Monday, April 30, 2012

Amy Lets Me Talk About Cheese!


Today I'm guest blogging over at A Simple Love of Reading about one of my favorite books of all time.  While not a literary masterpiece, it is truly, epically cheesy.  Come see what it is!  Thanks, Amy, for inviting me!

The Disunited States of America by Harry Turtledove

Published September 6, 2006.

Author website.

Justin's family are Time Traders. The summer before he's due to start college, he goes with them to a different Virginia, in a timeline where the American states never became a single country, and American history has consisted of a series of small wars. Despite his unease, he accompanies Randolph Brooks, another Time Trader, on a visit to the tiny upland town of Elizabeth, Virginia. He'll only be away from his parents for a few days.

Beckie Royer thanks her stars that she's from California, the most prosperous and advanced country in North America. But just now she's in Virginia with her grandmother, who wants to revisit the tiny mountain town where she grew up. The only interesting thing there is a boy named Justin--and he'll be gone soon.

Then war between Virginia and Ohio breaks out anew. Ohio sets a tailored virus loose on Virginia. Virginia swiftly imposes a quarantine, trapping Becky and Justin and Randolph Brooks in Elizabeth. Even Crosstime Traffic can't help. All the three of them can do is watch as plague and violence take over the town.

It's nothing new in history, not in this timeline or any other. It's part of the human condition. And just now, this part of the human condition sucks.  (

This is actually the fourth book in the CROSSTIME TRAFFIC series but I didn't know that when I took the book on for review.  No worries though since it read pretty much as a standalone.  I'm going to take a leaping guess here and assume that book one actually explains the whole concept of crosstime traffic and why Justin's home timeline thinks they're the only ones special enough to be able to travel across time.  That whole concept just read really wrong to me.  That only Justin's timeline had those capabilities and they kept altering other timelines for the "good" of that timeline, and to prevent them from traveling across time, again for the "greater good."  Talk about playing god.  This is where I might be missing something from other books and since the whys aren't explained in THE DISUNITED STATES OF AMERICA I'm kind of left wanting in that area.  But my bad for picking up a series at book four.

As for the story within the greater CROSSTIME TRAFFIC story, it was, meh, okay.  The voice did little for me as it was more omniscient and a bit schizophrenic at times.  Becky's voice especially, in my opinion, kept changing and she would say things, like little sayings, that just didn't seem genuine to her character.  It was kind of jarring.  Justin was pretty constant in voice and development which leads me to believe that the author might have had a better time writing in either limited third or first via Justin as opposed to omniscient third.  It just didn't really work out too well when he was in Becky's voice.  The phrases were a little too kitschy and a lot of the times she sounded like what the author probably thought a teenage girl from California sounded like, in 1966.  She was just really artificial in her structure to me.

The story itself passed by in a blur and I found myself skimming a lot.  There was a lot of thinly veiled moralizing going on about inequality and "what if's" that I was kind of over it.  I'm really not into fiction for morals so when I have one pressed at me I tend to zone out.  The author also seemed to be really pushing the backstory of this particular timeline just as much as he was trying to push the story forward.  There were a lot of info burps going on that were creating the cornerstone for this particular world and they always seemed to happen when there was a lull in the plot, which was often.

Not much really happened to the characters until the end of the story.  The invasion itself didn't happen until at least two thirds of the way through and up until then it was a lot of talks in the back yard (seriously, every time Justin and Becky got together it was clunky storytelling in the backyard with fizzes, aka soda) and stuff happening on TV and the radio but nowhere near.  And it doesn't play out like what the blurb, I think, insinuates.  Or even by what the cover would intone.  Once the fecal matter smacks against the rotating device Justin and Becky's paths deviate and they get where they need to go on their own.  So the package was a bit deceptive because there wasn't much of a collaborative effort on their part.

All the blurbs in the book were raving about how awesome of an alt-history writer Turtledove is but what I saw was a really scattered plot, a piecemeal world and awkward writing, more often than not telling instead of showing.  I felt relatively little for any of the characters and really the only redeeming part for me was when Justin had to step into the shoes of a soldier in order to get to his destination.  That was really the only instance of suspense and true action I felt in the entire book.  That was the only place where I actually got to SEE Justin as more than the author's puppet.  Everything else was just yak, yak, yak and complain and coins.  It felt empty.

