Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Review: Freeblood

Secrets and lies have surrounded 21-year-old Quinn Zauber since a vampire killed her mother and brother a year ago. Jo-Jo Huang, her best friend and roommate, has offered steady support, even going along with Quinn's crazy ghost-hunting schemes. Now Jo-Jo has been kidnapped, and clues point to an audio recorder the roomies placed in Portland's notorious underground tunnels.


With her naïve cousin Kasey riding shotgun and an old attraction, paranormal investigator Del Whelan, imposing his own brand of help, Quinn searches for Jo-Jo, fights supernaturals, and strives to keep her horrible secrets under wraps.


What Quinn doesn't realize is that her witch bloodline makes her of special interest to one of the deadliest vampires around.


You can view this book on Amazon
And on GoodReads

This might be one of my unusual reviews a bit on the shorter side, but I don’t really have a whole lot to say about Freeblood.


I did have some conflicting moments--it is a heavy story with a lot going on at times. I felt like maybe there was a bit too much more than necessary in some areas, and it did cause me to have to put it down for a while to relax some because of this. Oftentimes, I felt somewhat detached from a majority of the characters, even Quinn. I didn’t see much development through the conflicts or at the end. Quinn was such a rollercoaster--and while I understand that because of many of the situations, I didn’t always find it entirely realistic. I did like Del and Kasey a lot though.


However, Freeblood is also an engaging and entertaining story with a unique take on the vampire genre. I freely admit that I love my vampires. Huge fan of the legends and literature that feature this creature and I always enjoy any interesting story that takes a creative turn when using them. That was certainly found here and there weren’t any dull moments. Great action and a edge-of-your-seat thrilling story. If you like vampires and looking for something unique and new, then this is definitely the one you want to pick up.


The ending leaves off with the subtle hint of a possible sequel. I’m not too sure, but it could be interesting to see what would happen next.


My many thanks to author Marny Copal for the review copy in exchange for my honest opinion.





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Sunday, January 29, 2012

Guest Post: Author Theodora Goss (Thorn and the Blossom)

What Are We Mything?


When I teach classes on fantasy literature, I often start by having my students read Sigmund Freud's essay "The Uncanny."  In that essay, Freud tries to figure out why we respond to certain events with a sort of creepy, uncomfortable fear, the sort of fear you feel when you see a ghost.  (Each time I teach his essay, I think of Scooby Doo, shivering and whining until Velma reveals that the ghost is really the caretaker of the dilapidated old estate.)  Freud says we feel the uncanny when we experience something that challenges our sense of reality, that makes us think our rational, scientific view of the world is inaccurate.  Suddenly, we encounter the supernatural, and we start wondering if we really live in a world that can be explained by the laws of physics.  Maybe ghosts do exist after all?

We start wondering if what Freud calls "the old, animistic conception of the universe" is the true one.  In that older world view, which we believed in for thousands of years before deciding that the world could be explained rationally, nature is seen as filled with spirit.  (The word "anima" is Latin for "soul," and it's where we get words such as animal and animation.  Bringing a cartoon Scooby Doo to life involves giving him a soul, of sorts.)  But Freud says our culture no longer believes in that view.  We no longer believe that dryads live in the trees, or that the sun is a god.  That a shaman can climb the world-tree whose branches touch the heavens, or a witch can brew a storm, or a warrior can transform into a bear.  We no longer believe in magic.  If we did see something magical, a dryad emerging from her tree or a man turning into a bear, we would feel a sense of the uncanny.  And we would run away.

Freud is probably right.  We would probably react the way Evelyn does in my story, The Thorn and the Blossom, when she encounters something that seems magical.  We would go to a good therapist.  But I think Freud's essay also misses something: he doesn't recognized that although we might be afraid if we saw an old woman creating a storm by stirring her cauldron, or Apollo walking toward us over the grass, we also long for magic.  We want it to be real.  When you were a child, didn't you check every wardrobe, just in case it led to Narnia or some other magical country?  I know I did.  In a deep and fundamental way, we need myth.

People sometimes ask me why I write fantasy, or at least stories with some sort of mythic resonance.  The Thorn and the Blossom could be read as a completely realistic story, but I do think it has that resonance.  If you read it as completely realistic, you're missing something: the possibility of myth, of a deeper meaning underneath the everyday.  That's what myth gives us, and that's why we need it and long for it.  A tree, considered scientifically, is a collection of cells that have grown into a particular configuration: it creates oxygen, prevents erosion, and provides wood for furniture.  But we don't love trees for those reasons.  We love them because they're trees: they arch over us in the forest like the ribs of a cathedral.  They make us feel as though we could ascend to the heavens, or as though the soul of the tree, the dryad, might emerge.

Life isn't exactly easy.  We experience longing, pain, and death.  But I believe that finding the myth, the magic in it, even when it's metaphorical, can help us deal with the difficulty.  It can transform the world and give it a meaning it did not have.  It can help us see trees, and bears, and even ourselves, differently.  It can help us see a magical dimension.  In my story, Evelyn eventually has to stop running away from what Freud describes as the uncanny.  She has to face her fears and acknowledge her longing.  I didn't think about any of this when I was writing the story, of course.  It's only later that you realize how much a story reflects what you believe about the world.

