot Kiss
One kiss could be the last.

Seventeen-year-old Layla just wants to be normal. But with a kiss that kills anything with a soul, she's anything but normal. Half demon, half gargoyle, Layla has abilities no one else possesses.

Raised among the Wardens—a race of gargoyles tasked with hunting demons and keeping humanity safe—Layla tries to fit in, but that means hiding her own dark side from those she loves the most. Especially Zayne, the swoon-worthy, incredibly gorgeous and completely off-limits Warden she's crushed on since forever.

Then she meets Roth—a tattooed, sinfully hot demon who claims to know all her secrets. Layla knows she should stay away, but she's not sure she wants to—especially when that whole no-kissing thing isn't an issue, considering Roth has no soul.

But when Layla discovers she's the reason for the violent demon uprising, trusting Roth could not only ruin her chances with Zayne…it could brand her a traitor to her family. Worse yet, it could become a one-way ticket to the end of the world.
“I don’t think of Zayne that way!”

She laughed. “What man-parts-loving female in this world doesn't think of Zayne that way? I can barely keep myself breathing when I see him. All the guys in school have squishy waists. I can tell Zayne doesn’t. He’s the awesome sauce with extra sauce.”

That he was and he so didn't have a squishy waist, but I tuned Stacey out at that point. I really did need to cram for this test and I also didn't want my fantasies involving Zayne to occupy my mind right now. Especially after I’d woken up this morning, carefully tucked under the covers. 

The bed had smelled like him: sandalwood and crisp linen.

“Oh, sweet baby Jesus in a manger,” Stacey murmured.

I clenched my jaw, cupping my hands over my ears.

She jabbed me in the side with her elbow. At this rate I’d be covered in bruises before lunchtime. “Our bio class just got a billion times more interesting. And hotter, lots and lots hotter. Holy mother, I want to have his babies. Not now of course, but definitely later. But I’d like to start practicing soon.”

The cell wall is a thick and rigid layer covering the plasma something, something plant cells…

Stacey stiffened all of a sudden. “Oh my God, he’s coming—”

Composed of fat and sugar—

Something slender and shiny fell from who knew where, landing in the middle of Sam’s notes. Blinking tightly, it took me a couple of seconds to recognize the faded and half peeled Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles sticker covering the back of the silver cell phone.

My heart slammed against my ribs. Gripping the edges of the notebook, I slowly lifted my gaze. Unnaturally beautiful golden eyes met mine.

“You forgot this last night.”

Now, scoot on over to your favorite retailer and purchase this bad boy!
Now that you have a taste for this fabulous new series, here are the details for the AMAZING international giveaway!!! Harlequin Teen is giving away a large Harlequin Teen Tote.

Tote Includes:

• Harlequin TEEN branded tote
• The Iron Traitor by Julie Kagawa (trade)
• Pawn by Aimee Carter (hard cover)
• Crash Into You by Katie McGarry (hard cover)
• Through the Zombie Glass by Gena Showalter (hard cover)
• 2 copies of White Hot Kiss by Jennifer L. Armentrout
• 1 pair of black harlequin branded socks (they are so comfy!)

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About Jennifer L. Armentrout
Author Photo# 1 NEW YORK TIMES and USA TODAY Bestselling author Jennifer lives in Martinsburg, West Virginia. All the rumors you’ve heard about her state aren’t true. When she’s not hard at work writing. she spends her time reading, working out, watching really bad zombie movies, pretending to write, and hanging out with her husband and her Jack Russell Loki.

Her dreams of becoming an author started in algebra class, where she spent most of her time writing short stories….which explains her dismal grades in math. Jennifer writes young adult paranormal, science fiction, fantasy, and contemporary romance. She is published with Spencer Hill Press, Entangled Teen and Brazen, Disney/Hyperion and Harlequin Teen. Her book Obsidian has been optioned for a major motion picture and her Covenant Series has been optioned for TV.

She also writes adult and New Adult romance under the name J. Lynn. She is published by Entangled Brazen and HarperCollins.

Series Website:
Jennifer L. Armentrout Goodreads:

His Hometown Girl: Blitz (w/ Excerpt & Giveaway)

Summary & Cover
He'd always managed to best her…

Jodi Chapman will do whatever it takes to get top care for her autistic son. If that means going home and convincing local farmers to sell their land, so be it. Even if her biggest opponent, childhood rival Daniel Gleason, is equally determined to convince farmers to buy into his co-op plan. And he's not playing fair.

