Wednesday, June 30, 2010

A Fanatic's Wrap-Up: June Edition

Goodbye June! Hello July!

Wow, a little under three months blogging and just look at this place. My blog had a face lift, I'm hosting my very first ever Reading Challenge, and I'm reading and raring to go for the rest of the year. This blog has become my new love and I'm not afraid to admit it. I love book blogging!

Books read and reviewed:
* A Measure of Disorder by Alan Tucker - 3/5
* Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick - 5/5
* The Devouring by Simon Holt - 5/5
* Whisper by Phoebe Kitanidis - 5/5
* Lovestruck Summer by Melissa Walker - 4/5
* Forget You by Jennifer Echols - 3/5
* Incarceron by Catherine Fisher - 5/5
* The Krybosian Stairpath by S.R.R. Colvin - 4/5
* Picture the Dead by Adele Griffin and Lisa Brown - 5/5
* Zan-Gah by Allan Richard Shickman - 4/5
* Zan-Gah and the Beautiful Country by Richard Shickman - 5/5
* Fallen by Lauren Kate - 5/5
* Glimpse by Stacey Wallace Benefiel - 4/5

(Children's Books)
* Elephant Dance by Theresa Heine - 5/5
* Whose Hat is This? by Sharon Katz Cooper - 4/5
* The Secret Footprints by Julia Alvarez - 5/5
* Charlie Needs a New Cloak by Tommie DePaola - 4/5

Total books read in May: 18
Total books read since blog opening: 49


Author Interviews:

Guest posts by others:
Stacey Wallace Benfiel - On UK illustrator, Alison Jay.


News from around the blog:

* I designed my own blog background and implemented a new rating system! Now you can choose whether or not you want to see the rating. I was trying to appeal to all the review readers that I might have!

*  Started a new feature called "Me" Mondays! Stop on by every month to submit a question and enter to win fun prizes! 

* As I mentioned above, I'm hosting my first ever Reading Challenge! It is dedicated to "Beach Reads" and all things summer. Come on over and enter to win some fabulous prizes and have some fun!

* Passed the 200 followers mark and almost to 250! I'm hoping that my birthday giveaways, and the reading challenge will make my blog a little more well known :). I'm so happy!

Another great month my friends! Here's to many more to come!

Book Review: Glimpse

Zellie Wells has a devastating crush on Avery Adams, the son of her mom’s high school sweetheart. At her sixteenth birthday party, held in the basement of her dad’s church, she finally finds the courage to talk to him. Turns out, the devastating crush is mutual.

As Avery takes her hand and leads her out onto the makeshift dance floor, Zellie is overwhelmed by her first vision of his death; shocking because not only are they both covered in his blood, but they’re old, like 35, and she is pregnant.

Afraid to tell anyone about the vision, (she’d just be labeled a freaky black magic witch, right?) Zellie keeps the knowledge of Avery’s future to herself and tries to act like any other teenager in love. When they get caught on their way to a secret rendezvous by her mom and his dad, they are forbidden to see each other.

Convinced that their parents are freaking out unnecessarily, Avery and Zellie vow to be together no matter what. They continue their relationship in secret until Zellie learns that their parents are just trying to prevent her and Avery from suffering like they did. The visions are hereditary, they’re dangerous, and if they stay together the visions will come true.

Now Zellie must choose between severing all ties with Avery, like her mom did to prevent his father’s death, and finding a way to change Avery’s future.

--From Goodreads

Cover Inspection:
This cover is a little more simplistic than a lot of the ones I've seen lately, but that actually added to my interest in this book.

First Thoughts:
Poor Zellie! Wow she has a lot going against her!


My Review
I am so impressed. So impressed with Stacey Wallace Benefiel's writing, and to be honest a little confused as to why a larger publishing company didn't snatch her book up! I'm so glad that independent publishing companies such as CreateSpace allow authors like Stacey to share their work with us. Truly, this was a book I loved and I'm already looking forward to the next one!

Zellie is smitten with Avery. So smitten in fact that she gets in trouble in church (her dad is the pastor) for spending too much time staring at him and dreaming. First off, how sweet is that? However it doesn't end there, no not buy a long shot. Zellie is a fiery and headstrong girl who knows what she wants and goes for it! Oh sure, her dad might disapprove if he found out but Avery is so good it just doesn't even matter.

I LOVED Zellie! I loved her tenacity, I loved how she is awkward at times and so brave and put together at others. I loved that Zellie is a typical teenage girl. She's someone who everyone will be able to relate to, almost like a "Jane Every Girl" of sorts. Layered on top of that also however, is a character who you will fall in love with from the very first page. Zellie says and does things that will make you laugh out loud at times, and make you feel deeply for her at others. I wish I could better describe this character, but really all I can say is just that she is amazing! You'll have to read for yourself.

