Friday, August 1, 2014

Setting up a Giveaway with Rafflecopter

First off, this is an extremely long post so I apologize. This is strictly for bloggers that need to know how to run a giveaway through Rafflecopter. For the sake of this post, I’ll walk you how to set up a Rafflecopter giveaway.

I use Rafflecopter so it’s the only one that I’m experienced with to explain. If you are experienced with running giveaways, please feel free to offer your advice in the comments.

1. To start, you need to create a Rafflecopter account. Don’t worry, it’s free. There are paid subscriptions for premium features, but the free version works just fine for our purposes. Go to http://www.rafflecopter.com/ and click on ‘Get Started’. You’ll see a button on that page that says ‘SIGN UP FREE’. Once you click there, you fill out that information, and the site walks you through the process.

2. I suggest you create a test giveaway to see how everything works. Once you’ve logged in, click on ‘New Giveaway’. I’ll break away for a minute to tell you that to the right of that, there’s an option to ‘duplicate a giveaway’. Once you’ve created a great giveaway template, you can use this feature for future giveaways you make it go faster and smoother. You would just click on each field to edit slightly to make it fit the current giveaway.

3. The first option it gives you is to ‘Add a Prize’. Click there and enter what the prize is. If you are giving away an Amazon gift card, this is where you would want to put the Amount then Amazon gift card. So your prize would be $25 Amazon gift card. If you are giving away an ebook, you would put in ‘1 ebook copy of title by author’. Always be sure to put the amount of the prizes, and if you have more than one prize, just list them all separated by commas. Click ‘save this prize’. It has an ‘add another prize’ feature, but I usually just list all the prizes in one field.

4. Now you’ll notice to the right it will say ‘Nickname’ with a field underneath to name the giveaway. Go ahead and put something here that you will relate to for this giveaway. No one else sees the name so this is for your purposes only. You can also enter terms and conditions of the giveaway. Sometimes, this is where you would want to put that you must be 18 years or older or something like the author/publisher fulfills the ebook prize, and you will not be held liable for non-receipt.

5. Next, there’s a large section that says ‘People can enter by’. This is where you enter all the ways that people can earn entries into the giveaway. When I’m doing a giveaway for an author of their ebook, I always put:
  • Preferred format for ebook
  • Add ‘book’ to Goodreads Shelf
  • Fan or friend ‘author’ on Goodreads
  • Follow ‘@author’ on Twitter
  • Follow ‘author’ on Facebook
  • Tweet About the Giveaway
  • Follow JC’s Book Haven
  • Follow @jezzebelljc (my twitter handle)
Since these are the standard fields that I set up, I’ll walk you through each of these.

6. For ‘Preferred ebook format’, click on ‘+Add and Entry Option’. Here, it will give you a few starting points to help. Unfortunately, what we need isn’t on here, so click on ‘Invent Your Own’.
  • The first step is to replace the text ‘~ Invent Your Own Option! ~’. This is where I would put ‘Preferred ebook format’. 
  • In the box under ‘briefly describe what the entrants should do’, type ‘Preferred ebook format’.
  • There’s a box under that which says ‘Collect info from visitors to verify this entry’. The majority of the time, you will want to collect some information here so that it will show up on the entries form so keep that clicked and in that box type what you will need from the entrant. For this one, I will put ‘Please enter your preferred ebook format’. 
  • Next, you have a point value system. Which entry is the most important to you? Add more points to it. Really this is all subjective and up to you to choose your points value system. 
  • After that, you have two checkboxes. One says ‘Entrants can do this once each day’ which is mainly used for options like tweeting about the giveaway. Keep in mind that it has to be something that they can actually do once a day. The other checkbox says ‘This option is mandatory’. This checkbox is what will be mandatory to the entrants for them to open the rest of the entries. Most of the time the mandatory entries are ‘format preferred for ebook’ and so forth. I’m clicking ‘this option is mandatory’ for this one.
  • Finally, click on ‘Save this option’.
7. For adding a book to Goodreads Shelf option, click on ‘+Add and Entry Option’. Here, it will give you a few starting points to help. Unfortunately, Goodreads isn’t on here, so click on ‘Invent Your Own’.
  • The first step is to replace the text ‘~ Invent Your Own Option! ~’. This is where I would put ‘Add ______ to Goodreads Shelf’. 
  • In the box under ‘briefly describe what the entrants should do’, type ‘Add _____ to Goodreads Shelf’. Then you need to link that so that the people entering the giveaway can easily click on it to add it. Highlight the title of the book, then click on the link button above the box that has a green plus sign on it. Now you should see something like this: Add [_______](http://Your-URL-Here.com) to Goodreads Shelf. In the parantheses where it says, Your URL Here, copy and paste the goodreads link for the book and replace it. Here’s an example: Add [Fiery Heart](https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/9833184-the-fiery-heart) to Goodreads Shelf. 
  • There’s a box under that which says ‘Collect info from visitors to verify this entry’. The majority of the time, you will want to collect some information here so that it will show up on the entries form so keep that clicked and in that box type what you will need from the entrant. For this one, I will put ‘Please paste your Goodreads profile link or your Goodreads name’. 
  • Next, you have a point value system. Which entry is the most important to you? Add more points to it. Really this is all subjective and up to you to choose your points value system.
  • After that, you have two check boxes. One says ‘Entrants can do this once each day’ which is mainly used for options like tweeting about the giveaway. Keep in mind that it has to be something that they can actually do once a day. The other checkbox says ‘This option is mandatory’. This checkbox is what will be mandatory to the entrants for them to open the rest of the entries. Most of the time the mandatory entries are ‘format preferred for ebook’ and so forth.
  • Finally, click on ‘Save this option’.
8. The Fan or Friend Goodreads option works the same as the one for adding the book to Goodreads shelf, except in the ‘Briefly describe what entrants should do’ field, you will need their profile link on Goodreads instead of the book link.

