Thursday, March 31, 2011

Because I love it, that's why!

I'm sure as followers of my blog, and thus lovers of literature, you've heard it before.

WHY do you spend so much time reading?

Do you get paid to blog? NO! Then why do you do it?

ARE YOU CRAZY?



Well, although the answer to that last one is a definite yes, I'm here to give those people an answer. Are you ready? It's a pretty simple one if I do say so myself.

BECAUSE I LOVE IT, THAT'S WHY!

Why do I read? I read because getting lost in a book is my favorite way to relax. I read because picking up a new book is like exploring a new world, and picking up an old book is like visiting with an old friend. Mainly though, I read because it is just so much fun! Do you know how many amazing stories there are out there, just waiting to be told? I do, and I want them all. Can we please figure out a way to go without sleep?

Why do I blog? I blog because it makes me happy. I blog because seeing comments where people discover new books, by reading what I wrote, makes me a bit giddy each and every time! Most of all, I blog because it's an outlet for the pent up book lover trapped in my head. You know the one; constantly yelling at you to hurry up and go get the newest book in your favorite series. If I didn't blog I might start yelling random book recommendations at people on the street....

Not good.

Lastly. I DO get paid. How you ask? Oh my dear people, I get paid in the best currency of all. UNDERSTANDING. If you are reading this blog (and still reading this post after all my rambling) I know that I've found a fellow bibliophile to chat with. I have found someone to trade recommendations with, share ohmygoshthatwassoawesome moments with when I'm reading a book, and best of all I've found someone who will actually listen to my opinion (hopefully without rolling their eyes). All those books I get? Just the icing on the cake. I'd take awesome friends and comments any day of the week.

So my friends, the next time someone asks you one of those million dollar questions about your book habits you can simply reply: Because I love it, that's why!

Who needs more of an explanation?

Talking movies with Estevan Vega

You are in for a TREAT today my friends! Estevan Vega, author of both Arson and the new short story compilation When Colors Bleed is here for YOU! I'd like to say he's here for me, but let's be honest, he's here to share with you.

And he rocks.

That's all I'll say. Enjoy his post, since I know I did, and I'll give you some more info on his books at the bottom!

*****

Wait, Did We Just Become Best Friends? These Are My Top Five Flicks…For Now
By Estevan Vega

This is the second week of the WHEN COLORS BLEED blog tour, and it’s been absolutely awesome! I’ve had great hosts, great reviews, and have had the pleasure of connecting with readers old and new. Having done several guest posts about writing already on this tour, Jessica and I figured we’d take it up a notch and get a bit personal. For those of you wondering whether or not I engage in the peculiar habit of watching chick flicks and dancing to Shakira with my shirt rolled up just to show off my abs, you’ll have to wait for another post. Instead I want to talk about some of my favorite movies. And hopefully by the end of this post, they’ll be your favorite movies too.

First and most strange on my list would probably be The Fountain. If you’ve seen this movie, you probably know one of the main killer aspects about this one is that it is shot so beautifully it’s almost impossible to not think the film is magical despite its constant grieving nature. There’s one moment in particular when we see a shot of a car, but it’s from an upside-down perspective, so it almost appears spacey, with the traffic lights acting as stars. Another aspect I fell in love with was the story’s “realness.” It exudes from this piece as its central characters struggle to hold onto their very lives. It’s moving. Granted, to the film’s disadvantage, it relies too much on crowd interpretation throughout, and many of the scenes, because of the film’s non-linear approach, tend to be confusing. But I think Darren Aronofsky had the potential of a masterpiece here, even if some spots weren’t divinely executed. Nevertheless, the film is breathtaking in scope and feel and color. Visually and mentally stimulating, I fell in love with it when I saw the trailer, and then I went on to watch the film several times. Like the brilliant The Matrix, this one may take a few watches to fully appreciate before it becomes your indie guilty pleasure.

Life as House is another one of my favorites. It troubles me to discover that most people don’t have a clue what movie I’m talking about. But that’s okay. If you’re one of those clockwork oranges, I’ll forgive you, and hopefully you’ll forgive my shameless, unsubtle reference to Kubrick’s strange opus. I love Life as a House for its frail qualities. The film is basically about the relationship between a father and a son. When it was released, I was in seventh grade and the film’s stiff R-rating gave my mother the impression that she could forbid it from me. But I sneaked it in at different occasions over the years until eventually I got to enjoy it from start to finish with my father, with whom I have a great relationship. The story relies on characters, tons of emotions, and heartbreak. I love that. It’s not a gushy romantic piece or a shoot-em-up action flick, but it gets the job done in a fun, albeit sentimental way. And it’s one of the few films Hayden Christensen was attached to where he decided to act.

If you haven’t seen Inception, there is something wrong with you. One of my friends recently mentioned his distaste for the movie and I almost de-friended him right then and there. It’s that good. Granted, it’s one of those movies where if you miss one crucial detail, you might be lost for the next twenty minutes, but just pay attention. Leonardo has shed his boyish, Titanic skin and has become one of the best actors around. In fact, the entire cast is awesome here. I love Ellen Page, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Tom Hardy freaking rock! Visually, the film pleases even the hungriest of appetites. The script is ahead of its time. The music puts you in the moment. And the ending will have you biting your nails. I loved The Matrix, but this bad boy took The Matrix and squared it. Sorry, Keanu. If you haven’t seen it, go out and do so now. This is Nolan’s best film to date, better than even The Dark Knight and his earlier, mind-bending thriller Memento, both of which were awesome.