I started this blog post with a question that is also a terrible pun: what are we mything?  Sorry, it's awful, I know.  But it also contains its own answer.  I think we are the way Freud describes us: we live in a world where the laws of physics apply, and we've forgotten that there are other ways of perceiving reality.  But stories can remind us that once, we believed in beautiful women who could emerge from the trees, and that there was something precious in that belief.  Something we have lost, and that fantasy can help us find again.

----

A wonderful post from a kind and amazing author! My many thanks to Ms. Goss for the visit on the blog and contribution. :)

Have you entered the giveaway yet to win a copy of Thorn and the Blossom? There's still time! Go HERE for details and to enter!

Thanks!



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Friday, January 27, 2012

Follow Friday (37)


Follow Friday is hosted by Parajunkee’s View and Alison at Alison Can Read. If you want to participate, it's easy. To learn more and enter, check out: Parajunkee and Alison Can Read. Join the fun and make some new friends!

Please consider following via email subscription, Google Reader, or RSS feed if you can’t follow through GFC as a non-Blogger member. GFC will not allow non-Blogger followers after March, so I greatly appreciate everyone who still continue to follow through either RSS, Google Reader, or email as well. Thanks!




Q: Which book genre do you avoid at all costs and why?




I avoid Christian Nonfiction/Fiction mostly. I respect everyone’s beliefs, but I have my own and after a lifetime of religion being pushed at me--and going through personal issues with my mother my whole life, I just am not interested really for my own preferences.


I’m also not really a fan of memoirs. I do like autobiographies, especially if they’re on historical figures, but memoirs (especially “washed up celebrity” types) aren’t my thing.


Happy Friday!




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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Thorn and the Blossom--Blog Tour & Giveaway!


I am today’s blog tour stop for The Thorn and the Blossom by Theodora Goss!
Quirk Books is generously going to provide one gorgeous copy of this fantastic little romantic read, along with a bookmark, to a lucky winner.




You must reside in the U.S.


Contest ends on 1/31 at midnight and the winner will be randomly chosen using Random.org.


One extra entry for tweeting.


Go here to read my review of the fabulous The Thorn and the Blossom.


To enter the giveaway, just click on the link below! Thanks and good luck!





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ARC Review: A Temptation of Angels

Title: A Temptation of Angels
Author: Michelle Zink
Genre: YA, Paranormal, Historical, Fantasy
Release Date: March 20th


Even angels make mistakes in this page-turning epic romance...

When her parents are murdered before her eyes, sixteen-year-old Helen Cartwright finds herself launched into an underground London where a mysterious organization called the Dictata controls the balance of good and evil. Helen learns that she is one of three remaining angelic descendants charged with protecting the world's past, present, and future. Unbeknownst to her, she has been trained her whole life to accept this responsibility. Now, as she finds herself torn between the angelic brothers protecting her and the devastatingly handsome childhood friend who wants to destroy her, she must prepare to be brave, to be hunted, and above all to be strong, because temptation will be hard to resist, even for an angel.
--Goodreads 

A Temptation of Angels started off with a bang. I was instantly drawn into the story and wasn’t released from the enchanting tale until the end. Before I picked it up, I was a bit wary. I haven’t always had pleasant experiences with storylines that involve angel type creatures and the like--but Michelle Zink gives the reader something unique and new in this twisted and wonderfully written story. I really loved the development of the characters--most particularly Helen who starts off a bit timid and shy, and by the end grows into a girl of courage and charisma.


This was my first time reading anything by Michelle Zink, but it certainly won’t be my last. I adored the details and the setting. The characters are a great bunch of different, individuals--well-rounded and three-dimensional. While there is a love triangle, I found it surprisingly fresh and exciting.


Perhaps my only complaints for A Temptation of Angels would be the dialogue felt a bit choppy in areas and maybe too modern for its time. For example, there was an instance that one of the characters used the word ‘awesome’ and I just felt it wasn’t fitting for the time period…a bit out of place. But that really was my only biggest complaint. Otherwise, this was a most excellent read that I found engaging and captivating. I loved both Griffin and Raum. I couldn’t choose between the two honestly. Haha. I soared through these pages with ease, not wanting to put it down, and sad when it came to an end.


A Temptation of Angels is a perfect blend of Historical, Paranormal, and Romance.


Will there be more? I sure hope so!


4.5 stars!





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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Changes

I fell in love with blogging a year ago when surfing the web, after becoming a more active member of GoodReads, and following along with great blogs like Parajunkee. I came up with my title “The Bookaholic” because like many book bloggers I’m sure, I hoard books. I crave them, I collect them, and I can’t get enough. Reading has been my passion since childhood.

However, when does it all become too much? Never really--but there’s certainly moments when there can be an overload and every once in a while I do have to close-out requests in order to catch up, or take a breather and simply enjoy only the books I want to read and not just books that I’m reading to review. I have quite the growing pile on my shelf of books that I’ve yet to read, and I’d really love to sit down and crack them open, but it seems every time I turn around, something else comes across at me and I can’t because I’ve made other commitments to something else.

