Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Book Wars (27)

Shiver came out rather hairy last week. What's next for this week? FIGHT!

His name when he was human was Kern. Now he is the most feared of beings: a werewolf. When the change first came upon him, his parents drove him away with silver daggers. Later, he sought human companionship, but he could not hide the truth for long. And so he kept running until he ran headlong into the deadliest pursuer of all—a harper bent on stealing his life away. By chance Kern was able to find refuge at the Inn of the Yellow Tinker, and the woman he was destined to love. But can he risk both human and harper vengeance to keep her? (from


Kate's family is not what you'd call average. Her parents and brother are werewolves, and when Kate comes of age werewolf law dictates that she will become one too. But Kate is horrified at the fate that awaits her, and can feel none of the pride that strengthens her family in their werewolf state. For the time being she is able to avoid the issue of when she will become werewolf. Until, that is, her parents kidnap Tom Folan, on holiday with his parents, and destined to become Kate's mate A tense, plot-twisting werewolf thriller that will have readers on the edge of their seats. The first in 'The Wereling' trilogy. (from

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Bites Has Stuff

So in my mad dash last month to try and get business cards together through someone legit instead of ghetto-styling it, I signed up with VistaPrint and I ended up getting blasted with all their promo emails as a result. Well one of those emails ended up being a promo to get a bunch of free stuff so I figured what the hell. I'll try it out. I didn't want business cards now since I only use them at BEA but I wanted to try out some of their other products and see what the quality was like.

For designs I ended up purchasing the two kits that Danny used to create my current blog theme and I started slapping stuff together. Here's what I came up with (click to enlarge the images).

Magnets (25 free)

A Pen

Postcards (100 free, the prints have Bites and website info on them)

A Notepad (my favorite of the bunch)

Address Labels (140 free, privy stuff removed for obvious reasons)

Not including the cost of the kits, I spent $23 and change, including shipping costs. According to the website, I saved over $83. VistaPrint tends to get you on shipping costs which, I guess, is how they can offer stuff at such reduced cost. But for this all I paid was shipping and upload costs. The costs of the kit came out to be $10 and change. Not too bad. I planned on throwing some stuff into packages when I mail them, for bookmarks or whatever. And I tend to write little notes when I ship books. Now I have my own note pad!

The stuff should come in either tomorrow or Thursday. I'll give an update when I can evaluate the quality of my stuff.

Contest Reminder!

Just a reminder to everyone that my BEA Swag Grab Contest ends tonight at midnight, EST! Be sure to get your entries in by then!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Zan-Gah and the Beautiful Country by Allan Richard Shickman

Published in 2009.

The volcanic turbulence that shakes Dael's mind carries him to vicious extremes. It is Zan's task to calm his brother and lead him away from thoughts both destructive and self-destructive. But even the paradise of the Beautiful Country will not erase them. (book back blurb)

In this sequel Zan-Gah is having to deal with the repercussions of his brothers PTSD after his ordeal with the Wasp People and the Noi. Dael's pretty screwed up in the head. He's hell-bent on revenge for how he was treated, despite what it could cost the rest of his tribe.

I like this series simply for just how different it is from all of the other YA stuff out there right now. Yeah, there's a distance from the characters. They're Neanderthals. They don't have the same issues teenagers have today. But they kind of do. They still have to deal with their changing bodies and emotions and parents and siblings but just on a different level and under much different circumstances.

Any excursions they take could cost them their lives. Food is something you have to fight for. Peace needed to be kept because it isn't just a nasty email that they'd receive in response. Despite the seeming simplicity of their situations, I couldn't stop turning the pages or getting taken aback at what someone did.

What I liked the most is the realism. This isn't some fantasy world we're reading about but what used to exist before computers and cars and even kingdoms. It's raw and real and damn near primal. It's a people emerging out of their baser instincts to start to form the societies we know of today. I love the awe and mystery surrounding a volcano. Sure, it's no mystery to us but imaging being them. You've seen mountains before but this one is blazing hot and spitting clouds and fire and liquid fire and smelly gas. What are you supposed to think? An angry god?

I just find these books a refreshing breath of air in the middle of all the YA drama. It's a drama of a different kind. A life or death drama. An unknown drama. The writing's a little showy at times but it doesn't slow the reading down. I'd recommend this one to anyone looking for a nice quick break from the modern YA world and who wants to dive into one that we probably can't even dream of.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Added to the Pile + 41

I had to carry my books to my computer in a doubled-up Strand bag. I have to stop. Maybe. Considering the pile, just links this week. I might blow up Blogger if I tried anything more than that.

From HarperCollins -

Three Delays by Charlie Smith

From Random House/Random Buzzers -

The Lighter Side of Life and Death by CK Kelly Martin

From Houghton Mifflin Harcourt -

Hunger by Jackie Morse Kessler

From Chronicle -

The Space Between Trees by Katie Williams

From Feiwel and Friends/Macmillan -

Halo by Alexandra Adornetto

From PaperBackSwap -

The Vampire Diaries: The Awakening and The Struggle by LJ Smith

From The Strand -

Num8ers by Rachel Ward
Bleeding Violet by Dia Reeves
Buffy the Vampire Slayer 1: Coyote Moon, Night of the Living Rerun and Portal Through Time by John Vornholt, Arthur Byron and Alice Henderson
Shift by Charlotte Agell
Touch by Francine Prose
Break by Hannah Moskowitz
The School for Dangerous Girls by Eliot Schreffer
Spanking Shakespeare by Jake Wizner
Fancy White Trash by Marjetta Geerling
Flygirl by Sherri L. Smith

Things I've Learned from Books + 60

If I were a Victorian woman, I'd get locked up in a shit house in a nanosecond. If women reading excessively was really considered a symptom of insanity, we'd all be screwed.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

80s Awesomeness! ~ 69

Stirrup Pants!!!

