My Buddhist Christmas by Jeremy Phillips ~ Blog Tour: #BookReview + #Giveaway @Jphillips2323


Hey Donnie Darlings! Welcome to my stop on the My Buddhist Christmas Blog Tour hosted by YA Bound Book Tours. Click here to follow along with the full schedule. 


My Buddhist Christmas
Release Date: 9/8/15

Source: Copy for review

Purchase: Amazon | B&N 






Synopsis


It's not surprising that sixteen year old Chris Jones has no idea where he fits in...

After all, he's a Buddhist kid in America - during the Christmas season. Add in the fact he plays guitar in a punk rock band called The Dharma Bhumz, and his life is one giant paradox. Caught between the principles of his religion and the influence of his hard-partying bandmates, Chris is in a constant struggle for balance. 

An upcoming talent show is his chance to shine - fail spectacularly...

It's already hard enough preparing for the show, since his friends are more interested in getting high than practicing. And now Chris has to worry about impressing pretty Mary Simpson. To make matters even worse, Mary's parents are fundamentalist Christians, a few steps above his family on the social ladder, and they firmly believe Chris isn't good enough for their precious daughter. 

Conflicted about his friends, lying to his family, and still mourning a devastating loss, Chris wonders if being an American Buddhist guitar wizard wanna-be is worth it. 

Or does any of it even matter anymore?     



I've been fascinated by Buddhism as soon as we learned about the religion in high school. I took a few classes on it in college, and I don't think I've come across a book where the main character is Buddhist, so I jumped at the chance to read MY BUDDHIST CHRISTMAS. I really wanted to see what it would be like around Christmastime for someone who isn't Christian. 

Most of my family are Christian. We celebrate Christmas with all of the traditions that go along with it. While I've tried to imagine how people of the Jewish or Islamic faiths must feel living in the U.S. around Christmastime, I've never thought about Buddhists, so this book called to me, begging to be read! 

There aren't too many young adult novels with a male lead character, especially one with a good head on his shoulders like Chris. He's so likable, and I could relate with him in some ways - feeling like you're too uptight and missing out on fun when what your friends are doing doesn't feel quite right to you, wanting to do something you love to do, and just navigating through the pressures of being a teenager and a high school student. And his loss...I could identify with his grief. 

I felt protective of him, especially when the parents of the girl he likes didn't think he was good enough for her. I did think Mary invited him a bit soon to meet her parents, though. I mean, they hang out one time after school, and then she invites him to a pre-Christmas dinner the next week to meet them! I don't think I would have said no either if it was someone I had a crush on...I'm pretty bad at saying no...but with Christmas coming up, I thought it was pretty brave of Chris to take that challenge on. That's another reason I felt so protective of him. 

And wow, Chris's band mates annoyed me. I couldn't believe how they kept putting off practicing their music. Surely there had to be some better girls or guys to be in the talent show with?? They seemed to know nothing about Chris, nor did they try to know anything him. Yep, I was definitely feeling protective of Chris.    

MY BUDDHIST CHRISTMAS does an excellent job of showing what it's like to be Buddhist, better than any textbook I've ever read or could ever hope to read. That's exactly what I was looking for when I dove into Chris's story. Though it isn't quite Halloween yet, it was a perfect book to get a head start on some holiday reading. I love reading books that take place around Christmas, and I love learning about Buddhism, so it was a win-win for me. You won't learn the entire religion in one book, but you'll be able to understand it in a practical way of what it might be like to live day to day as a Buddhist. Five stars for MY BUDDHIST CHRISTMAS all the way! :D  





About the Author


My first novel will be available on September 8th, 2015. It's a Young Adult fiction story called: My Buddhist Christmas. 

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Four by Zack Scott ~ Blog Tour: #BookReview & #Giveaway


Hello there, Donnie Darlings! Welcome to my stop on the Four blog tour hosted by CBB Book Promotions! Click here to follow along with the full schedule. 



