Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Limit by Kristen Landon + Contest!

Published September 7, 2010.

In a world not too far removed from our own, kids are being taken away to special workhouses if their families exceed the financial debt limit imposed by the government. Thirteen-year-old Matt briefly wonders if he might be next, but he quickly dismisses the thought. After all, his parents are responsible with their spending, right? But after Matt's family unexpectedly goes over their limit, Matt's whisked away to a workhouse where far more serious dangers exist than anyone on the outside realizes - dangers that could change his reality forever. (book back blurb)

See, for me, that blurb exerts far more tension than what the story did. Yeah, the threat is there but it's kind of cartoonish and the way it's told kind of waters down the tension that could be there.

To be fair, this is more of a middle grade novel than a young adult. Just the age of the MC and the style it was written in showcases that so I'm not a prime candidate to judge this one. But I think I can still make a few comments on it.

I loved the kids in this story. I just thought each one of them so individually unique, with their own quirks that stood out so vividly on the page that I felt they were right there next to me. Matt was so real and up until the end, even Honey Lady (a nickname Matt gave her that existed, for the most part, in his head) was exceptionally real. I think that was the strongest part of this book; the characters.

The world I could believe too. I'm not sure of the greater overall motive of the government to put spending caps on people or take their children away. It's really government spending and deregulation that ultimately screws over debt but that's beside the point. It felt real to me for personal reasons I won't go into. I kept being able to put myself in Matt's shoes and I found it horrifying. When you're that young you have such faith in your parents that they're doing right and when you find out they're not infallible, it hurts. In this world it just so happens the children that have to have that realization end up paying for it. Again, I don't really get the dynamics but I'll swallow it.

The parts leading up to the workhouse were really good, grinding in tension in the background through backstory and hint-dropping. I liked it. But I think it unhinged a little bit once the workhouse came into play. I liked THE BIG REVEAL towards the end but I think the context could have been a little better. I don't want to give anything away so I'll say that the threat isn't all that present in the way it's presented. Good for trickery but, to me anyway, bad for the ultimate execution of it.

The biggest thing that threw me, though, was that every adult seemed to be suffering from Idiot Adult Syndrome. Not as common in YA (I don't think, at least not in what I've read) but much more prevalent in MG where all of the adults end up being dopes for the sake of allowing the kids to rise to the top and solve the problem. I likened it to those really obnoxious live action shows on Disney or Nickelodeon where the parents are just caricatures of what parents really are. I absolutely facepalmed a few times with some of these adults, especially towards the end. All I'll say is, to save the plot, if you're a member of SWAT and need to rely on kids to connect the dots in front of your face for you, you need to lose your job for the safety of the greater public.

I was ultimately okay with the book until the end when every adult in the story turned into a raging moron. That just aggravated me. I understand that the kids need to be the ones to solve the problem in these books but it doesn't make them look any better to plop them in a pool full of idiots. Really, it was a good story. I enjoyed it. I didn't think it carried the amount of tension it would have liked to (especially by the way of the blurb) but it was enjoyable. Just beware of idiot adults. They run rampant in The Limit.

Contest Time!!!

Want my ARC? All you have to do is fill out the form below for your chance to win. Open to US residents 13 years of age and older only. One entry per person per email address. Duplicate entries will be deleted. Contest ends April 21st at midnight, EST.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

BEA Tips 2011

I've been waffling around on the notion of going to BEA. Do I want to go? Of course! I love interacting with all my fellow book bloggers, industry people and let's not forget all those glorious books! But let's be honest: I need more books like I need my arm ripped off and fed through a wood chipper. Sure, I could not grab any, or maybe just a couple. And an alcoholic can remain on the wagon whilst swimming in a beer vat.

Ultimately, I won't be attending this year. My waffling was silenced when a wedding came up at the same time so don't have too much fun without me! But that's not to say I won't offer up my help like I did last year. If you were running around last year trying to figure out which end was up about BEA, then you might remember my tips post where I laid out some ground guidelines and then answered questions anyone may have had. It ended up working out really well so I'm up for doing it again this year. I'll keep this a running post until BEA week so you have plenty of time to get those questions in. If you've been to BEAs past and have something to add, by all means feel free and I'll add your credited information to the list.

I'll try to answer any questions once a week in new posts and then just add them to this post as a collective. Make it nice and simple for easy access. Dig?

First a couple of addendums to last year's post -


I have no idea how this is working this year. Because I didn't register, I just can't comment on it. BEA created a whole new section for book bloggers as non-editorial media and they charge for that. In years prior we always registered under press and got in for free. I've heard very adamant arguments on both sides that each is right. So I have no idea. If someone knows for sure which way to register, please let me know.


Really, you want to aim for business casual. This is a business convention so you don't want to look like a slob but a suit isn't necessary either. While you won't get hanged for wearing jeans, if you can, opt for a comfortable pair of khakis. And be sure your shoes are comfortable. Last year I wore a fitted shirt, black and white stripped Bermudas and thick-soled flip-flops.


Utilize the donation box when you can. I think the recommended donation is $1 a book. Considering all that you're getting, it won't hurt. Just don't forget they're there.


Invest in them and plan on using them. What easier way to exchange information with a publisher contact or fellow book blogger?

Now, what questions can I answer for you? I'll answer BEA questions to the best of my ability and if you have any questions about New York City in general, I can help you out. I used to live there and I go back in a couple times a year so I'm pretty familiar with a few places on that island. So let's get cracking!

Helpful Links -

2010 BEA Tips for BEA Newbies (be sure to read this post first, my original from last year)
La Femme Readers/Red House Books' All You Need to Know About BEA and More!
If anyone else does a BEA post like this, just let me know and I'll add their link here.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Alison's Wonderland by Alison Tyler (Erotica)

Published July 1, 2010.

