Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Cover Reveal Chasing the Star Garden by Melanie Karsak‏, with Giveaway



Title: Chasing the Star Garden 
Author: Melanie Karsak
Series: The Airship Racing Chronicles, Book I
Genre: Alternative History/Gaslamp-Steampunk
Publisher: Clockpunk Press
Date of Publication: December 4th, 2013
Cover Artist: Damonza



Book Description

An opium-addicted beauty.

An infamous poet living in self-imposed exile.

An ancient treasure about to fall into the wrong hands.

Melanie Karsak’s “Chasing the Star Garden” takes the reader on an exciting adventure from the gritty opium dens of gaslamp London to the gem-colored waters of the ancient world, introducing us Lily Stargazer, a loveable but reckless airship racer with a famous lover and a shattered past.

Lily Stargazer is having a bad day. She just lost the London leg of the 1823 Airship Grand Prix. To top it off, a harlequin fleeing from constables shoved a kaleidoscope down her pants, told her to fly to Venice, then threw himself from her airship tower.

What’s a girl to do? For Lily, the answer is easy: drink absinthe and smoke opium. 

Lily’s lover, Lord Byron, encourages her to make the trip to Venice. Lily soon finds herself at the heart of an ancient mystery which has her running from her past and chasing true love and the stars along the way.


