Thursday, April 17, 2014

Review + Giveaway: Scan by Walter Jury & Sarah Fine

Title: Scan (Scan, #1)
Author: Walter Jury & Sarah Fine
Pages: 336
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile
Release Date: May 1, 2014
Tate and his father don’t exactly get along. As Tate sees it, his father has unreasonably high expectations for Tate to be the best—at everything. Tate finally learns what he’s being prepared for when he steals one of his dad’s odd tech inventions and mercenaries ambush the school, killing his father in the process and sending Tate on the run from aliens who look just like humans.

All Tate knows--like how to make weapons out of oranges and lighter fluid--may not be enough to save him as he’s plunged into a secret inter-species conflict that’s been going on for centuries. Aided only by his girlfriend and his estranged mother, with powerful enemies closing in on all sides, Tate races to puzzle out the secret behind his father’s invention and why so many are willing to kill for it. A riveting, fast-paced adventure, Scan is a clever alien thriller with muscle and heart.

My Thoughts: Before I started reading Scan, I expected it to have action and suspense. But I wasn't fully prepared for just how nonstop the action would be! There was car chases and crashes, explosions, gun fights, and so much more. It was nerve-racking yet exciting, and I could not wait to find out what would happen to the characters and how the book would end.

Throughout the majority of his life, Tate's had to endure rigorous training in combat and master as many subjects and languages as he could all because that's what his father wanted. Tate doesn't know why his father puts him through this, and since both of his parents refuse to tell him, it unsurprisingly causes tons of friction between them. Once Tate finds out the truth, though, he has to use all the knowledge and skills he's learned in order to survive and protect his loved ones.

I couldn't help but to be just as frustrated as Tate was with his parents. I didn't feel like they had been fair to him, keeping all kinds of secrets and information from him that would have been really helpful to know as soon as the chaos started. But as the story went on and things became more and more dangerous and complicated, I began to realize right along with Tate that it was necessary and for his own good. He probably would have been blinded by his beliefs and wouldn't be as good of a person as he is now had he known everything from the very beginning.

If you're wondering what Tate's father had been hiding from his son, well, it was lots of things. But what it all involved was...ALIENS! Aliens that arrived on Earth about 400 years ago and look exactly like humans. But what started off the unfortunate chain of events was a small device, a scanner, Tate stole from his father that can reveal who is a human and who is an alien. Both sides wanted it badly, and while you would think the aliens were the evil ones, it wasn't that simple. Everyone seemed to have their own agenda, and like Tate, I didn't know who to trust! Even by the end, I still didn't know who the real enemy was, which was something I really liked because not all humans were good just like not all aliens were bad.

One other thing I would like to mention is the importance of the women in Tate's life. I'm glad that Tate's girlfriend Christina and his mother were involved with the mission of protecting the scanner. Tate's skills and resilience helped him a lot, but I don't think he would have made it without them at his side. They were tough, smart, and resourceful, and together they made an awesome team! I especially adored Christina. She didn't have the training Tate and his mother had, but she knew how to hold her own. I loved how much she was willing to help them, even when she was hurt or terrified. As for Tate and Christina's relationship, it was sweet and obvious that they cared deeply and felt strongly for each other. But because of what they were going through, they also had plenty of tense and uncomfortable moments. I hope they are able to overcome whatever issues they may have because I really want them to stick together.

Walter Jury and Sarah Fine have a written a truly thrilling and suspenseful story that had me on the edge of my seat till the very end. I have no idea what's in store for Tate, his mother, and Christina in the next book, but I can't wait to find out. If you're looking for a smart, action-packed book, you need to get your hands on a copy of Scan!

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars



Bookittyblog and Joyousreads have also read and reviewed Scan (check out their blogs to read their reviews!). We want to give someone the chance to read Scan early too, so we're giving away an ARC! This giveaway is open internationally and ends April 26 at 11:59PM EST. Winner will have 48 hours to respond to the email before a new winner is chosen. To enter, fill out the Rafflecopter form below. Good luck!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Cover Reveal + Giveaway: Mortal Enchantment by Stacey O'Neale

Today, Stacey O'Neale and Phoenix Reign Publishing are revealing the cover for MORTAL ENCHANTMENT, releasing on May 20, 2014! Check out the awesome cover and enter to win a $50 Amazon or Barnes & Noble Gift Card! On to the reveal!