Reading/Blogging should never be a chore. This is about fun. This is about sharing my love and opinions of books with other like minds. I don’t get this in the real world. I live in a small community, with very few friends and a husband who don’t have much interest in reading or the world of books. I don’t get to gush over my literary crushes or new favorites except here on these pages. This is my home away from home.

With all this said, I’ve recently changed my Review Policy. You can read the new policy here. To all authors, publishers, and/or publicists soliciting in the future--please read it carefully, and respect all of my wishes. Thank you--and thank you so much to everyone who has considered me to be their reviewer in the past as well. I look forward to finding more fantastic reads in the future, with a little patience of course. :)

I’ve made the changes for myself, as well as to be able to truly enjoy all of my reading again. This is going to be a great year, and for that I’m really certain.
 


Happy reading, and happy blogging!


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Sunday, January 22, 2012

Review: The Thorn and the Blossom

Title: The Thorn and the Blossom
Author: Theodora Goss
Genre: Romance

One enchanting romance. Two lovers keeping secrets. And a uniquely crafted book that binds their stories forever.

When Evelyn Morgan walked into the village bookstore, she didn’t know she would meet the love of her life. When Brendan Thorne handed her a medieval romance, he didn’t know it would change the course of his future. It was almost as if they were the cursed lovers in the old book itself . . .

The Thorn and the Blossom is a remarkable literary artifact: You can open the book in either direction to decide whether you’ll first read Brendan’s, or Evelyn’s account of the mysterious love affair. Choose a side, read it like a regular novel—and when you get to the end, you’ll find yourself at a whole new beginning.
--Goodreads


I did not hesitate to review The Thorn and the Blossom after reading the premise and seeing the unusual binding of the novella, and in the end I was not disappointed. While it was a quick read, short and sweet, I adored the accordion style binding and romantic backdrop for the characters. I read each Evelyn’s side first before reading the other. Sometimes whenever I finish a novel, I’ll wonder what the story would be like in the other character’s POV. I loved how Thorn and the Blossom gives you this vision. Admittedly, it would have been nice to see more detail, perhaps a longer story for the characters, but I guess that’s just because I was disappointed it had to be so short and had to end.


The case and binding for this story is so beautifully crafted and unique, I would recommend not to get this as an e-book if you’re considering reading. You should experience it first-hand with a lovely hardcopy. Clearly though, up to the reader on that.


Also don’t forget to join me Wednesday, January 25, for The Thorn and the Blossom Blog Tour, courtesy of Quirk Books!


A lovely, charismatic read.


4 stars!



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Thursday, January 19, 2012

Follow Friday (36)



Follow Friday is hosted by Parajunkee’s View and Alison at Alison Can Read. If you want to participate, it's easy. To learn more and enter, check out: Parajunkee and Alison Can Read. Join the fun and make some new friends!

Please consider following via email subscription or RSS feed if you can’t follow through GFC or not a Blogger member. GFC will not allow non-Blogger followers after March, so I greatly appreciate everyone who still continue to follow through either RSS or email as well. Thanks!




Q: What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done to get your hands on any particular book?


I don’t think I’ve done anything too crazy really. I may have spent some outrageous prices once or twice on some collector’s edition, or stood outside for awhile on a release date, but nothing striking comes to mind exactly I don’t think.


Not saying I wouldn’t do anything absolutely insane if it called for it though. ;)



Happy Friday!




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Blog Tour--A Guest Post from author Resa Nelson

How Research Helped Me Build My Own Dragon
by Resa Nelson



Because I did a lot of library research for my 4-book Dragonslayer series, little tidbits that I discovered along the way helped me figure out how to make my fantasy world my own.  My goal was to create something unique and personal.  One of the most important things I did was to figure out how to create a different kind of dragon – one that might have really existed in our world.

When I was in school, it seemed to me that people looked down their noses at people who lived in the past.  I think people who lived in the past were just as smart as anyone today, in some cases even smarter.  For example, to the best of my understanding, no one has figured out how the great pyramids of Egypt were built – their architects were brilliant.  It always bothers me when people today ridicule people of the past, especially when it comes to creatures they reported seeing.

While doing research, I came across a report that listed recorded sightings of dragons.  The time period for these sightings began during the Roman Empire and ended as recently as the Renaissance.  This report named names, and the people reporting dragon sightings included priests and government officials.  The reports included information about what people saw and when and where they saw it.

So I figured these people saw something.  I know what it’s like to see an animal you’re not expecting to see.  I remember seeing pelicans for the first time, flying above a beach in Florida.  I’d never seen pelicans, even though I knew what they were.  I immediately thought of pterodactyls.  I didn’t know they were pelicans at first – but I felt I was looking at huge and ancient-looking creatures flying through the air.