I do like how it's a different take on the whole dystopian front.  You know, instead of being an actual dystopian it's an alt-history that thus alters the present and future.  It's a breath of fresh air in that regard. But outside of that I was unimpressed.  Maybe if I'd started the series from the beginning I'd feel differently, with more background information on the home timeline and Justin's world but I'm really not sure how good that would do.  I seem to have the most problems with the author's writing style.  A bit harder to change.

Read THE DISUNITED STATES OF AMERICA if you're looking for something different than the standard dystopians out there.  It really is a good break in that regard.  Just be cognizant of the writing.  It's not all that phenomenal.

Ban Factor: Low - It's actually a pretty innocuous story.  Not much swearing, not much violence (considering) and barely any romance.  I don't know what the banners could get offended by here.  I mean, there are Christian god references and everything!  And not mocking!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

30 Days of Night, Volume 1 by Sam Kieth

Published April 17, 2012.

Author website.

Fright-master Steve Niles returns to the creation that launched his career for an all-new 30 Days of Night series, with warped genius Sam Kieth handling the art duties. Features an all-new cast of characters being introduced to the world of 30 Days of Night for the first time!  (

I always love a good comic and it's 30 DAYS OF NIGHT so how could this go wrong?  It didn't but that doesn't mean I'm a super fan now either.

This is actually the first 30 DAYS story that I've read so I know I'm coming into it pretty late.  I've seen the movie but I'm pretty sure it doesn't do the comic justice.  So my ignorance aside I did like the story about the website host trying to find vampires and biting off more than she could chew, pun intended.  And the vampires turning on vampires conspiracy going on.  It was all very intriguing and it definitely got me interested in wanting to read more.

But I was kind of turned off by the art.  I just felt it was substandard and didn't provide the story the additional oomph that I think far better artwork would have garnered.  I didn't think there was much depth to the drawings and they ended up being mediocre compared to others that I've seen.  Frankly I'd expect better in such a popular series.  It could have been my on-screen reader.  I did have some issues setting it to a decent-enough size to read the text well enough but it didn't appear to be affecting the images too much.  I'm pretty sure the images were kind of off all on their own.

As a noob to the whole 30 DAYS OF NIGHT series I liked what I read in this volume.  I was interested in the whole works before but I'm even more so now.  Not thrilled with the art, like I said, but it wasn't enough to turn me off the work entirely.  Just kind of blah in comparison to the rest of it.  It's got it's gore, it's horror and for this uber-vampire fan (of the non-sparkly variety) it had the fangs.  I absolutely appreciated that.  A must-read for any true vampire fan that appreciates that vampires are rather ruthless and should probably be feared more than lusted after.

Ban Factor: High - Gore and vampires.  Lots of gore and lots of vampires.  And backbiting, of the literal and figurative sense.  Not nice at all.

Added to the Pile + 108

Three approvals via NetGalley came through in the last week -

ADVENT by James Treadwell
THE INFECTS by Sean Beaudoin

Am I the only one that's stupid excited for a new Sean Beaudoin title?  He just does mindfuck so well.  I need, like, a cigarette or something after reading one of his books.

Things I've Learned from Books + 149

There are only a handful of people allowed to totally screw with the circuits of time and space.  If anyone else were to stumble upon the technology to do so the effects could be DEVASTATING.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

YAckers Review: Legend by Marie Lu

Published November 29, 2011.

Author website.

What was once the western United States is now home to the Republic, a nation perpetually at war with its neighbors. Born into an elite family in one of the Republic’s wealthiest districts, fifteen-year-old June is a prodigy being groomed for success in the Republic’s highest military circles. Born into the slums, fifteen-year-old Day is the country’s most wanted criminal. But his motives may not be as malicious as they seem.

