Sunday, October 30, 2011

Want a good scare? Try these!

It's about that time!

Horror movies are a passion of mine, and there's nothing I love more than the month of October. I'm not the type to stick to only the big budget type of films. No matter what it is, if it has screams, I'm in! 

Just in time for Halloween, here are some of my favorites that you may or may not have heard of. Enjoy and happy screaming!

Trick 'R Treat (2007)
Four interwoven stories that occur on Halloween: An everyday high school principal has a secret life as a serial killer; a college virgin might have just met the one guy for her; a group of teenagers pull a mean prank; a woman who loathes the night has to contend with her holiday-obsessed husband. 
This movie is one of my favorites for a lot of reasons, but I'll spare you the bulk and boil it down to this: balance. Trick R' Treat pays homage to anthology titles of old, by tying together 4 separate stories, and it does it well. There is dark humor, a little bit of spookiness, and the right amount of blood and gore.

The main premise?  Don't mess with Halloween, or Halloween will mess with you.

Drag Me To Hell (2009)
A loan officer who evicts an old woman from her home finds herself the recipient of a supernatural curse. Desperate, she turns to a seer to try and save her soul, while evil forces work to push her to a breaking point.
If you haven't seen this movie yet and you're a horror movie lover, shame on you! Get to it. This Sam Raimi masterpiece was one of the few recent movies that really made me shiver. It is meant to be slightly funny, and it doesn't take itself too seriously, which I loved. The visuals? Well let's just say gore/gross out is a factor here.

Sam Raimi doesn't just tell you a story, he grabs you and sucks you into the darkness.

Rec (2007)
REC urns on a young TV reporter and her cameraman who cover the night shift at the local fire station. Receiving a call from an old lady trapped in her house, they reach her building to hear horrifying screams -- which begin a long nightmare and a uniquely dramatic TV report.
If you are thinking this sounds a lot like Quarantine, yep. In true American style, we stole this movie (literally shot for shot) from Rec. However if you get a chance, see this instead (or also). Rec is pure terror and suspense all wrapped up into a movie that will have you panting for breath.

Want something to keep you up at night? Here you go.

Mirrors (2008)
An ex-cop and his family are the target of an evil force that is using mirrors as a gateway into their home.
Yes, this was on my list last year, but you know what? It's one of my all time favorites! It's campy yes. Kind of funny at times yes. However it still never ceases to get my attention when it's on. After all, how terrifying is it to think that seeing your reflection, something we do multiple times a day, might kill you? Atmospheric suspense draws you in to this movie. Watch out or you might find yourself sitting right up near the television.

Are you okay with blood and brutality? This one is probably for you.

Paranormal Activity (2007)
After moving into a suburban home, a couple becomes increasingly disturbed by a nightly demonic presence.
Okay who am I kidding. If you haven't heard of this movie (or the two sequels) you must be living under a rock. That, however, does not negate how wonderfully chilling they really are.

In a world of werewolves, vampires and zombies, it's not often a movie really really scares me anymore. This one? I couldn't sleep at all after watching it. Demons are SCARY. Create a documentary (based on reality) about these demons?

I'm terrified and hooked. I've seen all 3.


I also have to give a shout out to:

Night Watch (2004)
A fantasy-thriller set in present-day Moscow where the respective forces that control daytime and nighttime do battle.
This isn't a horror movie  per say, but it's pretty gosh darn weird, creepy, and as the poster says "Cool as Hell!". No seriously, it really is. If you're a fan of vampires, this is a movie you need to see. You'll have to read some subtitles, but trust me it's so worth it. The battles in this movie are epic, and some of the scenes are so mind bending that you'll just sit there and stare with your mouth open thinking... WHAT? Wrap that up in wonderfully written plot lines, and you've got me.

If you aren't a fan of overly bloody deaths, welcome to your movie!

Have any more scary movies you'd like to give a shout out to? Leave them in the comments!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Book Review: Practice Cake

Media Type: Digital Book
Title: Practice Cake
Author: Dalya Moon
Publisher: Self-published
Pages: Ebook; 175
Release Date: October 20, 2011
Source: Author
Intended Reading Group: Young Adult
Content Screening: No more than mild flirting!
HDB Rating: 5 Keys to My Heart
Recommended to: Readers who love a strong and beautifully flawed teenager character.

Add it on: Goodreads / Shelfari / Amazon

There’s one thing Maddie finds more tempting than red velvet cake: her coworker, Drew. All it takes is one of his sly winks or a playful hip-check by the cooler, and she’s incinerating the cookies. Her boyfriend would not approve.

When a reality TV crew descends upon the bakery, her simple summer job gets even more complicated. Maddie could become the Bakery Network’s next breakout star, if she can handle the heat of being cast as a show villain. Drew has an alternate idea: run away from everything, with him and his sexy tousled hair. She decides to take the leap, but when she finds out Drew’s been hiding a shocking secret, Maddie looks down at her packed suitcase and takes a moment to think. Should she fly off to Australia with a guy she hardly knows, or should she pick up her suitcase and hit him with it?