9. For the option to follow the author’s twitter account, click on ‘+Add and Entry Option’.   Here, the option will show up with the twitter icon and ‘Following an account’. Click on that. 
  • It gives you a field that says ‘Who should they follow on Twitter?’ with a field with @ already filled in. Simply put their twitter handle after the @. 
  • Choose your point value.
  • Decide whether you are making this option mandatory or not. I usually don’t make this option mandatory.
  • Finally, click on ‘Save this option’.
10. For the option to follow the author’s Facebook account, click on ‘+Add and Entry Option’. Here, the option will show up with the Facebook icon and ‘Liking a fan page’. Click on that. 

  • At the top, there is a blank field to enter the person’s name that you want them to follow.
  • Then there is a field ‘paste the FULL url of the Facebook page’. Obviously, copy and paste the full url here for their Facebook page.
  • Decide whether you are making this option mandatory or not. I usually don’t make this option mandatory.
  • Finally, click on ‘Save this option’.
11. For the ‘tweet about the giveaway’ option, click on ‘+Add and Entry Option’. Here, you will see the twitter icon with ‘tweeting a message’ beside it. Click this one.
  • A box is there that says ‘What message should your visitors tweet?’. It also tells you that the tweets will automatically include a link back to the blog post. For the ebook giveaway I would put ‘Win ebook of ______ by _______ @jezzebelljc. I put my twitter handle so I know every time it’s tweeted in my mentions. You can put whatever message here you would like as long as it fits in the character limits and describes your giveaway.
  • Add the points you want for this entry.
  • Next, you decide whether it’s mandatory.
  • Then you have the option to allow entrants to do it once a day. A lot of people click that for the tweeting a message option. I don’t like to, but I’ll post about my reasons behind that later.
  • Finally, click on ‘Save this option’.
12. For the ‘Follow JC’s Book Haven’ option, click on ‘+Add and Entry Option’. Here, it will give you a few starting points to help. Unfortunately, what we need isn’t on here, so click on ‘Invent Your Own’.
  • The first step is to replace the text ‘~ Invent Your Own Option! ~’. This is where I would put ‘Follow JC’s Book Haven’.
  • In the box under ‘briefly describe what the entrants should do’, type ‘Follow JC’s Book Haven’. Then you need to link that so that the people entering the giveaway can easily click on it to follow it. Highlight the title of the blog, then click on the link button above the box that has a green plus sign on it. Now you should see something like this: Follow [JC’s Book Haven](http://Your-URL-Here.com) to Goodreads Shelf. In the parentheses where it says, Your URL Here, I paste the link to follow me by Bloglovin because that’s one of my preferred ways to follow. Here’s an example: Follow [JC's Book Haven](http://www.bloglovin.com/en/blog/5119705). 
  • There’s a box under that which says ‘Collect info from visitors to verify this entry’. The majority of the time, you will want to collect some information here so that it will show up on the entries form so keep that clicked and in that box type what you will need from the entrant. For this one, I will put ‘Please enter the name and way used to follow’. 
  • Next, add your point value.
  • After that, decide whether the option is mandatory and whether you will allow entrants to do this once a day. Sometimes, you can have them follow you a large number of different ways, so this one is an option if you’d like.
  • Finally, click on ‘Save this option’.
13. The last one is a replica of the option to follow the author’s twitter, so follow the same steps, but with your twitter handle instead.

14. Now, scroll down and you’ll see ‘It Starts’ and ‘It Ends’. Choose your dates here. I usually select the day before my post will go live for the giveaway to start. Most giveaways last a minimum of a week. There’s also an option here with a link to change the time zone.

15. Then you click, ‘Preview and Install’.

16. Here it gives you the code to copy and paste into your blog post. You can also scroll down and click on ‘Preview all options’. You should do that to make sure everything looks good. Click on each one to make sure that all the fields look correct.

17. Paste into your post.

18. When your giveaway is about to end, Rafflecopter will email you letting you know. You sign in and click on ‘Choose a Winner’. I download the entrants to make sure that it all looks legit before selecting a winner. This is where you can delete entries that aren’t valid. If someone said they followed you, but didn’t for example. When you choose your winner, you will have the option to display on the widget. You should do that, then email your winner to let them know they’ve won :D 

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Harry Potter Moment of the Week [28]


This is a meme hosted by Uncorked Thoughts.The aim of this meme is to share with fellow bloggers a character, spell, chapter, object or quote from the books/ films/ J. K. Rowling herself or anything Potter related! She is picking a topic within HP for us to focus on each week and then if anyone wants to take part feel free! All she asks is to link back to her blog :). There is now a full list of the topics to come here.

