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Here's how it works: Purchase any of the books shown below during the month of January and you will be entered in our gift card drawing. One entry for each book purchase. Already purchased all of them? Why not gift one to someone you love? Forward your reciept to breakoutbooks (at) gmail (dot) com to be entered. (Subject Line: January Blog Tour Giveaway)




Reining In by Dawn Judd





The Royal Dragoneers by M.R. Mathias





Color Me Grey by J.C. Phelps





Dragon Academy by Diane Nelson





The Butcher's Boy by Michael Robb




Best Picks for 2010

I've read so many great books this year, so picking my favorite is not an easy task. Honestly, I did not read a bad book at all this year, so any of the books that don't make the list should be considered to be honorable mentions. Without furthur ado, here are my top picks for 2010.


5. Learn Me Good by John Pearson - This truly was the funniest book I read all year. I laughed all the way through it and was dissapointed that it had to end. John has mentioned that he might be working on a sequel. I hope he does, because I will be the first in line to buy it!




4. Color Me Grey by J.C. Phelps - Maybe it's the fact that we're from the same little state of South Dakota, or maybe it's just that Jean writes a really great book. I loved this one. It had a great plot and was so well written. I've yet to read the rest of the series, but I've been told they were just as good, if not better. I plan on finding out in the next few days.





3. Equilibrium by Imogen Rose - Honestly, I need to include the whole series in this post. The Portal series is a fabulous story and it has certainly won its way into the hearts of all the teenage girls in my house. Many have said that Portal was a great book and Equilibrium was an awesome book. I have to agree. Imogen seems to outdo herself every time she comes out with a new book. I'm hoping that Quantum is as good as I expect it to be.




2. NoHeart by Ronnell Porter - Vampires, voodoo, monsters? Who could ask for more. I loved this book. It was both fun and exciting. A good mystery is one you don't figure out right up to the end, and this one gave nothing away. Highly reccomended.



1. Flaming Dove by Daniel Arenson - While I really enjoyed all the other books, this was truly my favorite. From the moment I started reading it, I could not put it down. While the religious overtones might not be appealing to all readers, I found myself intrigued by it and couldn't help but adore this tale.



For those of you who didn't make the list, just know I had a hard time picking just five. So many of the books I have read this year are so dear to me. I want to thank all of you for the opportunity to read your stories. I wish you all the best of luck in the future!

Kindle Review

Since we are constantly reviewing our favorite kindle books, I think it's only logical that we give you our opinion of the kindle itself. My K3 was delivered yesterday afternoon. Prior to its arrival, the only time I got a chance to play with one was a few moments at Target on Christmas Eve. You heard me right, the first time I've ever held a real kindle was six days ago. To say that I was immediately hooked was definitely an understatement.
It had been on my wish-list for a long time, and after spending a few moments playing with the display model, there was no doubt in my mind that I wanted one as soon as possible. In actuality, we had gone to Target to purchase one. My husband wanted to surprise me. Unfortunately, they were sold out and it would be several days before they received another shipment. Disappointed, we left empty handed.
Of course that meant there wasn't one sitting under the tree Christmas morning. Don't get me wrong, I had a wonderful Christmas morning. No complaints whatsoever. But I had been bitten by the kindle bug, and now I wanted one more than ever. Sunday morning, my husband asked if I had went ahead and ordered one from Amazon. "What? Really?" Two minutes later, I received an order confirmation email and was grinning like a Cheshire cat. Now, I just had to wait for it to show up.
I expected it to take a while, what with all the orders they had been shipping out for the Christmas rush, so when I got an email Monday morning saying it had been shipped and I should receive it by Friday, I was tickled pink. Imagine my surprise when it showed up two days early. I could hardly wait to get home to play with it. I didn't have to wait long, however, because my wonderful husband decided to bring me lunch and brought the kindle with him.
I have been unable to put it down ever since.
There are so many features I like about this thing. The fact that I can turn my review files into mobi files and load them onto the kindle is beyond amazing. Another feature I love is the text to talk. This little feature is especially handy when driving or when I'm doing something that takes me away from reading. I got to test it out first thing this morning while I sat in the dentist's chair for two hours. What might have been a completely miserable experience was made to be much more enjoyable. I can see this feature is going to become one of my favorites.
I also love how easy the kindle is on the eyes. While I loved the kindle app on my laptop, it was straining to my eyes, and quite often I could read for no more than an hour at a time. The kindle didn't see to cause the eye strain that I experienced with the laptop. I was amazed at how much the screen resembles actual paper. I'm not sure how they did it, but it is cool!
I know I've said many times before that I love my printed books, and I do, but I think having a kindle is going to bring my reading experience to a whole new level. If you've been considering getting one but you aren't quite sure, go play with one. You will make up your mind right then and there. Do I think it's worth the money? Absolutely. But don't take my word for it. Try it yourself.

