Thursday, April 28, 2011

Of All The Stupid Things by Alexandra Diaz + Contest!


Published December 22, 2009.

When a rumor starts circulating that Tara's boyfriend Brent has been sleeping with one of the guy cheerleaders, the innuendo doesn't just hurt Tara. It marks the beginning of the end for an inseparable trio of friends. Tara's training for a marathon, but also running from her fear of abandonment after being deserted by her father. Whitney Blaire seems to have everything, but an empty mansion and absentee parents leave this beauty to look for meaning in all the wrong places. And Pinkie has a compulsive need to mother everyone to make up for the mom she's never stopped missing. This friendship that promised to last forever is starting to break under the pressure of the girls' differences.

And then new-girl Riley arrives in school with her long black hair, athletic body, and her blasĂ© attitude, and suddenly Tara starts to feel things she's never felt before for a girl—and to reassess her feelings about Brent and what he may/may not have done. Is Tara gay—or does she just love Riley? And can her deepest friendships survive when all of the rules have changed?
(goodreads.com)

Loved it. I was hooked pretty much immediately. The book starts right at that moment when Tara finds out about Brent and it just keeps peddling from there. You watch as this once immovable friendship starts to crack and each of the three girls is chipping away at the glass, eroding its integrity. They all have the best of intentions but you know what road those are paved with. So those best intentions are the collection of hammers that ends up shattering the glass. But, in the end, at least someone's there that's willing to attempt to glue the pieces back together.

Tara I liked pretty much all the way through the story. I can't imagine what it would be like to hear a rumor that my boyfriend had cheated on me with another guy. Personally I expected to see a lot more self-doubt. You know, the kind of thoughts that go "did I turn him gay?" or others like it. It seems to be a natural reaction but Tara didn't have that. Instead she ran away, literally and figuratively. She ran until it hurt, she ran away from her friends and she ran to someone new and fresh that gave her a new lease on life. Someone else that she could relate to on a bunch of different levels. I liked Tara the most really because I thought she was the best character. I found her the most relatable and her story the most compelling.

Whitney (sorry, I refuse to call her by her full name, far too annoying), I didn't like her drama. Plus I thought she was too typical. The spoiled rich girl that gets everything she wants but what she really wants/needs are parents that love her. I was over it. I've been over it. While her drama to sabotage Riley kept me turning the pages rather quickly, I just didn't like her type. Her mould, I guess is what it would be. Her character was okay but she was a little too typical for me.

Pinkie got to a point where I just couldn't stand her. Overbearing, mothering, constantly apologizing. I can't stand those people. Spineless, weak-willed individuals that I want to just scream at. I will say, though, she did come around in the end. There is a redemption for Pinkie so if you find people/characters like this equally as grating, just wait it out. She gets a reprieve. She breaks the stranglehold she has on herself and realizes the type of person she is. Those types of people I love, even if they're new to it: self-realization. They have the ability to look at themselves from the outside and fix their shit. Pinkie gets there. Eventually.

Riley's just kind of there so I'm neither here nor there about her but her presence is what propels the plot. Riley really did shake up the threesome Tara, Whitney and Pinkie had. Without her, Tara would have just ran back to her friends like normal. Running to Riley was the catalyst of everyone's issues. Whitney's scheming rolls back to Riley. And because neither Tara nor Whitney are around, Pinkie is forced to stand on her own, something that she desperately needed.

I wanted something light and I definitely got it. It touches upon some pretty major issues but in a light way. Yeah, they can be major. But they don't have to be. Not everyone is going to throw feces at the fan when they get a wrench in their spokes. Some just brush themselves off and keep going. I'm glad this book didn't dive too deeply into what could have been some steep issues. It kept it light. Does that make it disingenuous? I don't necessarily think so. It just resolves the issues in a non-major way, since I'm sure that can be called realistic for some people. It had its dramarama moments, its blowout fights and its life-changing epiphanies. And I couldn't get enough of them. I swallowed them up and then greedily wanted more.

Yeah, it's a light read but it touches on subjects that a lot of teens are going through so I don't think it should be brushed aside as fanciful simply because it doesn't make you want to slit your wrists by the time you've finished reading it. It's a quick read but you'll remember a lot; about how the characters felt, how you felt reading them. I know they elicited some emotions in me. At work, of course. So if you're looking for something light, it's good for that. If you're looking for something realistic, it's good for that too. It's just an all around good book.


Contest Time!!!

Want my hardcover? 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 May 19th at midnight, EST.


Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Big YA Books at BEA and Helpful Links

Well, my weekend ended up freeing up, giving me the option once again to head out to BEA. Right now I'm 90/10 no. If I do end up going, it'll be really last minute. Maybe I'll get my pass now just to have it. We'll see. I'm relatively undecided. But there's a chance. (ETA: Got my badge. O_o)

But what I'm positive about is attending Armchair BEA! What is Armchair BEA? An online event for those that couldn't make it to BEA but equally full of awesome. Complete with giveaways, daily topic posts, blogger interviews and a whole slew of special events with updates from the convention floor itself, it's bound to be a blast. So even if I can't sneak down to New York for a day, I'll absolutely be hanging out for Armchair BEA. So if you're not going, be sure to get your sign-up on!


Now if you are going to BEA, you'll want to know about the books. In this week's Publisher's Weekly, they did an article about the big YA titles showing up this year at the little convention that could. Among the books? James Dashner's final Maze Runner book and, one that had me squeeing a little, Ilsa J. Bick's newest title, Ashes. This is the same amazing author that wrote Draw the Dark so I might just be salivating a little bit to get my hands on this one.


Most importantly the author signing schedule is now searchable on the BEA website. You can just go here, plug in the specific day and time, and whether you want the autograph area or booth signings, or both, and check the list.

While I'd recommend scheduling your signings in advance, give yourself a little leeway because times change. Sometimes suddenly. You're best off getting BEA Mobile and/or settng up your show planner.

