Sunday, October 31, 2010

Book Review: She Smells the Dead



It's the beginning of senior year and Yuki's psychic awareness of ghostly spirits is threatening to ruin her life. Her ability to sense spirits of the dead isn't glamorous like the ghost hunting on television.

SHE SMELLS THE DEAD.

The smell impressions are becoming stronger. Yuki is being visited in her dreams, and she suspects that her friend Calvin is involved in something strange. To make matters worse her crush on Garrett is going unrequited, Yuki's friend Emma is on a rampage against bee oppression, and annoying Calvin Miller mysteriously disappears.

Will Yuki be able to focus her powers in time to save the lost soul who is haunting her? Meanwhile, who will save Yuki from following the spirits into the light?

--From Goodreads


Cover Inspection:
This girl is totally Yuki! From the hair, to the haunted look in her eyes, I was hooked by this cover.

First Thoughts:
Wow, she really does smell the dead! Go figure!

***

My Review:
To say that this book is rather unlike anything I've ever read before seems a bit of an understatement. I mean where else in YA fiction have you ever found a main character that smells dead people? See them, yup. Sense them, definitely. Smell them? Yuki is absolutely one of a kind in that respect. It was this little fact that first drew me to the book, and then had me hooked by the middle of the first chapter.

Yuki, also known as Vanessa Stennings, isn't your typical teenage, gothic girl. Her angst filled teenage years are further complicated by her ability to smell dead people. Now before you run away at the thought of rotting corpses, let me assure you that Yuki's ability is much more interesting than that.  Her curse is to smell people in a symbolic sense. The scents give her a clue and then she uses these clues to figure out who deceased is, as well as what unfinished business they have left on this Earth. Pretty amazing right?

What I loved about this story was the originality, both in concept and in characters. Yuki, Emma and Calvin each had their own unique personalities (Bee oppression anyone?) and yet they mesh together perfectly! It was a whole lot of fun following them on their crazy excursions. I was also quite appreciative of the narrative style that E.J. Stevens writes in. We see the world from Yuki's point of view, even becoming a part of her inside jokes. Although I'll admit that Yuki's copious usage of "son of a dung beetle" had me a bit on edge at times, she was likable to the core! I truly fell in love with these characters.

My one gripe about this story, and it's a small one at that, is just that it is over so quickly! By the time that I was invested and excited about the outcome, it was done. The one thing that keeps me holding on is that I know there will be a second book out soon! I was hoping that She Smells the Dead would have made it to the climax I was expecting, however if the second book deals with that epic night then I am all for waiting. Truth be told I'll be a little impatient, but I'll wait!

Final thoughts? Original, fantastic and fun!







Book Details
Title: She Smells The Dead
Author: E.J. Stevens
Publisher: Sacred Oaks Press
Pages: Paperback; 163
Source: Received from author.
FTC Disclosure: I received a review copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review.

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

In My Mailbox - Elephant Ears? Yes!





As promised, I vlogged in my costume!

I figure this will either make you want to watch my vlogs more often, or completely scare you away. Either way....



Books Mentioned:

* Bad Girls Don't Die by Katie Alender
* Three Wishes by Isabelle Merlin
* The Curse of the Wendigo by Rick Yancey 
* Dirty Little Secrets by C.J. Omololu
* The Sapphire Talisman by Brenda Pandos
* Through Her Eyes by Jennifer Archer


As always, much love to Kristi at The Story Siren for hosting this weekly meme!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Random Books: The Zombie Edition


Welcome to another edition of Random Books! This is a feature where I type a chosen word into the Goodreads search bar, and choose three books that catch my eye. You then get the random thoughts that go through my head as I learn about the book.

It's a fun way to discover new books!

***


It's time for the ZOMBIE edition! Pretty apropos don't you think? I mean it is a celebration this weekend of all things creepy, scary and dead!

There's a zombie walk downtown today in my city.

Am I going? TOTALLY!

***


Top 10 Lessons for Surviving a Zombie Attack

1. Organize before they rise!
2. They feel no fear, why should you?
3. Use your head: cut off theirs.
4. Blades don’t need reloading.
5. Ideal protection = tight clothes, short hair.
6. Get up the staircase, then destroy it.
7. Get out of the car, get onto the bike.
8. Keep moving, keep low, keep quiet, keep alert!
9. No place is safe, only safer.
10. The zombie may be gone, but the threat lives on.

See more at Goodreads

My Thoughts:
First off, I totally think that the world will end in some type of zombie apocalypse. Self-fulfilling prophecy anyone?

Ha, use your head...cut off theirs. LOVE it!

Oooh. If zombies really do appear, I'm going to have to get a hair cut.

***


The hungry dead have risen. They shamble down the street. They hide in back yards, car lots, shopping malls. They devour neighbors, dogs and police officers. And they are here to stay. The real question is, what are you going to do about it? How will you survive?

See more at Goodreads

My  Thoughts:
First off, this cover is FANTASTIC! Those zombies are rather terrifying.

Is there any cooler zombie word than shamble?

I'm becoming addicted to anthologies. This one must be mine!

***


College-professor-cum-zombie Jack Barnes is a different breed of undead—he can think. In fact, he can even write. And the story he has to tell is a truly disturbing—yet strangely heartwarming—one.

See more at Goodreads

My Thoughts:
From the first moment I saw this cover, I fell in love. Amazing!

A heartwarming zombie story eh?

Where's my wallet? I'm buying this book. Seriously.

 ***

Thanks for putting up with the randomness! Have you read any of these books? Thoughts! Share them out!






Thursday, October 28, 2010

Blog Tour: Other Sides - Author Interview



If you haven't already read my review for this book, you really need to! This is an amazing anthology and it now has me hooked into Webfiction.

Today I'm pleased to welcome MCM, one of the many amazing authors featured in this anthology, for an interview!