Winner, winner!

Here are the winner's from this week's sponsor giveaway.

1. Will Prince
2. Alicia Dale
3. Nancy Johnson
4. Gabrielle Campbell
5. Jill Seiffertt

Watch your inboxes for your Amazon alert. Congratulations and enjoy your copy of Reining In by Dawn Judd.

Up next: I will be giving away 5 kindle copies of Portal by Imogen Rose in next week's newsletter. If you haven't already subscribed to our newsletter, now is your chance. Don't miss out on our weekly sponsor giveaways and our monthly giftcard drawings!

My Blood Approves by Amanda Hocking

Seventeen-year-old Alice Bonham's life feels out of control after she meets Jack. With his fondness for pink Chuck Taylors and New Wave hits aside, Jack's unlike anyone she's ever met.

Then she meets his brother, Peter. His eyes pierce through her, and she can barely breathe when he's around. Even though he can't stand the sight of her, she's drawn to him.

But falling for two very different guys isn't even the worst of her problems. Jack and Peter are vampires, and Alice finds herself caught between love and her own blood...


About the Author


Amanda Hocking is a lifelong Minnesotan obsessed with John Hughes and Jim Henson. In between making collages and drinking too much Red Bull, she writes young adult urban fantasy and paranormal romance. For more information on Amanda and her books, visit her blog.

Dawn's Review
Amanda Hocking is quickly becoming a name to recognize. As such, her books have been on my TBR pile for a while now. So it was a pleasant surprise when I discovered I already had a copy of My Blood Approves. Immediately I dropped everything to sit down and read it. How I wish I would have come across it sooner. This was such a great book. Amanda's writing style is fun and unique, and of course who can resist a good vampire tale? I loved every minute of it. I'm very anxious to move on the next book in the series. I have no doubt that it will be just as good as this one!

Lessons (and other morbid drabbles) by Michael Crane

LESSONS AND OTHER MORBID DRABBLES is a collection of 25 100-word shorts that range from darkly comic to downright terrifying and wrong. Some shorts feature ghouls and monsters while others are simply about people behaving very, very badly. Which is scarier? Find out in this sick and twisted collection.


They may only be a few words long, but that doesn't lessen the bloodshed any...


Imogen's Review
It takes talent to engage a reader in a hundred words, and then to shock her. Each of Michael Crane's drabbles did just that. Each story is a nugget of unexpected evil. Mr. Crane's style is easy and enjoyable, journeying the reader into a false sense of security and then, bam! I look forward to the next collection of drabbles from this gifted author.

About the Author
Michael Crane is an indie author and scribbler of inane babble that can sometimes end up as stories. He went to Columbia College Chicago where he earned a BA in Fiction Writing. He is currently the author of two short story collections, and he also might've written two books while he was in high school, but he refuses to own up to them and that's why they aren't included on the page. He lives in Illinois and is always trying to work on something new, unless he's battling stupid writer's block.

Some of his favorite writers are Raymond Carver, Richard Yates, Kurt Vonnegut, Chuck Palahniuk, Bret Easton Ellis and Hunter S. Thompson.