Excerpt

Chapter 1

I was going to lose-again. I gripped the brass handles on the wheel hard and turned the airship sharply port. The tiller vibrated in protest making the wheel shake and my wrist bones ache. Bracing my knees against the spokes, I tore off my brown leather gloves to get a better feel. The metal handgrips were smooth and cold. My fingers tingled from the chill.
“Easy,” I whispered to the Stargazer. I looked up from my position at the wheelstand, past the ropes, burner basket, and balloon, toward the clouds. They were drifting slowly left in a periwinkle blue sky. There would be an updraft as we passed over the green brown waters of the canal near Buckingham House. I locked the wheel and jumped from the wheelstand onto the deck of the gondola and looked over the rail. The canal waters were about a hundred feet away. I ran back to the wheel and steadied the ship. If I caught the updraft, it would propel me up and forward, giving me an edge.
“Cutter caught it, Lily,” Jessup yelled down from the burner basket below the balloon opening. “Up he goes,” he added, looking out through his spyglass. The gold polish on the spyglass reflected the fire from the burner.
“Dammit!” I snapped down my binocular lense. I saw Hank Cutter’s red and white striped balloon rise upward. At the top, he pitched forward with great momentum, catching a horizontal wind. I could just make out Cutter at the wheel. His blond hair blew wildly around him. He turned and waved to me. Wanker.
I was not as lucky. Just as the bow of the Stargazer reached the water, a stray wind came in and blew me leeward. The balloon jiggled violently in the turbulent air. I missed the air pocket altogether.
“No! No, no, no!” I cursed and steadied the ship. I had chased Cutter from Edinburgh across the Scottish and English countryside. He had been off his game all day. I’d had him by half a mile the entire race. With the bottom feeders lingering somewhere in the distance behind us, I’d thought the London leg of the 1823 Airship Grand Prix would be mine. That was until St. Albans, where Cutter caught a random breeze that pushed him slightly in front of me. Cutter had a knack for catching favorable winds; it was not a talent I shared.
“We’re coming up on Westminster,” Jessup called from the basket. “Lily, drop altitude. Cutter is too high. Come in low and fast, and you might overtake him.”
The airship towers sat at the pier near the Palace of Westminster along the Thames. A carnival atmosphere had overtaken the city as it always does on race day. There were colorful tents set up everywhere. Vendors hawked their wares to the excited Londoners and international visitors. Even from this distance, I could hear the merchants barking from their tents. I even fancied I could smell roasted peanuts in the wind.
I jumped down from the wheelstand, ran across the deck, and pulled the valve cord, opening the flap at the top of the balloon. Hot air released with a hiss. I kept one eye on the balloon and another eye on Tinkers’ Tower. At this time of day, the heat coming off of the Palace of Westminster and Tinkers’ Tower would give you a bump. I looked up. Cutter had started preparing his descent. It would be close.
I ran back to the wheel.
“Angus, I need more speed,” I yelled down to the gear galley, rapping on the wooden hatch that led to the rods, belts, and propeller parts below.
Angus slapped open the hatch and stuck out his bald head. His face was covered in grease, and his blue-lense monocle glimmered in the sunlight. He looked up at the clouds and back at me.
“Let’s giddyup,” I called to him.
“You trying the Tower sling?” he yelled back.
“You got it.”
He laughed wildly. “That’s my lassie,” he yelled and dropped back down, pulling the wood hatch closed with a clap. I heard the gears grind and the propeller, which had been turning nice and steady, hummed loudly. The ship pitched forward. Within moments, we were coming up on Tinkers’ Tower. The airship towers were just a stone’s throw away.
I aimed the ship directly toward Tinkers’ Tower. Just as the bowsprit neared the clock, I yanked the wheel. The warm air caught us.
“Whoa!” Jessup yelled as the balloon moved within arm’s length of the tower.
The sound of “Ohhs!” echoed from the crowd below.
A mix of warm air and propulsion gave us some go, and seconds later we were slingshotting around Tinkers’ Tower toward the airship platforms. Gliding in on warm air and momentum, we flew fast and low.
Cutter had kept it high, but now he was dropping like a stone toward his own tower. Damned American. I didn’t blame him; I would have used the same move. His balloon was releasing so much air that I wondered if he would be able to slow down in time, not that I wouldn’t mind seeing him smash to the ground in a million pieces.
“It’s going to be close,” Jessup yelled as he adjusted the heat pan.
I guided the helm. The Stargazer was temperamental, but we understood one another. A shake of the wheel warned me I was pushing too hard. “Almost there,” I whispered to the ship.
The Grand Prix Marshalls were standing on the platform. Cutter and I had the end towers. I was going to make it.
“Cut propulsion,” I yelled toward the gear galley. On the floor near the wheelstand was a rope attached to a bell in the galley. I rang it twice. The propeller switched off.
A soft, sweet wind blew in from the port side. It ruffled my hair around my shoulders. I closed my eyes and turned the wheel slightly starboard, guiding the ship in. As the bowsprit scooped into the opening of the tower, I heard a jubilant cheer erupt from the American side and an explosion from the firework cannon signaling the winner had been declared.
My eyes popped open. I tore off my goggles and looked starboard. Cutter’s balloon was parked. I threw the goggles onto the deck and set my forehead against the wheel.
The Stargazer settled into her tower. Jessup set the balloon on hover and, grabbing a rope, swung down to the deck. He then threw the lead lines and anchors onto the platform. The beautifully dressed crowd, gentlemen in suits and top hats and fancy ladies in a rainbow of satin gowns and parasols, rushed toward the American end of the platform to congratulate the winner.
I was, once again, a national disgrace. Lily the loser. Lily second place. Perhaps I would never be anything more than a ferrywoman, a cheap air jockey.
“Good job, Lily. Second place!” Jessup said joining me. He patted me on the shoulder.
I sighed deeply and unbuttoned my vest. The tension had me sweating; I could feel it dripping down from my neck, between my breasts, into my corset.
“You did great,” I told Jessup. “Sorry I let you down.”
“Ah, Lily,” he sighed.
Angus emerged from below wiping sweat from his head with a greasy rag. He pulled off his monocle. He frowned toward the American side. “Well, we beat the French,” he said with a shrug and kissed me on the cheek, smearing grease on me.
 “Good job, Angus. Thank you,” I said taking him by the chin and giving him a little shake as I wrinkled my nose and smiled at him.
Angus laughed and dropped his arm around Jessup’s shoulders. They grinned happily at one another.
“You stink, brother,” Jessup told him.
“It’s a wee bit toasty down there. Besides, I pedaled this ship across the entire fucking country while ya were up here looking at the birds. That, my friend, is the smell of success.”
I laughed.
“You pedaled the ship?” Jessup said mockingly. “Like Lil and I were just up here playing cards? If I didn’t keep the balloon aloft, your ass would be kissing the ground.”
“Now wait a minute. Are ya saying your job is more important that mine?” Angus retorted.
I could see where this was going. “Gents.”
“More important? Now why would I say that? Just because I’m the one . . .” Jessup started and then his mouth ran.
“Gents.”
“ . . . and another thing . . .” Jessup went on.
“Gentlemen! Our audience awaits,” I said cutting them both off, motioning to the well-shod crowd who waited for us on the loading platform outside the Stargazer.
I grinned at my crew. “Come on. Let’s go.”
I patted the rail of the Stargazer. “Thanks,” I whispered to her, and we exited onto the platform.
A reporter from the London Times and several race officials stood waiting for me.
“Well done, Lily! Well done!” the British race official congratulated me with a pat on the back. “Second place! King George will be so proud. One of these days you’ll have it, by God.”
I was pretty sure that the last thing I needed was the attention of George IV, the extravagant, unpopular lush. But I bit my tongue and smiled politely.
“Lily, how did Cutter beat you? You led the entire race,” the reporter, a round woman wearing a very thick black lace collar which looked like it was choking her, asked me. Her heavy purple walking dress looked hot under the late afternoon summer sun. The brim of her black satin cap barely shaded her nose. I noticed then, however, that she had a small clockwork fan pin attached to her chest. The fan wagged cool air toward her face.
I pulled off my cap, mopped my forehead, and thought about the question. “Luck,” I replied.
“Lily, that was some move around Tinkers’ Tower. How did you learn to do that?” another reporter asked.
“My father,” I lied.
“Make way, make way,” one of the race officials called, ushering a Marshall forward.
The Marshall looked like someone who lingered an hour too long at supper. The gold buttons on his marigold satin vest would take an eye out if they popped. His overly tall top hat was adorned with a ring of flowers that matched his striking orange colored dress coat.
“Miss Stargazer, congratulations,” he said, shaking my hand. “The Spanish airship is coming in now. Will you please join Mr. Cutter at the winners’ podium?” he asked politely as he guided me forward by the hand.
From below there was a commotion. A man dressed in an unusual costume was rushing up the stairs. What looked like a full squadron of the Bow Street Runners, the London constables, were chasing him. When he got to the loading platform, the man pushed through a crowd of well-dressed ladies and gentlemen, many of whom were gentry. It was then I could see he was dressed as a harlequin. He wore the traditional red and black checked outfit and a black mask. He scanned the towers and caught sight of me. He jumped, landing on the tower railing, and ran toward me. A woman in the crowd screamed. Moments later the constables appeared on the platform. The race Marshalls pointed toward the harlequin who was making a beeline for me.
I let go of the Marshall’s hand and stepped back toward the ship.
“Lily,” Jessup warned, moving protectively toward me.
Angus reached over the deck of the Stargazer and grabbed a very large wrench.
Was it an assassin? Christ, would someone murder me for winning second place? I turned then and ran toward the Stargazer. A moment later, the harlequin flipped from the rail, grabbed one of the Stargazer’s ropes, and swinging over the others, landed on the platform directly in front of me. Any second now, I would be dead.
“Lily?” he asked from behind the mask.
“Stop that man! Stop him!” a constable yelled.
“Get out of my way!” Angus roared at the crowd that had thronged in between us.
The masked man grabbed me, tugged on the front of my trousers, and leaned into my ear. The long nose of the mask tickled my face. “Go to Venice,” he whispered as he stuffed something down the front of my pants.
“We got you now,” a constable said, grabbing him, raising his club.
The man shook him off, took two steps backward, and with a jump, leapt off the tower.
Several people in the crowd screamed.
I rushed to the side of the tower to see the harlequin lying at its base. His body was twisted oddly. Blood began pooling around him.
“Miss Stargazer, are you all right?” a constable asked.
“A man just killed himself in front of me. No, I am not all right.”
“I mean, are you harmed? Did he hurt you?”
I shook my head and looked down at the mangled body whose twisted form made the shape of a three-sided triskelion. It was the same symbol that was painted on the balloon of the Stargazer.