Number four slot goes to Transformers…the series. As I eagerly anticipate the third and possibly final movie in the franchise, I am saddened. Will it do okay since Megan’s departure? Optimus and Shia tell me it should. We’ll see. (And yes, I do have one of the un-released T3 posters, duh!) I know everybody harps on Michael Bay for just about anything, but he makes some decent popcorn gems. Yes, there are explosions. Yes, there are a few stupid characters. Yes, there are often ridiculously gorgeous people doing incredible things. But take all of that and make it even more awesome because Optimus Prime is kicking names and taking a…I mean, the other way around. T1 and T2 rocked. I went to see Transformers 2 four times in theaters. And of course, I now own it. Working on the Blue Ray edish. Back in ’07 when my friend and I saw the official trailer for the original, I, along with a few others, clapped. Oh, yeah…it’s that kind of awesome. And for those of you who are interested, there is a killer song called “Allspark” by the band I, the Breather that is equally awesome! July can’t come quick enough.

And slot five goes to a spoof comedy called Airplane. This film is probably my favorite spoof ever. It beats the Scary Movie films, the Naked Guns, and any of the insipid spoofs of the last few years. This movie practically originated spoof comedy, and the jokes are still funny three decades later. If you don’t know where “I am serious, and don’t call me Shirley” comes from, go watch this flick immediately and you’ll be an instant convert. You’ll have a drinking problem and be talking jive in no time. Seriously, go watch this! Good luck, we’re all counting on you!

For now, these are my top five. Now, I don’t want to hear anything about my squeezing in a few extra titles in my tops list, because this is my list and I can do whatever I want. But if you’re a wise person you’ll check these awesome flicks out. And if you’ve seen them already, give yourself a big, authorly hug from me. Wait, did we just become best friends? Okay, I’m stopping. I’m stopping.
-E

*****

So do you now think Estevan Vega is as fantastic as I do?
If not, you should. That's only slightly hostile. I promise.

Here is some more info about each of Estevan's books, which you should put on your reading list ASAP. I'll stop bugging you now. Thanks for stopping by!



WHEN COLORS BLEED is a collection of short stories by the author of ARSON. This collection features three unique stories with universal themes of love, loss, and regret. Watch the colors bleed. 

-- See more at Goodreads







Arson Gable feels like a freak. He can create fire. He never asked for it. He never wanted it. But he can't shut it off.
-- See more at Goodreads




Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Joining the audiobook challenge!

I've been trying to get more into audiobooks for a while now. It seems like I could get so much more "reading" done if I spent the extra time I have to do other things listening to a book!

Plus who doesn't want to have a story read to them? There are some fabulous narrators out there.

That being said I'm joining up with Bewitched Bookworms in their audiobook challenge. You can click the button to be taken to the page!


I haven't yet chosen the books I'm reading, but I have started listening to The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson so far. It's fantastic at this point! The narrator is great.

I'll start a new format just for audiobook reviews. Keep an eye out!


Monday, March 28, 2011

Character Tweets - Hickey of the Beast

Intrigued by the title?

Oh trust me, you should be. I definitely was! In case you are wondering this is the newest serial novel being released by Candlemark & Gleam. If you're not sure what I mean, let me explain. This means you'll have the treat of reading this book, chapters at a time, via subscription. You can read more about it here.

Character tweets are where we see what these characters would be like just chatting like friends on Twitter. I love these posts! How much more real can it get then Twitter? Enjoy!


*****

PerConnie: Okay, Universe. You can either give me creepy dreams all of fall term or you can let seven in the morning exist. Not both.

Jen65: @PerConnie: You can’t stop time? What kind of a wussy psychic are you?

PerConnie: @Jen65: Oh, yeah. My powers are weak because I can’t BREAK PHYSICS. I’m crushed.

AutumnBreeze: @Jen65: Besides, that kind of thing always goes wrong.

Jen65: @AutumnBreeze: You never know until you try.

AutumnBreeze: @Jen65: And get stuck in the math class that never ends. No thanks.

PerConnie: @AutumnBreeze: I’d worry more about the eternal All-School Meeting.

AmandasFoster: @AutumnBreeze: The eternal whatnow? Is that like homeroom?

PerConnie: @AmandasFoster: Yeah, but only once a week, and with extra “inspirational” stuff. Like homeroom run by the people who make After-School Specials.

AutumnBreeze: @PerConnie: Oh, the speeches aren’t so bad.

Jen65: @PerConnie: By which you mean “your mom.”

AmandasFoster: @Jen65: You can’t go wrong with that line. Sorry, Connie.

PerConnie: @AmandasFoster: Whatever. I saw that one coming a mile away. @Jen65: Hey, Mom doesn’t set the agenda for those. That’s OSL.

AmandasFoster: @PerConnie: OSL?

PerConnie: @AmandasFoster: Office of Student Life. They run parties and ice cream nights, but they also make you do trust falls and sit through parietal meetings.

AutumnBreeze: @PerConnie: There’s a cosmic balance there somewhere.

AmandasFoster: You people are weird. And I don’t just mean the X-Files stuff.


This or That? with Christine Deriso

It's time for another game of.... This or That?

For those of you who may be stopping by one of these for the first time, this game is pretty simple. I ask a series of questions with two choices and then the author picks one. They can choose to elaborate on their choices, or not. It's all up to them!

I'm pleased to welcome Christine Deriso, author of Then I Met My Sister for this session! Let's take a look at some of her likes and find out a little bit more about this fantastic author, shall we?

*****

1. Coffee or tea? Tea
2. Chocolate or Fruit Flavored Candy? Chocolate
3. Right side of the bed or left side of the bed? Left
4. Bare feet or socks? Bare
5. Hardcover or paperback books? Paperback
6. Cats or dogs? Dogs
7. Go for a walk or go for a bike ride? Bike
8. Write on paper or write on the computer? Computer
9. Smooth or crunchy peanut butter? Smooth
10. Beach or mountains? Beach

******

Thank you so much Christine for stopping by! For those of you who haven't heard of Then I Met My Sister let me make your life a bit easier. Below you'll find links, as well as a book cover and synopsis. Enjoy!