Stacey's take on visions and seeing the future is really intriguing. Without going into too much detail, I will say that Zellie is fortunate to be able to do more than just see the future. In fact, her other power is so amazing! Sorry for the vague writing! I know. I'm actually hoping to tempt you more into reading this book. If that didn't work I have three words for you. Ghost Baby Daddy. Mmhmmm....take that as you will. Give this book a read! It is well worth your time!

(For a more in depth look at Glimpse, Stacey and the upcoming sequel Glimmer see THIS post.)

Book Details
Title: Glimpse
Author: Stacey Wallace Benefiel
Publisher: Self-published
Pages: Paperback; 262
Source: Received from author.
FTC Disclosure: I received a review copy of this book in return for a fair and honest review.

Final Rating:4 Keys to My Heart
[+/-] Click to see Rating.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

An Interview with Stacey Wallace Benefiel

Stacey Wallace Benefiel has been sweet enough to stop by and answer some questions about her debut novel, Glimpse. Let me tell you my friends, review coming tomorrow and you need to be here. Her book is great! She needs all the love she can get to spread Glimpse fever so let's get to it!

1) Quick challenge: Describe Glimpse in one sentence without using "a" or "the".
Zellie Wells believes in God, but she also believes in love at first sight.

2) What inspired you to write Glimpse?
My little sister and the tv show Roswell. LOL We both really loved the show and after it ended my sister Valerie challenged me to write something similar and submit it to a contest. I wrote a novella called Zellie Wells: Teenage Psychic (I know, worst title ever) and submitted it to a contest in 2005. Then, when I was pregnant with my son I started reading YA again and eventually made it around to the Twilight Series and decided to fatten Glimpse up and publish it.

3) Zellie and Avery definitely have some sparks between them! Was that difficult to write? 
Hmm. No one has ever asked me that question. The interaction between them was definitely fun to write. That first love feeling is one of my favorite things about reading YA. Nah. It wasn't hard. I'm old and I've had a few boyfriends and a few experiences to draw from. The most difficult scenes for me to write are the rewinds. I have to read them over a bazillion times to make sure I'm not leaving any details out.

4) When did you first start writing? 
I've always been into reading, writing, and theatre. Those have been my "things" since elementary school. Growing up I mostly wrote poetry, plays, and memoir essays. Glimpse is the first novel I've written. I do not know how other authors write 600 page books. Getting to 50,000 words is a major accomplishment for me.

5) How did it feel to hold that first finished copy in your hands?
Fan-freakin-tastic. I majorly dorked out and had a photo shoot with Glimpse. There are pictures on my blog and my facebook page of me with Glimpse, Glimpse with books I love stacked on a desk, Glimpse and my writing bulletin board. I have no shame. It was awesome.

6) What book are you dying to recommend to others?
Oh, jeez, I'm probably way behind the times on this one. I have two small children and have just recently started reading for pleasure again. I'm reading Fablehaven right now and it is filling the Harry Potter void nicely. Y'know, everyone should read the Outlander series at some point in their lives if they enjoy fantasy and history and romance...and Scottish people.

7) Random question of the day: Candy Apple or Caramel Apple?
Caramel apple fer shure. Candy apples make my fillings cringe.

8) What are you working on now? Can you share a little bit with us?
I'm currently working on Glimmer, the next book in the Zellie Wells trilogy. I have been saying series, but I only have it planned through three books, so I'm 80% sure there will only be three. Other than that, after I finish Glimmer later this summer, I'm going to complete a YA novella I've been adding to on and off about human sacrifices and guardian angels. I've also got a first chapter of a contemporary romance that has been taunting me, but I probably won't get to that until after I finish Glow-the third Zellie Wells book.

Here's an excerpt from Glimmer:

I jumped from the truck and landed in a dirty snow and leaf pile. Awesome. There's nothing like walking around in squishy cold shoes all day long. I slammed the door behind me and headed for Claire who was waiting at the bike racks.

“Hey!” Avery called, “I love you and your stubborn ass! See you at lunch, Honeybear!”

I considered rewinding the last five minutes and finishing my fight with Avery, trying to get him to see my side, erasing the use of “Honeybear” for sure, but I was almost to the bike racks.

“What’s up H.B.?” Claire grinned. “Aww, did you two have a fight?”

I smirked. “Yes, want to venture a guess about what?”

“Well, let’s see, is it one of the twelve things you guys have going against you?”

“Why yes, it is.” I stuck my tongue out at her.

She pretended to aim a dart and throw it. “Ghost baby daddy?”


We walked to our lockers. I took out my AP History book. Claire had choir first period and Avery had English. The three of us didn’t have as many classes together this year.