 Most Inspirational Moment/Passage


*SPOILERS AHEAD*

There's way too many to choose from. I could list nearly anything that Dumbledore says, in his wisdom he shares a lot of inspiration. 

BUT: "The boy who lived, come to die."

Harry walking into that forest facing his destiny, knowing that he was going to die has to be absolutely the most inspirational moment. It takes a level of bravery beyond anything else.

What it boils down to is all of those who sacrificed themselves for the 'good of the cause' and Harry himself - James and Lily Potter, Sirius Black, Albus Dumbledore, Hedwig, Moody, Dobby, Fred, Lupin, Tonks. All such hard moments to face, but they did what their hearts told them to. 


What do you think is the most inspirational moment or passage?

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Excerpt: Be the Death of Me (The Guardian Chronicles #1) by Rebecca Harris

Published: August 25, 2013 Phoenix Flying, Inc.
Genre: YA Paranormal

Goodreads Summary:

BILLIE FOSTER is a seventeen-year-old with a bit of an attitude problem. It wasn’t long ago that she had it all: booming social life, loving boyfriend, anything and everything a beautiful, popular teenage girl could want. That is until her life is taken by a violent and mysterious fire, leaving her trapped in limbo, alone and jaded in the afterlife. Upon arrival, Billie is put to work, assigned to the organization known only as THE GUARDIANS, a group of spirits charged with the task of keeping the living alive. But Billie is no “employee of the month.” Fed up with her cynicism and total disregard for authority, her boss, THE CAPTAIN, gives her an ultimatum: work with a partner or face the consequences of her carelessness. TUCKER REID is a charming and hardworking member of the Self-Sacrifice organization, and much to Billie’s dismay, exactly what The Captain orders. Right off the bat, Tucker proves he's not afraid to keep her in line, refusing to back down from what he knows is right. Little does Billie suspect, however, that Tucker carries with him secrets of his own. Can they work together? Or will their differences be their ultimate downfall?

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22324884-soul-twister?from_search=true


Excerpt

Chapter 1:

I can still see it sometimes.  Smell it.  Taste.  Touch.  If I squeeze my eyes shut against a stark, bare reality and flood my mind with memories, it's almost as if I'm back there.  The scent of the smoke, the feel of the cool linoleum against my back, the color of a world going up in flame, I haven't lost it.  Not yet.  I keep them only if I try, and I'm not ready to surrender just yet.  I refuse to give them up, terrifying and grim though they might be.  The sound of a strangled cry, the taste of ash, thick on my tongue.  I can... I can...
“Goooooood morning!”  The voice breaks through my strained reverie, severing my past like a cold blade.
I groan and wish for something to throw at the small, black box hanging over my head where a thick female voice rings through the crackling P.A. system.  “It’s time for the daily announcements!”
I settle for giving it the stink-eye and step into a well lit hallway, scuffing the toe of my shoe against an immaculately clean floor in frustration.
“All personnel are reminded that floors 460 through 462 are off limits until further notice.  Offices on 460 and 461 have been relocated to 290, while all offices 462 are still missing.  Your cooperation is appreciated as we try and locate them.
“New arrivals are asked to please check-in at Room 111 before being placed.  If you have any questions or are unsure of where to go, please follow the sound of perpetual screaming or simply check at the second floor information kiosk,” the voice says, the same sugar coated voice I’ve heard every day for the last four years.  “It promises to be another exciting day, so let’s remember: The world looks brighter from behind a smile!”
The intercom system clicks off with a short pop, the echoes dying away and leaving me in silence.  I run my fingers habitually through a sheet of glossy, blonde hair, leaving all thoughts of the past behind me, walking with neither direction nor destination in mind.  The hallway stretches out before me in a relentless metaphor; an ongoing journey into madness, a never-ending walk of shame.  Enclosing me are shades of white.  White on cream.  White on pearl.  White on silver.  White on white.  The floor, ceiling and walls seem to sparkle with an unattainable shine, glimmering with the cleanliness of perfection.  I continue my trek, rhythmically placing one foot in front of the other.
I’m not really sure what I thought death would be like before I got here - I never was one for organized religion - but it wasn’t this, this metaphoric halfway house built with smoke and mirrors.  Behind the shadows lie only want and crisis.  Want smothered by work, crisis covered by career.  Acceptance hides beyond, acceptance many of us never reach.  There’s no future to look forward to and nothing behind us but memories so lovely, so painful, we’d choose a second death rather than face our pasts.  So we fall in line.  We live and not live.  We wait.  For what, I’m still not sure.
I wish someone had told me that I would end up as literal debris, the flotsam and jetsam, the proverbial punch line of death.  No one told me death had a wicked sense of humor.  There's a darkness here, behind every glistening corner, in each labored step.  It fills me with a sick sort of laughter, building in my stomach, burying itself in my throat, dying on my lips.
Don’t get me wrong.  I wouldn’t exactly call snuffing it a laugh riot.  Funny?  No, that can’t be right.  Scary?  Definitely that.  But there’s something else, too.  Something I’ve overlooked or forgotten.  What’s the word I’m looking for…?
“Billie Foster, please report to Human Resources.  Immediately.”
Oh yeah.  Inconvenient.
I choose to ignore the command ringing through the P.A. system and continue my walk.
“That means now, Billie!”
I roll my eyes turn back the way I came.  “Alright, alright!  I’m going.”
I take the first right I come to.  Then a left, a right, another right, two more lefts and one very odd yield along yet another spotless corridor before I reach my destination.  Headquarters.  Human Resources.  The heart and soul of our department, quite literally the center of operations.  We come here for assignments, our promotions, our demotions.  Called Human Resources for a reason, HQ is constantly bustling with not exactly “life”, but with a strange alternative.  My colleagues, my people, come and go, eager for jobs, hoping for groundwork.  Waiting for the moment they’re given a new assignment, another precious human life to protect.
Every assignment is given a file, every file sent here to be stored and organized  humans still in trouble, those yet to be assigned.  The entire left wall of the sixty-first floor is lined with hulking, black cabinets, filed alphabetically by last name.  Thousands upon thousands.  Millions upon millions.  Billions upon…
One might assume that with such an array of files to choose from these fortresses of folders might differ in some way, that surely there would be some method to determine one from the next.  But, no.  These files, these humans we’re left to categorize and sort are all the same, yet the single definable quality of these cabinets is one they all happen to share.
They’re all locked.
In the center of the wide room, resting on pale gray carpet is an oddly shaped, though familiar desk.  It curves into a circle of cherry colored oak, meeting at the back where a crystal clear tube stretches from the floor to the ceiling.  There’s a loud sucking noise as I enter, like that of a high powered vacuum, and a round, black canister shoots up and out of sight.  I watch as the outgoing message disappears.
I smile at the girl sitting behind the desk.  “Hey, Abby.”
You would think accidentally overdosing in a hippie-filled tent at Woodstock would put a serious damper on one’s sunny disposition.  Yet, she’s a genuine sweetheart despite being stuck here with the rest of us.  Maybe that’s why she works reception; I know I would never have the patience to deal with the idiots that come in and out of this department all day long.
“Hi, Billie!” the flower-child calls.  Abby’s cocoa cheeks pull into a smile, revealing perfect, white teeth.  Her bright pink shirt contrasts nicely against the dark beauty of her skin and hair.  “I heard you might be stopping by.”  Her laughter is light and easy.
“I think everybody heard,” I grumble, resting my elbows on the granite countertop.  “Miss P.A. better watch out.  I’m going to find out where she’s hiding one of these days and take away her magic microphone…and then beat her with it like it’s a sock full of nickels.”
“Oh, go easy on her.”  Abby’s brown eyes twinkle as she passes me a small slip of wide-ruled paper.  “The daily announcements are probably all she has going for her.”
I almost don’t hear.  My eyes grow wide at the sight of the three words written across the scrap of paper in my hands.  Three words that were it possible, would send a ripple of shivers across my skin.

MY OFFICE.  NOW.