Shannon has been the backdrop of my life since the moment I was born.

Summer Stetson lives inside a shrine to her dead sister. Eclipsed by Shannon's greatness, Summer feels like she's a constant disappointment to her controlling, Type A momzilla and her all-too-quiet dad. Her best friend Gibson believes Summer's C average has more to do with rebelliousness than smarts, but she knows she can never measure up;academically or otherwise.

On her birthday, Summer receives a secret gift from her aunt; Shannon's diary. Suddenly, the one-dimensional vision of her sister becomes all too solid. Is this love-struck, mom-bashing badass the same Shannon everyone raves about? Determined to understand her troubled sister, Summer dives headfirst down a dark rabbit hole and unearths painful family secrets. Each revelation brings Summer closer to the mysterious and liberating truth about her family,and herself.


 

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Chatting with Joshua Cohen!

This upside down (and rather attractive if I do say so myself) author is none other than Joshua C. Cohen. Today I'm pleased to have him stopping by my blog for an author interview!

However, I couldn't make it easy on him. Oh no, this takes work. So Josh had to answer all my questions using only lines from his book.

You know what though? He showed me! His answers are fantastic! Take a look.


*****



1. Leverage is being made into a movie. What’s the tagline for your movie poster?

"Sometimes, sir, there's just a meanness in this world." Kurt, Chapter 2


2. Other than gymnastics (and writing of course) what would you say is your favorite way to pass the time?

"Having a nice nap, Mr. Meehan?" Mr. Klech (Danny's algebra teacher), Chapter 1


3. Getting down to more about the book, what would you say to people who might be a little afraid of your cover?

"What kind of pansy camp do you think I'm running here?" Coach Brigs (Football Coach) Chapter 14
"You can't just party with kings...without a little suffering first. You got to pay some membership dues. But you're in now. You're golden." Scott, Chapter 12



4. What would you say to the readers out there who might have gone through a similar experience to the characters in the book?

"Guys, you may think you're alone out there, but you're not." Coach Nelson (Gymnastics Coach) Chapter 11



5. Is there anything you are hoping that people will walk away with after reading Leverage?

"Being a hero usually isn't much fun. It's terrifying, most of the time, right up until the point you make it out safe. It's being scared to do the right thing and doing it anyway. You remember that next time you're frightened." Coach Nelson (Gymnastics Coach) Chapter 59



6. What advice do you have for all those aspiring writers out there?

"One step, a voice whispers to me. One step. Just take one step. Don't think. Just step." Danny, Chapter 55

*****

Now I'm sure you're intrigued as to wanting to read Leverage am I correct? Well let me help you out! Here are some links, as well as a book cover and a synopsis. Stop back soon to see my review as well.



The football field is a battlefield.

There’s an extraordinary price for victory at Oregrove High. It is paid on—and off—the football field. And it claims its victims without mercy—including the most innocent bystanders.

When a violent, steroid-infused, ever-escalating prank war has devastating consequences, an unlikely friendship between a talented but emotionally damaged fullback and a promising gymnast might hold the key to a school’s salvation.

Told in alternating voices and with unapologetic truth, Leverage illuminates the fierce loyalty, flawed justice, and hard-won optimism of two young athletes.


Saturday, March 26, 2011

Book Review: Chasing Alliecat

Each comment on this review raises $1 for charity, courtesy of Rebecca Fjelland Davis. For further information, and to enter the giveaway, see this post.

Sadie Lester has been dumped with relatives for the summer. Boredom seems inevitable in her small Minnesota town until she meets Allie—a spiky-haired off-road biker with incredible grace and speed. Training for the upcoming bike race, Allie leads Sadie and cute fellow cyclist Joe up and down Mount Kato—an exhilarating rush that pushes their limits. The fun ends abruptly when they stray off the trail and find a priest, badly beaten and near death. After calling for help, Allie mysteriously disappears from their lives.

Just like the trash littering the beautiful river bluffs, there's something foul afoot. Creepy rednecks are prowling the woods, the same ones who ran Sadie and Allie off the road one night. It's not until the day of the big race that Sadie finally learns the startling truth about Allie, her connection to the priest, and what drove her into hiding.

--From Goodreads

Intended Reading Group:
Young Adult

Content Screening:
Realistic and sometimes graphic moments. Tough issues alluded to. Light cussing.

*****

Cover Inspection:
This cover is so perfect for this book! I love the darkness of the trees.

First Thoughts:
I like Sadie a lot, I think because I see myself in her. She's willing to do what she needs to but that doesn't mean she won't gripe inwardly about it.

*****

My Review:
In terms of realistic fiction, Chasing Alliecat was my first foray into this world in YA fiction. This book hooked its fingers into me and drew me into reading from the very first chapter. If this is what all realistic fiction is like, well please let me say that I'm more than happy to go find some more! I felt so invested in these characters that I loved every minute of this book. Absolutely amazing.

If you are the type of reader who wants their characters to be well developed and drive the plot, this book is for you! Sadie, Joe and Allie are all so different and yet there are similar parts in their lives that draw them together. Like a band of lovable misfits, I had a blast watching them interact. Sadie provides the sensibility, Allie the toughness and Joe the adorable awkwardness. The three of them just meshed so perfectly that I really felt like they were real people. I'd hang with them in a heartbeat.

Their love of mountain biking especially ties them together. I loved the descriptions of the way they felt as they rode. The sheer adrenaline that was described sounds amazing! Reading about how mountain bikers have such respect for nature and their bikes, it really blew me away. How much do we really hear about mountain bikers anyway? I have to say that it was refreshing to see a book about a sport like this. Mountain bikers have always impressed me, but to see younger characters who were so invested? Wow, just wow. You can definitely tell that Rebecca has a passion for this.

