Saturday, November 17, 2012

The Dump - Recycle or Just Throw it Out?

People give excuses not to GO GREEN all the time. "But I can't afford it." "But it's actually more harmful than helpful." "But it doesn't really make a difference."  However, I believe going green (to an extent) is the socially and environmentally sound option.  Even those who hate the whole GREEN campaign can agree that recycling paper, plastics, glass, styrafoam, and hazardous waste (to conserve natural resources, reduce landfill waste, and protect surrounding areas from harm) is a good thing to do.
Now, am I saying everyone should buy a hybrid car or switch out all their light bulbs or only buy products using recycled/recyclable materials?  No.  Just that, sometimes, recycling, if the item can be recycled, is a good thing to do.

And sometimes, you just have to throw some things away.
What does any of this have to do with writing?  (I’m getting there…)
I’ve been a reader for as long as I can remember.  Growing up, my favorite thing to do was read.  To this day, I still love to read.  It’s my favorite past-time.  And I really love it when I start reading a book and I get sucked into this whole other world I never knew existed.  Thankfully, someone else did and they were skilled enough with their language and writing ability to transcribe a story and introduce that world to me.
I never realized how difficult that introduction could be until my focus turned to writing.

Since you, the reader, are new to my world of Chaos, I feel like there is so much you need to know about its history and the rules existing there.  Some things are easy to slip in here and there, but others?  Not so much.  For example, things the MC needs to know:  her family's history, who and what she is, the "real" history of the "real" world.
 Enter the INFO DUMP.

Ugh.  Sitting in the middle of my book, smelling the whole thing up, is an information dump about all the background stuff I know and which I truly believe enriches the story and want to share with you, my reader.  And it really isn’t full of garbage.  There are some gems in there.
But (and there is always a but, isn’t there?)
I feel like I’m giving the reader a history lecture, which (as most non-history-buff people would agree) is BORING!  The last thing I want is to bore my reader.
But (there it is again)
My main character really doesn’t know all this stuff and she needs to and she’s inquisitive and she asks and, and, and…
What do I do?  What do I do?  What do I do?

For you, the reader, do info-dumps bother you? I don’t think they bothered me…before I knew they shouldn’t be there…before I knew there might’ve been a better way for the author to tell me all that stuff.
But now…
The writer in me says I need to eliminate it.  Just throw it all away.
But then...

The story-teller in me says, “You need to know!!!!”

So, do I just throw it all out and see if it works without that knowledge?  I’m so close to the story, will I even be able to realize that the reader doesn’t know what I do?  Or, do I go back and try to weave the most important details into the existing story?  You know...recycle it.
That seems like the right thing to do.
But, but, but...

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Audiobook Review: LOCOMOTION by Jacqueline Woodson

LocomotionLocomotion by Jacqueline Woodson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I listened to the audio presentation of this book. I chose to listen to this, not knowing anything at all about the story, because of how short it was...just over an hour long. At the very beginning, I thought I would regret my decision.

I am amazed at how much I ended up liking this story.

Dion Graham, the reader, did such an amazing job bringing Locomotion (the MC) to life. I really felt like Locomotion was reading his poetry book to me...or I was in class listening to him read it aloud.

The author, Ms. Woodson, did an amazing job writing poetry believably written by a tweenager. Some of the poetry set me giggling. Some made me feel sad. All of it made me relate to Locomotion even though I've never experienced the things he did.

I highly recommend this audiobook even if you aren't a fan of poetry.

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Sunday, November 11, 2012

Book Review: Passion (Fallen #3) by Lauren Kate

Passion (Fallen, #3)Passion by Lauren Kate
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Oh thank Heavens I finished this book!

If I could go back in time and stop myself from picking up PASSION and RAPTURE from the library, I would do it. At least I can prevent myself from reading book 4. I read the last page in the last book, so I know what happens and feel I've got it covered. No need to suffer through the 448 pages of that book. Maybe it would be better than PASSION, but I'm not going to spend my limited time reading it. After all, I have a stack of other library books and dozens of books on my shelf and close to a hundred e-books to read.

As for PASSION, I guess my main problem was the whole traveling-back-through-time bit. I get their Announcer travel, even if I don't understand it or why it is even possible. And I was okay with Luce going back in time to find out what the curse was and how to correct it. And I was even okay with her wanting to figure out why they loved each other (although I don't think that was ever actually answered).

At first.

Then, I just got bored. It was the same thing each time. Some minor enlightenment followed by some gruesome (or not so gruesome) death followed by Daniel acting like a seriously-depressed person. Okay, I get that he loves her and it tears him up to have to watch her die time and time again, but it really didn't help me to like him more or see him as a strong individual. And I really don't see what they love about each other. It's insta-love over real reason beyond they are soul mates, he's super hot,, that's about it.

But my biggest beef with this story is the 'God' character. He totally doesn't act like an all-knowing, all-powerful, creator of everything, kind of god. He even admits that he doesn't know how something will end up for one character...which goes against the 'all-knowingness'. And then, he sides with Lucifer and says "Lucifer is right..." In what alternate timeline/universe did Luce end up in where 'God' would ever say Lucifer was right about anything?

Unfortunately, I cannot say I liked this all. It was okay. I've read much worse. I've read MUCH better. Will I recommend this book? No. I really liked FALLEN. TORMENT was good, a bit annoying, but okay. I'm sure there are some readers who loved this entire series, including this book. Unfortunately, I'm not one of them and won't be finishing the Fallen series.

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Monday, November 5, 2012

Monday Madness

Today is going to be crazy.

First, and most importantly, it's my Hubby's birthday. Happy birthday, Honey! I've been informed NOT to make a big deal out of it, but I'm not very good at listening sometimes. ;D

And second, it's the last day I have to improve my logline and the first 250 words before forking over some $ in the hopes that my story will jump to the top of the slush pile and make it to an auction where it will WOW an agent, lead to a signing, and eventually to the publication of my first story. Phew! Say all that in one breath.

I received some very helpful advice from my last posting and made minor adjustments with those suggestions in mind. For the last time before the contest, I'm posting my first 250 words as well as the logline. As always, I would love any feedback you have to give.

So, here you go. Critique away.


A fifteen-year-old unknowingly destined to live forever is abducted from her family; to save herself and those she loves, she’ll have to defeat Lucifer's demonic hordes in the coming war for Heaven.

FIRST 250 (253) WORDS:

It was going to be perfect.

I had it all planned out. The food. The entertainment. And most importantly, the guest list. It was going to be the best weekend of my life.

“You’ll ruin everything!” Mom’s voice cried out through the open windows, pulling me from my daydreams of one guest in particular.

I smirked at the mental image of her in there, freaking out over the dust bunny she’d probably just found. She was always toiling away to remove the imaginary layer of dirt she swore coated everything no matter how recently she’d cleaned it. Gripping the front door’s handle, I hesitated going inside and risking her recruiting my help.

“No! I won’t let you! Get out! Get out and leave us alone!”

The door handle ripped out of my hand and I stumbled forward. “Oh!” I exclaimed as strong arms caught me. “I’m so,” I said, looking up at the stranger holding me, “sorry.” The word drifted from my mouth as an overwhelming sense of familiarity washed over me. “Who…? Do I…do I know you?”

A frown creased his brow as he narrowed his eyes. Uneasiness spread through me at his measuring gaze. I tried to pull away from him, but his grip was too strong. “Let me go,” I breathed. He scowled, pulled me closer, and leaned his face into my neck. Like an animal scenting its prey, he inhaled.

“Lilith,” he breathed into my ear.

“Let her go, you, you, you demon!” Mom shrilled, brandishing a wooden spoon.

Thanks again for all your help! I couldn't do this without you!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

It's so fluffy!

Hello! Me again. It is now the 3rd day of NaNoWriMo. If I have any hope of completing (winning), I ought to have at least close to 6k words for the new story I'd planned to write.

