Saturday, June 30, 2012

100 Followers Giveaway Clue

 The show that inspired this giveaway premiered the same year as these music videos.


P.S. At least one is a clue within a clue. In other words, at least one song/artist is somehow connected to the show.
P.P.S. The contest ends in a few days, so at some point I'll start posting more and more and more clues on Twitter. As a bonus, if you follow me on Twitter, I'll follow back. Previous giveaway clues are all under: #Giveaway_Clue



Thursday, June 28, 2012

Feature and Follow Friday (3)



The Feature & Follow is hosted by TWO hosts, Parajunkee of Parajunkee's View and Alison of Alison Can Read. (Parajunkee & Alison Can Read)  Each host will have their own Feature Blog and this way it'll allow us to show off more new blogs!

How does this work? First you leave your name here on this post, (using the linky tools -- keep scrolling!) then you create a post on your own blog that links back to this post (easiest way is to just grab the code under the #FF picture and put it in your post) and then you visit as many blogs as you can and tell them "hi" in their comments (on the post that has the #FF image). You follow them, they follow you. Win. Win. Just make sure to follow back if someone follows you!

Link to this week's Feature and Follow

This Week's Question: Birthday Wishes -- Blow out the candles and imagine what character could pop out of your cake...who is it and what book are they from?

I haven't looked at anyone else's answer, but I'm going to assume I'm answering in the wrong way.  Like it's supposed to be a character you find sexy while jumping out of a cake. So I want to state this now...this is not a character I find dreamy or sexy or smoldering. (I'm boring and married, okay. Plus my son's supposed to help me with the blog and I don't need to pay for years of therapy because he can't get an image of mom getting the hot pants for some guy not his father out of his brain. Even then, I mean, I have 3 kids, so clearly I've only had sex 3 times, okay son? )

The character I want jumping out of my birthday cake is Owen Meany from John Irving's A Prayer for Owen Meany

Why? I just reread this book and I need to know what his voice sounds like. I sort of hear it in my head and I know it's all wrong.

Review: This Is Not a Test by Courtney Summers

This is Not a Test
Goodreads Summary:
It’s the end of the world. Six students have taken cover in Cortege High but shelter is little comfort when the dead outside won’t stop pounding on the doors. One bite is all it takes to kill a person and bring them back as a monstrous version of their former self.

To Sloane Price, that doesn’t sound so bad. Six months ago, her world collapsed and since then, she’s failed to find a reason to keep going. Now seems like the perfect time to give up. As Sloane eagerly waits for the barricades to fall, she’s forced to witness the apocalypse through the eyes of five people who actually want to live.

But as the days crawl by, the motivations for survival change in startling ways and soon the group’s fate is determined less and less by what’s happening outside and more and more by the unpredictable and violent bids for life—and death—inside.

When everything is gone, what do you hold on to?

My Review:
I picked up this book because so many bloggers had written that they were really excited to read this book. One mentioned some blood spots on the cover- I didn't notice those. For whatever reason, I took this to mean the book was about teen suicide. So, imagine my surprise when it becomes apparent- in chapter two- that it's a zombie book. At that point, I went and read the summary because I was a little confused and discovered,  "Wow, it is a zombie apocalypse book. "

Short summary: "The Breakfast Club" meets Lord of the Flies with zombies. Well, Breakfast Club plus one because there are six students and as we know, the Breakfast Club was composed of:

Is it a ripoff of The Breakfast Club? No, not at all, in my opinion. TBC is basically an ensemble movie and like TV shows or books with large casts of characters, it divides a population (like teenagers) into easily identifiable archetypes. So, the characters fit into convenient boxes that you can recognize and/or relate to. In the case of This is Not a Test the author uses this to explore how different types of people respond under stress. (This is where the Lord of the Flies thing kicks in.) Actually, zombies only make a cameo in this book- they rarely appear. Not going to give an exact number of times, but it's not many considering it's about a zombie apocalypse. Instead, like Lord of the Flies, what the story is really about is what people do when there's no external and higher authority exerting influence or able to mete out punishment. Will people end up creating a society (even in microcosm) like a utopia, dystopia, or something in between? What types of people function the best in the new world? Will it be a jock (strength) or the brain (knowing how to construct a solar oven)? Well, you have to read the book to find out.


Overall Rating: 3 1/2 stars
Genre Rating: 4 1/2 tombstones


Author's Website
Courtney's Twitter
This is Not a Test







Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Review: Obsidian by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Obsidian (Lux, #1)
Goodreads Summary:
Starting over sucks...When we moved to West Virginia right before my senior year, I’d pretty much resigned myself to thick accents, dodgy internet access, and a whole lot of boring…. until I spotted my hot neighbor, with his looming height and eerie green eyes. Things were looking up.

And then he opened his mouth...Daemon is infuriating. Arrogant. Stab-worthy. We do not get along. At all. But when a stranger attacks me and Daemon literally freezes time with a wave of his hand, well, something…unexpected happens.

The hot alien living next door marks me...You heard me. Alien. Turns out Daemon and his sister have a galaxy of enemies wanting to steal their abilities, and Daemon’s touch has me lit up like the Vegas Strip. The only way I’m getting out of this alive is by sticking close to Daemon until my alien mojo fades.

If I don’t kill him first, that is.