I hold it up for Abby to read.  She teases me with a grimace.
“Any idea what he wants?” I ask, wadding the paper up in my hand.
She smirks the way she does whenever she’s holding back something juicy.  “I don’t really know if I should say…”
“Oh come on, Abby!  If the Captain wants to see me, you know it’s got to be important.”
The Captain: our department head.  The Boss.  The Chief.  The Man with the Plan.  The Big Kahuna.
“Well,” Abby fidgets, nervously twirling a strand of raven hair between her fingers.  “Rumor has it you’re going dirt-side.”
“Are you kidding me?”  I bounce on the spot.  This is a joke, right?  One of those candid camera shows?  Surely there’s been some sort of oversight.  Why would the Captain give me another assignment?  Especially after what happened last time.
She shakes her head.  “About time if you ask me.  Suspension or not, you deserve a second chance.”
“A seventh chance, you mean.”
She swats a hand at me.  “Not important,” she shrugs.  “What is important is that the Captain thinks you have what it takes.”
I flash a final, half-hearted smile, and take the hallway on the left.
Maybe Abby’s right.  So what if I have the worst record of anyone in the department?  So what if six people haven’t exactly lived as long as they should have?  Nobody’s perfect.  People make mistakes.  Just because they died on my watch doesn’t necessarily make it my fault…
Right?
I find my way to the Captain’s office, a room I haven’t seen in ages and yet still manages to fill me with a sense of overwhelming dread.  The door is closed upon my arrival; big surprise.  I didn’t exactly expect him to adopt an “open door” policy in my absence.
“Get your ass in here, Foster,” a deep voice rumbles before I have the chance to knock.
When first entering the spacious, well-lit office, one might assume it’s like any other.  The décor is business chic - a large, wooden desk, several comfortable looking chairs, ornamental brass lamps and a grand expanse of window revealing a blindingly blue sky.  That is until you realize the crystal sky is actually a mural, and the window nothing more than a wall painted to resemble a perfect afternoon, the swirls of wispy, ethereal clouds and sublime rays of sunshine no more than an artist’s rendering.  My money's on Cézanne.  I heard he used to hang around these parts.
The man who has ordered my presence is older but not elderly; in his early fifties.  Built like a steel beam, his sharp face is decorated by a trimmed, bristle-brush mustache.  A plate of thinning red hair parts neatly to one side shimmering slightly beneath the soft haze of light each of us wears like a glowing badge of honor.  If you can find any honor in dying, that is.  Rumor is he died of a rogue bullet in the 1940s.  Or maybe it was the 1840s.  No one knows for sure.  He’s the sort of man who is just as likely to have been a priest in his former life as a hired assassin.
As usual, he’s dressed head to toe in black.  Slimming, yes, but also providing him with the unfortunate side-effect of appearing like an Irish country-western singer.  Ladies and gentlemen, put your hands together for Johnny O’Cash!
“Foster,” he greets me with a glare, as if reading my thoughts.  In his right breast pocket is a single white flower, clean and pure.  Beautiful, though unnerving and a bit effeminate for someone so rough around the edges.
His scowl is to be expected.  “Hey, Cap,” I say, trying to crack a smile.  “You wanted to see me?”
“Sit,” he gestures to a chair positioned on the opposite side of his desk.  “No doubt Abby has already told you why you’re here.”
I offer him a flippant wave of my hand.  “Are you kidding?  No way.  Abby would never…”
I stop when I see the look on his face.
“She may have said something, yes,” I finish quickly, looking away.
“You’re probably wondering,” he goes on without missing a beat, “after years of consecutive failure…”
“Thanks for the reminder.”
“…why I’ve decided to give you another assignment.”
“Can’t say it hasn’t crossed my mind,” I allow.  What I’m really wondering is if it’s possible for a complete non-entity to suffer a head injury, because the Captain is showing definite signs.
He reclines in his chair, settling into the posture of a man who knows he’s in a position of power.  “I have my reasons,” he states calmly, staring me down from over the top of a pair of square, wire-rimmed glasses.
I shift awkwardly in my seat as the seconds tick by and the silence drags on.  “You aren’t going to say I know something you don’t know, are you?” I say finally.  “Because as a teenage girl, I may have an issue with that.”
“Cut the crap, Foster,” he snaps, reverting back to the Cap I know, love and fear.  “I’m giving you this assignment because I can.  End of story.  Do you want it or not?”
“Of course I want it!  I’ve been cooped up without work for months.  I’m going crazy here.”
“I’ve had to pull quite a few strings to get you back on the job,” he goes on grandly, almost as if he expects me to kiss his ring in gratitude.  “Need I remind you what happened to your previous assignments?”
“I’d really rather you didn’t.”
“First up, Thomas Reynolds.  Recent graduate from Yale Law, 4.1 GPA, top of his class.  An up and comer with nothing but a bright future ahead of him.  And what happens?”  He pauses, waiting for me to fill in the blank.
I bite the inside of my cheek and answer.  “He’s electrocuted.”
“He’s electrocuted!” Cap shouts.  “By the faulty switch on a toaster oven no less.  An easy save, and yet…”  He allows the obvious to go unsaid.  “Then there was Sylvia Meyers.  Recently remarried.  Found the love of her life for the second time at age 46, and just when she thinks she’s going to spend the rest of her days in wedded bliss….BAM!  Head on collision.  Quite nasty.”  He bows his head for a moment in mock bereavement.  “After her came Ian McDoyle.  Drowned.   Marcus Harper.  Fell out of a twelfth story window.  Ellie Samson.  Walked into oncoming traffic.  Arthur Redding…”
“Yeah, I get it, Cap!” I interrupt.
