Friday, June 28, 2013

REVIEW and GIVEAWAY: Confessions of an Almost Girlfriend by Louise Rozett

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Confessions of an Almost Girlfriend by Louise Rozett from Harlequin Teen.  The tour is hosted by YA Bound Book Tours.  You can visit the rest of the stops on the tour here.  My stop today features a review and giveaway, which you can enter below.  Thanks so much for stopping by!

Confessions of an Almost-Girlfriend 
Release Date: 06/18/13 
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Rose Zarelli has big plans for sophomore year—everything is going to be different. This year, she’s going to be the talented singer with the killer voice, the fabulous girl with the fashionista best friend, the brainiac who refuses to let Jamie Forta jerk her around...

...but if she’s not careful, she’s also going to be the sister who misses the signals, the daughter who can only think about her own pain, the “good girl” who finds herself in mid-scandal again (because no good deed goes unpunished) and possibly worst of all...the almost-girlfriend.

When all else fails, stop looking for love and go find yourself.

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Confessions of an Angry Girl
by Louise Rozett
Release Date: 08/28/12
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
288 pages

Rose Zarelli, self-proclaimed word geek and angry girl, has some confessions to make…

1. I'm livid all the time. Why? My dad died. My mom barely talks. My brother abandoned us. I think I'm allowed to be irate, don't you?

2. I make people furious regularly. Want an example? I kissed Jamie Forta, a badass guy who might be dating a cheerleader. She is nowenraged and out for blood. Mine.

3. High school might as well be Mars. My best friend has been replaced by an alien, and I see red all the time. (Mars is red and "seeing red" means being angry—get it?)

Here are some other vocab words that describe my life: Inadequate. Insufferable. Intolerable.

(Don't know what they mean? Look them up yourself.)

(Sorry. That was rude.)

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REVIEW: Confessions of an Angry Girl
First of all, this was probably the first totally YA book I’ve read in a VERY long time.  Like, maybe since I was a teenager, and I’m frickin old.  But, these two books came in on a weekend where I was just burnt out on NA really – like really bad.  I was just frustrated with a bunch of books that I had committed to review, and all I really wanted as a book where the writing flowed and would allow me to just enjoy the story.
I read these two books in one day.  They were so fun.  Rose’s voice was just fabulous, I loved her.  Normally I’m not into the fourteen year old’s perspective.  It’s been a long time since I was fourteen, I was wild when I was fourteen, so pretty much nothing these fourteen year olds are doing in any of these books can hold a candle to my real life.  But that Jamie… yup.  He was sorta hot for a highschooler!  :)
I thoroughly enjoyed Confessions of  an Angry Girl.. I totally got it.  Rose lost her dad, she was really, really struggling with that and to top it all off, she was a freshman in high school.  It’s a lot for a kid.
And in walks this older guy who sorta pays attention to her, but is just aloof enough to keep her hanging.  I had a few these guys at her age, but I wanted to believe Jamie was a good guy.  And I did, for this entire book… all the way to the end.  And then… yeah. I’ve been there too.  
I was pretty much done with Jamie. He was a total screw-up.
I did very much enjoy how Rose worked through her grief with her online “friends” at the blog she made for her father. I thought that was touching.  I hate the thought of kids losing their parents because they are serving their country.  It’s just so tragic and sad, I hate it, but that was a nice touch and I think it really helped Rose work through her anger.
I think Rose is an incredibly strong character in this book even though she has a lot of self-doubt.  I like how she stood up to her mom about her blog and the way she chooses to cope with her sadness and honor her father at the same time.  That was strength, even if she didn't realize it at the time.  I also think Rose starts off stronger than she ends up and I think Jamie is the reason she grows weaker.  She trusts him and I'm just not convinced he deserves it. But love is love.  That's not something that can be turned off easily, and not amount of good advice will change someone's mind.  That's a life lesson that has to be learned first hand.