I have one question to answer from my own Q&A and that's -

How can go to BEA if I'm not the blogger type, just the reader type?

I don't believe you can. BEA isn't open to the public. You have to be part of the publishing world in some fashion. If you're a librarian, teacher, bookseller, or anything like that, you can get in no problem. Being a book blogger is a definite way in. But if you're just an avid reader, the only way you're getting in is via Armchair BEA. Sorry.

You can find the original BEA 2011 post here where you can find more answers and ask your questions.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Stay by Deb Caletti


Published April 5, 2011.

Clara's relationship with Christian is intense from the start, and like nothing she’s ever experienced before. But what starts as devotion quickly becomes obsession, and it's almost too late before Clara realizes how far gone Christian is—and what he's willing to do to make her stay.

Now Clara has left the city—and Christian—behind. No one back home has any idea where she is, but she still struggles to shake off her fear. She knows Christian won't let her go that easily, and that no matter how far she runs, it may not be far enough....
(goodreads.com)

Go. Read. Now.

. . .

What are you waiting for? More? What do you think I'm writing here? A review? Fine.

Amazing. There really isn't much else to say about Stay. It's amazing. It takes that obsessive high school love that so many YA novels are glorifying and slaps that nasty bitch right back down into reality. Hey, that guy that wants to know your every move? Not so romantic when he calls 47 times and shows up at your local grocery store. That guy that just can't possibly live without you? Major creep factor when he's ready to break a glass over your head.

Stay is right up there with Albatross by Josie Bloss for me. I didn't feel as deep of an attachment with Stay as I did Albatross but the message is the same: obsessive relationships suck. They're not nice, they're not loving. They're downright scary.

The only issue I had with this one was Finn. Don't get me wrong. I liked Finn. I just don't like that considering what Clara was running from, she ended up taking up with another guy. I would think she'd want some kind of male space considering the last two relationships she'd come from. I wasn't a fan of the third-time's-a-charm thing that was playing in the background. Yeah, Clara told her dad she was taking it slow and I guess, compared to Christian, she was. But the time frame was really only a matter of weeks. Is she head over goo-goo heels for Finn? No. I guess I just didn't like the fact that she had no cooling off time before she was with another guy again. I would have liked to have seen her develop a friendship with Finn's sister more than Finn just because I wanted her to stand on her own instead of running into Finn's arms. Not that she had fainting spells or anything but he was somewhat of a crutch. Not a big fan.

Other than that, the story's absolutely amazing. When the shit got going my heart sped up. I was anxious when Clara was anxious and just as swimming in love as she was with Christian. Of course he seemed like such a nice guy and you don't really pick up on those subtle nuances until bigger ones start rearing their ugly heads and you can get some hindsight behind you. The story had me tearing in places, where Clara thought all was lost, thought that she had nowhere else to run, that she was out of options.

I was rooting for her the entire time. I wanted her to overcome. I wanted her to find love in all the places that she genuinely needed it. She deserved it after everything. You'll feel Clara's world come crashing down on her. Just when you thought the weight couldn't get any heavier, another anvil falls from the sky. But you'll keep pushing through, determined to see it through to the end because you know there's hope. You have it. You have to. For Clara.

If you're tired of all those romanticized obsessive romances out there that make possession a good thing, if you want some perspective from the outside looking in, if you want to have your heart ripped out of your chest only to have to glue it back together again, read Stay. It'll be worth the tears and the unknown and the potential pain. Because there's hope.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Added to the Pile + 74

Just one book this week from PaperBackSwap -

My dog's a total camera slut.

Things I've Learned from Books + 98


If the silent treatment, relocation and a restraining order don't work against a batshitty ex-boyfriend, enlist the help of a dude in Special Forces. Once he's done, it'll be like the birds never stopped singing.

80s Awesomeness! ~ 107


The mall. Any mall. The breeding ground for Valley speak and acid wash. Where mall rats gathered to spend their parents' hard-earned cash on Madonna bracelets and popped collars. Where raucous giggling echoed off marble and escalators alike. You weren't cool if you didn't hang out at the mall.

If you tend to hang around the Yahoo! homepage like I do, you may have caught an article titled Scenes from an 80s Mall. It's an all-inclusive look into the big hair behind the glass doors. You must partake, if for nothing more than to learn from history so it shall never repeat itself again. We're already dangerously close. Please join the effort to stop it.

If this isn't an uber-80s mall movie, I don't know what it -


Freaky Friday :|: 107


Title: The Vanished
Author: Celia Rees
Published: November 14, 1997
Publisher: Scholastic
Pages: 256
Summary:

It all started out as playground tales - stories of plague graves, vanished children and hidden steps leading to a festering underworld. But when another child goes missing, Fraser wonders if there's some truth in the tales, as the dank tunnels running under the city are real enough. (amazon.com)

Freakin' sweet. I'd totally read this. And it'd probably totally give me nightmares. The cover of the book alone is creeptastic. Eerie kids. I'd still read it, though. With the cover face down when I'm not.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Epic First Lines

For anyone that knows me really well knows that my memory is shit, and I don't mean that in a facetious sort of way. I mean I took a hit to the head when I was 18 that cracked out my short term memory nearly completely for about 3 months until it started to trickle back in. I'm going to be generous and say I'm functioning at about 80% of what someone my age should be remembering. Now, that hinders a lot of things for me, especially remembering books.

If I remember a book without repetition (meaning I've only read it once) and I can fawn over it again and again and again, then it's made one hell of an impression on my tired, overworked brain. Different things about different books make me love them. For some, I don't start loving it until a few chapters in (Draw the Dark by Ilsa J. Bick, for instance, took me a little bit to get into but holy shit, one of the best books I've ever read). Some don't hook me until the last paragraph (The Man in the High Castle by Phillip K. Dick, the book wasn't really making all that much sense until, literally, the last page where I went OMFG!).

