Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Teaser Tuesday #2

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

My teaser:
"Katherine's curl began to twirl again as she and North streaked toward Easter Island.  She did not like that they could not all stay together."
-E. Aster Bunnymund and the Warrior Eggs at the Earth's Core by William Joyce

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Book review: Girl Unmoored by Jennifer Gooch Hummer

Apron Bramhall has come unmoored. 

Fortunately, she's about to be saved by Jesus. Not that Jesus, the actor who plays him in Jesus Christ Superstar. Apron is desperate to avoid the look-alike Mike, who's suddenly everywhere, until she's stuck in church with him one day. Then something happens: Apron's broken teenage heart blinks on for the first time since she's been adrift. 

Mike and his boyfriend, Chad, offer her a summer job in their flower store, and Apron's world seems to calm. But when she uncovers Chad's secret, stormy seas return. Apron starts to see things the adults around her fail to like what love really means, and who is paying too much for it. 

Apron has come unmoored, but now she ll need to take the helm if she's to get herself and those she loves to safe harbor.

I was a bit hesitant about this book at first.  The first hundred pages just don't seem to match up to the rest.  The story itself is there and goes at a good pace (although the summary on this kind of sucks and doesn't really tell what the book is actually about) but there are quirks in this writing that make it seem a bit amateur.  There are typos and such sprinkled through that should've been picked up in editing, for instance.

Also this book takes place in Maine, and for a lot of the book, the narration is DETERMINED to make sure the reader knows this.  There aren't many books that take place in Maine, especially for young adults, so it is a point towards it as far as I'm concerned (especially since I'm from Maine).  But it seems to be a habit of books that do take place in Maine, or any other state that's uncommon for settings in books.

The part of the book where Apron works for Scent Appeal in an official capacity instead of just helping out when she runs into them is rather brief for having a part in the summary, but again, I think the summary just kind of sucks, and commercially published authors don't really have a say in the back of the book blurb, so I won't call Hummer herself out on that.

There are a lot of things to like about this, though.  It actually takes place in 1985, another thing the summary fails to tell that would be of interest to certain types of readers.  The summary doesn't, however, fail to say that a gay couple is prominent in the novel, the one thing that it doesn't fail at, I suppose.  And the characters themselves are quirky and realistic, from Apron right down to M, the physical antagonist of the novel.  Apron hates her, but there are times when they get along, and while M really is a mean person, she's not put in an evil light.  As Apron says near the end, some people are born gay, some people are born with freckles, and some people are just born mean.

For the shortcomings it has in the beginning, it does manage to tug at your heartstrings when all is said and done.  I found myself putting the book down after finishing it and getting choked up.  So as long as you're not bothered by some typos and gratuitous setting mentions, this is definitely a book to pick up.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Feature and Follow Friday!

Feature and Follow Friday is a blog event hosted by Parajunkee and Alison Can Read to help people gain followers and to just have fun discussion.

This weeks Question:

We always talk about books that WE want. Let’s turn it on its head. What books have you given other people lately?

I actually haven't had the chance to recommend or give books lately.  However my sister has let me borrow numbers two and three in the series The Guardians (the first of which, Nicholas St. North and the Battle of the Nightmare King I reviewed on this blog.  Then again, I kind of "give" a book to someone every time they read a review of mine, right?  At least a positive review.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Book review: The Blessed by Tonya Hurley

What if martyrs and saints lived among us? And what if you were told you were one of them?

Meet Agnes, Cecilia, and Lucy. Three lost girls, each searching for something. But what they find is Beyond Belief.

The Blessed was… of varying quality.  There are so many things wrong with this book that make me understand why a lot of the Goodreads reviews said they hadn’t finished it.  A lot of the writing is scattered, bloated with over-description.  The first few hundred pages of the book are rife with them: character descriptions, setting descriptions, and of course clothing descriptions.  And worst of all for me, there were a lot of times that were disconnected in a bad way.  It felt like Hurley tried to edit it and only got through certain lines, leaving others as they were in a previous draft so that it no longer makes sense.  Questions are asked and given answers that don’t make sense even though they act like they do.  Entire plot points come about with no build-up and often exactly opposite to what Cecilia, Agnes and Lucy think and feel in even just the previous chapter.