My Review: 
All I can say is, "Wow!" They must have someone amazing screening for new authors at Entangled Publishing. First, I read Kate Evangelista's book,  Taste. She mentioned to me that in August, she and some other Engtangled authors (she mentioned Jennifer L. Armentrout) are coming to Las Vegas and will be doing a book signing. I live in Vegas, so I decided to read Obsidian. While reading it, I started Pretty Amy and when I went to add it, I noticed that it's also published by Entangled. So, pretty much, if you're published by Entangled, I will give your book a chance from now on. Well, Obsidian has been out for a while, so most people have probably already read this book. For those who haven't, it's great! So good that after finishing I immediately went and bought the novella, Shadows. I don't normally read short stories or novellas, but I just had to because I can't wait for the next book in the series. 


I'm not going to do a review-type review. Because basically everyone but me has read this. Instead, I'm going to discuss the appeal of this novel. The Bad Boy. Ah, the literary and movie bad boy... he's the kissing cousin to the Hooker With a Heart of Gold. Meaning, they only exist in fiction. Which, I guess is part of the appeal. Well, before I get into what's appealing about the bad boy, let's meet one, shall we?

Sorry, couldn't find the end to this scene in Ferris Bueller's Day Off, in which Jennifer Gray (Jeanie) and Charlie Sheen (no name, just "Boy in Police Station") kiss. This so rocks Jeanie's world that her grannie panties get transformed and she skips out of the police station with a smile singing "Danke Schoen". The power of the bad boy in action.

This is the problem though... you've got to date a bad boy when you're young. This should be on the "Teenage Bucket List" of things to do before you become an adult (along with weird haircuts and facial piercings) and one of us comes to your house late at night to suck all the joy out of your life. Oh, and your soul (we have special machines), but we teach you the secret handshake. Look, you don't need joy and happiness- the secret handshake will get you special deals on vitamins, Metamucil, and white cotton underwear. It's really quite a good exchange. Why only when you're young? Well, if you date a bad boy, something like this will happen. He'll show up drunk on Thanksgiving and/or Christmas- at lunchtime no less. He'll vomit in your mother's fake plant in the corner of the room, put out his cigarette in the gravy dish, hit on your sister and maybe mother, get into an argument with your grandmother and call her the "b" word, etc. The only defense to this is youth- you have no defense if you're still doing this at 30, 35, or 40.

How to find a bad boy (Here are some groups with an unusually high concentrations of bad boys):
1.  The very, very attractive. This is self-explanatory.
2. Smokers. For some reason, many bad boys smoke. Note: I said smokers, not stoners. The greatest skill of a bad boy is not being able to shove two of these in his mouth:

3. Musicians, but not drummers. Drummers are not bad boys. Oh, you're a drummer. I'm sorry about that. (You can take that however you want) But dating a drummer does not count as dating a musician. (Look, I don't want to hear the mantra of all drummers, "But, Tommy Lee." [Me, looking down] You're not Tommy Lee. Sorry. Really, really, sorry.)

To clarify, I'm saying "DATE" a bad boy. [I'm beginning the MOM VOICE] Not sleep with. Never sleep with a bad boy- you both know where it's been (Eww!) and don't know where it's been. The don't know where it's been is really a problem because if a bad boy is ashamed enough to hide something, it's not a place you want to be- even second hand. Unless you can walk around with a syringe full of Drano in the jugular of the person who manufactured the condom for the next 10 years, stay away from the penis! [END MOM VOICE]

Okay, back to the literary bad boy as personified by Daemon- who is a great literary bad boy. Here are some reasons why we love to READ about bad boys:

1.The literary bad boy is appealing because deep down, he's sensitive. He's hiding the little boy behind the jerk because he's scared of being hurt/had a bad childhood, etc. Eventually the heroine will figure it out and fix him and they will live happily ever after...and this is why it's so appealing. Because life with a bad boy rarely has a happily ever after- remember? It usually ends with a drunken holiday revelation that he's impregnated your sister.
2. You never dated a bad boy and now can only live vicariously through fiction.
3. You were one of the rare women who snagged a bad boy and domesticated him. Now, he isn't so bad- more like bald.


Monday, June 25, 2012

Giveaway: Ebook of Pretty Amy

Pretty Amy
I'm giving away 1 ebook copy of Pretty Amy from KoboBooks, Barnes and Noble, or Amazon. Sorry, open only to U.S. Residents. Must follow my blog. Winner will have 48 hours to get me a valid email address so I can buy/forward prize info. After that, I'll go to the second runner up, and on and on. I may actually choose the "best" story or I may use random.com to pick from all eligible prom stories.

Like many (not) young people, new things frighten me. I try to keep a closed mind and learn as little as possible about the new things in the world around me. Why? Because nothing is as good as it was "back in the day." When milk cost $0.15 a gallon and bread was a nickel. Just kidding, I'm not that old. But, I still am just not up to the whole Rafflecopter thing. Registered, got interrupted, and it wouldn't save my contest thingy. So, I'm done with it for now.