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1) Can you explain Webfiction for those who may not have had the opportunity to explore it yet?

Web fiction is actually a very broad term that applies to a lot of types of writing. At its most basic (and obvious!), it means fiction that was written for the web. The key word there is "for", because there's a difference between writing that is put on the web, and writing that is written for the web. There's a kind of audience awareness in web fiction that other writing styles don't have. Sometimes it's serialized stories, sometimes it's on-demand stories, and sometimes it's full-on interactive fiction that just doesn't work anywhere else. Web fiction tends to be about tying the writer and the audience closer together, as opposed to the create-and-consume model that exists elsewhere.


2) What do you find to be the benefits of writing Webfiction?

One of the best things for me is experimentation. I write for TV as my "day job", where it's 99% stick-to-the-rules. That can be a lot of fun, but it also leaves you with a strong desire to do something crazy and new. In my web fiction, I started writing kids books, then switched to hard sci fi, then comedies, mysteries, horror stories, spy thrillers... whatever comes into my head — whether it's plot, theme, genre or execution — I can just do it. The only restriction is whether or not I can pull it off. Some of my best work has come from pushing the boundaries and doing something any rational person would say is impossible.

The other big benefit, again, is interactivity. Traditionally, a writer would scribble their thoughts down, pass it through an editor, and have it come out the other end months or years later. There'd be reader feedback, but it's so long after the fact that it's almost irrelevant. But with web fiction, the reaction is immediate and essential, because more often than not, you haven't even finished writing the next chapter yet. The way people react to the story affects what you write, whether you intend it to or not. If a side character is really popular, you find ways to bring them back. If a mystery is looking too obvious, you can add a twist to obscure things again. It's like you're field testing your creation as you go, making it better and more targeted based on the reactions of your fans. That kind of connectivity doesn't happen anywhere else, and that's what makes web fiction one of the best outlets out there for creative writers.


3) Speculative Fiction leaves a lot of possibilities open for stories. Would you say it is your favorite genre to write?
That's a tough one. I think my favourite right now is the barest-bones version of "speculative", meaning stories that happen in a world not too far removed from our own (in time, or politics or what have you), dodging the fantastical for blunt almost-reality. My "Dustrunners" series is like that: 30 years in the future with no amazing new technologies (voice recognition is so flawed it's a wonder anyone uses it) and a state of affairs so plausible it's actually been shocking to see world events play out the way I predicted them. I love the restrictions it puts on you as a writer, having to carefully measure the world around you before you write something new. Cars in thirty years... what do they look like, sound like? They're not flying, obviously. We've been down that road before, conceptually. So what are the changes? They're largely electric or hybrid, so they're silent, and maybe people can customize the engine noises with sound files, like they're ringtones almost. Traffic on a busy highway would be like a symphony of chaos in half-second bursts. There's something about imagining the world as a not-much-better place that really excites me. A little depressing, but I'm Canadian, so I'm an expert at mundane fatalism.

On the other hand, I have another series, "The New Real", about a human cop joining an intergalactic narcotics control police force. My story in "Other Sides" is about those characters, and it really is one of my favourite concepts, despite the fact that it's full of space opera nuttiness. Writing that series, you can create an obstacle (or have one given to you by the audience) and just create an explanation for why it works that way. It's a lot of fun, though it does create an overlapping domino effect sometimes, where you create a rule and have it bump into another rule, and then another, until you have no idea which way is up. And that's when you blame it all on a post-singularity super-species pulling all the strings from the sixth dimension. Because that's what sci fi is all about.


4) What advice would you give to those thinking about writing Webfiction?

Write something you're passionate about. As crass as it sounds, traditional publishing is all about writing for a spot on a shelf, which means you may be giving up some of your passion along the way. Web fiction works best if the readers feel you loving your work every step of the way. Don't worry that a story beat is going to turn some people off, or might be too harsh for others. Do what needs to be done, and make sure you enjoy it while you do. What I said above about letting the audience influence what you do... that's part of it. If you love your story, your readers will love it too, and pretty soon you'll find yourself in a conversation with a bunch of strangers, talking about a crazy twist you just imagined that you KNOW everyone will love, and you'll be clapping giddily like a little girl on a pony... and that's when you know you've done something right. Or very, very wrong.


5) Other Sides is quite the anthology! If you had to describe it in a tweet (140 characters) what would you write?
Fantastic stories by some of the best web fiction writers still alive, compiled to maximize enjoyment & let y'all see how insane we all are!

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Thank you MCM for stopping by!


Once again my friends, you need to check this anthology out. Honestly, what else are you doing today? Go have a good read and enjoy!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Blog Tour: Call Me Kate - Book Review


Coming of age amidst the seething unrest of the Civil War era, feisty fourteen-year-old Katie McCafferty infiltrates the Molly Maguires, a secret Irish organization, to rescue a lifelong friend. Under the guise of Dominick, a draft resister, Katie volunteers for a dangerous mission in hopes of preventing bloodshed. Katie risks job, family, and ultimately her very life to intervene. A series of tragedies challenge Katie's strength and ingenuity, and she faces a crisis of conscience. Can she balance her sense of justice with the law? Call Me Kate is suitable for readers from eleven to adult. The story is dramatic and adventuresome, yet expressive of daily life in the patches of the hard coal region during the Civil War era. This novel will appeal to readers of the Dear America series, as well as more mature readers who will enjoy the story's rich context and drama.

--From Goodreads

Cover Inspection:
I love that the cover looks hand-painted and the smirk on Kate's face is great!

First Thoughts:
I wasn't really expecting this book to be so true to life, but it really is.

***

My Review:
Much like the Dear America series, as the synopsis mentions above, this book is a fictional look into our past history. It's gritty, it's realistic, but it is written so perfectly that readers will fall in love. I personally fell in love with Kate's spunky demeanor and was committed to her struggle from the beginning. In fact, I felt for her whole town. Molly Roe is an expert at writing characters that come to life on the page.