Over the past fifteen years, Alison Tyler has curated some of the genre's most sizzling collections of erotic fiction, proving herself to be the ultimate naughty librarian. With Alison's Wonderland, she has compiled a treasury of naughty tales based on fable and fairy tale, myth and legend: some ubiquitous, some obscure - all of them delightfully dirty.

From a perverse prince to a vampire-esque Sleeping Beauty, the stars of these reimagined tales are - like the original protagonists - chafing at desire unfulfilled. From Cinderella to Sisyphus, mermaids to werewolves, this realm of fantasy is limitless and so
very satisfying.

Penned by such erotica luminaries as Shanna Germain, Rachel Kramer Bussel, N.T. Morley, Elspeth Potter, T.C. Calligari, D.L. King,Portia Da Costa and Tsaurah Litzsky, these bawdy bedtime stories are sure to bring you (and a friend) to your own happily-ever-after.

Oh yeah. You read that right. Erotica. Hey, I mention it in my policy that I'll have one of these every once in a while. But like catching Britney Spears acting civilized, the sighting is rare.

I am really out of my comfort zone with this one. Why did I select it for review? Because they were re-imagined fairy tales. I expected a little more plot with my porn but chalk that up to my own naivety with the genre. Especially in short stories, you're not reading erotica for the plot.

But I'm a little at a loss as to how to review it. Not because it's another compilation of short stories but because how the hell do you review porn??? Did it do it's job? Yes. Did it make me want to call my soldier boy in the middle of the night? Yes. Was it a bad idea to read this at work? Absolutely. But I don't know how to judge the writing.

I can say none of it was absolutely ridiculous when it came to naming body parts. No hot throbbing sausages here. The point of the work is to make you hot, not make you laugh. They were pretty much straight and to the point, the re-worked fairy tales they were set in were just mentioned in the background, setting the sex in a different place.

While the hotness maintained, I felt the stories becoming redundant. They lost their edge, I guess. At least with me. I think I was breaking down the sex scenes too much, though. Ultimately, as I read, they just ended up as some kind of penetration and end scene. The stories were cool but the sex was sex. It was as raw and animalistic as you could get. Again, erotica. You're not reading this stuff for the good stories.

The fairy tales I could recognize I liked how they were reworked. Dementing fairy tales is a favorite of mine. But this book just reiterated why I don't dabble into erotica too often. The first couple of stories are neat and fresh and exciting! But the more you read, the more watered down they became. That's not a reflection on the book itself, but just my own personal tastes.

So what would I rate this? I'd say a four. I liked the writing in every story, they were all hot as hell and if you're looking for some at-home excitement hidden behind a nominally inconspicuous book cover, Alison's Wonderland is it. Just don't expect to see books like this around her very often, as I said. They're ultimately not my thing.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Things I've Learned from Books + 94

If you happen to be a character in a YA novel, or a MG novel especially, don't count on your parents to help you out in any way, shape or form. Chances are their own stupidity got you to the shit pile you're currently in. It's up to you to get yourself out.

80s Awesomeness! ~ 103

From a song in The Goonies to a song about masturbation, Cyndi Lauper was all over the 80s. And she was damn hard to miss. With her funky hair and even funkier style, Lauper screamed 80s no matter where she went. Who else could actually get away with half of a shaved head? Her voice was undeniable and her music was as catchy as hell. How much of a dweeb were you if you didn't like Cyndi Lauper?

Freaky Friday :|: 103

Title: Ghost Chamber
Author: Celia Rees
Published: 1997
Publisher: Hodder General Publishing Division
Pages: 254
The Goodman children are spending their first proper holiday with their estranged archaeologist father since their parents divorced—looking forward to seeing what his new house in the country is like. They know it is a crumbling old pub, which he is renovating, but not long after they arrive, they realize their dad bought the pub for a reason—because of what is said to be buried beneath it. Objects move in the night, strange noises can be heard coming from the cellar, and a creepy looking guy is hanging around the village asking sinister questions about their dad, and the old pub. Thirteen-year-old Hugh Goodman is intrigued, and digs a little deeper into the mysteries of the house than he should. Before he knows it he and his siblings are caught up in a horrifying secret, and the discovery of an ancient chamber, where lies the restless ghost of a buried templar knight. Will the ghost avenge his own death using innocent children, or can they manage to beat evil forces? (
See, even in today's world where nothing seems to be original, this one does. Kids being haunted by the ghost of a Templar knight? I'm sorry but how cool is that? I'd totally read it just for that.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Who Did What Where Now?

On the heels of my rather negative review for Wither, and because it played such a dominant role in me not liking the book, I wanted to talk a little bit about one's suspension of disbelief.

What is your suspension of disbelief? If you don't already know, it's when you're reading something (or watching, or listening to) and what's going on is so grossly beyond reason that your disbelief is triggered. But if you're entertained enough, usually you can trigger the suspension, and push that disbelief to the side for the sake of a couple hours of entertainment.

But there comes a point in whatever it is you're watching or reading that you will no longer be able to do that. The illogical and nonsensical becomes so overwhelming that the suspension just gives up and your disbelief reigns supreme, destroying whatever enjoyment you may have derived from your given form of entertainment.

Everyone's breaking point is different. For some it doesn't take a lot. For others it has to be blatantly obvious. But it all usually depends on what you've ultimately immersed yourself in. For me with Wither, so much science was stepped upon that I just couldn't take the rest of the book seriously. The entire world of Wither just didn't make a lick of scientific sense and I couldn't notch up that suspension enough to override it. There were too many 'buts' going on that kept knocking it away. But a lot of people had similar issues that I had with Wither going on with Lauren Oliver's Delirium, which I loved. There, for me, the good in the book vastly overrode the bad. Not enough nonsensical stuff was snapping out at me to draw me completely out of the story. So I was able to put up my suspension shield and go on loving it.

Don't even bring the Twilight series into this discussion. I'd wear out my keyboard.