Horrifying, aren't they? Just remember, they're, like 4 inches away from being those leggings everyone wears today. Those originally came about 6 years after these things so don't go thinking there's a big gap. You're horribly, horribly wrong.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Freaky Friday :|: 69

Title: Heart of Valor
Author: LJ Smith
Published: March 1994
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Pages: 236
A very ordinary day in the lives of the four Hodges-Bradley children takes on frightening dimensions in the aftermath of what seems like a typical California earthquake. A year and a half has passed since the great sorceress Morgana Shee, with the children's help, closed the last gateway to the Wildworld, a shimmering parallel universe of legend and danger. (from
Eep! Has hints of my own manuscript. Dammit, lack of original ideas! And I've never even read this. Not sure I want to, either. Has anyone read these?

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Awards Dump

I have more awards! I'm going to nix passing them on because it's hot as balls, I don't have air conditioning and my contacts have spot-welded themselves to my eyeballs. So I have a bit working against me here. Oh yeah, I've surpassed the 700 followers mark! Yay! Thank you, all my lovely followers!

Thanks to the awesome Jennifer at Reading with Tequila and the wonderful Sya of The Mountains of Instead, I received the Bodacious Blogging Book Reviewers Award! Yay! Thank you! It's a bit of a mouthful to say that one but I thank you both all the same! I really like this one.

From the fantastic The Lovely Reader and the generous Grace from Simply Grace, I was bestowed with The Versatile Blogger Award! Very many thank yous!

And last but certainly not least, from the marvelous Lauren at I was a teenage book geek, I received the Happy 101 Award! Thank you so much, love!

I appreciate all my awards and I thank you all for them! You like me! You really like me! *tear*

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Book Wars (26)

Looks like Tantalize got its fat, hairy ass handed to itself by Blood and Chocolate last week. Let's stick with the beasts again this week, shall we? FIGHT!

Ruth's grandmother lives in the forest, banished there for the "evil" that the townsfolk believed she practiced. But if studying the stars, learning about nature, and dreaming of flying is evil, then Ruth is guilty of it too. Whenever Ruth took food and supplies to her grandmother, she would sit with the old woman for hours, listening and learning.

When she wasn't in the woods, Ruth was learning the trade of her father, a blacksmith, now that her brother would never return from the Crusades.

Amidst those dark days, a new man enters Ruth's life. William is a noble with a hot temper and a bad name, and he makes her shiver. But the young man is prey to his heritage, a curse placed on his family ages ago, and each male of the family has strange blood running in his veins. Now Ruth must come face-to-face with his destiny at Grandma's house. (from


For years, Grace has watched the wolves in the woods behind her house. One yellow-eyed wolf--her wolf--is a chilling presence she can't seem to live without. Meanwhile, Sam has lived two lives: In winter, the frozen woods, the protection of the pack, and the silent company of a fearless girl. In summer, a few precious months of being human . . . until the cold makes him shift back again.

Now, Grace meets a yellow-eyed boy whose familiarity takes her breath away. It's her wolf. It has to be. But as winter nears, Sam must fight to stay human--or risk losing himself, and Grace, forever. (from

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Bree Tanner Sucks Indies Dry

First, who the hell is Bree Tanner in the greater expanse of the Twitrocity? Is she one of the rogue vampires in the third book? Why the hell was a novella dedicated to such a speck of a character?

Anyway, it appears that while selling 350,000 copies in the first two days is nothing to snuff at, The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner is proving a parasite for indie bookstores. Outside of the big online retailers and the fact that the story is up for free on one of SMeyer's websites until July, it certainly doesn't help those smaller bookstores any who had no help in the promotions department when it came to getting the word out about this newest addition to the hysteria.

With smaller retailers selling only low-end single digit copies of the books, they're not going to be left with many options when it's time to rotate the book out. Mark this shill 11,000 for SMeyer but down 1 for the indies.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare + Contest!

Pub date August 31st, 2010.

When sixteen-year-old Tessa Gray crosses the ocean to find her brother in Victorian England, something terrifying is waiting for her in London's Downworld. Kidnapped by the mysterious Dark Sisters, who are members of a secret organization called the Pandemonium Club, Tessa soon learns that she has the power to transform at will into another person. The Magister, the shadowy figure who runs the Club, will stop at nothing to claim Tessa's power for his own. Friendless and hunted, Tessa takes refuge with the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the world of demons. She soon finds herself fascinated by - and torn between - two best friends: James, whose fragile beauty hides a deadly secret, and Will, whose volatile moods keep everyone at arm's length. As their search draws them deep into a plot that threatens to destroy the Shadowhunters, Tessa realizes that she may need to choose between saving her brother and helping her new friends save the world . . . and that love may be the most dangerous magic of all. (book back blurb)

Potential Spoiler Alert!!!
Really, I'm going to try not to give anything away of the plot but what one sees as mundane information another may see as spoiling. This also isn't going to be a glowing review. You've been warned.