I vaguely remember learning about how the Civil War affected Irish immigrants. Sadly those types of things tend to fade into the background in school, as they are skimmed over and before you know it the text has moved on. However when I started reading this book it all came rushing back to me. The research that went into this story is apparent on every page, from the descriptions of outfits, to the Irish words that are thrown back and forth between family members. Although it seems like it would be difficult to understand these terms, there is a very handy glossary in the back! I was pleasantly surprised!

What really struck me most about Call Me Kate was the fire behind Kate's actions, and the way her people worked together to help those who struggled. It was a look at how people can bond when trouble strikes them all. It actually made me a bit nostalgic for that "for the good of all" mentality. I think any readers that come into this book willing to learn and get lost in Kate's life will have a great read. I definitely recommend this to high school readers and teachers.

To wrap things up, Call Me Kate was a fascinating read. The learning aspect of it was simply a bonus, buried under the rich storytelling and characters. I am happy to say that I throughly enjoyed this book and am proud to recommend it to you!







Book Details
Title: Call Me Kate: Meeting the Molly Maguries
Author: Molly Roe
Publisher: Tribute Books
Pages: Paperback; 168
Source: Received from publisher.
FTC Disclosure: I was provided a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review.




BOOK TRAILER:

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Book Review: Planning to Live



Determined to lose weight for her best friend's wedding, goal-obsessed Rhiannon flees her parents' Christmas Day feast to avoid overeating but her car skids off the deserted road into a tree. Trapped and bleeding, with her cell phone out of reach, she struggles to escape, and to accept that she's spent her whole life planning but hasn't ever really lived. Will she get the chance to change that?

--From Goodreads

Cover Inspection:
At first glance I was a bit confused about the snow and the cookie. However after reading the book, oh wow. This cover is fantastic.

First Thoughts:
Rhiannon sounds just like me. Exactly. This is kind of weird.

***

My Review:
I have been trying to type up a review of this book for about the last two hours. As I sit here, having erased what I wrote yet again, I realize that I can't write this like a normal review. Wiping the tears in my eyes as I try to figure out exactly what to say has made me realize that I'm just going to have to write exactly what I feel. I hope you don't mind, dear readers. Try to keep up, and I'll promise not to ramble too much.

From the moment that I opened Planning to Live, I was at one with Rhiannon. In fact, I'm fairly sure that all of us out there can find at least a bit of us who is just like her. Always working. Setting goals. Never feeling like what you do is good enough. Down on yourself for one reason or another. Truly I saw so much of myself in Rhiannon that it scared me a bit. I wondered how on Earth someone out there could mirror me so perfectly.  What I liked is that she isn't written like an "every woman" though. Rhiannon has her own personality, her own self, she just happens to be going through a life that is similar to most of us out there.

This book is all about living life for the journey, not for the destination. It reminds us, rather jarringly, that you need to focus on the little successes and be proud of those. It's easy to forget that in the normal hustle and bustle of life, especially when you live in a world that pushes success as the norm. Rhiannon's story struck me most of all because I am slowly pulling myself out of the same hole that she was trapped in. It made me realize that I'm not alone, and that it is important to try no matter how hard it hurts. Am I rambling? I'm quite sure I am, it's hard not to, but I'll wrap it up.

Once in a blue moon I stumble upon a book that touches me so deeply it alters my thinking. This book did that for me. I can't say for certain how it will touch any of the rest of you, since I don't know what parts of your life you are currently in, but I can say for certain that no matter what this is a fabulous read. Rhiannon is amazing, her story is touching, and you'll be moved. Make sure you have a big box of tissues though. I recommend this book 200%!

A huge thanks to Heather Wardell for allowing me to read this amazing book. I'm a whole hearted fan and I can't wait to see what she writes next!







Book Details
Title: Planning to Live
Author: Heather Wardell
Publisher: CreateSpace
Pages: Paperback; 238
Source: Received from author
FTC Disclosure: I received a review copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review.

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

Monday, October 25, 2010

A guest post by Heather Wardell

Good morning fabulous people!

It is Monday yet again, and I'm sure some of you (or all of you) are feeling the effects of a brand new week. Need a pick me up? I know I do.


Today I'm proud to welcome Heather Wardell, author of Planning to Live, to my blog! In the spirit of a pick me up, she'll be sharing with us her favorite quotes of all time. Pretty perfect right? I'll step out of the way now and let Heather take it away!

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I have a huge list of quotations that keep me inspired and moving forward. It's amazing how much of a difference a few perfectly stated words can make.

I maintain a list of my favorites on Goodreads (www.goodreads.com/heatherwardell if you'd like to see them all), but here are five of my absolute go-to quotations for support and comfort and the occasional well-needed kick in the rear. I've included a sixth, from my new book "Planning to Live", because I think it ties them all together.

1. "Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive."
Howard Thurman

This one chokes me up every time I read it. I struggle sometimes with a feeling that my writing isn't 'enough'. Not literary enough, not dark enough, not meaningful enough. But I write what I love reading. I adore books about ordinary women in extraordinary situations. I live my characters. I wake up thinking about about them and go to sleep imagining their lives. There's no doubt that what I write makes me come alive. Rereading this quote helps me remember that's more than enough.

2. "You don't have to feel like it. You just have to do it." 
— Victoria Moran, in her book "Fit from Within"

"Fit from Within" is a great book on losing weight and becoming healthy by listening and accepting yourself. I love this quote because, let's face it, some days I just don't feel like doing. But I know I'll be glad I've done it. So I do it, thinking of this the whole time. I've actually made a picture for my iPhone's lock screen with this quote on it, so I see it many times a day and get the little kick I need.