So what it is for you? Which books (or movies) eroded your suspension of disbelief enough that you could no longer enjoy the work? Do you have a specific area that really gets to you if not done right (my soldier boy, for instance, gets a chapped ass when movies don't get military stuff correct, or when characters have shitty gun technique)? Some stuff out there is so outrageous that you know going in it won't make a damn bit of sense; but you loved the hell out of it. What were they? Despite the fact that that's a completely different animal (because you're going into it knowing it's outrageous instead of thinking it's actually going to make sense). What would actually chap your ass enough to put down a book or ultimately not like it?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Wither by Lauren DeStefano

Pub date: March 22, 2011.

What if you knew exactly when you would die?

Thanks to modern science, every human being has become a ticking genetic time bomb—males only live to age twenty-five, and females only live to age twenty. In this bleak landscape, young girls are kidnapped and forced into polygamous marriages to keep the population from dying out.

When sixteen-year-old Rhine Ellery is taken by the Gatherers to become a bride, she enters a world of wealth and privilege. Despite her husband Linden's genuine love for her, and a tenuous trust among her sister wives, Rhine has one purpose: to escape—to find her twin brother and go home.

But Rhine has more to contend with than losing her freedom. Linden's eccentric father is bent on finding an antidote to the genetic virus that is getting closer to taking his son, even if it means collecting corpses in order to test his experiments. With the help of Gabriel, a servant Rhine is growing dangerously attracted to, Rhine attempts to break free, in the limted time she has left.

I'm not a chick that falls easily into hype but sometimes it can be hard to avoid, like with this book. It seems like EVERYONE absolutely LOVES this book. I have not come across one blogger saying anything to the contrary. Of course I could be missing a few but those that I do wander across, love. I had to wade into Goodreads reviews to find black sheep like myself that found serious fundamental issues with this story on multiple levels. Did I buy into the hype initially? To an extent. Books get pimped all the time but it's not all that often that they're swayed so heavily like Wither was. So when I went to read it, my expectations were slightly higher than normal. Unfortunately the book didn't even come close to meeting them. And of course I then started to freak out a little and that's when I started looking for the less than stellar reviews. Did anyone else feel like I did about Wither? Yes. They're the minority but yes. As some asstastic random commenters on Goodreads would have it, anyone with a dissenting opinion against the overwhelming majority should just shut the hell up and keep their opinions to themselves or suffer the wrath. Sillies. Does that sound like me?

See, with dystopian fiction, you can't just insert random catastrophic, shock value events for people to live around without having a thorough understanding of how our society works today and how this current society would potentially break down under such apocalyptic situations. So when I see a statement in the ilk of 'the ice caps were vaporized long ago by warfare' with zero environmental nor humanstic repercussions for such an event, my suspension of disbelief gets punched in the face. It can only take so many hits before it just gives up. DeStefano punched my disbelief in the face. A lot.

If the elements in a dystopian world don't make sense, I just can't take the rest of the plot seriously because everything ends up disjointed. Let's take those ice caps (which is a near quote from the book, by the way). They were vaporized by warfare. Breaking that down, we would have to have weaponry that ran so hot it could vaporize Antarctica. Which holds a steady -35 degrees Celsius. Okay. Hot weapons. But if they're cataclysmic enough to do that, what about the rest of the planet? Would it not get completely annihilated? People, we'd turn into Mercury if there were weapons that could do that. Since weapons of mass destruction have not moved beyond the nuclear warhead in the 65 years it's been in existence, and this story is only set about 70 years in the future, it's relatively logical to assume that they haven't moved much beyond that. And since nukes now are capable of ass raping humanity, what this premise is saying that they've created something beyond that that have been used but people still exist. No, sorry. You can't just pick and choose which elements to remove without considering the greater repercussions of that action. And this isn't even considering the environmental impact of releasing millions of square miles of ice as vapor into the atmosphere. Guys, we'd have beach-front property in Kansas if that happened. We'd have floods of Arc proportions that would have even Noah going 'fuck this shit.'

Do you see what I mean? Since we have Rhine going from Manhattan to Florida, from that tiny statement alone my suspension of disbelief has a black eye, a bloody nose and is missing a tooth. Factor in a nonsensical virus that no one can explain yet everyone's looking for a cure to (how you can fight something you know nothing about is beyond me and how no one knows how it works after 50 years is absurd), women dying before men (when, scientifically, women outlast men, and again, this virus seems to function for no other reason than shock value), how the society has de-evolved to a Victorian polygamists' compound (despite coming from a feminist culture where women should be smart enough to hold their crotchtal regions hostage and switch control since, you know, they're the ones with the power to control the fate of procreation in their . . . nether regions), the whole of the planet has destroyed itself in viral chaos except for North American (which, upon first mention, had me going 'are you fucking kidding me?' either the author is shitting on the rest of the planet for being feral idiots that couldn't survive the virus or she's shitting on Americans for being dumb enough to believe that we're the only ones superior enough to survive this, either way it's bad), girls getting slaughtered for not being bride material (in a society where a womb is like gold, makes total sense O_o) and the kick to the nuts the author gives sensical dystopian fiction, my suspension of disbelief was pureed in a blender and drunk for breakfast.

The world failed hard. Nothing made sense and everything seemed to exist to serve the plot. DeStefano pushed aside what should have been valuable research for shock value and pretty dresses.

And then there were inconsistencies in the plot, like Rhine's desperation to leave. Yet when she's presented with perfectly valid windows of opportunity, she passes on them for one stupid reason or another. With her earthly clock winding down, you'd think time would be valuable. Waste none, right? So instead of taking the opportunity to, literally, walk away, Rhine tried to made mad dashes in the most horrible, inconvenient ways. Why? I have no idea other than to make the plot more interesting.