Here's the contest. Tell me a prom story, a bad one. Well, you can tell me a good one, but since I'm only awarding a prize to the best worst prom story...you're just not going to win. Look, I didn't go to my prom. I'm not bitter, I don't care. On the other hand, I'll feel better if I know I didn't miss much- that's why the award goes to the bad prom story.  Do you want to hear my bad prom story? Read below... you can click on the Youtube thing for this post's theme music:

My Junior Prom: My boyfriend at the time was not in high school. He did not want to go to the prom- first it was the tux issue. But, our prom didn't have a "formals only" dress code- I know because one of my friends took her boyfriend who only agreed to go if he could wear his leathers and Docs. (They probably closed this loophole the next year) Well, what it really came down to was he wasn't going to go to a stupid high school thing with my stupid friends. So, a friend (I repeat, FRIEND. Really. Just.A.Friend.) offered to take me since his girlfriend just dumped him. My boyfriend was not happy, but said okay if he could pick me up straight from the ballroom where they were having the prom. Great...I go and buy a dress and shoes, make an appointment to get my hair and makeup done, etc. Somehow the issue of prom tickets comes up. My boyfriend got upset because my friend bought the tickets. My boyfriend thought that we each should pay for our own if we were just going as friends. So, he said if I went, he was going to kick my friend's butt. (substitute the real word) I laughed, thinking it was a joke. A week or so goes by and he asks me what I'm doing on prom weekend. Duh, "Going to the prom." I get a call a few days later from my friend. My boyfriend and his friends came to school, followed him home, and threatened to kill him if he took me to the prom. And obviously, they knew where he lived. So, my friend cancelled on me and oddly was very uncomfortable with me for a long time after that.

I told you mine, now I want to hear your bad prom stories.

Meh Books, Part Two


Goodreads Summary:
Your mother hollers that you’re going to miss the bus. She can see it coming down the street. You don’t stop and hug her and tell her you love her. You don’t thank her for being a good, kind, patient mother. Of course not—you launch yourself down the stairs and make a run for the corner.Only, if it’s the last time you’ll ever see your mother, you sort of start to wish you’d stopped and did those things. Maybe even missed the bus.But the bus was barreling down our street, so I ran. 
Fourteen kids. One superstore. A million things that go wrong.

In Emmy Laybourne’s action-packed debut novel, six high school kids (some popular, some not), two eighth graders (one a tech genius), and six little kids trapped together in a chain superstore build a refuge for themselves inside. While outside, a series of escalating disasters, beginning with a monster hailstorm and ending with a chemical weapons spill, seems to be tearing the world—as they know it—apart.

My Review: 
I've been trying to write this review for at least a week. Finally realized that I can't because it's a "Meh" Book. I'm not excited or interested enough in talking about it any more to write a real review. Why? First, the questionable science behind the freak series of natural disasters. Second, didn't much care for the main character. Third, just didn't like the ending. Meh....


Goodreads Summary:

It is the year 2129 . . . and fame is all that matters
 
Susan and her friends are celebutantes. Their lives are powered by media awareness, fed by engineered meals, and underscored by cynicism. Everyone has a rating; the more viewers who ID you, the better. So Susan and her almost-boyfriend Derlock cook up a surefire plan: the nine of them will visit a Mars-bound spaceship and stow away. Their survival will be a media sensation, boosting their ratings across the globe. There's only one problem: Derlock is a sociopath. Breakneck narrative, pointed cultural commentary, warm heart, accurate science, a kickass heroine, and a ticking clock . . . who could ask for more?

My Review:
A recent blog hop was devoted to which books you would unread- either because you liked them or because you hated them. After thinking about it and reading other people's answers, I realized that "Meh" books are time wasters. Even more so than books you hate- because at least books you hate make you feel. Well, this book is a "Meh" book and a DNF (did not finish). I probably could have finished it- it was shaping up to be a 2 to 2 1/2 star book. But, why bother when there are great books out there waiting for me?



Sunday, June 24, 2012

Review: Pretty Amy by Lisa Burstein


Goodreads Summary:
Amy is fine living in the shadows of beautiful Lila and uber-cool Cassie, because at least she’s somewhat beautiful and uber-cool by association. But when their dates stand them up for prom, and the girls take matters into their own hands—earning them a night in jail outfitted in satin, stilettos, and Spanx—Amy discovers even a prom spent in handcuffs might be better than the humiliating “rehabilitation techniques” now filling up her summer. Worse, with Lila and Cassie parentally banned, Amy feels like she has nothing—like she is nothing.

Navigating unlikely alliances with her new coworker, two very different boys, and possibly even her parents, Amy struggles to decide if it’s worth being a best friend when it makes you a public enemy. Bringing readers along on an often hilarious and heartwarming journey, Amy finds that maybe getting a life only happens once you think your life is over.

My Review:
At first, I was kind of disappointed in this book. They get ditched/stood up for the prom and the book's own description says, "jail". So, I was picturing something more like this:

As opposed to what actually happens in the book. Not going to say. (BTW- Blogger really needs to come up with the spoiler link html code like Goodreads) But, I quickly got over my disappointment because this is a really good book.


Amy...I think a lot of us have gone through times in our teen years when we felt like Amy. Just kind of feeling that you don't fit in, that people don't see you as you are. That if they did see you, they wouldn't like you. Feeling unhappy with life without being able to put your finger on the "Why", the cause of the unhappiness. Burstein did a good job of being able to make Amy sympathetic through all of her struggles and not whiny and annoying. Which is good because Amy (until her self-created problem at the beginning of the book), has mostly typical teenage problems. The kind of middle class American kid type problems that can sometimes make you just loathe a character. Instead, because of the great writing, those typical problems made it easy to relate to Amy as the book takes us through Amy's life while she works through them. And, I was so relieved that the author didn't ruin the book with a bad ending. I've found that when reading realistic YA novels that if the ending isn't good/plausible/consistent, etc. that it just ruins the whole book. 