Story wise, Chasing Alliecat felt to me like a roller coaster. A wild ride indeed, this book starts out slow and allows you to meet the characters and get to know them. Then all of the sudden things start to happen, the characters are moving at a lightning pace and there are times when you'll forget to breathe. Trust me. The ending of this book especially just blew me away. To say that I loved Allie, Sadie and Joe's story is a bit of an understatement. I'd say more that I actually felt a part of their story. It's so true to life.

Am I being vague? Definitely. I won't give a single part of this book away for you because honestly that would be doing you a disservice my friends. Suffice it to say that this is a fantastic story! Chasing Alliecat has it all. Friendship, romance, mystery and intrigue. You want it, it's there! You'll need to go grab a copy as soon as you can to see what I'm talking about.



Book Details
Title: Chasing Alliecat
Author: Rebecca Fjelland Davis
Publisher: Flux
Pages: Paperback; 288
Source: Received for promotional review.
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

Friday, March 25, 2011

Book Review: When Colors Bleed

WHEN COLORS BLEED is a collection of short stories by the author of ARSON. This collection features three unique stories with universal themes of love, loss, and regret. Watch the colors bleed.

--See more at Goodreads


Intended Reading Group:
Upper YA/Adult

Content Screening:
Adult themes like death, love and loss. However there is no inappropriate language or anything that is outrightly graphic.

***

Cover Inspection:
Totally dark and brooding. I thought it matched the title perfectly.

First Thoughts:
I didn't glance long enough to see this wasn't YA so when the character in the first story was 23 I did a bit of a double take.

***

My Review:
I've had Estevan Vega's book Arson on my wishlist forever. I'm still anxiously waiting for my library to buy a copy, but when he offered me the opportunity to review his new set of short stories I jumped at the chance! I've heard nothing but good things about his writing and I went into this with high expectations.

Wow, is all I have to say. Truly. These three short stories are not only well-written, but each one is filled with such emotion and so poignant. It's like being teased with a little bit of your favorite candy. You want so much more after you're done! My favorite by far was Baby Blue. This short story had so many emotions packed into one story. It made me sob. Every now and then I come across a story that makes me take stock of my life and what is around me. This was one of those stories. In their own ways Vanilla Red and The Man In The Colored Room were both fantastic as well. Definitely different, which made them a delight to read.

Let me say this. Estevan's writing is superb. It is dark and has almost a smoky quality to it. His characters pop off the page in even his short stories. If this is what he has in store for me, I am now waiting even more impatiently to get my hands on a copy of Arson. Well done Estevan. Thank you so much for sharing your fantastic writing with us!



Book Details
Title: When Colors Bleed
Author: Estevan Vega
Publisher: Self-published
Pages: Epub; 37
Source: Received for promotional tour.
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

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Book Review: Kat, Incorrigible


Twelve-year-old Kat Stephenson may be the despair of her social-climbing Step-Mama, but she was born to be a magical Guardian and protector of Society--if she can ever find true acceptance in the secret Order that expelled her own mother. She’s ready to turn the hidebound Order of the Guardians inside-out, whether the older members like it or not. And in a society where magic is the greatest scandal of all, Kat is determined to use all her powers to help her three older siblings--saintly Elissa, practicing-witch Angeline, and hopelessly foolish Charles--find their own true loves, even if she has to turn highwayman, battle wild magic, and confront real ghosts along the way!

--From Goodreads

Intended Reading Group: 
Middle Grade/YA

Content Screening:
Clean! No cussing, no inappropriate scenes. This is a young reader friendly book!

*****

Cover Inspection:
Absolutely adorable! That girl on the cover could most definitely be Kat. I miss the days of tons of animated/hand drawn covers!

First Thoughts:
Oh Kat! She has my heart from the first page just because she's such a rebellious little girl.

*****

My Review:
Oh my goodness did I love this book! I'll admit that what caught my eye was the word Incorrigible in the first place. It's a word I really don't think gets used enough, but when it's used to describe a twelve year old girl named Kat...well of course I'm going to have to pick the book up and read it! Needless to say I wasn't at all disappointed and in fact I think I've found a new favorite series!

Kat, Incorrigible is the story of twelve year old Kat Stephenson and her wild adventures. Set in the 1800s, we see a much different view of women in general. Kat is constantly being lectured about manners and propriety by her stepmother. Their one goal in life is meant to be staying in good social standing in order to marry well. Her sisters seem to understand this and do their best to follow the rules. Kat however? Well to say she is willful is even an understatement. Her intelligence and stubborn nature mesh together to make a perfectly lovable and strong female character. After all, Kat refuses to conform to social standards and that is what makes her so much fun to follow!

My favorite part about this book by far were the characters. The love between Elissa, Angeline and Kat was realistic and evident, even down to the banter they had as sisters. As for the other characters, they each had their own unique and wonderful personalities. As they drifted in and out of the story I was struck by how well they were written! Down to Lady Graves, who we only meet for a short while, they all had their purpose. Whether it was to empower Kat or to focus her, each character in this story was fascinating. I've honestly never had more fun tying it all together!

I wish I could say more, but I don't want to ruin even a bit of this for you. This story is a mixture of magic, historical fiction,  romance and even a bit of hidden commentary on family bonds. It is a little over the top to be sure, but aren't the best books always like that? I wish this book had been around for me to read before bed when I was younger.  Action, battles of wit, and enough humor to make you giggle out loud more than a few times; that is what you will find in this story. I truly think this is the perfect book to keep the interest of tween or teen! I mean honestly, I'm in my mid-twenties and I was totally engrossed in this book myself. Stephanie Burgis has written a truly delightful character in Kat and I can't wait for more of her antics!