There’s also the question of just what the book was supposed to convey.  Sebastian insists the girls are saints and that so is he.  The only good writing I really saw involved the psychiatrist, Dr. Frey, as he talks to people and does research in an attempt to understand what is going on.  The fact that the writing is clearer and cleaner in these sequences made me believe more that they were all delusional than that they were actually the reincarnated versions of religious icons, or even descended from them.  Instances that seemed like they were supposed to show the reader they really were saints weren't witnessed by third parties and could easily be written off as delusion or being influenced.

Even in the end it doesn’t become all that clear, but I’m not going to spoil it for anyone reading this book.  I trudged through all 400+ pages, you should too if you really want to see.  I, personally, don’t believe the redeeming factors outweigh the negative factors.  But The Blessed is also part of a trilogy, and call me a masochist, but I’m going to at least see it through to the second book whenever it comes out.  There’s only room to improve, in my opinion, and Hurley does show in the parts mentioned above that she can be a competent writer.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Teaser Tuesday #1

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
•Grab your current read
•Open to a random page
•Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
•Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Here's my teaser:

"His life is really none of our business, and vice versa," Cecilia whispered.  "Once the storm passes, we'll go back to our lives like none of this ever happened."
-The Blessed by Tonya Hurley

Monday, February 18, 2013

Cover reveal: Roots (Witchbound series #1) by Kelbian Noel

Book Synopsis:

Seventeen-year-old Baltimore Land just wants to be normal, but magic has other plans. 

I don’t consider myself a witch, that's my parents' thing. I've never really believed in magic either. Sure, I tried it a few times. Fell for the whole “magic happens” thing. But it didn’t happen to me. No amount of rhyming stopped my parents from moving me halfway across the country. Not one spell stopped me from being labeled the town freak.

And worst of all, no matter how many times I begged the Universe to bring my twin back, I was ignored. Until now.

He’s back all right. And in a magical bind of his own. Not the magic-won’t-work-for-me kind either. In fact, it’s working a little too well. Too dark. Too deep.

It turns out our entire family’s magical roots run just as deep and my brother didn’t end up where he is by accident. So I’m going to help him. But magic isn’t really on my side. Nope. Once I finally get the craft under control, I’m expected to abandon the one person in the world who’s closest to me, just to save myself.

I've been lucky enough to be picked for my first cover reveal tour!  This time it's Roots, the first book in the Witchbound series.  And what a pretty cover it is.

Cover Design by Parajunkee Design: parajunkee.net

You can find more information on the book's GoodReads page or the author's website.  And don't forget to follow Kelbian Noel on Twitter!

About the author:
Kelbian is the author of the Witchbound series and a blogger at Diverse Pages. She lives in Toronto, Ontario with her two children.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Starting Sunday

This is just a little thing I decided to do as kind of a "What I'm doing" thing, and to get more posts on here so my followers don't get bored.  Basically, saying what I plan on starting this week, whether it's a book or a piece of writing or anything else.


I'm currently reading The Blessed, which I will finish this week.  When I do, I'll be starting in on Girl Unmoored.  It's realistic fiction!  So there will be a bit of a change for people who read my reviews.


My friend Bunny had me look up the 365 Day Writing Challenge for him, and I decided to do it myself, starting today.  I've been wanting to rewrite the universe for my favorite couple, Cameron and Michael, and I think this is the kick in the pants I need to get that going.  I'll probably note my progress for it on here from time to time.

I'm also finally going to really get into editing Nowhere Fast!  That same friend has offered to do the cover for my self-publishing venture, so I need to get my ass in gear so it doesn't take forever and he bugs me about it all the time because what is doing things on time.


I've been downloading dance mixes of pop songs lately.  I really want to get into a routine of pumping myself up in the morning!  It helps me be excited about the day no matter whether it's just a lazy day or I have a million things to proofread (of course money is always good but motivation doesn't come). We'll see if I can.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Book review: Reached (Matched #3) by Ally Condie

After leaving Society to desperately seek The Rising, and each other, Cassia and Ky have found what they were looking for, but at the cost of losing each other yet again. Cassia is assigned undercover in Central city, Ky outside the borders, an airship pilot with Indie. Xander is a medic, with a secret. All too soon, everything shifts again.

Reached is the third entry in the Matched trilogy, one that I’ve enjoyed a lot over the years it’s been coming out.  Dystopia is usually hit or miss for me.  There’s a suspension of belief required in that type of story, and if a society isn’t constructed in a way that seems plausible, it just doesn’t work for me.