Overall rating: 3 1/2 stars
Genre Rating: 4 school lockers

Lisa Burstein interviews RT Convention goers about their best and worst prom experiences:
 

Lisa Burstein's website
Lisa Burstein's Twitter


Pretty Amy

Anyone brave enough to share their best and worst prom stories?

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Review: Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter



Goodreads Summary:
Indiana, 1818. Moonlight falls through the dense woods that surround a one-room cabin, where a nine-year-old Abraham Lincoln kneels at his suffering mother's bedside. She's been stricken with something the old-timers call "Milk Sickness."

"My baby boy..." she whispers before dying.

Only later will the grieving Abe learn that his mother's fatal affliction was actually the work of a vampire.

When the truth becomes known to young Lincoln, he writes in his journal, "henceforth my life shall be one of rigorous study and devotion. I shall become a master of mind and body. And this mastery shall have but one purpose..." Gifted with his legendary height, strength, and skill with an ax, Abe sets out on a path of vengeance that will lead him all the way to the White House.

While Abraham Lincoln is widely lauded for saving a Union and freeing millions of slaves, his valiant fight against the forces of the undead has remained in the shadows for hundreds of years. That is, until Seth Grahame-Smith stumbled upon The Secret Journal of Abraham Lincoln, and became the first living person to lay eyes on it in more than 140 years.

Using the journal as his guide and writing in the grand biographical style of Doris Kearns Goodwin and David McCullough, Seth has reconstructed the true life story of our greatest president for the first time-all while revealing the hidden history behind the Civil War and uncovering the role vampires played in the birth, growth, and near-death of our nation.

My Review:
I've seen some ridiculously odd comments about this book. Like questioning the historical accuracy of the time period and the portrayal of Lincoln. Well, if you're going to go into the book with that kind of attitude just stop. Put down the book, return it to the library, give it away to a friend. This book was not meant for you, it's not a vehicle for you to prove the superiority of your knowledge of the time period. I mean:

The title alone should have been a dead giveaway- unless you're okay with and believe that Lincoln hunted down vampires and saved the Union, but the rest of it was just awfully inaccurate crap. Like, he did slay a vampire, it just happened in 1842 instead of 1823. (Or whatever) Look, just go back to mommy's basement and work on your perfectly scaled replica of The Battle of Bull Run. 


Back to the review, it was good, but not great. It was a fun book, but you almost got the sense that the author wrote it thinking, "Movie Deal!" In other words, it kind of reads like a (good) novelization of a movie- like it's a book based on a movie, not the other way around. But, it's a good summer type read. And yet, you almost get the feeling that this might be one of those books that the movie will be better than the book.


Overall Review: 3 stars
Genre Review: 3 1/2 coffins

Friday, June 22, 2012

Feature and Follow Friday (2)


Feature & Follow Friday is a weekly blog hop hosted by Parajunkee & Alison Can Read. The complete rules for the blog hop are here: Welcome to the Feature and Follow.

This week's question is:

Q: If you could “unread” a book, which one would it be? Is it because you want to start over and experience it again for the first time? Or because it was THAT bad?

The book I would like to unread because I loved it so much is Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. There's nothing like reading a book for the first time and not knowing how it's going to end or who the main characters might end up with.

The book I would like to unread because I just loathed it is The Passage by Justin Cronin. Look, if one has to read a rip-off of Stephen King's The Stand, then at least read a good rip-off. Better yet, just read The Stand.

New to my blog? Check out my 100 Follower Giveaway while you're here.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Review: Something Like Normal



Goodreads Summary:
When Travis returns home from a stint in Afghanistan, his parents are splitting up, his brother’s stolen his girlfriend and his car, and he’s haunted by nightmares of his best friend’s death. It’s not until Travis runs into Harper, a girl he’s had a rocky relationship with since middle school, that life actually starts looking up. And as he and Harper see more of each other, he begins to pick his way through the minefield of family problems and post-traumatic stress to the possibility of a life that might resemble normal again. Travis’s dry sense of humor, and incredible sense of honor, make him an irresistible and eminently lovable hero.

My Review: 
This book was my "I Hate This Cover" winner for the month of June. To all the publishers (I'm thinking of you in particular Disney) who evidently don't value bloggers, you're wrong. Really, really, wrong to the point of moving past misguided into "evil overlord" territory. Why? Because I decided to read a book (this one) that I had basically slushed into "Will Never Read" pile due to bloggers posting about this book. Telling people that it's not a YA romance, but rather a book about a young man returning from the war in Afghanistan.  

Okay, this is probably the best YA book I've read that was published this year. (Again, thank you fellow bloggers and "Stuff it", Disney.) Better yet, it's an important book. Even better, it doesn't read like it's self-conscious about being an "Important Book". Instead, it just tells one person's story about war. I'm torn because I want to write a detailed review, but on the other hand I don't want to spoil it. So, I'm just going with the angle of, "Trust me, this is good". How good? Good enough to buy new. 

