Monday, November 30, 2015

Blog Tour | Next Door to a Star by Krysten Lindsay Hager

Next Door to a Star

Release Date: September 1st 2015
Limitless Publishing

Summary from Goodreads:

Hadley Daniels is tired of feeling invisible.

After Hadley’s best friend moves away and she gets on the bad side of some girls at school, she goes to spend the summer with her grandparents in the Lake Michigan resort town of Grand Haven. Her next door neighbor is none other than teen TV star Simone Hendrickson, who is everything Hadley longs to be—pretty, popular, and famous—and she’s thrilled when Simone treats her like a friend.

Being popular is a lot harder than it looks.

It’s fun and flattering when Simone includes her in her circle, though Hadley is puzzled about why her new friend refuses to discuss her former Hollywood life. Caught up with Simone, Hadley finds herself ignoring her quiet, steadfast friend, Charlotte.

To make things even more complicated, along comes Nick Jenkins…

He’s sweet, good-looking, and Hadley can be herself around him without all the fake drama. However, the mean girls have other ideas and they fill Nick’s head with lies about Hadley, sending him running back to his ex-girlfriend and leaving Hadley heartbroken.

So when her parents decide to relocate to Grand Haven, Hadley hopes things will change when school starts…only to be disappointed once again.



Love gone bad.

Is this really what it’s like to live…

Next Door To A Star? 

Book Trailer:

The school year should end right after spring break, because all anyone can focus on is summer vacation. You can’t learn anything new, because all you can think about is all the fun stuff you’re going to do once you don’t have to get up at the butt crack of dawn. Summer always seems full of possibilities.
Nothing exciting ever happens during the school year, but maybe, during summer vacation, you could run into a hot celebrity and he’d decide to put you in his next music video. Okay, it wasn’t like I knew anybody that happened to, but my grandparents did live next door to a former TV star, Simone Hendrickson, and Simone was discovered in an ice cream parlor one summer. Of course, she lived in L.A. at the time and was already doing plays and commercials, so the guy who discovered her had already seen her perform. But hey, it was summer, she got discovered, and that was all that mattered.

Amazing stuff didn’t happen to me. You know what happened to me last summer? I stepped on a bee and had to go to the emergency room. They’re not going to make an E! True Hollywood Story out of my life. I didn’t go on exotic vacations—like today, I was being dragged along with my parents to my cousin’s graduation party. Most people waited until at least the end of May before having a grad party, but Charisma was having hers early because she was leaving on a trip to Spain. I was dreading this party because I didn’t want to listen to everybody talk about how smart and talented Charisma was—making me feel like a blob in comparison—but my mom RSVP’d even though I said I’d rather die than go. My death threats meant nothing. But still, for some strange reason, I had a feeling this summer was going to be different.

Sequel out in March! Competition with the Star. (Star Series: Book 2)

Buy Links:

Krysten Lindsay Hager is an obsessive reader and has never met a bookstore she didn’t like. She’s worked as a journalist and humor essayist, and writes for teens, tweens, and adults. She is also the author of the Landry’s True Colors Series (True Colors, Best Friends…Forever?, and the soon to be released, Landry in Like) and her work has been featured in USA Today and named as Amazon’s #1 Hot New Releases in Teen & Young Adult Values and Virtues Fiction and Amazon’s #1 Hot New Releases in Children’s Books on Values. She’s originally from Michigan and has lived in South Dakota, Portugal, and southwestern Ohio. She received her master’s degree from the University of Michigan-Flint.

Author Links:


Book Tour Organized by:

Friday, November 27, 2015

Book Blitz | The Truth Spell by Anita Oh

The Truth Spell (Werewolf High #1)
Release Date: November 2015

Summary from Goodreads:

As soon as I stepped onto the grounds of Amaris High, I knew I'd made a big mistake. I could never fit in at such a snobbish school – I was more IT girl than "it girl". But then I saw him.

Sam Spencer. My childhood best friend. But it couldn't be. Sam Spencer had died three years ago, on the night that changed everything. I need to know what happened, why he's suddenly not dead and is hanging out with a bunch of rich kids.

When the school is hit by a truth spell, it seems like the perfect chance to find out what Sam and his creepy new friends are hiding, but the weirder things get, the less I'm sure I want to know. Even for Sam, even for the free food, Amaris High might be more trouble than it's worth.

