Friday, March 29, 2013

Cover Reveal: Almost Night by Emily White

Fourteen-year-old Lilly Grey exists in two worlds at the same time. She just doesn't know it.

As the only albino in a million mile radius, Lilly is used to being different. Pink eyes and white hair aren't exactly the best camouflage in the harrowing jungles formally known as high school. And yeah, she's used to being an outcast and seeing the world in a slightly different way, but she never guessed how literally "different" applied to her.

Not until a clan of shape-shifting dragons tell her she's not just albino. She's a unicorn and the only mortal alive who can live on both Earth and its antithesis, Morcah. Now all those times she thought she saw a floating brown blotch in the sky or eyes peering out at her from the bark of trees make sense. She's been seeing Morcah, a land that exists in the exact same spot as Earth, just in a different phase.

But it's not all sunshine and rainbows for this unicorn. As the only one who can live in both phases, she's also the only one who can bring Morcah--and all its inhabitants--to Earth. And creatures who've been trapped on Earth since the Dark Ages are willing to do worse things than kill to make that happen.


Cover by Claudia Mckinney of Phatpuppy Art ( and font was designed by Ashley at

Emily White lives in NY, wedged between two of the Great Lakes and a few feet of snow and ice.  She's spent most of her life running away from the cold, and even spent a year in Iraq, but now contents herself with writing her characters into warm, exotic places in faraway galaxies.  When not tapping away at her computer keys, she can be found reading, reading, and reading some more.  And when she's not doing that, she's usually playing video games with her husband, peek-a-boo with her kids, or walking through her garden, wondering why the bugs insist on eating all her vegetables.  

You can find Emily on Facebook, Goodreads, or her blog.

Don't forget to check out Emily's debut YA Sci-fi, Elemental (Spencer Hill Press, 2012). Now available through B&N, Amazon, and The Book Depository. And her steampunk short story collection, To Love or Die in a Steamy-Reamy World (December, 2012). Now available through Amazon and B&N.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

What I Do...

   I've been invited by my old high school to participate in a "Career Day" next week. My first reaction was, "hey, this will be kinda fun." So, of course, I agreed to come. But now, I'm experiencing several different thoughts.

First, it really is cool that I get to go back to my hometown and talk to kids that are a lot like me at that age. Writing and editing are not career choices on the beaten path, and, I think, it takes a pretty unique person to think "That's what I want to do!"

My second, and least important, thought, is "how the heck did I get old enough to be a guest speaker at a high school???" I just graduated like a year or two ago. (Okay not really, but still...)

But mostly, I'm wondering what to say. "Run while you still can! Only the completely insane want to be part of this maddening business," is probably not the best way to start the conversation. Don't get me wrong. I could talk all day about how awesome my job is, all the perks and just plain fun I have. But I think that to be fair, I should also point out how hard it is to break into the writing world. How many years most people have to work, with zero results, before it pays off. And even then, the payoff isn't typically that great.  Best seller lists, movie deals, and piles of cash are not things most of us will ever see. And honestly, I'm 100% fine with that. (If it ever happens, I'd be fine with that too, but...) I love what I do. And I don't want to squash the dreams of the next potential J. K. Rowling by coming off like being an author is anything short of the best job in the world.

So how do I find that balance? I know I'm probably over-thinking this, but I'd like to hear your suggestions.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Review: Spellbinding, Maya Gold

There's more than one way to be powerful . . .

It is during a routine school project that Abby Silva--sixteen and nearly friendless--makes a startling discovery: She is descended from women who were accused of witchcraft back in 1600s Salem. And when Abby visits nearby Salem, strange, inexplicable events start to unfold. Objects move when she wills them to. Candles burst into sudden flame. And an ancient spellbook somehow winds up in her possession.

Trying to harness her newfound power, Abby concocts a love potion to win over her longtime crush--and exact revenge upon his cruel, bullying girlfriend. But old magic is not to be trifled with. Soon, Abby is thrust headlong into a world of hexes, secrets, and danger. And then there's Rem Anders, the beautiful, mysterious Salem boy who seems to know more about Abby than he first lets on.

A reckoning is coming, and Abby will have to make sense of her history--and her heart--before she can face the powerful truth. Goodreads.

This was a fun, quick read for me. It may be a little sick of me, but I've always found the history of Salem interesting, so I enjoyed seeing familiar names and places through a different perspective. Coming from someone who doesn't read a ton of witch-themed books, it was also nice that the reader isn't bombarded with unfamiliar terms and rituals.

The main complaint I've heard about this book is that it relies on stereo-types. I'm not going to argue against that, because it does, but here's my opinion: Why not use them if they work? The shy, overlooked girl, the handsome jock, the mean-girl clique. We all know those people. So it didn't really bother me at all.

If I had to pick out one thing that did bother me, it would be that at times the plot moves so fast, I I felt disconnected from Abby. Sometimes her decisions felt really rushed, and I would have liked to see more of her thought process, how she jumped from plan A to B. Also, I just never understood the attraction to Travis, but that could just be me.

I totally got the attraction to Rem. I kinda want a Rem of my own. The level of tension and anticipation Maya Gold was able to create between Rem and Abby without even a single kiss was impressive. I've said it before, but I really respect authors who rely on the story, not sex and language, to get the attention of their audience. So hats off to Ms. Gold on that one.

In all, if you're looking for an in-depth book on modern witches, or something with an earth-shattering plot, this isn't it. But if you want a clean, quick, fun story about plain-Jane getting superpowers, you should check it out!

YA notes: None

I received a copy of this book through NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.  