Finally, this book does a good job portraying America's "Unsung Heroes". The families of veterans. The wives, husbands, moms, dads, girlfriends, boyfriends, and assorted friends and relatives, who keep the home fires burning. Who raise the kids, write the letters, say the prayers, cry oceans of tears, wear out the carpets pacing, etc. The heroes left behind who give the men and women fighting something tangible to fight for, live for, and come home to. 


P.S. As the wife of a former Navy man, if you've ever written a "Dear John" letter to someone while they were serving at the front... unfriend me, unfollow me, etc. I can't know you. 


Trish Doller's Website
Trish Doller's Twitter

Review: Welcome, Caller, This is Chloe by Shelley Coriell



Goodreads Summary:
Big-hearted Chloe Camden is the queen of her universe until her best friend shreds her reputation and her school counselor axes her junior independent study project. Chloe is forced to take on a meaningful project in order to pass, and so she joins her school’s struggling radio station, where the other students don’t find her too queenly. Ostracized by her former BFs and struggling with her beloved Grams’s mental deterioration, lonely Chloe ends up hosting a call-in show that gets the station much-needed publicity and, in the end, trouble. She also befriends radio techie and loner Duncan Moore, a quiet soul with a romantic heart. On and off the air, Chloe faces her loneliness and helps others find the fun and joy in everyday life. Readers will fall in love with Chloe as she falls in love with the radio station and the misfits who call it home.

My Review:
When you write realistic fiction, you really need to keep it, well, realistic. Which is why I had problems with the latter part of My Life Next Door. "Chloe" did not have this issue- I thought the ending was really well done. However, as much as I liked the main character Chloe, I just don't think that this book has characters that live off the page. That you take with you after you finish reading it. I don't wonder about Chloe's life after this book ends.

So, should you read this book? Yes, when you're looking for a light, fluffy type of read. "Welcome Caller" would be one of those books good for an in between read. Something to read after reading a sad, long, depressing, etc. book. Kind of a clearing the mental cobwebs type of book.

Overall rating: 3 stars
Genre Rating: 3 1/2 lockers

Shelley Coriell's Website



Kick the Puppy Review: My Life Next Door


Goodreads Summary:
“One thing my mother never knew, and would disapprove of most of all, was that I watched the Garretts. All the time.”

The Garretts are everything the Reeds are not. Loud, numerous, messy, affectionate. And every day from her balcony perch, seventeen-year-old Samantha Reed wishes she was one of them . . . until one summer evening, Jase Garrett climbs her terrace and changes everything. As the two fall fiercely in love, Jase's family makes Samantha one of their own. Then in an instant, the bottom drops out of her world and she is suddenly faced with an impossible decision. Which perfect family will save her? Or is it time she saved herself?

My Review:
I really was captivated from the beginning of this book. From the very start, you really feel for the MC, Samantha. The author was able to capture the longing she had for a life more like the Garrets- a life full of laughter and love. Now, I come from a family more like the Garretts and I can say that for a  long time I wished for a family more like The Cleavers (Leave It To Beaver, anyone else remember?). I think a lot of times growing up, we think life would be better if it was just different. However, in Samantha's case, her home life really is kind of awful- cold, impersonal, with a mother overly concerned with how things look rather than how things really are. So, you can understand why Samantha falls in love with the Garretts- the reader kind of does too because they are such a great family. You can even understand why Samantha so quickly falls in love with Jase- she really doesn't have anyone else. So, just, "Wow"! The author manages to create such wonderful and real characters.


So, why is this a "Kick the Puppy" book? Towards the end of the book something happens that just stretches the bounds of what an author can reasonably expect a reader to accept. Ever seen a magic show? I remember going to one as a kid and the magician at the party did the floating ball thing. From where I was standing, you could see the shadow of the string. That was it for me- I knew how the trick was done, so I was conscious that the whole thing was a trick. Same thing happened in this book. An event happened and it was too big and convenient a coincidence. So awkward to me, that it took me out of reading the book- I could see the string- the trick. All of a sudden, I wasn't in the world of the book, I was aware that all it was was a book. Kind of ruined it for me. I waited a few days to write this review, thinking I might get over it. No, what I really remember is catching sight of the author's "strings".


Overall rating: 3 1/2 stars

Huntley Fitzpatrick's website 

 





Wednesday, June 20, 2012

A Kick the Puppy Review

Got your attention? No, no puppies were kicked. Don't kick puppies- they're too little and cute.

But I come from a family of weirdos and nutballs and we have a phrase called "Kicking the Puppy". It's what we call things we do or say that are so out of sync with the rest of the world that, when you do or say them, people look at you like you kicked a puppy. So a "Kick the Puppy" review is when I know I'm going against popular opinion about a book. Like I can't finish The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. Just don't think it's all that special, seems very average to me, but when I say that...