Author Bio

Melanie Karsak grew up in rural northwestern Pennsylvania where there was an abysmal lack of entertainment, so she turned to reading and hiking. Apparently, rambling around the woods with a head full of fantasy worlds and characters will inspire you to become an author. Be warned. Melanie wrote her first novel, a gripping piece about a 1920s stage actress, when she was 12. A steampunk connoisseur, white elephant collector, and caffeine junkie, the author now resides in Florida with her husband and two children. Melanie is an Instructor of English at Eastern Florida State College.


Author Links
Be sure to request an Authorgraph


Giveaway
10 ebook ARCs of  Chasing the Star Garden

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Blog Tour: Guest Post by Carissa Andrews, author of Pendomus


Follow the Tour Schedule


Guest Post
THE MANY BOOK LOOKS OF PENDOMUS

When I started writing Pendomus, I would occasionally get stuck. (Say it isn’t so!) When that was the case, I’d lean on my background in communication art (aka Graphic Design) to “sketch out” covers for the book.

It’s been three years since Pendomus first landed in my brain, so bear with some of the thumbnails. Not only has my writing grown with me, so has my visual art. As you may also guess, the book’s title has gone through a few different incarnations, too. ;)


What do you think? Can you see the evolution of the final cover buried in the older thumbnails?

















Title: Pendomus 
Author: Carissa Andrews 

Series: Pendomus Chronicles, Book #1 

Publication date: October 10th, 2013 
Genres: Young Adult, Dystopia, Fantasy, Science Fiction


Synopsis:
Humanity has colonized on a tidally locked planet known as Pendomus, a planet of extremes. Half eternal scorching desert and half perpetual arctic night. Surviving along the temperate band between the two, we’ve set up home in a complex known as the Helix. Within the Helix lies a highly sophisticated, highly technological society functioning solely on humans fulfilling their life’s purpose. That purpose is determined and nurtured through a person’s natural aptitudes, as read by their daily brain scans. Eating, sleeping, even procreation is handled by professionals. These basic concepts, no longer a part of society’s every day norm.