3. "Our greatest glory is not in never falling but in rising every time we fall."
— Confucius

I know I'm not the only one afraid to fail. But the only way to never fail is to never try, and I don't think that's much of a way to live your life. Things will go wrong. Acknowledge them, figure out what you can do differently next time to make the situation better, then get up and go. (You don't have to feel like it. You just have to do it. :)

4. "The miles can build you up or the miles can wear you down, it's all about how you approach it."

— Josh Cox, elite marathoner

When I'm slogging through a first draft that isn't measuring up to my (generally too high) standards, it's easy to feel discouraged and decide I'm useless. Frankly, I decide I'm useless at least once a book. :) But then I remember that "it's all about how you approach it" and I remind myself that I always feel this way, it will pass, and I just need to keep going.

I must also quote my sister, with whom I run regularly, on this one. During a race, I was whining about being tired and she said, "Nobody likes this part! But you just have to do it. And then it'll be done. And you'll be glad." I did it, and I WAS glad, and while she didn't exactly say it in a poster-worthy format it's helped me through tons of runs since.

5. "People often say that motivation doesn't last. Well, neither does bathing--that's why we recommend it daily."
— Zig Ziglar

I know I'm not the only one who struggles with "where did my motivation go?" This quote helps me remember it needs to be renewed daily rather than expecting it to just last forever. Remembering why I want to do what I'm doing makes it easier to revive my occasionally flagging motivation.

And from "Planning to Live": "Pay attention to all the lovely little things around you and enjoy them." (Rhiannon Taylor, main character/narrator in "Planning to Live")

Sure, not everything in our lives is lovely all the time. But so much of it is and we just don't notice. Notice. It makes the miles go faster, the tasks seem easier, and the motivation renew itself.

I'd love to know what your favorite quotes are. Maybe I'll find some great new ones for my collection!


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Heather Wardell has been writing full-time since 2005, after careers in software development and elementary school teaching. In her spare time, she reads, runs, crochets, swims, and plays drums and clarinet. While it would be entertaining, she hasn't managed to do more than two of these things at once. She has four novels available now, including one for free download, which can be found at
http://www.heatherwardell.com

Quick Update!

The vlog in my IMM is now fixed!

Thanks for caring enough for prompting me to take the time to fix it :).

HUGS!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

HOME!

Yes, I'm home! Well, in a sense. I mean I'm in my place of residence but unfortunately I miss camp like crazy. I miss the people I spent time with this weekend. They inspire me, and without them I wouldn't be able to live my life half as well as I do.

OH 

I realized I put up the wrong vlog! SORRY GUYS! I was really busy on Friday and flustered. I'm uploading the correct one as I write this, and it'll be posted in a matter of minutes. Sorry :(. I hope you'll still stop by soon to watch it!

HUGS!

In My Mailbox - Vlog the Second

Are you ready for more?

I got so many great responses last week to my vlog (thank you by the way!) that I decided to do it again.

Early morning light makes anyones face look awful.

However I adore you, so here you go! 

As always, this is hosted by the fabulous blog The Story Siren!




If you are the first one to see this, could you kindly go and post a link for me on the IMM page on The Story Siren's blog? I would, but I'm lost in the mountains :).

Friday, October 22, 2010

Mental Sanity Weekend

This is a quick note to let you all know that I'm off to the mountains for the weekend! 


I won't be posting tomorrow (unless trees suddenly develop wireless capabilities) however I DID record a vlog that I've scheduled to go up on Sunday! Yup, now you won't miss me as much ;).

There was a post that was supposed to fill this spot, but I know that the author has been ill and likely hasn't had the time to answer my interview questions. As a person who just got better, I feel that. Therefore I will simply post it when I get home and it's in my inbox.

So, I'm off! Don't miss me too much. If you do, you can always rewatch my ridiculous vlogs, or simply make snarky comments to yourself. It'll be like I never left.

HUGS!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Blog Tour: Other Sides - Book Review



 Media Type: Ebook
Title: Other Sides: 12 Webfiction Tales
Author: Multiple Authors
Publisher: Ergo Fiction
Pages: Paperback; 114
Release Date: October 14, 2010
Source: Publisher
-------------------------------------------------------
Genre: Multiple / Anthology of Webfiction

HDB Rating: 4 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Everyone who is looking for an awesome anthology with different types of fiction.

Add it on: Goodreads / Shelfari / Amazon / B&N
The advent of digital publishing has seen the rise of a new breed of writers: independent, experimental and unfettered by convention. This brand new anthology features a small sampling of these very writers, in a speculative fiction collection that will capture the imagination and dazzle the senses. The storytelling genius in this collection is most evidenced by its memorable characters: a young woman haunted by her ex-boyfriend's sweater, time travelers with a suspicious interest in babies, a gender-changing alien desperate to heal a loved one... In these stories, fourteen independent authors display the imagination, insight and wonderful originality that characterizes the unique world of online fiction.

When I was first asked to review Other Sides, I had to do a double take. I honestly had never heard of Webfiction before. Of course that made me all the more determined that I would read it. You know me.

Now? Now I'm a proud member of the Webfiction society. There isn't enough to say about how amazingly written these stories are, and how easy they are to become obsessed with. You meet the characters in a small installment and suddenly there is a burning need to find out more about them! Webfiction is, hands down, fantastic.

To get back to the actual anthology, Other Sides is an extremely engrossing read. There are stories from all across the Speculative Fiction universe, including my favorite: snarky alien races. The authors chosen for this anthology are some of the best out there. The writing is perfection, and the length of the stories is just enough to get you hooked before they leave you wanting more! Multiple cliffhangers anyone? My favorite story by far was that by MCM (who coincidentally will be interviewed on my blog tomorrow) titled "The Little Problem". I don't want to spoil it for you, but suffice it to say that I was literally laughing out loud as I read this one. Also, I now want a garden gnome.