When I read City of Bones, I didn't have much issue with the story itself as I did with the writing. The text was drowning in descriptions and the plot was very derivative. I didn't read on in the series because while I was entertained by the story, I wasn't entertained enough to try and slog through Clare's writing again. I have been told that her writing does get better as the series went on but I still didn't venture.

Until Clockwork Angel. I figured by now the writing's improved enough that it isn't going to be as hard for me to get through as CoB was and if it was anything like that book, at the very least I'd be entertained.

Well, thankfully the descriptions of doom did die down substantially. The similes were kept to a minimum and they didn't slap me in the face every time I came upon one (multiple times a sentence). Having said that, the overbearing descriptions were replaced by something more awkward. Every time I did hit a simile (which, as I said, was minimal), I felt that Clare tried to find something to compare whatever it was she was comparing to to but couldn't find the words so she just settled. It's hard to explain. The similes were lackluster and, to me, read rather defeatist. Tired. I found a lot of redundant descriptions that even with a little effort could have been avoided. It was rather disheartening.

As for the overall story, it was slow. Very slow. A lot of exposition. A lot of information is learned from the characters listening in on meetings or having sit-downs or going for walks or whathaveyou. There was much by the way of talking heads and little by the way of action. Tessa was kind of getting shoved around from plot point to plot point without much will of her own. Not to say she wasn't a strong character, but instead of her moving the plot, the plot moved her. Slowly. While I found CA a faster read than CoB, I wasn't nearly as entertained and at times was rather bored with all of the eavesdropping. I get there was a lot of information to be had in this book but there are better ways to relay it.

The whole love theme talked about in the blurb is a shadow to the overall story. It's so slight that, personally, I don't think it bears mentioning in the blurb itself. As for the tearing love triangle, I didn't feel much of that either. I didn't think Tessa's "attraction" to Jem was anywhere near what I think it was to Will. By the blurb you'd think she were equally pulled to both boys. I didn't get that. But I'm sure I can see which boy she chooses by the end of the series. What girl wouldn't want to attempt to reform the asshole prick that treats her like shit? Such attractive qualities, I know. Really, there is nothing appealing about Will. He's an asshole. Yeah, he's had some bad stuff happen to him in the past (which we don't know about even as the story closes) but it doesn't make it okay for him to be a jerk to everyone. But oh, that's just Will. Blech.

The plot as a whole feels really familiar, like I've read something like it before. Really I felt the only thing that was original was the Shadowhunter deal but the more I read about their runes and all the "help" those things provide, I couldn't help but roll my eyes. A rune for opening doors. For protection. For healing. For everything you could possible need. It just seemed contrived. As for the plot: evil megalomaniac has bid for world domination, uses evil robot us-es to attempt to get it (ten points if you get that reference), wants to make confused yet super-powerful girl his wife to parasite her power, girl gets saved by superheroes, whom she teams up with to save the day. It's just . . . blah.

As for the actual clockwork angel . . . don't think you're going to find out what that is. Just don't even think about it when you start reading the book and don't try to keep guessing as the story goes along. If there is an answer, it's not in this book.

I liked a lot of the history and my favorite part was where Tessa was with the Dark Sisters. Unfortunately that was the very beginning of the book. The tension just seemed more real. I liked the mystery and the intrigue but once she's out of there, I found my mind wandering.

Overall, I was actually much more disappointed with Clockwork Angel than I was with City of Bones. The writing's nominally better albeit heinously overwritten and the story's short on action and on giant in talking heads. I see the book as being entirely exposition for what's coming in the series. Tessa gets to London. Shenanigans ensue. She now realizes what she must do. I could have lived without it but I hope it ends up in the hands of someone that'll appreciate it more than I did.

Contest Time!!!

With stipulations! I want to make sure this book gets into the hands of someone that'll read it and then spread the word about it. I don't normally limit contests like this but considering the popularity of Clockwork Angel, I don't want the copy getting sucked into oblivion, never to be seen again.

ONLY A BOOK BLOGGER CAN WIN THIS BOOK!!! Not a cake blog, a bible camp blog or a cross stitch blog. A BOOK BLOG. Yup. You heard that right. You must have a book blog to enter, at least 3 months old with an average posting rate of 2 to 3 entries per week. You will also acknowledge that you agree to review the book once you're done reading it. No time frame but the word should be spread about it. If you do not meet this criteria, do not enter. I will be verifying all entries and those that don't fit will be deleted. Other than that, fill out the form below and good luck!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Added to the Pile + 40

This is going to be a quick post both because I have quite a few books I got this week and I'm on my way out. It is Father's Day, after all!