Seventeen-year-old Runa Cophem longs to be more than part of the Helix machine. Her life inside is anything but fulfilling. She feels disconnected, and longs to be more than society dictates. Inside, no one socializes, no one interacts in a meaningful way. It’s never set right with Runa. She would love nothing more than to reach out to her family, but not even her own mother can show any semblance of love for her. Instead, Runa has found solace in the ancient woods nearby, despite being strictly forbidden.

Runa’s life takes an unforeseen turn when she’s brutally attacked, and left for dead in those woods near the Helix. Rescued by a stranger with blue hair, she’s immersed into a surprising way humanity has survived. Fueled by a yearning to belong, and an attraction she didn’t even know was possible, Runa wants desperately to make a new life. Yet, there’s much she doesn’t know about herself, about the planet and the forces controlling her from afar.

What she needs is some answers.

Purchase


Author Bio
Born and raised in central MN, Carissa Andrews has always loved books. She started her career at 15 in a bookstore, just to be able to afford her book fetish. By 19, she worked for a magazine publisher. At 22, she was working for printers to learn their trade. At 27, she went back to school for graphic design, and became an award winning designer. Little did she know all of her experiences would lead her to becoming a self-publishing power house.

At 31, a magical world on a planet far away, invaded her mind.

At 34, she’s learned what she needs to make her work successful.

Pendomus (Book 1 of the Pendomus Chronicles) will be released OCTOBER 10, 2013.

Author Links




Giveaway

Grand prize giveaway
Prizes:
-Perfumes and aquamarine stones (related to the book) - US/CAN only
-3 Amazon gift cards (2 x 10$ and 1 x 25$) - INTL






Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Cover Reveal: Push by Eve Silver with Giveaway

Title: Push (The Game #2)
Author: Eve Silver
Release Date: 2014
Publisher: Harper Teen

Book Summary:
It’s either break the rules or die.
Miki Jones lives her life by her own strict set of rules, to keep control, to keep the gray fog of grief at bay. Then she’s pulled into the Game, where she—and her team—will die unless she follows a new set of rules: those set by the mysterious Committee.

But rules don’t mean answers, and without answers, it’s hard to trust. People are dying. The rules are unraveling. And Miki knows she’s being watched, uncertain if it’s the Drau or someone—something—else. Forced to make impossible choices and battling to save those she loves, Miki begins to see the Committee in a glaring new light.

And then the Game crosses a new boundary, pushes harder into Miki’s and her friends’ lives, and there’s nothing in the rules that can save them now.
Push is the sequel Rush fans will be screaming for.


Pre-Order:

Book One:
(linked to Goodreads)
Available from:
 photo addtogoodreadssmall_zpsa2a6cf28.png  photo B6096376-6C81-4465-8935-CE890C777EB9-1855-000001A1E900B890_zps5affbed6.jpg  photo 111AD205-AA04-4F9E-A0F4-C1264C4E9F30-1855-000001A1E8CEB6D7_zps9b730b94.jpg   photo KoboIcon_zps515cdc1a.jpg

About the Author
Eve Silver lives with her gamer husband and sons, sometimes in Canada, but often in worlds she dreams up. She loves kayaking and sunshine, dogs and desserts, and books, lots and lots of books. Watch for the first book in Eve’s new teen series, THE GAME: RUSH, coming from Katherine Tegen Books, June 2013. She also writes books for adults.

Author Links:
     


GIVEAWAY:
Harper Teen is offering an ARC of PUSH as the prize, which will be mailed to the winner early 2014, as soon as ARCs become available. (US and Canada only)

Cover Reveal Organized by:

eARC Review: Not A Drop To Drink by Mindy McGinnis



Title: Not A Drop To Drink
Author: Mindy McGinnis
Published: September 24, 2013
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian 


Regret was for people with nothing to defend, people who had no water. 

Lynn knows every threat to her pond: drought, a snowless winter, coyotes, and, most importantly, people looking for a drink. She makes sure anyone who comes near the pond leaves thirsty, or doesn't leave at all.

Confident in her own abilities, Lynn has no use for the world beyond the nearby fields and forest. Having a life means dedicating it to survival, and the constant work of gathering wood and water. Having a pond requires the fortitude to protect it, something Mother taught her well during their quiet hours on the rooftop, rifles in hand.