“Mortal Enchantment spins a unique twist on elemental mythology. This series is not to be missed.” -- Jennifer L. Armentrout, #1 New York Times Bestselling Author

In Kalin Matthew's world, elementals control the forces of nature. They are divided into four courts: air, woodland, fire, and water. At sixteen she will leave the life she's built with her mortal mother. Kalin will move to Avalon to rule with her father—the elemental king of the air court. Along the way, she's attacked by a fire court assassin and saved by Rowan, a swoon-worthy elemental with a questionable past.

Worst of all, she learns her father is missing.

To rescue him, Kalin will have to work with a judgmental council and a system of courts too busy accusing each other of deceit to actually be able to help her. But, they aren’t her biggest challenge. With the Midwinter’s Ball only five days away, Kalin must take over her father’s duties, which includes shifting control of the elements—power Kalin has yet to realize.

As Rowan attempts to train her, a war looms between the four courts. If Kalin fails, her father will die and the courts will fall, but the betrayal she’s about to uncover may cost her even more...




If you haven't read THE SHADOW PRINCE, you can download if NOW for FREE from Amazon and Barnes & Noble!

Every sacrifice has consequences.

Sixteen-year-old Rowan has spent most of his life living among the mortals—learning to control the element of fire, impatiently awaiting the day his vengeful mother, Queen Prisma, will abdicate her throne. When he finally returns to Avalon for his coronation, his mother insists he must first prove his loyalty to the court by completing a secret mission:

Kill Kalin, the half-human, half-elemental daughter of the air court king.

Willing to do anything to remove his mother from power, he agrees to sacrifice the halfling. He returns to the mortal world with his best friend, Marcus, determined to kill the princess. But as he devises a plan, he starts to question whether or not he's capable of completing such a heinous task. And what price he will pay if he refuses?

Available for FREE on Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Also available in PRINT on Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Stacey O'Neale lives in Annapolis, Maryland. When she's not writing, she spends her time fangirling over books, blogging, watching fantasy television shows, cheering for the Baltimore Ravens, and hanging out with her husband and daughter.
Her career in publishing started as a blogger-turned-publicist for two successful small publishers. Stacey writes young adult paranormal romance and adult science fiction romance. Her books always include swoon-worthy heroes, snarky heroines, and lots of kissing.

Stacey loves hearing from readers. Follow her on Twitter @StaceyONeale, look for her on Facebook, Pinterest, and GoodReads. You can also visit her blog at http://staceyoneale.com/.

Giveaway: Fill out the Rafflecopter form below to enter to win a $50 Amazon or Barnes & Noble gift card from the author!

Friday, April 11, 2014

Interview with Walter Jury & Sarah Fine, co-authors of Scan

Today I have an interview with Walter Jury and Sarah Fine, co-authors of the new YA alien thriller SCAN! Walter Jury is one of the producers of the Divergent movie, and Sarah Fine is the author of the Guards of the Shadowlands series and the upcoming Of Metal and Wishes.

I had the opportunity to read SCAN a few months ago, and it was an intense read! My review, along with an ARC giveaway, will be posted next week. So keep an eye out for that! In the meantime, I included the cover and the summary of SCAN below so that you can learn more about it before you read the interview.

Scan by Walter Jury & Sarah Fine
Release Date: May 1, 2014
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile
Tate and his father don’t exactly get along. As Tate sees it, his father has unreasonably high expectations for Tate to be the best—at everything. Tate finally learns what he’s being prepared for when he steals one of his dad’s odd tech inventions and mercenaries ambush the school, killing his father in the process and sending Tate on the run from aliens who look just like humans.

All Tate knows--like how to make weapons out of oranges and lighter fluid--may not be enough to save him as he’s plunged into a secret inter-species conflict that’s been going on for centuries. Aided only by his girlfriend and his estranged mother, with powerful enemies closing in on all sides, Tate races to puzzle out the secret behind his father’s invention and why so many are willing to kill for it. A riveting, fast-paced adventure, Scan is a clever alien thriller with muscle and heart.

Walter Jury (left) and Sarah Fine (right).

Interview
I think author Morgan Rhodes's blurb of SCAN ("Nonstop, action-packed thrill ride") describes it perfectly. What did you enjoy the most about writing SCAN? Do you have a favorite scene?