From Candlewick -

The Agency: The Body at the Tower by YS Lee
Girl Parts by John M. Cusick

From Llewellyn -

Pathworking with the Egyptian Gods by Judith Page and Jan A. Malique

From Carolrhoda Lab -

The Freak Observer by Blythe Woolston
Traitor by Gudrun Pausewang
The Absolute Value of -1 by Steve Brezenoff

From PaperBackSwap -

Fear Street: The New Girl by RL Stine (it's worth mentioning that this is a first edition, FIRST EDITION FEAR STREET #1!!!)
My Name is Will: A Novel of Sex, Drugs, and Shakespeare by Jess Winfield
Me, Penelope by Lisa Jahn-Clough

Things I've Learned from Books + 59

Volcanoes have super awesome god-like powers. And their fumes give you one hot ass trip.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

The Bookstye: After

First let me say I'm really not one that should buy things that ship flat. Here is where my lack of patience really shows. I've never actually had to put anything together before so this was my first real big foray into turning something 3 inches high into something four and a half feet high.

When I took all the pieces to my new CSN bookshelf out of the box, I was surprised at how sturdy the shelves actually were. I guess I was expecting something closer to IKEA standards, like particle board, so I was pleasantly surprised.

Screwing on the main legs proved to be a little difficult, especially after my dumb ass screwed them on backwards. Note to self: in order to screw the back board in, the holes need to face back, not forwards. I had a couple issues lining the leg holes up and screwing them in but I think I got them in good enough. The thing hasn't collapsed under its own weight yet so it's good.
The shelves themselves went in fine and I just had issues again screwing on the small legs that attached to the bottom shelf. One of the legs, no matter how I finagled it (no, it wasn't on backwards), the holes really didn't match up so I almost has to create new holes for the screws or screw them in on an angle. It could have been my own impatience that I didn't take enough time to line up the holes but from what I could tell, they just weren't going to match up.

The backboard was a bit of a pain as well. I had a hard time screwing the screws in straight through the wood and into the metal holes. I'll really chalk this one up to my own impatience because after the legs, and all the hard screwing (shut up), my hands hurt and it was a superficial piece of the puzzle that I just wanted to slap on. I was able to get in the screw on the top and the bottom and I just sort of pushed them in along the sides and bam! It was all set.

I do really like the adjusters on the legs. My wood floors are nice and uneven so it was great to be able to adjust those so my bookcase didn't wobble. And overall, it really came out nice and it's been working great!

Pre-books. Despite the state of my hands, I really like the way it looks. It's very put together, streamline, not cheap looking or anything. I'm really happy with it. Next time I'll have my dad put it together.

With books. It's not as big as I originally thought it was going to be but it holds my big books, which I like. I need to really re-arrange the shelves and I might end up stacking my smaller-bound books so they can all fit and it's not so top heavy.

The TBR pile has been consolidated into one monstrous pile. The books on the far left are review copies. Next pile over is mostly BEA books from this year. The next stack is a mix of BEA from this year and last year and the last two piles are books that I've accrued that I want to read. Dear god. The two short stacks in the front: the further front are giveaway copies from BEA and the back pile are just more books I want to read. Awesome.

And my DVD rack actually gets to be used for DVDs. To bad for it's now-constant tilt to the side. Awesome. The top rack is TV shows (pretty much the only way I watch any TV), second rack is my "classics" (read: 80s and early 90s movies), third rack and the left of the fourth rack are just random DVDs that didn't fit into the other two. On the right of the fourth rack are my cartoon movies. Yeah. I'm, like, 10 on the inside. And on the very bottom are the couple of Wii games I have.

The chaos has quieted.

80s Awesomeness! ~ 68

Lite Brite for boys, Battleship pits two players against each other in an out and out plastic ship war. In a game purely made of guessing, the object is to sink all of your opponents ships with those little red pegs. Only then will you conquer all. Thanks, 80s.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Freaky Friday :|: 68

Title: The Night of the Solstice
Author: LJ Smith
Published: September 1993
Pages: 240
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
When Claudia Hodges-Bradley meets a fox, she knows it will be an extraordinary day. Not just any fox, this vixen is the magical familiar of the sorceress Morgana Shee. For years Morgana has guarded the solitary gate between Earth and the Wildworld, a shimmering parallel universe where legends still live. She alone holds the secret of the mirrors that serve as the last passage to enchantment. But Morgana has been betrayed and imprisoned in Wildworld, and the fox is determined to recruit the Hodges-Bradley kids for the rescue mission.

Armed only with courage and determination, Alys, Charles, Janie and Claudia must save Morgana before the Winter Solstice when the evil sorcerer Cadal Forge plans to escape Wildworld and conquer Earth. And with December 21 only two weeks away, there is no time to lose? (from
This sounds more middle grade-ish than YA. It might just be a little too high fantasy for me. Anyone?

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Winter's Passage by Julie Kagawa

Published June 1, 2010.

Meghan Chase used to be an ordinary girl...until she discovered that she is really a faery princess. After escaping from the clutches of the deadly Iron fey, Meghan must follow through on her promise to return to the equally dangerous Winter Court with her forbidden love, Prince Ash. But first, Meghan has one request: that they visit Puck-Meghan's best friend and servant of her father, King Oberon-who was gravely injured defending Meghan from the Iron Fey.

Yet Meghan and Ash's detour does not go unnoticed. They have caught the attention of an ancient, powerful hunter-a foe that even Ash may not be able to defeat....(from

I haven't actually read The Iron King but I've heard good things about it. When Winter's Passage came available, I figured I'd give it a try and see what it was all about. I thought it'd give me enough of a glimpse into the overall story to judge whether I'd like to read the greater works that bookend this novella.