Facing off against Daniel is the last thing Jodi wants. The attraction that's always fueled their competitiveness is as strong as ever and just as distracting. But with both their futures on the line, and years of distrust between them, how can they ever be on the same side?
The music began and Mary gave Daniel a little shove. “Have at her. Indulge us for old times’ sake. Everyone thought you two would make a great couple when you weren’t scrapping.”

He looked down at a dismayed Jodi. “Guess we can’t disappoint our fans.”

She threw her hands up and he swept her into his arms. And just like he thought, the feel of her brought back their middle school days. He recalled his sweaty palms on her tiny waist and how much he’d tripped because, instead of counting the steps, he’d counted the freckles on her nose. Kind of like now.

“Mr. Martin had some crazy taste in music,” she surprised him by saying, a far-off look in her eyes. “How did that count as exercise?”

Being around her raised his blood pressure. She was the best cardio he could imagine. They moved across the crowded floor, weaving in and out of other couples.

“No idea.” When the tempo changed he twirled and dipped her, their mouths nearly touching as he bent her over his arm for a long, breathless moment. The feel of her made his blood surge.

“Let me up,” she said in a rush, and pushed at his chest, her touch electric. When he straightened, he pulled her closer and smoothed the hair that had come loose from her bun, her locks like silk. He inhaled the light, fresh scent of her and his body tightened against hers. His eyes dropped to her lips and he remembered her taste: honeysuckle and lemon drops. Kissing her had felt like kissing sunshine and for a moment he lost himself in the glow of that memory.

“Daniel,” she whispered, her eyes shimmering up at him, her voice husky. “People are watching.”

“Let them.”

When she trembled in his arms, he knew she was remembering the afternoons he’d held her this way. How they’d lie snuggled in the deep grass together, the blue sky their only witness. It’d been magic. The ultimate trick, however, was her disappearing act. The thought sobered him and he loosened his grip. She challenged, exhilarated, frustrated and attracted him like no other. Yet she had crushed him, too, and he sensed that could happen as easily now as it had then if he wasn’t careful. He wasn’t just at war with her, he also battled himself.

As he guided her through the swaying couples, their bodies moved in perfect sync. Suddenly he thought of her ex and felt a rush of jealousy at the thought of her in another man’s arms.

“I’m sorry to hear about your divorce,” he said, and felt her stiffen.

“I got through it,” she said lightly, her eyes sliding from his.

“Do you still see him?” An irrational need to know how much time she still spent with

the man seized him. It didn’t matter—or it shouldn’t—yet somehow, it did.

A laugh-snort escaped her and her gaze flew to his. “Not since he left.”

“What about Tyler?” he blurted. The guy might be a fool for not returning Jodi’s love,

but he must at least care for his own child.

The music ended and he led her to a table by the window. After pulling out her chair,

he straddled his.

Jodi caught her lower lip between her teeth and gazed outside. The sun had set

completely and the moon was up, a wedge of creamy white casting its reflection onto the

lake. Night wind rattled tree branches, knocking them against one another. “Not Tyler, either,” she said at last, her voice sounding empty. Scraped out.

He found her cold fingers beneath the table and wrapped his palms around them. “He’s a terrible father.” And a horrible person. Who would abandon his wife and child? He’d known she was a single mother, but he’d never known that she was raising her son entirely on her own. After this night of revelations, she’d surprised him again and he admired her even more. What a strong, caring person.

Jodi nodded, her face bleak and beautiful. “Tyler wouldn’t stop crying after his dad left until—”

She froze, then yanked her hands away and stood. “I’ve got to go.”

“Jodi.” His voice stopped her. “I—I—” He broke off, searching for the right words the way he might grope for a light switch in the dark.

She glanced around the bar, the faraway look gone, her expression sharp. “We shouldn’t do this. It’s not good for either of us to get this personal. My focus is on Tyler. Not bars. Not men.” She gazed at him, her eyes pleading. “Not you.”

Before he could stand, she flew out the door, leaving him again.
About the Author
Karen Rock has adored romance since receiving Harlequin Presents books from her grandmother each summer. She formed her Young Adult writing partnership, J.K. Rock- pseudonym for the CAMP BOYFRIEND series, with her sister-in-law and Blaze author, Joanne Rock in 2011. When Karen heard of a call for submissions to Heartwarming, Harlequin’s latest line, she was inspired by the possibilities of writing unforgettable, deeply romantic, tender love stories that mothers would feel comfortable sharing with their daughters. When she’s not writing, Karen loves scouring estate sales for vintage books, cooking her grandmother's family recipes, hiking the ‘high peaks’, and redesigning her gardens. She lives in the Adirondack Mountain region with her husband, daughter, and two Cavalier King cocker spaniels who have yet to understand the concept of “fetch” though they know a lot about love.