LINKS

Winner Winner!

Here are the winner's from this week's sponsor giveaway.

1. Nancy Johnson
2. Sharon Sayegh
3. Jill Seiffertt
4. Patricia Puddle
5. Barbara Pappan

Watch your inboxes for your Amazon alert. Congratulations and enjoy your copy of Color Me Grey by J.C. Phelps.

Up next: I will be giving away 5 kindle copies of Reining In by Dawn Judd in next week's newsletter. If you haven't already subscribed to our newsletter, now is your chance. Don't miss out on our weekly sponsor giveaways and our montly giftcard drawings!

Flaming Dove by Daniel Arenson

The battle of Armageddon was finally fought... and ended with no clear victor. Upon the mountain, the armies of Hell and Heaven beat each other into a bloody, uneasy standstill, leaving the Earth in ruins. Armageddon should have ended with Heaven winning, ushering in an era of peace. That's what the prophecies said. Instead, the two armies--one of angels, one of demons--hunker down in the scorched planet, lick their wounds, and gear up for a prolonged war with no end in sight.

In this chaos of warring armies and ruined landscapes, Laila doesn't want to take sides. Her mother was an angel, her father a demon; she is outcast from both camps. And yet both armies need her, for with her mixed blood, Laila can become the ultimate spy... or ultimate soldier. As the armies of Heaven and Hell pursue her, Laila's only war is within her heart--a struggle between her demonic and heavenly blood.

About the Author:


Daniel Arenson is an author of fantasy fiction, from epic to dark and surreal.

Like many writers, he began his career writing short stories. He sold his first story, "Worms Believe in God", in 1998. Since then, dozens of his stories and poems have appeared in various publications, among them Flesh & Blood, Chizine, and Orson Scott Card's Strong Verse.

Five Star Publishing, an imprint of Gale, published Daniel's fantasy novel Firefly Island in 2007. His second novel, the dark fantasy Flaming Dove, was released in 2010.

For free stories, novel chapters, and writing tips, visit http://www.danielarenson.com/.




Dawn's Review:

There are good books. There are really good books. And then there are the books you can't tear yourself away from. This is one of those books. Daniel's descriptions so vivid and alive that you feel like you're right there. I loved it from the first few sentences and enjoyed it to the end. There are very few books that can hold your attention through every single word, but this one can. It is an amazing story that I plan on reading again and again.

Lots of free books, a gift card and one very generous lady!

Helen Smith is giving away 105 copies of 31 books by 18 authors - every entry brings the chance to win an Amazon gift card for $50/£30
http://helensmithblog.blogspot.com

Anyone who blogs about it will be entered into the draw for the Amazon gift card on 18th December, to be drawn at random and sent to the winner's email by 19th December in time for Christmas. Please tell your networks. If you/they blog about it, please email Helen at tygerbooks@btinternet.com with 'blogged' in the subject line to let her know you have posted about it.

Spoilt by Joanne Ellis

Passion turns to envy. Love to murder. One way or another, everyone is spoilt.

A sadistic killer is stalking the streets, carving his hatred into the bodies of beautiful, young women.

The murders are stirring up bad memories for Detective Lucas Huson, as he struggles to remain focused - juggling the horrors of today with horrors from the past.

When Chelsea Summerville's best friend goes missing, she's unwillingly dragged into the race to stop the killer.

As Lucas and Chelsea find happiness together, Chelsea becomes the hunted rather than the hunter.

Can Lucas shake off his demons and save the woman he loves, or will everything he holds dear be spoilt?

Dawn's Review:

I started reading this book when it was posted on Authonomy, and it made it to one of my top five books posted there. Sadly, only part of the book was posted and when I finished what was there, it left me wanting more. So I was very excited when I learned that Spoilt had been published. I immediately purchased my copy so I could finish where I left off. This is a wonderful book written by a talented author. It was definitely worth the long wait and I hope to see more of Joanne's books published in the very near future.