I hereby profess my love for Maddie, the lovable protagonist of Practice Cake. See Maddie isn't sure where her life is taking her, but she does know that for now baking is something she really enjoys doing. Being around all those gorgeous cakes and pastries is pure heaven. Of course, it doesn't hurt that her coworker is rather yummy himself! Never mind the fact that her current boyfriend thinks it's a waste of time. What does he know? Maddie is a teenage girl at her best and worst, all at the same time. She's perfectly flawed, hilariously honest, and I loved every minute of reading about her struggle to just figure herself out.

The people who drift in and out of her life really craft the person Maddie is, and I can't explain enough how fantastic it all is. You'll just have to read for yourself. Maddie and her friends are constantly bickering and joking. Their personalities shine off the page. There isn't a single character in Practice Cake who isn't given the same love and attention as Maddie herself. They are all well formed and wonderfully flawed themselves. Jealousy, pettiness, it's all there in black and white.

My favorite part overall though? The humor! Let me share with you one of my favorite quotes from the book. Jaslene and Maddie have some great conversations, but this one made me giggle out loud.

Jaslene was already twirling one of her long, dark ringlets and reading an article titled, Ten Things Your Guy Really Wants.

I pointed to the magazine, and said to Jaslene, "The answer is nine dumb girls and a double-bacon cheeseburger."

It's really the honesty in this book that allowed me to be so immersed in it. As I mentioned above, Dalya Moon gives her all her characters flaws. It makes them so much more realistic. Whether it's a hot boy, a best friend, or a popular girl turned mother, each character has their personality that shines off the page. I fell in love with each an every one of them, even as they drove me crazy with their decisions. Maddie learns a lot in this book, and it's all thanks to the author who allowed her to be so honest with the reader. Thanks for that Dalya!

So as you can plainly tell, I adored this book! One of my favorite things about discovering a particularly delicious self-published book, is that I get to scream it's praises to you, my dear followers. Practice Cake and Dalya Moon definitely fall into this category. I ate this book up. Great characters, fantastic story line, ample humor, it's all there! If you are looking for something light, sweet, but with a purpose, welcome to your next read.

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.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Giveaway: Destined - Book 9 in the House of Night Series

It's Giveaway Time!

The much anticipated 9th book in the House of Night series is here! Destined continues the story of Zoe Redbird and her compatriots. Thanks to Zeitghost Media, you can win a copy of this awesome book!

In Destined, the forces of Light and Dark collide as their epic struggle focuses on Tulsa's House of Night. Zoey is home where she belongs, safe with her Guardian Warrior, Stark, by her side and preparing to face off against Neferet. Kalona has released his hold on Rephaim, and, through Nyx's gift of a human form, he and Stevie Rae are finally able to be together if Rephaim can truly walk the path of the Goddess and stay free of his father's shadow.

But is Zoey really safe? Does she truly know those who are closest to her? And will love win when it is tested by the very soul of Darkness? Find out what s destined in the next thrilling chapter of the House of Night series.

How about some trailer goodness?

Now you want it, yes?

To enter, you must be a U.S. resident and FILL OUT THIS FORM.

Giveaway ends November 4, 2011.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

This or That? with Estevan Vega

In the world of authors, it's all about standing out. Making a spot for yourself. To me, Estevan Vega has totally done that! He has this aura of coolness about him, that's a bit hard to describe. I've reviewed one of his books, and am currently reading two more, and there is one thing that never changes. His awesome writing. It's always there to pull you in and keep you reading.

I think that in this particular game of This or That? Estevan totally shows that side of himself. He's here to promote his newest sequel, Ashes, which you should definitely check out. In the meantime, here's his post.

Tennis shoes or boots. I assume by tennis shoes we're not talkin' Wimbledon style. I have some friends down south and they call sneakers tennis shoes. I don't get it, but I'll forgive you. But yeah, I think I'd have to go with tennis shoes. I like boots, but a lot of times they are uncomfortable. They are definitely a cool style, however, and I plan to get a pair soon, but for now...sneaks is where it's at.

Beach or Mountain. Beach. More pretty people. For some reason, when I think of the possibility of life up in the mountains, the only thing that comes to mind are groups of cannibals and chicks who can't get to a mountain Walmart and thus, can't shave. Lord, have mercy!

Blonde or Redhead. It's interesting you should ask this one. My brothers and father were talking recently about which was "better," and I use that term loosely. Also, I feel like answering this question in any other fashion other're all God's children and thus, are all beautiful, just wouldn't be right. Not to mention, it's kind of unfair not to include brunettes. But anywho...I'll risk being thrown to the wolves and say that I think my first inclination is to say blonde, because, they're just awesome. Nevertheless, every girl I've had a crush on who was within reach has been a brunette. Go figure. Still, there are some really, really beautiful redheads, like Bryce Dallas Howard. That's what's awesome about human beings; there are beautiful qualities in all of us. And cue the corny Hallmark commercial.