There are 12 stories to sate your palette, and even if  you are a bit skeptical I can assure you that this is worth your time. Other Sides  is a brilliant anthology, and it is sure to bring new fans to the genre of Speculative Fiction and Webfiction!  That being said, if you are already a fan of Speculative Fiction you need to give this anthology a read. I promise you'll fall in love and bookmark all the websites to read more.




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.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday (12)

"Waiting on" Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine where we share upcoming releases that we just cannot wait for!

Tess is the exact opposite of her beautiful, athletic sister. And that’s okay. Kristina is the sporty one, Tess is the smart one, and they each have their place. Until Kristina is diagnosed with cancer. Suddenly Tess is the center of the popular crowd, everyone eager for updates. There are senior boys flirting with her. Yet the smiles of her picture-perfect family are cracking and her sister could be dying. Now Tess has to fill a new role: the strong one. Because if she doesn’t hold it together, who will?

Janet Gurtler tests the bonds of sisterhood in this moving debut that readers of Jodi Picoult and Sarah Dessen will savor.

--From Goodreads

Release Date: April 1, 2011

This book caught my eye first of all, because of the cover. It looks so haunting and matches the title perfectly. Then as I read the synopsis and knew that I was going to have to read this book. Just like Sarah Dessen books, it sounds like this is a look into the dark places that come along with cancer. How it affects a family. Books like this are always a hard read, but I feel like reading them makes me a stronger person :).

What's on your radar? Leave me a comment and I'll go visit!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Book Review: Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging: Confessions of Georgia Nicolson





She has a precocious 3-year-old sister who tends to leave wet nappies at the foot of her bed, an insane cat who is prone to leg-shredding "Call of the Wild" episodes, and embarrassing parents who make her want to escape to Stonehenge and dance with the Druids. No wonder 14-year-old Georgia Nicolson laments, "Honestly, what is the point?" A Bridget Jones for the younger set, Georgia records the momentous events of her life--and they are all momentous--in her diary, which serves as a truly hilarious account of what it means to be a modern girl on the cusp of womanhood. No matter that her particular story takes place in England, the account of her experiences rings true across the ocean (and besides, "Georgia's Glossary" swiftly eradicates any language barriers).

--From Goodreads

Cover Inspection:
Flat out, I am smitten with this cover! It's bright green, and the title just pops.

First Thoughts:
Georgia is HILARIOUS! This girl is only 13? She's fabulous. I'm hooked. Page 1.

***

My Review:
Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging is one of those books that I would not be able to read in public. Why? Well because I spent the majority of the book laughing so hard that tears were streaming out the corner of my eyes. Georgia Nicolson is fabulous! The perfect mixture of snarky and sweet, Georgia shines off the page and will capture the attention of anyone who cares to read about her insane life.

Written in the form of Georgia's journal, this book is all stream of consciousness and 100% hilarious. We see into her thoughts on boys, her parents, and her circle of friends. Like all girls at the age of 14, most of Georgia's writing inspiration comes from finding where she fits in the world of relationships. When she was ruminating over her first kiss, and tried to test it by kissing her hand, I laughed out loud! I will fully admit that I remember doing that. Each word on the page just made me love Georgia more and more. I'm hooked.

A "coming of age" story at it's heart, this is a perfect book for adolescent girls. Georgia is easy to connect with, and she goes through a lot of the same issues that they will be dealing with. I'm still not entirely sure whether this book would be considered MG or YA, although it does deal with a lot of topics that put it on that line. I think it is more the type of book that a parent would read first, then decide whether their child was ready for it!

Let's be honest. I loved this book so much that I cannot even put my words into coherent sentences. Did you know that there are more? I just found that out! More Georgia? I can't wait! I recommend this book with all my heart. If you haven't yet read it, give it a try. Just be prepared to laugh until your sides hurt. You've been warned.









Book Details
Title: Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging: Confessions of Georgia Nicolson
Author: Louise Rennison
Publisher: HarperCollins
Pages: Hardcover; 247
Source: Borrowed

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

Monday, October 18, 2010

Movie Review: Machete


Every once in a while I find a movie that I want to chat about with others, but unfortunately there's no one around. SO you, my dear reader friends, get to hear my commentary? Aren't you the lucky ones?

***



Am I the only one who thought this movie was a joke when it was a trailer in the Grindhouse double feature?

Not that I'm angry it's real! In fact I was pretty excited. 

Yes friends, side note on me, I'm a teenage guy at heart. I love TWSS jokes, I think death by decapitation is pretty darn cool and the more ridiculous a movie is the more likely I am to watch it. Now you know!

My thoughts? Machete was a whirl wind movie that literally flies by! At it's most superficial level it's an action filled ride with lots of fairly gory deaths. Danny Trejo is of course the perfect Machete, because he has that "I'm too bad-ass for you." kind of look about him. In this movie he SHINES. His very dry and acerbic wit just further compliments his overall persona. His weapon of choice? Why a machete of course! However when faced with a lack of one he is quite good at making due. Trust me.

Underneath this crazy ride is a hidden agenda though. I was kind of impressed with how well the social commentary about immigration into the United States (in this case Texas) was seamlessly placed into the movie. Luz (Michelle Rodriguez) runs an underground network that helps families immigrate into the U.S. She flies under the radar and places these people into new homes. My favorite part was that she mentions, multiple times, that she makes sure they pull their weight. Yes, they have jobs. Yes, they do their part. No, they don't mooch off of the government.

Overall I really liked this movie! There are some pretty ridiculous decapitation scenes that made me laugh out loud. Is that sad? I can't help it. Danny Trejo remains my favorite bad-ass of all time. If you're into action flicks and a bit of gratuitous violence, this is a movie you will love.


Book Review: Once In a Full Moon



Beware of a kiss under the full moon. It will change your life forever.

