Sunday, July 31, 2011

Book Review: The Girlz of Galstanberry


Media Type: Print Book
Title: The Girlz of Galstanberry
Author: G.S. Wolff
Publisher: Wolf House Books
Pages: Ebook; 180
Release Date: October 10, 2010
Source: Publisher
===================
Intended Reading Group:
Middle Grade/Young Adult

Content Screening:
Nothing of note

HDB Rating:
4 Keys to My Heart

From the boroughs of New York, to the beaches of San Francisco, girls hail from all walks of life, to sport the violet blazer, pink beret, and coveted Galstanberry Girl title.

The Galstanberry twenty acre estate, flanked by a magnificent rose garden and horse stables, rises up from the horizon like a French chateau with interconnected balustrades and high-spiraling turrets that seemed to touch the clouds. It was constructed in 1926 by Mr. Charles Galstanberry, an earnest gentleman that believed a son to be the only proper heir to the vast family fortune. Yet when Eleanor gave birth to their only child, Aundrea, not Andrew, he vowed to make her as academically astute as her male counterparts.

Decades later, 5 girls; a spoiled equestrian, funky B-girl, skilled ballet dancer, freestyle poet, and clever debater; from different cities, socio-economic backgrounds and ethnicities are admitted into Galstanberry Girls Academy, a now world renowned boarding school in Connecticut. Their varied personalities and backgrounds lead to inevitable drama and internal conflicts. However, with each triumph and tribulation, the girls grow, transforming themselves and the academy.

In the first installment of the series, readers will travel around the United States to meet these 5 dynamic girls and Galstanberry Academy.
Add it on: Goodreads / Shelfari  / Amazon / B&N


This review was tough to write for me. As a reader at my age, I would have rated this a 3. However I realize that these are meant for younger readers, girls who need someone to connect with, and so I tried to read and review using that thought process. I hope I did this book justice, since it wasn't necessarily written for me.

That being said, I have to applaud G.S. Wolff for writing such varied and unique characters. Each of the five girls in the book is completely different from the one before her. They live everywhere from New York to San Francisco, have hobbies that are different, have family backgrounds that are greatly different, and their personalities are each sparkling in their own ways. I also appreciated that, for the most part, there are no stereotypes present in this book. These girls are who they are, and they aren't ashamed of it at all.

Tweens will find a lot to love in the characters between the pages of this book. As a first installment in the series, The Girlz of Galstanberry is mainly meant to be back story. Aundrea's early life is explained, as well as how the Academy came into existence. I have to say I loved Aundrea's story, especially regarding her father's feelings towards her. I won't spoil, but it's great. The girls are each introduced in their own chapters, and we get to see into their lives at home. How did they each end up being admitted to Galstanberry Academy? You'll find out!

What I liked most was that, despite the fact that each girl is of a specific ethnicity, they are malleable enough that readers can find bits and pieces of themselves in each one. Perhaps the reader is African American, but comes from a wealthy family and enjoys dancing. They'll find a bit of themselves in multiple characters as they read through. I also appreciated that G.S. Wolff allowed her girls to have their own quirks and flaws. These aren't perfect characters, but much closer to normal people. They have worries, fears, and things that make it difficult for them to move on to a new place. 

This series has a lot of potential to please young readers and empower them, and for that I applaud it. The next installment in the series dives a bit more into the interactions between the girls, and I'm curious to see how it works when they all come together under one roof. I'll let you know!






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.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Susan J. Bigelow's Summer Giveaway!


Not participating yet? Click HERE to start!

It's time for another giveaway!

Wow, it's already the end of July. Am I the only person who thinks that this month just flew by? Not complaining, just noticing. It's kind of crazy.

**********

Yesterday Susan J. Bigelow stopped by with a guest post.

She shared with us all about her summers of doing nothing! Although her nothing sounds like tons of fun to me. I'd be happy to hang out with her anytime.


Up for grabs today is an ebook of Broken by Susan J. Bigelow!


TO ENTER:

* Be a participant in the "Beach Reads" Summer Reading Challenge (Sign up here)

* Fill out THIS FORM.


(Remember, you can leave a comment on the guest post linked above for an extra entry.)

Winner will be chosen August 31, 2011.





Book Review: Six Moon Summer



Media Type: Ebook
Title: Six Moon Summer
Author: SM Reine
Publisher: Self-published
Pages: Ebook; 198
Release Date: April 29, 2011
Source: Author
===================
Intended Reading Group:
Young Adult

Content Screening:
Violence

HDB Rating:
3 Keys to My Heart

Rylie's been bitten.

She's changing.

And now she has three months to find a cure before becoming a werewolf... forever.