But seriously...I've seen hot versions in all sizes, colors, and temperaments. You all rock!

Rock or Pop. Rock. Every time. Soft rock. Melodic Rock. Alternative Rock. Hard Rock. Screaming Rock. They all rock!

Tamales or Enchiladas...Um...why choose? Quiero a los dos, por favor.

Train or Plane. Plane. While the whole ear-popping, chewing gum and hoping not to hit too much turbulence does kinda suck, plane travel is much quicker and just easier, in my opinion. I'm heading to Idaho today, actually, to speak at the Idaho Book Extravaganza this weekend, and if I were to take a train, it would take soooo much longer than the plane travel time. It's still kinda crazy that I'll be traveling in three different time zones in one day.

Pegasus or Hippogriff...I'd probably go with a Hippogriff. It just sounds tougher and meaner, and it looks like an experiment gone wrong. Perfect sidekick.

Sharpie or Pen: I like pens, but I like the inky kind, not the Bic kind. When I'm signing books, it's gotta be the good kind. I've tried signing books with Sharpies, and it's just not as awesome. They're good for posters, though.

Laptop or Desktop. Laptop. It's portable. Which means, depending on my mood, I can write from anywhere.

Past or Future. Some time in between. After all...I get the feeling that we're already living in sci-fi sometimes.

Ebook or Paperback. The book world is constantly changing, especially now with all of the devices available for reading books. While I do believe eventually we'll get to being a society like Rollerball, where everything is digital and there are virtually no more books, we're not there yet. I still love books, like I love CDs, but being able to download an album is a lot like being able to download a book. They both have their purpose, and they're both great. And right now, both ARSON and its sequel ASHES are available in ebook format and paperback format. Go snag that ish.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Book Review: Spartacus and the Circus of Shadows

Media Type: Print Book
Title: Spartacus and the Circus of Shadows
Author: Molly E. Johnson
Publisher: RainTown Press
Pages: Hardcover; 320
Release Date: October 26, 2011
Source: Publisher
Intended Reading Group: Middle Grade
Content Screening: Mild violence, dark humor
HDB Rating: 4 Keys to My Heart
Recommended to: Older MG readers and younger YA readers who love a good adventure!

Add it on: Goodreads / Publisher's Site
When Spartacus Ryan “Poop Lip” Zander finds his house destroyed and his wacko, Human Cannonball mother missing, it’s obvious that she’s been kidnapped by Bartholomew’s World-Renowned Circus of the Incredible. But when his dad and brother refuse to believe it—because they’re morons, obviously—it’s up to Spartacus to be the hero.

With the Internet-wizardry of his best friend and clues from his mom’s postcards, Spartacus sets out on a zany, west coast rescue mission. But as the stories about the circus get stranger (and Spart’s enemies get weirder), he realizes the only way to bring his family back together is to bring the big top down, once and for all.

Spartacus, or Ryan as he prefers to be called (since it's more "normal"), is quite the main character. I see a lot of MG readers falling in step with him instantly. See his life isn't easy. His mom has disappeared to the circus, he's pretty sure she was kidnapped, but no one else seems to care. Spartacus has no one on his side. Will, his older brother, is a mean and spiteful person. His dad doesn't seem to want to listen. What is a boy to do? Luckily, he has his best friend's technological skills to help, and so off he goes on a wild adventure.

I really enjoyed the humor in this book. It's a little more dark then I'm used to in books for this age group, but there isn't anything that's over the top. The zany adventures that Spartacus is privy to are hilarious, and most of the time really interesting. He's constantly trusting people that he probably shouldn't, and in way over his head. In fact, it is the other characters that pop in  and out of this story that make it so fantastic. Molly E. Johnson has found the perfect balance between eccentric characters, and a moral story.

I also really loved Spartacus as a character, specifically. He was always a bit afraid of what was coming next, but willing to face it head on when it came to his mom. The character growth from the beginning to the end in this book is wonderful! It was the ending that really got me, and I won't spoil it one bit for you. Let's just say that things aren't always what them seem. To a young boy on an adventure though, everything is exciting! If you have a younger reader, and are looking for a funny and adventurous read, Spartacus and the Circus of Shadows is a great choice!

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.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Warning: Sappiness ahead. Things I've realized part 2.

The  Phantom Tollbooth first sparked my imagination as a reader. Up until then I had liked books, but after falling into Norton Juster's world I loved them. Ate them up. Weekly trips to the library saw me bringing home the max 15 books we were allowed to check out at one time, and reading fervently until they were due back.

I was officially a bibliophile. Tried and true. From age 8 on, it was a never-ending obsession of mine, and I unashamedly admitted it to everyone.