So, if a review is tagged "Kick the Puppy" and it's a book that you dearly love, then it's my signal it's okay to not read the review. Or to read the review and know that someone else shares your unpopular (maybe hated) opinion.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

100 Follower Giveaway

Thank you to everyone who is following my blog. One of my favorite things to do in the mornings is opening my blogger dashboard and reading all of your wonderful posts! The other really wonderful thing I've gotten out of blogging, besides "meeting" a bunch of wonderful people- is learning new things. And being open to learning new things. (Anyone up to joining me in November for NaNoWriMo?) But, I'm about middle aged and my brain has had enough new things. Anyone else have kids? There's a Spongebob Squarepants episode in which Squidward wants to impress his rival Squilliam and he pretends he owns a five star restaurant. Squidward gets Spongebob to be the waiter- Spongebob is struggling so Squidward tells him to empty his mind of everything except fine dining and breathing. So Spongebob jettisons everything out of his brain- including his name- except those two things
Well, I'm at that point. If I have to learn how to do one more thing, my brain will dump out everything except how to work Blogger and breathing. I'm just not up to learning Rafflecopter or any other similar site. So here are the rules:

1. Be a follower through GFC or Linky. (I don't know how to track anything else)
2. How to Win: Comment on a post using the mystery word. For example, if the secret word is "year", and you comment on a review, "I plan to read that this year". You win. Simple as that. Oh, and you have to be a follower through Linky or GFC. (Only applies to comments from the beginning of the contest)
3. This contest will end at 11:59 p.m.,  July 2, 2012, Pacific Standard Time. If there isn't a winner, I will set up a traditional giveaway using Rafflecopter or similar (boo!)
4. Winner will be notified through a post on this site. (And I'll try to track them down in other ways) If the winner doesn't respond in 48 hours, I'll set up a traditional Rafflecopter and/or choose a new mystery word for the balance of the original contest run time
5. What do you win? Is it open internationally? (Providing a valid email will be necessary to receive prize)
$15 gift card sent through email to Barnes & Noble, Amazon, or Kobo (U.S. residents only)
$20 gift card sent through email from Betterworld Books (Open internationally. They ship for free, no minimum order internationally. Go to website for list of countries. Yes, mostly used books, but I love this place. For every book you buy, they donate a book and they run sales pretty much monthly. 3 books for $10 or 4 for $12 is the one they have now. And they run that one all the time. So, $20 equals 6 books)
6. I'm not saying you have to follow me via Twitter. But, I'll be posting clues only on Twitter.



Monday, June 18, 2012

Father's Day Book Challenge Update

I've finished two books. Obviously, I totally bombed on the challenge. When it became clear to me that I wasn't going to be able to read all of the books, I went to the strategy of reading enough to see if I thought my husband would enjoy it.

Books I bought:

This is one of the books I finished and I really liked it and think my husband will too.


I'm not finished with this one, but I bought it for hubby anyway. Think it will make for an interesting discussion even though I don't like this book.


I ran out of time to finish this one, but I bought it anyway. My husband loved the movie.

Books I didn't buy:

This was a "Did Not Finish" book for me. I'll try again because so many people liked it, but I know my husband probably won't be one of them.


I just don't think my husband would like the style or tone this book is written in. Maybe one day, after he's been reading for years.


I don't want my husband to like this book. Plus, I think he would find it as annoying as I did. (This was the second book I managed to finish)


I can't say anything bad about the author. There's much to admire in his actions and his service to our country. A true American hero. My husband was also in the Navy, so this is a book I thought I would be buying. But, his views are so opposed to my husband's that I'm just picturing the rant my husband will go on and I'm avoiding that by not buying this book.

Alternative books I bought:


I read this book a few months ago and loved it. I know my husband will too.


I got this book at the library for 50 cents. It looks unread and brand new.

Hope everyone had a great Father's Day with their Dad!

Interview with Kate Evangelista, author of Taste



Kate Evangelista, the author of Taste, was nice enough to allow me to interview her by email.

Goodreads Summary of Taste:
At Barinkoff Academy, there's only one rule: no students on campus after curfew. Phoenix McKay soon finds out why when she is left behind at sunset. A group calling themselves night students threaten to taste her flesh until she is saved by a mysterious, alluring boy. With his pale skin, dark eyes, and mesmerizing voice, Demitri is both irresistible and impenetrable. He warns her to stay away from his dangerous world of flesh eaters. Unfortunately, the gorgeous and playful Luka has other plans.

When Phoenix is caught between her physical and her emotional attraction, she becomes the keeper of a deadly secret that will rock the foundations of an ancient civilization living beneath Barinkoff Academy. Phoenix doesn’t realize until it is too late that the closer she gets to both Demitri and Luka the more she is plunging them all into a centuries old feud.


My Interview With Kate:
Why do you think people are into zombies right now? In the 1950’s, you had movies like “Godzilla” and “Attack of the 50 Foot Woman” because people were afraid of radiation. In the 1980’s, you had movies like “Friday the 13th” in which the virgin always lived. This was when AIDS came into the scene. So, “Sex Kills”. So, what are we really afraid of that makes zombies so appealing?

This is such an intriguing question. When you ask people how the world will end, many of them believe it'll be a zombie apocalypse. I think it ultimately has to do with scientific and medical advancements. There is this fear that scientists are engineering something that could potentially kill us all and bring us back as marauding zombies. Notice all the zombie apocalypse news today in the US? The guy caught eating the face off another guy. Then there's this guy who dressed up as a zombie and scared people on the streets. There's something about zombies that seems so much more possible than an asteroid crashing into earth from space. 

I heard one of the rudest things a while back. Someone said that the reason so many adults read Young Adult books is that they can’t read “real” books. That the average reading level is so low that adults can only read children’s books now. Since I’m sure you disagree with this- as do I- why do you think the Young Adult genre is so appealing to adults?