Rylie Gresham hates everything about summer camp: the food, the fresh air, the dumb activities, and the other girls in her cabin. But the worst part is probably being bitten by a werewolf. Being a teenager is hard enough, but now she's craving raw flesh and struggles with uncontrollable anger. If she doesn't figure out a way to stop the transformation, then at the end of summer, her life is worse than over. She'll be a monster.


Rylie Gresham is a teenager whose life is falling apart. Her parents are getting a divorce, she's been unwillingly shipped off to a three month long summer camp, and now she's becoming a werewolf. What else could go wrong? If S.M. Reine has anything to say about it....a lot.

It's not tough for me to say that I didn't like Rylie at all in the first half of the book. Understood her, yes. Liked her, no. Her life is tough for a teenager at that point in time and she ends up melancholy and very "woe is me". I had a hard time coping with her inability to deal with her problems. However luckily the second half of the book Rylie becomes an entirely different person. Literally! She gains confidence, strength, and realizes that things aren't all about her. By the time that the ending came (and wow what an ending) I was a lot more immersed in her character. 

As for the supporting characters, I felt like they were just glanced over. By far my favorite was Louise. She received the most character attention and I liked how sweet and honest she was. Seth though, who is another main character, just fell flat to me. There isn't a lot said about him, other than that he is constantly vanishing randomly, and I just felt like Rylie trusted him entirely too easily. Perhaps if he had a bit more build up I would have liked him better. However the friendship between him and Rylie just felt forced to me.

I have to say that the setting of this book definitely helps bring the story to life. Six Moon Summer takes place in a summer camp and so Rylie has so many places to explore, and the opportunity to get caught doing it. I don't think summer camps ever smile upon their campers leaving late at night. I also enjoyed how SM Reine added her own twists to the werewolf lore. It made things a little bit more unique and fresh. My one gripe was that I really wanted to see in Riley's head, to see what she was feeling when she was changing. Following her in third person didn't allow that to happen and it frustrated me to no end.

Admittedly, Six Moon Summer impressed me a lot more than I expected it to. At first glance I thought this would be similar to the other werewolf books out there. Interesting, but nothing new. I was pleasantly surprised to find that S.M. Reine actually does bring her own flavor to this topic. From the story that is built around the actual transformations themselves, to the twists near the end, Six Moon Summer was a fun read. I will keep a look out for book two.





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, July 29, 2011

Book Review: Bears, Recycling, and Confusing Time Paradoxes



Media Type: Ebook
Title: Bears, Recycling and Confusing Time Paradoxes
Author: Greg X. Graves
Publisher: 1889 Labs
Pages: Paperback; 168
Release Date: April 1, 2011
Source: Author
--------------------------------------
Genre: Um? Hilarity?

HDB Rating: 4 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Readers looking for some ridiculous fun!


Add it on: Goodreads / Shelfari / Amazon / B&N / Smashwords
Do you want to recycle but aren't sure how? Are you concerned that a potential suitor may be a vampire? Have you attended a job interview only to be greeted by Hideous Telepathic Space-faring Lizardmen in Mansuits? The Guide to Moral Living in Examples educates on these and many more common moral conundrums, offering bite-sized advice for nearly every improbable situation. Fueled by years of unintentional research on the connections between robotic bears, talking tattoos, and the best type of soap to remove irremovable rings, Greg X. Graves gives simple, friendly yet essential guidance on the twisted path to moral life. With an introduction by Brenton Harper-Murray and stunning illustrations by Jeff Bent, this anthology is a must-have for young and old aspiring moralists alike.

Please humor me as I begin this review with a rather long run-on sentence. It seems the only way to aptly describe how I felt about this book. Are you ready? Brace yourself!

Bears, Recycling and Confusing Time Paradoxes was a book that had me reading fervently, in between bouts of pausing to exclaim "Wait....what????", and then bursting into raucous laughter at the absurdity at was on the page before my boyfriend would look over and demand to know what I was laughing at, to which I could only exclaim "The dragon has wooden teeth! Vampire.....wooden teeth! HA!" and go back to reading.

Each and every story in this anthology is worthy of a very loud and well placed, WTF? What's hilarious to me is that they are all fantastically written. It's as though the book makes fun of itself. The humor is so dry in places that there is nothing to do but just laugh. Your mind is working so hard to try to figure out how that moral, that little gem of information, links to the story that all you can do is laugh. It feels good my friends. It feels good.

Were you ever curious how certain alien races chose their next leader? Why Bigfoot really exists (if he exists at all)? How about what would happen if you were the most unlucky person on Friday the 13th? If these questions have plagued your mind at all, you'll need to pick up Bears, Recycling and Confusing Time Paradoxes. I ask you, what could be better than random laughter?