Word count as of 11-3-2012: 0 Zero, Nada, Zip, Zilch

Why? Why have I not even written a single word of the story I've been cooking up and dreaming of for the past several months?

Because I really want to see Lily's story in print one day!

I don't mean to be a snob, and bravo to all those writers who have self-pubbed and found success, but I really want to be traditionally published. In order for that to happen, for one of the big publishing houses to give me any notice, I need a Literary Agent.

I want a Literary Agent like the little girl in Despicable Me wants the unicorn. And I will do everything I can to get one. See, just like this:

Okay, so maybe I won't go blowing anything up, but I am willing to work my fingertips off and squeeze my brain to find ways to improve the story and pique the interest of my Agent-to-be.

So, I've been too busy to NaNo because, on Tuesday, not only do I plan to exercise my right (and duty) to vote, I am also putting Lily's story out there again for an Agent to read and fall in love with. Or, at least, that's the goal. But the previous intro was lack-luster at best and a scratchy bit of toilet paper at worst.

Here is the newest version. I think it's better. I hope it is anyway. As always, any opinions/suggestions are more than appreciated...even if it's to tell me you wouldn't even wipe your butt with it. Just make sure to tell me why. All your criticism helps to make me a better writer and I am forever grateful to you for taking enough interest in me to do that.

Now, without further ado, the first 250 (247, to be exact) words of The Children of Chaos: TELOS

It was going to be perfect.

I had it all planned out. The food. The entertainment. And most importantly, the guest list. It was going to be the best weekend of my life.

“You’ll ruin everything!” Mom’s panicked voice cried out, pulling me from my daydreams of one guest in particular.

I smirked at the mental image of her freaking out over the dust bunny she’d probably just found. She was always in there, toiling away to remove the imaginary layer of dirt she swore coated everything no matter how recently she’d cleaned it. Gripping the door handle, I hesitated going inside and risking her recruiting my help.

“No! Get out! Get out and leave us alone!”

The handle ripped out of my hand and I fell forward. “Oh!” I exclaimed as strong arms caught me. Intending to apologize for crashing into the person holding me, I looked up at the stranger and gasped. “Who…,” the word whooshed out as a sense of familiarity washed over me. “Do I…do I know you?”

A frown creased his brow as he narrowed his eyes. Uneasiness spread through me at his measuring gaze. I tried to pull away from him, but his grip was too strong. “Let me go,” I breathed. He scowled, pulled me closer, and leaned his face into my neck. Like an animal scenting its prey, he inhaled.

“Lilith,” he breathed into my ear.

“Let her go, you, you, you demon!” Mom shrilled, brandishing a wooden spoon.

So, better? More room for improvement? Any and all suggestions/comments are welcome. And thanks for taking the time to read it...again. :)

Monday, October 29, 2012

You decide: Woohoo or Boohoo

Recently, I've been lurking around on the Miss Snark's First Victim blogsite, trying to improve different aspects of my writing and hoping to score some interest from an agent.

So far,
But I'm not giving up.

This morning, the discovery of my first real rejection by an actual literary agent left me completely crushed. See, I'd entered a Secret Agent contest over at MSFV and posted the first 250 words of my story. Any Joe Schmo could leave comments and the Secret Agent would also. If s/he was interested, s/he would ask for more. Sadly, she did not love it. Or even like it. She said it was the worst possible way to start a story and had absolutely NO interest in reading more.

[insert snot-nosed crying and moaning here]

I was shocked. I really thought I had something...amazing. Not the snoozy bore she said wouldn't even encourage her to turn past page 1 (although others said they would definitely read on). I read all her comments on the other contestants' entries and found only a few harsher comments than what she wrote for me (and I agreed with her on most of those).
So, after my initial pity party and woe-is-me moment, I picked myself up, wiped away the tears and snot, and took another look at page 1. Keeping the suggestions of the other commenters in mind as well, I tried to see the story through fresh eyes. What I found shocked me.

They were right!

The issue most readers were having was something I'd been holding onto as the last reminent of the very first draft of my story (back when I was calling it Lily). I have now (for the bazillionth time) revised the first, oh, 400 words and really like the new version. I don't know if the Agent would feel the same (I doubt it), but hers is only one literary agent's opinion.

What is your opinion? Below is the revised first 250 words. (Okay, it's actually 257 words but I couldn't just leave it in mid-)

Abduction was never supposed to be part of the best weekend of my life – neither was dying – but then things seldom go according to my plans.

The weekend started out decent, at least. I stepped off the bus and out into the promise of freedom Friday afternoons held. I moseyed across the suburban road, happy to be home and even happier that Saturday was finally only one day away.

As I got closer to the front door, my daydream of how different this birthday would be from previous ones was interrupted by Mom’s voice. She was in there, toiling away to remove the imaginary layer of dirt she swore coated everything no matter how recently she’d cleaned it. A smile crept up my lips as I gripped the door handle. It was almost time for my ball and this Cinderella had handed in her broom for the weekend.

“Oh!” I cried as I stumbled forward. Strong arms caught me. Intending to apologize for my uncommon clumsiness, I looked up at the stranger holding me and inhaled sharply. “Do I…know you?”

I narrowed my eyes, trying to place his completely foreign yet uncannily familiar features. Tightening his hold, he glared at me, his brilliant green eyes reflecting the sunlight in an unusual halo around his pupil.

I tried to pull away from his grip, away from him and his measuring gaze. “Let me go,” I breathed. He scowled and pulled me closer. He leaned his face into my neck and, like an animal scenting its prey, he inhaled.

So, what do you think? Woohoo or Boohoo? And, if you care to compare, you can click here to read the other boohooed submitted version. Thanks for any feedback! :)

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Book Review: SEND by Patty Blount

SendSend by Patty Blount
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I am a fan!

When I first heard about this book, I knew I had to read it. I tried to win a copy on several blog sites. Before I knew if I'd win, I begged my library to buy this book. They used to honor my requests right away, but for the past year or so, they've been denying most of them due to budget cuts. I was shocked when, two hours after I sent my request, the librarian in charge of adding new books to the catalog contacted me and said to look for it in mid-September. Well, it didn't come in until the end of September, but they did get it and I was the first to have their copy in my hands.

And I LOVED it!

The very first sentence grabbed me, and I knew I was in for a ride. And what a ride. Dan/Kenny is such a likeable character. You know he's supposed to be the bad guy, he messed up and is messed up after all, but you can't help but empathize with and sympathize for him. The secondary characters are well done, too. The mysteries behind everyone's lies continues until the very end, wrapping you up in their troubles and sorrows.

This story is about actions and consequences, mistakes and forgiveness. It's about bullying. Bullying doesn't have to physically push someone in the ground or take their lunch money or give them swirlies or wedgies. It can be done easily, thoughtlessly, and with just a word or a look. Or the click of a SEND button. In this electronic/digital age, the cyberworld holds whole bunches of new issues and problems for our kids to grow up with and deal with, cyber-bullying being one of the big ones. I'm constantly reminding my kids to 'think before you act' in the attempt to help them figure out their life and how they want to live it. The thing is, how many of you would have ever imagined posting an embarrassing picture on the internet would result in someone's death? That by laughing at someone--and getting others to laugh along with you--you were essentially pulling the trigger or tying the noose or dragging the blade or any other number of things people do to end their pain? Could you live with that guilt?

SEND is an amazing story that takes you on one boy's journey through his search for redemption and forgiveness. It's thought-provoking and masterfully done.

And I still want a copy to call my own. I'm trying to win one of the two copies up for grabs on Goodreads as of the posting of this review. If I don't win, this will be one book I plan to purchase to add to my collection--to reread for myself and to share with my kids as they get a little older.