Kindle Book Giveaway: Color Me Grey by J.C. Phelps

I will be giving away 5 copies of Color Me Grey by J.C. Phelps in our next newsletter. I've read this book and it really is a great book. Subscribers will be automatically entered. I will enter all new subscribers up to Wednesday night, so there's still time to sign up if you haven't already done so.

Sponsorships, Prizes and More!

There are a few changes going on over here at Breakout Books that I am pretty excited about. As some of you know, I started a newsletter recently, that I hope everyone is enjoying. If you haven't signed up for it yet, I encourage you to do so right away. The newsletter not only covers everything we do here on the blog, but by being a subscriber, you are automatically signed up to win any of the prizes given away through the newsletter.
Starting this month, there will be a monthly drawing for an Amazon gift card. This month's prize isn't very big, but I expect that to change as our membership grows and more authors start to participate in sponsorship.
For our authors, I am offering a new sponsorship program. Authors who participate will be featured in our weekly newsletter. Part of the sponsorship fees will go towards prizes for our members, in the form of gifted kindle versions of your book. Your banner will also be featured on the blog that week.
So, everyone get signed up. There are lots of prizes that have your name written on them.

And the winner is.....

Karen Cantwell, you are the winner of the signed copy of Her Last Letter by Nancy C. Johnson. Congratulations! I will contact you later to get your mailing address. Thank you Nancy for your donation.

For those of you who didn't win, you can still get Nancy's book for the low price of 99¢ on Amazon Kindle.

Dawn's Review:

I knew I was going to like the book before I even started reading it. I'm always a sucker for a good mystery. Nancy gets you interested right from the beginning, and once I got started, I couldn't put it down. The sign of a good book is one that sticks with you long after you've finished reading it. This is one of those books. Oh, and did I mention I LOVE the cover.

Guest Blog from Inside the Writer's Studio: Craig Lancaster Interview

Craig Lancaster, author of the widely praised 600 Hours of Edward and the forthcoming novel The Summer Son to be released by AmazonEncore in early 2011) wanted to do something for others this Christmas season, so he wrote a fantastic holiday-themed story, “Comfort and Joy,” to sell on Amazon and Smashwords for $1.

However, that he plans to donate 100% of the proceeds to Feeding America, whose 200+ food banks distribute to all fifty states, wasn’t enough for us at Inside the Writers’ Studio. When we learned of his plan to write some short fiction, he hadn’t yet begun “Comfort and Joy,” and we were more than happy to catch him early enough to challenge him to find a way to incorporate a few random words.

The words: snowman, hot chocolate, and jingle balls.

LANCASTER: I thought my "Jingle Balls" solution might have been a little reach, but I was 12 years old once, and it's something I might have come up with.

He managed to write the (approx.) 5,500-word story in just 24 hours.

LANCASTER: The idea has been bouncing around in my head for a while, and it's easily adaptable to a holiday angle. Short-story productivity, for me, comes and goes, and for whatever reason, I've been in a fertile period. I'll sit down in the next couple of days and knock it out. The funny thing is, I've never really written fiction on a deadline, but I have one now: I've pledged to send this story to the in-boxes of donors by Dec. 15.

He made good on his pledge; “Comfort and Joy” is available at Amazon and Smashwords right now (click a link to buy a copy – you can always come back here when you’re done), and it will stay there indefinitely with the proceeds continuing to benefit Feeding America. And, as promised, it’s only $1. “But why not charge more to give more?” we wondered.

LANCASTER: Two reasons. The first is the greater-volume-at-a-lower-price idea. The second is that I hope this isn't the be-all, end-all of people's giving. A few folks have written to me and said, "I want to give more than a buck," and my response has been this: "Send me a buck. Send your local food bank, or some other charity there at home, as much as you feel like you can give."

INSIDE THE WRITERS’ STUDIO: What made you choose this particular charity?