Book Details
Title: Kat, Incorrigible
Author: Stephanie Burgis
Publisher: Antheneum
Pages: Hardcover; 304
Source: Received through GalleyGrab for review.
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

Guest Post & Giveaway: Karen Metcalf

Sharing my blog today is Karen Metcalf, author of In the Storm. Let's give her a warm welcome shall we?

If you some how managed to miss my fanatical review yesterday, you can find it here. This book is unique in the most wonderful kind of way! To say I recommend it is pretty much putting it lightly.

Karen has stopped by today with a guest post about YA romance, and was also sweet enough to bring along a giveaway! So without further ado, I'll let her have the floor.
Many YA novels include an element of romance, including mine. I think this is partly because our teen years typically include our first experiences with love. This “puppy love” is sometimes more intense than any we will experience for the rest of our lives.

YA is also popular with the older crowd, so I asked my mom why. She told me it takes her back to an easier time in their life. They say that the teen years are the best in our life, and upon reflection, I think many of us agree. Sure there are romance novels out there that are just as popular, but there is something different about YA. It’s nice to think about that young love again, especially 20 years later.

Everyone remembers the excitement of a first love; the first contact, the emotions and hormones, the first kiss. It is what we remember as we grow older, and first loves will always hold a place in our heart. At that time in our lives, nothing was as important. The sun rose and set by that somebody. We were willing to run away, lie, and sneak out to be with that person even if only for a few minutes. We daydreamed about them, waited by the phone, and couldn’t wait for school the next day. It was exciting. We miss it. We learn that it doesn’t happen like that anymore as we grow older. YA allows us to go back to that time, and experience those emotions again. Few mediums in life can do that for us, which is why I will always love YA.
Ah love, especially that first love. It's so true that every time I read about a romance in YA I get a little misty eyed! It's nice to remember how it felt to get so wrapped up in someone else. I digress though.

It's GIVEAWAY time!

Up for grabs are three digital copies of In the Storm by Karen Metcalf. 

Winners will be provided a code that allows them access to either a .PDF, .MOBI or .EPUB format book, so no matter what eReader you have you're good to go!

Open Internationally, giveaway ends 4/3.

TO ENTER: Leave a comment below for Karen, along with your email address to contact you if you win! For an extra entry, feel free to leave her a comment on my review as well.



 

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Back in the saddle again!

So despite my pretty consistent posting lately, would you believe that I actually haven't BEEN here? Gasp, I know! I've been getting by with scheduled posts and such. That's what happens when you get busy but you still want to make sure your lovely blog followers have something to read!

(Like my horse? Safest kind there is.)

Anyway I'm back! Caught up and feeling fine. I'll be commenting on blogs more, writing random things in here again as I feel like it and probably harassing you all with tons of book reviews. I have TIME to read again. What a concept right?

Hugs all around!

OH. My one year blogoversary is in just 24 days! I'm not sure what I'm going to do yet. We'll see. Let me do some figuring and I'll get back to you all.

If you have any suggestions let me know! I love to hear from you all, and truth be told I miss your comments and being able to respond to them ;).

Book Review: Nickel Plated

Nickel is a survivor. He has to be. For as long as he can remember, his life has hinged on the flip of a coin. Or, rather, the scribble of a social worker’s pen. He’s been through the system, even had a good dad for a few years, until he was gone, too. But Nickel remembers everything he taught him, and since the day he escaped from foster-care hell, he’s put that knowledge to good use. Just twelve years old, he makes a steady living by selling marijuana to high schoolers, blackmailing pedophiles he ferrets out online, and working as a private investigator. When a beautiful girl named Arrow hires him to find her little sister Shelby, Nickel figures at best the kid’s a runaway; at worst, some perv’s gotten a hold of her. He scours the internet and the streets of Arrow’s suburban neighborhood, and what he finds there is as ugly a truth as he’s ever seen. For beyond the manicured lawns, Nickel discovers children for sale, and adults with souls black as the devil. And people like that aren’t about to let some kid ruin their game. This edgy thriller introduces a canny, precocious anti-hero, the likes of which young-adult readers have never seen.

--From Goodreads

Cover Inspection:
Pretty cool if I do say so myself! I like the shooting target theme.

First Thoughts:
Nickel is quite the intelligent boy. I'm impressed on how much he's got going.

My Review:
Nickel Plated was definitely a lot different than anything I've read lately. Nickel is the type of character that only comes along once in a while, because he's a little bit tough to love. In fact it took me a few chapters to really get into who he was, but once I was invested in him I learned a lot. He's self-sufficient and has financial freedom that most people my age dream about. On top of that he is so multi-faceted. A hard kid on the exterior, but a lost little boy who just is looking for something to hold onto on the interior.

I'm not really sure what to say about this book other than that I enjoyed it. It's a different kind of read because I was following Nickel on his money making ventures and sleuthing most of the time. He's a great kid. Granted he often uses people for money, but he does some really touching things in this book to help other people out as well. Watching him lead his own life was really fascinating. Nickel has to fly under the radar to stay out the foster care system. To say he is a smart kid is an understatement.

The point is that I enjoyed this book, but I also think that it wasn't really for me at this time. I'm kind of torn between enjoying Nickel and feeling like he was kind of a hard character to love. I see that he has to act like an adult because that's the situation that he's been put in, however he just felt so tough sometimes. It's a hard read for sure. I really just wanted to give him a hug. This book contains some tough subjects, as well as some "colorful" language. Perhaps it just wasn't the right time for me to read it.

I'm going to keep this on my pile and pick it up again in a bit, but for now I'm going to give a middle of the road rating. I liked Nickel, I liked his story, I think my mind just wasn't in the right place to really appreciate this book.