Then I found the book blogging world and decided to try my hand at becoming a part of it. Do you know how good it feels to know that someone else cares what you think? Even if they don't always agree. It's a good feeling to share what you love.

Anyway I ramble, I did have a point.

Time is an evil culprit. Recently I've started working 40 hours a week from working roughly 22 before. Trust me, it was a HUGE learning process. On top of that I was swamped with family issues, celebrating being engaged, and then it hit me....

I'm only one person.

I was taking on way too much. So this is me saying, I'm still here, and I plan to be for as long as I can. I love my blog. I love all of you and your witty comments. (Sappy I know, but true.) I might not be posting as frequently as I did before, although I'll try my best I promise you that. I'm here though, and I still appreciate you.

I officially stepped down from working with The {Teen} Book Scene, and am only helping out the other wonderful people there whenever they need me. I stopped accepting as many review requests so I can read slower and catch up on reviews. I even cut down on my internet time which is why you might not see me here as much.

BUT I'm still here.

I'm just reevaluating things and making my new schedule work for me. Life is only worth living if you do what you love, and I love this. You can't get rid of me that easily ;).

Big hugs for all of you,

Saturday, October 22, 2011

A giveaway just for all you WRITERS out there!

I am one of the minority it seems, in the book blog world. I'm just a reader, not so much a writer. Well, unless you count the copious ramblings I shoot off on here semi-daily? Then, perhaps.

Without YOU however my friends, those people who love to spin a good tale and put it up for others to enjoy, there would simply be nothing for me to read. So, I salute you! I also want to help.

That's why when I was approached by Prufrock Press to review Seize the Story: A Handbook for Teens Who Like to Write, I asked them instead if I could offer up those copies to all of YOU! They sweetly said yes. Lucky ducks, you.


Up for grabs are 3 (yes THREE) copies of Seize the Story: A Handbook for Teens.

Do you wish you had a published writer's secrets at your fingertips, ready to help you achieve your goals of publication, success, and the chance to be the next great teen writer? In Seize the Story: A Handbook for Teens Who Like to Write, Victoria Hanley, award-winning author of young adult fiction, spills the secrets for bringing action, adventure, humor, and drama to stories. All of the elements of fiction, from creating believable dialogue to exciting plots, are laid out clearly and illustrated with examples taken straight from story excerpts by excellent writers. The book is packed with writing exercises designed to encourage teens to tell the stories that are theirs alone.

In addition, other published authors of young adult literature share their insights about the writing life. Teens can gain firsthand advice from accomplished writers T. A. Barron, Joan Bauer, Hilari Bell, Chris Crutcher, David Lubar, Lauren Myracle, Todd Mitchell, Nancy Garden, and many more.

You must be in the U.S. or Canada to win!

Fill out THIS FORM to enter.

Good luck! The giveaway ends October 28, 2011.

Friday, October 21, 2011

This or That? Starring Molly E. Johnson!

Please welcome to the blog the fantastic Molly E. Johnson, the author of Spartacus and the Circus of Shadows. (Cue massive applause.) Yes, I do think this book has a fantastic title and yes, I did choose to read it because of that. I admit it.

Anyway Molly is stopping by for a quick game of THIS OR THAT in honor of her book tour! Take some time to get to know her better, and then click that link up there and zip over to add the book to your TBR list. It's worth it!

Shoes or Sandals?

Sandals. I like having the ability to slip out of my shoes at a moment’s notice and walk barefoot outside. I agree it’s not very hygienic, but feet do clean easier than shoes…

Hamburgers or Hotdogs?

Can I choose veggie burgers? I’m not a vegetarian, but there is something about a veggie burger…guilt-free AND greasy bliss? Perfecto.

Paperbacks or Hardbacks?

Paperbacks all the way. I can buy three paperbacks for the price of one hardback and then beat the heck out of it, packing it around. Whenever I can’t resist and buy a handsome hardback, I always take the cover off so I don’t ruin it—and then I somehow end up ruining both the book AND the cover anyway. Besides, hardback books are heavy and you’re limited by how many you can carry and how long you can hold it above your head.

Summer or Winter?

Summer is only a month and a half long in Portland, so it’s strange to admit that I like winter. I get to catch up on my reading and sleeping and eating and watching movies without thinking I’m taking the sun for granted.

Typing or Hand Writing?

Typing. I have terrible handwriting and get a hand cramp just writing in birthday cards.

Ice Cream or Frozen Yogurt?

Winter: Ice cream. Summer: Frozen yogurt. It’s a swimsuit thing.

Snail Mail or Email?

Email. That way I can save everything forever without having to learn how to install hanging files in my filing cabinet.

Dogs or Cats?

Cats. I enjoy having a pet that really doesn’t have time for me.

Zombies or Vampires?

Vampires—they’re prettier to look at and can be reasoned with. Sort of.

