Saturday, 15 September 2012

Dante's Girl by Courtney Cole: EXCERPT+GIVEAWAY!

Today I'm very excited to be able to share with you a giveaway and an excerpt from Dante's Girl - the first book in a new series entitled The Paradise Diaries by Courtney Cole - as part of a promotional event being hosted by AToMR Tours.

Title: Dante's Girl
Author: Courtney Cole
Release Date: July 2012

Book Description:

I have spent every summer since I was ten years old with my father in London. Every
summer, since I was ten years old, has been uneventful and boring.

Until this year.

And this year, after a freak volcanic eruption strands me far from home, I have learned
these things:

1. I can make do with one outfit for three days before I buy new clothes.

2. If I hear the phrase, “You’re not in Kansas anymore, Toto,” even one more time, I might become a homicidal maniac.

3. I am horribly and embarrassingly allergic to jellyfish.

4. I am in love with Dante Giliberti, who just happens to be the beautiful, sophisticated
son of the Prime Minister of a Mediterranean paradise.

5. See number four above. Because it brings with it a whole slew of problems and I’ve
learned something from every one of them.

Let’s start with the fact that Dante’s world is five light-years away from mine. He goes
to black-tie functions and knows the Prime Minister of England on a first name basis.
I was born and raised on a farm in Kansas and wear cut-off jeans paired with cowboy
boots. See the difference?

But hearts don’t care about differences. Hearts want what they want. And mine just
wants to be Dante’s girl.

My heart just might be crazy.


Has that synopsis left you craving a taste of the book? Lucky for you, I have not one, but TWO excerpts from Dante's Girl to share today! Here they are...

Excerpt 1:
There are rose bushes everywhere. And peonies, which are my favorites. And lots
of white marble statues of Greek gods. And one of Napoleon. Why in the world is this
country so obsessed with Napoleon?

I am just wondering if the small statue is life-sized when Dante interrupts any
coherent thought process that I might have by striding across the lawns with a racquet
in hand and wearing short-short tennis shorts.
It’s like a slow-motion scene from a movie. Dante shakes his blond bangs out of his
eyes and the sun catches every glint of gold in his hair. His legs are long, lean, tanned
and muscled and HolyCowThereIsAGod. If I were a man, I would totally be wolf-
whistling right now. But then again, if I were a man, I guess I wouldn’t be wolf-whistling
at Dante.
I’m such a weirdo.

Excerpt 2:
Mia shows me how to get water out of the tube when it leaks in by blowing it out
sharply. She tells me that the most common problem is when new divers get flustered
when water gets into their tubes. I’m supposed to keep calm and simply blow the water
out. That’s a little difficult to do when I’m so completely focused on watching for sharks.
We swim and after a few minutes, more like thirty, I start to feel more at ease.
Every once in a while, Mia reaches out and grabs my hand and pulls me to a
different place where we watch tropical fish leisurely swim in their little schools. Or a
sea turtle gliding gracefully by. Or colorful tropical plants waving in the current.
Under the surface, the water is perfect and aqua and silent. There is no drama,
there are no mean girls and best friends and boys that I shouldn’t have crushes on but
do anyway.
I sort of love it.
I kick my legs, letting the water flow fluidly over me. I am weightless here. I am
relaxed and I haven’t been this comfortable in a long time.
Just as I am thinking about how wrong I had been to be terrified of sharks and about
how wonderful this is and how I have never been this comfortable or relaxed in my
whole entire life, I spot something out of the corner of my eye that makes me freeze.
A gray bump slowly coming toward me.
I pull my head out of the water so that I can see better and find that Mia is nowhere
near. But the gray sleek bump is only a hundred yards away and getting closer by the
minute. I flail and splash, then remember from watching Shark Week on TV that you
definitely don’t want to splash.
Sweet Holy Monkeys. What the eff do I do??
I yell for Mia, but don’t see her. Has she been eaten?

I look around frantically, but we’ve drifted to an isolated location and there isn’t
anyone else here.
Except for me and the shark.
And the shark is certainly taking his time to reach me.
Oh my gosh.
Oh my gosh.
Oh. My. Gosh.
My breathing comes in pants as I try to slowly and calmly paddle backward, away
from the shark, toward land, away from the shark. Toward Land. Away. From. The.
Then, a fin emerges. A fin. And I scream. And scream. And forget about not
splashing. I am splashing so much that every shark and sea creature in a hundred mile
radius will know that I’m here. And I don’t care. All I care about it surviving this shark
attack. Because it is going to attack me. It’s stalking me right now like the prey that I
am. And very soon that water around me will be red because I’m going to die a bloody
And then I notice that the fin is made from hands. A pair of hands.
I freeze.
What the eff?
Dante bursts from the water, wearing gray swim trunks and shaking droplets from
his hair as he lunges to grab me with a roar.
I scream again because it’s happened so fast and my brain hasn’t had a chance to
truly realize that it is Dante and not a shark.
I’m not going to die.
I’m not going to die.
I’m not going to die.
I’m not going to become breakfast for JAWS.
But I’m going to kill Dante.
 So what do you think? I think Reece sounds like a hilarious character, and I love the sound of her 'voice' just from reading these excerpts! Her reaction to Dante (in the first excerpt) is so funny, and, from her description, Dante really does sound gorgeous, doesn't he? Can't wait to read the book and get to know him better! ;)