Linden's an idiot pedophile whose ignorance is made to actually be appealing. He doesn't know what his dad is doing. His father keeps him in the dark. Maybe he isn't so bad after all. No. He's no more ignorant of what's going on in his own damn house than the Germans were of the camps they were living next to. Sorry, guy, but you don't live in the middle of a shit pile and not smell the stink. It really bothered me how his whole situation attempted to make Rhine's blooming Stockholm syndrome justifiable and even okay. No! She was kidnapped! Her "sister wives" are being raped! This is not okay! But of course Rhine gets a free pass. In a house where Vaughn is salivating to produce loinfruit, Rhine doesn't have to get down with her pedo-husband for . . . reasons . . . I guess. She just weasels her way out of it. Or someone didn't want to write a rape scene from behind the eyes of the MC. Either or.

Any antagonist in this story is implied and insinuated but never shown. Yeah, we see Vaughn with a body in a gurney but anything outside of that window is pure conjecture. We hear gunshots but the door's closed before anything could actually be proven. The fear is spread by rumors and wild imaginations. As far as we know, there is no threat. But people's wagging jaws and out-of-context scenes keep the fear alive. We have no idea what really happens outside of Rhine's eyes. She doesn't even know what happens outside of her eyes. She just guesses.

The words on paper were good enough to get me from beginning to end. I was definitely compelled to read through to the end and find out what happened to Rhine, despite the fact that I found her to be a whiny brat without the brain she kept saying she had in Manhattan. I liked the oldest sister wife whose name escapes me right now. I found her the most dynamic, the most compelling character. But the world is written so lazily and the situations so nonsensical that I just couldn't get into it. I couldn't push the niggling back far enough to enjoy it. Sorry, but I'm science-minded and I don't like it when people fuck over science for the sake of dances and bubble baths and candies. If I can't believe the world in which these characters live, how I even begin to believe them?

In all honesty, I'd bet money on the cure for this virus being in Rhine's multi-colored eyes. It's mentioned too hard and fast in this book not to carry weight further on down the line. You don't show a gun in the first act and not have it go off in the third, you know? So I would not be surprised if Rhine lives beyond her scheduled 20 years because of some genetic mutation caused by those multi-colored eyes. Or the twin thing factors into it, or both. They both survive because they split off from the same egg, thus each carrying the same mutation to both embryos and saving both children, only one's dominant and one's recessive. The twin thing is pretty dominant in the story too, and it was mentioned that Rhine and her brother were the first non-deformed twins her parents had. But I might be thinking way too far ahead of myself here because this is all branched off of scientific accuracy, which this book spits in the face of.

When it comes down to it, remove the characters from the story and set them in ether and you have a love triangle coupled with kidnapping. It's not a "normal" love triangle where the contenders are evenly matched. One is made pretty obvious over the other here and the other two chicks are there basically for shock value. They're not competition (I guess) but they don't really serve a purpose other than to serve Rhine's plot.

Chances are you'll get sucked into it but personally, you have to turn your suspension of disbelief way up to get through it. Like I said, I was compelled to read through to the end and I liked the ending. The story could rightly end there (although we know it doesn't), it was nice and cleanly finished in a happy ending sort of way. It was nice. But the rip-my-hair out parts far exceeded anything good I found in Wither. There are far better, and far more believable, dystopians available out there that couple not only a strong (and less squick-worthy) romance but a well-built, believable world to set it in.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Added to the Pile + 70

Just one book this week, from Goodman Media on behalf of Egmont -

On the surface, it is a day like any other when seventeen-year-old Melinda Jensen hits the road for San Francisco, leaving behind her fractured home life and a constant assault on her self-esteem. Henry is the handsome, charismatic man who comes up on her, collapsed on a park bench, and offers love, a bright new consciousness, and - best of all - a family. One that will embrace her and give her love. Because family is what Mel has never really had. And this new family, Henry's family, shares everything. They share the chores, their bodies, and their beliefs. And if Mel truly wants to belong, she will share in everything they do. No matter what the family does, or how far they go. (book back blurb)

Things I've Learned from Books + 93

Even in smut fiction, there are only so many ways to vary the word snatch without getting absolutely ridiculous.

80s Awesomeness! ~ 102

The end of the 80s brought on one of the greatest cultural phenomenons the world has ever seen. With the most bastard-like ear worm of a theme song to the impossibly slow-moving life-guards, Baywatch had it all. And then some came a little later on in the series. Everyone who was anyone watched Baywatch, regardless of sex. But most especially if you were male. Duh.

The original intro in all its 80s glory -

And what we came to all know and love -

Freaky Friday :|: 102

Title: S is for Shudder, HAUNTS #6
Author: Celia Rees
Published: December 16, 1998
Publisher: Hodder Children's Books
Pages: 117
Midsummer night is here again and Davey, Kate, Elinor and Tom want to sigh goodbye to their friends in the ghost world. But Davey is lured into a deadly trap, where he could stay forever in the land of the living dead. (from
Well that's creepy in an innocent sort of way. I'd read it.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Author Bites - Julie Chibbaro on the Past

I have a thing for the past, which is probably one of the reasons why I liked Julie Chibbaro's Deadly so much. Reading an historical fiction book allows you to step back in time for a few hours and experience what is rightly another world. Prudence's world is narrowly seen through her eyes in Deadly and I wanted more. Thankfully Julie was willing to give it. A big thanks to Julie for providing us a small but bigger look into the world that Prudence lived.

“Why is Prudence the way she is?” Donna asked me that about my main character in Deadly, and I hope this will answer her.

Just for a moment, I’m going to ask you to do one thing. Close your inner eyes (not your outer ones, so you can still read), and imagine you are living in a time when you can’t wear pants (if you’re a girl). You have to wear your hair up, and make sure your ankles are covered by the
length of your dress. You are expected to follow an Ideal of Womanhood and can’t open your mouth about your opinions. No, pipe down, we don’t want to hear it. Women aren’t supposed to think.

But you do. Secretly, you see things in people that you’re sure no one else sees – their thoughts, their pain, and you wish you could do something about it (or at least say something!) You wonder why people bleed, you wonder where the food goes once you’ve eaten it (remember, you’re not encouraged to read science books, and they are not available at your school, so these are things are not easily found out). Boys look at you as a possible vessel for their babies. Or not.