(SPOILER ALERT) Walter's favorite scene is the final set piece. Without giving away any plot points, I will describe it as a major action sequence that involves Tate and his primary pursuer, along with a few other names in a very fun location that is described in detail, but allows for the imagination to run wild with the options as the scene progresses. With Tate's skills that we establish early on, we get a real sense of how high the stakes are and how far he can progress with his Dad's tutelage and influence guiding him.

While I was reading SCAN, I couldn't help but to be in awe of Tate and all his skills and knowledge. He was a brilliant kid. It made me wonder, how much and what kind of research went into SCAN? Was it intimidating to write about someone who pretty much excelled at everything?

Sarah consulted with a chemistry professor regarding many of the explosive chemical reactions in the book, and with one exception where she used major creative license, they're totally possible. But also, the Internet is a writer's friend. Look on Youtube for "Super Soaker flamethrower" or "nitrogen triiodide detonation" and there is a wealth of terrifying-yet-inspiring source material! DO NOT try that stuff at home PLEASE.

Tate's not the only the one with a family who is hiding big secrets about aliens, but unlike some of the others, Tate's parents never told him anything. How different would Tate be from the person he is today had his father (Fred) told him everything from the very beginning?

(SPOILER ALERT) Fred knew what he was doing. He wanted to see an advanced level of consistent maturity from Tate prior to giving him the keys to the castle of his family heritage. Consistent is the key word, because as we see adversity really fortified Tate's focus. So it was probably the right move at the time for Fred not to share the information with his son--had Fred have passed along the information, then maybe Fred would still be alive, but if Tate had demonstrated irresponsibility in a different manner, then it could have been very costly in some other manner. To answer the question directly, I believe Tate needed some real adversity to get him to a higher level of maturity--and I don't believe just his father's divulging of their family history would have been enough to change that particular aspect and weakness.

I know SCAN is Tate's story, but I love his girlfriend Christina too! She's awesome, and I kept wondering what she was thinking throughout the book. Will readers ever get a glimpse inside her head? Like maybe a novella or anything from her POV?

Great question. It is actually a great suggestion and certainly something that would be fun to write--the shootout in Act I especially, would be great to see from her perspective as it is devastating to both Tate and Christina, but maybe surreal to Christina as opposed to calamitously real to Tate. We will have to give you a special thanks if that ever becomes a novella or an ebook teaser!

I saw on Goodreads that the sequel to SCAN is called BURN. What can you tell us about it? Is this a duology or will there be more books after BURN?

BURN is currently in the works so while we are working hard to finish it, it would be premature to spoil any of the major plot points and sequences--but what we can say is: more secrets revealed, more MacGyver-like maneuvers, and definitely more action! As of now, we are looking at a duology, but we love these characters and the world-building that went around this mythology, so we certainly would be open to exploring more possibilities in the future!

Is there anything else about SCAN you would like to mention to readers?

SCAN is really a labor of love for us--it was a story that just flowed out of us very seamlessly because we so passionately wanted to look at the ramifications of a visit from aliens prior to the advent of modern technology. The characters definitely are inspired and we hope, creatively unique, to readers of all ages and all proficiencies in young adult literature. We hope everyone gets out of reading the novel the exact same feeling we had when writing it!

Finally, if you found out you were actually an alien, how would you react?

Walter: I would start researching right away in order to figure out how to get to outer space using one of those services like Elon Musk's SpaceX. At this stage, I know they are still experimental and very expensive, but it is a great excuse for me to book a costly trip to outer space and gives me the perfect retort when my wife asks what I'm doing--"Babe, I'm just planning a trip to visit some family!"

Sarah: It depends. Am I a member of the dominant species? If so: sigh of relief. Possible fist pump. If not: ACT CASUAL AND TRY TO BLEND IN.



Thank you to both Walter Jury and Sarah Fine for answering my questions (and Stacey from Penguin for asking me to interview them)! I loved the in-depth answers, and I'm even more eager to read BURN. And anything from Christina's perspective would be awesome, if a novella or teaser ever becomes possible! :D

Well, I hoped you all enjoyed the interview! Did it make you curious to read SCAN? If so, SCAN will be released May 1, 2014 by Putnam Juvenile, a Penguin imprint. So not too long from now! And as I mentioned before I will be posting my review and a giveaway next week. Stay tuned!