I felt Avery come up close behind me. I turned to him, out mouths nearly touching. “What?”

He kissed me. “I couldn’t wait until lunch.” He took off down the hall, looking back over his shoulder, smiling.

“I’m still mad at you!” I yelled after him, but then I smiled too.

“You guys make me throw up in my mouth a little, you know that, right?” Claire asked. She checked herself out in her locker mirror, one of her many daily rituals, running a brush through her black shoulder length hair.

I snorted. “We’re not as bad as you and Jason were.”

Claire looked at me from the mirror as she moved on to adjusting her eyeliner. “He who must not be named and I were a flame that burned hot and strong...until he opened his mouth and everything he said was so stupid that the flame took itself out.”

“If only they’d just keep their mouths shut.”

“Holla.” Claire shut her locker door and turned to me. “I’ll see you in French.” She gave me a hug good-bye.

“Ouch!” I let go of Claire and dropped my books. Clutching my head, a vision crackled and sparked behind my eyes, short circuiting my ability to concentrate on what I was seeing. The pain was excruciating. Wait, why was there pain? I fell to my knees on the ground.

Claire knelt beside me. “What’s wrong? Should I go get the nurse?” She pulled at my hands. “Look at me! What can I do?”

I clutched my head tighter, squeezing my eyes closed. I felt extremely hot. I could see Claire in my mind, coming in and out of focus. I couldn’t tell where she was or what was happening. “Just...hold on. Don’t get the nurse...I’m trying’re in here...”

“Hush,” she whispered, “people are looking at us.”

The halls became congested as other students stopped to stare. Only a few said anything.

“Is she okay?”

“She doesn’t look so good.”

“I didn’t think she could get any paler.”

Claire hovered over me, blocking me from view. “Come on,” she coaxed, “try and stand up. Let’s go to the girl’s room.”

I shook my head. “Wait. The pain’s going away a little. I can Benjamin?”

“Am I kicking his ass?”

I managed a weak smile. “No, just talking. Actually, you both look happy...and you’re both in...formal wear? That can’t be right. Benjamin’s too old to go to prom.” I opened my eyes enough to see and stood up. The vision was over. My head throbbed a little, but the pain was gone for the most part.

The bell rang.

Claire shot down the remaining looky-loos with a glare. “Move along people. Nothing to see here.” She took my arm and led me to the nearest bathroom. Stooping to look under the stall doors, she made sure we were alone before she spoke. “What was that?”

“I don’t know, but it killed.” I splashed water on my face and then dried it off with the paper towel Claire offered. I looked in the mirror. There were broken blood vessels in both of my eyes. "What the hell?"

Teaser Tuesdays (6)

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
  • Grab your current read.
  • Open to a random page.
  • Share two "teaser" sentences from somewhere on that page.
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

My Teaser:.

I was in a cage. A very small cage, made of branches lashed together with the leather bindings. There was barely enough room for me to raise my head, and when I moved, something sharp poked me in the arm, drawing blood.
~pg. 98 - "The Iron King" by Julie Kagawa

Okay I'll admit it. I'm smitten with anything faery related. Blame it on Aprilynne Pike, but faeries and the Unseelie Court and all that jazz? I'm totally into it. So from the moment I opened the pages of this book I've been hooked. Expect this to be finished tonight, because there is no way I'll be able to sleep otherwise!

You can participate in Teaser Tuesday with or without a blog! To share your own, or read some others, simply head over here.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Book Review: Fallen

There’s something achingly familiar about Daniel Grigori.

Mysterious and aloof, he captures Luce Price’s attention from the moment she sees him on her first day at the Sword & Cross boarding school in sultry Savannah, Georgia. He’s the one bright spot in a place where cell phones are forbidden, the other students are all screw-ups, and security cameras watch every move.

Even though Daniel wants nothing to do with Luce–and goes out of his way to make that very clear–she can’t let it go. Drawn to him like a moth to a flame, she has to find out what Daniel is so desperate to keep secret . . . even if it kills her.

--From Goodreads

Cover Inspection:
This cover is one of my favorites of all time! I love the model on the front.

First Thoughts:
I'm liking Luce a lot!


My Thoughts:
A-MAZING. That is the first word that comes to mind even a week after I finished reading this book. I have to say that it is getting harder and harder to wow me when it comes to books. The more you read, the more difficult it becomes to find something that knocks you completely off your feet. Well my dear friends, this book floored me.

Luce is a delightful protagonist! She pops off the page as this young, vivid and slightly confused woman and I fell in love with her from the first moment she came into the story. The fact that she had a guilty conscience constantly tugging at her only made me more intrigued as to what was going on in her life. In fact, I loved Luce so very much that I wondered why she felt so much more Daniel. In a way, at the beginning of the novel, I was almost angry with her. Why not Cam? He was handsome and doting! Come on girl. Well...let's just say Luce is smarter than I am.