There are no women doctors, dentists, pharmacists, lawyers, preachers, rabbis, engineers, scientists, serious artists, mathematicians. Women are not allowed to vote. No women do the things you’re interested in. What is wrong with you? Why do you think about these things? What are you supposed to do with all these thoughts, all this crazy curiosity you have about the world? Where to put your energy, your passion? Will there ever be a place for you?

This is a tiny view into Prudence’s world. Women were not the way we know them today, and that’s what I’ve tried to portray. It feels restrictive, I know, to read her, but I tried to stay true to the time she lived in.

Ok, you can open your eyes now, and be glad you live in the 21st century.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Poison Eaters and Other Stories by Holly Black

Pub date: March 22, 2011.

Poisonous girls whose kisses will kill. A fateful eating contest with the devil. Faeries who return to Ironside, searching for love. A junior prom turned bacchanalia. In twelve short stories, eerie and brimming with suspense and unexpected humor, Holly Black twists thefantastical creatures you thought you knew in ways you’ll never expect. (

I always get myself into a bit of a conundrum trying to review short story collections. Do I review each story separately or collectively? Well, each story would pose for a heinously long review and I think with this particular book, Black's voice stands out enough that I could review one lump sum without losing sight of the book as each story individually whole.

Black has a very distinct voice that I think permeates through all of her stories, regardless of context or plot. And that's not a bad thing in this case. It's poignant and telling, hitting you with each word so as to drill the story in deeper. Each story, despite its shortness, carries a weight that sits atop your shoulders for the entire book, each word hanging on you, forcing you to never forget them.

All of the stories were demented and somewhat sinister, each carrying an edge of nastiness that hung out right at the edge of black humor, poking at the line between insanely clever and just a little bit sick. 'In Vodka Veritas' is a good example of perhaps crossing that line, where with an ancient spell cast by a little club at school, all of the students at prom end up in orgiastic ecstasy before the end of it. Depending on my mood, that could broach the 'little bit sick' line more than the others.

'The Coldest Girl in Coldtown' was exquisite. I'm all for dementing vampire lore in order to make something new but there's a difference between knowing what you're doing and raping the ever-loving fuck out of it *coughsmeyercough*. Black knew what she was doing, twisted the lore just so and ripped the romanticism right out of its back, leaving it in a half-alive state in a tub filled with ice cubes and its hand taped to a phone receiver. God, I loved it so. That's not to say I don't like my romantic vampires but every once in a while the vampire fans need to be reminded of just what vampires are like. And Black was filming it all.

'The Poison Eaters,' the book's namesake, pulls no punches and does what few authors are willing to do with their darlings: kill them. Black shows no mercy, serves no plots. There is this story that no one's safe from. Everyone's at risk, everyone's a murderer and everyone's a victim and in the end everyone gets theirs. Love. Truly. Fearless writing is what I call it.

Really it's an excellent compilation of stories that'll have you salivating for more. I've never read any of Black's work outside of this book but you can damn well believe I'm going to. If the rest of her stuff is this fantastic, I'm right there hounding for it. If you're looking for fluffy and fun tinged with a hint of pink, this book isn't it. It's dark, dastardly and at times gruesome. It'll rock you right out of your comfort zone and into Black's world where nothing is sacred and everything's up for grabs. It's damn good writing is what it is and I couldn't ask for anything more. Read this. Read it now. And love it.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Added to the Pile + 69

A small stack of books this week but nothing towards the ARC pile which is a small relief.

From PaperBackSwap -

Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson

These two I bought from Amazon for a pretty specific reason. Soldier boy and I are going to one (of three) weddings at the end of May and the hotel we're staying in has themed rooms. For instance, one couple is staying in a room modeled after the inside wardrobe from Narnia. Our room he chose because it's themed after a supernatural writer, much like myself. How sweet! I'd never heard of her (she writes under a male pseudonym) so I decided to buy a couple of her books and see what they were like. I haven't read them yet but she's a gothic writer so I'm super excited!

Winter's Tales by Isak Dinesen
Seven Gothic Tales by Isak Dinesen

And I went to my local closing Border's chain this weekend and I pulled a couple of books from their dwindling piles. Most of the YA section had been plundered by the time I got there but I managed to find one that I wanted. The other was a totally random grab in the fantasy section that I thought sounded interesting -

After by Amy Efaw
Hand of Isis by Jo Graham

Things I've Learned from Books + 92

When a perfectly good window of opportunity for escape opens itself up to you over and over and over again, whatever you do, don't take it. The much more perfectly reasonable thing to do is stay in captivity, piss and moan about it, and warm up to your captor in order to gain his trust so you can get out less underhandedly. Totally makes more sense that way, right? Besides, you have a plot to serve, silly! We can't have you getting all thinking-like on us now, can we?

80s Awesomeness! ~ 101

Some of you are looking at that going,"what the shit is it?" The rest of you are going, "OH MY GOD!!!" For the latter people, this is for you.

When you were too lazy to read a book or get up off your ass and plug a VHS tape into a VCR, you grabbed a Viewmaster and let your imagination run wild . . . with the assistance of a disc of stagnant images. Basically a hand-held slide reel, sometimes the images told a story, sometimes they were just pretty pictures. But for five minutes, you could look through these awesomesauce binoculars and look into another world. Most of mine were about dinosaurs.

Freaky Friday :|: 101

Title: T is for Terror, HAUNTS #5
Author: Celia Rees
Published: December 16, 1998
Publisher: Hodder Children's Books
Pages: 118
Davey's friends in the ghost city are in trouble. Is he strong enough to face the evil enemy and save them from oblivion? (from
Yup. Still willing to read this series. Anything horror, man. Anything horror.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

CSN Stores Review Preview

From a laptop messenger bag to a swivel chair to an off the wall clock, CSN has nearly everything you would need to furnish any space you're looking to fill. Whether it's an office or a bathroom, CSN Stores has it.