LANCASTER: I've been reading a lot about how stressed food banks are. Times are hard, and charitable giving is down. And since (I hope) donations will be coming in from all over, it didn't seem quite right to roll whatever money is generated toward the food bank where I live, though it certainly could use the help. So I figured that Feeding America, with its national focus, made sense.

One of the things that put this at the top of my mind was seeing a plea from my friend Carol Buchanan on Facebook that people not buy her books as gifts but instead donate to their local food bank. She said she'd eat whether the books are bought or not. Others -- many, many others -- are not so fortunate.

This effort is nothing like the NPR fundraising drive—there’s no dollar amount in mind, no set goal (“I have no expectation here,” Lancaster says. “If it's five bucks, it's five bucks.”), but he does hope to turn this into an annual effort, one that involves more writers contributing to a holiday-themed anthology.

LANCASTER: Say, 15 or 20 holiday-themed stories, from a wide variety of genres, all with the aim of putting some food on the tables of people who badly need it. Wheels are already turning for next year: an anthology, from writers across the traditional and indie spectrums. Zombie Christmas, romance Christmas, bizarro, whatever. I think if I were to get people on board in, say, July, we'd be able to offer all kinds of options: individual stories, the entire collection, e-book, short POD run.

IWS: Do you think you might choose different charities in the future?

LANCASTER: I haven't even thought about that. I'm pretty passionate about food banks. They're chronically understocked, and it's one form of charity that is completely without political overtones.

IWS: Have you ever donated to/worked in/needed a food bank?

LANCASTER: I've pulled a few shifts stacking boxes and such, and I'm a reliable bring-a-canned-good-to-whatever-event guy, but I've never done it on a consistent basis. One of the things I hope to do, beyond the holiday season, is become a lot more involved with that sort of thing on a local level.

IWS: That sounds like a perfect New Year’s resolution. Speaking of the new year—your upcoming novel, The Summer Son, will be released in January. Tell us about it.

LANCASTER: It's a multi-decade father-and-son story. Mitch Quillen and his father, Jim, have been largely estranged for nearly 30 years, and the breach stems from a violent summer when Mitch was 11 years old. In the present day, they've been thrown together again and they try to work through the distance between them. All the while, Mitch is reliving that long-ago summer in the form of a note to his wife, whom he's kept away from that part of his life, in an effort to reconcile his own failing relationship with her. It's a story about the things we experience and how those things shape us -- and how those same things get interpreted in different ways by other people who were there.

IWS: Final question. Fruitcake: yay or nay?

LANCASTER: You know, I'd love to say yay, just to be the contrary bastard I tend to be. But I cannot. Fruitcake is a nay. It's a nay to the 100th power. It's a nay that pushes at the outer edges of the space-time continuum. It's the nay that keeps on giving. Let's face it: Fruitcake sucks.




Thank you for allowing us to post our interview on your blog site and spread the word about Craig Lancaster's effort. - Kris & Kel, IWS






The Shifters of 2040 by Ami Blackwelder

America 2040. Three Species. Divided Lovers. The Race is on for Planet Earth.


Summary: Set in Alaska in 2040, Melissa Marn and Bruce Wilder must work under the iron fist of the SCM, while still trying to maintain humanity. Discovering a world of shifters and hybrids, the scientists must struggle with human prejudice and betrayal. With the original ancestors, dubbed shifters, still living on earth, humans are in the midst of a fifteen year old war. As the eldest hybrids, Unseen and Diamond, learn about humans the hard way, with the loss of loved ones and sacrifices, love on planet earth proves challenging.

With underlining themes of how prejudice breaks human connections and animal/wildlife conservation, this novel which has received rave reviews will leave the reader flipping through the pages.