A few years ago, I saw a fisher cat for the first time.  It was a freakish experience.  I was looking out my window and saw what looked like a giant weasel creep by.  I got a long, good look at it, and I kept thinking, I don’t know what this animal is.  I’ve never seen anything like it before.  It looks like a monster!  I contacted a friend who knows about local wildlife and found out that fisher cats (which are essentially giant weasels that can measure up to 3 ½ to 4 feet in length from nose to tail) live in my area.  One of their favorite snacks is housecats.  I love animals, so it was a very bizarre experience to encounter an animal that I didn’t know existed, especially when it came creeping around my home.  If I hadn’t been able to find out what it was, I would have told people I’d seen a giant monster weasel.

So what if the term “dragon” in the past means something else today?  I’m convinced that people who reported seeing dragons saw some kind of animal – the question is what kind of animal did they see?  Could it have been a bird, like a Great Blue Heron?  Large birds look enormous when they’re flying and can have outrageously huge wingspans.  Or could it have been an animal like an alligator or crocodile?  I thought about this question for a long time.  My research led me to a specific animal I knew about (unlike the dreaded and creepy fisher cat).  When I started researching that animal, I began to see connections between what we think of as a classic fantasy dragon and this real-life animal that still exists today.  The next time I write a guest post on this blog tour, I’ll talk about that animal and why I decided to model the dragons in my series on it.

During this blog tour I’m telling lots of stories about the research I’ve done for my Dragonslayer series.  You can find out where I’ve been and where I’m going next by checking my website (http://www.resanelson.com), my Facebook page (Resa Nelson & The Dragonslayer’s Sword), or following me on Twitter (ResaNelson).

If you’d like to sample my work for free, you can download a free “mini” ebook called “Dragonslayer Stories” from my website at http://www.resanelson.com/files.  No cost, no obligation, nothing to sign up for, no information gathering.  I like giving away samples of my work so you can decide for yourself whether you like it or not.  If you do, you can enter to win a copy of the first two books in my series, which I’ll give away at the end of this tour on Feb. 14.  To enter, just send email to ResaBonusGifts@aol.com.  (I won’t keep your email address – this just makes it easier for me to keep track of entries.)  I’m also doing a book giveaway on GoodReads, so you can enter to win there, too.

***


The Dragonslayer's Sword (Book One)


For Astrid, a blacksmith who makes swords for dragonslayers, the emergence of a strange gemstone from her body sets in motion a chain of events that threaten to destroy her life. Her happiness is shattered when her lover--the dragonslayer--disappears without a trace, and the life that she knows and loves implodes without warning.

Astrid lives in a world of shapeshifters whose thoughts have the power to change not only themselves but others. Everything Astrid knows to be true is called into question when she learns the truth about her past and the mysterious family from which she was separated as a child.

Reality turns inside out as Astrid gradually learns the truth about the people she loves as well as those she disdains. With the fate of dragons, ghosts, and slaves in foreign lands resting on her shoulders, Astrid faces the challenge of deciding who she is and how she will stand up inside her own skin. Will she withdraw and hide from the world that has disappointed her so much...or will she rise to lead others to freedom and peace?


The Iron Maiden (Book Two)

Astrid is reluctant to travel the winter route beyond the Northlands, even though it’s her duty. She’d rather stay home in her village, surrounded by friends and neighbors. Ignoring the bonds of tradition, she decides to spend the cold winter months in the warmth of her blacksmithing shop. Why should she leave the comfort of her cottage to serve and protect foreigners who might raid and harm her native Northlands?

Everything changes when a traveling merchant steals Starlight, the first dragonslayer’s sword Astrid forged and her last link to her sweetheart DiStephan. Having no time to alert her friends, Astrid races in pursuit of the merchant, determined to reclaim Starlight as her own and return home in time for dinner. Instead, her quest leads her to new lands, unexpected friendships with foreigners, and a harrowing encounter with the damage done by the followers of a new god that considers women as nothing more than servants to men. All the while, she must be ready to face any dragon traveling the winter route.

In Book 2 of the Dragonslayer series, Astrid must learn that deciding who she is isn’t a decision she can make just once. It’s a decision she must make every day.


***



About the Author:

Resa Nelson has been selling fiction professionally since 1988. She is a longtime member of SFWA (Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America) and is a graduate of the Clarion SF Workshop.

Resa was also the TV/Movie Columnist for Realms of Fantasy magazine for 13 years and was a contributor to SCI FI magazine. She has sold over 200 articles to magazines in the United States and the United Kingdom.


Her first novel, The Dragonslayer’s Sword, was nominated for the Nebula Award, the highest honor in science fiction and fantasy. It was also a Finalist for the EPPIE Award. This medieval fantasy novel is based on a short story first published in the premiere issue of Science Fiction Age magazine and ranked 2nd in that magazine's first Readers Top Ten Poll. The Dragonslayer's Sword is Book 1 in a 4-book series. Book 2, The Iron Maiden, was recently published. Book 3 is scheduled for publication in Summer 2012.

Resa's standalone novel, Our Lady of the Absolute, is a fantasy/mystery/thriller about a modern-day society based on ancient Egypt. Midwest Book Review gave this book a 5-star review, calling it "a riveting fantasy, very highly recommended."

In real life, Resa is a fan of chocolate, travel, summer, museums, ballet, movies, and Broadway musicals (her favorites are Les Miserables and Wicked). She lives in Massachusetts.