Book Details
Title: Nickel Plated
Author: Aric Davis
Publisher: AmazonEncore
Pages: Paperback; 172
Source: Received for review.
FTC Disclosure: I received a review copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review.


Final Rating: 3 Keys to My Heart

Book Review: In the Storm

Abandoned by the world around her, Carly believes she is fated to a life of torment at the hands of her stepfather and is desperate for an escape. When she can bear the abuse no longer and gives in to a thunderous rage, she suddenly finds herself in an unfamiliar, yet beautiful, storm world. This limbo between dimensions appears to be her private sanctuary, but it may just be her purgatory.

No one escapes fate without sacrifice, but is the price more than Carly is willing to pay?

--From Goodreads

Cover Inspection:
This cover actually drew me in right away because it is so darkly colored and somber. I kept wondering what this book could be about.

First Thoughts:
To say Carly has a tough life is an understatement. What a brave girl.

My Review:
I am still reeling from just finishing this novella, and let me tell you it's going to stick with me for a while. In the Storm is a book like no others. The 88 pages flew by and I'm left with a feeling somewhere between exasperation at the fact that there is no more left for me to read, and total awe at the whole concept behind the story. This was definitely one of a kind.

Although this is a shorter novella, the characters really come to life. The sheer fact that Karen Metcalf was able to fit so much character development into these pages is what really blew my mind. In a matter of pages I was one with Carly and the immense anger that bubbled underneath her surface. Anger at her life, anger at the circumstances surrounding her, anger at the fact that she couldn't seem to control anything. Carly is definitely not a happy girl, and it shows both in her actions and her words. However despite her deep anger, you can see that there is a wounded Carly there who just wants to reach out to someone. She craves someone in her life to hold onto. Despite my short stint of reading her, I'm happy to say that I really did feel for Carly.

I don't want to give anything away, but the plot of this story is truly what blew me away. In beautiful dialogue between Carly and the mysterious Morgan, Karen Metcalf weaves a story that made me stop and think. Hard. Fate is focused upon heavily in this story, as Carly navigates the reality of the dream world she has so recently found. There were portions of the story that I found myself re-reading and blinking at in amazement. Somehow despite my confusion initially it all clicked into place. Now I can't keep myself from mulling over what my eyes have been opened to. Fiction or not, the way fate is discussed in this book is definitely something to think about.

My one qualm? I want more. I want to know more about why Carly was so important, why her dream world was so vividly created, and why Morgan was so essential to her. Truth be told if the book had been 400 pages I would have read ravenously. The questions that hang in the air at the ending are deliciously maddening.

Long story short, I truly loved this novella. I give it the highest recommendation I can and urge you to pick it up! Perhaps it might have been one that you would glance over normally in favor of books with more buzz, but let me tell you In the Storm is one that you don't want to miss.



Book Details
Title: In the Storm
Author: Karen Metcalf
Publisher: Vagabondage Press
Pages: Ebook; 88
Source: Received for review 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

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Mini Challenge: Ladies and their Tramps!

To those of you who don't know (and where have you been if you don't) it's time again for Princess Bookie's massive CONTEST CRAZE! There are giveaways galore, and fun mini challenges to take part in.

This one I HAD to enter. It's hosted by my awesome friend Kari at A Good Addiction and it's all about mish-mashing or pairing two different characters from two different books. FUN RIGHT? Here's my pair.


I think Calla from Nightshade and Jag from Possession would make a fascinating pair. See, Calla is an alpha wolf and can definitely be a little abrasive sometimes. Used to always being in control, I'm not sure very many boys stand a chance with her. She needs someone who can hold their own when she gets upset! 

Jag, well Jag is not only cocky but he has special abilities (that will remain unsaid since this book isn't out yet) that I know would be amazing in his relationship with Calla! Let's just say that her being angry at him would never ever be a problem for very long. I think the two of them would definitely get along. 

Or....it'd be a constant fight for control. Either way you can't go wrong because it would be fascinating to watch!

Want to play too?

Click here to be taken to the original post and submit your own match! You have the chance to win either a pre-order of A Need So Beautiful or a finished copy of Freeze Frame. Come on! You know you want to!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Talking Inspiration with Gillian Phillip

Well my friends, today you are in for quite the treat! Gillian Phillips, a.k.a Gabriella Poole, is stopping by to share some inspiration with us.

If you haven't yet put her newest book, The Opposite of Amber, on your reading list you need to go now. It's truly amazing and I was happy to give it a glowing recommendation. You can see my review if you'd like!

I'll stop rambling now though. Gillian has the floor.

Favourite Places for Inspiration 


This is a topic close to my heart. For me, landscape has a huge effect on my writing, but that’s something I didn’t realise for a long time – twelve years, in fact.

Back in 1990 (not that I’ll admit to how old I was then), my husband had to go abroad to work, to Barbados. It sounds idyllic, and in many ways it was, but the one hitch was that I couldn’t get a work permit, and so I pretty much lived a life of idleness.

And that sounds idyllic too... especially for someone who had ambitions to be a writer. We even travelled out there on a ship called the MV Author, which should have counted as a sign from the gods. I had long lazy days, no kids for years, and, eventually, an electric typewriter. There was nothing to hold me back.

Except... I couldn’t. I did try. I wrote and rewrote three genre romances, none of which cut the mustard with Mills & Boon. I did write a lot of short stories, and sent them to magazines back in the UK which published them, but that wasn’t what I wanted to write. I wanted to immerse myself in a novel. And I had no excuses; I could have at least tried to write a nice fat saga in all that time.

Come to think of it, I did write a nice fat saga. It was so terrible I didn’t even send it anywhere.

It wasn’t until I had my twins in 2001 and we came home to Scotland that a couple of things clicked. One was the crucial matter of what I wanted to write: spending lots of time in the children’s department of bookshops introduced me to teen and YA novels, and I just loved them. I bought them, I devoured them, I knew with absolute certainty that I wanted to write them. I’d been barking up the wrong tree for years.