With the Matched trilogy, I didn’t feel this.  The conclusion found the three main characters, Cassia, Xander and Ky, as part of the rebellion against the Society, something that’s been in the shadows since the first book.  And it puts you right in the action, despite being such a long book.  It definitely doesn’t drag things out.  Everything in the five-hundred plus pages of this book is relevant (even the chapter entitled “Ky” which is left blank).

The prose itself is lyrical in a way that doesn’t make it wishy-washy or flowery.  I never once found myself lost in the words, trying to figure out what was just said or what just happened.  I’d say it’s quite an accomplishment.

There are, of course, a few things that would turn people off to this book.  There are so many plot twists, much more than I remember the first two books containing.  Just when you think you’ve got everything figured out, they throw something else at you.  Right up to the end!  Of course, one of my favorite video game series is Kingdom Hearts and I can figure that out, I can figure anything out.

There’s also, of course, the fact that the Pilot is revealed so early into the book.  There’s such a big deal made, and the story about the Pilot is even told in its entirety at the start of the book, but the Pilot swoops in within a few chapters.  The Pilot is another thing that goes through plot twists and reveals, but the fact that he’s there from the beginning seems like an anticlimactic solution to something that’s been wondered about for the past two books.

However, this is a solid conclusion to the series, I like to think.  If you’ve read the first two, don’t miss this one.  And if you haven’t read the first two, why the heck not, huh?

Friday, February 8, 2013

Feature and Follow Friday #2

Feature and Follow Friday is a meme hosted by Alison Can Read and Parajunkee to help bloggers gain followers and and meet new people!

This week's question:

Q: Happy Mardi Gras! If they were throwing the HOTTEST books off of a Mardi Gras float -- what would you do to have them throw to you…?

Honestly I'd just climb right up onto the float and take what I want.  Nobody's gonna get between me and a good book :I

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

I've finally done it

I've decided to self-publish one of my novels.  It's not that I won't continue the path towards commercial publication, but I kind of feel like I want something of mine out there, y'know?  And maybe it'll be the kick I need to really get back into writing and reading.

The novel I've decided to self-publish is Nowhere Fast.  It's a young adult novel about a boy named Niel, whose mother died because of breast cancer about a year before the novel starts.  He meets Sam, a college student who is student teaching at his school that semester and seems to share his love of going out and watching cargo trains.

Of course the novel itself is very, very rough still, or most of it is, anyway.  A portion of it was in my senior workshop portfolio for my BFA and people seemed to like it.  But it means there's still a ton of work to do.  I'd love help, of course.  I have to work through and convert it to present tense (I'd started but never finished) but after that, I'd really love as much feedback as possible so I can get it polished.  But I suppose editing and such will come after I've done the initial work.

Until then!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Book review: Intentions by Deborah Heiligman

Rachel thought she was grown up enough to accept that no one is perfect. Her parents argue, her grandmother has been acting strangely, and her best friend doesn't want to talk to her. But none of that could have prepared her for what she overheard in her synagogue's sanctuary.

Now Rachel's trust in the people she loves is shattered, and her newfound cynicism leads to reckless rebellion. Her friends and family hardly recognize her, and worse, she can hardly recognize herself. But how can the adults in her life lecture her about acting with kavanah, intention, when they are constantly making such horribly wrong decisions themselves? This is a witty, honest account of navigating the daunting line between losing innocence and entering adulthood—all while figuring out who you really want to be.

It took me a while to start on this review after I finished reading.  Not because it was bad; in fact, it was the opposite!  Intentions is one of the few books I’ve thoroughly enjoyed in a while.  I suppose it’s easier to complain than compliment, though.

I seem to be on a bit of a Judaism kick for YA lately; just a few weeks ago I read one called If I Should Die Before I Wake, about a neo-Nazi girl who kept flashing back to the life of a Jewish girl during the holocaust.  Perhaps I should actively seek them out?  They’re quite interesting.

Anyway, this book is contemporary instead of historical, so it’s different.  The thing I loved most about this was Rachel’s voice.  There are times when I was quite annoyed with her; not as a character, but just as a human being, making stupid choices and saying stupid things, but I always loved her voice.