Four 
(Their Dead Lives #1)
by Zack Scott
Publication date: 06/28/11  

Source: Copy for review

Purchase: Amazon 




Synopsis


A tragic past. A destined reunion. A decaying hope. 

In Southern California, four friends must face a haunting nightmare from high school in order to save the future of humanity. But will their personal conflicts get in the way? Battling for survival, these fated four will choose whether to follow a destined path or continue their dead lives, while the zombie apocalypse feeds them one cliche after another. 




"We leave as four."

FOUR is a zombie story to be devoured, heh heh. But seriously, this was a great zombie read with well developed characters and a well written plot. There's even something extra thrown in supernatural-wise besides the zombies, which had me turning the pages to find out what it was because it isn't revealed for quite a while.   

The four main characters - Jeff, Scot, Alec, and Kale - are friends from high school who are like the four Musketeers, but they've had drama where two of them hate each other and they all four generally drifted apart after high school. They organize a reunion of sorts, and pretty soon everything goes to hell. Literally.    


Scot's a player. He has a sort-of girlfriend, and I say sort of because he cheats on her, constantly. He's a douche, but I didn't totally hate him. I disliked him greatly, lol.    

Alec is sweet and ready to settle down with his high school sweetheart. He's having trouble with his dream of becoming a firefighter. I liked him quite a bit. He seems to make solid decisions and be a caring person. 

Jeff was transferred from the regular military to a special military that's kept quiet from the public. He got into great shape after high school after spending that time wishing he was stronger. 

Kale doesn't seem to have grown up much after high school. He has a roommate, and they play video games a lot. He's pretty gung ho about being a hero and won't let the other guys forget about the mysterious event that happened when they were younger, and I was glad for that. I HAD to find out what happened and what it meant for them in the present time.  

Watching these guys try to put the pieces of their friendship back together was riveting. There was a lot of baggage there they could either work through or choose not to. The characters were well written, the plot well developed, and the action with touches of romance was balanced well.  

Something happened when they were in high school, and there were hints here and there that it was a supernatural occurrence of some kind and what it was could help in the zombie apocalypse. I was DYING to know what it was and couldn't wait to find out.  

Oh, and of course the zombies! The zombies were scary AF. Some were super fast, others were slow, and you basically didn't stand much of a chance against them. The totally, totally skin crawling, shiver inducing, look-under-your-bed-before-sleeping kind of zombies. Ah, George Romero would be so proud!

If you're a zombie/horror fan, you really need to snag a copy of FOUR. I would NOT steer you wrong! Plus, I'm picking up the second installment asap. :D    




About the Author


Zack Scott is the author of THEIR DEADS LIVES, ONE PISSED OFF SHARK, and several short stories he wrote for the 2013 Flash Fiction Challenge, where he made it to the final round.

Although he's visited many areas in the world, Zack has lived in Southern California most of his life. He grew up in Los Angeles, attended undergrad at CSUCI in Ventura County, and completed law school down in sunny San Diego. 

More recently, he was living the startup life in Silicon Valley with the 500 Startups accelerator program. He is licensed to practice law in California, but more importantly he likes to hang his pants on his desk chair rather than his closet. When he's not writing stories, Zack can be found in a never-ending wrestling match with his dog Leo or cooking pasta while wearing a Chargers apron. 

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It's a Wonderful Death by Sarah J. Schmitt ~ Blog Tour: #BookReview & #Giveaway

~Jennifer~ | 8:50 PM | | | 4 Comments
 

Hey Donnie Darlings, welcome to my stop on the It's a Wonderful Death Blog Tour hosted by FFBC Tours. Click here to follow along with the complete schedule.  



It's a Wonderful Death
Publisher: Sky Pony Press
Release Date: October 6th 2015
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Fantasy, Paranormal, Supernatural, Teen

Source: Copy for review via Edelweiss (Thank you!)  