Imogen's Review
This book is the prequel to The Hunted of 2060 which followed the coming of age of nineteen-year-old Alaskan student April into her shifter characteristics, her reunion with her sister (whom she was separated from since early childhood), and the start of a romance between April and the mysterious Arken. This prequel takes us back 20 years to the time when April was conceived. It fleshes out those early times and we learn more about her human mother and her shifter father, and details of the separation from her twin sister. We are taken into a dark time reminiscent of Orwell's 1984, where the authorities can do whatever they want.
Ami Blackwelder entertains us by talking us back into the past to explore the beginnings of the hybrids. I enjoyed this book and look forward to the prequel which I believe will take us back further, to the time when the shifters arrived on earth and thus to the very start of this dystopian paranormal fantasy.

For information about Ami Blackwelder click here.

LINKS

No Lady and Her Tramp by Kristie Leigh Maguire and Mark Haeuser

No Lady and Her Tramp is reminiscent of the TV show Married with Children - minus the children and in a different setting.

No Lady and Her Tramp will have you rolling in the aisles as you follow the exploits of the residents of President Park, the trailer park to top all trailer parks.

Beth Ann Dixon buys herself a computer and decides to write a steamy erotic novel. Her husband, Billy Ray, can't do much of anything right, not even shoot a gun. Janet Higgins is the resident Peeping Tom - and Troy Finkmyer is the guy we all love to hate.

Everybody gets into the act and there are showdowns all over Grapevine - Grapevine, Kentucky that is. Shirley Snodgrass is the local gossip columnist for the Grapevine Gazette and records it all in her column, 'I Heard It Through the Grapevine'.

You'll laugh, you'll cheer, and you may even shed a tear as you read No Lady and Her Tramp by Kristie Leigh Maguire and Mark Haeuser.

Imogen's Review

This is not a book I would have normally picked up (I normally stick to YA fantasy), but I am so glad I did! It's amazing where the pages of a book can take you. In this case, right into the curious lives of the residents of President Park Trailer community-their actions carefully chronicled by the local gossip columnist and busy-body, Shirley Snodgrass, because as she says, "Inquiring minds want to know!"


Kristie Leigh Maguire immediately draws us into the life of the main character, Beth Ann Dixon, a hairdresser married to her childhood love, Billy Ray. One is immediately enthralled by Beth Ann's desire to become an author and we follow her unorthodox but spell binding journey into this dream. Miss Maquire has a wonderful way of fleshing out her characters, each one interesting in their own right. This was an engaging and often humorous story with some really quirky characters. I was sad when it was over and am hoping that I will encounter Beth Ann, Mary Jo, Troy, Billy Ray and Shirley Snodgrass in future publications by this entertaining author.

About Kristie Leigh Maguire

Kristie Leigh Maguire is the author of Second Chances, Affairs of the Heart: Desert Heat and Cabin Fever (Collector's Edition), Desert Heat, Cabin Fever, Emails from the Edge: The Life of an Expatriate Wife, From the Far Side of the Sun, and co-author of No Lady and Her Tramp, as well as a contributor to several anthologies.

She was voted Best Up and Coming Author of the Year and her novel Desert Heat was voted Romance of the Year by the Affaire de Coeur Magazine Reader/Writer Poll. Her novels Cabin Fever and No Lady and Her Tramp placed in the Top Ten in the Preditor & Editor's Poll. Her novel Affairs of the Heart: Desert Heat and Cabin Fever (Collector's Edition) was an Amazon.com Number One book in Sensual Romance.

Kristie Leigh Maguire and her husband have lived all over the United States and many foreign countries while following his career. While living in Japan, she found it very difficult to find books to read that were written in English. This situation was intolerable as she was an avid reader and had been known to resort to reading cereal boxes if nothing else was available. Have you ever tried to read a cereal box written in Japanese? It was not a pretty picture. Ms. Maguire began writing her own books just to have something to read. She discovered a new passion in writing.

Although Kristie Leigh Maguire is originally from the South and will always remain Southern at heart, she now divides her time between her homes in Nevada and in St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands. During her expatriate years she lived in St. Croix, Aruba, Thailand, Japan and three times in Saudi Arabia and visited many other countries.




LINKS

Amazon Website