And sometimes it's a first line (or first paragraph) that has me flicking at my lips making ba-ba noises. This is a compendium of some of those first lines/paragraphs I've collected. I'm sure they won't work for everyone but these . . . holy shit . . . for me they induced reader euphoria coupled with writer envy. Not fair.

So what do you think? Do you agree with my choices? Have any others?

Songs for a Teenage Nomad by Kim Culbertson -

My dad named me Calle after a cat he had in college that ran away. He really loved that cat. I always thought that was funny since he was the one who ran away from me and my mom.

Girl Parts by John M. Cusick -

The room was empty and black save for the blue eyes of the computer and the yellow wedge beneath the door. Shapes crouched in the darkness - the dresser, a desk, a bed with adjacent night table. The bed had a lived-in look, the tousled sheets littered with crumbs and stained with ink, cola, coffee. The stars-and-moons
comforter lay bunched against the headboard along with a threadbare teddy bear and Mary Poppins pillow missing its spangles. Books and magazines were shoved to the wall, into the gap, along with countless socks, balled underwear, lost pens, scraps of paper, and secret journals, their pages bulging with ticket stubs and pasted photographs.

The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien -

First Lieutenant Jimmy Cross carried letters from a girl named Martha, a junior at Mount Sebastian College in New Jersey. They were not love letters, but Lieutenant Cross was hoping so he kept them folded in plastic at the bottom of his rucksack. In the late afternoon, after a day's march, he would dig his foxhole, wash his hands under a canteen, unwrap the letters, hold them with the tips of his fingers, and spend the last hour of light pretending. He would imagine romantic camping trips into the White Mountains in New Hampshire. He would sometimes taste the envelope flaps, knowing her tongue had been there. More than anything, he wanted Martha to love him as he loved her, but the letters were mostly chatty, elusive on the matter of love. She was a virgin, he was almost sure. She was an English major at Mount Sebastian, and she wrote beautifully about her professors and roommates and midterm exams, about her respect for
Chaucer and her great affection for Virginia Woolf. She often quoted lines of poetry; she never mentioned the war, except to say, Jimmy, take care of yourself. The letter weighed four ounces. They were signed Love, Martha, but Lieutenant Cross understood that Love was only a way of signing and did not mean what he sometimes pretended it meant. At dusk, he would carefully return the letters to his rucksack. Slowly, a bit distracted, he would get up and move among his men, checking the perimeter, then at full dark he would return to his hole and watch the night and wonder if Martha was a virgin.


Fade to Blue by Sean Beaudoin -

The place was packed. I was in a lounge chair, Herb lay sprawled on the crusty cement, and Lake was wheeled between us, adjusting her tire pressure with little pfft pfft sounds. In the parking lot, minivans pulled up in rows, disgorging knock-knees and beach towels and sloshy coolers. The lifeguard repeatedly blew his whistle. Candy wrappers fluttered like moths. The water shimmered and the sun beamed and a breeze softly blew.

The Magician's Elephant by Kate DiCamillo -

At the end of the century before last, in the market square of the city of Baltese, there stood a boy with a hat on his head an a coin in his hand. They boy's name was Peter Augustus Duchene, and the coin that he held did not belong to him but was instead the property of his guardian, an old soldier named Vilna Lutz, who had sent the boy to the market for fish and bread.


The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman -

The knife had a handle of polished black bone, and a blade finer and sharper than any razor. If it sliced you, you might not even know you had been cut, not immediately.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak -

I am in all truthfulness attempting to be cheerful about this whole topic though most people find themselves hindered in believing me, no matter my protestations. Please, trust me. I most definitely can be cheerful. I can be amiable. Agreeable. Affable. And that's only the A's. Just don't ask me to be nice. Nice has nothing to do with me.

The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor -

The Queendom had been enjoying a tentative peace ever since the time, twelve years earlier, when unbridled bloodshed spattered the doorstep of every Wonderlander. The civil war hadn't been the longest in all of recorded history but no doubt it was one of the bloodiest. Those who had entered a little too quickly into the carnage and destruction had trouble adapting to life during peacetime. When hostilities ceased, they ran amok on the streets of Wonderland's capital city, looting and pillaging Wondertropolis until Queen Genevieve had them rounded up and shipped off to the Crystal Mines - a spiderweb-like network of tunnels carved in a far-off mountainside, where those unwilling to abide by the laws of decent society lived in windowless dormitories and labored to excavate crystal from the unforgiving mountain. Even after these people were taken off the streets, the peace that settled on Wonderland was nothing like that which had existed before the war. A third of Wondertropolis' quartz-like buildings had to be rebuilt. The smooth turquoise amphitheater had suffered damage in an air raid, as had the public works towers and spires sporting fiery, reflective pyrite skin. But the scars of war are not always visible. Although Queen Genevieve ruled her queendom judiciously, with care for the well-being of her people, the monarchy had been forever weakened. The coalition of Diamond, Club and Spade dynasties that made up Parliament was falling apart. The matriarchs of the families were jealous of Genevieve's power. Each thought she could rule Wonderland better than the queen. Each watched and waited for an opportunity to wrest control from her, keeping a none-too-friendly eye on the other families in case they happened to make a move first.

Light Beneath Ferns by Anne Spollen

This story does not teach a lesson. It does not explain gravity or the pack rituals of wolves or how the sun will explode one day and it leaves us all inside a gray welt of ice and famine. It will not make you popular or get you invitations to parties, if you are after that sort of thing. If death and the dead make you afraid, you better just stop reading and go take a nap. If bones scare you, you cannot read this book. At all. Because, really, things started happening just a little after I found that bone.

The Demon King by Cinda Williams Chima -

Han Alister squatted next to the steaming mud spring, praying that the thermal crust would hold his weight. He'd tied a bandanna over his mouth and nose, but his eyes still stung and teared from the sulfur fumes that boiled upward from the bubbling ooze. He extended his digging stick toward a patch of plants with bilious green flowers at the edge of the spring. Sliding the tip under the clump, he pried it from the mud and lifted it free, dropping it into the deerskin bag that hung from his shoulder. Then, placing his feet carefully, he stood and retreated to solid ground.

Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman

It begins, as most things begin, with a song.

In the beginning, after all, were the words, and they came with a tune. That was how the world was made, how the void was divided, how the lands and the stars and the dreams and the little gods and the animals, how all of them came into the world.

They were sung.

The Devil's Kiss by Sarwat Chadda

Killing him should be easy; he's only six.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Children's Book Week and Children's Choice Book Awards



In case you didn't know, Children's Book Week runs from May 2nd to May 8th this year. What is Children's Book Week? It's simply a week-long celebration of reading for the yutes, er, youths. From online celebrations to in-store super events, Children's Book Week exists to spread the love of reading.

One of the biggest events going on for Children's Book Week?


The Children's Choice Book Awards! Here's your chance to have your say and vote for the book you think is best. The finalists are -

Burned by PC Cast and Kristin Cast
Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan
Spirit Bound by Richelle Mead
Fang by James Patterson

Who will you choose? Whoever it is, just be sure and vote! And make sure to spread the word about Children's Book Week!

Monday, April 18, 2011

The Iron King by Julie Kagawa


Published February 1, 2010.

Meghan Chase has a secret destiny--one she could never have imagined.

Something has always felt slightly off in Meghan's life, ever since her father disappeared before her eyes when she was six. She has never quite fit in at school, or at home.

When a dark stranger begins watching her from afar, and her prankster best friend becomes strangely protective of her, Meghan senses that everything she's known is about to change.

But she could never have guessed the truth-that she is the daughter of a mythical faery king and is a pawn in a deadly war. Now Meghan will learn just how far she'll go to save someone she cares about, to stop a mysterious evil no faery creature dare face.and to find love with a young prince who might rather see herdead than let her touch his icy heart.
(netgalley.com)

When a book lives up to its hype, it really lives up to it. I loved The Iron King. Loved. Maybe it had to do with the Labyrinth undertones. Maybe it had to do with the fantasmagorically developed world Kagawa created or how closely she remained to the Fey myths. Maybe because Meghan was such a realistic character that I believed nearly everything she did. Or maybe it was a combination of all of that.

Seriously, one of the best Fey books I've read. It sticks nearly meticulously to the lore. It doesn't try to sweeten the Fey pot. Faeries are bastards and they stay bastards. Insert that into a plot that rightly has a character with The Chosen One syndrome but Kagawa plays it off so well that I just don't care. I feel for Meghan when she's humiliated, run down, exhausted, frustrated. When her heart beat faster, so did mine. When she thought she was going to lose someone, so did I. I felt so tied to her that she could have been an extension of myself. Plus I loved her reactions to things. None of this 'okay, I accept it all' attitude. She has some seriously WTFery going on and she sticks to it.

The only issue I had with this book, and why it won't be getting the top rating, is the blooming relationship between Meghan and Ash. Sorry. No dice. I don't care how hot a guy is. If he fully intends on killing me and/or handing me over to his crazy bitch mother, I'm not letting him in. I had a hard time getting past that. No matter how sweet he was to her, how soft his lips were, he still wanted to make a hat rack out of her. And she got googly. Pass.

I'm so much more rooting for her and Duckie Puck/Robbie. He's a much more solid character and I was sad to see him leave the plot. They just fit better together, there's a better relationship between the two, and a more believable one at that. Plus he wears his intentions on his sleeve, just like Ash. Except unlike Ash, he doesn't want to slaughter Meghan. Personally I find that a bonus.

The Labyrinth undertones? Oh absolutely. Jareth was just dance, magic, dancing in my head through some of those parts. Every time Meghan pleaded with a creature that she had to find her brother, Sarah was right there. Grimalkin? A more valiant Hoggle. The ogre in the club? Ludo. The baby brother? Toby. It was all there. There were sly little insinuations. Nothing drastic or even all that noticeable unless you were a Labyrinth nut like me. But I saw them. Oh I saw them.

Plus a hint of Neverending Story. The Nevernever being destroyed by mankind's lack of imagination and fantastical dreams? Hello? The Nothing (mankind's fizzling dreams of fantasy) eating Fantasia? Anyone?

Totally not saying it's a rip. Just that the hints are there. I see them. Not sure if they're intentional or not but when certain elements were revealed in the story, those were the places my mind went first. Definitely not a bad thing.

So if you're looking for a book with heavy Fey influence (and some 80s movie hints) that sticks close to the lore, tells a kick-ass story and will suck you right the hell into the Nevernever (and possibly have you checking your closets), The Iron King is it. Read it. You won't regret it.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Added to the Pile + 73

Three books this week, only one to the ARC pile -


Thanks to Flux I received -


And thanks to some aimless wandering through Borders today, I found a couple of bargain books that somehow made their way into my pile -

Legends of the Dragonrealm, Volume II by Richard A. Knaak (I don't actually have volume 1 but it looked really interesting and since I write high fantasy, I figured what the hell)
Leviathan by Scott Westerfield (a $5 hardcover? I'd be an idiot not too)

Things I've Learned from Books + 97


The day people stop trusting faeries will be the day the earth starts rotating backwards. It doesn't matter how many times you warn them. It doesn't matter how many stories you tell them. They're still going to keep doing it. I say let them stick their bare asses in the air. When they say ouch when they get spanked, laugh at them and keep handing out the paddles.

80s Awesomeness! ~ 106


Born in 1987 (excellent year, by the way), this epic fighting game pit two uber-awesome soldiers against the forces of evil aliens that want to take over the earth. Brought to you in amazing 2D renderings, Contra was it. Originally you only got to indulge in this awesomeness in an arcade but Nintendo smartened up and released a NES version the following year. Wise move, guys. We wouldn't want people getting rabid over this.


The fight was epic. Truly.

