Friday, October 26, 2012

Book Review: "Spooky" by Crystal Mazzuca


"You have no identity. Legally, you don't exist. On paper, your parents died seven years before you were born. They joined the CIA and gave up their identities--their lives. And you were born into that. But that's not you anymore. You have to be somebody now."
She looked back, speaking through clenched teeth, "I was somebody."
"No," he whispered. "You weren't. Now you are."
Stephanie Pookay isn't her real name. In fact, according to the government, she doesn't even exist. She's a "spook." That all changes when a CIA mission goes awry and Stephanie, or whoever she is, suddenly finds herself orphaned and stranded by the CIA at a fancy boarding school. All her life, Stephanie, or as her new--maybe goth, maybe not--roommate dubs her, "Spooky" has been told who to be and what to do. Now Spooky has to figure out exactly who she is.

Finding something to do, however, won't be a problem. There's something not quite right about Chambers Academy. There's a mysterious janitor roaming the halls, hidden rooms, cameras in strange places, and a school club labeled the "Icarus Project" that doesn't seem to fit the standard after-school extracurricular activity. Spooky is determined to do some snooping around, but without the CIA's help, will she find herself in over her head?

Crystal Mazzuca's Spooky is a light and fun read with quirky characters I loved and felt for. Full of laughs, intrigue, and tender moments, this story ends satisfactorily with plenty of mystery left at the end to dive into another adventure.

Genre: YA/Mystery
Ages: 12 and up
Pages: 231
Publication Date: 2011

Monday, October 22, 2012

Support an Author: Jill Williamson

 I've decided to start something new on my blog. Authors survive in the writing world not only because of their terrific story-telling skills but because of readers. Especially in this new world of publishing that's changing by leaps and bounds, and most authors have to market themselves without a huge marketing team behind them. So, on a regular basis, I'm going to choose a great author I admire and love and have a "Support an Author" day.

 Today's author:

                     Jill Williamson

Author Bio:

Jill Williamson is an author of all things weird. She grew up in Alaska with no electricity, an outhouse, and a lot of mosquitoes. Her Blood of Kings trilogy won two Christy Awards, and she recently released Replication, a science fiction teen novel from Zonderkidz. Jill lives in Oregon with her husband and two children and a whole lot of deer.

Jill is the fearless leader of Team Novel Teen. It's an amazing group of authors and readers who promote clean, teen fiction. Jill also has recently released a young adult spy series called "The Mission League." Read my review of the first book The New Recruit here.

Now, how do we support Jill, you ask? There are some really simple and quick things you can do (besides going out and buying her books and reviewing them, of course!).;-)

1. "Like" Jill's author page:

2. From Jill's author page, you can then "like" ALL of her books by clicking through to each of their pages (paperback AND Kindle).

3. "Like" Jill on Facebook:

4. (For Goodreads users) Mark as to read or rate or review:

Huzzah! You just supported an amazing author! Good for you!
*gives a virtual pat on the back*

For your general "likeableness" today, here's a special treat
for those of you who haven't read any of Jill's books and
would like to sample some of her writing (and for
those fans who just like re-reading her awesome stories!)
The first chapters of each of Jill's books:

By Darkness Hid
To Darkness Fled
From Darkness Won
Replication: The Jason Experiment (podcast)

Monday, October 8, 2012

Book Review and Scavenger Hunt Contest: The New Recruit by Jill Williamson

But I had to stay in. My mother had died for this loony organization.
I'd do whatever it took to live up to her sacrifice,
 at least until I found out who "they" were.
And made them pay.
Spencer Garamond has been recruited into a super secret spy agency known as the Mission League. You'd think, hey, any fourteen-year-old guy would be thrilled to be a spy-in-training, but Spencer was more or less forced to become spy by none other than his grandmother to keep him out of trouble. It was either join the Mission League--a Christian spy organizaton--or be shipped off to military school. So Spencer joins the Bible geeks, who he thinks are just a little off their rocker, if you know what I mean.
But then, his perspective of the Mission League changes when he discovers his parents, whom he never met, were spies, and his mother died for the cause. Combine this revelation with encountering an odd gang of Russian boys and mysterious woman named Anya who's been haunting his dreams for years, and Spencer discovers maybe he should be taking this Mission League thing a bit more seriously.
The New Recruit by Jill Williamson is a fresh twist on a spy tale full of intrigue, humor, and touching moments. One of the best aspects of the book for me was the viewpoint of a non-Christian character in a primarily Christian setting. Spencer's view of various characters' beliefs and actions that provoke misunderstandings and Christian culture clashes is eye-opening and I believe important for other Christians to know about. Spencer and the other characters' paths toward understanding each other is slow but believeable. Add in the over-arching, suspenseful mystery in Moscow, and The New Recruit is a fun and thought-provoking read.
Genre: Christian/YA/Suspense
Ages: 14 and up
Pages: 399
Publication Date: October 2012
Part of a Series: The Mission League (Book 1)
*I would like to thank the author and publisher for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
Visit these awesome bloggers who will be reviewing and hosting book giveaways of
The New Recruit all this week:
           Labor Not in Vain 
--Check out the website for the Mission League. It has character details, sketches, the book trailer, classified terms, a map of Moscow, and even summaries of the next books in the series.
--Read Chapter One of The New Recruit.
 Go Undercover Scavenger Hunt 
To celebrate the release of The New Recruit, the author, Jill Williamson, is hosting
a very fun spy contest!
--The Grand Prize is a $100 Barnes and Noble gift card--
(Soooo worth it for all of us Nook impulse buyers!)
--The 10 runner ups will receive Mission League spy kits--
(Sooo worth it for all of us who duck around corners
while humming the Mission Impossible theme song...
wait, am I the only one who does that?)
For more info about the contest just click the banner below:
And just for grins and giggles, here's Jill--or, ahem, Jill's uncle from some
foreign country that prides itself in growing fantastic mustaches and eyebrows--
explaining the rules of the contest:
So come join this undercover mission and unleash you inner spy!
covertly glances in both directions and ducks around the corner while humming
"duh duh...duh duh duh"