For more information about Karen's upcoming books, check out her website at, Facebook page at or follow her on twitter at . She’d love to hear from you!

-$50 Amazon Gift Card
-SIGNED copy of HIS HOMETOWN GIRL by Karen Rock

-SIGNED copies of HIS HOMETOWN GIRL by Karen Rock

-$25 Gift Card (Amazon or B&N)
-Shadow's Curse by Alexa Egan
-A Cursed Embrace by Cecy Robson
-His Reluctant Rancher by Roxanne Snopek
-Free Fall by Karen Foley

To enter: Pre-order a copy of HIS HOMETOWN GIRL on Kindle or Nook!

Email a copy or picture of your receipt to along with-
Your name:
Your email address:
Blog you found the contest on:

You'll be entered to win a $25 gift certificate to either Amazon or Barnes and Nobles (your choice) as well as the four books in the prize picture.

Grasshopper Jungle: Blog Tour (w/ Giveaway)

Author: Andrew Smith
Genre: Fiction | YA | LBGT
Release Date: 2/11/14

Summary & Cover
Sixteen-year-old Austin Szerba interweaves the story of his Polish legacy with the story of how he and his best friend , Robby, brought about the end of humanity and the rise of an army of unstoppable, six-foot tall praying mantises in small-town Iowa.

To make matters worse, Austin's hormones are totally oblivious; they don't care that the world is in utter chaos: Austin is in love with his girlfriend, Shann, but remains confused about his sexual orientation. He is stewing in a self-professed constant state of maximum horniness, directed at both Robby and Shann.

Ultimately, it is up to Austin to save the world and propagate the species in this sci-fright journey of survival, sex, and the complex realities of the human condition.
Purchase Grasshopper Jungle!
This is the truth. This is history.
It’s the end of the world. And nobody knows anything about it.
You know what I mean.
About the Author
Andrew Smith is the award-winning author of several Young Adult novels, including the
critically acclaimed Winger (Starred reviews in Publishers Weekly, Kirkus, Booklist, and Shelf Awareness—an Amazon “Best of the Year”) and The Marbury Lens (A YALSA BFYA, and Starred reviews and Best of the Year in both Publishers Weekly and Booklist).

He is a native-born Californian who spent most of his formative years traveling the world. His university studies focused on Political Science, Journalism, and Literature. He has published numerous short stories and articles. Grasshopper Jungle, coming February 11, 2014, is his seventh novel. He lives in Southern California.

Author's Links

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Catch Up/Follow the Tour
February 3rd – The Midnight Garden
February 3rd – The Story Siren
February 4th – Good Choice Reading
February 4th – Bookish
February 5th – I Read Banned Books
February 5th – Jenna Does Books
February 6th – Bibliophilia, Please
February 6th – Escaping One Book At A Time
February 7th – Scott Reads It
February 7th – Live to Read
February 10th – Alice Marvels
February 10th – The Society
February 11th – Lexi Swoons
February 11th – A Reader of Fictions
February 12th – Roof Beam Reader
February 12th – Forever Young Adult
February 13th – The Compulsive Reader
February 13th – Books and Bling
February 14th – Book Chic Club
February 14th – The QQQE
February 17th – JeanBookNerd
February 17th – Ticket to Anywhere
February 18th – Sleep Eat Read Books
February 18th – Read Now Sleep Later
February 19th – Anna Reads
February 19th – Word Spelunking
February 20th – Books With Bite
February 20th – What A Nerd Girl Says
February 21st – Wastepaper Prose
February 21st – LRB – Guest
February 24th – We Are Word Nerds
February 24th – Cabin Goddess
February 25th – Ex Libris
February 25th – Cari's Book Blog
February 25th – A Good Addiction
February 26th – YA Reads
February 26th – The Young Folks
February 27th – Novel Thoughts
February 27th – Fangirlish
February 28th – Once Upon a Twilight
February 28th – Naughty Book Kitties

The Sound of Letting Go: Review, Author Interview, and Giveaway

Title: The Sound of Letting Go
Author: Stasia Ward Kehoe
Published: February 6, 2014
Source: ARC from the author for blog tour (catch-up on the tour here!)