REVIEW: Confessions of an Almost Girlfriend
So book two – Jamie is still being a douchebag, but now Rose is presented with two more very grown-up issues. Hate and domestic violence.  I’m just gonna go on record and say I agree with her decision. I get why Jaime was angry, he feels responsible for this family, but he was way out of line.  This girl is only sixteen and Jamie is as unpredictable as they come. 
How is she supposed to know what the right thing to do is? Did she stay silent because she was jealous of Regina and Jamie?  Maybe. Did she stay silent because she was told to?  Maybe.  Did she stay silent because she feared for what Jamie would do? Probably.
I’m totally over this Jamie guy and I got over him way before that final incident because Jamie threatened someone with a gun.  OK. A gun.  I’m a second Amendment Rights Advocate, I actually carry a gun at all times, I have no problem with guns, my son learned to shoot when he was ten.  But that incident when he took that gun out and threatened someone, I was done with him.  I cannot even explain how not cool that is and if Rose was my daughter, I’d hope she had the sense to figure out just how unstable that move really was and toss this guy out.

With that said, I can’t really make a decision on Rose until I read the last book because, of course, book two is right in the middle of her character arc.  It's impossible to determine if she's strong and self-confident or weak and timid until this plays out.  I think everything hinges on her making a decision to move on or get stuck in this pattern of abuse.  Because that’s what Jamie’s doing to her.  He’s mentally abusing her – he’s keeping her secret, he’s messing with her head, he’s not able to commit. But yet he wants all the perks, right? He’s playing with her. And he most definitely does NOT respect her.
One boy I did very much enjoy was Angelo!  I loved his character and I loved that he's going to be a bigger part of Rose's life, even if it is off "camera" so to speak, becasue of how the book ends. I'm officially Team Angelo. 

So, basically the one character that got me totally hooked on this series is a total jerk and I can’t stand him!  :) But that might be the author’s intent, I’m not sure yet.  Maybe he redeems himself next time around. With that said, I enjoyed the books, I enjoyed Rose, and I’ll definitely be tuning in for the next one.

***GIVEAWAY*** One lucky winner will get a signed copy of ANGRY GIRL, a signed copy of ALMOST-GIRLFRIEND, and a $25 iTunes gift card! (US only) a Rafflecopter giveaway

About the Author
Louise Rozett is an author, a playwright, and a recovering performer. She made her YA debut with Confessions of an Angry Girl, published by Harlequin Teen. The next book in the series, Confessions of an Almost-Girlfriend, is due out June 2013. She lives with her 120-pound Bernese Mountain dog Lester (named after Lester Freamon from THE WIRE, of course) in one of the world's greatest literary meccas, Brooklyn...and also in sunny Los Angeles. (Being bi-coastal is fun!) Visit for more info.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

REVIEW: Valley of Darkness by A.B. Whelan

Valley of Darkness
by A.B. Whelan

What if we were not alone in the universe?
What if your boyfriend was a supernatural alien?
What if you had to choose between two worlds?

After months of amazing adventures and secrecy, Molly and Victor find peace in each other’s arms. Adam’s memory has been erased. The secret of the Arkanians is safe. Life couldn’t be more perfect.

But Molly is robbed of her short-lived happiness when a devastating tragedy strikes her family, shattering her entire existence. Faced with a terrifying future, she feels that there is nothing left for her on Earth but an insensitive aunt and her little brother, while Arkana promises a place where she might find happiness and purpose again.

Victor tries to convince Molly to move to his village in Arkana, where they can live together in secret. But Molly refuses to live in the shadows. She wants to be a Sentinel and join the fight against the Terrakas. But getting into the Academy requires more than a pretty face.

REVIEW: Valley of Darkness
Once again, AB Whelan captivates me with her storytelling.  I loved this book.  Actually, I love this whole story.  AB has a way with words.  Now, I’ve seen some reviewers on Goodreads complain about her way with words because English is her second language.  But for me, part of what makes her storytelling so appealing is the way she strings those words together.  Her writer’s voice is totally unique and I love it.

I just completely adore this series.  Everything about it appeals to me.  I love the new world she builds on the alien planet Arkana, I love Victor – he’s totally swoon-worthy!  I love Molly because she’s flawed, but yet she had a very strict moral upbringing.  One that should probably stifle her a bit, make her a little resentful. But that’s not how she sees it.  She respects her dad, so she tries very hard to respect his rules.  

In this book, she’s breaking a lot of rules.  She’s willfully lying about what she’s doing on the weekends, she’s seeing Victor, pretty seriously.  And even though it remains innocent, she’s starting to give some thought to progressing into a more serious relationship with him.  I loved this growing up aspect to Molly. This book is truly a coming-of-age story.