Freaky Friday :|: 106


Title: Soul Taker
Author: Celia Rees
Published: 1997
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Pages: 182
Summary:
Lewis James is unhappy. Overweight and unpopular, his dad despises him, the girl he likes won't look at him - he has no friends, no life. Desperate to change, anxious to know all about his future, he tries a fortune-teller with a difference. A beguiling and seemingly caring toyshop owner, Mr Jardine. Jardine is eager to help and first offers Lewis practical advice - such as taking up exercise and getting fitter to improve Lewis's chances with Lisa. He also offers Lewis a Saturday job in his shop and Lewis soon starts to feel more confident. He enjoys working in the shop, watching Jardine at work crafting his life-like and ultra-sophisticated puppets. But Lisa still evades Lewis, and he needs more help. Again he turns to Jardine - making the biggest mistake of his life. Jardine suggests Lewis somehow get a lock of Lisa's hair - then Jardine will use his 'psychic gifts' to influence her. But what Lewis doesn't know is that Jardine has no intention of helping him - or Lisa. Jardine is a spirit thief - a Soul Taker. He wants human souls to bring his 'children' to life and now he has Lewis right where he wants him. Ater all, a deal's a deal. A life for a life, a soul for a soul... (fantasticfiction.co.uk)
Anything with dummies will have me completely freaked out. This dude is harvesting kids' souls in order to make his dummies come to life? If that isn't creeptastic, I don't know what is. Ick.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Break It Down Stat-Like

So I've seen this on a few other blogs, Adele's and Lenore's come to mind immediately (I know I've seen it elsewhere but this memory of mine, she sucks), and I thought I'd take a look at my own stats. The initial insight was that as book bloggers, who review books, reviews were barely breaking people's top ten most visited posts. Most had one review in there. If they were lucky, two. So where do I stand? You know me. I tend to buck the trend.

Top 10 posts via Blogger -

80s Awesomeness! ~ 38 (not sure why, apparently the internets has a thing for yuppies)
Aren't vampires supped to be evil? (a rant on the neutering of vampire-kind)
The Vampire's Promise by Caroline B. Cooney (review although I'm not sure why this one, is the internets filled with 80s freaks like me?)
Alison's Wonderland by Alison Tyler (Erotica) (review, internets + sex = duh)
Wither by Lauren DeStefano (review, probably because it bucks the trend in a major way)
BEA Tips 2011 (still open for questions, you know!)
Funny Thing, Professionalism (rant just after Sylvia Massera lost her shit on a couple of bloggers)
Reviews Index (makes a little bit of sense)
Who Did What Where Now? (discussion on the suspension of disbelief)

I find it interesting that half of my posts are review related, with 4 of them being actual reviews. My external stat counter isn't too far off. Top tens from that -

I'll Get There. It Better Be Worth the Trip. by John Donovan (review and most recent so that's probably why)
Draw the Dark by Ilsa J. Bick (review, probably because it's a freaking awesome book and deserves the page hits)
uClue, iClue, We All Scream for iPods! (part of an inundation of iClue promotional posts, that's probably why)
Reviews Index (another match!)
80s Awesomeness! ~ 23 (so it's yuppies and LA Gears, apparently)
Oh no you didn't . . . (haha! my open letter to SMeyer about how she fails as a vampire girl, and where April at Good Books and Good Wine first started fangirling me)
6/09 Archive (weird but okay . . .)
Funny Thing, Professionalism (alas, another match!)
Things I've Learned from Books + 90 (on lobotomies and societal compliance)

So I have three reviews and the reviews index in that one. Not far off at all from the Blogger stats.

My largest referring sites? On Blogger: Twitter, The Story Siren, Goodreads, Good Books and Good Wine, Google Reader and some personal blogs.

On my stat site, different variations of Google and Google images.

My search keywords? In order from most -

yuppie
bites
the ghost of crutchfield hall
80s cell phone
the vampire's promise (popular and I'd like to know why)
sourcebooks fire
csn
"the paradise prophecy" (wtf is this?)
abelard van helsing ("author" of a vampire handbook book I reviewed eons ago)
city of bones blurb

I'd like to think I'm having a nominal impact on the book world since, throughout all of the stats, at least half of each list is specific book related and not some kind of rant or rambling. It's a review or an author. I find it interesting as someone that's known for her rants that my rants aren't more front and center. The professionalism post was pretty popular and I like how my years old SMeyer letter is still lingering up front.

But what do these stats say about book blogging? In reality, how popular is a book review going to be over a rant that incites people's emotions? I think that's just common sense. In my opinion, a book review is only going to apply to those that have already read it or want to read it. Personally I think that pool is a lot smaller than the internet wankery that a rant post can incite.

I think, in terms of reviewing, it's more about people's interest in the book itself. Does it surpass drama? Probably not, unfortunately. But as a book blogger I still think I'm doing my job and I think my stats prove that one. Yes? No? Maybe?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

I'll Get There. It Better Be Worth the Trip. by John Donovan

First published 1969. Reissued by Flux 2010.

When the grandmother who raised him dies, Davy Ross, a lonely thirteen-year-old boy, must move to Manhattan to live with his estranged mother. Between alcohol-infused lectures about her self-sacrifice and awkward visits with his distant father, Davy’s only comfort is his beloved dachshund Fred. Things start to look up when he and a boy from school become friends. But when their relationship takes an unexpected turn, Davy struggles to understand what happened and what it might mean. (goodreads.com)

DNF. And I feel kind of bad about it because it's supposed to be this amazing, moving story that was ahead of its time when it was originally published. But I just couldn't take another talk about Davy's dog.

I really liked the voice. It was simplistic in its telling yet carried with it a depth that could only be held by young words looking for ways around the darkness. There's a heaviness to the story that Davy skirts on the edge of, focusing his time on his dog. I didn't feel it dated at all, either. Having been written in 1969, Davy could have rightly been walking around today. Any elements that hint at a decade are subtle, letting the most important aspect of the book, the story, come through.

In that same vein, I felt like I was reading a day-by-day diary of a boy walking his dog. Halfway into the book and the love interest had just barely made an appearance and he's a bit of a jerk. There's something there that's making him that way but I just didn't have the patience to stick it out.