Daniel, oh Daniel. He may in fact be a "bad boy" of the highest magnitude when we first meet him, but I was drawn to him like a moth to a flame. Lauren Kate writes him so mysteriously, so masked, that I NEEDED to know why he was so anxious to keep Luce at bay. What was he hiding? My favorite part about Daniel in this book is that you don't even get a hint as to what he's hiding until half way through the novel. Yup, half way. You would think that would frustrate you but no, it just keeps you reading!

That being said, the second half of the novel was so beautifully written and so intriguing that I literally couldn't fall asleep until I finished reading it. Fallen is a stunningly well written love story with a paranormal twist. The characters are expertly written and so easy to love. As I said, it floored me. I need a copy of this for my very own. STAT.

Book Details
Title: Fallen
Author: Lauren Kate
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Pages: Hardcover; 452
Source: Library

Final Rating: 5 Keys to My Heart
[+/-] Click to see rating.

"Me Mondays" June 28th

It's time for the second installment of "Me" Mondays! 

Don't know what this is? 

Click HERE to visit the opening post and enter to win fun prizes!

The gods have spoken and this week the question is #6.

Vanessa Di Grigorio of Let the Words Flow asks

"What is your favourite (non-reading related) thing to do?"

I'm so glad that you asked this question because, although there are about a million answers I could put down, I know exactly what my answer will be.

Hello, my name is Jessica and I'm addicted to bike riding.

This here is my mighty (very shiny) pink steed in fact! Complete with white basket so that I can load up with some books, my bike lock, snacks, a water bottle and anything else that might catch my fancy when I head out for the day!

In terms of my oh so many obsessions, I'm thinking this is probably the healthiest one! Each and every weekend (and sometimes in the evenings if it isn't too dark) my pearlescent pink bike and I go on a ride to somewhere new. The beach wind in my hair, the sun on my riding is the only escape that I love more than reading...and that's saying a lot.


Thank you Vanessa for your question! You have received an extra entry into the giveaway since it was the chosen to be answered!

Keep those questions coming everyone! Each question gets you entered to win!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Summer "Beach Reads" Reading Challenge

Welcome, welcome to the

2010 Summer "Beach Reads" Challenge
*throws confetti*

I'm sure you're asking yourself, but Jessica, what exactly is a "beach read"? A beach read by my definition is any book you'd choose to take with you to a day at the beach. Think something light, airy, perhaps a romance or two? It's really all up to you! Beach reads are what you make them! I've been known to take a vampire novel with me to the beach.... vampires and sand? Yes!

This challenge is being hosted by myself, Raila of Books Out of the Bookshelves, Linna of 21 Pages, and Heather of A Bibliophile's Paradise

Since we are all hosting this challenge, my blog will be the headquarters (i.e. you'll sign up here, post reviews here, check in here) but interviews, giveaways, contests and more will be going on at the other blogs during the month! I'll keep you all updated on what's happening for the week each Sunday, and the festivities start right here!

Timeline: July 1, 2010 - August 31, 2010

Levels: Remember swim classes? Thus our reading challenge levels!
* Tadpole - Read 4 books in this challenge.
* Minnow - Read 8 books in this challenge.
* Dolphin - Read 12 books in this challenge.
* Shark - Read 16+ books in this challenge!


• You do not have to select your books ahead of time, unless you choose to. You can just pick and choose as you go if that works better for you! We fully support you using these books as crossovers to other challenges, so feel free to participate even if you're currently in another challenge!

• If you choose to participate, please take the button below and put it in your "Challenge" section or on your sidebar. That way anyone else who wants to join can find their way here!

• If you choose to participate, please create an Introduction Post and link it to the Mr. Linky at the bottom of the page, so that we can come and say hi!

• You may join at any time, even if there are only a few weeks left. Welcome amazing readers!

• Prizes will be awarded through mini giveaways and contests throughout the challenge, and a bigger prize pack will be awarded at the end of the challenge!
To get credit for the final giveaway you'll need to link your Intro Post to the Mr. Linky below and link your reviews on the Welcome Post.
You will receive one entry for your Intro Post, one for each review, and if you post your Wrap-Up post on the indicated day you'll receive an extra 5 entries!

Feel free to email me at roses7184(at)gmail(dot)com if you need any clarification, want to donate, or just want to say hi!


Please link directly to your Intro Post in Mr. Linky!
Ex. (Jessica @ A Fanatic's Book Blog)

In My Mailbox (9)

In My Mailbox is a weekly post created by The Story Siren and inspired by Alea of Pop Culture Junkie. IMM explores the weekly contents of our mailboxes, as well as books we might have bought this week!

