Archive for February, 2012

Review: MATCHBOX GIRLS by Chrysoula Tzavelas

Posted February 28, 2012 By bookophile81

Author: Chrysoula Tzavelas
Original Release Date: February 21, 2012
Format: ebook, TPB
Pages: 324
ISBN #:978-1936460205
FTC Disclaimer: This book was received from the publisher for the purpose of an honest review.

When Marley, the main character in Chrysoula Tzavelas’ novel MATCHBOX GIRLS, meets the handsome Zachariah and his adorable nieces Lissa and Kari; she assumes they are just a normal family. Until she receives a phone call from the twins that changes her life forever. When she arrives to pick them up and discovers that Zachariah has disappered, she unknowingly enters a world she never knew existed. The world of Angels and Demons. She begins to realize that there is more to Kari and Lissa than meets the eye. She also discovers things about herself that she never knew. As the battle between Marley and the force that wants the girls heats up, she learns that she truly has what it takes to be who she was always meant to be.

This is a very well written story. It did not immediately suck me in, yet as the story moved along I did find myself becoming more interested in finging out what was coming next. Marley was very well developed and the fact that she had some very real problems made her very relatable. One example is that she has abandonment issues. This results in her stubborn will to hold on to Lissa and Kari no matter what the circumstances are. Even when it would make her life easier to just walk away. She is also fiercely loyal to her two friends Penny and Branwyn, which is a character trait I truly admire. When they get involved in her fight, Marley does whatever she can to make sure that they make it out unharmed.

Some parts of the story moved a little too fast and I became caught up amid some of the whirlwinds that were created by fast setting changes and characters popping up unexpectedly. However, this did make the book a quick read so it is pretty easy to finish in just a couple of sittings. It was also a nice change of pace to not have to deal with a lot of romantic entanglements. I liked being able to focus on the action.

Overall, this is a good story that I will definitely recommend checking out and look forward to reading more from Chrysoula!

If you want to learn a little more about MATCHBOX GIRLS, you can check out our blog tour feature (which includes the book blurb, video trailer, and a fun interview between two of the characters of the book) and a contest to win a digital copy. You can also read the first two chapters of MATCHBOX GIRLS, thanks to it’s publisher, Candlemark & Gleam, by clicking on the widget below!!
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BLOG TOUR: Matchbox Girls by Chrysoula Tzavelas

Posted February 28, 2012 By Jennifer

I’m so excited to be involved with the blog tour for MATCHBOX GIRLS. It’s such an unusual storyline. I love the paranormal genre, but sometimes when you run across a new-ish author, the story sounds a little like something you’ve already read, maybe not a copy, but the bones are similar. This story, not so much.

Below are a few goodies to celebrate the release of this book (2/21/12). The cover and blurb, to get you started, followed by the book trailer, then a “Character Backstage” interview with MATCHBOX IRLS’ characters Severin & Tinker Chime. You’ll also be able to read my review partner Shellie’s review of MATCHBOX GIRLS, and read the first to chapters, by clicking here.

First… the visuals…

Marley Claviger is just trying to get her life together. Stumbling into an ancient conflict between celestial forces is going to make that a whole lot harder…

When Marley wakes up to a phone call from a pair of terrified children, she doesn’t expect to be pulled into a secret war. She rescues them from an empty house and promises to find their missing uncle. She even manages to feed them dinner. But she barely feels competent to manage her own life, let alone care for small children with strange, ominous powers…

And when a mysterious angelic figure shows up and tries to claim the girls, it all falls apart…

Plagued by visions of disaster, Marley has no idea what she’s gotten herself into, but she knows one thing: magical or not, the kids need her.

And now… I’d like to welcome you to “Character Backstage”. A series of interviews along the MATCHBOX GIRLS’ blog tour.

Today’s interviewer at Character Backstage is Severin. In-story, he plays the role of “monster.” He’s interviewing Tinker Chime, a dreamscape figment in the shape of a male pixie.

Severin: Hello… Tinker Chime, is it? Cute. I’m so pleased to be chatting with you today.

Tinker Chime: Sure you are. [calling offstage] Weren’t these interview assignments supposed to be random?

Severin: Oh, of course. Totally random. Are you ready to get started?

Tinker Chime: I’m not convinced you’re really a randomly chosen interviewer. I demand a re-draw!

Severin: You don’t really think you’re getting away, do you? That’s not how it works.

Tinker Chime: …Fine. What do you want to know?

Severin: How does it feel to be so delicious?

Tinker Chime: Are you serious?

Severin: That was a warm-up question for you. I don’t really care how you feel about being delicious. I know how I feel about you being delicious.

Tinker Chime: I hate to break it to you, but you don’t actually eat people.

Severin: You have been out of touch a long time.

Tinker Chime: Well, you don’t need to eat people, I know that.

Severin: I needed a hobby to pass the time.