I wanted the story to get to the point. It's a short story; coming in at just over 200 pages. And halfway into it I was still working through the set-up. Maybe that's attributed to the style at the time. Maybe in order to broach such a sensitive topic it had to be eased into gently. My patience just didn't like that.

Still, I'd urge people to give it a try. It is supposed to be an amazing story and I can tell you, the writing is really good. You're just going to need a little more patience than what I had at the time to get through it.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Author Bites - JM Warwick on Endings

Some of you might know her as Jennifer Laurens if you've read her Heavenly series. Others, like me, know her as JM Warwick because of the fantastic A Season of Eden. Either way, she's one person with a great style and something to say through it. JM was awesome enough to write a guest post for Bites and she touched upon a subject that sparks a lot of us. I know I had it with A Season of Eden and there are a slew of other books out there that make us go 'what happens next?' But do we always want that spelled out for us? Or does letting the reader work it out for themselves make the reading experience all the better? Here JM tells her side with Eden. Thanks a bunch for stopping by, JM!

Will there be another book for Eden? I get asked this question a lot. In fact, as I send this to you, I received yet another email this morning asking if there would be a sequel. I have to admit, when I first started getting this question my first response was: “It was an open ending – you know, the kind that, depending on your interpretation of the book you decide: do Eden and James get together or not?”

As a writer, I’m fascinated that the ending left readers wanting more, while others’ responses are, “That’s the perfect ending for the story.”

I didn’t purposely leave the story at that moment to torture anyone or leave them feeling unsatisfied. I left the story at that moment because, in my writer’s mind, my lense closed there. When I write, I ‘see’ the story unfold in scenes and events. What I see in my head is what you see on the page.

For me, Eden walking into James’ church, hoping to find him there working with ‘teens in need’ is the perfect place for her to be. Seeing him do what he loves: teaching, sharing his passion for music, inspiring youth—continuing on in his life, just like she’s had to continue on in her life in spite of their ill-timed relationship—reinforces that life, even for Eden, goes on even if it’s not ( at that juncture) where she wants it to be.

The youth in the choir notice her entrance ( because Eden’s entrances are always noticed ) and James sees their distraction. He turns and sees her for the first time since she graduated. Eden is hopeful James will smile at her, come to her, speak to her. A reader can hope for the same.
What would showing the next few seconds of that moment do? What have the months in between done but made Eden more determined to pursue him? She’s there, in his church, isn’t she?

Where’s James’ head at this moment in time?

Eden’s taking a risk by going to see him. That’s not surprising to us. Like the reader, she’s hoping that maybe, this time, it will end differently. A reader wouldn’t be surprised if it did, end differently.

Eden always gets what she wants.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Added to the Pile + 72

Just one book this week from PaperBackSwap -


Jules has a rebellious streak, a massive crush on Connor, and the abilities of a Revealer witch. By day, she and her coven friends seem like typical high school seniors. By night, they have the power to make werewolves, vampires, and ghosts reveal themselves, so they can destroy them. It's not exactly cheerleading, but at least the girls know they're doing the world some good.

One by one, Jules's friends turn eighteen and are initiated into the coven's inner circle. And one by one, they are getting completely freaked out. Jules is the youngest, and though her friends are too scared to tell her what's going on, something's clearly not right. As her birthday approaches, Jules realizes she's got to find out what's behind the shadows of her coven before it's too late to save her friends . . . and herself. But what she discovers may be too powerful for even the toughest witches to defeat. (book back blurb)

Things I've Learned from Books + 96


If you happen to be a character in a Christopher Pike novel, just put your head between your knees now and kiss your ass goodbye. That man has no qualms about killing you dead, even if you are the main character or happen to be chaster than the Virgin Mary. One, two Pikey's coming for you . . .

80s Awesomeness! ~ 105

Dick Year

I kid you not, that was apparently slang back in the 80s. According to the glossary is means a long period of time. Usage: I haven't seen you in a dick year. How the deuce did that one come about? I mean really. Dick year as a unit of measure for time? What about Tit Month or Balls Week? I'm missing the correlation.

Freaky Friday :|: 105

Title: Colour Her Dead
Author: Celia Rees
Published: December 2, 1994
Publisher: Macmillan Children's Books
Pages: 208
Summary:
The murder of six-year-old Jennifer Beresford in 1968 turns the Summer of Love into a nightmare for one village. Jude, 25 years on, finds beads worn by the child the day she died. With a friend, Jude starts her own investigation. The case has remained unsolved and someone wants to keep it that way. (alibris.com)
I thought the Summer of Love was 1967. Either way, I'd still read it. Sounds like an interesting mystery.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Die Softly by Christopher Pike


Published April 1991.

Herb just wanted to photograph the cheerleaders in the school showers. He planted his camera high in the corner where no one could see it, and rigged it to a special homemade timer. He did this Thursday night, and he hoped by Friday night to have an exciting roll of film to develop.

But a girl dies Friday afternoon. On the surface it appears to be nothing more than a tragic car accident. But when Herb finally does collect his roll of film, he develops a picture that shows a shadowy figure sneaking up on the girl who dies - sneaking up on her with a baseball bat.

It makes Herb wonder if the girl was dead long before the car accident.

But unfortunately for Herb, he doesn't wonder if the murderer knows he took the picture. (book back blurb)

It's not often you get a creeper as the MC whose eyes you read through. But even despite the fact that this guy rigged up a camera to take pictures of his naked classmates, Pike wrote it in such a way that Herb was still an appealing guy. I didn't get skeeved out at all while reading. In fact, I empathized with Herb a little. He was just setting himself up for a stupid prank but he ended up getting handed a lot more.