“I don’t think you do,” he counters quickly.  “I really don’t.  We are here to help those still with purpose to fufill their calling.  It is our job, our duty to keep these people alive.  And you, little girl, have failed spectacularly.  I suppose that’s why it is such a tragedy.”
“What’s a tragedy?”
He laughs bitterly.  “Everything about you is tragic, Foster.”  He composes himself and lets the subject drop.  “I’ve taken time out of my busy schedule to set this up.  It wasn’t easy, let me assure you.  The Elders were not quite so forgiving.  But with a little persuasion they’ve agreed to give you another chance.  A final chance.”
I nod in understanding.  The Elders.  The end all, be all of the afterlife.  Some say they are death itself.  Others refuse to speak of them, fearing their name above all else.  Nobody has ever seen them, at least not that I know of.  No one knows where they are, who they are, what they are.  “Better to not ask questions,” I’ve been told on one too many occasions.   I try my best to contain a shudder.
“Consider this a probation run,” Cap goes on.  “You do well on this assignment, and things might just turn in your favor.”  I bite my lip to keep from smiling.  “However,” he adds dramatically, “in the unfortunate, and might I add, likely event this turns out comparable to your other catastrophic forays, your future will take a very severe turn for the worse.”
“Worse than already being dead?”
“Being on probation,” he goes on, letting my comment slide, “there are of course certain conditions you must agree to before going back in the field.”  He folds his strong, aged hands together.  “Protocol that will be followed to the letter.”
I nod again.  “Yeah, sure.  Just name it.”
“You will report back to me daily.  I expect full coverage regarding your new assignment.  I want to know his every move.  Where he goes, what he does, who he talks to.”
“He?” I pick up on one key word.  “Is he cute?”
Again, he ignores me.  “While some may find your techniques of protecting a tad unorthodox, I find them dangerous.  Your indolent, devil may care attitude will not work this time, Foster.  Do you know what happens when you ignore the rules?”
“Fun?” I answer with a sly grin.  “Happiness?  Laughter?”  He continues to glare, and I manage to turn my laugh into a hacking cough.  “Come on, Cap.  Lighten up.”
“This is a human life we’re talking about,” he scowls.  “Do not tell me to lighten up.  You cannot succeed at this job simply by winging it.”
“I’m hurt, Cap.”
“This is not a joke.”
"It's like you don't know me at all."
"Foster."
“I'm sorry, but that’s who I am.”
“And that is why every last one of your assignments has ended in failure!”  His face has gone the color of an overripe tomato.  Odd, considering that like the rest of us, he has no blood circulation.  He calms himself by slicking his hair along the sides, and smoothing his copper mustache.
“Which is why,” he jumps back in as soon as he’s composed enough to refrain from launching over the desk and strangling me, “the Elders and I have come to the decision that from now on you will work with a partner.”
A full and abrupt silence fills the room.
“Excuse me?”  My eyebrows rise practically to my hairline.  “I must not have heard you correctly.  I could have sworn you said…partner.”  I sneer even saying the word.
The Captain’s lined face breaks into a genuine smile.  “I did.  Did I not mention that before?”
I fold my arms across my chest and glower.  “You seemed to have skipped over that tiny jewel of information.”  I set my jaw in an attempt to look fierce, a kitten trying to pass as a lion.  “Sorry to burst you bubble, Cap, but I can’t work with a partner.  I won’t.”
“You can and you will,” he states as if the conversation is no more than a giant waste of his time.  “It’s one or the other, Foster.  Work with someone, or don’t work at all.”
“But…I…you…you can’t do this to me!” I stammer.  “You just…can’t!”
“It’s already done.”
I know the subject is no longer open for debate.  I may as well be arguing with his sky-painted wall.  “Well, who is it then?” I pout.  I can’t help it.  My five year old instincts emerge before I can stop them, leaving me dangerously close to puffing out my cheeks and throwing a tantrum on the floor.
The Captain chuckles, no doubt amused by the immense amount of restraint I’m showing.  “They’re bringing in someone from the sacrifice division.  Someone we feel is deserving of a promotion.  Not a terrible idea, if you ask me.”
“Sacrifice?!?” I explode.  “Are you kidding me, Cap?  Those guys are such martyrs!  And why do they get special treatment, huh?  What’s up with that?  Why do they get rewarded just because they died?  Hello?  We’re all dead!”
“Jealousy doesn’t suit you, Foster.”
“If you want my opinion…”
“I don’t.”
“…I can do this job on my own.  I don’t need someone from downstairs watching my every move.”
“Oh, now that hardly seems fair,” he smirks.  “Better downstairs than upstairs,” he points a malicious finger to the ceiling and I know he’s speaking of the Elders.  “Am I right?  Or should I ask them to look in on you personally?”
My mouth gapes open.  “No…  I didn’t mean….  I’m sorry…”
“Easy, Foster,” he croons.  “Everything will be alright so long as you keep your head down and play nice with your new teammate.”  He smiles.  “Or should I say, schoolmate?”
“Schoolmate?  What are you talking about, Cap?”
“You did attend West Rosemont High four years ago, did you not?”
I nod.
“As did he.  Small afterlife, isn’t it?”  He flips through several pages, bending them back over the clipboard.  “Ah, yes.  Here we have it.  Mr. Tucker Reid.”
The name doesn’t ring a bell.  “I don’t know who that is,” I mumble through stunned lips.
“Then it sounds like you two will have plenty to catch up on now, doesn’t it?”  The Captain pushes a small, black button on his boxed intercom system.  “Abby, please send Mr. Reid to my office right away.”
Mr. Reid?  I’ve been here four years and he’s never once called me anything other than “Foster”.
Steady footsteps resound from the hallway a moment later, coming to a sudden halt just outside the room.  The Captain straightens his collar and turns expectantly to the door.
“Foster,” he says, proving my point.  “Meet your new partner.”