**This book contains quite a bit of foul language (several f-bombs), mentions drug and alcohol abuse, and has a non-explicit sex scene.**

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Monday, October 1, 2012

Book Review: Hidden (Firelight#3) by Sophie Jordan

Hidden (Firelight, #3)Hidden by Sophie Jordan
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Maybe I have a thing against the end of a story...especially trilogies. Quite often, it seems the second book is just filler OR the final book just doesn't hold up to the awesomeness that was book 1 and book 2. Sometimes both. Now, I loved Firelight and Vanish. And I really, really wanted to love Hidden just as much. Unfortunately, I didn't.

One thing going for this book is that it is a quick read. After spending nearly a month trying to finish a 354-page book, I was able to finish this 260-page book in about 5 hours. The major problem was that most of story was spent going back and forth: caught then free, caught then free, caught then free; be with Will, let him go, be with Will, let him go, be with Will, let him go. It became kind of tedious. I wanted Jacinda to hurry up and get back to the Pride, but even then the same things happened. I also felt that there weren't any real twists or surprises to this story. There is one semi-surprise near the end, but it wasn't all that shocking. Several of the characters from book 1 and book 2 make a reappearance in book 3, but their parts are very limited. Also, there was one injury/death at the end of the book which I felt was not clarified (see, I don't even know if the person actually died or not).

All in all, I enjoyed reading this end to the series but it isn't one of my favorites by Sophie Jordan. The story does wrap up most of the issues Jacinda faced and has a mostly happy ending. If you've read and enjoyed the first two books in this series, I would recommend reading this to finish out the series...just don't expect to be blown away with the amazing awesomeness that was Firelight.

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Friday, September 28, 2012

Book Review: The Peculiars by Maureen Doyle McQuerry

The PeculiarsThe Peculiars by Maureen Doyle McQuerry
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I was originally intrigued by the idea of an alternate history/steampunk/paranormal/fantasy novel. And the cover looked so interesting. Unfortunately, I found myself not connecting with these characters...not caring about their problems and wishing they would just hurry up and finish. When I finally read the last line, I actually humphed. "That's it?" The ending was lackluster. Really, the whole story was lackluster. It had such a seemingly unique premise and there were certainly aspects of the story which were unique. They just weren't...interesting.

I was really shocked by how long it took me to finish this book. It wasn't even 400 pages long and it took me nearly 3 weeks. And I wasn't reading something else in the meantime. I wasn't even really working on my own novel much. I picked this book up every spare second I had The dialog often felt like an information dump or just seemed like a forced conversation. There were other information dumps which weren't dialog and those really slowed the pace of the story down, too.

I'm sure some readers out there will find this book to be a fantastic read. I am not one of them. I don't think I'll recommend this book, even as one to borrow from the library (which is where I got my copy). Happy reading!

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Thursday, September 13, 2012

Book Review: A Gift for My Sister by Ann Pearlman

A Gift for My SisterA Gift for My Sister by Ann Pearlman
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Before I begin my review, I would like to thank Inga Kupp-Silberg for generously giving me a copy of this book for review and Pavarti Tyler for informing me of the opportunity.

Here is my very abbreviated synopsis of the book. A Gift for My Sister is a story told from the dual perspectives of two sisters about their struggles with love and life. At first, the two are distant, disconnected, and consider each other almost as strangers -- being only half-sisters by birth. After tragedy strikes, a roadtrip begins the journey of self-realization, acceptance, and healing. By the end of the road to recovery, the sisters are best friends.

Now, A Gift for My Sister does not fall into my typical, go-to genre for pleasure reading, so my opinion of the story may skewed by that fact. That said, I did still find it more enjoyable than some of the YA I've read in the past year. The story had some touching moments, especially when the main tragedy struck the family. I found the worries and concerns of the sisters to be feasible and believable, something essential in this kind of story. The thing that kept me reading to the end was to find out Tara's decision and what the fallout of her choice would be.

My biggest issue with this story (grammatical things and typos aside) was the dialog, both external and internal. I had a hard time, like, believing the characters spoke that way and oftentimes had a difficult time following their conversations. Occasionally, the way the two sisters spoke - and even some of the secondary dudes (characters) - ended up sounding alike. Also, there were moments when the prose shifted from the MC narrating the story for me to her talking directly to me (the reader). I found those moments unnecessary and disconcerting, often kicking me out of the story.

A few, other minor issues, included:

-the chapters: I would have had just one chapter 1 and had a sub header for the parts told by Sky and Tara. Sometimes, I would forget who was telling the story or if I'd read the other character's perspective for the same chapter yet. It was a little confusing.
-the flashbacks/back stories: There were several that I felt were not really needed for the plot to progress. They didn't really help deepen the main characters, just gave them more to think about. I will say that most of the flashbacks were done very well, so they flowed with the story and did give some insight for the reader into that character's motivations.
-the in-depth mention of daily activities/food: I almost didn't read past the first few chapters. The information of the little girl's potty training experiences and saving her successes for her daddy to see...a bit too TMI for me. The details of the sisters' everyday, mundane activities was somewhat tiresome, as well. I understood by the end of the book why the food and it's preparation were so detailed, but that information could have been left out and I would still know just as much about the characters.
-the last chapter: If recipes are going to be given, they should be written like you'd find in a recipe book. If you want to add a story/explain the meaning behind each recipe, that’s fine, but do it either before the ingredients list and directions or after. Don't mix it all up together. And I really like measurements with my recipes, too.

And while those things took up a lot of space in this review, they really didn't ruin the story for me. A Gift for My Sister is a story I would recommend to readers who enjoy realistic fiction, chick-lit, family drama, or a character-driven story.

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Saturday, August 4, 2012

Book Review: Tempest by Julie Cross

Tempest (Tempest, #1)Tempest by Julie Cross
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Sigh. Once again, I regret having to rate a book. I was actually NOT going to rate it, but what's the point of that? If I'm going to be an honest reviewer, I have to say what I think.

One Star.

I almost wish I could cry. I was SO excited to start this book, as you can see from my update comments posted below. It bugged me at first how similar the cover is to the Hush, Hush series (I remember the first time I saw the book and thought it had the wrong title...bizarre). For the first 200 pages, I had no idea what the title had to do with the book. Not that that's a big deal; some books have titles that make no sense at all, but whatever.

So, the book. Where to begin? I love Sci-fi. Like LOVE Sci-fi. See, I'm 'old school' like that, not SyFy as the channel has changed it. I love exploring other worlds, investigating the supernatural, and testing my ability to pretend to understand the scientific mumbo-jumbo littered throughout the genre. The thing about Sci-fi is it has to be believable. The science has to make logical sense. The premise/plot has to seem plausible. The characters have to be enjoyable (I would've said likeable but some of my favorites have been characters I love to hate).

Unfortunately, TEMPEST falls flat on all accounts. Plus, it completely lacks originality.

The main 4 characters are Jackson (the MC), Holly (the MC's girlfriend), Adam (the MC's smartypants sidekick), and Dad (the MC's 'dad'). Jackson, at first, is a completely selfish jerk who treats his friends poorly and his girlfriend like dirt. We do see some growth in his character as he struggles to figure out how to return to his original timeline AND save Holly. Quite often, his 19/20-year-old character seemed really immature, and other times he sounded more like a 20-something-year-old playboy. Maybe his lack of morals at first explain his behavior and his player attitude, but I found it detrimental to my ability to like him as a character. Holly seemed like three different girls to me. There is the original 009 version (blah, she seemed like the type of girl that would stay in an abusive relationship and cover it up with makeup), the younger 007 version (a little more wild and believable), and the second 009 version (who accepts everything and becomes a wannabe-CIA chick). Adam is there just to fit the pieces of the puzzle together when Jackson isn't smart enough on his own (even though he has photographic and audiographic memory). And then there's the Dad...the most unbelievable CIA agent ever written. Oh wait. No, those would be his co-workers and boss.