Dancing or Singing?

Either, but only when alone. Or in the dark. Alone AND in the dark is preferable. (This is starting to sound like that one-liner you see on every mom’s About You section on Facebook: “Dance [and sing] like you’re alone in an abandoned warehouse and no one is around for miles,” …or something like that.)

Molly E. Johnson is the author of Spartacus and the Circus of Shadows, a middle grade novel from RainTown Press. 

A huge thank you to Molly for playing along! Make sure to give her book a peek!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Book Review: If I Tell

Media Type: Print Book
Title: If I Tell
Author: Janet Gurtler
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Pages: Paperback; 256
Release Date: October 1, 2011
Source: NetGalley
Intended Reading Group: Young Adult
Content Screening: Mild language
HDB Rating: 5 Keys to My Heart
Recommended to: Readers who enjoy realistic fiction with a lot of heart.

Add it on: Goodreads / Shelfari / Librarything / Amazon / B&N

Jasmine Evans knows one thing for sure... people make mistakes. After all, she is one. Jaz is the result of a onenight stand between a black football player and a blonde princess. Having a young mother who didn't raise her, a father who wants nothing to do with her and living in a small-minded town where she's never fit in hasn't been easy. But she's been surviving. Until she sees her mom's new boyfriend making out with her own best friend. When do you forgive people for being human or give up on them forever?

Jaz has secrets. Deep secrets that she is afraid to share with anyone else. After all, she has been let down and ostracized before. Who's to say that by letting anyone new in it won't happen again? Cue a story that is stunningly written, and heartrendingly intriguing. From page one I was involved in Jaz's life. I read long into the night, unwilling to stop until I flipped that very last page.

One of the reasons I've fallen in love with contemporary fiction is how amazing and real the characters can be. In If I Tell, Janet Gurtler shows this beautifully with each character that she builds. Jaz and the people around her are all vivid depictions of teenage life. In fact, Jaz herself is a character that I don't see very often but hope to see more of. Raised by her grandmother in a small, and rather racially prejudice, town Jaz has it tough. She constantly feels bullied by her peers, and doesn't feel like she really fits in anywhere. For Jaz, being biracial isn't something to be proud of. It's just another bump in her road to fitting in and leading a "normal" life.

To add it it all, her life happens to be populated with some rather interesting and unique people. There's Lacey, an older girl whose promiscuity and drinking habits hide a dark past. There's Simon, the boyfriend that Jaz isn't sure her mother should have, especially after what she witnessed. Then there is sweet Jackson. The boy who is labeled a "bad boy" by all the people around him, but who doesn't quite seem to fit the bill. Each one of these characters leads Jaz on her road to self-discovery, and helps her learn that what is on the outside is only a small part of what a person truly is.

Truth be told, this book deals with a lot of really tough themes that I think need to be addressed for teens. Janet Gurtler doesn't sugar coat anything at all, which I really admired her for. Racial prejudice, broken families, and isolation are all addressed in this book. Jaz's life isn't easy, and it's through this struggle that we get to see her grow. However things aren't all stormy. There are also themes of love, self-worth, and even understanding woven in as well. If I Tell is a delightfully balanced book from start to finish. It's the type that will have you smiling one moment, and tearing up the next.

Overall this was a quick, sweet, and amazing read. As I said I read it straight through and loved every minute of it! Jaz is a character that I really fell in love with. I hope to see more like her, and thank Janet Gurtler for letting me meet her in the first place.

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.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Book Review: Fathermucker

Media Type: Print Book
Title: Fathermucker
Author: Greg Olear
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Pages: Paperback; 312
Release Date: October 4, 2011
Source: TLC Book Tours
Intended Reading Group: Adult
Genre: Fiction
HDB Rating: 5 Keys to My Heart
Recommended to: Stay at home parents, or those who appreciate the plight of stay at home parents! Be warned, there is some "language".

Add it on: Goodreads / Shelfari / Librarything /Amazon / B&N
A day in the life of a dad on the brink: Josh Lansky—second-rate screenwriter, fledgling freelancer, and stay-at-home dad of two preschoolers—has held everything together while his wife is away on business . . . until this morning’s playdate, when he finds out through the mommy grapevine that she might be having an affair. What Josh needs is a break. He’s not going to get one.

Josh Lansky is a SAHD. Yep. That stands for Stay-At-Home-Dad, but lets just say that it isn't the only thing that acronym implies. Fathermucker is just the best kind of novel. It's a fictional story, but one that so many people will connect with! Mothers, fathers, people who aren't even parents but work with children. Each person will find their own hilarious piece of this Josh's story to fall in love with.