Pike has an excellent way of teetering guilt from one character to another. You can't tell who's lying, who's being genuine or who has some tracks to cover. Everyone (except Herb) looks guilty. I just love how it's all woven together so seamlessly. Until it was made obvious who the culprit was, I was constantly trying to figure out who was the big bad in this story. And why. Now I'm not the best at these kinds of whodunnit type of stories but I'm able to connect the dots decently enough. But Pike's dots were masterfully all over the place in a kind of organized chaos. I truly think that the truth is hidden so well that not too many people would be able to figure it out until close to the reveal.

The only thing I'd change would be the villain dialogue at the end. It's kind of classic in a cliche sort of way how the villain ultimately suffers from verbal diarrhea and just can't shut their damn mouths, destroy evidence and be done with it. It was a definite unload that I think could have been better worked into the plot but I'm over it. I liked the rest of it too much.

Pike did a great job of keeping all of the characters (except Herb) at arm's length. Each had something about them that I could empathize or sympathize with but each had a motive, just a little hint of guilt that kept me from getting them too close. I had no idea who I could trust. That feeling of unease that Pike created isn't found often, I don't think, and it really made me uncomfortable at times. As do all good creepy thriller books. And don't go in expecting a cookie cutter ending either. Pike is fearless with his characters. No one is safe and he sticks to that.

While it didn't have anything paranormal in it, it still rates pretty high on the creep scale. Good horror doesn't need paranormal elements in it to make it horror. Just amazing writing that makes you uncomfortable and some level of afraid. Die Softly did just that.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

uClue, iClue, We All Scream For iPods!


Lisa and Laura Roecker, sisters and co-authors of The Liar Society (Sourcebooks Fire, March 2011), along with 5 other young adult mystery authors, are giving readers the chance to win an iPod Touch with the launch of the online mystery they are describing as "Choose Your Own Adventure meets Clue”: iClue: 6 Authors, 6 Mysteries, 6 Chances to win an iTouch.

Starting at the iClue website each participating author will be posting a mystery based on the characters in one of their upcoming novels. Readers can check out the mysteries, hunt for clues on different blogs and websites, and enter to win an iTouch by correctly solving any or all of the 6 mysteries. Each correct solution is one entry into the drawing for the iTouch! The winner’s iTouch will be loaded with the books of all the participating authors. iClue will officially launch on April 1 and will run through May 13.

The impressive author lineup includes the Roecker sisters, New York Times bestselling author Beth Revis (Across The Universe), author and agent Mandy Hubbard (Prada & Prejudice, You Wish), National Book Award Finalist Adele Griffin, and critically acclaimed authors Kimberly Derting and Lee Nichols.

iClue was born from a weekly discussion with the Elevensies, a group of young adult and middle grade authors with books debuting in 2011. During one of their chats, the Roecker sisters mentioned that they were thinking of organizing an online mystery contest to promote their book, The Liar Society. Revis contacted them right away to suggest they reach out to some other mystery writers to make it a group promotion. Before long they had a plan:

iClue
6 Authors
6 Mysteries
6 Chances to Win an iTouch

iClue is just one part of the social media arsenal of the Roecker sisters. Aside from their popular (and hilarious) blog, and their pink-haired Twitter followers, they were also founding members of WriteOnCon, an all-online, entirely free conference for kidlit writers. The inaugural WriteOnCon boasted 37 authors and illustrators and 22 industry professionals presenting to over 11,000 attendees.


Text lifted from the press release.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Num8ers by Rachel Ward

Published February 1, 2010.

Since the day her mother died, Jem has known about the numbers.

Numbers that pop into her head when she looks into someone's eyes. They're dates, the numbers. Dates predicting with brute accuracy each person's death.

Burdened by such grim knowledge, Jem avoids relationships. Until she meets Spider, another outsider, and takes a chance. Maybe they can find happiness together, if only in the brief time that remains before his expiration date.

But on a trip to London, Jem foresees a chilling chain of events:

The city's a target.
The clock's running out.
The countdown is on to a blowup! (book flap blurb)

DNF. I just couldn't get through it. The main reason was I was just so disgusted with Spider's lack of personal hygiene. It's not that he doesn't have the ability to shower; he just doesn't. So every time Jem mentioned his stank, I gagged a little. Great character but I couldn't get past that. How could you not smell your own muck? How can you be content to just wallow in your own filth? I didn't get it and after a while I didn't want to. It was made such a prominent point in the story that it seemed that that's what Spider was: dirty, more than anything else. It was mentioned more than anything else. Blech. Pass.

The other thing that made me put the book down was the numbers thing itself. Jem sees numbers in people's eyes. They're the days that they're all going to die. But . . . what? That numbers thing didn't seem to have a greater purpose. It just seemed like something to make the plot go forward. I felt you could have switched it out with something else entirely, or just plain bad timing, and it wouldn't have made a difference. There is an inkling of something with Spider's grandmother but she gets left behind, literally, so it continues to seem aimless.

That's pretty much it. Spider's need to shower and the seeming irrelevance of the numbers themselves made me stop. The writing was good. I mean, look at how it made me feel. But I didn't see the point to the numbers, which were the motivating factors of the story itself. I'm sure it goes somewhere but I'm just not patient enough to finish taking the trip.

I do think the writing is really strong and I definitely felt everything I read. I wouldn't pass this one up entirely. It just wasn't for me. I thought it was going to be more involved than what it was. Maybe I'm missing something at the end but I won't lose sleep over it.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

March TBR Pile Update

Yup. It's that time again. Let's see how I did. First the original line-up -



With the NetGalley digital editions -

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

I did a book count for February and I had 254 total in the pile to read. So instead of just looking at the piles and guessing I've made a dent, I can actually tell if I have or not. What was my final number for March? 251. Dent achieved.