From very different worlds, June and Day have no reason to cross paths—until the day June’s brother, Metias, is murdered and Day becomes the prime suspect. Caught in the ultimate game of cat and mouse, Day is in a race for his family’s survival, while June seeks to avenge Metias’s death. But in a shocking turn of events, the two uncover the truth of what has really brought them together, and the sinister lengths their country will go to keep its secrets.  (

Fellow YAcker Emily was our Keeper of the Book for the month of March and of her choices us ladies  unanimously chose LEGEND by Marie Lu.  We were SOOOOOOOOOOOO excited to read this one!  I mean, how could not be?  All the awesome things that were being said about it, all the rave reviews?  How could we go wrong?

. . .

Well, read on to see some wrongness . . .

Laura: Soooo has anyone started Legend?

Melissa: Yeppers. Am I the only one the colored font is driving batty?

Sya: Started today. I have a uk arc so no coloured ink just different fonts.

Me: I'm waiting until the last possible second. But this shouldn't be any surprise by now.

Sya: I finished it last night. Quite impressed although I have a few unanswered questions.

Melissa: I agree, Sya. Interesting, intriguing, but it kind of leaves you hanging. And I never got over my font dislike.

Me: I've started it. The font thing isn't really bothering me but it is pretty noticeable. I'm not far enough into it to have an opinion yet.

Sya: So are the alternating viewpoints printed in wildly different colours?

Me: The type face is definitely different and the color is a brownish instead of black. You can tell against the standard font the other POV is in. I'm still kind of ambivalent about the story. I have just over 100 pages left. I like June for how she kept to character after the shoe dropped but I need to see where this is going first.

Me: Just finished it. I'm still ambivalent. It's a topic I've seen plenty of times, a story I've read in plenty of books and it

Me: dammit

Me: it's really not stand-out to me. A few things: 1) Did I miss the part where it's explained how the US ended up fracturing like it did? 2) Did I missed the part where it explains how SoCal all of a sudden is getting massive hurricanes? 3) Why does the Republic have electro-bombs that disable guns when they're the only ones using them? That's not a wise weapon to use in war since you'd screw yourself, the poor people they're constantly fighting aren't armed like that and it appears to have no other discernible use except to come in conveniently at the end. Why have a weapon that would temporarily make themselves impotent? Why don't they all just give themselves charlie horses at the most inopportune moments? This bothers me. 4) Points for no love triangle.

Me: I hate to say it but I can kind of see how this had a hard time selling to publishers. It's pretty well written but it ultimately blends pretty well with the already desolate dystopian landscape. At the end I'm not pressed to read the next book. I kind of don't care enough. I'm a buzz kill, aren't I?

Laura: I'm having a hard time getting into this book. I'm granting it a further 50 page grace period but as the magic eight ball says, "Outlook not so good."

Melissa: ‎1) no. It was never explained. 2) ditto. 3) No effing idea. and 4) I agree. Huh. I liked it when I first finished it (aside from the font thingy), but I'm having a hard time making it sound interesting. Maybe because it really wasn't??

Sya: Yeah, I feel the same Melissa... I've been trying to write up my review and it's coming across as distinctly meh. BUT... I did really like both June and Day and was intrigued by the society that was being portrayed. Sadly, this was tempered by the fact that I didn't know why everything was actually like that. But then, I've been re-reading The Hunger Games and you don't really find out why THAT society is fractured either. However, Legend rather lacks the wow-factor that THG has. Also, I spent a lot of my time reading it trying to figure out how it was inspired by Les Miserables (which, I admit, was probably tougher having only seen the musical - I was all, "that's Eponine... no... THAT's Eponine" and I'm not even entirely sure who Eponine is...).

Sya: Also, Donna - excellent point re. Electro-bombs. They are an entirely stupid idea.

Melissa: I can see the Les Mis thing going on (I think Tess is supposed to be Eponine; or maybe Day? Whatevers...), but I don't think Legend was thought through enough to be really truly inspired by Les Mis. I think I'm getting tired of dystopian novels now.

Melissa: Or officially tired. Whatever.