Purchase: Amazon | B&N | Book Depository



Synopsis


Seventeen-year-old RJ always gets what she wants. So when her soul is accidentally collected by a distracted Grim Reaper, somebody in the afterlife better figure out a way to send her back from the dead or heads will roll. But in her quest for mortality, she becomes a pawn in a power struggle between an overzealous archangel and Death Himself. The tribunal presents her with two options: she can remain in the lobby, where souls wait to be processed, until her original lifeline expires, or she can replay three moments in her life in an effort to make choices that will result in a future deemed worthy of being saved. It sounds like a no-brainer. She'll take a walk down memory lane. How hard can changing her future be?

But with each changing moment, RJ's life begins to unravel, until this self-proclaimed queen bee is a social pariah. She begins to wonder if walking among the living is worth it if she has to spend the next sixty years as an outcast. Too quickly, RJ finds herself back in limbo, her time on Earth once again up for debate. 

RJ is a snarky, unapologetic, almost unredeemable, very real girl. Her story is funny and moving, and teens will easily connect with her plight. Prepare to meet the Grim Reaper, who's cuter than you'd expect; Hawaiian shirt-wearing Death Himself; Saint Peter (who likes to play Cornhole); and Al, the handler for the three-headed hound that guards the gates of Hell. This cast of characters accompanies RJ through her time in the afterlife and will do their best to gently shove her in the right direction.



You know how there are books with gorgeous covers that immediately attract your attention, so you check out the synopsis, and you're like, I've gotta read this book! It sounds too awesome to miss! And you're so excited, you even forget how beautiful the cover is because you're looking forward to diving inside to the story? 

That's how IT'S A WONDERFUL DEATH was for me. I couldn't wait to dive into the meat of this story. Could. Not. Wait. I had all kinds of scenarios I was imagining, and it was exciting. Really and truly exciting. Plus, I love to see how authors imagine the afterlife to be. It's always interesting and never disappointing.

So in IT'S A WONDERFUL DEATH, popular girl RJ dies before her time because she's accidentally touched by a Grim Reaper, and as you can imagine, she's super pissed. Though she's a brat, I actually liked her snark and couldn't help but laugh at her attitude. Sure, she's self-entitled and stuck up and desperate to retain her popularity, but she's also very real. There are people like her out there (I know, right?!), and I actually found myself rooting for her. 

I wrote this status update when I began reading the book: I'm only 14% in so far, & I love it so much! It's so funny and snarky and adorable!  

There were things I liked about IT'S A WONDERFUL DEATH, and things I didn't like. As I mentioned, I liked RJ quite a bit. One thing that bothered me was how Death was called "Death Himself" every time he was mentioned, although I ended up getting used to it. I understood why he was referred to that way the first time, but after that I thought it was unnecessary.   

I wanted more from the moments where RJ was to go back in for a do-over. Those moments didn't last long enough for me, and it seemed almost too easy for RJ to change her thinking and thus change her future. People don't change overnight, so I wish more time had been spent on RJ's transformation because I loved seeing her change. I think time spent on the trial could have been better spent on RJ's moments back in time fixing what she didn't get right the first time around.  

It was refreshing to have a story that didn't revolve around a romance. There are touches of romance in IT'S A WONDERFUL DEATH, but it isn't the crux of the story. I really appreciated that. 

The ending was really surprising! I wasn't expecting it to end the way it did. This isn't to say I didn't like it. I'm not disappointed at all - I think it was a fitting end, I just didn't see it coming. It caught me off guard, which is a good thing. I like not being able to predict things in books.  

Overall, I recommend IT'S A WONDERFUL DEATH for anyone who loves a good story with redemption and exploration of life, death, and what it all means. 



About the Author




Sarah J. Schmitt is a K-8 school librarian and Youth Service Professional for Teens at a public library who, in addition to planning a variety of events, enjoys opening up the world of books to reluctant readers. She runs a teen writing program that combines Skype visits from well-known authors and screenwriters and critique group style feedback. 