Buy Links:

“Take heed!” a voice boomed out.
All of us jumped and spun toward the voice.  Someone had clearly slipped something funny into the water supply, because the statue of Professor Amaris had stood up from his Buddha pose and was pointing right at us.  The entire garden was lit with a blue glow.
“Take heed!” he repeated in his booming voice.  “Those of you with secrets in your heart and falsehood on your tongue.  A light has arrived to shine on your darkness, to clear away your shadows.  There will be nowhere for you to hide.”
The blue light grew brighter and brighter, until it was blinding.  It condensed for a moment into a small, impossibly bright ball, then exploded outward, like thousands of tiny blue fireflies.
“Well, that was weird.”
“Nobody speak until we’re back at the house,” Tennyson Wilde said quietly to Sam and the others.  “The commoner is right, something strange is happening.”

The Truth Spell is now on sale for $0.99 on Amazon!

Q. How did you come up with the idea for Werewolf High?

A. I really wanted to create a world that I’d enjoy hanging out in.  When I think about my favourite stories, they’re mostly based in schools – stuff like Harry Potter and Buffy, as the most obvious examples.  I think schools are a great setting because you’re forced into constant contact with all sorts of different people, which mostly sucks in real life but is great for creating dramatic scenarios in a book. Plus, I love werewolves!  So it seemed like a good idea to combine the two.

Q. The series is Werewolf High but the first book is called “The Truth Spell” – that sounds more like witches than wolves!

A. The werewolf pack is at the heart of the series and the main story focuses on the wolves, but when you throw witchcraft into the mix, there’s no end to the fun stuff that can happen.  When I was first developing the series, I decided I’d like to play around with a different trope in each book, body swaps and soul bonds and so on, and a truth spell was perfect for the first book, when everyone still has something they want to hide. 

Q. Is the main character a werewolf?

A. Lucy is an ordinary human girl.  She comes from a poor family where she’s had to take responsibility for her younger siblings, so she’s had to be a practical, logical sort of person, and she finds it hard to accept magic and werewolves.  She also struggles being at such an elite boarding school, where people throw money around.  It’s a totally different world for her.

Q. What do you find the hardest part of the writing process?

A. I have a chronic illness, so everything is hard all the time, but the hardest thing is keeping to a schedule.  Just sitting down to do something every day is really difficult, sometimes impossible, but if you do a little bit and then a little bit more, gradually it builds up.  I’ve spent a lot of time feeling sorry for myself and making excuses but it gets to the point where if you want to do something, you have to do it.  My sister’s a writer and she said to me, “quit your dillydallying and write your book already, sheesh!”.  Most people I know are like “one day I will do this” or “I’ll do that someday”, but if she wants to do something, she just does it – travel the world or become a writer or whatever.  When someone like that is standing in front of you, it’s hard to make excuses for yourself.

Q. What do you do for fun?

A. Mostly, I chase my dog around the house while pretending to be T-Rex.  She’s a beagle, so she doesn’t know that the T-Rex has tiny little arms that can’t possibly catch her, so she’s super fast and good at evasive maneuvers but I will get her one day!

About the Author

After several years in the warm, comforting cocoon of fandom, Anita has decided to see what's up with this real world she's heard about.  Judgment is reserved until more information can be gathered.

Anita likes dogs, naps, food, and Japanese idol group Arashi.  Everything else can be improved when combined with these four things.

Anita lives with a grumpy beagle who bosses her around terribly, and won't even snuggle.

Author Links:
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Thursday, November 26, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving

Space Center Smackdown: Cape Canaveral vs Houston

There’s nothing under the sun that captures the imagination quite like outer space. With the discovery of water on Mars, the meteoric rise of Matt Damon’s new film, “The Martian”, and the impending release of the new Stars Wars flick, the universe has been, well, everywhere lately.  
Back here on the earth, the closest most of us mere mortals will come to outer space is a visit to one of America’s NASA-run Space Centers: the Johnson Space Center, located in Houston, TX, and the Kennedy Space Center, in Cape Canaveral, FL. We wondered, which Space Center location’s vacation price is down-to-earth and which one is other-worldly expensive? 
To find out, we analyzed our 2015 data for average flight prices to each center’s nearest airport from the 30 most popular airports in the U.S. and daily car rental prices, in addition to the average prices for hotel stays in Houston and Cape Canaveral. We also looked at the average ticket prices and, just for fun, how much it would cost to eat lunch with an astronaut, a program offered at both locations.
Here’s what we found it would cost, on average, a family of four for a 3-day, 2-night trip:
smackdown_space (1)
In other words, a family of four can save an average of $600 by choosing Space Center Houston over Cape Canaveral, most of which is saved through airfare and Space Center admission prices. Here’s how that breaks down, per person:
Cape CanaveralHouston
Avg. RT Airfare$387 Melbourne Intl Airport(MLB)$294 George Bush Intercontinental(IAH)
Avg. Nightly Hotel$144 $116 
Daily Admission$50 Adult/ $40 Child$21 Adult/ $16 Child
Lunch with Astronaut$30 Adult/ $16 Child$50 Adult/ $30 Child
Car RentalFrom $26/ dayFrom $27/ day

While this may appear like pretty steep price tag for a short vacation, both centers offer numerous discount opportunities and are generally all-inclusive. For example, Kennedy Space Center admission includes all exhibits and shows, IMAX space films, the Kennedy Space Center Bus Tour and free next-day admission to the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame when a general admission ticket is purchased. Multi-day packages that can reduce the overall price are also available.  
Meanwhile, Space Center Houston offers a CityPASS if you plan to visit other Houston attractions, which allows visitors to save 50 percent on admission to Space Center Houston and four more top Houston attractions: 1) Downtown Aquarium, 2) Houston Museum of Natural Science, 3) Houston Zoo or Museum of Fine Arts, and 4) Houston Children’s Museum or Kemah Boardwalk All-Day Ride Pass. You’ll skip most ticket lines, too.
So while Space Center Houston is inarguably the less expensive of America’s two NASA centers, both locations offer multiple opportunities to let your imagination (and inner-astronaut) be free from gravitational pulls for a few days.
Blast off about your Space Center story in the comments below!
Methodology: Hipmunk analyzed 2015 data for average airfare prices to MLB and IAH from the 30 most popular U.S. airports, as well as average nightly hotel prices in both Houston and Cape Canaveral. Car rental prices were the lowest recent price posted on departing and returning to MLB and IAH, respectively. All other data was found on each Space Center’s website. As always, airfare, hotel, and car rental prices frequently change and Hipmunk does not guarantee that the prices listed in this story reflect what is currently available.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Hipmunk Launches AI Travel Planning Assistant, ‘Hello Hipmunk’

“Hey, it’s Mom. Have you booked your flight for Christmas?”
It’s an email we’ve all received in one form or another, one which essentially turns travel planning into a dreaded to-do list. People consistently say, “I still have to book this flight”; almost no one looks forward to starting a travel search.
This is the dilemma Alex Quintana, Hipmunk’s senior product manager, set out to solve. “Travel is inherently social and often a trip starts with a simple email,” Quintana said. “I thought that if we could enable people to copy Hipmunk in on the message, they could get a head start on travel planning. We would eliminate that dreaded “to-do” by enabling people to delegate to Hipmunk as a travel assistant.”
And thus, Hello Hipmunk, and the future of travel planning, was born.