The pile -


And the digital copies from NetGalley, Simon & Schuster and what I bought myself -

Tyger Tyger by Kersten Hamilton
The Secret of Ka by Christopher Pike
Annexed by Sharon Dogar
Demon Hunts by CE Murphy
Eight for Eternity by Mary Reed and Eric Mayer
Lovely by Kris Starr
Captive Spirit by Liz Fichera
Ghost Shadow by Heather Graham
The World Above the Sky by Kent Stetson
Tricker's Girl by Hilari Bell
Roman Games by Bruce MacBain
F**k it by John C. Parkin
Views from the Loft by The Loft Literary Center
Past Midnight by Mara Purnhagen
Carrie Pilby by Caren Lissner
Losing Romeo by AJ Byrd
The Fairy Godmother by Mercedes Lackey
The Sevenfold Spell by Tia Nevitt
The Abused Werewolf Rescue Group by Catherine Jinks
Those That Wake by Jesse Karp
The Lying Game by Sara Shepard
Angelfire by Courtney Allison Moulton
Grilled Cheese Please! by Laura Werlin
Savannah Grey by Cliff McNish
The Betrayal of Maggie Blair by Elizabeth Laird
Awaken by Katie Kacvinsky
Lost in the River of Grass by Ginny Rorby
Everything I Was by Corrine Demas
What Can't Wait by Ashley Hope Perez
One Hundred Candles by Mara Purnhagen
My Favorite Band Does Not Exist by Robert T. Jeschonek
This Girl is Different by JJ Johnson
#01 I Love Him to Pieces by Evonne Tsang
Fail Harder by failblog.org community
In the Arms of Stone Angels by Jordan Dane
Stay by Deb Caletti (S&S Galley Grab)
Dreaming Anastasia by Joy Preble (free copy from BN)
The Paradise Prophecy by Robert Brown
Bumped by Megan McCafferty
The Gray Wolf Throne by Cinda Williams Chima

I'd just like to put out a reminder that I am reading faster than three books a month. What with the additions along with the subtractions, things have a tendency of overlapping. The fact that the numbers are starting to go down at all is a raging miracle.

Added to the Pile + 71

Two surprise books this week from Harper Teen -


Elena Gilbert's love, the vampire Stefan Salvatore, has been captured and imprisoned by demonic spirits who are wreaking havoc in Fell's Church. In order to find him, Elena entrusts her life to Stefan's brother: Damon, the handsome but deadly vampire who wants Elena, body and soul.

Elena will stop at nothing to free Stefan. Yet with each passing day the tension between Elena and Damon grows, and she is forced with a terrible decision: Which brother does she really want?

Back in Fell's Church, Bonnie and Meredith explore the evil that has taken over the town. Their research leads to some dire discoveries, and soon they are caught up in Elena's most dangerous adventure yet! (book back blurb)


With the help of charming and devious Damon, Elena rescued her vampire love, Stefan, from the depths of the Dark Dimension. But neither brother returned unscathed.

Stefan is weak from his long imprisonment and needs more blood than Elena alone can give him, while a strange magic has turned Damon into a human. Savage and desperate, Damon will do anything to become a vampire again - even travel back to hell. But what will happen when he accidentally takes Bonnie with him?

Stefan and Elena hurry to rescue their innocent friend from the Dark Dimension, leaving Matt and Meredith to save their hometown from the dangerous spirits that have taken hold of Fell's Church. One by one, children are succumbing to demonic designs. But Matt and Meredith soon discover that the source of the evil is darker - and closer - than they ever could have imagined . . . (book flap blurb)

A Couple Updates and a Roll Call!

Okay, in case you haven't noticed the obvious updates, I've added the Linked Within widget to the bottom of my posts and a new commenting system. I'm trying to make things a little more streamlined and user friendly so hopefully this will help out.

An even bigger update is I've finally sat myself down and figured out the behind the scenes shenanigans to getting my own domain name. I purchased it around the start of the new year but now I've finally redirected. The new domain?


Are you surprised? Ha! I was a little that it was still available. But that's it. Be sure to update your feed readers and whatnot. I'm excited. :)

Now for the roll call. I'm looking for book blogs to add to my blog roll! New, seasoned, whatever, as long as it's a book blog. Just be warned, I do an occasional spring cleaning on it and if you haven't posted in a month, you'll get the ax but I know most of you don't have that problem.

So if you have a blog that you'd like me to add to my blog roll, just leave a comment. Or if you have a recommendation for a blog, leave it as well. I'll add them all up!

Test Post

Just trying to see if my new commenting system is working.

Test 8, 4, 2 . . .

Things I've Learned from Books + 95


Personal hygiene, in the greater scheme of life, is optional. Even if you stank like you're allergic to showering, if you happen to be a real cool dude, people will still want to be around you.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

March Winners!

I had a few contests last month and to make things a little easier, I figured doing a nice little round-up post of those winners would be good. I don't not want to announce winners but at the same time, it's easier for me to bulk shop sometimes, you know?


So to start, the winner of my ARC of You Killed Wesley Payne by Sean Beaudoin was -

Orchid!!!

My ARC of Delirium by Lauren Oliver went to -

Stephanie!!!

And last but not least, a copy of Mystify by Artist Arthur went to -

Jennelle!!!

A big congratulations to all of you! And thank you to everyone else who entered!

80s Awesomeness! ~ 104


What is it you're looking at? Other than an ugly-colored Old Navy shirt? Why the popped collar, of course! You weren't anyone if you didn't pop your collar in the 80s. You were super fly if you double-popped as this photo representation suggests. I mean, just look at Duran Duran -


If that's not cool, I don't know what is. Unfortunately now if you pop your collar, you're not so much cool but a raging douche that's watched a little too much Growing Up Gotti -


Sometimes de-evolution is a sad thing to see.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Freaky Friday :|: 104


Title: Midnight Hour
Author: Celia Rees
Published: May 9, 1997
Publisher: Macmillan's Children's Books
Pages: 192
Summary:
At 15, Blair Page won an Oscar. At 17, she's a beautiful star who thinks she knows how to handle fame, until the attentions of one fan turn to obsession. He appoints an hour at which she will finally be his, and it seems there is nothing she can do to stop him. (amazon.com)
Yup, I'd read it. More thriller than horror but I'll take it. Rees's books is the next collection I need to tackle.
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