This was a really great book week! There were definitely some SQUEE moments and I forsee many more in my future. Yup, I went crazy at the B&N Summer Clearance so....come Monday I should have a very large box of books showing up at my door!

For Review:
Don't Know Where, Don't Know When by Annette Laing (Thank you Annette!)
Prophet of the Pentacle by Marilyn D. Privratsky (Thank you Marilyn!)
My Fake Boyfriend is Better Than Yours by Kristina Springer (Thank you ATW Tours!)

Shadow Hills by Anastasia Hopcus
Dark to Mortal Eyes by Eric Wilson
Summer at Tiffany by Majorie Hart

(Special thanks to Tequila Reader and Crazy Cat Lady's Library!)

What was in YOUR mailbox?

Saturday, June 26, 2010

On My Wishlist (4)

On My Wishlist is a weekly feature run by the great book blog, Book Chick City. This feature is used to list books that we desperately want but haven't gotten to read yet!

Rampant by Diana Peterfreund
Published by Harper Teen
Hardcover; 402 pages
ISBN: 0061490008

Forget everything you ever knew about unicorns... 

Real unicorns are venomous, man-eating monsters with huge fangs and razor-sharp horns. Fortunately, they've been extinct for a hundred and fifty years. 

Or not. 

Astrid had always scoffed at her eccentric mother's stories about killer unicorns. But when one of the monsters attacks her boyfriend—thereby ruining any chance of him taking her to the prom—Astrid finds herself headed to Rome to train as a unicorn hunter at the ancient cloisters the hunters have used for centuries. 

However, at the cloisters all is not what it seems. Outside, the unicorns wait to attack. And within, Astrid faces other, unexpected threats: from the crumbling, bone-covered walls that vibrate with a terrible power to the hidden agendas of her fellow hunters to—perhaps most dangerously of all—her growing attraction to a handsome art student ... an attraction that could jeopardize everything.
(From Goodreads)


Is there anything more majestic and amazing? Then this novel throws the idea of killer unicorns into the mix and have a book that Jessica desperately wants to read! Unfortunately for some god forsaken reason, my library doesn't own a copy. I've put in a purchase request and since they've approved the other three books I asked for I'm hoping for the best! If not, I'll probably just break down and buy myself a copy. I see absolutely no reason why I wouldn't love this book!

Have you read it? What's on your wishlist?

Friday, June 25, 2010

Some help please!

So next month is both my birthday month, and the month I've decided to celebrate the amazing two months that have gone by so far on this blog!

I'm going to be giving away 4 books, one for each week in July, but I need some help.

What would YOU like to win?

Leave me some suggestions in the comments and then I'll make a list of the most popular ones and put up a poll later on! Just FYI I do have an ARC of Low Red Moon and Shadow Hills if you want those to be up for grabs ;). Let me know!


Book Review: Zan-Gah and the Beautiful Country

The prehistoric saga continues in Zan-Gah and the Beautiful Country, the sequel to the award winning Zan-Gah: A Prehistoric Adventure. In this story, Zan s troubled twin brother, Dael, having suffered greatly during his earlier captivity, receives a ruinous new shock when his wife suddenly dies. Disturbed and traumatized, all of his manic energies explode into acts of hostility and bloodshed. His obsession is the destruction of the wasp men, his first captors, who dwell in the Beautiful Country. When he, Zan-Gah, and a band of adventurers trek to their bountiful home, they find that all of the wasp people have died in war or of disease. The Beautiful Country is empty for the taking, and Zan s people, the Ba-Coro, decide to migrate and resettle there. But the Noi, Dael s cruelest enemies and former tormentors, make the same migration from their desert home, and the possibility develops of contention and war over this rich and lovely new land.

--From Goodreads

Cover Inspection:
This is exactly what I pictured Dael would look like!

First Thoughts:
Not as quick of an opening as the first book, but I'm still intrigued!


My Review:
Zan-Gah and the Beautiful Country picked up exactly where the first book left off, but this time the story focuses more on Zan's brother, Dael. This made me extremely happy, since my what I missed in the last book was getting to know more about the other characters. Again I must say I was impressed at how quickly the story grabs your attention. The death of Dael's wife causes him so much grief, that he retreats deeper into himself and becomes a shadow. All he dreams of now, is vengeance.

The huge divide between Zan and Dael is what really drives this story forward. Although they are working towards the same goal at times, ultimately they come at it with two entirely different points of view. As always, Zan is kind and resourceful. However now he must deal with a torn heart. His brother Dael has become a vengeful person, caring more about his vendetta than his tribe. Now Zan faces the choice between doing what is write for his tribe as a whole, or choosing to side with the brother he still feels a deep love for.