Yes my dear readers. That about sums it up. Greg X. Graves has compiled a set of short stories that is nothing less than confusing and brilliant, at the same time. Think of it as an utterly random, tongue in cheek, tribute to the fables of old. After all, each story does come complete with a moral! I admit that this isn't going to be for everyone (definitely not man suit wearing lizard people) and I'm okay with that. You have to have a certain kind of weird in your brain to appreciate this brilliance. Am I calling myself weird? Why yes I am. Thank goodness there are authors like Greg X. Graves out there who can cater to people like me.




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.

Susan J. Bigelow's summers of doing nothing


Not participating yet? Click HERE to start!

Hi everyone! Ready to move on along?

Just a reminder, July ends after this weekend! *gasp* I know! Don't forget to get those last minute reviews in. I'll close the linky at 12 pm PST on Sunday evening.

Now on to the goodness!

Susan J. Bigelow, author of Broken has offered up a guest post about her lazy summers. I loved this post! I think it's just what summer means to a lot of us. Time for us. I'll let Susan tell you though.

**********

Doing Nothing in the Summer

I did nothing during that summer vacation, and I did it well. This was the summer after middle school and before I went off to high school in another town, so I was in-between. I stayed up late at night, playing Tetris until I could see the shapes falling whenever I closed my eyes and listening to the local hard rock station. The cats draped themselves over the chairs nearby, Siamese curls on brown-and-yellow 1970s slipcovers.

I slept in until the sun was slipping down towards the industrial park to the west, then hiked out into the swampy land between my neighborhood and the train tracks. If you're from suburbia, you know these kinds of places. They're the leftover woods, the random squares of wild country wedged into the imperfect spaces between houses, strip malls, schools and highways. I love those places. I've always sought them out.

The swampland behind the house was a place my friends and I liked to hike around in, but it was also a place for me to go and indulge my constantly overworked imagination. And, so, a stinking creek full of industrial runoff became a mighty river, dirt mounds became tall mountains, and little copses of trees where the bigger kids met to smoke pot became magnificent palaces. I gave the land a name and a history. I walked through it, playing out the lives of its people, fighting its battles and melding myself to its hopes, loves and tragedies. This, for me, was fun on an epic scale.

I wasn't entirely lost in the fantasy; I still knew how to dodge the trains and the Amtrak Police, and how to hide out when the bigger kids or, worse, adults were around. People are almost always up to no good in places like that. I learned how to protect myself. I found a buzz-saw blade as big as my head one day, and learned to toss it like a ninja throwing star. I practiced by sticking it in trees, and I started carrying it around with me. I have to imagine it was unusual and alarming for the people on the passing trains to see a random kid carrying a huge buzz-saw blade around in the swamp.

When my friends were with me, we hung around and played games or passed the time insulting one another in new and creative ways. When I was alone, I lived in my own world. When I left that land, I went back downstairs and played Tetris until my eyeballs fell out. I told myself stories, I sat reading on my bed with our three aging cats, I watched Star Trek with my sister and I rode my bike up hills and down again. In every way I could manage, I did nothing.

It was a pause, that summer. I played and imagined, waiting for fall to come and uproot my life. Every day I could sense the change coming on, and I looked forward to it. Still, I willed that summer to last and last. I wanted to keep doing that incredibly fulfilling and glorious nothing for as long as I could, before getting back to the overwhelmingly boring and excruciating something of the rest of my life.


**********

Thank you Susan!

Now if you haven't read Broken yet, it's one to add to your wishlists! Superhero story at it's core, but also so much more. I really enjoyed this one, and if you're curious you can see my review here.

Don't forget to stop back tomorrow for Susan's giveaway!





Thursday, July 28, 2011

Book Review: The Iron Thorn


Media Type: Print Book
Title: The Iron Thorn
  *Series: The Iron Codex (Book 1)
Author: Cailtlin Kittredge
Publisher: Delacorte
Pages: Hardcover; 512
Release Date: February 22, 2011
Source: Library
-----------------------------------------
Intended Reading Group: Young Adult
Content Screening: Mild violence
-----------------------------------------
HDB Rating: 5 Keys to My Heart
Recommended to: Readers who enjoy immersion in a fabulous fantasy world.

Add it on: Goodreads / Shelfari / Librarything / Amazon / B&N
In the city of Lovecraft, the Proctors rule and a great Engine turns below the streets, grinding any resistance to their order to dust. The necrovirus is blamed for Lovecraft's epidemic of madness, for the strange and eldritch creatures that roam the streets after dark, and for everything that the city leaders deem Heretical—born of the belief in magic and witchcraft. And for Aoife Grayson, her time is growing shorter by the day.

Aoife Grayson's family is unique, in the worst way—every one of them, including her mother and her elder brother Conrad, has gone mad on their 16th birthday. And now, a ward of the state, and one of the only female students at the School of Engines, she is trying to pretend that her fate can be different.