About Rebecca Harris:


Rebecca Harris discovered her passion for books at an early age. Presently, she works as a bookseller where she spends far too much time dreaming up new stories from behind the cash register. When she's not writing she enjoys reading classic literature, listening to the blues, and solving crossword puzzles. She currently resides in Tennessee where she lives with two very spoiled cats.


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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Review: Tomorrow Wendell by R.M. Ridley


Published: June 28, 2014 Xchyler Publishing
Genre: Paranormal, Urban Fantasy
Format: ebook
Source: provided for honest review
Goodreads Summary

When predictions tell Wendell Courtney he’s going to die, he turns to the one man he hopes can help. Jonathan Alvey’s no stranger to the strange. But, unlike the private investigator’s run-of-the-mill zombie cases, he can find no trace of magic around Wendell, and no hint of an adversary. Alvey certainly has magic and wits enough to solve the mystery, but is his offering to the insatiable dragon black sufficient? Or is Wendell truly destined to die?

"And so, with this reassurance, I took a coin from my pocket. It cost only a nickel see, and I figured what the devil. Well, they do say you shouldn't tempt fate or the devil, don't they, Mr. Alvey?"


The Good

What interested me in Tomorrow Wendell was the private investigator mixed in with the magic story-line. The main character Jonathan Alvey is what you want in your PI. He's a bit rough around the edges with only a few friends to count on, and he drinks and smokes too much, but that's just to take off the edge that casting magic creates. I felt like I got to know him enough to understand him and why he sticks it out. Why he uses magic despite the cost and why he fights for the little guy when he's outgunned. I really liked how Ridley handled some of the magic casting and charms used in the story, the explanations he used and techniques he described. I liked that he didn't go with the usual magical creatures to fight as the book went on and went outside the box. I enjoyed the pace of the story as it didn't feel rushed, while at the same time I never felt bored and just wanted it to pick up.

The Bad

My only real complaint would be the abrupt end of the story. I felt like there were more than a few questions left unanswered, but I guess we'll call that a build up for the next book.

The Romance

Like any good private investigator, Jonathan does have a love interest. Their relationship felt a little cookie cutter for the situation. He has the dangerous job, but if he doesn't who will? She wants him to quit because she is afraid of what will happen to him, but he's stubborn. I like their relationship despite it being the common 'I wish you wouldn't but I have to' type deal.

Conclusion

Overall, Tomorrow Wendell was what I was hoping it would be. A brooding PI racking his brain while running down leads to try and save his client. When trouble shows up, he uses everything from his fists, to his gun, to magic, to varying ways to fight back for overcoming the bad guys. It's not cover to cover action so if you need that, it's not going to interest you. I recommend this to anyone looking for a change of pace magic creature wise. No vampires or werewolves here.



Excerpts


"Stop after this one? And what about the next client? What do I say to them, 'Sorry about the nightmares hiding behind your mind that have started eating at your soul?' Do I ignore their needs, their missing children, their possessed spouse, or cursed parent?"

"What would I do without you and your uncle, Quan?" 
"I suspect, get very hungry,"  the kid said and then, looking at all the alcohol on the desk, added, "and very,very drunk."


"Do you smoke?"
"The ad said it was a smoking environment. It was clear about that," the woman pointed out.
"Yes, because I smoke, but that wasn't the question."
"Yes, I smoke."
"Good. I can bum yours if I run out."


"People start out life believing in just about everything. But as we get older, we are taught that our imaginary friends are not only not real, but frowned on - discouraged. One 
by one, beliefs are stripped away. You are made fun of, or disciplined, for things that don't fit everyone's beliefs."

Monday, July 28, 2014

Review: The Golden Lily (Bloodlines #2) by Richelle Mead


Published: June 12, 2012 Razorbill
Genre: YA, Paranormal Fantasy
Format: ebook
Source: Purchased
Goodreads Summary

Sydney Sage is an Alchemist, one of a group of humans who dabble in magic and serve to bridge the worlds of humans and vampires. They protect vampire secrets—and human lives.

Sydney would love to go to college, but instead, she’s been sent into hiding at a posh boarding school in Palm Springs, California–tasked with protecting Moroi princess Jill Dragomir from assassins who want to throw the Moroi court into civil war. Formerly in disgrace, Sydney is now praised for her loyalty and obedience, and held up as the model of an exemplary Alchemist.

But the closer she grows to Jill, Eddie, and especially Adrian, the more she finds herself questioning her age–old Alchemist beliefs, her idea of family, and the sense of what it means to truly belong. Her world becomes even more complicated when magical experiments show Sydney may hold the key to prevent becoming Strigoi—the fiercest vampires, the ones who don’t die. But it’s her fear of being just that—special, magical, powerful—that scares her more than anything. Equally daunting is her new romance with Brayden, a cute, brainy guy who seems to be her match in every way. Yet, as perfect as he seems, Sydney finds herself being drawn to someone else—someone forbidden to her.

When a shocking secret threatens to tear the vampire world apart, Sydney’s loyalties are suddenly tested more than ever before. She wonders how she's supposed to strike a balance between the principles and dogmas she's been taught, and what her instincts are now telling her.

Should she trust the Alchemists—or her heart?

“You're in an awfully good mood," he observed. "Was there a sale at Khakis-R-Us?” 


Adrian Ivashkov is reason enough to read this series.

The Good


Sydney may have a more boring personality than the fiery Rose as a leading character, but she's also easier for me to relate to. I love that she puts her heart and soul into everything she does. She's smart and she knows it, and she doesn't give in to teasing or peer pressure. When she sees an area where she is weak, she works on making herself better.

The dynamics between Sydney and the other characters places her at the motherly role, Eddie is the body guard, Jill the little sister, Angeline the crazy cousin that they put up with, and Adiran is that hot but annoying neighbor that everyone says they wish would move...but they don't mean it. He grows on you unbelievably. This isn't exactly the roles they play in the book, but you get my point as to what their personality types are like.

In Golden Lily, Sydney is faced with the moral dilemma of becoming too involved in the lives of those Moroi and Dhampirs around her. Alchemists are loyal to their job and nothing else. They don't fraternize with those magic-wielding freaks of nature. So why is helping them what Sydney wants to do more than anything? She battles with her inner demons in this one as well as some other foes.