Me: THG was an amazing novel/series that is untainted by its own followers so it's going to stand out by default. Aside from the fact that it's awesome. It's because of that awesomeness that I didn't NEED to know why the Earth sharted. I had so much else to occupy me that it was inconsequential and I could easily overlook it. Here it's more of the same and especially when world issues keep getting pointed out (the society as a whole, not sure how that would be avoided but anyway, hurricanes in SoCal) my kinda bored brain is going to gravitate there to occupy itself. I'm cranky about dystopias/post-apocalyptic now too because they're starting to get tired. I think that's one of the reasons I'm gravitating more towards adult vamporn now, just for something different. I'm tired of contemporaries with effed up kids because they're so depressing, keep me away from YA vampires lest I stake them, dystopias/post-apoc are starting to blend and PNR isn't a genre I go near anyway. That would expose me to the likes of Hush, Hush and I may explode. So what's left? Not much more than scrapes.

Me: And seriously, those electro-bombs are driving me insane. The more I think about them the fucking stupider they become. It's like a guy punching himself in the dick when he has a hard on. WHY?

Melissa: Because she needed a plot device. :-D

Melissa: That's a good point, Donna, about THG. Hadn't thought about it that way before. (Though you do have to admit that the series fell apart after the first one. Right?) And you're right about the current state of YA fiction: if there's one book that stands out, everyone's bound to copy it. (No pressure for when it's finally my turn to choose a book for this group....) As a side note, I've noticed that for the first time in YEARS, my total YA reading has been down. There's just not much out there that's grabbing my attention anymore.

Sya: I think you're absolutely write about YA at the moment. The last Dystopian book I really enjoyed was Divergent. I recently read Pieces of Us, a contemporary that has put me off contemporaries possibly for life as it was so brutally depressing. On the topic of THG, I arrived at the party rather late and read Mockingjay in a sulk after it had been spoiled for me in a review. Having just re-read the trilogy as a whole I'm feeling a little obsessed with the whole thing. Absolute brilliance.

Me: I don't think the series took a total tank but I wasn't thrilled with Mockingjay (that was the last one, right?). I don't feel Katniss chose properly so it kind of bombed everything from that point on. But I do like it because it was one of the first of it's kind in this new wave of depressing. If I had the time I'd read it again to see if it still lived up. I'm sure it would.

Laura: Yeah so me and Legend aren't going to happen. I hate to skip a book but I can't even get interested in it enough to hate it and rip it a new one. I AM A BAD BOOK CLUB FRIEND.

Me: Between this and WHEN THE SEA IS RISING RED, you should hang your head in shame. Granted I'm about to set the latter on fire but that's okay. I hated Bella less than the pretentious twat in WHEN THE SEA . . .

Emily: I personally loved it. I thought she did a great job of pitting two good characters against each other, and while I feel like the story wasn't new, it was fun. I look forward to the next book.

Emily: well, after reading all of the comments, I must note that I read an arc that had the same color font and style throughout. As I said earlier, the plot wasn't what was interesting to me, it was the characters. I don't know why there were electro-bombs, except that maybe the rebels or whatever they were called also have guns. I dunno. Laura I hate that you couldn't get into it..what was it?

So I think we evened out.  It was OKAY but it had it's issues and ultimately it read like something we've all read before.  Something to file into the "yet another dystopian" category.

This month's participating YAckers -

Ban Factor: Medium - Some swearing and, of course, children bucking the system and doing things THAT AREN'T GOOD FOR THEM.  We all know how banners hate that.

This is where I say DAMMIT!

You may or may not have noticed that I have an extra little clicky symbol there under my Bite Me section.  An extra little t?

Yup.  Thanks to my heinously EVUL twin, Laura, I now tumble, tumblring, tum.  It's SO addicting!  All the gifs!  Supernatural gifs!  Really, really bad.

So yeah.  I'm here.  I'll use it like I use Twitter, to cross post my blog posts, plus I'll be totally taking advantage of it's photo/gif/must show people things platform it has.  Because I've had it less than 24 hours and I'm already coming up on a month's worth of posts.  Most of them gifs.