I'm honestly not sure how to explain how much I love this book! I mean, really. It blew me away in all the best ways possible. I'm a huge fan of Fantasy and of Steampunk. Caitlin Kittredge takes these two genres, throws in a bit of dysptopia, and blends it together into something  beautifully unique and wonderful. Looking for something to chase those reading blues away? Take this for a spin!

The Iron Thorn follows Aoife through a tough time in her life. Her family has a history of madness, and it seems to hit them each around their 16th birthday. Unfortunately for Aoife....that's just weeks away. The reader watches as Aoife is swept up in a whirlwind adventure to figure out her past, her present, and her future all at once. This is a dark and epic quest, that is filled with some of the most intriguing and disturbing creatures imaginable. I don't know if these characters live in Kittredge's brain, but if they do I'd love to talk creepiness with her! I love that there is an underlying link to fae here as well. Keep a look out, it's hidden wonderfully well.

It is really the world building that brings this book to life. The city of Lovecraft is built from bits and pieces of H.P. Lovecraft's writing, with other elements thrown in. As I mentioned above, this isn't just a Fantasy novel. There is so much more to it. Lovecraft and it's surrounding areas are gorgeously dismal. There is a sense of fear and darkness that lays over everything. The atmosphere that is built makes you want to crawl under a blanket and read by lamplight, even if it is daytime outside. No kidding, there were descriptions in this book that made me shudder visibly. However it's not all dark if you're worried about that. Underneath everything is that fantastical sense of adventure and camaraderie. I won't spoil anything, but it's fantastic.

The characters, even besides just Aoife, burn off the page! Aoife is fierce, brave and utterly loyal. Her friend Cal is very rooted in what is right, normal and "proper" but is also an extremely loyal friend to Aoife. Then there is Dean, sweet Dean. The vagabond boy who turns guide, and just so happens to be the apple of Aoife's eye. Brave to a fault, and more than what he seems, he was absolutely my favorite character in the book. Each one of them has their own beautiful personality and wit. Add in the colorful characters that they encounter as they travel and I was completely swept away into the world of Lovecraft.

I can't say anything more. I just don't know what else to write. If you can't already tell, The Iron Thorn was everything I was looking for in a book. It pulled me out of my reading slump, and back into a love of the written world.

I wouldn't quite call this High Fantasy, since it still has one foot in reality, but definitely do your research if you aren't generally a fan of this genre. The Iron Thorn might not appeal to you. However, if you are a lover of Fantasy, of Steampunk, or even of Dystopian fiction, pick up a copy stat! I promise that if you allow yourself to get lost in the words, lost in the world, you'll experience something so amazingly unique it might just make you drop your jaw. The next book is still so far away! 






Wednesday, July 27, 2011

This or That? with Heather Terrell


This lovely lady right here is Heather Terrell! I fell in love with her first book, Fallen Angel when I read it earlier this year. Now she's here to support the sequel, Eternity!

Heather brought along a "This or That?" list to give us a little insight into the new character, Rafe. 


Hi Jessica!

I just wanted to take a second to say thank you so much for your interest in Eternity, the second book in the Fallen Angel series!!  I really appreciate it, and am looking forward to blogging with you today.  If you or your readers want to chat further, you can always check out my website www.heatherterrell.com or friend me on Facebook.

Thanks again!
Heather Terrell


**********

Sunshine or rain?  
Sunshine.

Cats or dogs? 
 Dogs, definitely.

Zombies or Unicorns?
Unicorns.

Boxers or Briefs?
Briefs.

Laptop or desktop?
Laptop, if Rafe even uses a computer.

Coffee shop, or coffee at home?
Coffee shop.  I don’t think Rafe has the kind of home where coffee is available.

Paper books or ebooks?
Paper books.

Hoodies or pullover sweatshirts?
Hoodies.

Beach or forest?
Beach.

Candy or cookies?
Cookies.

**********


Thank you Heather for sharing! I'm so excited to read Eternity!



Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Lisa Polisar's Summer Giveaway!


Not participating yet? Click HERE to start!


The heat is on.....the heat is OOOOONNNN! *dances*

Well my friends it's that time. Time for another GIVEAWAY! Are you ready for it? I said are you ready for it? Alright, I'll let you have it.

Yesterday Lisa Polisar stopped by with a guest post about summer in Nor Cal.

Today she's here with a giveaway just for you!


Up for grabs is a signed copy of Escape: Dark Mystery Tales by Lisa Polisar. I've read and reviewed this one and there are some great short stories in here. Are you a fan of mysteries? You need this!

TO ENTER:

* Be a participant in the "Beach Reads" Summer Challenge. (You can sign up here.)

 * Fill out THIS FORM.