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Lucky Leprechaun Giveaway

Welcome Blog Hoppers! My name is Keshia Swaim, and I am addicted to all things book-related. I'm an author/editor/book reviewer, and you'll find evidence of all three on my blog, as well as the occasional cover-reveal and/or cute pictures. :) 

Now, on to the good stuff. *You need to be a follower of this blog to enter.* I'm giving away two prizes. The grand prize is an ARC of Holiday Magick, a short story anthology in which I have two tales. You can add it to your Goodreads shelf from my handy-dandy sidebar. The prize will also contain an assorted SWAG pack from the always awesome Spencer Hill Press, including autographed bookmarks for my debut novel, Blood Bound, (due in September) which you can also add to Goodreads via my sidebar.
Even though I only have one ARC, a second winner will also get the super awesome SWAG pack. Once you're finished looking around here, hop back to the linky for more great stuff! Good luck and thanks for stopping by!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Review: The Sweetest Dark (#1) Shana Abe

Lora Jones has always known that she’s different. On the outside, she appears to be an ordinary sixteen-year-old girl. Yet Lora’s been keeping a heartful of secrets: She hears songs that no one else can hear, dreams vividly of smoke and flight, and lives with a mysterious voice inside her that insists she’s far more than what she seems.
England, 1915. Raised in an orphanage in a rough corner of London, Lora quickly learns to hide her unique abilities and avoid attention. Then, much to her surprise, she is selected as the new charity student at Iverson, an elite boarding school on England’s southern coast. Iverson’s eerie, gothic castle is like nothing Lora has ever seen. And the two boys she meets there will open her eyes and forever change her destiny.
Jesse is the school’s groundskeeper—a beautiful boy who recognizes Lora for who and what she truly is. Armand is a darkly handsome and arrogant aristocrat who harbors a few closely guarded secrets of his own. Both hold the answers to her past. One is the key to her future. And both will aim to win her heart. As danger descends upon Iverson, Lora must harness the powers she’s only just begun to understand, or else lose everything she dearly loves. Goodreads

This book was all kinds of awesome. It was darkly beautiful, with such descriptive language I could almost taste Lora's world, and the paranormal aspect was completely different than anything I expected.

As a character, Lora is extremely realistic. Her doubts, fears, and sufferings felt almost as if they were my own. Sure, there were times I wanted to shake her, but, more often, I wanted to cry with her. I love how deeply she felt such a wide range of emotions, and how desperately she holds on to her hopes and her secrets.

Jesse, ah Jesse. How could you not love Jesse? He's the perfect balance to Lora's hectic life, the calm voice that talks her down. If I had one complaint about this book, it would be that they are almost too perfect together. But that doesn't mean I'd mind a Jesse of my own. 

This is one book where I actually really felt for the "bad boy." Armand wasn't at all what I was expecting him to be, and, while he'd never be as perfect as Jesse for Lora, he felt more "real" to me.

If you've noticed, I haven't said anything about the plot. That's because I can't without giving something away. This story is so unique in it's twists and turns that I literally had NO IDEA what was really going on most of the time. And considering how many paranormal novels I read, that's saying a lot. 

I was hooked from the first page, and the ending left me saying why why why? I will definitely be keeping an eye out for more from Shana Abe.

Rating 4.5/5 stars
YA notes: mild language, suggestive content.  

I received a copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

Friday, March 8, 2013

My Muse is Back!

     I'll admit it. The last several weeks, I've done...nothing productive. I managed to finish a few projects at the same time, and then my Muse went on vacation. I started (and restarted) a project. But the characters were flat, the dialogue stiff, and my plot....lets just not go there.It's really hard to get excited about a project like that. So, I let it sit. and sit and sit. My "writing time" turned into "let's see who's online" time.
    And then, yesterday happened. While cruising the web for anything interesting, my Muse came back! Inspiration hit, fast and hard. So, after a minor welcome back party, I called a friend to run my ideas by her. Since then I've been on plotting and researching overload. Characters, complete with backstories, are popping in my head. My research is lining up perfectly with my plot, and my fingers are itching to get started. And now I realize how much I missed my muse. Even if my new story goes no further than my laptop, there is something completely awesome about the creating process. And so, I'm back on my "writer's high" typing, plotting, losing sleep, and being happy about it. All I have to day is: Dear Muse, please don't ever leave me again. Please, please, please.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Review: My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century, Rachel Harris

On the precipice of her sixteenth birthday, the last thing lone wolf Cat Crawford wants is an extravagant gala thrown by her bubbly stepmother-to-be and well-meaning father. So even though Cat knows the family’s trip to Florence, Italy, is a peace offering, she embraces the magical city and all it offers. But when her curiosity leads her to an unusual gypsy tent, she exits . . . right into Renaissance Firenze.

Thrust into the sixteenth century armed with only a backpack full of contraband future items, Cat joins up with her ancestors, the sweet Alessandra and protective Cipriano, and soon falls for the gorgeous aspiring artist Lorenzo. But when the much-older Niccolo starts sniffing around, Cat realizes that an unwanted birthday party is nothing compared to an unwanted suitor full of creeptastic amore.

Can she find her way back to modern times before her Italian adventure turns into an Italian forever? Goodreads 

This was a really fun read from Rachel Harris. I'm struggling with how to describe why I liked it so much without giving too much of the plot away. While Cat wasn't the most relate-able character for me, I grew pretty attached to her, and I respect most of her choices. She's fun and strong, even though she carries her family history around like a weight, and occasionally a shield. 

The lessons she learns from the 16th century are very important for her 21st century life, and I think she will grow from them in the sequel. The romance is sweet and fun, Cat's cultural faux pas are entertaining,  Alessandra is an awesome "sidekick" and the story line will pull you in fast. In short, if you like history, romance, art, magic, or laughing, you should pick this one up!

Rating 5/5 stars