Prior to immersing herself in the world of the written word, Sarah earned her Masters of Science in Higher Education Administration and Student Affairs from Indiana University where she worked with first year college students as they acclimated to college life. Sarah lives outside of Indianapolis with her husband, two kidlets and a cat who might actually be a secret agent. She is an active member of SCBWI, ALA and the Indiana Library Federation and is a regular participant at the Midwest Writer's Workshop. Her debut novel, IT'S A WONDERFUL DEATH, comes out Fall 2015 from Sky Pony Press. 

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(US Only)

A SIGNED copy of The Heir by Kiera Cass 
OR 
a SIGNED copy of Hook's Revenge by Heidi Shultz

A handmade bracelet in RJ's favorite color: purple

An It's a Wonderful Death swag pack

A Funko Pop! Pocket Keychain (Game of Thrones Daenerys Targaryen)






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My Buddhist Christmas by Jeremy Phillips ~ #BookBlitz


Hey Donnie Darlings, welcome to the Book Blitz for My Buddhist Christmas! Below you'll find out info about the book and two excerpts. :D 


My Buddhist Christmas
by Jeremy Phillips
Published by: Limitless Publishing
Publication Date: September 8th 2015
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary

Purchase: Amazon | B&N 



Synopsis


It's not surprising that sixteen-year-old Chris Jones has no idea where he fits in...

After all, he's a Buddhist kid in America - during the Christmas season. Add in the fact he plays guitar in a punk rock band called The Dharma Bhumz, and his life is one giant paradox. Caught between the principles of his religion and the influence of his hard-partying bandmates, Chris is in a constant struggle for balance. 

An upcoming talent show is his chance to shine - or fail spectacularly...

It's already hard enough preparing for the show, since his friends are more interested in getting high than practicing. And now Chris has to worry about impressing pretty Mary Simpson. To make matters even worse, Mary's parents are fundamentalist Christians, a few steps above his family on the social ladder, and they firmly believe Chris isn't good enough for their precious daughter. 

Conflicted about his friends, lying to his family, and still mourning a devastating loss, Chris wonders if being an American Buddhist guitar wizard wanna-be is worth it. Or does any of it even matter anymore?

Excerpts


I feel trapped. I know that I ought to just leave. I ought to just ditch the whole ridiculous Dharma Bhumz thing, despite what the other kids at school will say, despite all the fliers that are up around the building with my picture on it. I know that being the only straight one, the only one who cares enough about our band to keep trying to get it back on track, is only going to be a lot of irritating and frustrating work. To try to stay will be foolish. But, at the same time, I know that I can’t do anything else but stay.

* * * * *

I take a deep breath, and make a seriously conscious effort to actually go Buddhist on this situation. I think of the first Buddhist thing that comes to mind, which happens to be the thing that seems most appropriate in this situation, as in so many other times in life:
The mind of the past is ungraspable.
The mind of the present is ungraspable.
The mind of the future is ungraspable.

This is from the Diamond Sutra, the only part of it that I actually know right off the top of my head. It’s good stuff, and all it really means is to be here now, in this moment, the moment right here in front of you, because it’s the only time that you’ll ever actually get to live in, ever, in this life. At a moment like this, sitting with a prettily smiling Mary across from me, I can see that idea so very well. This moment, this second right here and right now, is the only fragment of time that I can actually have. Once it’s past, this time will be nothing but a memory. Thinking forward into the future is the same. It’s projecting what I want or fear or imagine, into just dreaming about how things are going to be. Even the present is ungraspable, a slightly harder idea to think about maybe, until you notice that “the present” is just another concept. When does this present come into being, shifting from the future into our present view? When does this present stop being present, and slide off into becoming the past? At no time, really. So, just like the others, the present is also just a concept. There’s really only this. This now, only this eternal moment right here, that every really does exist. So—Be Here Now, I tell myself. I mean, really, come on. This is the only moment you’re ever gonna live in.

About the Author



Jeremy Phillips has been interested in Buddhist philosophy for more than twenty years, and attends services at a Shin Buddhist temple in Spokane, Washington. When he isn't writing or keeping busy being a father and husband, he works as a Respiratory Therapist at several different hospitals. He lives in Spokane with his wife, children, dogs, and bonsai trees. 

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