 * Have a mailing address in the U.S. or Canada.


(Remember, you can get an extra entry by commenting on the guest post linked above.)

Winner will be chosen August 31, 2011.




Monday, July 25, 2011

Summers in Nor Cal, with Lisa Polisar


Not participating yet? Click HERE to start!

It's almost the end of July!

How are you doing on your reading goal? Great I hope! Don't stress if you're behind. Remember, it's the fun of participating that is important, and you can win prizes no matter what. Breathe my friends, breathe.

Also don't forget to check out this page for all the current guest posts and giveaways!

**********

Lisa Polisar is here today to share some summer love with us!



I love summer in northern California. I lived in Albuquerque for fifteen years and, except for the monsoons, summer is not the nicest time of year there. But living in the Bay Area and being close to the ocean again, like where I grew up, has helped me seep into the long, slow days, the cooling drape of fog over the bay, and the beauty of nature.


My writing tends to be most fertile when I can be outside a lot. So lately I’ve been finding tiny bites of inspiration in the small details of my neighborhood – clumps of purple sage bending out toward the street, wild flowers pushing through the slats in a broken fence, and the sudden shock of a fuschia bougainvillea. Things can grow out here all year long – what a concept! 


Because the days are so long, I can come home from work at 7pm, sit in my reading chair by the window, and devour Cara Black’s latest Parisian mystery, Murder in the Palais Royale. Read in the living room, read on the patio, read at the beach. And I find myself getting up earlier to work on my current thriller before work. Summer awakens, motivates, inspires me.

And my imagination is more alive and stretched out this time of year. Not just reading more, but writing, dreaming, thinking, visualizing. My reading list right now is a tall stack of books piled in front of my lonely fireplace. Next up: Iris Johansen. So many mysteries…can I ever get to them all??


**********

That is always the question isn't it? Can we ever get through our reading list?

Thank you Lisa for participating in this event!

Don't forget, my friends, to check back tomorrow for Lisa's giveaway.
 

 

Looking back with Gabriella Goliger




Gabriella Goliger is here today. She is the author of Song of Ascent and the recently released Girl Unwrapped. When I was researching Gabriella what I really liked was how honest and forthcoming she is. I honestly can't wait to read her books!

Today, she's here to share with us a little bit about her past in a garage sale of her teenage years. Let's see what she would have parted with shall we?




Some of the items listed are things I never would have wanted to own in the first place, so they would be free, or I'd even pay you to take them away.

1) One very slightly used girdle (foundation garment, to use the fancy term). Stomach ache guaranteed.

2) A bag of brush rollers (the kind that impale your scalp).

3) A crinoline. Puffs out your prom dress so that you look like you're sticking out of a bell.

4) Stack of 45 rpm records by various heartthrobs with the first name of Bobby (Bobby Vee, Bobby Vinton, Bobby Rydell I outgrew them after age 12).

5) Facts of Love and Life for Teenagers (a book that meant well but was full of the biases of the times)

6) Strap-on roller skates with metal wheels. Made your teeth chatter when you skated on sidewalks, but that was part of the fun.

7) A sterling silver puzzle ring. They were all the rage in the late 60s. Perfect for people who like to fiddle with their hands. A pain, though, when you forget how to put it back together.

8) Pair of purple velvet "hot pants". (A combination mini-skirt and shorts or bloomers.)

9) Powder blue corduroy overalls. Cripes, I can't believe I wore such a thing. They were a fashion statement and certainly not meant to be worn while painting your deck or changing the oil in your car.


Thank you so much Gabriella for sharing!
I might actually just take those skates. I miss my pair of skates from when I was younger. There's something to be said of the freedom of skating around!

Girl Unwrapped is a girl's coming-of-age story set in 1960s Montreal about the burdens and blessings of history, the divided self, and the quest to be whole. Toni Goldblatt's awakening to taboo desire conflicts with her Holocaust-scarred parents' expectations. Yearning to reinvent herself, she flees to Israel in the wake of the 1967 war, but the Zionist dream doesn't save her; only on her return, when she discovers kindred spirits in the underground lesbian bar scene, does Toni begin to find her own path. Girl Unwrapped is a novel about love, isolation, and the search for personal truth despite the stranglehold of family.

Add it here.





Sunday, July 24, 2011

Musings and updates



Wow.

How long has it been since I've actually written something on here that wasn't a guest post, a Summer Reading Challenge post, or a review? I can't even remember. Things have been flying by and I'm just holding on to the kite string for dear life. Loving every minute of it too.

Let's see. What's new in my life?

Well, we got FIOS! My awesome, old, built in the 1960's apartment finally got rewired to host this awesome service. Now my Internet is lightning fast, our TV is awesome, and I'm a happy girl.