~smacks head~ The freaking CIA! If you are going to write about CIA agents, please try to make them seem realistic and not like they fell out of Men-In-Black or some kiddie-Disney show. I get that the CIA guys are tough and wear suits and there isn't much way around that...but honestly, there has to be a better way to create a CIA character than big-tough-dumb-guy-in-suit-with-gun-who-is-after-me-for-no-apparent-reason.

Okay, enough about the characters. Let's look at plot. I was promised "...excitement, romance, and intrigue." I was told to expect "a maze of ingenious twists and turns...[taking] me on a magic carpet ride that will have [me] flipping pages to the end." Yeah, I flipped pages, constantly, but only to see how much longer until the end. It's bad when you've barely made it halfway through a book and you can't wait for it to be over. There was no suspense, no twists or turns I didn't see coming pages away. Jackson is trying to learn more about his time-jumping abilities and in the process learns he's a government experiment whose existence alters the future of the world and his biggest concern is how to save his girlfriend who he actually cares about but treats like dirt. The whole idea of time-jumping as it's portrayed in this story makes little to no sense at all. Different timelines existing in a parallel universe but his 'home-base' is the timeline that's real...says who? And how does he know he's on the real timeline? After the jump he made from the past on a different timeline to the past of his real timeline, several of the characters said things or did things that they wouldn't have known to say or do (nor could they accept) on the original timeline, yet they do anyway. I seriously thought he'd jumped to what he thought was his original timeline but was really another parallel. I somewhat expected him to be lost in the timeline continuum of parallel universes always struggling to find his way home but never quite getting there. Wait. Wasn't that a show on in the late '80s early '90s? Quantum Leap. Loved that show. {tangent} Anyway, the science in this book just isn't well done. It leaves too many questions and answers questions with vague explanations.

And then there's the writing style. I just didn't enjoy it at all. The MC is supposed to be a dude, but he sounds less dude-like and more chick-trying-to-be-a-dude. I mean, I guess I'm not the best judge of what or how dudes think (seeing as how I'm a girl), but I've read other books written by women from a guy's perspective and they seemed so much more realistic than this one did. And the language. My goodness. I understand some characters use foul language and that is just part of who they are, but this felt like it was put in just for the 'oh-my' factor. Same with the sex stuff. Totally unnecessary.

Well, that's enough for me. Suffice it to say, if there is a sequel, I won't be reading it, and I probably won't be watching the movie version of this until it's on instant-download from Netflix.

Oh, here are my status update comments. I don't normally include them on my reviews (and I normally don't write such long reviews either), but I thought it would show that I really grew to dislike the book and didn't go into it looking to hate it.

07/28 page 2 1.0%
"Just started. Nice to have a story with a dude for the main character again. Love my strong, female protags, but it's always nice for a change."

07/30 page 53 16.0%
"So, I'm not loving this as much as I thought I would. The dude is too much like a chick. The plot very GROUNDHOUG DAY meets JUMPER meets CLOCKSTOPPERS or any other sci-fi time travel story. I don't like how things just happen for the sake of happening. And I'm not crazy about the language or the sex. Unnecessary and doesn't add to the character's development at all."

08/03 page 219 66.0%
"Still not loving it, but too far in to quit. Hoping the next 100 pages goes faster. I'm ready to move on to something else."

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Thursday, August 2, 2012

Audiobook Review: Behemoth by Scott Westerfeld

Behemoth (Leviathan #2)Behemoth by Scott Westerfeld
My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Behemoth was an excellent read (listen) and a fabulous installment in the Leviathan series. One thing is for sure, Scott Westerfeld knows how to write action-packed scenes.

Behemoth continues the story of Alek and Deryn (aka "Mr. Sharp"), introducing new allies and beasties who help overcome the obstacles the two face in their attempts to play their parts in the Great War. I love how everything that happens seems plausible and (somewhat) inevitable for the characters. I really enjoy the mix of fact and fiction in this incredible historical steampunk story.

I really like sci-fi and action stories, but I LOVE when a story has a hint of romance in it. And Deryn's growing affection for Alek (and his complete oblivion to it) really fits the bill for me. Deryn's feelings for Alek and her desire to follow orders often don't mesh so well, and it's really interesting watching her decide how to balance the two. I adored the moment they were alone in the hotel room and Alek confided his last secret to Deryn. And I have to say, the scene after the battle had me grinning. ;D When you read the story, you'll know what I'm talking about.

I'm so excited to see what happens in the next book, Goliath, and super glad I already have it loaded on my iPod!

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Monday, July 30, 2012

Audiobook Review: The Amulet of Samarkand (Bartimaeus #1) by Jonathan Stroud

The Amulet of Samarkand (Bartimaeus, #1)The Amulet of Samarkand by Jonathan Stroud
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Breif review for this one. I'd read this book several months ago after I got it out for one of my kids and he turned his nose up at it. I wanted to find out what he didn't like about it. When I read it myself, I found that the Britishness of this story was probably what lost him. At first, I found reading the footnotes somewhat annoying. I skipped several of them if I wasn't confused in the story. I wish I hadn't done that. Those footnotes held a lot of humor.

I received this audiobook from SYNC for free, and I must say, listening to this story in audio format was SO much more enjoyable than reading it for myself. I love the reader's voice for the different characters and how he handled the footnotes - they were more like side thoughts than footnotes. If you like worlds of magic and magicians and don't mind the British setting, I'd highly recommend listening to this series. I know I'll be looking for the rest of the trilogy on audio now.

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Friday, July 20, 2012

Audiobook Review: Forever Odd by Dean Koontz

Forever Odd (Odd Thomas Novel, Book 2)Forever Odd by Dean Koontz
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Didn't realize this was part of a series and not the first. I haven't read or even heard of the other books. We'll see...

So, I finished it...finally. Let me just say, anytime the main character reveals that they died and you rejoice only to be told in the next chapter that they really didn't die and THAT is when you cry, it is not a good sign. Suffice it to say, I disliked this book. Immensely. There are too many reasons why to list here. Let me summarize it all with a quote from the story towards the end (don't have a page number since it was on audio):

I considered whether or not I had to pee.
I didn't.

Yeah, that seems to fit the bill.

This is the second Koontz audiobook I've listened to, and I'm sad to say it will be the last. I had fond memories of the Koontz books I liked back in the day (Lightning & Watchers). Now, I'm afraid to reread them and find out that I dislike them as much as I disliked the newer stuff I've listened to.

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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Book Review: Legend by Marie Lu

Legend (Legend, #1)Legend by Marie Lu
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Can I give it 6?

LEGEND blew me away. It is an amazing, mysterious, romantic, action-packed, dystopian and has renewed my love for this genre. It is one of those books that I just couldn't put down and when I had to, I thought about it and dreamt about it and couldn't wait to pick it back up.

I can't remember the last book that had me so enraptured.

The only negative thing I have to say about this book is that I have to wait until 2013 to read the next installment.

The story is told from dual perspective, Day and June. I don't know how Ms. Lu did it, but from the first moment the characters are introduced, the reader experiences empathy for them. I anxiously awaited the moment Day and June would meet and what would happen. The changes June undergoes are impressive and completely believable as presented in the story. I also loved the world building. I got a real, Gotham-City-before-the-bat feel for the new, Los Angeles area depicted in the story. You could really visualize the dirt and decay, feel the hunger and hopelessness, and see how some of the elite (and even some of the poor) were blinded to the truth right in front of them. I look forward to finding out more about the Patriots, if their society is any better, and to watching Day & June's relationship develop.

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Audiobook Review: Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld

Leviathan (Leviathan, #1)Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I finished listening to this audiobook a couple days ago. I really enjoyed listening to it. The reader to a great job with the voices and made the story's action come to life. Guy readers will probably find this steampunk book right up their alley: lots (LOTS) of action, war, robotic machines, sci-fi creatures, and very little (but it is there!) romance. My only complaint is how abruptly the story ended. I know the sequel is already out, so at least I don't have to wait for a year to find out what happens next, but it felt like the story was just chopped in mid-scene for the ending. If not for that, I probably would've given this book 5 stars.