Greg Olear manages to squeeze every minute and mundane detail about a day in the life of a stay at home parent into this book. Being a person who is not yet married, and one who hasn't started a family yet, I was afraid I wouldn't be able to really immerse myself in Fathermucker. Wrong. Maybe it's my history of working with children, but I found myself cracking up during Josh Lansky's comments about his daily life. From debating on whether or not to shower or eat (there's never time for both), to his inner thoughts on the people around him, I fell in love with every aspect of his musings. Josh Lansky isn't perfect. His flaws are bared for all to see.

What really brought extra life to this story though is that Josh Lansky doesn't just have one child, he has two, and one of them has Asperger's Syndrome. I loved how much information about this syndrome was present in the book, and how honest Greg Olear was about how it changed the family dynamic. Josh Lansky has a fierce love for this children in this book. He's a father who, despite the exhaustion and slight mental breakdown, knows his kids inside and out. This is a book about family, about parenting, about marriage, and even about how thoughts sometimes (despite the fierce love) wander back to the time before children. As I said, brutally honest. Just also hilariously done.

The references to pop culture in Fathermucker are many, and Greg Olear's ability to create the real world around his characters are fantastic. Reading this book is like watching a movie. I know authors are always going for the "show don't tell" method when writing. Kudos to Olear! A day in the life of his character, Josh Lansky, is complete with Facebook, Noggin, McDonalds, and the all important Moka Java for those poor exhausted parents.

I'm rambling I know, and I'm not even sure I've done justice to this book. Here's what I'll wrap it up with. This is a hilarious book. It's honest, it's funny, it's a look into the life that most parents live but try not to share with the outside world. Yes, there is some language that people might be offended by, but it is a male point of view after all. I for one enjoyed it immensely, and hope that you will too!

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.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Book Review: Shatter Me

Media Type: Print Book
Title: Shatter Me
Author: Tahereh Mafi
Publisher: HarperTeen
Pages: Hardcover; 352
Release Date: November 15, 2011
Source: Publisher
Intended Reading Group: Young Adult
Content Screening: Violence, Mild Language
HDB Rating: 5 Keys to My Heart
Recommended to: Lovers of an intensely good story.

Add it on: Goodreads / Shelfari / Librarything / Amazon / B&N
Juliette hasn't touched anyone in exactly 264 days. The last time she did, it was an accident, but The Reestablishment locked her up for murder. No one knows why Juliette's touch is fatal. As long as she doesn't hurt anyone else, no one really cares. The world is too busy crumbling to pieces to pay attention to a 17-year-old-girl. Diseases are destroying the population, food is hard to find, birds don't fly anymore, and the clouds are the wrong color.

The Reestablishment said their way was the only way to fix things, so they threw Juliette in a cell. Now so many people are dead that the survivors are whispering war- and The Reestablishment has changed its mind. Maybe Juliette is more than a tortured soul stuffed into a poisonous body. Maybe she's exactly what they need right now.

Juliette has to make a choice: Be a weapon. Or be a warrior.

In this electrifying debut, Tahereh Mafi presents a world as riveting as The Hunger Games and a superhero story as thrilling as The X-Men. Full of pulse-pounding romance, intoxicating villainy, and high-stakes choices, Shatter Me is a fresh and original dystopian novel—with a paranormal twist—that will leave readers anxiously awaiting its sequel.

 This book blew me away.

Shatter Me has undertones of dystopian fiction, but it is really its own entity. How do I explain this? Imagine that your favorite paranormal, superhero, and dystopian books were put into a blender to make one single book. That right there? That would be this book.

Now I think it's important I start off with the writing style in Shatter Me because that seems to be the one thing that might keep people from falling in love with this gorgeous book. I'll admit, Tahereh Mafi's writing style is unlike anything I've read before. It's eerily prosaic, wonderfully descriptive, and oddly disconcerting, all at the same time. Replete with strikethroughs and repeated phrases, it feels sometimes like you might be going crazy yourself. I think it's important to remember that the reader is inside Juliette's head during the story. This is a girl who hasn't seen another person, hasn't touched another person, for what seems to her to be an endless amount of time. Being in Juliette's head can be off putting, or it can be beautiful. It all depends on how much you allow yourself to be immersed in the girl, and the world, that is built here.

Juliette's character is what really brings Shatter Me to life. Constantly fighting a battle between the madness that she thinks still might consume her, and the giving person Adam knows her to be. Juliette is equal parts strong willed and vulnerable. The knowledge that her power can harm others cripples her, and she constantly wavers between feeling like a monster and a normal girl. Juliette truly has a power that can be used for good or evil, and both opportunities are presented to her. It might sound cliche at first glance, but I assure you that the girl on the pages is anything but that. Juliette's wariness at trusting others, her need to help even if she isn't sure if she should, her constant questioning of herself even when she's fairly sure that she is right, is all the product of her past. Tahereh Mafi builds up a girl who is believable and unique wrapped into one package. Juliette isn't perfect, and I loved her for that.