Have I mentioned I'm addicted to technology? No? I am.

In other news, I've gotten back into my reading groove lately! I've been devouring books a lightning pace and falling in love over and over again. My favorite so far? Definitely Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi. Awesome Kari was sweet enough to send me a copy from ALA, which I promptly devoured. It's a fantastic book! I can't wait to post my review in late October.

What else?

I'm still addicted to sweets.

The BF and I are on a money saving kick and so instead of buying pudding pops like we normally do, we've been making them! There is nothing better than pulling one out of the freezer and enjoying the creamy coolness. It's been so hot I've been flying through these. Good thing my job requires me to burn a lot of calories!

Oh who am I kidding? I'd eat them anyway.

Hmmm....I suppose that's about it.

Shameless plug, my "Beach Reads" Summer Reading Challenge is still in full swing! There's a month left to participate, and the prizes are lovely.

Not participating yet? Click HERE to start!

Who doesn't want to win a copy of Shattered Souls by Mary Lindsey? In fact I might give away a pre-order of Shatter Me too.....we'll see if I can be persuaded.

So that's it my lovely people! Thanks for sticking with me, even during the times things get a little sparse around here. I'm always here! I'm always reading your comments. I'm always appreciative of how motivating you can all be. SO THANKS!

I'll see you on the flip side.


A garage sale of Jim Maher's teenage years


Today Jim Maher, author of Hemingway Man, is here to share a little bit about his teenage years in the form of a garage sale! Ever curious what things your favorite author might have amassed as a teen? Well here's your chance to find out what Jim Maher would sell!

A garage sale of my teenage years, hmmm? That was about twelve thousand years ago (or 12,
I’m 31 now.) What did I have in high school?

-Nirvana, Green Day, Bob Marley and Offspring CDs

-MAD magazine (not the most mature person in the world)

-baseball cards

-the Wheel of Time series

-Leonard Cohen (music, not actual Leonard Cohen)

-Bob Marley posters

-a catalogue for the University of the West Indies (brief flirtation with Rastafarianism)

-Stone Cold Steve Austin figurine (it was a doll, I can admit it)

-scraps of pathetic poetry about the girls I had crushes on over the years (which will never see
the light of day)

-three failed driver’s tests (one in which I very nearly killed the examiner. Sorry, Bob.)

That would about cover my teenage garage sale. You can have the lot for five bucks.



Thank you Jim for sharing!
(and darn I thought I'd be able to buy Leonard Cohen for 5 bucks *sighs*)

Sixteen-year-old Will has just lost his father. With no one else to guide him towards manhood, he follows the teachings of Ernest Hemingway:

1. Plant a tree.
2. Write a book.
3. Fight a bull
4. Have a son.

Good luck with that.



 

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Graphic Novel Review: Made for Each Other


Media Type: Graphic Novel
Title: Made for Each Other
 *Series: My Boyfriend is a Monster
Author: Paul D. Storrie
Illustrator: Eldon Cowgur
Publisher: Graphic Universe
Pages: Paperback; 128
Release Date: April 28, 2011
Source: NetGalley


Tom Stone stepped into Seward High and into Maria McBride's life like a bolt of lightning. He's the perfect guy for Maria--nice, smart, and well-built. There's just one problem: his family. Tom's father is the town's new funeral director, and business is booming. The bodies are piling up thick and fast in Persephone Falls, Alaska, so Dr. Stone keeps Tom up late at night working in the funeral home. And it's clear that Dr. Stone and his creepy assistant, Graves, don't want Maria around. Maria knows Tom was made for her. She's determined to find out what Dr. Stone has against her. When Tom refuses to stand up to his father, Maria begins to stitch together the clues...and finds out that the Stones are into recycling in ways she never could have imagined.



If you follow my reviews, you might have noticed that I already reviewed (and fell in love with) the first in this series. Made for Each Other is the second book in the "My Boyfriend is a Monster" series. As a fan of graphic novels, I'm always raring to pick up a new set! So I dove into the second one with as much fervor as the first.

I think it should be mentioned that I didn't realize until after I started reading that each novel in this series has a different story line, along with different characters. This particular installment follows Maria McBride as she delves into the mysteriousness that surrounds the new boy, Tom Stone. He's unlike any other boy in her high school class. Dark, brooding, and downright handsome. Maria makes it her goal to find out why he's being so cold and distant.

First, as always, let's talk illustrations. One of my favorite parts about these is that they are in black and white. It's not that I don't love color illustrations, I do. There's just something about the black and white that speaks volumes to me. The ability to tell such a vivid story without color is astounding. That being said, the illustrations in Made for Each Other are rather simple, but lovely. The action scenes pop off the page with broad and hurried strokes, while the slower scenes display the tiny brushstrokes that bring a face to life. They fit the story perfectly and each panel is filled with detail. Right down to the wrinkles on Maria's mother's face, they are beautifully done.