Now, I've said it before and I say it again: I wouldn't promote something I wouldn't buy myself. I've bought a few things from CSN over the past year and I have to say, they're pretty awesome. The first purchase was a bookcase (that I can't seem to find on the website) and while my dumbass put the legs on backwards initially, it ended up a nice bookcase that's currently holding my book collection. The next purchase was a set of three plant tables to fill some space. They ended up matching my decor perfectly, I didn't have to put them together and now they're sitting nicely in a corner looking pretty.

They're like IKEA when it comes to price but CSN's quality far surpasses anything IKEA would offer. While you're not getting solid oak (at least not in my price range), you're not getting corrugated particle board either.

Now I have a gap in my kitchen. My dog has officially stopped using his crate so I've moved that out of the way. But with that out of the way I've lost the area where I put my bags when I get home (the crate did awesome double duty has a low-lying table). I need something to fill that space. And my bags need a new home because I don't have that much counter space for them to fit. I was thinking something versatile. How about this?

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

A Season of Eden by JM Warwick

Published October 2008.

I let the door silently close at my back. He stared at me, and a taut quiet stretched between us.

"I like hearing you play," I said, moving toward him.

He turned, in sync with my slow approach. He looked up at me but didn't say anything. I rested my clammy hand on the cold, slick body of the baby grand. "May I?"

The muscles in his throat shifted, then he swallowed. "Eden."

My knees weakened, like a soft tickling kiss had just been blown against the backs of them. "Is it okay?" I asked.

His gaze held mine like two hands joined. He understood what I was really asking.

"Let me stay," I said. "Please."

"You're going to get me in trouble." (book back blurb)

I don't know about you, but that's one of the damn sexiest things I've ever read. It's dripping with this forbidden, strained, stressed sexual tension that permeates the pages and has me rooting for the two to just hook up already.

Is this a high school student/teacher relationship? Yes. Why do I find nothing wrong with this? Because the student, Eden, is 18. The teacher, James, is 22. Under any other circumstances, there'd be nothing wrong with this relationship. Is it undermining James's professional integrity? Absolutely. Is he still violating a code of conduct? Of course he is. But both parties involved are of the legal age of consent in any state so circumstances aside, I don't have a problem with it.

That out of the way, I absolutely devoured this book. Would I call it a romance? Not really. It doesn't fit any of the romance tropes. The ending is optimistic but not conclusive. It leaves you wondering, which romance, as I understand it, doesn't. But is it raw and passionate? Absolutely.

Every single fleck of emotion Eden emoted I could feel. From her jealously of other female students to her drive (and at times obsession) to be with James. Every single piece of it I felt. It was like I became Eden, I could feel her emotions so deeply. But there were times where I was able to step back, where I wanted to warn her to back away. Take it easy. Not so fast. Chill out. In a way I was kind of guiding myself.

Why? I was in a similar, albeit much less involved, situation in high school. I was a senior (17 until May of that year) and we had a student teacher that like every girl was drooling over. He wasn't even out of college although I can't accurately remember if he was getting his Masters or if he was finishing his teaching degree. Since he was externing in a classroom, I'm logically leaning towards the latter. So that made him . . . 21? 22? We flirted. Absolutely. We could have rightly shared a cafeteria table only a few years before so where was the problem, right? I knew things about his personal life that a student probably shouldn't have known. It never advanced to the degree that Eden and James did. Not even close. But reading this book made me remember everything I felt with that student teacher. All the jealously, striving to stand out in a group of girls so he'll notice me, structuring my day around his class. Of course. I felt like I was reliving a part of my high school life reading this and for a few hours, I absolutely loved it.

It's such raw emotion. It flames forth unabated, unchecked. Eden wants to find out where James lives so she stalks him a little. Just a little. There are no checks or balances there because it's something she always does with her friends when they want to know more about a new boy. Things like that are rationalized. The Id is prominent, clawing its way to the forefront and telling reason to shut the hell up. God, I couldn't get enough of it.

As I said before, the writing just drips with a vibrating, buzzing sexual tension that's just at the forefront of coming to a head. From the beginning it's there, mounting, and you keep reading because you're willing to do anything to sate that tension but will it go away?

I was a little over Eden's rich girl 'I get everything' attitude. Even though that was a major factor in the storyline, I kind of wished it happened to a, well, more deserving girl. One that didn't have everything handed to her on a silver platter, that couldn't manipulate her way into and out of anything to get her desired outcome. Like I said, it's all relevant in the end but I still couldn't help but wish she wasn't the little rich girl. The absentee parents kind of irked me as well. It was very convenient. Again, relevant to the plot as it all comes full circle but like the rich girl, I was over it.

There is also some pretty heavy religious undertones in the story. Eden - garden of forbidden fruit, Eve the temptress. It all fits. On top of that, Grove Creek Publishing in and of itself has a religious bent to it. They're not a Christian press but their mission statement is having "clean" YA absent of lewdness, etc. But reading A Season of Eden with all its ripe sexual tension, you wouldn't get that if you didn't look into the publisher beforehand. There's definitely some level of spiritual cleansing going on at the end (absent actual religion, I just want to be clear, this is not Christian literature) but honestly, it's something the character needs so it fits. I didn't mind it in the slightest.

So while there were a few things I could have lived without in A Season of Eden, those were easily enough stashed away under the rug and allowed me to read this flavorful piece of meat from beginning to end, running the entire way. The writing is glorious, the tension rips at your brain and it'll have you salivating for more the more pages you turn. If you want an nontraditional romance that'll leave you scratching at your face, but in a good way, you'll want to read A Season of Eden. And then you'll probably get writer envy because quite frankly, I've never read sexual tension written this well before. Makes me want to write a scene just to see how I measure up. And I don't even write romance-ish stuff.