In this particular story, the tribe follows Zan and Dael to a gorgeous new part of the land, where food and water are plenty. I was extremely impressed at the vivid description of this "beautiful country", since it stood out so well against the arid landscape the tribe had called home before. It was also very refreshing that Zan had an understanding of how difficult it would be for all of his people to get to this new land. I noticed in the first book that Zan never had a problem going back and forth, but I wrote it off to the fact that he was young. Seeing his tribe endure real hardship on their move brought me back to the reality of having to trek such a far distance on foot. Again, the perfect way to further immerse you in the story.

As I mentioned above, Zan-Gah and the Beautiful Country is not only another beautifully woven story, but it gave me everything that I was missing in the first book. This book once again moves at the perfect pace, always allowing you just enough to keep you completely immersed in this prehistoric landscape. Allan Richard Shickman has created a unique and intriguing world that I enjoyed so very much. I sincerely hope there is a third book very soon! I'd love to see what happens to Dael after he journeys out alone.

Book Details
Title: Zan-Gah and the Beautiful Country
Author: Allan Richard Shickman
Publisher: Earthshaker Books
Pages: Paperback; 151
Source: Received from publisher.
FTC Disclosure: I received a review copy of this book in return for a fair and honest review.

Final Rating: 5 Keys to My Heart
[+/-] show/hide this post

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Welcome to my new affiliates!

So I know I'm still relatively new to this whole book blogging world, but I also know that it is always good to have people who you can support and who can support you!

It is with that knowledge that I present my new affiliates.....

The lovely Raila from Books Out of the Bookshelves

The fantastic Heather from A Bibliophile's Paradise

The sweet Kailia from Reading the Best of the Best


The amazing Linna from 21 pages

Expect to see end of the week posts with news from their blogs from now on! Hurray support!

Book Review: Zan-Gah

The hero, Zan-Gah seeks his lost twin in a savage prehistoric world, encountering suffering, captivity, conflict, love, and triumph. In three years, Zan-Gah passes from an uncertain boyhood to a tried and proven manhood and a position of leadership among his people.

--From Goodreads

Cover Inspection:
Love the lion!

First Thoughts:
This is unlike anything I've ever read before.


My Review:
Zan-Gah is a new taste for my literary palette, and I admit that when I first finished reading it I wasn't sure exactly what I thought. My head was still reeling from all the action that I had just encountered with Zan and his counterparts, but as I didn't have anything else to compare this book to I wasn't sure how it rated in my mind. Finally, I decided that this book is just in its own realm. A new and amazing type of fiction that cannot be compared to anything else because it is so unique. Truthfully, I loved this book!

The story opens with action right away, throwing the reader straight into a lion hunt with Zan and his clan members. A lion has killed a child, and now sadly must be killed. I was impressed that Zan was so stoic and rigid under the threat of attacking such a fast and fearsome creature. It was from this point that I knew he would be a character I would enjoy following through the story. Intelligent, strong, and a leader. Zan is a character who you can watch grow and feel invested in.

Allan writes with a depth that is truly intense. Each and every scene in the book is written in such vivid detail, that those of you with good imaginations will find yourselves walking the same paths as Zan does. There were times when I was so involved in this book that I didn't hear my phone ring. That's pretty amazing! The one thing I felt was lacking in this department was more description of the other characters. I learned so much about Zan and enjoyed his company, but I felt like the other characters were hidden behind his epic character.

Zan-Gah is a perfectly paced book for young adults, always giving enough action to keep the reader going but never pushing too much. What caught my attention most while reading this book however, is how much you will find yourself learning while you read. It's not often that a book can teach and entertain at the same time, and as an educator that is something that I strongly look for. Allan Richard Shickman has woven a beautiful and unique tale with Zan-Gah. I see this not only as a young adult story, but as a story that people of all ages would in fact enjoy.

Book Details
Title: Zan-Gah
Author: Allan Richard Shickman
Publisher: Earthshaker Books
Pages: Paperback; 148
Source: Received from publisher.
FTC Disclosure: I received a review copy of this book in return for a fair and honest review.

Final Rating: 4 Keys to My Heart
[+/-] Click to see Rating.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

An Interview with Allan Richard Shickman

As I mentioned yesterday, I was privileged enough to be asked to read the Zan-Gah books for Allan Richard Shickman, and they were very good!

Today he has agreed to stop by for an interview! Enjoy!