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Sunday, July 15, 2012

Book Review: Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma

Imaginary GirlsImaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma

I am not going to offer a rating for this book. I don't think it would be fair.

I will say that I did not enjoy this book at all though. The writing style is not one for which I'm particularly fond. The tone of the book is very dark and depressing.

I was going to just put the book in my Unfinished pile, but couldn't bring myself to do it. Instead, I skipped several chapters (about 1/3rd of the book - something I've never done before) and read the last three chapters. Even those, I found myself skimming the text, looking for something to happen. I disliked the ending as much as the rest of the book.

I know this story got a lot of positive reviews from other reviewers and I'm not sure it was actually a bad story, but I really didn't like it.

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Friday, July 13, 2012

Book Review: Torn (Trylle #2) by Amanda Hocking

Torn (Trylle Trilogy, #2)Torn by Amanda Hocking
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Torn, book 2 in the Trylle Trilogy, unfortunately fell prey to a common trait of middle books in a trilogy -- fluff, stuffing, having little story arc of its own.

In all fairness, I enjoyed reading it (hence the 4 stars), but there were many things I disliked about the book. But, I feel like I am constantly tearing books apart, telling all their negative qualities and not giving them praise for any of the things I did like. So, before I get to the negative stuff, I'm going to try to explain what I did like about Torn.

First, I enjoyed the humor sprinkled throughout this installation of the Trylle story. It wasn't much, but I found myself smiling (or grinning) several times which is impressive because books have to be very moving to get a physical reaction out of me. I even shared a quote from the book on Facebook.

Second, I enjoyed learning more about the Trylle empire, history, lifestyle, etc. The world building in book 1 was good, but not nearly as strong as it is in book 2. The difference in the classes is clear and the separation between them believable.

And Third, the character development. The bonds of friendship Wendy developed in this book were far more believable than in the previous book. Wendy really seems to grow and develop as a character, becoming stronger in her opinions and determination as well as in her ability to control her powers. Finn, while sometimes a frustrating character, remains true to his upbringing and his firm belief in the class system. I'm not entirely sure I accept the attraction between Loki and Wendy, but the way Loki behaves is believable after learning some of his history. I'm also not sure I believe Matt would behave as he does once at the Trylle palace or that Willa would betray her upbringing for him, but sometimes people don't do things you'd expect them to do.

Possible Spoilers Following!

Now, on to the things I didn't like. It was predictable. I guess the announcement of who her father is was the only real twist I didn't see coming. I knew from book 1 that Wendy and Tove would be engaged. I knew from book 1 that Finn would not betray propriety, that their relationship would go nowhere. He was there just to give Wendy someone to pine after and whine/complain about. I never really felt the connection between the two of them, it always felt kind of forced. I knew from the moment Loki was introduced that he would be her next big heart-throb, but (as referenced in the book) it would be a Romeo & Juliet kind of relationship.

I think the thing that bothered me the most is that the story really didn't accomplish much of anything, acting more like filler to set up book #3. Wendy runs away, gets captured, meets forbidden boy #2, gets rescued, pines after boy #1 and #2, learns more history (a lot), accepts her duty, and gets engaged to boy #3 (who happens to be her friend, and oh yeah, gay too -- grr). That about wraps it up.

Also, the little bit of action in the story seemed contrived and unnecessary. In book 1, the action actually had a purpose: The bad guys wanted to capture Wendy and she had to fight against them. In this book, she threw herself into a situation where the bad guys could get her mainly so we could meet boy #2. And really, that was the end of the action. The rest of the story was about her flip-flopping emotions and coming to terms with accepting her dismal future as Queen, choosing duty over love.

But, you know the story isn't over. There's book 3. You know Wendy has accepted that things with Finn will never be. You also know that, while she claims to accept the idea of a loveless marriage with little prospect of any chance of love to develop, she is an emotional creature driven by her heart -- and she wants Loki. She feels protective of him and when she finds out about his imprisonment (which she will somehow - probably Sarah sneaking back to tell her), she will set out to rescue him (and I bet Finn gets dragged into that just so we can see him suffer, and maybe give up his life to save hers because, you know, she can't be with someone else if he's still alive). And you know that Elora will die and Wendy will be crowned and peace will end only to be found again once the truth about why they are fighting in the first place comes out. Oh, and I completely expect the 'big battle' to occur during the coronation ceremony or at the wedding. Probably the wedding, which will happen right after she is crowned, because, you know, soap-opera syndrome.

See, I didn't mean to sound so negative about the book because I really did enjoy reading it...a heck of a lot more than Imaginary Girls (which I have yet to force myself to finish ~sigh~)...but I wish some of the issues hadn't existed so the story could have been even better.

I'll be requesting book #3 (Ascend) in a couple weeks, after I tackle my huge stack of other books I've borrowed and really want to read (like TMI#5 City of Lost Souls - which I just picked up yesterday ~squee!~).

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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Book Review: The Thing About Georgie by Lisa Graff

The Thing About GeorgieThe Thing About Georgie by Lisa Graff
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I wish I could give this book more than 5 stars.

It was that good.

I know this isn't really my normal genre, but I have to say, I enjoyed it more than several of the YA paranormal books I've read recently. Lisa Graff is one of my new, favorite writers. Regardless of what is your favorite genre, you should give this story a try.

The Thing About Georgie is a story about a fourth-grade boy who happens to be a dwarf. The story is so real, the characters are so real, the struggles Georgie and his friends face are so real, that I felt like I was watching a documentary (kinda like that show on TLC - Little People, Big World) following Georgie around rather than reading a book. I absolutely LOVE the way the story is written. Most of it is from Georgie's perspective. His thoughts and feelings are so true for a fourth-grader...of any height. I never felt like he thought in a way too old for his age, or that he faced any problems a fourth-grader wouldn't be faced with. Even the secondary characters have things going on in their lives that you get glimpses of to help you better understand and feel like you know who they are. The thing I loved most about the book was when a narrator actually spoke to you, the reader. She tells you to do things: to compare yourself to Georgie, to what he can and can't do. I loved the interactivity; it really made you relate to Georgie as a person. And I loved at the end when you find out who that narrator actually was -- perfect!

You know, schools are constantly looking for new books for kids to have as required reading to help them broaden their understanding of the world and the people inhabiting it. I really think this would be a good book for teachers to utilize to help kids learn that just because someone looks different from you doesn't mean they are any different. We all have things to be happy about, even if they're small -- or huge. We all have struggles in life. We all have to learn to accept what difficulties life has given us, learn to deal with them - or outgrow them, and learn who it is we are meant to be. The Thing About Georgie is a great example of that experience wrapped up in a 42" package of awesomeness.

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Saturday, June 23, 2012

June 2012 - Audiobook Month

Summer is officially here! Yay!

And it's June - Audiobook Month! Yay!

I've been enjoying signing up for the various audiobooks giveaways and contests on several different book-blogging sites, like Reading Teen. Have you?

But, the thing is,I haven't won a single one.

In fact, I missed even signing up for two that I would've really liked to have won:

I read the entire Fablehaven series to my kids and LOVED it!

Book #5 in The Mortal Instruments series-um, Jace...need I say more???

And now the month of June is coming to an end and with it the celebration of audiobooks.