Well, I read it and I thought it was okay. I wasn't floored by it. I liked that it gave me some exposition at the beginning so I wasn't totally lost in the storyline. And I liked the voice. Meghan seems like a pretty cool literary chick I wouldn't mind following around to hear her story. And Ash was definitely an intriguing character. I don't know how I like the deviation of his Fey ways (meaning he can turn the cold personality on and off) and I felt it was a little self-serving. But then I think back on books like Merlin's Harp which stuck true to the faerie lore that faeries weren't emotional and how I didn't like that and couldn't connect with it. So after gnawing on my foot a little, I came to the conclusion that Ash was compelling and I wouldn't mind finding out more about him either.

Really the novella was just a teaser, as I'm sure that's what it was meant to be. I got just little inklings of the greater plot (why was Puck sleeping in a tree?) but I'm not sure the story itself moved me enough to read more. Maybe if my TBR pile wasn't about to eat me I'd pick up a copy of The Iron King but right now I'm going to have to leave it as "if I get to it." It's intriguing but not enough to move me to immediately read more. But I can definitely see the greater aspects that people are drawn to. From just the peeks I saw, I get it.

Maybe eventually I'll get around to reading the rest.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Book Wars (25)

Water caused a landslide last week. Now it's time for something a little different. For the land lubbers. FIGHT!

Vivian Gandillon relishes the change, the sweet, fierce ache that carries her from girl to wolf. At sixteen, she is beautiful and strong, and all the young wolves are on her tail. But Vivian still grieves for her dead father; her pack remains leaderless and in disarray, and she feels lost in the suburbs of Maryland. She longs for a normal life. But what is normal for a werewolf?

Then Vivian falls in love with a human, a meat-boy. Aiden is kind and gentle, a welcome relief from the squabbling pack. He's fascinated by magic, and Vivian longs to reveal herself to him. Surely he would understand her and delight in the wonder of her dual nature, not fear her as an ordinary human would.

Vivian's divided loyalties are strained further when a brutal murder threatens to expose the pack. Moving between two worlds, she does not seem to belong in either. What is she really--human or beast? Which tastes sweeter--blood or chocolate? (from

Quincie Morris has never felt more alone. Her parents are dead, and her hybrid-werewolf boyfriend is threatening to embark on a rite of passage that will separate them forever.

Then as she and her uncle are about to unveil their hot vampire-themed restaurant, a brutal murder leaves them scrambling for a chef. Can Quincie transform their newly hired chef into a culinary Dark Lord before opening night? Can he wow the crowd in his fake fangs, cheap cape, and red contact lenses - or is there more to this earnest face than meets the eye? As human and preternatural forces clash, a deadly love triangle forms, and the line between predator and prey begins to blur. Who's playing whom? And how long can Quincie play along before she loses everything? (from

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Author Bites - Dianne K. Salerni on Spiritualism

Because I loved Dianne K. Salerni's We Hear the Dead so much, I wanted to dig into her brain a little deeper about the whys of this book. Why Spiritualism? Why the route she decided to take? And thankfully, she's agreed to ramble a bit about that! So thank you very much, Dianne, for stopping by!

When I started researching the rise of the spiritualist movement as part of Maggie Fox’s story, I assumed that it was all about the dead people. After all, that’s what a séance is: People sitting around a table in a darkened room, holding hands and trying to contact their departed kin. They want to say good-bye. They seek forgiveness. Maybe they even want to find out where Uncle Ernie hid the will.

What I didn’t expect was politics.

And yet, as I discovered in my research, spiritualism gained popularity while riding a wave of political reform in the mid-nineteenth century. An astonishing number of the spirits who communed with the living at the Fox séance table had a very determined political agenda!

When Leah Fox Fish brought her younger sisters, Maggie and Kate, to Rochester and set them up as spirit mediums in 1848, her first clients came from a select set of Quakers and social reformers. The Fox family was surprisingly progressive for a working class family, probably because they had roomed for years in the boarding house of Isaac and Amy Post, Quakers who had long worked for abolition and supported the Underground Railroad. The Posts were among the first of the Fox sisters’ clients, and they soon brought along some of their famous associates—including Lucretia Mott, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Fredrick Douglass. Shortly after these initial meetings, the abolitionists and suffragettes endorsed the Fox sisters as genuine, and the spirits at the Fox sisters’ séance table began promoting those same “twin causes.” To me, it seemed to me that an arrangement for the mutual benefit of both groups must have occurred.

This revelation brought a certain historical depth to my novel. At first glance, the Fox sisters might appear to be nothing but opportunistic frauds. A schoolgirl prank became a profitable enterprise that lifted the Fox family out of poverty. Although readers might empathize with Leah Fish’s desire to improve her family’s financial situation, I did worry that if the girls were primarily con artists, they would not engage the sympathy of readers for long. However, the fact was that spiritualism was entwined with social reform all through the nineteenth century. It was a vehicle for spreading a message. The three Fox sisters may have come from humble origins, but through their role as spirit mediums, they had the voice to reach a lot of people, and they took advantage of this to promote the causes they believed in. Spiritualism was not just a scam; it played a part in American history as a means of political and social expression for women.

And therefore my main character, Maggie Fox, believes she is lying in a good cause—bringing solace to the grief-stricken and promoting human rights—at least until she meets a man who pricks her conscience, precipitating a crisis of loyalty and forcing her to choose between love and her family.