 



Links:

Website: http://www.resanelson.com                                                                        

Free “mini” ebook of Dragonslayer short stories:  http://www.resanelson.com/files



Ebooks ($4.99 each) are available directly from Mundania Press at:  http://mundania.com/author.php?author=Resa+Nelson (get a 10% discount at checkout with the coupon code MP10)

Paperbacks are available from Mundania Press, Amazon, and Barnes&Noble:

http://mundania.com/author.php?author=Resa+Nelson (get a 10% discount at checkout with the coupon code MP10)





A big Thank You to author, Resa Nelson, for being a part of the blog!!

Happy reading, everyone!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Review: Crescendo

Title: Crescendo (Hush, Hush #2)
Author: Becca Fitzpatrick
Genre: YA Fantasy

Nora Grey's life is still far from perfect. Surviving an attempt on her life wasn't pleasant, but at least she got a guardian angel out of it: a mysterious, magnetic, gorgeous guardian angel. But, despite his role in her life, Patch has been acting anything but angelic. He's more elusive than ever and even worse, he's started spending time with Nora's arch-enemy, Marcie Millar.

Nora would have hardly noticed Scott Parnell, an old family friend who has moved back to town, if Patch hadnt been acting so distant. Even with Scott's totally infuriating attitude Nora finds herself drawn to him - despite her lingering feeling that he's hiding something.

Haunted by images of her murdered father, and questioning whether her nephilim bloodline has anything to do with his death, Nora puts herself increasingly in dangerous situations as she desperately searches for answers. But maybe some things are better left buried, because the truth could destroy everything - and everyone - she trusts. --Goodreads


Sometimes sequels just don’t work out as well as we hoped, do they?

My expectations with Crescendo fell a little short after reading the greatness of Hush, Hush. I flew into this second book, admittedly putting it ahead of other books just because I couldn’t wait to read the installment, and I was let down a bit. The writing didn’t feel quite a solid this time around, and the characters felt somewhat different compared to the first.

I still highly enjoyed it, nonetheless. But my biggest complaint of all was the constant back-and-forth between Patch and Nora and the seemingly never-ending bantering. I did sympathize with Nora, but somehow couldn’t come to understand a lot of Patch’s actions--even once they were explained. I didn’t like Nora whining so much either. Ah well.
I liked how there were some unanswered questions finally answered in this installment. We get to see how events occurred in the past that lead to Nora’s situation, and I found those moments interesting. Sometimes I felt like there’s a lot of information still missing though.


All in all, while it was on the disappointing side, I still enjoyed Crescendo enough anyway to rush right through the pages.
I look forward to continuing on to the next installment.


4 stars!



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Saturday, January 14, 2012

ARC Review: Life is But a Dream

Title: Life is But a Dream
Author: Brian James
Genre: Contemporary, YA
Release Date:  March 27th


Alec and Sabrina are crazy in love. Problem is: Sabrina’s really crazy.

Sabrina, an artist, is diagnosed with schizophrenia, and her parents check her into the Wellness Center. There she meets Alec, who is convinced it's the world that's crazy, not the two of them. They are meant to be together; they are special. But when Alec starts to convince Sabrina that her treatment will wipe out everything that makes her creative, she worries that she'll lose hold of her dreams and herself. Should she listen to her doctor? Her decision may have fatal consequences.
--Goodreads




While a bit on the shorter side of most novels that I’ve read recently, Life is But a Dream still packed quite a punch--most particularly in the astounding detail that author Brian James gives readers through the point of view of a schizophrenic character.
In all honesty, I don’t know much about the mental disorder. I have an online friend whose husband is schizophrenic, but I personally couldn’t tell you much. I do know it can cause a stir among family and friends, strain relationships and make it slightly difficult at times depending on how severe or how well-treated the case is.

I felt Brian James did a tremendous job of showing us how different and struggling it can be. I liked the character development, but moreso I loved the imagery and how much we get to see inside Sabrina’s head. The romance felt forced at times though. I would have liked to see more of it, get to know Alec better, but I also enjoyed the sweet and charming ending.


All in all, this was engaging and unique. I was flipping through the pages and enjoying every bit of the beautiful and unusual details. Lyrical and sometimes poetic--the cover is even gorgeous, I adore it-- this is certainly a Contemporary I’m glad I took the time to read.


4 stars!





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Thursday, January 12, 2012

Follow Friday (35)



Follow Friday is hosted by Parajunkee’s View and Alison at Alison Can Read. If you want to participate, it's easy. To learn more and enter, check out: Parajunkee and Alison Can Read. Join the fun and make some new friends!



Q: Many readers/bloggers are also big music fans. Tell us about a few of your favorite bands/singers that we should listen to in 2012.




Love this week’s question! When I’m not talking books, I’m talking music. ^^
I listen mostly to the rock genre and go to a lot of concerts when I can.