Follow/tumblr-y me, whatever.  This will probably be the best peek into my rather demented life that any of you will get.  Seeing as how I divulge very little here, that's a hell of a lot.  I'll start you off . . . I like Supernatural.  And by like I mean I want to smell Dean's jeans.

In the meantime I'll be doing this to Laura -

Look at me!!! GIFS!!!

80s Awesomeness! ~ 157

I'm ashamed of myself for not featuring Dirty Dancing yet.  While not my favorite 80s movie (I'm not super big on chick flicks) my heart isn't entirely black and I do enjoy a good "nobody puts baby in the corner" kick.  One of many movies where dancing makes a person come alive, and brings together different side-track-dwelling people, it's still a good one and will most likely still make panties melt despite the fact that Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey hated each others' guts.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Freaky Friday :|: 157

Title: The Locker
Author: Richie Tankersley Cusick
Published: April 1, 1994
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Pages: 224

Is someone reaching for help--from the grave? Join Richie Tankersley Cusick on the first day of school, where something as ordinary as a girl's locker suddenly becomes a doorway to terror.  (

Well that is not informative whatsoever.  So . . . is something living in the locker?  Is the locker haunted?  Is there a body stuffed in there?  What?

YAckers Review: Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins

Published March 2, 2010.

Author website.

Three years ago, Sophie Mercer discovered that she was a witch. It's gotten her into a few scrapes. Her non-gifted mother has been as supportive as possible, consulting Sophie's estranged father--an elusive European warlock--only when necessary. But when Sophie attracts too much human attention for a prom-night spell gone horribly wrong, it's her dad who decides her punishment: exile to Hex Hall, an isolated reform school for wayward Prodigium, a.k.a. witches, faeries, and shapeshifters. 

By the end of her first day among fellow freak-teens, Sophie has quite a scorecard: three powerful enemies who look like supermodels, a futile crush on a gorgeous warlock, a creepy tagalong ghost, and a new roommate who happens to be the most hated person and only vampire student on campus. Worse, Sophie soon learns that a mysterious predator has been attacking students, and her only friend is the number-one suspect. 

As a series of blood-curdling mysteries starts to converge, Sophie prepares for the biggest threat of all: an ancient secret society determined to destroy all Prodigium, especially her.  (

I went into this one a little apprehensively.  A boarding school book???  I screeched to my fellow YAckers.  Surely you hate me so.  Alas, not true and I was pleasantly surprised at the lightheartedness HEX HALL spits forth.  Almost in the vein of Mari Mancusi with her BLOOD COVEN series, just not nearly as satirical.  Sophie has a great, spunky little voice, the bitches are extra bitchy and there's a dude named Archer.  I'm pretty sure he was born with suede patches grafted onto elbows.  Cal was my guy.  If there's more of him that's a pretty surefire way of getting me to read on in the series.

Find out what the rest of us YAckers had to say over at Melissa's blog, Book Nut, as she was our Keeper of the Book for this past month.

Ban Factor: High - Magic, demons and teen-level sexy times in a musty basement.  I can hear the squealing already.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Win an Invite to a Kick Ass BEA Breakfast from Carolrhoda Lab!

If you're a blogger and you're going to BEA this June you can enter for your chance to win an invite to an author breakfast featuring Maggie Stiefvater, Tessa Gratton, Brenna Yovanoff and Meagan Spooner, all courtesy of Carolrhoda Lab!  Since, you know, these are two Carolrhoda Lab titles coming out this fall.  And both happen to be on my NetGalley list waiting to be read.  Anxiously.  Yeah, I'm entering.

And you can too!  Just check out their Facebook page for more information.  And be sure to LIKE Carolrhoda Lab on Facebook!  Step one, after all.  You can't enter until you LIKE them.  So hop to it!  Go enter!  Nao.  It ends 5/4 so hurry your ass up!

ETA - Another awesomer thing that I just found out since I entered, you can enter once a day.  Sweet!

Cate of the Lost Colony by Lisa Klein + Giveaway!

Published October 12, 2010.

Author website.