Thank you for hosting me!

Monday, June 14, 2010

The Bookstye: Before

Is anyone else really annoyed by the capscha that now appears when following someone on Blogger? Anyway . . .

My bookshelf arrived today and while it's all set up and functioning, I'm going to wait to actually review it. Because if it crumbles in the night in a couple of days, I want to make sure I report it. LOL!

But this was my book mess before the shelves -

This was the bulk of my TBR pile . . . on my floor. The first three piles from left to right plus the tiny pile out in front. The next three piles are all of my DVDs. Since I was using my DVD shelf as a bookcase, I didn't have anywhere else to put my DVDs except on the floor.

The DVD-case-playing-bookcase. Nice and wobbly and not meant to hold the weight of books. But I've been using it like this for years. It functioned. The bookcase itself is reversed for books that I hold on to and will read again . . . eventually.

The second TBR pile on the other side of my room consisting of this year's BEA haul. I am just sorely lacking actual shelving space but man, do I have a lot of floor.

Later in the week, the aftermath . . .

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Yup, I'm a Twat

Or is it a twit? Twatter? Twitter? Whatever.

I got one. One of those things I said I'd never get. Shut the fuck up. I don't want to hear it. Turns out I don't need to access the internet on my phone to twit. I can twit text. Since I upgraded my text messaging plan to unlimited, why not use it? So help me I'm going to slap you if you don't shut up.

So I can twit regularly. It's just one way on my phone, though. I won't be able to access anyone else's twit pages or twits until I get to a computer. But at least I can be a little more . . . involved.

I've decided to promote a little more. I also got a Facebook page. I hear those snickers! Don't make me get the ruler.

So check the left sidebar for the links. Like me. Follow my twits. I'll reciprocate. If I can figure out how. Or you can just add your twit link thing in a comment. And stop fucking laughing. I'm going to go drink.

Picture the Dead by Adele Griffin, illustrated by Lisa Brown + Contest!

Published May 2010.

Jennie Lovell's life is the very picture of love and loss. First she is orphaned and forced to live at the mercy of her stingy, indifferent relatives. The her fiance falls on the battlefield, leaving her heartbroken and alone. Jennie struggles to pick up the pieces of her shattered life, but is haunted by a mysterious figure that refuses to let her bury the past.

When Jennie forms an unlikely alliance with a spirit photographer, she begins to uncover secrets about the man she thought she loved. With her sanity on edge and her life in the balance, can Jennie expose the chilling truth before someone - or something - stops her?
(book back blurb)

Throughout the entire book I felt it hard to actually connect with Jennie. We're thrown right into the action of the plot and told about her past so splattered throughout the story that I feel I just don't know her well enough to really care. That's not to say the story wasn't good, nor was Jennie not a good character. I was just detached from her situation, like I was watching a TV show play out before me.

It wasn't until the very end that I really felt anything for her but I have to say, the ending was fantastic and quite possibly the best part of the book. The last couple of chapters, where the charade started to unravel, had me turning page after page after page to find out what's going on. The rest of the story was interesting enough although I think the spirit photography wasn't as in the forefront as it's portrayed as being. It plays a catalyst for certain plot points in the story but really stays in the background for the most part.

I did like how the story added some validity to the Spiritualist movement. While the spirit photographer was widely a hoax, some of the things that happened to Jennie's photos were rather hard to explain and even if they could be, they were rather enormously coincidental to be, well, a coincidence.

For me the secondary characters were much more three dimensional than Jennie herself was. I loved Aunt, in all her bitchtastic attitude. She was just a character that begged to be loved to hated. Even Quincey was quite a dynamic character. He was such a train wreck - I couldn't keep my eyes off of him, especially at the end. Very much bat shit but it made him all the more interesting to read.

I loved the drawings. They added so much more depth to the story, as if I were paging through Jennie's scrapbook myself. The script was hard to read sometimes but the photos were creepy, so solemn and morbid, most without actually intending to be so. They just made the overall feel of the story that much better.

Picture the Dead was a good read, especially at the end where some real girl power and suck it attitude comes into play, but I still had a distance with it. I wish I could have connected more with Jennie. Maybe if there was a little more exposition at the beginning to give us a better understanding of just where Jennie came from and why her situation was the way it was would have helped. But it is what it is.

Contest Time!!!

Want my ARC of Picture the Dead? Just fill out the form below for your chance to win!

Added to the Pile + 39

Thanks to the Online Publicist and Harlequin, I received a copy of Manifest by Artist Arthur and from Cinda Williams Chima and Hyperion, I have a copy of The Exiled Queen. Thank you!

When fifteen-year-old Krystal Bentley moves to Lincoln, Connecticut, her mom's hometown, she assumed her biggest drama will be adjusting to the burbs after living in New York City.