Monday, March 7, 2011

February TBR Pile Update

So how did my February fare? Let's take a look back at the year's starting line first -

The physical TBR pile -

And my digital copy list from NetGalley -

1. Crazy by Han Nolan
2. Alison's Wonderland by Alison Tyler
3. Tyger, Tyger by Kersten Hamilton
4. The Secret of Ka by Christopher Pike
5. Annexed by Sharon Dogar
6. Demon Hunts by CE Murphy
7. Eight for Eternity by Mary Reed and Eric Mayer
8. Lovely by Kris Starr
9. Captive Spirit by Liz Fichera
10. Ghost Shadow by Heather Graham
11. The World Above the Sky by Kent Stetson
12. Tricker's Girl by Hilari Bell
13. Roman Games by Bruce MacBain
14. F**k it by John C. Parkin
15. Views from the Loft by The Loft Literary Center
16. My Soul to Keep by Rachel Vincent
17. The Hypnotist by MJ Rose
18. Spy Glass by Maria V. Snyder
19. Past Midnight by Mara Purnhagen
20. The Iron King by Julie Kagawa
21. Carrie Pilby by Caren Lissner
22. Losing Romeo by AJ Byrd
23. The Fairy Godmother by Mercedes Lackey
24. The Sevenfold Spell by Tia Nevitt
25. The Abused Werewolf Rescue Group by Catherine Jinks
26. Those That Wake by Jesse Karp
27. The Lying Game by Sara Shepard
28. Angelfire by Courtney Allison Moulton
29. Delirium by Lauren Oliver
30. Grilled Cheese Please! by Laura Werlin
31. Savannah Grey by Cliff McNish
32. The Betrayal of Maggie Blair by Elizabeth Laird
33. Awaken by Katie Kacvinsky
34. Mystify by Artist Arthur
35. Lost in the River of Grass by Ginny Rorby
36. Everything I Was by Corrine Demas
37. What Can't Wait by Ashley Hope Perez
38. One Hundred Candles by Mara Purnhagen
39. My Favorite Band Does Not Exist by Robert T. Jeschonek

How much did I take off the top in February? The tangible pile -

Despite that seventh growth off to the side, if I squint just right, it looks like my piles might have gotten a little smaller. That's thanks in large part to some crafty reorganizing. I had a few books in my ARC pile that weren't actually ARCs. Plus I weeded out the series books in the rest of my TBR pile that I hadn't read the first book to. Doesn't make much sense to read a further book in a series without reading the first. Those books are off to the left out of frame. That pile it about the size of the seventh one on the right.

And the digital copies, mostly from NetGalley?

1. Alison's Wonderland by Alison Tyler
2. Tyger, Tyger by Kersten Hamilton
3. The Secret of Ka by Christopher Pike
4. Annexed by Sharon Dogar
5. Demon Hunts by CE Murphy
6. Eight for Eternity by Mary Reed and Eric Mayer
7. Lovely by Kris Starr
8. Captive Spirit by Liz Fichera
9. Ghost Shadow by Heather Graham
10. The World Above the Sky by Kent Stetson
11. Tricker's Girl by Hilari Bell
12. Roman Games by Bruce MacBain
13. F**k it by John C. Parkin
14. Views from the Loft by The Loft Literary Center
15. Past Midnight by Mara Purnhagen
16. The Iron King by Julie Kagawa
17. Carrie Pilby by Caren Lissner
18. Losing Romeo by AJ Byrd
19. The Fairy Godmother by Mercedes Lackey
20. The Sevenfold Spell by Tia Nevitt
21. The Abused Werewolf Rescue Group by Catherine Jinks
22. Those That Wake by Jesse Karp
23. The Lying Game by Sara Shepard
24. Angelfire by Courtney Allison Moulton
25. Grilled Cheese Please! by Laura Werlin
26. Savannah Grey by Cliff McNish
27. The Betrayal of Maggie Blair by Elizabeth Laird
28. Awaken by Katie Kacvinsky
29. Lost in the River of Grass by Ginny Rorby
30. Everything I Was by Corrine Demas
31. What Can't Wait by Ashley Hope Perez
32. One Hundred Candles by Mara Purnhagen
33. My Favorite Band Does Not Exist by Robert T. Jeschonek
34. This Girl is Different by JJ Johnson
35. #01 I Love Him to Pieces by Evonne Tsang
36. Fail Harder by community
37. In the Arms of Stone Angels by Jordan Dane
38. Stay by Deb Caletti (S&S Galley Grab)
39. Dreaming Anastasia by Joy Preble (free copy form BN)
40. The Paradise Prophecy by Robert Brown
41. Bumped by Megan McCafferty

Up two on the digital side but there's a smidge off my actual reading pile. That's something if not anything. Must. Work. Harder.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Author Love Feels So Good Even Though Holly Schindler is Playing Hurt

A Blue So Dark by Holly Schindler is one of the best books I've read in a long time. Unbeknownst to me, I ended up timing Holly's Author Bites post only a week before the release of her second book, Playing Hurt. Now normally you guys know I don't promote books I haven't read but I give passes to authors whom I have read, like Holly. Why? If I've loved one of their books already, the chances of me loving more by the same author are pretty high. That's just the law of odds there.

So to help Holly out, be sure to check out her next book, Playing Hurt, that drops on Tuesday, March 8th. Click the image to be taken to the BN website to purchase it.

But what really had me rarin' to help boost Holly's sales were the amazing words she said about book bloggers. After all of the shit that had been thrown at our fans by authors, teachers and librarians alike, reading something like what Holly sent me literally brought a tear to my eye. Her words blew me away and I knew I just had to share them with you all. With her permission, I'm reposting portions of her Playing Hurt promotion email here. I hope it makes you all feel as good as it made me feel. And I hope you'll help Holly get the word out about her sophomore book.
Let’s face it—bookstores are closing. My own hometown recently witnessed the closing of my favorite used bookstore, as well as the closing of the Borders Express in the mall—and our larger Borders store is also in the process of shutting its doors. My hometown is no stranger to losing brick-and-mortar stores. As a result, book blogs are absolutely replacing signings and stops at bookstores!