Just because the month is almost over doesn't mean the audiobook freebies have to come to an end too! SYNC is offering two free audiobooks every week for the remainder of the summer (well, until August 22nd). It's guaranteed and totally free! Just download the OverDrive Media to your PC or mobile device (link provided on the Sync website as well), download the two stories for each week, and let your ears enjoy the beauty of the written word.One really nice thing about these downloads is they are MP3 files, so you can play them on any digital audioplayer without having to convert any files first. So, what are you waiting for?!? Go check out this amazing offer and let the summer of listening fun continue!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Book Review: Switched by Amanda Hocking

Switched (Trylle Trilogy, #1)Switched by Amanda Hocking
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I originally started reading this book as an ebook from its original release (free, self-pubbed edition). I thought it was okay but wasn't really digging it. And then the action sequences got annoying, so I quit. Ha-ha. That was an example of the action that irritated me so much. This happened and then that happened, so I did this. It was a few paragraphs with every sentence like that on the same page which made me throw (place gently) down the book (my iPad) and quit.

But I hate quitting books. I knew this book series had major success as a self-pubbed book. I'd also read that it got a huge deal with a major publisher. I figured, if a publisher bought it, they probably had it edited and fixed the issues I had with the writing. I checked on Amanda Hocking's website and discovered that the content had been revised and issues fixed. I immediately went to my library's website and requested the print version.

I'm so glad I did!

I don't know how different the self-pubbed edition is to the trad-pubbed edition, but the second half of the book was so much better than the first. I did go back to check the one scene I couldn't stand and found it remained unchanged. However, once Wendy went to Forening, her character really blossomed and so did the story.

The romance between Wendy and Finn was a little flat, but has promise and is the main reason I will be getting TORN (book 2, already requested from the library). The mystery and intrigue of the Trylle (troll) society was enough to make me keep turning the page, hoping to find the answers to Wendy's questions (which no one ever gives her - or rarely does anyway). I really was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed the book once I had the paper version in my hands. If TORN is as good as the second half of SWITCHED, I will definitely finish the series and be on the waiting list for her new series (WAKE) coming out this fall (2012).

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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Audiobook Review: Breathless by Dean Koontz

BreathlessBreathless by Dean Koontz

I don't think I ought to rate this book. I'd give it a one-star, if I did.

I completely disliked Breathless. There wasn't a single character or plot which I enjoyed. I only suffered through finishing this audiobook so I had something to listen to while I waited for another book to come in at the library. I was going to quit listening, but figured I already had it on my iPod, so might as well.

I wish I hadn't.

I am so disappointed in Breathless by Dean Koontz. I didn't really have any idea what the story would be about when I picked it up, only that it was written by D.K. and I'd read a few of his books before (years ago) and enjoyed them.

Two things I disliked most were the number of various point-of-views used to provide us with this story and how much the writing was telling me things instead of letting me see them for myself. The combination of those two things alone made this story drag. It made it so that I never cared about any of the characters or what happened to them. My only curiosity was to find out how Koontz planned to make all these various characters meet up in the end. Even that, the interconnectedness of the characters, was lacking and felt forced.

I've borrowed another Koontz audiobook and am now hesitant to listen to it. I probably will give Forever Odd a go, once I've exhausted all the other audiobooks on my iPod, but I don't expect that to be any time soon.

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Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Book Review: Once in a Full Moon by Ellen Schreiber

Once in a Full Moon (Full Moon, #1)Once in a Full Moon by Ellen Schreiber

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I initially borrowed this book from the library for my daughter who loved the Vampire Kisses series. She only read a few pages and decided she wasn't interested. "I'm just not into werewolves, Mom." I decided to give this book a try since I read the Vampire Kisses series and enjoyed the first few books.

As I was reading Once in a Full Moon , I kept thinking how much better it was than the last two Vampire Kisses books I'd read. I was so glad that the voice was different than Raven's story.

That was until halfway through the book, when Celeste finally hooks up with Brandon. Then, the same whiny, overly-boy-obsessed character from the VK series emerged in the Full Moon series. I understand that it is written for teens and (sometimes) teens can become so obsessed with a person or thing, that it's all they think about, but I think it is overdone in this book, just as it was in the VK books. Also, I really couldn't stand how Celeste was supposed to be so open-minded and able to cross the divide between the Eastsiders and Westsiders, yet wouldn't even talk to Brandon in public. It just seemed very hypocritical and made her claims to undying love seem false.

I did borrow book 2 at the same time as book 1 for my daughter, and I understand Celeste is supposed to finally cross that divide, so I plan to read it too. I'm just hoping she isn't all whiny and gushing through the whole book.

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Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Book Review: The Mystery of Mr. Nice: A Chet Gecko Mystery by Bruce Hale

The Mystery of Mr. Nice: A Chet Gecko MysteryThe Mystery of Mr. Nice: A Chet Gecko Mystery by Bruce Hale
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Okay, so I ended up finishing this one on my own. My kindergartener (who had picked out this book and asked me to read it aloud to him) politely told me halfway into the story that he no longer wished to read it as it wasn't interesting. I finished it because I was halfway through and could add it to my READ pile. I think what ruined it for him were all the similes, metaphors, imagery, and other various forms of figures of speech Mr. Hale utilized. While those devices will likely engage a 2nd grade or 3rd grade (or maybe even slightly older) reader, I found it a bit too much for my liking too. I'm giving this 3 stars because it wasn't a bad story, just too juvenile for me to have really enjoyed it. I'm sure some kids will laugh like hyenas on nitrous oxide at the wacky zaniness of Chet Gecko.

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Audiobook Review: Ralph S Mouse by Beverly Cleary

Ralph S. Mouse CD: Ralph S. Mouse CDRalph S. Mouse CD: Ralph S. Mouse CD by Beverly Cleary
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I borrowed this from the library for my 1st grader. His teacher had read the story to the class over the period of a week or so. He loved the story so much that he wanted to read it for himself. Unfortunately, (while I was certain we own a copy) I couldn't find our copy, and the library copy was already checked out. Luckily, we were able to pick up the audiobook for him to listen to in his room. He listened to it every day for 4 or 5 days until his little brother asked to have the music back at bedtime. I ended up downloading it for his MP3 player so he could listen to it some more. After completing all of the audiobooks I had on my iPod, I decided to listen to his story too.

It was really cute.

I can see why he liked Ralph so much and it gives me reason, once again, to be amazed by Beverly Cleary's talent. A true classic able to be enjoyed by all ages.

*Shh, he doesn't know it yet, but I rented the movie Ralph S. Mouse from the library today for him.
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Saturday, June 2, 2012

Immortal Hearts (Vampire Kisses, #9)Immortal Hearts by Ellen Schreiber
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I originally had no intention of finishing this series after the last book. But...

My daughter read the first 8 books in 7 days and wanted to get the last book to finish out the series. After she read it and said she liked it (she also didn't have the same issues with book 8 that I had), I decided to do the same.

The nice thing about these books is how quick and easy they are to read. And for the most part, they are clean stories -- very little swearing and very little mention of sex.

And maybe I'm just too old for this series now or maybe my reading tastes have grown-up since I've read so many other books in the past 2 years, but this book just felt way too young/childish for me to say I really liked it. I hate when I'm reading a book and constantly roll my eyes at the characters. Raven is such an immature 17-year-old, it's laughable. I, too, was 17 when I got engaged; 18 when I got married. Raven wasn't much younger than me, but she acts like a 12-year-old...or younger really. My daughter IS 12 and I think she acts more mature than Raven.

I won't go into all the issues I had with this book (derived mainly from the seriously immature characters and the ridiculous things they get themselves into), but I will say it was a nice wrap-up to the series. The ending was cheesy-predictable but satisfactory. If you have read the 8 predecessors to this book and survived, you might as well read it and finish the series too.

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Monday, May 21, 2012

Audiobook Review: City of Bones (The Mortal Instruments #1) by Cassandra Clare

City of Bones (The Mortal Instruments, #1)City of Bones by Cassandra Clare
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I absolutely LOVE this series. I think it may be one of my favorites, right up there with The Wheel of Time, Night World, and Vampire Academy. Cassandra Clare is a master of world building. The world of Shadowhunters and Demons and Downworlders and Angels is so believable. Not only is the world building phenomenal, but the character development is just amazing. Clary and Jace are the 'main' characters, but Alec and Isabelle and Simon and so many other characters are so real, I could almost expect to bump into any one of them on the streets of New York City. Well, maybe 'bump' into Simon or Clary. I think the others wouldn't allow me to be so clumsy near them.