So, my top favorites are Green Day, Three Days Grace, Godsmack, 30 Seconds to Mars, Nirvana and Avenged Sevenfold. I also enjoy a lot of classical, some opera and Celtic music even. Oh.. And some of the greats like David Bowie, Elvis, Jimi Hendrix, Frank Sinatra, and John Lennon. I guess you could say I’m eclectic at times. Haha. I also have this not-so-secret-anymore love for musicals and Lady Gaga.


And these are all artists and their music that I use for my own writing inspiration. I’m sure other writers would agree, sometimes music makes for great inspiring moments. :)


A video of one of my favorites to leave the post off with:











Happy Friday!




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ARC Review: Pure

Title: Pure
Author: Julianna Baggott
Genre: YA Dystopian
Release Date: Feb. 8th


We know you are here, our brothers and sisters . . .
Pressia barely remembers the Detonations or much about life during the Before. In her sleeping cabinet behind the rubble of an old barbershop where she lives with her grandfather, she thinks about what is lost-how the world went from amusement parks, movie theaters, birthday parties, fathers and mothers . . . to ash and dust, scars, permanent burns, and fused, damaged bodies. And now, at an age when everyone is required to turn themselves over to the militia to either be trained as a soldier or, if they are too damaged and weak, to be used as live targets, Pressia can no longer pretend to be small. Pressia is on the run.


Burn a Pure and Breathe the Ash . . .

There are those who escaped the apocalypse unmarked. Pures. They are tucked safely inside the Dome that protects their healthy, superior bodies. Yet Partridge, whose father is one of the most influential men in the Dome, feels isolated and lonely. Different. He thinks about loss-maybe just because his family is broken; his father is emotionally distant; his brother killed himself; and his mother never made it inside their shelter. Or maybe it's his claustrophobia: his feeling that this Dome has become a swaddling of intensely rigid order. So when a slipped phrase suggests his mother might still be alive, Partridge risks his life to leave the Dome to find her.
When Pressia meets Partridge, their worlds shatter all over again. --Goodreads



Pure was strange and imaginative.
I had a hard time getting into the characters, but the story itself was engaging and unusual--oddly descriptive and visual. There is a bit of a slow start in the beginning, and a struggle to understand the world at first, but once I got into it, I found myself breezing through the pages. Excellent world-building. Nicely developed and I felt it was believable, despite the odd details.


I would hate for this to occur to our world--and after reading, the idea does scare me. Of course, I don’t like getting all political. Haha.. But Ms. Baggott will really get you to thinking after reading this about the state of the world and crisis events that really can happen. It’s not a pretty picture, that’s for sure.


I really loved the poem, it was a bit creepy-- and the whole story in general was a bit Tim Burton-esque with the descriptions. You know how “Ring Around the Rosie” was originally made? I loved how Ms. Baggott created the poem for Pure out of a tragedy, a new creepy rhyme, that children grew up singing in this new world.


“Burn a Pure and breath the ash.
Take his guts and make a sash.
Twist his hair and make a rope.
Use his bones to make Pure soap.”


What I really liked most that it wasn’t heavy on romance for a YA. This one moreso focuses on the world-building and characters and I believe it’ll appeal to everyone, male and female, especially the older market.


4 stars!




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Monday, January 9, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday (7)

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly event hosted at The Broke and Bookish.


This week’s topic:
Top Ten Authors I Wish Would Write Another Book (debut authors, authors who seem to have taken a hiatus, OR for those who read classics authors you wish would have written another book before they passed) -- Thanks Melanie from the Reclusive Bibliophile for this suggestion!

This was a tough one to think about and answer for this week. I had to think it over for awhile. Haha.

1. Emily Bronte
2. Suzanne Collins
3. J.K Rowling
4. Markus Zusak
5. Elizabeth Kostova
6. Janni Lee Simner
7. Shakespeare
8. Edgar Allan Poe
9. Laurie Halse Anderson
10. Charlotte Bronte




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Saturday, January 7, 2012

Review: Touch of Power

Title: Touch of Power
Author: Maria V. Snyder
Genre: YA Fantasy


Laying hands upon the injured and dying, Avry of Kazan absorbs their wounds and diseases into herself. But rather than being honored for her skills, she is hunted. Healers like Avry are accused of spreading the plague that has decimated the Fifteen Realms, leaving the survivors in a state of chaos.

Stressed and tired from hiding, Avry is abducted by a band of rogues who, shockingly, value her gift above the golden bounty offered for her capture. Their leader, an enigmatic captor-protector with powers of his own, is unequivocal in his demands: Avry must heal a plague-stricken prince—leader of a campaign against her people. As they traverse the daunting Nine Mountains, beset by mercenaries and magical dangers, Avry must decide who is worth healing and what is worth dying for. Because the price of peace may well be her life... --Goodreads



Pardon my following sentence if you don’t like my language:


Where the hell have I been to just getting around to reading Maria V. Snyder’s work?


Have I been under a rock? Seriously, I think so!


Welcome to 2012 for me! Touch of Power was so absolutely astounding, I still can’t stop thinking about it. This was a fantastic start to the year for me truly and I want to slap myself for just getting around to reading Snyder’s work. I must go out and buy more books… Like. Right. Now.