In terms of story, that's where this installment lost a star for me. Again, each graphic novel in the series has different characters, and is also (I found out) written by a different author. Although I liked Maria and Tom, I just couldn't fall in love with them as much as I would have liked to. Without spoiling anything I can definitely tell you that this is a different kind of story. If you think you know what it is about by looking at the cover, chances are you are right. It will still amaze you though. What Tom is, well, it definitely adds a story element that keeps things fresh. However, as I said, I just didn't fall in love with it as much as the last installment. Maybe I'm just biased because there are no zombies? It's possible.

I am honestly still in love with this series, and look forward to the next installment! I can't wait to see what "My Boyfriend is a Monster" has in store for us. If you are a lover of graphic novels, give these a shot. If you haven't yet taken the big plunge into graphic novels, these are a great way to start!


Other books in the series:
I Love Him To Pieces (My Boyfriend is a Monster #1)







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.

A Goddess worthy GIVEAWAY from Joan Holub!


Not participating yet? Click HERE to start!


Ready for another great giveaway?

I'll be honest guys. You're kind of killing me here. There are so many giveaways open and none of them have any entries. Make me smile and start entering? *bats eyelashes* I know the authors will love you for it.

(Rant over)

**********

This week Joan Holub stopped by with a guest post fit for a Goddess!

Now she's here to give away a copy of Athena the Wise just for you lovely people.


(Remember, to enter you must be participating in the challenge. It's easy to sign up!)

Up for grabs is a signed copy of Athena the Wise and some scrumptious Goddess Girls bookmarks!


TO ENTER:
* Be a participant in the challenge. The link is right there! *points up*

* Fill out THIS FORM.

* Be a resident of the U.S. or Canada, or have a mailing address there.


(Remember, commenting on the guest post gives you an extra entry.)

Winner will be chosen August 31, 2011.




Friday, July 22, 2011

Book Review: Kicking Ass and Saving Souls


Media Type: Print Book
Title: Kicking Ass and Saving Souls
Author: David Matthews
Publisher: Penguin Group
Pages: Hardcover; 288
Release Date: July 21, 2011
Source: TLC Book Tours
===================
Intended Reading Group:
Adult

Genre: 
Memoir

HDB Rating:
4 Keys to My Heart

The story of a boy from Baltimore who evolves from a safecracking, jewel-heisting, deep-sea diving, ultimate-fighting, international playboy into a globetrotting humanitarian.

Stefan Templeton was born a child of extremes. The son of Ebba, an aristocratic Norwegian love child, and Roye, a militant African American philosopher, Stefan spent his early years shuffling between the discipline of his father's house and dojo in decaying west Baltimore and the eccentricities of his mother's life as a healer and artist in the wealthiest enclaves of Europe. The confusion formed a singular man who had nothing but his own abilities. By age eighteen Stefan was a skilled fighter, philosopher, lover, horseman, and swimmer who exuded confidence and competence.

His highs came from adventure, always. He hunted in Macon, France; brawled in Oxford, England; lived as a kept man off the Champs-Élysées; served as a medicine man in Colombia; escaped death on the Amazon; and trained to serve on Cousteau's Calypso in Marseilles. Love of the mother of his first child temporarily settled Stefan in Norway, but poverty and adrenaline addiction soon kicked in.

Eventually, Stefan found himself in a labyrinthine criminal world-where he pulled off one of the biggest jewel heists in Scandinavia's history as a player in a smuggling consortium. He eluded capture, but the downward spiral continued until he hit bottom one night in Tokyo.


The synopsis above pretty much says it all. Kicking Ass and Saving Souls is a memoir of sorts, following Stefan's crazy and slightly unbelievable life. The twist is, that it is written from his friend, David Matthew's point of view, as he is being told the story. I guess that would make it more of a biography? Not certain, but it was categorized under memoir when I researched it so that is what I labeled it! Semantics, eh?

I can't even begin to express my feelings properly for this book. Stefan's life is nothing like I've ever seen before. From the inner city of Baltimore, to a castle in France, to the wilds of Africa, and back to a tiny one bedroom apartment, Stefan is literally everywhere. His travels alone were mind boggling and fascinating. Ferried back and forth between two very different parents, from a very young age Stefan was a world traveler. He went wherever his life happened to take him. Reading about him being 8 years old and travelling through Norway was utterly engrossing to me. At the age of 13 he was in France and quite a playboy. Are you seeing what I mean? It's almost unbelievable how rich this man's life was with travel.