Tinker Chime: …Actual people? Their flesh?

Severin: Nah. Flesh is the least part of a person. Although I should have expected that question from you.

Tinker Chime: Flesh has its uses.

Severin: You disgust me.

Tinker Chime: I thought I was delicious?

Severin: Well, see, it’s all in the seasoning. It takes some work to tease the deliciousness out of the disgusting mess squirming on the ground. That’s why I’ve been so looking forward to this interview.

Tinker Chime: I’m not squirming!

Severin: You are, a little. You’ll squirm more. I’ve been waiting so long to talk to you about so many things.

Tinker Chime: Things we’re not allowed to talk about Backstage!

Severin: Allowed? Who cares about “allowed?” Certainly not you.

Tinker Chime: Stop it. Your tricks aren’t going to work on me. I’ve got my own magic.

Severin: And I’ve got other tricks.

Tinker Chime: Hey, no grabbing me! Put me down! Hey, isn’t anybody watching in the wings?

Severin: They’re all busy. It’s just you and me, pixie. Delicious, delicious pixie.

[Cut to black]

Don’t forget to join the discussion here and then stop by the Candlemark & Gleam blog to get your entry in our Matchbox Girls Prize Pack giveaway!

So… what do you think?? I loved the interview… lots of fun, with just a tinge of “eww, gross”, hahahaha! It’s nice to see a fresh, new idea come into the urban fantasy world. I’m really excited to see what comes next from Chrysoula! If you’d like to check out MATCHBOX GIRLS for yourself… leave a comment below with your first impression of the book. One commenter will be randomly chosen to win an ecopy of the book. This contest is international, and will end at midnight (pacific) on March 1st, as the blog tour comes to a close with Jo The Booky. Please remember to leave your first name and email address in your comment so you can be notified if you win. Good Luck!!

**Don’t forget to click over to Shellie’s review of MATCHBOX GIRLS, and read the first two chapters of this incredible, unique fantasy.**

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Words & Music Monday with Jennifer Estep

Posted February 27, 2012 By Jennifer

One thing I’ve learned since starting this feature is that the number of people who read/write to music and those who do not, is about equal. I, personally, can’t listen to music with lyrics while reading/writing anything… but there are some who create awesome stories built around the feeling of the music and lyrics they choose. It’s so fascinating to me. Urban Fantasy author Jennifer Estep is one of those who, although she appreciates music, doesn’t use it for writing inspiration.

Greetings! First of all, I want to say thanks to Jennifer for hosting me on the blog today. Thanks so much, Jennifer!

So today, Jennifer wanted me to write something on music. I know a lot of authors listen to music as they write and create playlists for their books and characters – but not me.

Don’t get me wrong. I like music, but I just can’t listen to it while I write. I’m one of those folks who needs what I call dead freaking silence to write. That’s just how I work best. Even on the rare occasion when I do put a CD on when I’m writing, I’ll often just tune out the music entirely, and the CD will be over with without me having really listened to it.

I’ve done a couple of playlists for my books, but I always feel tragically unhip when it comes to music. Plus, songs and playlists are so subjective. What I think ties in with a scene or character may seem like it belongs with a completely different scene or character to someone else. If you want one [theme] song, I would say that “Human” by The Pretenders is a good fit for Gin Blanco in my Elemental Assassin series.

I like musicians like Jimmy Buffett, Kelly Clarkson, and The Killers (some of my favs would be Sam’s Town (Abbey Road version); Losing Touch; and Smile Like You Mean It) and whatever’s on the radio when I’m in the car. Beyond that, I couldn’t tell you much about music, and I never know who sings what song. In fact, when my significant other and I go out to eat and there’s music playing, he’ll often ask me who the band is. Even if I know the song, I usually have no idea who actually recorded it. Of course, he almost always knows who sings what.

Ask me about books, movies, and TV shows, and I’ll talk your ear off. Ask me about music, and I’ll probably run out of things to say pretty quickly. I just don’t feel like I know a lot about music.

I don’t listen to music while I write, but I will crank up the volume when I’m doing other stuff, like updating my blog or social media sites. Plus, rocking out helps when it comes to chores like cleaning out my office. That’s what I use music the most for – to entertain myself and make the time go by a little quicker when I’m doing things like housework.

What about you guys? Do you listen to music while you write? Who are some of your favorite bands and songs?

**There’s a copy of tomorrow’s new release, BY A THREAD up for grabs to one random commenter, so let’s hear it. I’d love to see what fans of the series think should be on a playlist. Post a band or song you think would fit this series or a specific character, and why. If you can’t think of a playlist song, you can still enter by posting a personal band/song favorite.** Contest ends at midnight tonight, pacific time. Winner will be chosen and notified at close of contest. Please include your first name and email address in your comment for notification. We would love to see playlist songs from all fans, but the contest is US entrants only, this time. Good Luck.