Lilies are my favorite flower, by the way, but in the world of Touch of Power, Snyder immediately takes this gorgeous flower and turns them into something to be feared. There’s no “Honey, I brought home some lilies from the garden today” in this one. If you come across them in this world, well, you just better back off! And that is what Snyder floored me most about this book-- the unique and imaginative detail, and the emotion.


It was a powerhouse of emotion and rich detail. I was wrapped into the world and characters. I cried (I cried a lot to be more accurate). I laughed. I wanted to hug Poppa Bear! It was magical and compelling and so utterly beautiful, I just didn’t want it to end.


Avry is one of my new favorite heroines now.


Unique and brilliant--I’m begging for more, please!


5 stars!



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Friday, January 6, 2012

ARC Review: The Wolf Gift

Title: The Wolf Gift
Author: Anne Rice
Genre: Paranormal Fantasy
Release Date: February 14th

A daring new departure from the inspired creator of The Vampire Chronicles (“unrelentingly erotic. . . unforgettable.”), the Lives of the Mayfair Witches (“Anne Rice will live on through the ages of literature”), and the angels of The Songs of the Seraphim (“remarkable.”). A whole new world—modern, sleek, high-tech, and at its center, a story as old and compelling as history—the making of a werewolf, re-imagined and re-invented as only Anne Rice, teller of mesmerizing tales, conjurer extraordinaire of other realms, could create it.

The time is the present.

The place, the rugged coast of northern California. A bluff high above the Pacific. A grand mansion full of beauty and tantalizing history set against a towering redwood forest.

A young reporter on assignment from the San Francisco Observer. . . an older woman, welcoming him into her magnificent, historic family home that he has been sent to write about and that she must sell with some urgency . . . A chance encounter between two unlikely people . . . an idyllic night—shattered by horrific unimaginable violence. . .The young man inexplicably attacked—bitten—by a beast he cannot see in the rural darkness . . . A violent episode that sets in motion a terrifying yet seductive transformation as the young man, caught between ecstasy and horror, between embracing who he is evolving into and fearing who—what—he will become, soon experiences the thrill of the wolf gift.

As he resists the paradoxical pleasure and enthrallment of his wolfen savagery and delights in the power and (surprising) capacity for good, he is caught up in a strange and dangerous rescue and is desperately hunted as “the Man Wolf,” by authorities, the media and scientists (evidence of DNA threaten to reveal his dual existence). . . As a new and profound love enfolds him, questions emerge that propel him deeper into his mysterious new world: questions of why and how he has been given this gift; of its true nature and the curious but satisfying pull towards goodness; of the profound realization that there are others like him who may be watching—guardian creatures who have existed throughout time and may possess ancient secrets and alchemical knowledge and throughout it all, the search for salvation for a soul tormented by a new realm of temptations, and the fraught, exhilarating journey, still to come, of being and becoming, fully, both wolf and man.

--Goodreads

Let me start by saying Anne Rice was one of the first “adult” authors I began reading as a preteen, around the age of eleven or so, along with Stephen King. It was then I found my love of paranormal and horror reading and never stopped from there.
But I’m not a religious person. Of course, I respect everyone’s beliefs as long as mine are respected. So, when Ms. Rice seemed to have left the genre I loved and went to Christian fiction, I stopped reading her material. It wasn’t an outcry or protest. It wasn’t me saying that I hated her writing. It was just simply the fact that I don’t read that genre and I couldn’t bring myself to read her new material. I wasn't interested. I was more sad than anything and afraid I’d never see her paranormal side again I guess.


You would not even believe the excitement that filled me when I heard about The Wolf Gift coming out. I craved for a copy as soon as possible just to see if she was “back”, and boy am I glad to say that she is.
It does get a bit preachy at times, but I found myself easily overcoming that with the beautiful detailed writing that Ms. Rice has always been known for. It has slow, melodic, poetic pacing that moves you along through the story smoothly-- however, let it be noted that I don’t think it’s a fast read. It wasn’t for myself, and in my opinion, I believe it’s meant to be savored. Yes, savor it. Her words flow like fine classical music.


I’ve never been a big fan of the werewolf creature/myth. I have a hard time enjoying them in a lot of books really. It dragged sometimes for me here, but I learned to appreciate the creature a bit more--and maybe I’ll read more werewolf-themed books now.


With all this said, I still think it wasn’t up to par as her earlier works (most notably Interview with a Vampire). There was a certain… finesse… lacking at times. I missed the tortured hero. And the detail and religious preachiness did get to be a bit toooo much during moments that I felt unnecessary.


Ms. Rice is an excellent storyteller though. I really hope to see more work again in the near future.


4 stars!




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Thursday, January 5, 2012

2012 Book Blogger Recommendation Challenge



From the host's site:

The Rules:

  • Challenge will run January 1, 2012 to December 31, 2012. Participants can join anytime throughout the challenge.
  • Create an intro post, linking back to this post.
  • Sign up with the MckLinky below. Please link to your challenge intro post, not your blog home page.
  • Chose your own books from the list. You can decide to read books only on the Top 25 list or from the entire recommendation list. You do not have to make a list of books before the challenge begins.
  • All forms of books acceptable (audiobooks, eBooks, etc.)
  • Rereads do not count towards the completion of the challenge. The challenge is about discovering books that are new to you.
  • You don't need a blog to participate.
  • Reviews, while always appreciated, are not mandatory.