Celeste Parker is used to hearing scary stories about werewolves—Legend’s Run is famous for them. But when, after an unnerving visit with a psychic, she encounters a pack of wolves and gorgeous, enigmatic Brandon, she must discover whether his transformation is more than legend or just a trick of the shadows in the moonlight. Brandon may be Celeste’s hero, or he may be the most dangerous creature she could encounter in the woods of Legend’s Run.

The bestselling Vampire Kisses author, Ellen Schreiber, weaves together psychic predictions, generations-old secrets, a town divided, and the possibility of falling in love with a hot and heroic werewolf—the perfect formula for what happens...once in a full moon.

--From Goodreads

Cover Inspection:
I like it, but I don't love it. I was drawn in more by the synopsis than the cover for this book.

First Thoughts:
I like Celeste! She's sweet and funny. I support this.

***

My Review:
Once again, this is a much anticipated book that is still a bit far off from its publishing date. What does this mean? It means once again I will be writing you a non-spoiler review. If it isn't mentioned in the synopsis, I won't mention it here. Spoiler free. 

Let me begin by saying that Celeste was probably the most perfect protagonist I've ever met. What do I mean? Well this girl loves and accepts everyone. Oh I mean it, everyone. Right down to the one person that she shouldn't. I am only explaining this because it was hard not to like Celeste from the get go! She was so sugary sweet that I was drawn to her instantly. In fact, throughout the parts of the book I had trouble getting into, Celeste was my rock. She helped me stay connected to the overall story.

Now that I've explained that, let me say that this book wasn't exactly what I expected. By reading the synopsis we already know that Celeste falls in love with a boy named Brandon, and that this Brandon turns into a werewolf. Normal for a paranormal book, correct? Well not really. Without spoiling anything I can only say that I wasn't sure I liked the werewolf aspect of this book. Brandon was amazing, and a perfect compliment to Celeste, but he just didn't seem like the werewolf type. It was hard to picture him in that role and the addition of some other odd details just made it hard for me to fall in love with him.

I really did want to fall in love with this story. Part of me wanted to be sucked in by Celeste's struggle with Brandon and her friends, but the other part of me was bogged down by other issues. The story never seemed to lead where I hoped that it would go. Overall I can honestly say that I liked the story for the most part, and I liked each separate character. My qualm was that, as a group, the friends were so wholly different that their interactions sometimes were a bit awkward. Also Celeste's periodic naivety bugged me to no end. 

Sometimes I have to remember that I'm an older reader, and take a step back to look at the overall picture.

Would I recommend this as a read? Absolutely. I think there is a lot here that is enjoyable, and it is my opinion that if you are a "tween" reader you'll probably fall in love with this book! It's a quick, light read. The perfect book to curl up with before bedtime.









Book Details
Title: Once In a Full Moon
Author: Ellen Schreiber
Publisher: Katherine Tegan Books
 Pages: Hardcover; 304
  Source: Around the World Tours
  Release Date: January 1, 2011

Final Rating: 3 Keys to My Heart
[+/-] Click to see rating.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

In My Mailbox - First ever vlog & a GIVEAWAY!



Yup, you win my friends. I did a vlog!

I debated, I hemmed, I hawed, then I told myself to stop being ridiculous and just do it already.

I'm kind of sick, so I hope I don't look ridiculous.

I also apologize for the plethora of obnoxious things I may or may not do :). This is the first take. It's a bit gritty because, unlike all you cool people, I don't have a camera on my computer. So this is taken on my small video camera.

It's 100%, raw, uncut me.

You love me right?





Books Mentioned

For Review:
Contagion by Joanne Dahme
Cynthia's Attic by Mary Cunningham
The Ways of Khrem by Dr. Nathan Hillard

Bought:
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

From the library:
The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey
Going Bovine by Libba Bray


Love it? Hate it? Let me know :). 
If I do this again, I'm sure it will be better next time. Practice makes perfect!

Again, to enter the giveaways simply leave me a comment!

Include your name, email address and how you follow me.

Both giveaways end November 1 at 11pm PST.

INTERNATIONAL PEEPS:
You know the drill. Willing to pay extra shipping? You're totally welcome to enter to win the books!

Swag giveaway is open to ALL!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Random Books: The Love Edition


Welcome to another edition of Random Books! This is a feature where I type a chosen word into the Goodreads search bar, and choose three books that catch my eye. You then get the random thoughts that go through my head as I learn about the book.

It's a fun way to discover new books!

***


The Gallagher Academy for Exceptional Young Women is a fairly typical all-girls school—that is, if every school teaches advanced martial arts in PE, chemistry always consists of the latest in chemical warfare, and everyone breaks CIA codes for extra credit in computer class. So in truth, while the Gallagher Academy might say it's a school for geniuses what they really mean is spies. But what happens when a Gallagher Girl falls for a boy who doesn't have a code name?

Cammie Morgan may be fluent in fourteen languages and capable of killing a man in seven different ways (three of which involve a piece of uncooked spaghetti), but the Gallagher Academy hasn't prepared her for what to do when she meets an ordinary boy who thinks she's an ordinary girl. Sure, she can tap his phone, hack into his computer, and track him through a mall without him ever being the wiser, but can she have a regular relationship with a regular boy who can never know the truth about her? Cammie may be an elite spy in training, but in her sophomore year, she's doing something riskier than ever—she's falling in love.

--From Goodreads

My Thoughts: 
Yes, yes I know I'm a horrible person. I haven't yet read an Ally Carter book despite hearing how amazing they are!

Wow, this cover is pretty freaking awesome.

She's a sophomore and she's a spy? COOL!

