Friday, March 30, 2012

Bloggiesta? (reflective) - gearing up for book blogging challenges ahead

Where did the first quarter of 2012 go?
How can it be time for TWO back-to-back blogging challenges to start already?
Bloggiesta to the rescue! (love that logo)

Time to make sure BooksYALove is ready for the full-speed blogging journey ahead, so I'm doing some Bloggiesta mini-challenges this weekend.

My To-Do List:
1. Set up my first giveaway! Decide whether or not to use Rafflecopter - using Competitive Bibliomaniac's tutorial/mini-challenge here
2. Add pages of titles & review links with big themes (dystopian, romantic, funny, etc) as another way for readers to connect with books - as noted in Charlotte's mini-challenge - some done, more to come!
3. Add policy page about accepting books & formats, contest rules- thanks, Squeaky Books.
4. Prep every post for April with title, tags/labels, cover image & book info - put in queue for proper release day A-Z
5. Write & save tweets for each daily post to add to Bufferapp queue on night before post
6. Start investigating SEO (search engine optimization), with help from Good Books & Good Wine's mini-challenge
7. Make sure it's easy to find my contact information on the blog.

Whew! That's plenty for one weekend, but should help me be ready to roll on the AtoZ Blog Challenge which begins Sunday, April 1st!
Stay tuned...

Fun Friday - fiction A to Z and then some

Friday! Time for some fun books and taking a deep breath before plunging into April's AtoZ blogging challenge. Click the links to get straight to the no-spoiler reviews.

Tallulah wants to grace the stage, to be in lovvvve, to have a figure like her cousin Georgia. Will these wishes come true at summer drama school on the Yorkshire dales? Withering Tights begins this funny series (and owls are also involved).

Since she's messed up so many decisions, Brook finally turns to blog readers for advice, letting them vote on every choice she has - from which novel to read in English class to trying out for rugby - in My Life Undecided.

Not again! I Lost My Mobile at the Mall, but Elly's parents won't buy her a new cellphone, then burglars steal the family's computers! How can the Sydney teen stay connected to her friends? Yikes!

A missed flight, a changed seating arrangement, meeting a new stepmom in a foreign country - no wonder Hadley imagines that The Statistical Probability of Falling in Love is zilch.

Lillian loves the idea of a road trip with her best buddy Josh right after graduation, even if they're heading cross-country after a kidnapper... and Josh has never realized how much she loves him - Don't Stop Now.

Some years after high school, Simon and his pals are still social dorks. But pretending to be someone else is too strange - so why is Nancy answering letters to a previous tenant as if she were that Sarah person? Same Difference is a graphic novel with sarcastic bite.

Try some hands-on yummy fun with the step-by-step instructions for creating Insanewiches, from the East Meets West Dog to the famous Rubik's Cubewich.

Head up to Astronaut Academy: Zero Gravity with Hakata Soy and friends for classes in dinosaur racing, cute hats, run-on sentences, and spying...

Read any other fun and funny books recently?
(Take a smile image courtesy of Nana who retains all rights -

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Way of the Warrior, by Chris Bradford (fiction) - feudal Japan, shipwreck, assassins

Lured into a trap...
all the gaijin must die...
but the youngest crewmember escapes - into a greater peril.

Jack knows that sea voyaging is dangerous, but his father is a skillful English pilot, with his handwritten navigational notes. But as they spot the shoreline of "the Japans" in 1611, their ship is attacked and sunk by ninja pirates, intent on keeping foreigners out of their country.

Only being found by an honorable samurai warrior saves Jack from immediate death.
Only Masamoto's power within the empire allows the blond-haired teen to accompany him to train with other young men and women in the most-demanding of martial arts.

Only Jack's determination to survive and someday return to England keeps him going through the mental challenges of fitting into Japanese society and the physical challenges of samurai school. Can blue-eyed Jack truly become an English samurai warrior in feudal Japan?