One thing I think is absolutely BRILLIANT about this world-building is the time difference between worlds.  I didn’t bring it up properly in the last book review for Fields of Elysium, maybe because I was a bit skeptical, but this time I have to point out that it’s very, very clever. In fact, this is what sets up all the conflict in this book.  You see, Molly and Victor can’t just go about their merry ways, enjoying each other on the weekends and pretending that no difficult choices must be made.  Because Victor will age five times faster than Molly and pretty soon this will not be good.

Valley of Darkness is all about making the tough choices. Sigh, I can’t say much more without spoilers, but this is an exceptional storyline and if I had a teenage daughter, I’d be pushing this series big time.  It’s a good book for kids who enjoy a paranormal romance but aren’t ready for the “new adult” books that are just all over the place right now.

This book has not even been released yet and I’m already aching for the second half.

Fields of Elysium by A.B. Whelan

How can love mend a heart full of hate?

Small town girl, Molly Bennett, moves to Los Angeles where she becomes an outsider while attending Beverly Hills High School. It seems life cannot be any more dreadful. Then one day after school, something magical happens. On a secluded hike in the Hollywood Hills, Molly chases her disobedient mutt and only friend into a hidden cavern. She stumbles upon a strange glimmering gateway that transports her to Arkana, a planet that is the cradle of an advanced human race.
There, teenagers navigate amazing flying vehicles, compete in perilous games for glory, and possess supernatural powers. While Molly tries to wrap her mind around this unbelievable discovery, she meets the alluring and mysterious Victor Sorren. He is a Sentinel Apprentice, whose hatred toward people from Earth is beyond understanding. Yet every time Victor unpredictably saves Molly's life, his heart draws closer to hers, no matter how much he tries to fight against it. It further complicates things that their growing friendship is strictly forbidden. Earth people are prohibited in Arkana, yet Molly continues to cross through the portal to Arkana to see Victor. Torn between their double lives, they go down a dangerous path, from where there is no return and multiple endings.

Fields of Elysium is a suspenseful, romantic tale full of forbidden secrets, unimaginable danger, deception, and the never-ending fight for true love.


"The novel's take on otherworldly travel is a compelling one, and the romantic plot will likely appeal to Twilight fans." - Kirkus Reviews

"I expected a good love story with a paranormal twist. I got so much more. I think you should take the chance and read it. Let this book take you on the adventure, fall in love." - Young Adult and Teen Readers

"Fields of Elysium is a fabulous read. ... Whelan paints her faith into the fabric of her story with deft, light brushstrokes, making her work accessible to all, no matter their spiritual beliefs or background." - Readers Favorite

"I escaped into this fantasy world, author, A.B.Whelan, created and I didn’t want Molly to go. From detailed descriptions, to sweet romance, and to all the twist and turns in the story, it had me captivated from page one." - Mary Ting, author of the Crossroads Saga

"Whelan's writing is very vivid and descriptive. It's more formal than the average YA novel, but I enjoyed the lyrical and mesmerizing quality to it. I thought the overall story read like a fairy tale--very sweet." - Megan Thomason, author of Daynight.

Author A.B. Whelan

A.B.Whelan is a Hungarian born, American writer. She currently lives with her husband and two children in Southern California.

While growing up in a wealthy Eastern European family, she had a chance to travel Europe. Later as an adult, she visited Africa and the Middle East and lived in Ecuador and in Crete.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

EXCERPT: Visited by Janine Caldwell

by Janine Caldwell 
Publication date: May 25th 2013
Genre: YA coming-of-age fantasy

Seventeen-year-old Joanna Murphy has lost faith in her life. Vying for her mom’s attention, she’s resentful of her stepdad’s intrusion to their family. Her best friend, Tommy, has no clue she’s in love with him as he dates girl after girl without noticing how it tortures her. The final kicker, though, is God’s sick joke to make her freakishly tall when everyone knows boys prefer petite girls.

Then in a bizarre accident Joanna meets James, a breathtaking teen who appears to her after an unusual falling star sighting. Suddenly, her dream for an alien encounter becomes all too real. But when she finds her life has been made unrecognizable, she’s forced into an explosive study of the original design for her life that just may have her regretting every wish she ever made.