Lady Catherine is one of Queen Elizabeth's favorite court maidens--until her forbidden romance with Sir Walter Raleigh is discovered. In a bitter twist of irony, the jealous queen banishes Cate to Raleigh's colony of Roanoke.  (

Every once in a while I'll come across a nice book.  Just something that when you finish reading it you go, "that was nice."  Something that isn't overly thrilling or phenomenal but it definitely wasn't bad either.  It was nice.  CATE OF THE LOST COLONY was a nice, pleasant read that had a good voice I could get hooked into, just interesting enough of a plot line to be engaging and a satisfying ending.  Nice.

Cate is a fallen child once of nominally prominent parents who are both dead and have left her with relatives that look at her as nothing more than a burden.  When Queen Elizabeth calls her to court to be a Lady, Cate's life starts looking up, until the love interest comes along.

Cate isn't too much of a character that steps outside of the society's role for a woman.  She's well-educated, as someone of her standing would be, but she's also timid, she falls in line and she's everything a well-meaning Lady should be.  I didn't find any of her actions prior to her exile to be out of character for the setting and actually it was quite nice to NOT read something like that.  Usually you end up with a character that totally bucks the system despite how unnatural it looks and how unlikely it should have been.  Enter Ralegh (spelled without the 'i' in the story) and she gets a little more brazen, gets a little bit more of a mouth but really it was only in a situation where she knew she pretty much had nothing left to lose.  She was smart too.  Really, I liked Cate.  She was real and I believed every ounce of her curious character.

I loved her even more for how she handled the relationship with Ralegh.  It could have gone so many ways, many of which would have had be ripping out my hair and screaming into a pillow.  I still have a full head of hair.  That should be telling.  The relationship culminates, officially, at the end of the story and it ends up being REALISTIC.  Dear god, I loved it.  I do not want to spoil but I was definitely going YES!!! reading it.  I couldn't help myself.  It was another testament to Cate's strength, and her weaknesses, and I loved it.

Klein painted such a vivid picture of the time that I could see every little piece of story going on as it unfolded before me.  From the wrinkles at the corners of the queen's eyes to the conditions in the Indian camp, I saw, felt, breathed it all.  Again, it was real and oh so nice.  Nothing was glamorized or romanticized, although Cate's head was a little bit in the clouds before she got to Roanoke but that balloon was quickly burst once winter came.

The ending also made an intriguing possibility to the mystery behind Roanoke and why or how all those people disappeared.  Not going to spoil but this ending totally made sense.  Men and their pride, let me tell you.  And no, it has nothing to do with a demon virus.

So yeah.  It was just a nice book.  Not too heavy on action or suspense or romance.  But there was enough of all of that to string the plot along in a good, easy read that was intriguing until the end.  I really don't think anyone would be disappointed in CATE OF THE LOST COLONY, especially if you like historical fiction.  A well-built world with heinously realistic characters, the past will pop right off the page the second you start reading.

Ban Factor: Low - No sex, no swearing and there's a virgin queen.  Unless banners have something against Native Americans (which they very well could), this one should be on the safe list.

Giveaway time!!!

Want my ARC?  Then just fill out the form below for your chance to win it!

  • Open to US residents 13 years of age and older only.
  • One entry per person per email address.
  • Duplicate entries will be deleted.
  • Entrants must be a follower of Bites via one of the following mediums: GFC, RSS, Goodreads, Twitter or Facebook.
  • Giveaway ends May 10th at midnight, EST.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

SERE* is Not a Blogging Technique

You are quite possibly a luddite if you haven't heard about The Story Siren issue going on. Cuddlebuggery released the news with Smart Bitches spreading it with a post about an accusation of plagiarism on Kristi's part of a few fashion blogs, Beautifully Invisible and Grit and Glamour.

WTF? <-- My initial response. No way. You mean to tell me that Kristi, of The Story Siren, she who lectures on the woes of plagiarism, she who herself has been plagiarized, ripped off someone else's posts? Is it April 1st? So I began reading the posts on the fashion blogs, complete with screen caps, IP address and stats far too sophisticated for me to find on my own blog. But I knew what I was looking at. Then Kristi's initial evasive, half-hearted apology** without it being an apology. WTF?