***

For Rob Sheffield, that time was one of miraculous love and unbearable grief. A time that spanned seven years, it started when he met the girl of his dreams, and ended when he watched her die in his arms. Using the listings of fifteen of his favorite mix tapes, Rob shows that the power of music to build a bridge between people is stronger than death. You’ll read these words, perhaps surprisingly, with joy in your heart and a song in your head—the one that comes to mind when you think of the love of your life.

--From Goodreads

My Thoughts:
This sounds adorable and extremely sad at the same time.

When was the last time that I made a mix tape? Does the fact that I ever made a mix tape make me old?

Books like this make me smile because they show the power of music.

***

John Galardi is a loner, unable to express his feelings except in the pages of his zine, "Bananafish." He finds inspiration in another zine, "Escape Velocity," created by Marisol Guzman, a self-proclaimed "rich spoiled lesbian private-school gifted-and-talented writer virgin." Her sharp observations make John laugh out loud and he decides he must meet this witty author. By planting himself in Tower Records the day she drops off the latest issue, John manages to arrange a coffee date that extends over several Saturday mornings. They discuss everything from John's inability to feel and his parent's divorce to Marisol's problems with her suffocating adoptive parents. When Marisol casually tells John that she likes him, he is flabbergasted: "Honest to God a shiver ran through my body... Nobody ever said that they liked me. Ever. Not even [my friend] Brian, who probably actually doesn't." After a disastrous "just friends" junior prom date and a weekend zine conference spent together, John realizes that his feelings for Marisol are more than platonic. And Marisol, who is exploring her identity as a young lesbian, has no idea how to let John down gently without losing her new best friend.

--From Goodreads

My Thoughts:
First off, why didn't I ever find this before? See THIS is why I love "Random Books".

This sounds funny and poignant. I'm going to have to find a copy.

Isn't this cover totally awesome? It's what caught my eye!

***

Have you read any of these books? If so shout out in the comments!
All these books have now been added to my TBR pile :). 


Friday, October 15, 2010

Time to do some hopping and following!

Book Blogger Hop

Today's question is:

When you read a book that you just can't get into, do you stick it out and keep reading or move to your next title?

I subscribe to the rule that if I'm not smitten with a book within 100 pages, I put it aside in favor of another book! Why? There are way too many books out there that I want to read to slog through a book that I'm really not feeling. Don't judge me....I see that look.

Of course there have been exceptions for me, especially with ARC tours. If I'm given a book for review I'll finish it. Even if it drives me mad, I'll finish it.

Am I insane? Possibly. That's why you follow me right?




What is your reading suggestion this week?

DELIRIUM!!! Yes, I know it's not out yet, but if you haven't put it on your TBR pile....do it now. I'll wait. Seriously. This book was so amazing that I literally gasped when I finished reading it, and now I'm fully in love with Lauren Oliver. You can read my review if you'd like, it's spoiler free. (I hate spoilers.) Or just go and fawn over the beautiful cover as you await the release date. Delirium is worth the wait!


If you stop by from either hop, please leave me a comment! I'll go and visit you!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Fanatic Report 7


Oh man, when was the last time that I actually did one of these? I'm pretty sure it's been a month. Sorry all! Did ya miss it? I hope so!

Bringing you all the news you need to know from around the blogosphere!

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From the home base, here is what you need to know this week.

* If you've been hiding under a rock somewhere and haven't yet noticed, I'm giving away a copy of Paranormalcy! It ends October 31st, so enter now, here!

* My blog design packages are up AND I've taught myself to do animated buttons! Want something cool to jazz up your blog? Give me a holler!

* I made a cover for a Nightshade Cover Recreation Contest and would love some feedback. Good or bad honestly, it helps me build my skills.


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* If you had questions about NetGalley, or were wondering how to get those darn eGalleys onto your Ipod/Ipad, Parajunkee is here to help!

* Again, if you've been hiding under that rock you've probably missed The Story Siren's weekly spotlight on publishing houses. She gets the hard questions answered about requesting ARCs, so you don't have to be in the dark anymore!

* I liked this article on commenting, although it's geared more towards authors. What do you think?


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* Did you hear? The Twilight hand model (yes the woman whose real hands are on the cover) has come forward and is looking for some fame. Can you blame her? Her hands are immortalized!

* I honestly had no idea that YA Graphic Novels existed out there, but now my interest is totally peaked.

* What is "Women's Literature" to you? I wasn't sure, but after reading this article I feel like I've been set pretty straight.

* Apparently sales of picture books are on the decline, since parents are pushing their children harder. NO! I love picture books, even at 26. It's true.


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* Some inspiration for you? Take a look inside the home of John and Sarah Green! It's amazing! I want to move in with them, seriously.

* Kiersten White says it doesn't matter what genre you love to write, as long as you OWN IT.

* Have writer's block? Here are some techniques for dealing with that sucker!

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* If you were curious about the difference between Middle Grade and Young Adult fiction, or if you know someone who needs it explained to them, here is your article.

* Bored? You can always watch this awesome video compiling some famous last words in movies. How many movies can you name?

* My all time favorite food website, EpiCute, featured this "Ice Cream Sandwich" that I just love.


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Even though the video is a little odd, I'm now in love with this song. Thank you Travis!



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Hope you enjoyed! If you loved a link, let me know!

Blog Tour: The Ice Cream Theory - Book Review



Media Type: Print Book
Title: The Ice Cream Theory
Author: Steff Deschenes
Publisher: Booksurge Publishing
Pages: Paperback; 282
Release Date: July 14, 2009
Source: Pump Up Your Book Promotions
---------------------------------------------
Genre: Memoir

HDB Rating: 4 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Readers looking for an upbeat and "sweet" memoir.