Hipmunk today introduced a free personalized travel planning virtual assistant called Hello Hipmunk, powered by artificial intelligence, which simplifies travel planning through two features: Hello Email and Hello Calendar.
“Every day we look for ways to take the agony out of travel searching,” said Adam Goldstein, CEO and co-founder of Hipmunk. “We thought, why not start at the places people are already thinking and talking about travel: their emails and calendars?”
Hello Email automatically searches travel options for you when its address is included in an email that references travel plans, while Hello Calendar is designed to anticipate travel plans by scanning a user’s Google Calendar (with their permission) to infer where users are traveling and instantly offer the best options.
Hello Email:
Say that you received the afore-mentioned email from your mom inquiring about your Christmas flight. Your reply could be something like, “Not yet, Mom. Looping in Hipmunk to book my flight: @hipmunk I need a flight from SFO to Atlanta from December 22 – 27.” Then, simply add in the cc line before sending the email to your mother.
Hello Email
In response, Hello Email would instantly provide flight options via email to both you and your mom. The two of you could then decide together which flight worked best and book it. By enabling Hipmunk to be a part of the natural conversation from the beginning, you’re able to save both you and your mom time and anguish.
Imagine: no more typing into a search box and waiting for the results. No more frustration trying to coordinate travel with friends and family. By directly emailing or cc’ing, you’re able to move on to more pressing tasks, or simply sit back and wait for Hello Email to do the search work for you.
While the responses are automatically generated, Hello Email, currently in beta, also uses humans to fine-tune its replies, so the program actually gets more accurate over time.
“We began training Hello in partnership with our customer service team, the Navigators,” Quintana said. “ We knew we needed to give Hello a deep knowledge of travel, so we worked to integrate the service with our Navigators to train Hello to answer customer questions. This allowed us to gain a deep understanding of the types of questions customers ask and allowed us to teach Hello how to recognize patterns and answer questions.”
Hello Calendar:
Powered by Hipmunk’s patented calendar search technology, Hello Calendar anticipates users’ upcoming travel needs using their Google calendar. As with Hello Hipmunk, it negates the need for users to conduct an online search. Users give Hipmunk permission to access their Google Calendars and Hipmunk periodically scans them to find events that users are attending in another city. Then, Hipmunk emails flight, train, and hotel or vacation rental search information for those travel dates.

Screen Shot 2015-11-13 at 8.07.38 AM
Let’s say that you have a trip to Santa Barbara for Valentine’s Day that you’ve been putting off booking travel for (for no particular reason whatsoever). Hello Calendar will automatically identify the trip and send corresponding personalized travel suggestions, eliminating the agony and ensuring the ecstasy of your Valentine’s Day getaway.
Hello Calendar also appears alongside flight results when performing searches on Hipmunk’s website, so that you can easily find the time that best suits your schedule to fly.
“Twenty-five years ago, we never could have imagined that we’d be getting information from computers with touch screens and our voices,” said Nancy Hang, vice president of product at Hipmunk. “Twenty-five years from now, we’ll wonder how we lived without artificial intelligence understanding our needs and helping us proactively. We’re excited to be leading the way in the travel industry.”
Say hello to Hello Hipmunk.

Want to get started using Hello Hipmunk?? It’s as easy as sending an email (literally). Here are some sample searches to get you on your way:
“NYE in Vegas, baby! @hipmunk, show me hotels in Las Vegas from Dec 30 – Jan 2.”
“New York, New York! @hipmunk I need a hotel in New York City from Dec 18 – 20.”
“Cheerio! @hipmunk I need a hotel in London this weekend.”
Then just sit back and wait for a reply. Travel planning, done.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Book Tour | Shanti & the Magic Mandala by F.T. Camargo

Shanti and the Magic Mandala
by F.T. Camargo

Shanti and the Magic Mandala is an adventure in which fantasy and reality are mingled. The book tells the story of six teenagers, from different religious and cultural origins and different parts of the world, who are mystically recruited to form two groups - one in the Northern Hemisphere, and one in the Southern. They eventually gather in Peru, and through a single alliance, begin a frantic chase for the sacred object that can stop the black magician's final plan.


Shanti was the first to smell the smoke. She paused in her frantic packing. “Do you smell something burning?”