But Lincoln is nothing like Krystal imagined. The weirdness begins when Ricky Watson starts confiding in her. He's cute, funny, a good listener - and everything she'd ever want - except that he was
killed nearly a year ago. Krystal's ghost-whispering talents soon lead other "freaks" to her door - Sasha, a rich girl who can literally disappear, and Jake, who moves objects with his mind. All three share a distinctive birthmark in the shape of an M and, fittingly, call themselves the Mystyx. They set out to learn what really happened to Ricky, only to realize that they aren't the only ones with mysterious powers. But if Krystal succeeds in finding out the truth about Ricky's death, will she lose him for good? (book back blurb)

Haunted by the loss of his mother and sister, Han Alister journeys south to begin his schooling at Mystwerk House in Oden's Ford. But leaving the Fells doesn't mean danger isn't far behind. Han is hunted every step of the way by the Bayars, a powerful wizarding family set on reclaiming the amulet Han stole from them. And Mystwerk House has dangers of its own. There, Han meets Crow, a mysterious wizard who agrees to tutor Han in the darker parts of sorcery - but the bargain they make is one Han may regret.

Meanwhile, Princess Raisa
ana'Marianna runs from a forced marriage in the Fells, accompanied by her friend Amon and his triple of cadets. Now the safest place for Raisa is Wien House, the military academy at Oden's Ford. If Raisa can pass as a regular student, Wien House will offer both sanctuary and the education Raisa needs to succeed as the next Gray Wolf queen.

Everything changes when Han's and Raisa's paths cross, in this epic tale of uncertain friendships, cutthroat politics, and the irresistible power of attraction.
(book back blurb)

Things I've Learned from Books + 58

Don't enter into a contract with the Fey. Even if he's really cute. It's just not worth the ass kicking you'll get as a result.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

We Hear the Dead by Dianne K. Salerni + Contest!

Published May 2010.

It's starts as a harmless prank . . .

But soon Kate and Maggie Fox's ability to communicate with the dead is the talk of the town and neighbors are begging for the chance to hear the mysterious messages from beyond the grave. By the time the sisters regret what they're begun, it's too late to turn back.

Deception becomes a new way of life for Kate and Maggie, especially after their older sister, Leah, discovers people will pay to witness their performances. But a chance encounter with a very dashing and famous Arctic explorer turns Maggie's world upside down. He has captured her heart and vows to give Maggie a sophisticated new life full of romance, but only if she promises to leave the family business and give up spirit rapping forever. Can Maggie leave her family behind? Or will she choose to live the rest of her life trapped in a lie?
(book back blurb)

I felt like a little kid listening to an astounding story being told by some wizened person recounting a rather shadowy part of their lives. While initially the page count had me a little nervous (really, how much story is there to tell, I thought?), it quickly didn't become a problem as I swallowed down gulp after gulp after gulp of this engrossing story.

It's interesting because starting off the story, I had a feeling I wasn't going to care what happened to these girls, whether they fell to ruins or not. I mean, here they are, building up a prank into the dupe of the century all because they didn't want to get scolded or have their family turned out for what they did or suffer any of the repercussions of their actions at all. But as the story goes on, and you continue to get this behind-the-scenes look at these girls lives, you can't help but ask yourself the same questions Maggie asks herself - Is she, at the end of the day, bringing much-needed comfort to the bereaved, even if it's a lie?

I didn't so much like the story from Kate's perspective. In fact I think the story would have been just fine without it but at the same time, it created this juxtaposition between the two girls - Maggie knew she was a fake; as Kate got older, she felt that she actually could commune with the dead. So is there a lie or isn't there? Or are we capable of convincing ourselves of what we want us to be?

I loved the voice of the story. It's definitely told in a rather antiquated prose type of language but it's not so littered with moth balls that it's unreadable. It only adds atmosphere to the story as a whole. It sets the tone for the mid-1800s and makes the reader feel all the more there in the story.

The love story aspect of the novel was unbearably heart-wrenching. I'll admit it. I cried at some points. It was such a tumultuous affair between Maggie and Elisha and so symbolic of life during that time that I couldn't help but feel as destroyed by Maggie's situation as she was. The harder part? This was real. I'm afraid any little tidbit about the ups and downs of this relationship would give away valuable plot secrets and this story is just too good to do that so I'll leave it for you to read. Just know that it'll rip at your heart as you read it.

And then there's the historical aspect. While some points of the novel were dramatized to suit the story, for the most part the major points were true. These two girls did found a religion and like I said, watching the magic show from behind the curtain left me in this wide-eyed awe that these people, so many people from all across the board, and so influential, could believe that what these girls were doing was true. But how fake was it? Did Kate really have some kind of ability like she felt she did? How red in the face were the followers of this Spiritualist movement when it was debunked? And what does it mean for the rest of it still going on now? Have scheisters graduated to CGI-esque effects to pull off the dupe or or is there something there to actually believe?

Not only is We Hear the Dead a great story, it makes you re-think all of the magical mystical out there. Just what's real and what isn't? What these girls did was at the same time abhorrent and amazing. And their story is hard to pull away from. I didn't want to put the book down. I just had to know what came next. And hopefully you'll feel the same way.

Thanks to the wonderful people at Sourcebooks, I have a copy of We Hear the Dead to give away to one lucky winner! Just fill in the form below to enter. Good luck!

80s Awesomeness! ~ 67

Flock of Seagulls!!!

Probably better known for their hair rather then their music, Flock of Seagulls were the New Age of the 80s. With their pop-synthesized sound, they fell somewhere in between the dark broodings of Depeche Mode and the snazzy stylings of Wham! They were a group for all tastes.

Friday, June 11, 2010

And the winner is . . .

The winner of a custom blog design from Twispired Blogdesign is . . .