Now, not only do I have the privilege of sharing with you two excerpts from Dante's Girl today, but I now have a giveaway! Here's what you can win:

Winner’s choice of (1) gifted copy (Kindle or Nook) of PRINCESS or SOUL KISSED by the author; Open International. If winner is located in US/Canada they will also receive a signed 4x6 glossy of DANTE'S GIRL.

You can enter this fabulous giveaway in the Rafflecopter below; good luck! :D
Giveaway ends on 29th September 2012

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

BOOK REVIEW: A Witch In Winter by Ruth Warburton

 Title: A Witch In Winter
Author: Ruth Warburton
Release Date: 5th January 2012
Pages: 346

"Anna Winterson doesn’t know she’s a witch and would probably mock you for believing in magic, but after moving to the small town of Winter with her father, she learns more than she ever wanted to about power.
When Anna meets Seth, she is smitten, but when she enchants him to love her, she unwittingly amplifies a deadly conflict between two witch clans and splits her own heart in two. She wants to love Seth, to let him love her – but if it is her magic that’s controlling his passion, then she is as monstrous as the witch clan who are trying to use her amazing powers for their own gain."
When love is tangled up in magic, how do you know what’s real?" (Goodreads)

When I first ever saw A Witch In Winter and read the blurb, I didn't think I would particularly like it. It sounded like just yet another average, soppy, possibly-a-little-bit-cliche paranormal romance. Although it did involve witches, which was a good point and made it a little different; I can't remember reading a paranormal romance revolving around witches recently... Angels, werewolves and vampires - yes, but Anyway, I just had a feeling, a witchy intuition maybe, that A Witch In Winter wouldn't be my cup of tea. Still, when it magically appeared in my local library, I decided to give it a chance and hope that I might be pleasantly surprised. Sadly, this wasn't the case. It wasn't that I hated the book or anything, I just didn't really like it.

For one, I definitely did not fall under Anna's spell. I got the feeling that she was meant to be a strong female protagonist type of character but in actual fact, she only sometimes showed a hint of a headstrong and determined personality; other times, she just seemed to give up too easily. 

She was also one of those self-sacrificial characters who think they have to save everyone by isolating themselves from everyone else and sacrifice everything they want because they're the reason people around them are getting hurt, and say things like 'I'm bad for you, you shouldn't be around me'... I'm sure you've come across enough of those kind of characters to get the idea. And, while at first I thought it might be refreshing to have a girl playing this role instead of a boy as it has been every other time I've encountered this kind of character, I soon realised that this 'I have to sacrifice myself to save everyone' and 'I'm bad, you should stay away from me' kind of character is just annoying whether you have a boy or a girl playing it.

Anna and Seth, and their relationship really rather annoyed me. They came across to me as over-dramatic, whiny, erratic teenagers. Teenagers who claimed to be desperately and profoundly in love with each other. I will also take this moment to mention that Seth's and Anna's relationship was one of those 'insta-love' ones - just another thing to add to the list of reasons why I didn't like, or believe, this relationship. At one point, Seth furiously declared Anna 'the worst, most despicable person I've ever met,' (or something along those lines - I can't remember the  exact wording) despite having professed how deep and true his love for her was earlier before. Well, if he loved her as truly as he claimed, then nothing should have been able to change his mind so drastically. I mean, on the love-hate spectrum, he literally catapulted from one extreme to the other even quicker than the insta-love relationship between him and Anna formed.

The character I liked most was definitely not one of the main characters, but one of the secondary characters - Emmaline Peller. She was sensible and nice,  but still a strong character, and I would probably have enjoyed a book focusing on her as the protagonist rather than A Witch In Winter, which had Anna as its protagonist.

One thing I must give Ruth Warburton credit for, though, is her writing. While I may not have really enjoyed the storyline of A Witch In Winter, I found that there was some very nice descriptive writing and use of some gothic imagery which mixed together to conjure up a somewhat spooky, magical atmosphere.

This is probably the first "bad'' review I've written on The Book Parade, and I know I have probably overlooked some of the positive points that I'm sure A Witch In Winter had but didn't shine out for me, clouded over by the fact that overall I didn't really enjoy it, but I know that a lot of people didn't have the same issues with this book that I did, so please don't be deterred form reading this because of me, although if some of the things I mentioned sound like the kind of things that annoy you in a book, then you may not want to be too eager to read this.

(And, WHOAH, that was a long sentence! ;) )