A review copy was provided. All thoughts are my own and I have not been persuaded in any way.

Summary & Cover

For sixteen years, Daisy has been good. A good daughter, helping out with her autistic younger brother uncomplainingly. A good friend, even when her best friend makes her feel like a third wheel. When her parents announce they’re sending her brother to an institution—without consulting her—Daisy’s furious, and decides the best way to be a good sister is to start being bad. She quits jazz band and orchestra, slacks in school, and falls for bad-boy Dave.

But one person won’t let Daisy forget who she used to be: Irish exchange student and brilliant musician Cal. Does she want the bad boy or the prodigy? Should she side with her parents or protect her brother? How can she know when to hold on and when—and how—to let go?
Purchase The Sound of Letting Go
Author Interview


My novel, THE SOUND OF LETTING GO, has been on shelves for a dozen days. In that time, I have traveled to Seattle, Portland and Houston to talk about the book. I have ordered take-out dinners (Chinese--twice; Thai; Indian) and taken my kids for meals at Fatburger and MOD Pizza (naughty but...YUM!). The dirty laundry sits in the hall--a towering reminder of my housekeeping incompetence. And, I'm working on a new manuscript because inspiration always strikes at the lousiest of times.

Am I complaining? Gosh, no! My family loves take-out food and we're not too particular about housekeeping. Plus, I've published my second book. So, yeah.

However, I did want to mention these things because people often say to me, "You do so many things. How do you manage?" And the answer is: I don't. It's not pretty. The life of a writer-mom is about choices. And forgiving yourself. And knowing when to laugh. Even if nobody around you really gets the funny.

And, oh, that's right...the BOOK. THE SOUND OF LETTING GO is a contemporary YA about growing up, and family, and small town gossip, and best friends, and the difference between loving someone and having them love you back. I worked hard to write it and I hope that it finds the readers for whom it will make a difference.

Another thing I did instead of housework this month was custom-decorate a pair of Keds to give away--along with a signed copy of the book and lots of fun swag. So, enter below to win some stuff or drop me a tweet @swkehoe and we can chat about, you know, dust ;)

Find Stasia around the Internet

This book was, in one word, AMAZING! I still haven't read too many books in verse, so I don't know if they're all as great and flow as flawlessly as The Sound of Letting GoI'm going to say it's all in Stasia's story-telling. I also loved her debut novel, Audition.

The story follows Daisy. She has always been a good daughter, student, trumpet player, and sister. Her parents, after a few years of an uncontrollable autistic son, decide to put him in an establishment to help him and his special needs. Daisy, after all of the years of hurrying home and being a caregiver, feels as if they are just abandoning her brother.

The Sound of Letting Go is a great story told how our young MC struggles with the changes in her family, a budding romance, and keeping secrets from her best friend. Daisy struggles and decides to let everything "good" about her go and does non-Daisy-like things: not showing up to jazz band, not helping her mom, staying out late, and make-out sessions HBO thought-filled moments with Dave.

Along the way, an exchange student from jazz band, Cal, reminds Daisy about her love of music -- of what it's always meant to her.

My favorite excerpt from this book is on Page 329 in the ARC, which is subject to change...but I hope it's not! 

"I run to the basement like a programmed robot, 
and it's not until my second time through "Hallelujah"
that I realize I could have played the song upstairs.

The song about the imperfection of love, 
the way it can hurt you, break you, terrify you,
the way it can fall apart; and yet,
the title is a hymn, a word of praise."

I felt this part clearly defined Daisy and her whole story. Knowing the song "Hallelujah," I honestly broke down in tears at this point.

The closure and ending of The Sound of Letting Go was fantastic. The characters, their trials and tribulations, friendships, and emotions were so well-written by Kehoe. I felt for them. I felt as if I was sitting at the dinner table with them at the end.

Also, if you don't know what "Hallelujah" is, let me point you right below. Go ahead and cry and feel every single emotion with me. (This is posted on VEVO, so you may need to click to watch and listen to it on YouTube.) This is THE version for me. Every. single. time. Tears.

When I closed the book, I gave it a hug. The ARC will have a permanent position on my bookcase and I have a beautiful hardback heading my way. This is one that I will recommend as often as possible.

ENTER TO WIN…a signed first edition of THE SOUND OF LETTING GO, one of four different TsoLG Swag Packs, or a pair of author-designed custom Keds sneakers (size 8)

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