And DragonEye the one-eyed ninja assassin waits... waits for his chance to steal the navigation charts and to kill Jack. This is the first book in Bradford's "Young Samurai" series - your chance to travel back into a closed society and heart-pounding adventure on a World Wednesday.

Book info: The Way of the Warrior (Young Samurai #1) / Chris Bradford. Disney Hyperion, 2009 [author's website] [book series website] [book trailer]

My Recommendation: Stormdriven to the rocky shores of 1612 Japan, Jack sees his father and shipmates killed by ninja pirates. Rescued from the wreckage by a samurai’s men, the young blond teen is the first Englishman ever to visit Japan, bringing with him only his father’s secret sea navigation charts.

Jack is adopted into the family of samurai Masamoto who has mourned for 2 years since his elder son was assassinated by “DragonEye,” the same green-eyed ninja who killed Jack’s father. At age 12, Jack must quickly learn how to handle a wooden practice sword and chopsticks, how to speak Japanese and follow the many rules of this polite society, how to “fall seven times and rise up eight.” Akiko, daughter of a fallen samurai, helps Jack learn these many lessons as they prepare to enter the samurai academy in Kyoto.

Will the younger Masamoto son accept this “gaijin” foreigner as a foster brother or keep fighting against him? Will Jack succeed at the samurai academy as he seeks to learn the Way of the Warrior? When DragonEye threatens the capital city, can Jack and the other young samurai stop him? And will Jack ever get home to England again?

This exciting first book in the Young Samurai series includes a glossary and pronunciation guide for the Japanese words essential to the story. Ikinasai! Let’s begin! (One of 5,000 books recommended on Review copy courtesy of the publisher.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Gate of Days (fiction) - time travel, betrayal, mystery

A photo of "Dracula's dungeon" in an old book,
centuries-old graffiti scratched on the filthy stone walls,

It's a mysterious Monday, as Sam once again hurtles back through time, trying to land in the right place in the right era so he can rescue his dad from Vlad Tepes in the 15th century. No doubt that their enemy, the Archos man, stranded Dad there by taking the coin that would unlock the time-travel statue... no doubt that he would kill Sam and his cousin Lucy if they interfered in his plans to steal masterpieces and riches throughout the centuries at his leisure.

The Oracle of Delphi in ancient Greece, gangsters in Chicago during Capone's heyday, Pompeii as Vesuvius rumbles to life - will Sam ever be able to control where and when the statues take him in time? Find out in book three, The Circle of Gold - after you read book one, The Book of Time (review), to get all the background first, of course.

Look for the whole Book of Time series at your local library or independent bookstore, as all 3 volumes are now available in hardcover and paperback.

Book info: The Gate of Days / Guillaume Prevost; translated by William Rodarmor. Arthur A. Levine Books, 2008. (Book of Time trilogy #2). [author interview] [publisher site]

My Recommendation: Sam knows where his father is imprisoned – Vlad Dracul’s dungeon, in 1462! Now, he must get back through time using the stone statues to save him. But first he has to locate the 7 special coins that will open the complete time loop, without alerting the villain who stranded his father in the past.

Just weeks ago, Sam would have said that his dad was still mourning Mom’s sudden death in a car crash, not chasing a secret through time using the mysterious stone statue in his bookstore’s cellar. And Sam wouldn’t have risked telling his cousin Lucy about time travel’s possibilities if he hadn’t needed her help to keep him anchored to the present while he searched for Dad.

If he can just rescue Dad and get back in time so that his grandparents don’t worry about him being gone…
If he can elude the Archos man who is one step behind him, intent on stopping Sam, permanently if possible…
If he and Lucy can survive the eruption of Vesuvius and Chicago mobsters…
Could Sam possibly open the Gate of Days wide enough to stop Mom’s car from crashing on that terrible day?

The adventures begun in The Book of Time (book 1) reach their startling climax in The Circle of Gold (book 3), with Rodarmor skillfully translating all three thrilling books of the Prevost trilogy. (One of 5,000 books recommended on Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.