Shatter Me is definitely dsytopian, and the world that is built around Juliette's story is amazing. Cities crumble to the ground in the wake of The Reestablishment. People cower in doorways as what is left of society is patrolled, and essentially owned, by the soldiers who are loyal to the movement. The explanation as to how this came about hit very close to home for me. To say that this world is possible, well that's an understatement. I won't spoil anything, but I will say that there is a distinct possibility we really could get to that point. It made me ponder that, and that made me fall even further under the spell of this book.

If you can't tell from my musings above, I fell madly in love with this story. Devouring 120 pages in half an hour let me know that I was in for the long haul. I admit that I know that it won't be for everyone. As I mentioned, the writing style is different and might put some people off. However I can honestly say that if you give it a chance, if you allow yourself to fall wholeheartedly into Juliette's world, you might just find a story that will immerse you like it did me. Shatter Me is a refreshingly unique read that I enjoyed thoroughly. If there is indeed a sequel coming, I can't wait!

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.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Ramblings from the sickbed.

No posts last two days = me in bed with a cold, acting like a 5 year old.

Yes, I get cranky when I'm sick. I admit it. On the bright side I'll get a lot of reading done this weekend! I'm armed with meds, books, my laptop and snacks. I'm thinking tomorrow will be a "stay in bed all day" kind of day. What do you all think?

Also a quick shout out to my new followers! HI! *waves madly* Nice to kind of sort of meet you, at least in picture form. Feel free to leave comments that link me to your blog and I'll come say hi too!

In other news, this bookcase kind of freaked me out and so I had to share it:


I think it's really neat looking, but in terms of functionality? Hmmm...not so sure. Still, it'd be a cool piece to have sitting in your room. Nice conversation starter if you will?

I'm delirious, high on Nyquil, and rambling, so I'll leave you with a joke.

What does a vegetarian zombie say?


*poofs away*

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Into the Past with K.M. Walton

Please welcome to the blog K.M. Walton, author of Cracked and all around fabulous writer!

She's here today to celebrate Cracked and to share with a glimpse into her reading past, in a post we like to call INTO THE PAST. *cue dramatic music*

So strap in, and take a trip back with K.M. as she reminisces on books past. You might just find you have something in common.

What an interesting concept, and since books have been an integral part of my entire life…here goes!

Age 5: This one’s easy. THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS. My father gathered me and my two younger sisters (my youngest sister hadn’t been born yet) and read this on Christmas Eve. He actually read it every single Christmas Eve of my entire childhood. And I distinctly remember rolling my eyes when I was in high school because I “had to go listen to the book” with my sisters—but inside, and not that deep down, I was excited. I still have the book my father read to us all those years and now my husband reads it to our sons every Christmas Eve.

Age 11: THE BRIDGE TO TEREBITHIA by Katherine Patterson. This book was the first of many to evoke a deep emotional response from me. I remember crying my eyes out for the main character and having the story stick with me for months. To this day I love a good cry while reading. Cleanses the soul.

Age 16: FOREVER by Judy Blume. This book was racy and talked about sex and *gulp* had sex in it. In her best parenting mode, my mother explicitly said I was not allowed to read it. Yeah. So I enlisted the help of our housekeeper. She smuggled it into my house in a plain, brown paper bag and I got to reading. That book made a tremendous impact on me in ways not evident for years to come. It taught me that it’s okay to ask questions and be your own advocate. It taught me that girls are sexual beings too—and that’s okay. No, that’s normal.

Age 20: Anything by Sydney Sheldon or Danielle Steele. In my twenties, I read every single solitary book either of them wrote. Those books are what brought me back to reading for pleasure. High school and college reading had the dubious honor of swallowing up that type of fun. The twenty-year-old me loved the romance and the drama of those books and they were just the ticket to snare me back into the reading fold.

Thank you very much for having me here today. This was a lot of fun taking a walk down “reading memory lane”!!


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Book Review: The Secret of Spruce Knoll

Media Type: Print Book
Title: The Secret of Spruce Knoll
Author: Heather McCorkle
Publisher: Abbott Press
Pages: Paperback; 252
Release Date: August 15, 2011
Source: Author
Intended Reading Group: Young Adult
Content Screening: Mild Violence
HDB Rating: 4 Keys to My Heart
Recommended to: Readers who enjoy paranormal aspects, and a quick romance.

Add it on: Goodreads / Shelfari / Librarything / Amazon / B&N
It’s hard enough being a teenager under normal circumstances; imagine being orphaned, sent to live with an unfamiliar aunt—and learning that there really is magic in the world. Following the tragic death of her parents, Eren Donovan moves to Spruce Knoll to live with her aunt. Little does Eren know the entire town of Spruce Knoll is filled with “channelers”—a magical group of people who immigrated to the small Colorado town when they were driven out of their own lands.

Channelers are tied to the fate of the world. As the world slowly dies, so do they—and they alone have the power to stop the destruction of Earth. Now, Eren learns she not only lives among them, but she is one. When she meets local boy Aiden, his charm convinces her that being a channeler may not be all bad.