And secondly, the landscape of home just shouted stories at me. Not just the beautiful countryside where we came to live, and not just the wild Highlands of Scotland: it was everything. The cities, the small towns, the desolate coastlines and the dirty alleys. I found characters everywhere I looked, and the characters brought me their stories. Some were fantasies, some historical, some contemporary, some dystopian, but they were all vivid in my head and raring to be written.

There’s a valley right below our isolated house where I hid the murdered body of a bishop. There’s a street in Glasgow where I realised what had become of my vanished serial killer. Not far from me there’s a pretty seaside town, bleak in winter, where I found hidden secrets and lies that I wove into The Opposite of Amber. Having written Bad Faith, a murder mystery with a mostly rural setting, I wanted a change of scene, and so I went to visit my mother in Aberdeen city and walked the streets for hours – and that’s where the characters for Crossing The Line took shape in my head. I love walking, as so many writers do, because it seems to shake loose the stories that want to be told. Maybe the trouble is that I was too hot to walk in the tropics.

But maybe I was simply back in the right place. I loved Barbados, but it wasn’t where I belonged. It wasn’t where my stories were. Right now I’m looking out of my window at the snow falling in the valley. It’s cold here, but I don’t miss the sun, not really. I’m wondering if those flakes are covering another body, another mystery. Another story.


Thanks so much Gillian for stopping by! As I mentioned all, if you haven't already added The Opposite of Amber to your reading list you really should! I'll even make it easy for you. Enjoy!







Saturday, March 19, 2011

Movie Review: Battle LA


This weekend the BF and I took off to the movies to see the all action, all alien flick BATTLE L.A. If you haven't stopped by one of these posts before let me catch you up really quickly. We only go to about one or two movies a month. Our stipulation? They have to be something we REALLY want to see. Then I come share it with you!

Beware: Rambling ahead.

In a word, this movie was EPIC. If you are a fan of movies that might not have the best plot, but make up for it with stunning visuals, ample action, and great characters then this is a movie for you!

What really struck me was how much I actually felt for the characters in the movie! Each one was so different ,and they actually had back stories. I cried people. Even more amazing? So did the BF. Don't ask, I don't want to give anything away. Suffice it to say that this movie doesn't slack on the acting at all.

Did I mention that there are aliens? With really cool technology? The visuals in this movie were fantastic, and the shaking camera added such palatable tension that I kept forgetting to blink.

WIN.

What I'm rambling about is that this movie was well worth our money. I'm now terrified of alien invasions, but have faith that we could totally kick butt. Don't mess with L.A. aliens, we'll whoop you. It's truth.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Book Review: The Opposite of Amber


They found the fifth girl right after the snow melted ...the place where he left her was winter water, crazed with ice-feathers and dusted with snow. The traces from her body were gone, the ones that said his name, but she had an extra skin of ice that protected her and she looked perfect, like Snow White'. Ruby and her older sister Jinn live together on their own, just about making ends meet. Jinn is beautiful, with glittering blonde hair, and makes it her business to look after Ruby. They are horrified by, but try to ignore, the local newspaper stories of prostitutes who are murdered, their bodies eventually discovered underwater. Then the no-good Nathan Baird turns up on the scene - again - and Jinn starts to change. First Nathan moves in with Jinn and Ruby, making Ruby feel an outsider, and then Jinn and Nathan move out, leaving Ruby alone. Jinn no longer has time to look after Ruby. And it seems to Ruby that Jinn herself needs looking after. Her beautiful glittering hair starts to lose its shine. And then Jinn disappears. A deeply moving, chilling, and incredibly powerful thriller that celebrates the love two sisters have for each other and mourns the events beyond their control that will conspire to drive them apart.

--From Goodreads

Cover Inspection:
This cover is absolutely gorgeous. I love how girl all but blends into the snow. It's a slightly depressing cover as well, but that fits with the content of the book so well.

First Thoughts:
Ruby seems like she is barely hanging on. I feel for her.

My Review:
Let me begin by saying that this is not a "happy" book. Beautifully written yes. Deep and moving yes. Happy? Not so much. If you are looking for a light and airy read, this book is not what you are looking for. Howver if you are ready to dive into a story filled with prose and a character driven plot, you are in for a treat.

From the very beginning of the story our main character Ruby is dealing with a lot. As I mentioned above, it seems as though she is barely hanging on to what she has left. The story begins with Ruby obsessing over her friend Alex who attempted suicide by jumping off a roof. Ruby feels responsible because she made a backhanded comment at him that she thinks pushed him off the edge. That alone is a lot for to deal with, but poor Ruby has so much more hidden away.

In fact, Ruby's whole world in this book is built around guilt and isolation. Her sisters are there, but not, and Jinn, her oldest sister, is the one thread she has left to hang on to. Jinn has become the stand in mother for Ruby, and when she starts to drift away Ruby feels like she is loosing everything she has left. Watching these two characters interact is truly what immersed me in the book. As Jinn floats farther away from Ruby, you can see Ruby's attitude change. Her outlook on life becomes more dire, and it is heart wrenching to watch.

Wovens seamlessly into Ruby's story is a story of a mass murderer and his 5 victims. All of them so far have been prostitutes, or so the murderer believes. At first I wondered what significance this inner story had to Ruby's life. However as I read on, Gillian Phillip made the purpose of it blindingly clear and I was in shock. The Opposite of Amber is a book that I fell so in love with that I'm still thinking about it, even though I sent it on to the next reader over three weeks ago. That's how invested I was in this book.