Excerpt of Visited
I gape up at him, the fear beginning to course through my veins. “Who are you?”

“A friend.” He answers in an even enough tone, but at the same time, his face begins to glow the color of amber, making him look warm and unusually vibrant. I’ve never known any being able to radiate such a glow. Any being from Earth, that is.

“A friend?” I manage to whisper back before swallowing a gulp. “Are-are you human?” I’m half kidding, but after years of watching realistic science fiction movies and reading a library of fantasy novels, I think I mean the question more than I want to admit. However, he doesn’t answer me. He averts his eyes, blinking rapidly like he’s unsure of the situation.

Again, I’m at a loss of what to think. I thought I asked a pretty straightforward question and he can’t even answer that. By his omission, I have to assume he’s trying to tell me he isn’t human!

Is this really happening? And, more importantly, if he’s not human, then what is he?

My brain pores through a dozen images at once, my chest heaving from the excitement. I flash to movies, T.V. shows, graphic novels, and to my own imagination as I consider what life form James could be. While I try to convince myself I’m jumping to conclusions, that of course this is all a misunderstanding or perhaps an elaborate hoax, something else itches in the back of my mind. That something whispers: Haven’t you always considered the existence of other worlds? Discussed the possibility a hundred times with Tommy?

The answer to both questions is an emphatic yes. I decide right then, despite all reason, I know what James is.

“I think I know what you are,” I remark feebly.

He turns to me with a spark of expectation in his eyes, still glowing, still warm.
“You came to Earth with that star last night, didn’t you?”

Blood rushes to his cheeks, giving him an even brighter supernatural glow, and then I know I have my answer.

“That’s it, isn’t it?” I sit upright, gripping the sheet into my fists. “You’re from another planet. That’s how you have the power to heal.”

He pales for a second, but amazingly, he doesn’t deny it. He flickers his lashes upward like he’s searching the ceiling for his reply. After a moment, he shakes his head of soft curls that brush his neck before redirecting his intense expression back on me. He licks his lips and smiles pensively, but I feel the same need as before to shy away; whether it’s from shock or from a loss of focus I don’t know, but holding his gaze is next to impossible.

My mind is all aflutter trying to come to grips with what I’m being confronted to believe.

“Incredible. I was right all along,” I murmur, commenting to myself. “Aliens do exist.”

Janine Caldwell was born in Concord, CA and raised in the small San Francisco Bay Area town of Clayton. Four days after her high school graduation, Janine attended California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo and graduated with a degree in English.

Janine now lives in Anthem, AZ with her husband and two sons. As a lifelong literature fanatic, she knew it was only a matter of time before she would become obsessed with writing her own work. With relatives like the Brothers Grimm and Anita Loos (Gentlemen Prefer Blondes), she figured fantasy writing had to be in her DNA.

Books published by Janine include Visited, a YA coming-of-age fantasy, Rematch and Double Fault—the first two books of The Vortex Series. The final book in this YA fantasy romance, Deuce, will be released fall 2013.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