If that isn't enough to draw you in, take a look at the darker side of Stefan's life above. He was a boy growing up in Baltimore and learning to protect himself from the violence around him. A master at martial arts at a very young age. Deeply stoic before he understood what it meant to be stoic. Then he spiraled out into all sorts of different endeavors, including ones that were illegal. Watching Stefan float through his life from job to job, heist to heist, city to city, became a bit unnerving after a while. He never actually finished anything. Every time he got close to making something of himself he was drawn on to something more exciting, and often more sinister. David Matthew's shows us that this man was extremely multi-faceted.

I know I'm rambling. As I said it's hard for me to explain exactly how intense this book is. Stefan's life is colorful. It's vivid, and dark, and gritty. There is no room for fluff here because the way his story is told is no-nonsense, just like his personality. What is built for the reader is the lifetime of a strong person who lets himself be lead astray. By the time I reached the end of the book and saw Stefan slowly start to figure out a path to retribution, I was emotionally exhausted and yet still intrigued. 

I'm not sure what else I can say! If you are a fan of memoirs, or biographies as the case may be, you need to give Kicking Ass and Saving Souls a read. It's most definitely not a light read, but it's utterly engrossing nonetheless.





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, July 21, 2011

Book Review: Meridian



Media Type: Print Book
Title: Meridian
Author: Amber Kizer
Publisher: Delacorte
Pages: Hardcover; 320
Release Date: August 11, 2009
Source: Library
==================
Intended Reading Group:
Young Adult

Content Screening:
Mild violence

HDB Rating:
3 Keys to My Heart


Half-human, half-angel, Meridian Sozu has a dark responsibility.

Sixteen-year-old Meridian has been surrounded by death ever since she can remember. As a child, insects, mice, and salamanders would burrow into her bedclothes and die. At her elementary school, she was blamed for a classmate's tragic accident. And on her sixteenth birthday, a car crashes in front of her family home and Meridian's body explodes in pain.

Before she can fully recover, Meridian is told that she's a danger to her family and hustled off to her great-aunt's house in Revelation, Colorado. It's there that she learns that she is a Fenestra ; the half-angel, half-human link between the living and the dead. But Meridian and her sworn protector and love, Tens, face great danger from the Aternocti, a band of dark forces who capture vulnerable souls on the brink of death and cause chaos.



Meridian was a fantastic character. I sympathized with her outcast status, and was drawn in by her strength. Even when everything around her was falling apart she was a character who could hold on to the little light that was left. As a protagonist, Meridian is easy to fall into step with. There were times that I didn't agree with her choices, but I think that's true of all books that I've read. I can't fault her for her decisions. Meridian's life is definitely not easy, and Amber Kizer builds a character who is believable and unique all at the same time.

Then there is Tens, her sworn protector and true love. The romance between them moved a bit quickly for my liking, but again I reminded myself that Meridian and Tens follow a different set of rules than that of human kind. The world they live in functions differently than this one. I'll also fully admit that the love between them is rather swoon worthy. So pure, so true. I think I loved Tens even more than I loved Meridian. He was so charming and beautifully flawed at the same time. It's nice to see a character who doesn't fall into the brooding bad boy realm for a change.

In terms of story, the book flows nicely at the beginning but the middle of the book was a bit slow. Again, stepping back I realize that this is the time in which Meridian and Tens were building their relationship and so it does make sense. I would have liked a little more action, but Amber Kizer does do a great job of dispersing action scenes throughout this part to try to keep the plot moving smoothly, so it's not all bad. I fell in love with her descriptive writing during this part. Meridian deals deeply with death, but it's so subtle and fantastically written that it doesn't take away from Meridian's overall story. Instead the reader gets to learn with Meridian as she discovers her powers and what lies ahead. The ending felt a little rushed as well, but it did wrap up nicely and set up for the sequel.

If I had to sum it up, I'd definitely say that overall Meridian was a good read. My interest in Meridian's story is peaked and I'm looking forward to Wildcat Fireflies, the sequel! If you are a lover of paranormal fiction, or of strongly written characters, pick this one up.


Spreading some Pinkberry love!




I got to do some promo work for Pinkberry thanks to their awesome company and the website Crowdtap! I thought I'd share some pictures and talk up our experience. It wasn't the first time that I had been there, but two of my guests were new to Pinkberry :). It was a great chance to take them there!


This is my friend Ronald debating his yogurt destiny. It was his first Pinkberry excursion, and he was a little worried about making sure whatever he ordered was scrumptious. I told him not to worry, it's all delicious.


The awesome employee was so sweet! She served us up some delicious creations, and was even kind enough to give some recommendations to our two newbies!


And here it is! My delicious creation. MMMMMMM...... 

Are you a fan of frozen yogurt? Do you have a favorite place? Hopefully I at least helped you get a little bit of coolness during a hot time of year :).

Thanks for reading!







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