Next, Adrian is growing. He's still the sarcastic hotty I came to love, but he has a strong desire to better himself. When his father tore down his efforts, it was pretty hard.

The Bad

There was a ton of fore-shadowing so I felt those huge surprises that I've come to love from Mead were missing.

The Romance

There are quite a few crushes and pairings happening. Eddie and Angeline have to be the weirdest. Sydney gets a boyfriend who appears to be a clone of her on the surface, but is he really? Jill has some stumbling blocks in her relationship with Micah. There's more, but I'll leave it at that.

Conclusion

I love where this series is going from Golden Lily. I read it very quickly. Sydney is questioning everything and it absolutely needs questioning. Baddies are rising up out of the wood work, and this crew is determined to stomp them out. Definitely recommended.



Excerpts

“I’d mentioned this odd wardrobe choice to Adrian a couple of weeks ago:
“Isn’t Dimitri hot?”
Adrian’s response hadn’t been entirely unexpected:
“Well, yeah, according to most women, at least.” 

“For once, you're going to hear something that doesn't fit into your neat, compartmentalized world of order and logic and reason.” 


“It doesn't matter. Take Eddie's blood. Take Belikov's blood. Take your own for all I care. But If she doesn't want to give hers, then that's all there is to it. She said no. This conversation is done.” 


“Sage," he said. "What are you wearing?"
I sighed and stared down at the dress. "I know. It's red. Don't start. I'm tired of hearing about it."
"Funny," he said. "I don't think I could ever get tired of looking at it.” 

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Sunday Cover Scramble [77]



Let's have some fun! I am going to post covers on here every Sunday that are scrambled up graphically, making it hard to tell what cover it is. I would like your guesses on what cover you think I've posted. I won't answer you until I'm posting the next one to let you know if you are right, allowing others to guess as well. Some will be hard, and others may be easy. Let me know in the comments if you'd like some more hints and I'll offer some more if no one guesses it correctly.


I'm changing up the format a little bit! I am going to be pulling covers off the Most Popular Page on Goodreads.





Saturday, July 26, 2014

Sidekick Showcase [86] - LOYAL AND YELLY


Sidekick Showcase, previously known as Sidekick Saturday, is a weekly bookish meme, hosted here by Jaclyn at JC's Book Haven. There are many secondary characters that are as great as the primaries. In some cases, the sidekicks actually steal the show and you like them better than the heroine or hero. Maybe they didn't have enough page time for how great they were. Anyone can play along! I will post my Sidekicks on Saturday, then whichever day during the week that you would like to post yours, you can put your link in on my page. Just do the following:

• Choose a sidekick *or someone other than the hero or heroine* that you would like to put in the spotlight that fits in the week's topic
• Share a picture (if you can) and information about the character
• Give the title and author of a book the character can be found in
• Please don't include too many spoilers when describing why the character is such a great sidekick
• The day of your post, put your link in below and grab the code for your post so you can see the others that post their's throughout the week as well

Topic ideas for August:
Artistic, Musical, Twins, Humanitarians, have or should have a motorcycle, Adventurer

My choice is Ironhorse
The Iron Fey Series by Julie Kagawa

Ironhorse picture created by Jaclyn Canada

IRONHORSE IS A FEY, A LARGE BLACK METAL HORSE WITH GLOWING RED EYES AND FIRE IN HIS BELLY, THAT IS ACTUALLY INCREDIBLY HONEST. He also really likes to yell so all his dialogue is in caps. He is a lieutenant for Machina and is an enemy to Meghan and group in the beginning of the series. He's beyond loyal to the point where sacrificing himself for his cause is not a problem for him. I found him to be a character I greatly enjoyed in this series. 

Quotes:

“Right. The Briars. Just a second, Princess. Hey, Rusty,” he called, motioning to Ironhorse, who pinned back his ears, “why don’t you walk ahead of us, huh? I want your big ugly ass where I can see it.”



“WORRY NOT, PRINCESS,” Ironhorse said, and I gaped at him, not believing my eyes. Where a horse had been, now a man stood before me, dark and massive, with a square jaw and fists the size of hams. He wore jeans and a black shirt that bulged with all the muscles underneath, the skin stretched tight over steely tendons. Dreadlocks spilled from his scalp like a mane, and his eyes still burned with that intense red glow. “YOU ARE NOT THE ONLY ONE WITH A FEW TRICKS UP YOUR SLEEVE, GOODFELLOW,” he said, a faint smirk beneath his voice. “NOW, GO. I WILL BE RIGHT BEHIND YOU.”



“STOP!” Ironhorse bellowed as Puck immediately pulled out his dagger, shoving me behind
him. “I DID NOT COME HERE TO FIGHT, ROBIN GOODFELLOW. PUT YOUR
WEAPON DOWN AND LISTEN TO ME.”
“Oh, I don’t think so, Rusty,” Puck sneered, as we began backing toward the
edge of the village. “I have a better idea. You stay there until we get to Oberon, who will rip
you apart and bury your pieces so far apart you’ll never get put back together.” 


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