I suppose what I'm going on about is simply this: The Opposite of Amber is a simply stunning book. This is well worth your time to pick up when it releases. It might take a little bit for you to adapt to the colloquial language, but once you do you'll find yourself immersed in the lives of the characters instantly. I cannot wait to get a finished copy of this book. It gets the highest recommendation I can give.



Book Details
Title: The Opposite of Amber
Author: Gillian Phillip
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
Pages: Paperback; 320
Source: Received for promotional tour.
Release Date: April 18, 2011
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

An Interview with Tom Kepler and giveaway!

Today I'm pleased to have Tom Kepler, author of Love Ya Like A Sister, stopping by my blog for an interview! Tom has been sweet enough to share a little bit about himself with us, and he brought a giveaway along!

So let's see what he has to say shall we? I always love to get to know authors a bit better!


***


If you had to choose an animal to represent you, what would you choose and why? 

I know it's cheating, but I'd choose a dragon to represent me. Now, mind you, dragons have received bad press as far as I'm concerned. For me, dragons are incarnations of the laws of nature, the forces that structure the universe. We look around us and see the energy of the universe functioning in predictable patterns. That order implies intelligence--so for me, dragons embody that intelligent, dynamic energy of the universe. Dragons aren't all that concerned with human beings but sometimes interact with people. A dragon, then, represents that cosmic aspect of myself, that part of myself that goes beyond the boundaries and is a creator. A dragon is the silent witness, that cosmic presence, the deepest part of who I am.

What inspired you to write Love Ya Like A Sister? Did you pull from your students' lives?

Actually, the idea came from those Charlie Brown movies with Snoopy and the gang. You never actually see an adult or hear an adult talking--maybe a leg and some mumbling in the background. The world of the young people is completely abstracted from the adult world. That's what I saw with my students: friends helping one another, and parents divorced or working too hard making a living to have time to be parents. That's a pitch that I use for the novel: "What to do when your parents are too busy, too divorced, too drunk, or too dead to help." There are no specific students or parents that I used as models, though. The characters made themselves up, you might say, or were born with the idea. A librarian friend asked me when I was writing the novel, "What happened at the end of chapter 5 between Randy and Beth. I replied, "I don't know. I didn't think it was any of my business." She replied, "I hate it when writers do that! Tom, you wrote the book! What do you mean you don't know what happened?" It was a really funny moment.

Would you say that there is any of yourself in the character of Randy? 

I don't know if I'd say that there are parts of me in Randy. I could say the characters have emotional resonances with me--and also my feelings for what my son went through when his mom died. He was sixteen years old, and his mom had been very sick for eight years. Our most common family trip was when every couple of months we'd go to the University of Iowa Hospitals for regular procedures for his mom. We did this for eight years and came to know that hospital very well. It's a huge hospital, and we got to know all the little playgrounds and coffee shops and all the paintings that hang on the walls. Randy's life has some flavor of that--everything dipped in the emotional ache of loss. I also, actually, resonate very much with Gwen--her independence and bravery. I admire that. Perhaps I'm "in touch with my feminine side" because I came to care very much for the female characters: Beth and her inward emotions, Susie wanting to just enjoy life and not dote on the negative. I also admire Jonas, the old guy in the novel--the "gatekeeper," according to archetypal stereotypes. My joke with my friends was that if I had wanted to really make money (and cut a movie deal), I would have made Jonas a vampire! Maybe I'll do that some day--write Love Ya Like a Vampire and tell the true story of my novel!


Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

There is a higher order thinking skill called fluency. It means "having many and diverse ideas." It is the process of flowing. I think writers need to write regularly, to find a time to sit and put down the words, one after the other, sentence and sentence and sentence. That is my advice. The definition of writer is "one who writes." I would also say that aspiring writers should read. Read enough, and we will find passages that we really admire. That connection is a help when trying to expand our writing skills. Don't worry so much about being published. Write and then set it aside for a time--a day, a week, a month, a year. And then look at it again. Publishing is supposed to validate us as writers. If that's true, then there are a lot of crappy "validated" writers out there. Write for yourself, share with your friends, and seek publication at the end of the process. Ever hear how S.E. Hinton got her novel The Outsiders published when she was in high school? I heard her say this once at a reading fair. She was writing a chapter, bringing it to school for her friends to read; writing another chapter, bringing it school; and then she finished the first draft. And that was that. Then her sister said, "Do people pay money for a book?" When it was determined that publishers do pay, her next question was, "Enough for a Camaro?" The novel was sent off, and the rest is publishing history.

Can you give us a glimpse at what you have in the works? 

I am working on draft 7 of a fantasy novel, The Stone Dragon. Here is the pitch for the novel: Dream magic is the most dangerous of magics because it is so difficult to control. Apprentice mage Glimmer—Not a Glimmer of Magic—realizes this when he discovers that his apparent lack of magical talent is because his magic manifests only when he is dreaming. His first attempt at dream magery conjures a dragon, and just before dying in dragonfire, Glimmer, in desperation, locks the dragon within the stones of his master’s house. How, though, do you live in a house that is also a dragon? And how can you even sleep—knowing that dream might slip to nightmare? The first chapters are on one of the webpages of my blog. The novel explores what I call "consciousness-based fantasy," connecting magic to one's enlightenment, to the idea that "magic" ultimately is just an extension of who we are.


***


A big thank you to Tom for stopping by today! To learn more about his book, go ahead and click the links below. Yup, I'll always make it easier for you to find great books.


Now for a giveaway!

Tom has offered up one digital copy of Love Ya Like A Sister to one lucky winner! This means I can open up the contest Internationally to all of you! Great, right?

Also, just by commenting you will earn yourself a discount coupon for the book. So go ahead, make that comment. You might win!

Leave a comment for Tom below to be entered. Please provide an email address to be used in case you win.
Giveaway is open Internationally. Ends 3/28.
 

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