This is actually my second time listening to this book in its audio presentation. The reader does a good job, but it's the story that I really love. Each character has a story arc and then the major story arc for all the characters and everything is so intertwined that it's just amazing how the pieces all fall together and create a mind-blowing, heart-pounding story. The relationship between Clary and Jace is just to die for. I won't spoil anything, but I must say I was devastated the first time I found out about the twist at the end. And oh, what an unfortunate twist it is, but it sets up a whole bunch of strife for book 2 to explore.

If you are a fan of Young Adult, Fantasy, Paranormal, Action, Adventure, Mystery, or Romance, you'll love this series too. And let me tell you, if you think book 1 is amazing (like I do), book 2 is going to blow you away!

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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

E-Book Review: Wraith's Forest by L.J. Leger

Wraith's ForestWraith's Forest by L J Leger

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

First, let me start off by saying that I really enjoyed reading this story. I got an email requesting a review and, after reading the blurb, I knew I had to read Wraith’s Forest. Ah, the power of a good blurb. To read it for yourself, click here. It intrigued me, and I had to know how Jenna’s story would turn out to be a rendition of the classic beauty and beast fairytale.

Recently, the hottest new fads for YA books are either dystopian stories (thanks to The Hunger Games) or classic fairytales told with a modern twist. I’ve enjoyed several other stories that retold fairytales such as Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce (Little Red Riding Hood) and Beastly by Alex Flinn (Beauty and the Beast). On my TBR list are other such stories like Cinder (Cinderella) by Marissa Meyer, Sweetly by Jackson Pearce (Hansel & Gretel I think), and Bewitched by Alex Flinn (not sure what to expect here).

So, when I was offered the chance to read Wraith’s Forest, a new take on the classic story of Beauty and the Beast, I jumped at it.

The very beginning of the story is captivating. I found my curiosity piqued about the history and mythology of the magical fruit and the mysterious monster living in the surrounding forest. My enjoyment of this story continued almost to the very end without complaint.

The reason I didn’t give this story 5 stars is mainly for the very reason why I enjoyed it so much…it’s short. I finished reading it about an hour after I uploaded it to my e-reader. At the time, I needed something short. But, I think, as much as I enjoyed its brevity, this story maybe was a little too short. There were too many things not clarified to my satisfaction. I wanted to know more about the history of the village and its need for the magical fruit. I wanted to understand better the mechanics of the magical fruit – what exactly did it do for the village and how? The explanation for the Wraith’s existence felt rushed where it could have been fleshed out more to make me connect better with the poor creature. And my biggest complaint is that the Wraith asks Jenna to stay with him for a full week, but he really could have asked for only one night, because the story ends the second day of her week-long sentence. Even with these shortcomings, I still liked this story a great deal and don’t regret reading it…twice.

This e-book was offered to me for free for a review.

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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Crossing Fingers & Toes

I am so excited!

My heart is pounding.

The words repeat over and over in my head: “It’s up. It’s on. It’s being reviewed!”

So, this morning, I woke up to find in my inbox a notice from Matt over at The Quintessential Questionable Query Experiment informing me that my query is up on his site today. I’ll be getting my reviews tomorrow. Thanks in advance to all of you who read the query on his blog and offered any feedback.

When I started writing, I was doing it just for fun…to pass the time as my family anxiously awaited the next installment of Justin Somper’s Vampirates series. I tried my hand at a fan-fiction story using the characters from Vampirates. Very quickly, I realized I know absolutely nothing about ships, sailing, or pirates, and couldn’t tell the Tempest twins’ story nearly as well as Mr. Somper. But the writing bug had bitten me. I decided to try my hand at writing a clean, vampire story which I could read to my kids without blushing or changing words/phrases.

Thus, Lily was born.

I’ve written the three books in Lily’s trilogy since then, as well as a companion novel (NaNoWriMo 2010, yet to be completed) and several short stories unrelated to the realm of Chaos. I even earned Honorable Mention for one of my short stories for an online contest.

The praise from my family and friends for the stories I’d written (along with the pleasure writing gives me) planted the seed of hope that maybe one day I could call myself a published writer…an author! For the past year and a half, I’ve joined countless websites offering writing and/or publishing advice, read numerous books about the craft of writing and the struggles of getting published, and sought the help of everyone I know to help improve my chances of obtaining my dream.

Work on the dreaded query letter and synopsis began several months ago. When I sent it to Matt for review, it had already undergone several revisions implementing the advice and suggestions of my beta readers. I felt really good about how it turned out. Then another website I follow offered query reviews, and I jumped at the chance, wanting as much feedback as I could get.

It will be interesting to compare the results from Matt’s review, the suggestions his readers offer, and what I was told from the other website. My hope is that these experiences will help me to improve my query letter so I can land myself an agent and move one step closer to living my dream.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Book Review: Spellbound by Cara Lynn Shultz

Spellbound (Spellbound, #1)Spellbound by Cara Lynn Shultz

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I'm going to give Spellbound a good review simply because I enjoyed reading this book. It wasn't the most original plot and many of the characters felt very formulaic, but the plot was interesting enough to keep me reading. I wanted to know if Brendan and Emma were able to break the curse or not. I won't spoil this book by answering that question, but I will let you know there is to be a sequel. I personally don't think there needs to be a sequel (and I probably won't be reading it) because this book is fine as a stand-alone novel.

The thing I liked about the story is how the insta-love didn't seem so instant for both characters, even though you find out later on that it really was. I also enjoyed how you never know (during the story and maybe even after) if they will be able to break the curse. I found myself turning the page more so in hopes of finding out if they succeeded or failed than for any other reason.

I do have to say the characters were not necessarily my favorite. Right from the get-go, I was confused about the living with an aunt and a best-friend/younger cousin but then come to find out the cousin doesn't live with that aunt but rather another aunt in the same building or nearby...I'm still not exactly sure where the cousin lives. Maybe it was explained well and I just read over it, but I did find myself scratching my head in puzzlement a few times. Also, I'm so tired of reading Young Adult books that feel they have to conform to the common cast of the dumb jock, mean blonde, gothic witch, hottie boyfriend, and so-so main-female character. Oh, and let's not forget the gay guy. If you've read any of my previous reviews, you know how I feel about that being thrown in just to fill the quota.

Also, near the end of the story, it felt like the editing of the book was maybe a little rushed.

All in all, this was an enjoyable, quick read. It provided a little paranormal to an otherwise typical high-school misadventure in romance. I would recommend you borrow this one rather than buy it though.

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Sunday, February 19, 2012

Book Review: A Need so Beautiful by Suzanne Young

A Need So Beautiful (A Need So Beautiful, #1)A Need So Beautiful by Suzanne Young

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Let me start by saying I really wanted to give this book 5 stars, but couldn't for some reasons which I'll discuss in a moment.

Suzanne Young can really write. It's the WOW kind of writing I felt when I read Hunger Games, or Before I Fall, or Night World. Just beautiful. Suzanne tells Charlotte's story in a way that make you believe it's real...or could be. The character development is simply amazing. Each character has its own distinct voice and you can almost see them, even those you only meet for a few paragraphs. Also, Suzanne give you just enough information, just enough stuff happens, to keep you begging for more to find out the final outcome. Even until the very end, you aren't 100% sure what Charlotte will do. I know there is a sequel to this book and I will definitely get it out from the library.

So, why didn't I give it 5 stars? The writing is stellar. The characters are solid. The plot is paced perfectly. So why not the full 5 stars?