But wisps of smoke on the horizon mean one thing: strangers. The mysterious footprints by the pond, nighttime threats, and gunshots make it all too clear Lynn has exactly what they want, and they won’t stop until they get it….

With evocative, spare language and incredible drama, danger, and romance, debut author Mindy McGinnis depicts one girl’s journey in a barren world not so different than our own.




Review

Firstly, let me say that a lot of people are not going to see this as a perfect 5 star book. This probably isn't a "perfect" book, but do you know - I don't care. To me it deserves 5 stars. Yes it's not perfect, but that doesn't mean its not worth it. 

This is a story of drought, a world where freshwater is scarce. Lynn and her mum have their own pond which they defend with a 'shot first, ask questions later' attitude. Lynn, raised in isolation with her mum, knows nothing else but to defend that pond. 

Steb is their neighbour and I loved hearing how he was dealing with the drought as he has very little to do with Lynn and her mum. I really enjoyed his character and what he taught Lynn. 

Lynn's mum appears callous and hard but once you learn her story, it becomes more understandable. She shows a lot of strength in what she has dealt with. 

I loved Lynn. Throughout the story her character just continued to grow. There is a romance aspect, which of course concerns Lynn, but it was a sweet and cute one, that fitted with the story. 

This is a well done, quick easy read that is thought provoking, emotional and heartbreaking. 

If you like dystopians then definite give this a read. It's a favourite of the year for me.  

★★★★★ 
It Was Amazing


Buy Links





The Inspiration Behind Not A Drop To Drink






Monday, 7 October 2013

Reasons, Excuses, Changes, and Why.


So I’ve been missing on here and social media for a while now. And this is the story of WHY
In July I joined in on a Debut-A-Thon read a thon. I got through a few books, more than I normally would. Then I kind of stopped. Reading that is. I would start a book, read a bit then stop. Start another, and so on and so forth. I'm not joking. I currently have 6 books that I have started but not finished. I have read complete books in the mean time, books that I finished within a day or two (see below*). The thing was - I lost interest. I lost interest in reading. I lost interest in trying to keep up with blogging. 
Then I had uni assignments, so I did them and stayed away from reading. I still tried to post on the blog, but if you look over my posts, you'll see I went from 40 odd posts per month prior to August to 16 in August and 12 in September. 
I joined another read a thon thinking it might motivate me back to read. ..... No. It didn't. That ended on the 22 Sept. My last post was a promo on the 23 Sept. I haven't posted in 2 weeks. 
Add to all this the kerfuffle with negative reviews, authors/reviewers, and now Goodreads. All this negativity was getting me down. I don't need that kind of stress over something that was meant to be a positive, fun hobby.  
I still like reading. I still visit goodreads. I just stopped reading and book blogging when I realised it was consuming my life and that it had become my life. I was starting to not have time for anything else. I was always worried about getting reviews up in time, getting books read, helping out with promo posts and what not. It was consuming my time. So I stopped. 
I'm still not in the mood to read. I'm still trying to finish those books - and yes some of them are review books so I apologise to the publishers that are waiting on these reviews. They will come, but it will be when I'm ready. 
This brings me to the changes. I'm not going to be posting on here all the time any more. I wont be doing a pile of promo posts. I wont be doing memes every week. 
So what will I do. That's easy. 
I will post reviews.
I will post discussions.
I will post promos and cover reveals of books I am actually interested in. Not just promos for the sake of promos. 
But I will be posting these when I want to. I'm not reviewing books any more - unless I specially want to read a particular book (Look out for my Countdown review which will be up soon). I don't want to read to a schedule. I don't want to have to read a book by a certain time. I want to read what is on my shelf. I want to read at my own pace. I most of all, I want to enjoy reading again. 
I have a life outside of books, blogging and the internet. I don't want books to define me. I have other interests and I'd like to take the time to pursue them too. To do that, something has to give, and that something is posting frequently on the blog and spending all my time reading to do so.
So that's it. I'm still around. I'll still chat - Twitter is probably better to get me on as I get notified on my phone. But I wont be posting as often.
Another thing - I mentioned a while back that I was going to do a giveaway to celebrate my 1 year blogoversary but I never got around to doing it. I will probably be doing a giveaway in the near future as I have a couple of double up books I'd like to get off my shelf (for Aus peeps only - sorry, postage is too expensive) so keep an eye out for that. I'll also do an international one around the same time too. 

Well, now you know the why's and I hope you all understand. 
I'll see you all around the place at one time or another. Have a great week! :D


The books I read lately (and loved) 
Why did I read them - I don't know but I loved them from the first page so maybe they held my interest better!?!?

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