COVER REVEAL: Necessary Sacrifices by Zoe Cannon

Necessary Sacrifices 
by Zoe Cannon Series: The Torturer’s Daughter, #2
Publication date: July 15th 2013 Genre: YA Dystopia
DESCRIPTION A year and a half ago, Becca Dalcourt joined the resistance. Three months ago, she started working undercover inside Internal Defense. A year from now, she’ll probably be dead. She knows the odds. She’s seen how the life of a double agent ends. All she wants is a chance to do something with what little time she has left. Something big. Something meaningful. But the resistance doesn’t  trust her, and her job transcribing torture sessions hasn’t given her anything but the names of dissidents whose lives, according to her resistance contact, aren’t worth saving. So when she discovers a secret government program designed to brainwash dissidents into loyal citizens, she resolves to shut it down, no matter the cost. Even if her plan puts everyone she loves in danger. Even if the most experienced resistance fighters say it can’t be done. Even if it means betraying the only person who sees past the mask she wears every day. Even if she has to do it alone. The sequel to The Torturer’s Daughter, which has been praised for its dark realism, Necessary Sacrifices asks how you fight an enemy that can't be defeated... and what sacrifices are worth making along the way.
Add It!
New Adult Addiction
The First Book in this Series
When her best friend Heather calls in the middle of the night, Becca assumes it's the usual drama. Wrong. Heather's parents have been arrested as dissidents - and Becca's mother, the dystopian regime's most infamous torturer, has already executed them for their crimes against the state. To stop Heather from getting herself killed trying to prove her parents' innocence, Becca hunts for proof of their guilt. She doesn't expect to find evidence that leaves her questioning everything she thought she knew about the dissidents... and about her mother. When she risks her life to save a dissident, she learns her mother isn't the only one with secrets - and the plot she uncovers will threaten the lives of the people she loves most. For Becca, it's no longer just a choice between risking execution and ignoring the regime's crimes; she has to decide whose life to save and whose to sacrifice. It's easy to be a hero when you can save the world, but what about when all you can do is choose how you live in it? THE TORTURER'S DAUGHTER is a story about ordinary teenage life amidst the realities of living under an oppressive regime... and the extraordinary courage it takes to do what's right in a world gone wrong.

Buy It!
New Adult Addiction New Adult Addiction New Adult Addiction

Zoe Cannon
About the author...

Zoe Cannon writes about the things that fascinate her: outsiders, societies no sane person would want to live in, questions with no easy answers, and the inner workings of the mind. If she couldn't be a writer, she would probably be a psychologist, a penniless philosopher, or a hermit in a cave somewhere. While she'll read anything that isn't nailed down, she considers herself a YA reader and writer at heart. She lives in New Hampshire with her husband and a giant teddy bear of a dog, and spends entirely too much time on the internet.

New Adult Addiction New Adult Addiction New Adult Addiction New Adult Addiction
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Wednesday, June 19, 2013

GIVEAWAY and EXCERPT: Aberrant by Ruth Silver

by Ruth Silver
Publication date: April 28th 2013 (paperback)
Genre: YA Dystopian

In the future Dystopian society of Cabal, the government instills equality for all and offers its citizens the perfect system. There is food, shelter and jobs for everyone. The one requirement is to follow the rules without question, including the government's match in marriage and "The Day of the Chosen", a lottery that randomly selects families to conceive children as natural means hasn't existed in generations. Following her eighteenth birthday, Olivia Parker accepts her requirement to marry her childhood best friend, Joshua Warren, and is eager to start her work assignment and new life when it all comes abruptly to an end as she's arrested and thrown in prison. The only crime committed, her existence. Olivia is unlike the rest of the world born not from "The Day of the Chosen." The truth haunts the government and puts her life in grave danger as one simple fact would destroy the perfect system.

With Joshua's help, Olivia breaks free of prison and is forced on the run. Together they set out to find the promised rebel town in search of a new home and new life together. Their situation seems less than promising as they reach the town of Haven. New rules and customs must be adhered to in order to stay. Leaving would mean most certain death in the large expanse of the Gravelands. Time is running out as the government mounts an attack to destroy Olivia and bury her secret with her. Thrown into a world unlike their own, they must quickly adapt to survive.