Elie from Ellz Readz!!!

A big congratulations! I hope you like your new design! I've emailed you already about it. And a big thank you to everyone that entered. I now have a nice big list of blogs to add to my blog roll and follow. Yay! Thankfully I only had to delete a small handful of blogs for being ineligible. Silly me. Here I am thinking "you must have a book blog" was specific enough. Apparently not! Some of the entries I had weren't even close. Insane!

Freaky Friday :|: 67

Title: The Power, The Secret Circle #3
Author: LJ Smith
Published: 1992
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Pages: 320
Faye rules the Circle, while Diana reels from Cassie’s apparent treachery. Cassie and Adam are drawn more strongly together than ever. A new principal appears who seems to know all the Circle’s secrets and is dedicated to persecuting them. Cassie, no longer the shy girl she was only a few months ago, takes charge in solving the murders, the mystery of the crystal skull, and the true meaning of the Secret Circle. Her reward is her dream come true. (from
Yeah, I think I'm going to have to pass on this series. Aside from the comments on these last few Freaky Fridays, I haven't heard much of anything about them. I take it this wasn't one of her standout series, then? I mean, all I've heard about her over the years was and The Vampire Diaries and Night World. Just because I hadn't heard of it doesn't mean much, though.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Got Ink? I Do.

No, I'm not ripping off Elie's feature. I'm talking about skin ink. Tattoos. I'm a tattoo lover. I've been getting tattooed since I was 16.

My most recent one was just completed in mid-April and man did it hurt like hell. I mean, I've broken bones that didn't hurt as much. I had to endure two three hour sittings, one for the black and one for the color. The black wasn't bad. Totally overestimated that. The color . . . totally underestimated that one. See, all of the color is layered on top of itself so once the artist did one color, and the skin got nice and swollen and painful, she had to move on to the next color right on top of it. And then the next color. And then the next color. And then the next color. The last hour of the color I could hardly breathe and I barely talked because it was just too painful. The last half hour was near unbearable. Every time I moved my head the room spun and by the time she was done, I was shaking all over. I ended up shaking for about an hour afterwards. I've never had such a physical reaction to a tattoo before. But, in the end, it was worth it.

This photo was the inspiration for the piece -

This is my Lost Boys tattoo. I've been a fan of the movie since I was 11 (that would be 16 years now) and I wanted something that would be immediately recognizable to other Lost Boys fans (and representative of all that movie has done for me over the years, the people it's introduced me to and so on) but at the same time subtle to everyone else. Something that unless I said what it was, people would have no idea what it pertained to. And I got what I asked for. I often find myself staring at it.

During one of my conversations with the artist, I told her that I got my first tattoo when I was 16 at a rival shop. She continued to blast the shop (that doesn't have a great reputation to begin with, she didn't need to add her two cents to it for me to know that) and said they had no morals for tattooing someone so young.

Nowadays, tattoos on younger people don't seem to carry the same effect but should the artist be held responsible for tattooing a 16 year old? After all, the parent must be right there in order for them to get it so there is at least an adult voice contributing to the decision.

Even in YA, tattoos seem to be a lot of places. I just snagged Poison Ink by Christopher Golden in PBS about possessive tattoos. Melissa Marr's books involve tattoos and she said herself that she loves them. Cassandra Clare's Shadowhunters are littered with tattoos.

Yes, the receiver needs to understand that they're not going to scrub off. They need to understand they can be allergic to the ink. They need to understand it's going to hurt. A lot. But is it so morally reprehensible to tattoo a teenager? I do remember when I was in high school a 14 year old boy got a band around his arm. Yes, that was certainly illegal. It's was also insanely stupid as he would surely grow (especially since he was a weight lifter) and it was bound to stretch and distort as he did. Immensely stupid. I don't know if he did it with parental consent or not. Either way it shouldn't have been done. But had he been 16, would it have been okay? Should the tattoo artist exert more discretion when tattooing? Should they take responsibility and deny a customer if they're hesitant or they feel they're too young?

Really, should a teenager have the ability to make the decision to permanently alter their bodies?

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Book Wars (24)

Ingo took the fins last week. Who will win it this week? FIGHT!

The sea is the birthplace of legends.

Nia, a young mermyd of the Bluefin clan, has had one wish all her life -- to be an Avatar in her beloved home of Atlantis. The ten Avatars rule the beautiful and peaceful undersea city alongside the ancient Farworlders, whose magic keeps their world alive. To be an Avatar is an honor and a great responsibility, and Nia dreams of taking her place among the noble ten.

Now, at sixteen, Nia has a chance to see her dream come true. Atlantis is choosing its next Avatar, and Nia knows she is supremely qualified.

But there is something Nia doesn't know -- if she gets her heart's desire, it could mean the end of her treasured world of Atlantis forever. (from

The people of Oak Grove have stopped up the creek that used to run through their town, because they don't like to be anywhere near water. Eli and Trevor McGill, called Eel and Trout for their fish-like quickness, don't fit in at all with their strange fondness for meals of raw tuna and seawater. Their best friend, Martha Glimmer, feels out of place too, heartbroken after her mother's death. Dreaming of escape, the three run away, but a flash flood forces them home again, to think about what would make them truly free and face the truth - that Trout and Eel are the sons of a mermaid. (from
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