I believe the YA genre has evolved now to mean something other than the reading level. I believe that YA means a novel with a teenage main character. A lot of the classics are YA novels. To Kill a Mockingbird, Catcher in the Rye, these are "real" novels but they are YA. I think the most important thing is that people are reading again. There are so many distractions out there. YA isn't just for teens anymore. There are many adult themes tackled that I believe bring in adult readers. Plus, no matter how old we get, we should always stay young at heart.

A question for all the aspiring writers... How do you write? Do you outline things in advance? Do you plan out the book from start to finish? Do you have a writing schedule? About how many words do you write on a good day? (And any other writing tips you can think of that would help someone actually be able to finish writing a book)

I always start with a character. A character moves into my head and tells me his or her story. Then I start writing, usually at the beginning of the month. I would write a chapter a day without looking back until by the end of the month I have a completed novel. Then I start editing. As for a writing tip: learn to love the editing process. Editing is what makes a novel. 


The Quick Eleven:

1. What’s Your Favorite Harry Potter character and why? (I like Neville. I guess because I’m a mom)
I love Sirius Black. There's something about him that's so swoon worthy. I still don't believe he's dead, by the way!

2. I requested from Kate a Recipe for Sinigang. Which is my father's favorite thing to eat when he visits the Philippines. Most Americans probably haven’t eaten Filipino food. I have since I grew up in Hawaii. What’s the one dish that they should try? (I’m thinking Pancit or Lumpia. If only because they’d at least be like something they’ve eaten before and yet a little exotic...leaning towards Lumpia because Americans love fried food. It’s so good that when you have parties in Hawaii, you would ask, “Why did you invite so-and-so. I thought they annoyed you.” “Well, yes, but you know their lumpia is great and they offered to bring a pan of it to the party.” So they would show up with a tray/pan full of like 100+ lumpia and be annoying. The first time my husband came to a party and saw the lumpia sauce- which is normally a ketchup/soy sauce mixture, he walked out of the house and went to the store. Came back with a couple of bottles of Jufran Banana sauce for the lumpia. Yum!)
Pancit and Lumpia are good choices, but I would really suggest Adobo. You can never go wrong with Adobo. You can eat it with rice or with bread. I heard there is this food truck driving around in San Francisco that serves adobo. :-)

3. What was your favorite book growing up? The one your parents loathed because you would ask them to read it over and over and over until they had it memorized.

I actually don't have one. Not that my mom never read to me. She says she did, but I don't remember. How weird is that?

4. Favorite snack food.

BBQ flavored french fries.


5. A Hunger Games Question: Team Peeta or Team Gale?
 

Team Peeta all the way!   

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
 

6. Do you have a cute/embarrassing childhood nickname?

Yes, but you'll have to tickle torture me to get it out of me. *laughs*



7. Nutella- love it or hate it?

Love it!

8. Ereader or dead tree books?

Right now, dead tree books, but I am thinking of shifting into Ereaders too.


9. What author- living or dead- would you most like to meet?

Lisa Kleypas. I love her!



10. On men, boxers or briefs?

Boxer briefs, so sexy.

11. What’s your favorite scented candle? (Mine are, right now, anything with coconut and candles that smell like Christmas)

I love the smell of apple cider. It's so yummy!

I would like to take this time to thank Shay for letting me hang out on her blog today. I had so much fun answering her questions. Please make Taste part of your summer reading. I dare you to break curfew. Happy reading!

Kate's Blog (Purchasing Information at the bottom of the page)
Follow Kate on Twitter

Hmm...I don't know what they are, but I really want some BBQ Fries!




Review: Florence by Ciye Cho



Goodreads Summary:
Seventeen-year-old Florence Waverley is out of her depth. Literally. Kidnapped and taken below the waves to the mer world of Niemela, she is the ultimate gift for merman Prince Kiren: a human familiar tied to his side. But nothing is what it seems amid the beauty and danger of a dark ocean.

Every Niemelan has a role to play, from the mermaids who weave towers out of kelp to the warriors who fight sea monsters. But in trying to survive, Florence will end up in the middle of a war between the mer and the Darkness. A conflict that will push her between two brothers: Kiren, the charmer inexplicably drawn to both her and the monsters; and Rolan, the loner who has been pushing her away since the day they met. But in order to take a stand--and find out where she belongs--Florence will have to risk it all: her life, her heart... and her very soul.

My Review:  
I guess this is the disclosure part again: I received a copy from the author in exchange for an honest review. But I want to say that the author didn't solicit me to do this. I saw the beautiful book cover on two other blogs, noted they were e-ARC's and tracked the author down and asked for a copy. 