Well, I'm going to try my best to explain. This book is written for teens. I know teens experiment with everything from sex to alcohol to drugs and more. I know they see these things on t.v., in the tabloids, in school, and in books. It's all there, so why try to hide it and pretend it's not?

Because not everything needs to glorify or normalize those behaviors. I really hoped and expected this book to have more of a moral compass than it did. I mean, the girl is supposed to be love and light and goodness embodied. She's supposed to choose good things. And yet she has premarital sex, her best friend is involved in sexual acts and alcohol abuse, and her brother and another character are openly gay. Now, please, I'm not a gay hater BUT I don't think books which are geared toward our impressionable youth need to be so mainstream and try to 'fit' the modern media-produced image of what's acceptable for teens. The same goes with the sex stuff. By putting all of these behaviors in a book about choosing what is right over wrong, or light over darkness, it makes these actions acceptable and okay. It even kind of glorifies them.

See, I truly don't think this story would be any less beautiful without the sex stuff. In fact, it would've been maybe more beautiful because I could've shared the story with my daughter. And the gay characters were given that character trait unnecessarily. They would be no less appreciated, no less loved, if they'd been straight instead. Their issues/problems would still have been real and hard to deal with. It is just an attempt at being mainstream which really just made the story less beautiful in my eyes.

The drug and alcohol abuse shown in the story was done in a way that made it known to be a negative choice. A junkie mother was going to lose her daughter. The teen drinking alcohol becomes seriously ill and loses her freedoms, friends, and even the school she was going to. Negative consequences for negative choices and for that, I was okay with it being in this book.

So, as I've said, the writing is amazing, the story unique, and the characters fleshed out and believeable. I only wish the story was a little cleaner so I could let my children read it. I definitely plan to read the next book A Want So Wicked and anything else Suzanne Young writes.

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Friday, February 17, 2012

Book Review: Lament by Maggie Stiefvater

Lament: The Faerie Queen's Deception (Books of Faerie, #1)Lament: The Faerie Queen's Deception by Maggie Stiefvater

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is the fourth book by Maggie Stiefvater I've read. The first two were from the Shiver trilogy (I haven't gotten Forever out yet) and then The Scorpio Races. All three were actually audiobooks, so this is the first one my eyes actually read.

I was a little disappointed.

I liked Shiver and Linger well enough...some of the characters' traits were annoying, but then we can't like everyone we meet. I LOVED The Scorpio Races. I think that is her best book I've 'read' yet.

So, what did I like about Lament? I liked how some fairy myths were woven into the story. It helped it feel more solid and realistic (even though we're talking fairies here). I liked how the ending is happy but not too happy (even though I really didn't like how the ending came to be). And, I liked the occasional bits of humor Luke or James offered. Other than that, I don't know.

I really wanted to like Lament more. I kept hoping something would happen to make me love it...what that something was, I don't know and it never happened. I really didn't care for how much description was given to all the music stuff. I understand that music is integral to the fairy-lore (even though this isn't really discussed much), heavily sought after by the fairies, and extreme musical talents are (apparently) signs/symptoms of supernatural abilities. But why did I have to hear so much about the flow/sound/feel of the music? I really didn't care and found myself skimming the paragraphs a bit.

The thing I disliked most about this story is that it had too many things appear/happen to make the plot advance and seem plausible but felt forced and sudden. And I really didn't like how Dee became so smitten with Luke and just went with the crazy he brought at the start. Like Shiver, the insta-love (or semi-insta-love) between the main character and her beau is kind of...annoying. And the best friend who is in love with her but she's oblivious or pretends to be and he confesses just before tragedy not original. And this story had the potential to be original. It just wasn't.

I was going to give it 2 stars but since I do plan to read the sequel, I must've liked it more than just okay but definitely not a "really liked" book.

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Saturday, January 14, 2012

Audiobook Review: The Secret Language of Girls by Frances O'Roark Dowell

The Secret Language of GirlsThe Secret Language of Girls by Frances O'Roark Dowell

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Status update from Goodreads: I got to disc 4 and my copy is corrupt. I'll have to go to the library once it's open again and get their copy to finish this story. (Dec26th, 2011)

Well, nearly 1 month later and I finally finished listening to the audio presentation of The Secret Language of Girls. As it turns out, I had only 5 tracks left to listen to before the story ended. I'm glad I finished listening, but the ending didn't really leave me feeling any better about this story.

I am (obviously) NOT the target audience of this book, but my daughter is. In fact, it was she who initially requested the audiobook after a friend read the print version and the only reason I listened to it was because she had. I like to know what my kids are reading/listening to/watching, so I try to read/listen to/watch the same things they like. It helps me get to know them better by giving us something with which to open a conversation. When my daughter finished listening to the (we now know corrupted) audio on her mp3 player, I asked what she thought of it. Her response was that it was good at first, but it lost her toward the middle and she felt unsatisfied by the end. Of course, the end she heard wasn't the real end, but (in my opinion) it might as well have been.

I really have no idea what this story is about. If I had to describe the story, I guess I'd say it's about two girls whose childhood friendship undergoes the strain and stress of growing up. This was not a plot driven story, but a story surrounding a plot idea. I frequently found myself bored by the lack of action. Also, I was not wild about the changes in perspective from one girl to the next. I didn't think the voices of the girls (not the physical voice of the reader nor the literary voice of the character) were defined and unique enough to make it self-evident as to whom the story was being seen through as soon as the switch took place.

Overall, I'm not thrilled with this book and will not be listening to it again. And my daughter had no interest in listening to the end either, once we figured out the initial problem. That being said, I think female readers as young as 4th grade and up to 6th grade may understand and commiserate with the characters in this story, but it definitely didn't speak to me.

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Thursday, January 12, 2012

Book Review: Generation Dead by Daniel Waters

Generation Dead (Generation Dead, #1)Generation Dead by Daniel Waters

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

First off, I think it's awesome that the author created the zombie's blog around the time the book was original released and it's still up and running. I looked it up just to see and clicked around a little, trying not to read much there because I didn't want to ruin any of the story for myself. Unfortunately, my eyeballs found one tidbit of information I wish they hadn't and it really ruined the surprise at the end for me. Even knowing what was going to happen, it still saddened me.

I think the idea for this book is fascinating. Zombies. Living among us(trads). Going to school with us. Maybe dating us or even loving us, but at the very least befriending us. I loved really only one character in this book though and am now thoroughly a fan of Adam. I'm a sucker for nice guys sometimes, when their complex and not overly nice. I wish Phoebe hadn't been so blind by the newness and uniqueness of Tommy to completely miss what she had right next door, but if her eyes had been open I guess the story wouldn't have been half as interesting. And Tommy. I liked first, until he became a manipulative user...or at least that's what he comes off as at the end.

As I stated in my updates while I was reading, the whole play-by-play of the sports stuff really threw me and almost made me lose interest in the story. I know guy readers will be able to follow the plays but I just skimmed to the end of it. Just not a sporty-girl and have never been a big fan of football either. That aside, the story held my attention and didn't seem to have many if any scenes bogging down the pace unnecessarily. I do wish the story had moved a little faster, but the insight into the characters did help understand their motivations better. At first, I was totally lost as to why we were hearing the story through Pete's perspective at all, but halfway through the book, it made sense.

My biggest complaint is that the Zombies existence to begin with just doesn't make sense. Some but not all kids come back. And only teens. And only in the US...well, a few reports of instances in the northern lands, but still. Why? And how are they alive? The characters even ask the same questions...repeatedly...but a definitive answer is never given. I know there are more books in this series and it's likely that those questions will be answered in the later books, but for this one, it felt like a problem the writer just didn't have an answer for yet.

Overall, I enjoyed this book and, while references to sex are made (especially by Pete) and swear words do appear on a few pages, the story is fairly clean. I don't think I'll let my 11-year-old daughter read it any time soon, but maybe when she's a few years older. I will be getting the sequel out eventually, but I have other things on my plate to tackle first.

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