New York Times bestselling author Jennifer Estep writes the Elemental Assassin urban fantasy series for Pocket Books. The books focus on Gin Blanco, an assas­sin code­named the Spi­der who can con­trol the ele­ments of Ice and Stone. When she’s not busy killing peo­ple and right­ing wrongs, Gin runs a bar­be­cue restau­rant called the Pork Pit in the fic­tional South­ern metrop­o­lis of Ash­land. The city is also home to giants, dwarves, vam­pires, and ele­men­tals – Air, Fire, Ice, and Stone. By a Thread, the sixth book in the series, will be released on Feb. 28.

 Jennifer writes the Mythos Academy young adult urban fantasy series for Kensington. She is also the author of the Bigtime superhero paranormal romance series. For more information, excerpts, and more, visit Jennifer’s website at

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Posted February 27, 2012 By Jennifer

I LOVE cover reveals!! So much anticipation, so much work to make *just* the right design choice. I think Stephanie Thomas has a winner in this one, talk about an eye catcher!! Check out the cover for her debut, LUMINOSITY!! (available 9/11/12)

(from Stephanie’s website)

“My name is Beatrice. When I was born, I was blessed with the Sight. I was immediately removed from my parents and enrolled in the Institution. At the age of twelve, I had my first true vision, earning my raven’s wings. And when I turned seventeen, one of my visions came true. Things haven’t been the same since.

The Institution depends on me to keep the City safe from our enemy, the Dreamcatchers, but I’m finding it harder to do while keeping a secret from everyone, including my best friend Gabe. It is a secret that could put us all in danger. A secret that could kill me and everyone close to me.

But the enemy has been coming to me in my dreams, and I think I’m falling in love with him. He says they’re coming. He says they’re angry. And I think I’ve already helped them win.”

Paperback Available for Pre-Order at–stephanie-thomas?keyword=luminosity%2C+stephanie+thomas&store=allproducts

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Going UnderCOVER with Evan Schwartz

Posted February 26, 2012 By Jennifer

The cover of a book is often our “first impression”, and considering how choosy readers can be, it’s got to be a really good one. The finished product is what catches our attention, but it all starts with a drawing or a photo. The primary image, the person or scene, that the cover is built around sets the direction for the rest of the design, and can ultimately be a deciding factor for that picky purchaser.

Today we’re very lucky to have photographer Evan Schwartz’s insight, and some thoughts about his process. You’ve seen Evan’s photos in the covers of books by L J Smith, Scott Westerfeld, Alex Duval, and Thomas Snellgrove.

1) How did you get started working with authors/doing cover shoots? Was it always a goal?

It was never something I considered or thought about as an area of work. I got introduced to the art team at Simon and Schuster while assisting another photographer on a cover photo shoot. They really liked my personality and a few months later asked if I did my own work because they were opening an in-house studio. I showed them my work and the rest is history.

2) Do you schedule interesting shoots, just to have stock photos available for possible cover designs, or do you shoot specifically for a project?

I shot for specific projects.

3) How much do you need to know about the book in order to decide the style of photos you want shoot? Are you involved with the authors, or just the book’s marketing people?

I’m not involved with the authors. Sometimes I read a little of the book or the art directors will tell me what it’s about or the theme of the image they’re looking for and we take it from there.

4) Have you ever finished a shoot, and decided it wasn’t working for you, and had to redo with a different design? Have you ever had to redo after the client sees the photos? How far into the project is “the point of no return”?

I would say the point of no return is deadline-based. But it’s not usual that I have to reshoot a project. But, like in any creative process, there are always tweaks and changes that happen depending on the situation. I try to communicate as clearly as possible with the client before shooting so to avoid any unwanted surprises.

5) What’s your favorite project to date? What makes it stick out in your mind?

I don’t have a favorite cover that I can think of but one I was really proud of was for Lisa Rinna’s book, “Starlit” because I was able to make fake diamonds look real.

6) How does the collaberation work between you and the designer who uses your photos to finish the cover? Is there back and forth, or do you just hand over your photo and hope for the best?

With the publishing company I just hand over the photo after they’re approved at the shoot. They take it from there.

7) Do you have any interesting experiences involving a cover you shot for? Memorable reactions, comments from the author, etc?

I wouldn’t say interesting, but satisfying. I was told that the whole team flipped for one of my covers. And it’s always nice to see your work in public, like at a major book store.

8) Can you tell us what you’re working on now, or what your next project will be?

I’m not shooting any covers now but have been shooting a lot of jewelry and cosmetics. My next big project will most likely be fine art based.

Thank you, thank you, thank you to Evan for taking some time, and chatting with us. Evan’s busy this weekend, but said he’ll be happy to answer an questions left for him in the comments below. So… if you ever wondered about cover art photography, now’s your chance to ask a pro!!

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