1.  Where did the idea for a Prehistoric Fiction series come from?  

Sometimes it is hard to know where ideas are born, but it seems to me the Zan-Gah books began with geography.  A change in geography is good for an artist or author because he sees things with "fresh eyes," and what might be ignored by a long-time resident can be dramatically new to a visitor.  That's the way it was with me when I left the city of St. Louis to travel across the American West to California by automobile.  Much of the territory I crossed is relatively arid and largely unoccupied.  It raised in my mind the question: how did people survive here before air-conditioned cars and water faucets?  It was over a year before I started typing Zan-Gah, but that is how the idea came about.  The first book is largely a tale of survival in a bleak and arid land.  I placed it in the Paleolithic period to emphasize the difficulty of survival.

2.  What challenges were presented to you while writing these books?  

Zan-Gah: A Prehistoric Adventure was my first novel.  As a professor of art history I had written scholarly stuff, but I had never attempted fiction.  When I was writing the first chapter, I was by no means certain that I would ever get to the last—especially because my outline of the plot was far from clear in my mind.  Lots of my most important ideas came to me when the book was in progress.  The hardest thing about writing is placing yourself in a chair in front of a word processor.  It doesn't hurt to do some research, not only for accuracy, but because it helps engender ideas.

3.  Do you have a favorite character in the Zan-Gah stories?  

A good parent does not want to show favoritism, even if he secretly has a favorite child.  How would you feel if your mom told you she liked your brother better than you?  But, yes, I do; my favorite character is Rydl.  I was pleased with the way he developed in the two stories, from a frightened kid to a mature friend, and to a distinct, ingenious personality.

4.  What books have influenced you most in your writing career?  

I'll tell you a secret:  I am not so broadly read as I might be, but I am deeply read.  When I find a book I like, I read it over and over again (every so often) until it is quite digested.  What's the good of making a friend if you don't revisit him/her once in a while?  Any book worth reading is worth reading at least twice.  Consequently, with repetition I drink in vocabulary, phraseology, imagery, and ideas.  I prefer the great classics, and have especially been influenced by the novels of Dostoyevsky and Hardy.  The Brothers Karamazov by the first, and The Mayor of Casterbridge by the second are books that have shaped my personality and contributed to my tragic vision of life.  I like funny books too.  Tom Jones by Fielding and Thackeray's Vanity Fair made me laugh and laugh.  Scott's Ivanhoe influenced the Zan-Gah books a lot, and I was not untouched by Bronte's Jane Eyre, and Austen too.  I almost forgot to mention Shakespeare and Milton—major influences.

5.  What book are you reading now? 

 I'm glad you asked.  I am reading The Mysterious William Shakespeare by Charlton Ogburn. The author demolishes the idea that the man from Stratford, Shakspere, wrote the great plays of Shakespeare; and goes on to virtually prove, with powerful and copious circumstantial evidence, that they were written by Edward de Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford (1550-1604).  This belief puts me in a very poor light with orthodox Shakespeare scholars, who no doubt think that Ogburn and his supporters have "eaten of the insane root that takes the reason prisoner."

6.  Do you have a place you go when you need inspiration?  

No.  I get inspirations, large and small, all the time—walking, eating, reading, meditating, watching TV.  The trick is to write down all these ideas, the moment I get them, on a 3 x 5 card.  After a while I have a thick stack of ideas that came to me at random; and because they are on cards, I can sort them into chapters and put them in order.  Then my book practically writes itself (heh heh!).  No writer's block for me.

7.  What was your proudest moment while writing the Zan-Gah stories?  

That's hard to say.  I was very proud of the way I brought the first book to a climax, with danger everywhere and Dael, Zan's twin brother, indifferent to any of it.  Who would have thought that he would refuse to be rescued?

8.  Are there any plans for a third Zan-Gah book?  

My experience is that if you talk too much about a projected book, you are much less likely to actually write it.  Still, I will tell you this much:  I am working on a third Zan-Gah book.  It is in the dreaming stage right now, and I have a thick stack of note cards with little ideas on them.  As I see it, the story will continue with Dael's self-imposed exile, as he seeks some sort of redemption or resolution of his life. He will go to live with the crimson people (introduced already in Zan-Gah and the Beautiful Country).  I think I will call it Dael and the Painted People.  But first I have to write it.

Thank you so much Allan for stopping by! 

Readers stop by tomorrow for the first review, and Friday for the second review. I'll also likely be giving these books away in my birthday bash next month so keep an eye out for that as well!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Author Introduction: Allan Richard Shickman

Recently I had the pleasure of reading Zan-Gah and Zan-Gah and the Beautiful Country for Allan Richard Shickman. I must say that these books were completely different from anything I've read before, but in an extremely good way!

Reviews are coming tomorrow and Thursday, but first let's meet this amazing author.