Excerpt from Aberrant by Ruth Silver

    ...I sighed softly and did something I'd only read about in forbidden novels. I leant in, brushing my lips against his. The kiss was soft and chaste. It lasted no more than a mere second before I pulled back.  
    "What was that, Olive?" He gave me a horrified look and all I could feel was my stomach somersault. I knew romance and love weren't ever spoken of in Genesis. There was no need when the government knew who was perfect for one another, and children were won by lottery and conceived in a lab. Intimate acts were considered unnecessary.  
"I read about it in a book," I whispered, afraid I'd done it all wrong. "It was a kiss," I breathed, chewing on my bottom lip nervously. I’d never kissed anyone before and worried he thought it was terrible. I’d never seen two people share a kiss, I didn’t quite know what it was supposed to look like, but I thought I’d done it right after reading about it. My hand reached out, grabbing his arm. "Please don't be mad at me." I breathed. "You have to swear you won't tell anyone!" Joshua hesitated for only an instant before he leaned in, taking another taste from my lips trying again. The second kiss was softer and satisfied both of our curiosities. My heart raced and my skin warmed to his touch. "I thought today was going to turn out so much worse," I confessed.  
Joshua laughed as he pulled back slightly, staring at me. His eyes had darkened a deeper richer shade of blue. I'd never seen his eyes change colors before. His fingers moved to tickle my stomach with a grin. "Worse? Really? You're not happy you married me? You're just relieved it wasn't someone worse?"  
    "No!" I shrieked, "That's not what I meant!" I tried to catch my breath, but he hardly gave me a second more than necessary. I pulled from his ticklish grasp, jumped from the couch and ran across the room in a fit of laughter. He quickly followed, jumping over the sofa as he was just inches from me. He was close now, smiling and trailing behind me as I ran toward the bedroom. It was probably the worst place I could go, trapped between Joshua and a mattress. I felt him tackle me down onto the plush bed, his hands skimmed my stomach but he was no longer tickling me. The laughter still hadn't subsided.  
    "Breathe," Joshua said, staring intently at me.  
    "Trying," I gasped between fits of laughter. Lying down helped settle the feeling of my racing heart, and after a moment I shifted along the mattress, reaching out to him. "I want to tell you a story," I insisted as my fingers found his cheek. "One I read in a book." I wanted him to learn the things I had about love and romance. I couldn't help but feel my body stir with a strange fire and warmth as he loomed just above me. Staring up at him I froze on the mattress hearing the latch click on the front door. I knew it had been locked.

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Ruth Silver is the best-selling author of Aberrant. The Young Adult/New Adult Romantic Dystopian Adventure, Aberrant is the first in a trilogy,  released April 17th, 2013. Silver first began writing poetry as a teenager and reading heaps of fan fiction in her free time. She attended Northern Illinois University in 2001 and graduated with a Bachelor’s in Communication. While in college she spent much of her free time writing with friends she met online and penning her first novel, Deuces are Wild, which she self-published in 2004. Her favorite class was Creative Writing senior year where she often handed in assignments longer than the professor required because she loved to write and always wanted to finish her stories. Her love of writing, led her on an adventure in 2007 to Melbourne, Australia. Silver enjoys reading YA/NA  novels and sharing her favorite books with other readers. She also enjoys photography, traveling and of most of all writing.


Tuesday, June 18, 2013

GIVEAWAY BLITZ: Rift Healer by Diane M. Haynes

Rift Healer Tour  
rift healer

Rift Healer

Rift Healer is the first installment of the 'Forest Magic' series, a Young Adult Fantasy/Romance set in Central and Western Massachusetts. After a minor earthquake, the enchanted forest in Bidwell, MA, is infested with monster-spewing rifts. Gisele Westerfield's great nephew, the gifted Micah, and his distant cousin, Selena, arrive to assist. Together with Gisele's summer students, twins Haley and Lacey, they will try to heal the magical forest. Much to the consternation of the beautiful Selena, Micah identifies Haley as The One whom he'll share his future. But after witnessing a terrifying display of Micah's Gift, Haley cools to his advances and unexpectedly discovers her own Gift-- she can heal the earth. Monsters, mayhem, and teenage angst follow the small group as they confront evil in the forest and a dangerous prediction that 'one will fall'. Will they heal the rifts in time? Can they save the unicorns? And is Haley really destined to be with Micah? 


dianeAuthor Diane M. Haynes

Diane has lived in Massachusetts all her life where early on, her artistic talents were fostered, though her skills as an "excellent report writer" were often noted in previous employment. On her brother Rick's birthday, November 16, 2004, seven months after his death, she woke from an amazing dream which would not fade. She outlined the dream, made a few quick notes and days later produced a 12 page short story. After deciding her story was interesting but incomplete, she began writing her first novel, using her dream as its climax. She now believes the dream to be a 'Spirit Gift,' sent by her brother. Diane continues to reside in Central MA with her husband and a very naughty Basset Hound named Basil and his new adopted sister-Basset, Ruby, both of whom cleverly wreak havoc on the Haynes' formerly well-ordered lives. She spends her time writing, reading books about writing, talking about writing, painting with watercolors, antiqueing and attempting to train a very reluctant Basil and a willing, but highly comedic Ruby.
  Book Blast Giveaway $50 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash Ends 7/4/13  a Rafflecopter giveaway