The Levels:

Level I
- Read 5 books from the 2011 Book Blogger Recommendation List
Level II - Read 10 books
Level III - Read 15 books
Level IV - Read 20 books
Level V - Read 20+ books


I am going to join at Level II and go for 10 books.
Here's the list of books I've picked:

Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater
Across the Universe by Beth Revis
Blood Red Road by Moira Young
Rot & Ruin by Jonathan Maberry
Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
The Maze Runner by James Dashner
Delirium by Lauren Oliver
Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini

**Since I already own a few of these, based on previous recommendations and I just haven't picked them up to read yet, I'm also adding two more to my list that I do not own and really intrigued about. I like the idea of this challenge- it'll probably push me to read not just the recommendations, but books on my wishlist that I've been meaning to pick up anyway. LoL.**

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
Graceling by Kristin Cashore



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Follow Friday (34)



Follow Friday is hosted by Parajunkee’s View and Alison at Alison Can Read. If you want to participate, it's easy. To learn more and enter, check out: Parajunkee and Alison Can Read. Join the fun and make some new friends!


Q: Go count the number of unread books sitting on your shelf. How many?




Agghh! You’ve caught me.


37.


And I continue to buy a few every other week so the unread number on my shelf is constantly going up it seems. I get to them, read them, but by that time--I’ve already added more books to be read. :P Haha.


This doesn’t include the number of unreads on my e-reader (like NetGalley reviews, etc.). That number is pretty large I’m sure.


Happy Friday!




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Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday (19)

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"Waiting On Wednesday" is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.



Since I don’t do Waiting on Wednesday quite as often as I used to, I figured this time around instead of just one book I’m eagerly looking forward to, I’ll share three books I’m extremely excited for. ^^ I have a feeling 2012 is going to be quite an amazing reading year (2011 was my best by far too--I think 2012 will be even better!).


My Waiting on Wednesday this week includes:


Title: Masque of the Red Death
Author: Bethany Griffin
Release Date: April 24th

Everything is in ruins.

A devastating plague has decimated the population. And those who are left live in fear of catching it as the city crumbles to pieces around them.

So what does Araby Worth have to live for?

Nights in the Debauchery Club, beautiful dresses, glittery make-up . . . and tantalizing ways to forget it all.

But in the depths of the club—in the depths of her own despair—Araby will find more than oblivion. She will find Will, the terribly handsome proprietor of the club. And Elliott, the wickedly smart aristocrat. Neither boy is what he seems. Both have secrets. Everyone does.

And Araby may find something not just to live for, but to fight for—no matter what it costs her.
--See it on Goodreads





Title: The Immortal Rules
Author: Julie Kagawa
Release Date: April 24th

In the dark days since the insidious Red Lung virus decimated the human population, vampires have risen to rule the crumbling cities and suburbs. Uncontested Princes hold sway over diminished ranks of humans: their "pets." In exchange for their labor, loyalty and of course, their blood, these pets are registered, given food and shelter, permitted to survive.

Unregistered humans cling to fringes, scavenging for survival. Allison Sekemoto and her fellow Unregistereds are hunted, not only by vampires, but by rabids, the unholy result of Red Lung-infected vampires feeding on unwary humans. One night, Allie is attacked by a pack of rabids, saved by an unlikely hero...and turned vampire.

Uncomfortable in her undead skin, Allie falls in with a ragtag crew of humans seeking a cure, or cures: for Rabidism and for Vampirism. She's passing for human...for now. But the hunger is growing and will not be denied. Not for friendship—not even for love.
--See it on Goodreads



Title: For Darkness Shows the Stars
Author: Diana Peterfreund
Release Date: June 12th

Generations ago, a genetic experiment gone wrong—the Reduction—decimated humanity, giving rise to a Luddite nobility who outlawed most technology.

Eighteen-year-old Luddite Elliot North has always known her place in this caste system. Four years ago Elliot refused to run away with her childhood sweetheart, the servant Kai, choosing duty to her family’s estate over love. But now the world has changed: a new class of Post-Reductionists is jumpstarting the wheel of progress and threatening Luddite control; Elliot’s estate is floundering; and she’s forced to rent land to the mysterious Cloud Fleet, a group of shipbuilders that includes renowned explorer Captain Malakai Wentforth—an almost unrecognizable Kai. And while Elliott wonders if this could be their second chance, Kai seems determined to show Elliot exactly what she gave up when she abandoned him.

But Elliot soon discovers her childhood friend carries a secret—-one that could change the society in which they live…or bring it to its knees. And again, she’s faced with a choice: cling to what she’s been raised to believe, or cast her lot with the only boy she’s ever loved, even if she has lost him forever.

Inspired by Jane Austen’s PERSUASION, FOR DARKNESS SHOWS THE STARS is a breathtaking romance about opening your mind to the future and your heart to the one person you know can break it.
--See it on Goodreads



What are you waiting on?




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