(Photo Credit)

ZAN-GAH author Allan Richard Shickman conceived Zan's adventure after thousands of miles of travel through mountains, deserts and forest land. The idea for this exciting story was born in a cave deep beneath the earth— in the company of hundreds of bats.

Allan is an artist, teacher, actor, author, historian, gardener, and former Boy Scout. He has published articles in The Art Bulletin, Art History, English Literary Renaissance, Studies in English Literature: 1500-1900, Notes and Queries, and Colby Quarterly. He was also Art and Music Bibliographer for Shakespeare Quarterly. He has had many letters in various newspapers, including a dozen in The New York Times. Allan taught the history of art at the University of Northern Iowa for three decades. He now lives and writes in St. Louis.

(Taken from

BBAW Entry Post

So I've decided to enter myself! I debated a long time, since I still feel kind of awkward nominating myself, but I do believe that I can compete in this so....away we go!

Best Eclectic Book Blog

Best New Book Blog
Review: Tyger, Tyger
Feature: "Me" Mondays

Monday, June 21, 2010

Children's Book Review: Charlie Needs a New Cloak

Media Type: Print Book
Title: Charlie Needs a New Cloak
Author: Tommie DePaola
Publisher: Prentice Hall
Pages: Hardcover; 32
Release Date: October 25, 1982
Source: School Library
Recommended to: Parents looking for a book to share with their children all about weaving and making clothing.

Difficulty Level: Better for children above the age of 8, since much of the vocabulary is a little more advanced.

Add it on: Goodreads / Amazon / B&N
A shepherd shears his sheep, cards and spins the wool, weaves and dyes the cloth, and sews a beautiful new red cloak.

I've been infatuated with Tommie DePaola's work since I can remember. The fact that this was about weaving just added a bonus! Charlie definitely needs a new cloak. His old cloak has holes in it and gets nibbled on by the sheep when he isn't paying attention! What's a young sheep herder to do?

I adore this book so much! The pictures and simple wording are amazing for young children, and it walks the reader through the steps to making clothing from sheep's wool. First Charlie shears, then washes and cards, then spins. It's all so amazingly simple when Tommie dePaola writes and illustrates it, and the book kept the kids engaged for quite a long time after the book was done. They had tons of questions!

As an added bonus, there's a mischievous little mouse on each page that the kids can find. He tends to be up to no good, and the kids had a blast picking him out. In a society where most children have no idea where their clothes come from (and no it's not Walmart) I think that this is an amazing book to spark conversation. Tommie dePaola does a wonderful job and I'm smitten!

Rating: 4 Keys to My Heart

FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for my opinion.

"Me Mondays" June 21st

It's time for the first installment of "Me" Mondays! 

Don't know what this is? 

Click HERE to visit the opening post and enter to win! has spoken and I'm answering question 6 today.

How do you manage your time for reading, blogging and other stuffs?


Great question Fiona! My friends ask me the same thing. How do you have TIME?

Lucky for me I only work 5 hours a day. If you count in the time it takes me to walk to and from work (I don't have a car) I'm gone from my house about 6 hours a day. Not too shabby! I have a daily schedule, I'll admit it! 

Hello, my name is Jessica and I'm an over analyzer and organizer. Here's a look at my weekly life:

8:00 or 8:30 am - Wake up (probably fall back asleep a bit) and crack open my blinds. My window faces the beach so the air and the sun wake me up! Spend this time attempting to actually feel awake.

9:00 am - At this point I'm awake and I'll grab the nearest book to me, since they're all on my nightstand, and commence reading!

11:00 am - Reading over, it's time to get up and sit down at my computer to update for the day and browse through my endless blogroll.

12:00 pm - Eat lunch, get dressed and get my behind out the door to work! 

1:00 pm - 6:00 pm - WORK! Crazy kids, crazy parents, crazy me. I never look anything but flushed and flustered after work but I love it!

6:30 pm - Come home, make dinner, hang out with the BF. 

9:00 pm - BF heads off to bed and I commence reading and posting time! I usually spend this time answering emails, tweeting and writing posts for the next day.

12:00 pm - Bedtime for this girl. (That is unless the book I'm reading I can't put down...*shakes fist at Fallen*)

I pretty much always sleep 8 hours. If there's one thing I love more than books, it's sleep! 

Point being I use a lot of my morning and extra night time to read and get posts ready. If I know I'll be busy for a day or a weekend I get a post ready ahead of time and schedule it :). I'm pretty organized like I said, and I'm still hoping someday to make this a career!

Weekends though? Weekends are mine. I make plans, I go out, I just always carry a book in case some reading opportunity might happen! ;)

 Hope that answers your question!

Thank you Fiona for your question! You have received an extra entry into the giveaway since it was the chosen to be answered!

Keep those questions coming everyone! Each question gets you entered to win!


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