“Yes, I do,” Lelê said, worried.
It was getting noticeably hotter in the room. “Look, there’s smoke coming in under the door!” Antônio cried. Black smoke was slowly seeping beneath the door and into the room. Lelê ran to the window.
“The door won’t open,” Shanti said, struggling with the lock.
“Neither will the window.” Lelê was close to tears.
“Let me try, Shanti.” Antônio grasped the doorknob, applying his strength to it. Even as he fought with the lock, the smoke and the heat were rising.”
“They did it. We're stuck in here,” Helena said, coughing.
Antônio hammered on the wall. “Nasir! Itai! Tadao! Help us!”
“They want to kill us,” Lelê cried, shaking with fear.
Looking intently at Helena, her voice ringing with determination, Shanti declared, “But we’re not going to let them succeed!”
“Get away from the door,” Antônio said, kicking at it.
Hearing Antônio's call for help, Nasir and Itai had rushed to the door, only to find it locked. Tadao tried the window. “It won’t open,” he said, fearful. “The window's locked.”
“We can’t get out. What’s happening?” Nasir said, with an edge of panic.
“It’s black magic,” Itai said, trying to help Nasir break down the door.
Just then, an image of the book came into his mind. He ran over to his backpack, still on top of his bed and upended it shaking everything out.
Suddenly there was a loud noise, like an explosion — the door swung open. Flames and gouts of heavy, black smoke poured into the room. The whole hallway was on fire.
Tadao pushed at the window again, but it defied his efforts to open it.
Itai reached for his book. It was illuminated once again. He stood up and held the book with both hands, opening it. A bright light shone forth from the page it had opened on and he saw another name, formed with three Hebrew letters. Seitel, another of the 72 names of God. Itai knew that the Angel Seitel was able to create a protective shield. He closed his eyes, forming an urgent prayer, reaching out to connect with the angel, shutting out the mayhem around him for a few moments. Opening his eyes he gazed at the three letters from right to left for a few more precious seconds. Then he closed the book, replaced everything else in the backpack and hoisted it on his back. He picked up the book, holding it in his right hand. “Grab your backpacks and follow me.”
Nasir stared at him with an expression that clearly showed concern for his sanity “Itai?”
“Follow me,” Itai repeated with certainty.
“What? What do you mean?” Tadao almost shouted.
Nasir took his backpack and positioned himself behind Itai. “May Allah protect us!”
Watching Nasir, Tadao did the same. Itai took the closed book in both hands, pointing it towards the fire, as they approached the door. The book emitted an increasingly intense light. Gradually, a large shield began to form, surrounding the three boys.
“Wow! It's a light vehicle, a merkaba!” Nasir said, reverently, his gaze locked on the intense white light of the forming shield.
“Incredible!” Tadao said, forming his own silent prayer, Thank you, Lord Buddha.
Steadfastly Itai moved towards the door now engulfed by large flames. He advanced out of the room, into the hallway, the light shield in front of him, and as he moved, he created a clear path, the shield pushing away the flames, heat and smoke. He stopped in front of Shanti’s bedroom door. The wood was charred and blackened and the ancient lock had popped free, leaving the door swinging brokenly. Their friends had crowded at the back of the room, near the window, trying to get away from the thick, choking smoke. “Grab your backpacks! Get behind Nasir and Tadao!” Itai shouted.
“We’re coming!” Antônio said, grabbing his backpack and walking swiftly towards the door.
Lord Ganesha, please open those paths, Shanti prayed, putting all of her faith into the prayer.
Within moments, the three were in place. The light shield began to grow sideways, eventually forming a large cube of light, protecting all of them. They crossed the hall, safe from the flames. As they went down the stairs, they heard the roof collapsing behind them. The reception area had been completely destroyed by fire, but again they passed through the devastation completely shielded from the heat and flames. They reached the door leading to the outside. Itai wasted no time in pulling it open and they poured out of the burning building.
As soon as the last one of them stepped onto the street, the old pension began to collapse, turning into a huge bonfire.

About the Author:
F. T. Camargo is an Italian Brazilian living in Sao Paulo, Brazil. An award winning architect and author, he also studied Arts and Media and has a post degree in Economics and MBA in e-commerce. He is a vegetarian because of his love for all animals and has been deeply involved in causes for their protection and freedom. He is a world traveler adventurer, outdoor sports lover, speaks 4 languages and has published a travel book “Rio, Maravilha!”
For many years he has been practicing yoga and meditation and studying the Kabbalah. His exploration of spiritual teachings motivated a commitment to self-development which in turn created a new path and goal in life. Shanti and the Magic Mandala was born from his inner journey.

Contact the Author:

Awards & Recognition for the Book:
- Winner of 2014 London Book Festival in the category “Young Adult”.
- 2014 Moonbeam Children's Book Awards: Bronze Medal at “Young Adult Fiction – Spirituality” category
- 2014 New England Book Festival in Boston:  Honorable Mention in the category “Young Adult”.
- Winner of 2015 Paris Book Festival in the category “Young Adult”.
- Winner of 2015 International Book Awards in the category “Fiction / Young Adult”.
- Winner of 2015 New York Book Festival in the category “Young Adult”.
- 2015 Los Angeles Book Festival – Runner-up in the category “Young Adult”.
- 2015 San Francisco Book Festival – Runner-up in the category “Young Adult”.
- 2015 DIY Book Festival in Los Angeles: Honorable Mention in the category “Young Adult”.

Check out the Cover Reveal Event