As Eren and Aiden’s relationship blooms, so too does a mystery in Spruce Knoll. The town holds many secrets—and many enemies. It soon becomes apparent that the untimely death of Eren’s parents-and Aidens-was no accident and that her life might be in danger, too. Only time will tell if Eren has the power to protect the people she has come to love.

When Heather McCorkle first contacted me to read The Secret of Spurce Knoll, I was enamored with the synopsis. Any book that deals with magic in a real world setting takes my heart instantly. Why? Well perhaps I'm a dreamer, but I like to think it's really out there somewhere. Who knows. People like Eren could be living somewhere and we'd never even know it! I digress though. Let's get on to the review!

Let's start with what I really liked about this book. Eren's character was fascinating to me from the beginning. Partially because of her new found abilities, but also because of her dual heritage. See, Heather McCorkle has created a character that has both Mayan and Irish background. Of course this causes all sorts of problems for her in the long run. The society in which Eren has found herself has very clear lines drawn between the four heritages that occupy it. What is a girl to do who doesn't really fall on either side? Cue dramatic tension, and some fantastic world building.

I was also very drawn in by how quickly the premise of this book really takes off. From the very beginning it is evident that Eren's parents didn't just die in a freak accident like most people think. Something happened to them that seems rather... off. I won't spoil anything at all, but I will say that everything is revealed as the story progresses. Very well I might add. There always seems to be just enough information given to keep you guessing, without making things move too slowly. The Secret of Spruce Knoll is, for the most part, a wonderfully paced read.

Now you're wondering why I marked this a star below, if I enjoyed it so much. Correct? I'll tell you honestly, it was the interaction between the characters. Eren was a wonderful protagonist, but it never felt like she really grew into her own. Eren's actions are very safe, and neutral most times. I didn't feel much of anything for her at all, and since I felt mediocre about her character, there were times when I felt mediocre about the overall story. What really struck me most though about Eren's character was how quickly she fell for Aiden. "Insta-love" is a big issue for me personally, as a reader. I would have liked to see more buildup between them, so I could feel more invested in their relationship.

The bottom line? Fantastic world-building, a unique and interesting premise, characters I just didn't fall for. The Secret of Spruce Knoll was a quick read, and one that I honestly did enjoy overall. A huge thank you to Heather McCorkle for a review copy, and for allowing me to share my honest opinion with you all. For a debut novel, this one was right on the money. I will be keeping by eye on this author for 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.

Monday, October 10, 2011

A call for suggestions.

Hey all!

I'm looking for a specific kind of book and I thought why not ask the most bookish people I know? We are all such a huge fountain of knowledge, so I thought maybe you could help me.

I am looking for a Middle Grade novel that is already published, hopefully readily available at the library, that deals with tolerance. Any ideas? We have a unit for the 5th graders in a few weeks on tolerance, and I'd love to have something to read for them that will really hit home.

I'm open to suggestions! Shoot them my way and thank you mucho in advance!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Quick spooky swap note.

It was brought to my attention that I overlooked getting all your email addresses!


The form is now updated, but I don't want you to have to fill it out again if you already have. So please PLEASE do me a favor and send me an email to with your name attached so I can file it with your form!

Otherwise I may not be able to send you your swap partner info.

Thanks all, and sorry for the mistake!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Back again.

Rest In Peace

Martin Osuna Torres
1928 - 2011

A loving grandfather, a sharp dresser, and one of those people who just filled the world with light and love wherever he went.

I'm back. This week has been full of friends, food and family. My grandpa's life was celebrated to the fullest, and now we're ready to remember the good times and move forward again. 

Thanks for waiting on me.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Interviewing Jaz from If I Tell

Today Janet Gurtler, author of the very popular I'm Not Her and the recently released (today in fact!) If I Tell, is here today to share a little bit about her character main character Jasmine. Or Jaz as she prefers to be called!

Jaz's life isn't an easy one. She's got a secret that she's trying to hold on to. That's all you'll get out of me. I can tell you that I'm nearly done with this book and it is fantastic! Definitely worth your time.


1) What is one word that you'd use to describe yourself? Only one! 

2) You find yourself with an extra $100. What do you spend it on? 
Hair products

3) What is one trait that you look for in people you consider friends? 

4) If you had to choose a song to describe you, what would it be? 
Hand in My Pocket Alanis Morrisette

5) How are you feeling right now?

Jasmine Evans knows one thing for sure... people make mistakes. After all, she is one. Jaz is the result of a onenight stand between a black football player and a blonde princess. Having a young mother who didn't raise her, a father who wants nothing to do with her and living in a small-minded town where she's never fit in hasn't been easy. But she's been surviving. Until she sees her mom's new boyfriend making out with her own best friend. When do you forgive people for being human or give up on them forever?


Related Posts with Thumbnails