YOU are the absolute best promotional tool I’ve come across. You’re incredible!

YA book blogs have been so instrumental in spreading the word of my work that I have been encouraging all my fellow authors to make even better use of the blogosphere. I’ve already written one article for the SCBWI Bulletin on how to find and contact YA book bloggers, and am in the midst of writing a second article on the YA blogosphere.

I’m also in the midst of documenting this experience with PLAYING HURT. I will be writing extensively about how the blogosphere—and this chain-letter campaign—impact the sales of PLAYING HURT!

Together, we can make PLAYING HURT a YA blogosphere success story! And, by making PLAYING HURT a success, more authors will be seeking out book blogs with their own new and fun promotional ideas. I adore the YA blogosphere, and only want to see it grow and thrive. The idea of where the YA blogosphere might be in five or ten years excites me to no end. You guys prove every day that reading is absolutely not dead—and you are the most influential force right now connecting new writers to their audiences.

On behalf of all the new authors such as myself whom you have helped to find and grow a fan base, I say again, sincerely and with a heart filled with great affection, thank you.

Things I've Learned from Books + 91

Having a young enough teacher teach students who he or she could have rightly shared a cafeteria with only a few years before is such a good idea! What could possibly go wrong there???

80s Awesomeness! ~ 100

Who better to solve an international crime ring than a skateboarder? Sounds totally plausible, right? In 80s land, when skateboarders and surfers ruled, totally. Back when Christian Slater wasn't quite so fantastic yet, although he was still halfway to Jack Nicholson, he did this little skateboarding movie called Gleaming the Cube where it was up to him to solve the murder of his adopted brother. Oh the can of worms that opens up! But you shouldn't expect any less from the 80s movie factory. Cheese all the way.

Freaky Friday :|: 100

Title: N is for Nightmare, HAUNTS #4
Author: Celia Rees
Published: June 1999
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Pages: 137
Helping on an archaeological dig, Davey and Kate witness an ancient discovery, which unleashes powerful unearthly forces.
Just based on that alone, I would read it. I'd like to see what Rees did with the premise. Really, I'd give this whole series a chance.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Stylish Blogger Award

Thanks to Sinn over at Sinnful Books, I've been awarded the Stylish Blogger Award! Thank you so much! So what do I have to do for this one?

1. Thank and link back to the person who awarded you this award
2. Share 7 things about yourself
3. Award 15 recently discovered great bloggers
4. Contact these bloggers and tell them about the award!

How about I do one and two and we call it even? If you would like an award, by all means take this one for yourself (really, I can't stand doing that but my need to be lazy greatly overwhelms my need to start linking so there you have it). In all honesty, my memory sucks so bad unless you're really ingrained in there, I can't remember if I've newly discovered you or not. I think a lot of things I come across are newly discovered.

My seven things -

1. I'm getting my pistol carry permit and for someone that's only been shooting a few weeks, I'd say I'm pretty decent at it (depending on the gun, if it's a .357 in an alloy frame, it'll just destroy my hand and I'll be crying by the end of the session). No. That's not a joke.

2. People that don't say 'thank you' when you hold the door open for them make me want to lose my shit.

3. Political correctness is one of my biggest pet peeves.

4. I'm a firm believer that vegetarianism and veganism will be mankind's ultimate downfall in the coming ice age. And I can support this theory.

5. My first memorable experience with religion was when I was 6 and my dad told me a confessional was a black hole. Wherein my mom smacked him upside the head and started swearing at him. In a church.

6. I do Zumba.

7. Teavana tea makes my day happy. Particularly Peach Momotaro, Strawberry Mazuki, Honeybush Vanilla and Imperial Acai Blueberry. Kind of contradicts the gun thing, doesn't it?

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Author Bites - Holly Schindler on the Rejection Spank

Because I loved A Blue So Dark so, I extended an invitation to Holly Schindler to guest post and she graciously agreed. Yay! I think Holly's post will be pretty poignant to a lot of us. Since so many of us are writers, when we see all those books coming out, we might not help but think that the road those books traveled was an easy one. But chances are it wasn't. Holly's trip to publication was a long and arduous one. All I can say is if I were her, I would have pasted all those rejections to my walls and used them as padding for my head. I'm just saying. Thanks for stopping by, Holly!

My debut YA, A BLUE SO DARK, was released last May to some rave reviews. The book earned a starred review in Booklist. VOYA called it “a lyrical tapestry…a work of poetry.” And bloggers fell in love with the book, too…Kristi at The Story Siren called BLUE The Most Beautifully Written Book in 2010.
With so much positive attention, you’re thinking, surely the book was an easy sell. Probably never got rejected once. Right?

Nope. Couldn’t be more wrong.

I wrote BLUE in late 2006, and had to revise the book globally at least four times before I sold it to Flux in early 2009. But in-between rewrites, I also submitted the book to every agent and editor I thought might be interested…

In all, the book was rejected more than 80 times by agents and editors before finally finding a home at Flux. That’s not a typo. More than 80 times.

And BLUE was only one of many manuscripts I had shopped in the seven and a half years I worked full-time trying to get a book accepted…I’d bet, if I went back through all my old submission material, that I was rejected at least a thousand times before I started to finally sell my manuscripts.

I say that not to scare anyone wading out into submission waters. I say it to inspire them. I really doubt that writing’s any easier of a gig to break into than acting…or playing music…It takes just as much discipline, just as many years of sacrifice as you pursue your dream…
But if you truly take the plunge, if you give it everything you’ve got, if you jump in and never let up, you’ll get there. And the longer it takes to finally get to the goal of a published book, the sweeter that victory will taste…

If you liked A Blue So Dark, be sure to check out Holly's next book, Playing Hurt, due out next week!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Blog designed by TwispiredBlogdesign using MK Design's TeaTime kit.