The real standout thing in this book is the world building. A lot of recent mermaid books I've read really missed the opportunity to take us to another world. A world that's all the more magical because it's not on another planet or in the land of the Fae, it's just under the sea. What I especially love is the gift the author has for description- the prose is both crisp and spare and yet creates one of the most vivid worlds I've read recently. I've read a lot of books recently in which the author seems to have worn out a thesaurus- synonyms piled onto synonyms piled onto adverbs onto $2 words. They ended up creating a big boring mess. I'll give you an example, here's a quote from Florence:
From the Chapter "Dinner on a Whale": We passed through the doorway to enter a chamber lined with black sea grass. A glowing mass of tiny white orbs hung from the ceiling, all of them arranged into a crown of branches, like a chandelier without wires. The light they created was milky. In the center of the room was a white whale that rested on its belly. It's tail was curled around it to form a ramp. Atop the animal was a table...
 Here's how it would have been written other books I've read recently: (My changes in red)
We made our ingress through the doorway to emerge into a chamber lined with inky, stygian, ebon sea grass that flowed around us like the ropes of a jet necklace. A glowing, shimmering, irridescent mass of tiny white orbs hung like incandescent shimmering pearls from the ceiling, all of them arranged into a crown of branches, like a luminous, lustrous, glistening chandelier without wires. The glowing, frosty light they created was milky- like transparent ivory, pearly snow . In the center of the colossal, cavernous, voluminous room was a snow-white whale that rested on its belly. It's tail was sinuously curling- spiraling, coiling, spiraling- around it to form a ramp. Atop the monumental, massive, mountainous animal was a table...
So, it really is a delightful trip we get to take with Florence as she explores Niemela. The author manages to convey the wonder and beauty she finds there to the reader. The one negative I felt about the book was the lack of tension in the first half of the book. The main driving force of the plot for the first half of the book seems to be that Florence wants to return to the surface- her world. And that just didn't create enough conflict, for me, to advance the plot. However, two things really make that a minor issue. First, it was great to play tourist with Florence and explore Niemela. The world-building was really that good. Second, the payoff at the end was great. The action that takes place at the end required a lot of set up. In a lot of books, the author just throws things in that make no sense and aren't consistent with what's happened earlier in the book. In Florence, the events in the second half of the book can be traced back to some clue the author left in the first half of the book. I don't want to spoil it, so I can't be more specific. Just know that eventually at the end the author does connect the dots.

Ratings, Recommendations, etc.
Overall Rating: 3 1/2 stars
Genre Rating: 4 flippers
I do recommend this book to anyone who likes mermaid books. What I also liked is that this book is basically "clean"- no sex, bad language. However, I do think that in order to give this book a fair chance, read it when you're in the mood for a descriptive book. It's like The Night Circus- if you read it when you're in the right mood/frame of mind for it, it's magical.

Ciye Cho's Website
Florence





Question: Amazon Affiliate Program

I don't currently participate in Amazon (or any other bookseller's) affiliate program. But, I saw a tweet directing me to another book blogger's auction. Vampire Book Club's Charity Auction The blogger lost her father to cancer and is donating the proceeds from this auction and any money she gets from Amazon Affiliate sales to Barrow Neurological Institute. This sounds like a great cause and she is auctioning off some great PNR book packages if you want to check it out.

So, I was wondering how much people make from their Amazon Affiliate sales. My mother died from stomach cancer. Well, stomach cancer that had spread and metastasized pretty much everywhere- her bones, adrenal glands, liver, etc. I felt inspired by the blogger at Vampire Book Club and I'd like to donate proceeds from affiliate programs to the American Cancer Society.

Anyone else feel inspired to do this? Even if you just get $50 a year from Amazon, if a lot of us take this money and donate it to a cause dear to our hearts, it will add up.

Thanks in advance for any responses.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Review: Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo


Goodreads Description:
Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee.

Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life—a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling.

Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha…and the secrets of her heart.

My Review: 
This is my attention span:
I'm also highly attracted to bright, shiny objects like Goodreads ads. Shadow and Bone is one of those books I pretty much decided to read because the ad for this book kept appearing on Goodreads- over and over and over. I think that this was one of the most hyped/anticipated books this year. So, I went into it expecting great things.....


So, I was disappointed. Very disappointed because it just wasn't that interesting in the beginning. It was a book I would read a few pages and put to the side for another book- it just didn't grab me at all. But, about 20% of the way through, things got interesting. (It's the point of the first battle) At this point, I get why so many people fell in love with this book. It has a medieval Russian fantasy world kind of feel- a lot of the names are in Russian (I'm guessing). So, it feels like you're in a Russian folk tale. Also, the book explores something in great detail in a way that's different for a YA novel- it explores the concept of power. Power in government, the way power corrupts. How having an absolute monarch can lead to stagnation which in turn can lead people to follow any kind of demagogue because people yearn for change so badly that they'll accept any change. Good or bad. (Is this some kind of allusion to the Russian Revolution?) So, you see, it's  a definite cut above most YA books in this sense.

Hmm...when someone says, "in this sense", they're usually qualifying the statement. Which I am, I guess. I'm saying that there is symbolism, allusions, allegories in this novel which does set it apart from run of the mill YA novels. So, in what way isn't it "a cut above"? It's one of those books that has a lot of technical things right: good characters, understandable motivations, etc. But despite all of that, I just didn't fall in love.  Something was missing. Don't know what. I know people who love Twilight- they think it's poorly written, but to them the book has that "magic". I do get that- that some books are just magical. Usually it's because they do a lot of things right and have that extra sprinkling of fairy dust that makes the characters live off the page and take residence in our brains. This book just isn't magic to me. Yes, I'll read the next book in the series. Yes, I'll enjoy it if it's as good as this one. But, I finished reading this book about a week ago and completely forgot I read it until I saw this partially finished review in my Blogger Post page. Sorry, these characters just don't live in my head, but I hope that you read it and it's magic for you.

Overall rating: 3 1/2 stars
Genre rating: 4 magic wands
Leigh Bardugo's Website


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...