The story itself was a bit chaotic.  So much came tumbling down in Rachel’s life one after another, but that’s how it happens sometimes.  Often it only takes one thing to put someone over the tipping point.  Of course, in the end, it seemed Rachel overreacted for at least one of the things- but that is something you’ll have to find out for yourself.

My favorite aspect of the actual story was probably Rachel’s visits to the reading lab.  They didn’t happen too much in the story, and they did seem like an aside without much effect on the story.  But it’s something I wish I could’ve done in high school, so I suppose the missed opportunity makes me live vicariously through her.

Besides the minor things mentioned, I really don’t have a problem with this book.  It felt good to read a book that I truly, thoroughly enjoyed.  Hope you will, too!

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Book review: Break My Heart 1,000 Times by Daniel Waters

Living in the aftermath of the Event means that seeing the dead is now a part of life, but Veronica wishes that the ghosts would just move on. Instead, the ghosts aren't disappearing--they're gaining power. 

When Veronica and her friend, Kirk, decide to investigate why, they stumble upon a more sinister plot than they ever could have imagined. One of Veronica's high school teachers is crippled by the fact that his dead daughter has never returned as a ghost, and he's haunted by the possibility that she's waiting to reappear within a fresh body. Veronica seems like the perfect host. And even if he's wrong, what's the harm in creating one more ghost? 

Now this was a book I could definitely get into.  The concept itself is rather interesting, and provides a breath of fresh air from all the Twilight clones and cookie-cutter paranormal stuff that’s still going around even after the movie franchise is over.

But that’s a rant for another time, I suppose.

There’s a lot to like about this, not just the plot.  For the most part, the writing is great.  There are a few times where it’s awkward, and the author seems to have an obsession with describing Veronica’s clothes every time she changes, but nothing too bad.

While I’m listing my complaints, I suppose I’ll put the others I had.  Veronica is a dynamic character, but so much so that I often got confused and wondered if two different people had written separate chapters.  At times she’s kissing Kirk and completely comfortable with him, and then later she’s wondering why he’s falling for her and how to break up with him.  I understand someone has a right to change their mind, but she acted like none of it had even happened!  A bit irritating

Veronica’s best friend is absolutely terrified of ghosts, but I’m not sure I understand her character arc.  One day she’s refusing to go with Veronica and Kirk to video tape them, the next she’s asking if she can go to Veronica’s house and see the image of Veronica’s father that appears every morning.  Perhaps I’m missing something; I’m sure there was supposed to be some big character revelation.  Unfortunately, with all the different focuses, she’s not one of them so we never see it.

Finally, just how this world is setup confused me as well.  The summary and first few chapters of the book imply that the Event, which itself is vague and never gone into in too much detail (though I imagine it’s because no one really understands how it happened anyway) caused the ghosts to appear somehow.  Later, it’s implied that ghosts always appear in this world after a tragic event, citing such things as the atom bomb drops in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  Still later, those theories are dismissed as conspiracy theories.  I suppose I just would’ve liked to know if this really was an alternate universe or something else.

However, this book, I feel, has pros that outweigh the cons.  I’ve already mentioned the writing.  It also manages to keep a very creepy vibe about it throughout the story.  In this world, ghosts appear and act out a piece of their life before disappearing, often every day or several times a week.  Even though it’s been years since the Event, people still often can’t tell the difference between a ghost and a living person, unless they know the ghost and know they’re dead.  This most often happens when following Mr. Bittner’s point of view, although based on later events in the book, it seems he’s a bit more unhinged than even first implied.

Overall, a very enjoyable book, especially if you’re a paranormal buff.  Definitely worth at least a borrow from the library or a friend!

Friday, February 1, 2013

Feature and Follow Friday!

So I'm trying this!  Might as well do something with this blog other than ranting and posting book reviews, right?  This blog hop is hosted by Parajunkee.

And this weeks question?

What is the first thing you would do if you woke up to find yourself in your favorite book?

My favorite book is Ella Enchanted!  It seems a little weird given my contemporary tastes for the most part, but there's just something about it that brings me back again and again.  If I found myself in the world of Ella and Char, to be honest I'd probably end up hurting myself.  I'd run down the street, looking at everything and taking it all in, and probably knock into someone or fall flat on my face.  But it's not as dangerous as some fantasy worlds, so I would enjoy it.