Add it on: Goodreads / Shelfari / Amazon / B&N
Steff Deschenes first hatched her ice cream theory when she was sixteen and in the throes of that singular, devastating phenomenon known as first heartbreak. In the midst of her grief, she realized that, in the same way humans have ice-cream preferences, humans have people preferences. Like ice cream flavors, social preferences shift based on age, experience, even mood. There are exotic flavors that one craves when feeling daring, comforting flavors to fall back on, flavors long-enjoyed that eventually wear out their welcome, and those unique flavors that require an acquired taste. Like people, no ice cream flavor is perfect every single time…and it is in this realization that the crux of Deschenes’s theory lies. The Ice Cream Theory celebrates the variety of life, a charming “mockumentary” that makes a light-hearted addition to any self-help bookshelf. It’s a must-read for anyone bruised by life’s tough lessons and in need of a cheerful pick-me-up.

I'll say it. I'm a sucker for ice cream. Sweets in general really, but ice cream remains my absolute favorite sweet treat out there. I'll eat it in the middle of winter, happily, while I shiver under a blanket. Yup, I'm a glutton for punishment! So when I saw that this book was being offered for review, and I read the synopsis, I knew that I would have to read it. People and ice cream? Amazing!

The best part about this book is the way that it is set up. Steff Deschenes spends the first chapter explaining her theory, and then each subsequent chapter describes a flavor and compares it to a person. It's amazing how accurate she is! Although she does mention how everyone will see her parallels differently, I was in agreement with everything that she wrote. It's hard not to be when her stories pull you back into times in your past. Kind of like a sweetly driven road-trip to childhood. Her stories are the perfect mixture of heartfelt and fun.

Each of one the chapters is amazingly written, and extremely fun! Perky might be a good word. Steff made me laugh out loud with her writing, especially when she would go off on random tangents. The people she brings to life in her stories really made an impression on me and, like I mentioned above, reminded me of people I've lost and found in my own life. I was really smitten with her mention of the fact that we loose, gain, and loose friends often in our lives. I used to feel bad about that, but this book reminded me that it is a normal occurrence.

I think the reason I connected so much with The Ice Cream Theory is because I see a lot of parallels to my own life. A reader needs to go into this book with an open mind and heart. If you appreciate a good, witty read, you'll love this book! Recommended to lovers of ice cream, and people who would just like a good laugh.



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.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Blog Tour: The Ice Cream Theory - Steff Deschenes' Guest Post



Today I am more than pleased to welcome Steff Deschenes, author of The Ice Cream Theory, to my blog! 


Her book is pure cuteness at the surface, but it has an underlying hard truth to it I loved! You'll get the full review tomorrow so stop back by! For now though, I'll give the floor to Steff and let her carry you away with her amazing wit and love of ice cream.

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I created something called The Ice Cream Theory when I was a teenager which became an twelve-time award winning book in my twenties. It was my own unique way of studying and defining the relationships I had with people by comparing their personality traits to ice cream flavors. And, like ice cream flavors, social preferences shift based on age, experience, and even mood. There are exotic flavors that one craves when feeling daring, comforting flavors to fall back on, flavors long-enjoyed that eventually wear out their welcome, and those unique flavors that require an acquired taste. Like people, no ice cream flavor is perfect every single time.

And while I had a ridiculous amount of fun appointing ice cream flavors to the people in my world, I never put much thought into people’s assessment of what flavor I might represent to them and the why behind it.

It’s a strange thing having your own theory reversed on you!

The great thing about perception though is that it’s different from person to person to person. How my mom sees me is certainly going to be different than an ex-boyfriend sees me! Regardless, it’s always interesting to understand how other people view you. And when friends and family have volunteered their personal insight using The Ice Cream Theory as the metaphor to explain what they think about me, I’m always a little nervous.

For example, an ex-boyfriend told me that his perfect flavor was dark chocolate ice cream. “And you embody dark chocolate ice cream,” he explained. I quickly realized that his affections for me were much more serious than I thought. While I was under the impression we were having a light-hearted rendezvous, he perceived me as his perfect woman/flavor. I jumped ship from that relationship real fast.

A friend described me as “Pumpkin Oreo” ice cream. Her reasoning: not only is pumpkin seasonal, but the combination of pumpkin and Oreo is VERY difficult to find. To her, pumpkin is homey feeling, it’s comfortable, and it makes her smile. Add the Oreo to it and it becomes an unexpected treat! “You are that for me,” she explained. “Homey and smiley, but with the unique quirk of Oreo that makes you unexpected. I don't get to see you often, but when I do I can't get enough of you and I can't bear to part with you.” Our relationship was instantly strengthened after hearing how fond of me she really was.

Finally, my last boyfriend once told me that he thought I was like “chocolate chip cookie dough with raspberry ice cream.” His reasoning was that I have a soft, comfy, homey side (the cookie dough) with bits of hidden talents all over (the chocolate chips) with a totally sassy attitude (the raspberry base) on top of it all. I liked his deconstruction of the ice cream, but am not totally enthralled with the actual flavor itself.

Despite being the creator of The Ice Cream Theory, I still have to remind myself not to take things so personally or literally. Especially after hearing people take my Theory and use it against, scratch that, towards me!

This is just another person’s concept on people and relationships, meant to be interpreted and perceived differently by different people. I hope you, like the people in my life have, take it and run with it. And have fun! It’s ice cream after all!

And ice cream was never meant to be taken seriously.

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Bio 

Despite a failed attempt at majoring in ice cream in college, Steff Deschenes is a self-taught ice-cream guru. After publishing the now twelve-time award-winning The Ice Cream Theory, she began exploring food on a more universal level. As a result, she now photo blogs daily herself at dinner and the challenges of being a vegetarian in a predominantly seafood-oriented state. Steff also writes two articles a week entitled “Maybe It’s Me” (personal essays and reflection on life and the living of it) and “Fact Is Better” (real life conversations she couldn’t make up if she tried); all of which can be found at www.steffdeschenes.com.

And to learn more about her book The Ice Cream Theory visit www.theicecreamtheory.com.


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