The more I read the more my heart sank. Kristi's blog was the first I came across in my pre-blogging ventures. I read nearly all of her archives (at the time there wasn't too much). We chatted in her comments. She was the nudge I needed to start book blogging. She was a great support when I was a young blogger and was never anything short of nice to me. I met her at a couple of BEAs and again, absolutely lovely. People have said otherwise but I always disregarded it. That was never my experience.

As the years carried on and my style formed a life of its own and Kristi grew exponentially, a distance grew. I'm not going to lament on it or anything. Life happens. I still sleep at night. So while I wouldn't call her a friend now there was still some level of acquaintanceship there and I always provided her with an obligatory respect. I may not have read her blog regularly anymore but I still kept it in my sidebar and in my RSS reader. She was YA book blogging. Mention book blogging at BEA and her name would be right at the top of the list, if not the first name. You can't ignore that. And I respected it for the work she did to make it what it is; to be, in my opinion, the epitome of YA book blogging. Sure our styles differed greatly but . . . respect.

Until Monday.

This whole issue has affected me in ways that it rightly shouldn't do. Destroyed would be a good word. Don't get me wrong; I didn't put Kristi on a pedestal or anything. But the helping hand she offered to so many people, me included, completely came crashing down. All the work, the posts, the help, a lie. The closer I read into the proof the heavier my heart got.

No, I'm not angry. I couldn't muster up that emotion if I tried. I'm disappointed beyond words and ashamed of the hypocrite Kristi's made of herself. Even before reading the comparisons and setting my thoughts in stone, this was my initial scope of the situation -

  • Kristi went outside of the usual book blogging community to rip posts with the presumed idea of not getting caught. 
  • Kristi was caught, presented with evidence by the accusers and denied the plagiarism occurred.
  • Accusers persisted and Kristi caved, sort of. With neither a confirmation nor a denial she apologized for something that was wrong but may have been unintentional and asked to keep it all private, presumably to preserve her reputation. 
  • The book blogging world exploded and Kristi's reputation shattered. 
  • Kristi issued an evasive "apology," appearing to be more concerned with her standing with publishers and authors than readers and then corrected herself. 
  • Shock ensued as people tried to wrap their heads around their feelings about this. 
  • Kristi issued a second "apology" stating she never denied the original accusation of plagiarism months before. 
  • My opinion solidified.

This wasn't a post I wanted to jump into. I needed to read everything again and let it simmer. It needed to process. And I'm still processing it. I'm still shocked that someone who knows what it's like to be plagiarized actually plagiarized someone. It hurts my heart and makes me so incredibly sad.

And her reaction to it all makes me even sadder. In my personal run-in with plagiarism, in every single case the plagiarist came out publicly and immediately admitted their wrong-doing. I don't really believe in accidental plagiarism in most cases but I'm not above believing things settling in subconsciously, forgetting where they came from and then marveling at your own genius for thinking it up (just not WHOLE posts worth of information). But there are ways to avoid that so let's not alleviate personal responsibility. It's still there. But they admitted it, apologized and it was done.

That's not what Kristi did. It wasn't one post but a pile of posts with eerily similar qualities (in set-up, style, relayed information, timing) to a bunch of other posts not belonging to her. She didn't come out and admit what she did. She denied it and then tried to cover it up. For months. Until she no longer could. Actions speak louder than words and her actions lead me to believe she was sorry she got caught. She was forced into apologizing and didn't do it of her own accord. And that really sucks.

What sucks even more is the pandering at her feet. I am disgusted to the point of nausea at comments in the manner of "Thank you for apologizing! Smile! Now we can move on!" or "You are so brave to apologize!  Stay strong!"  Do you have any idea what this makes the book blogging community, especially the YA community, look like? How many other plagiarists were afforded the same kindness and understanding? BE HONEST!

There was a point, a couple years ago, where I gave a young plagiarist the benefit of the doubt. She was being crucified even after apologizing publicly. She was a kid, I don't even think old enough to drive. I felt bad. So I tried to help her rebuild herself. Stupid me. She went right back to doing it again. It only takes once. Never again.

We as a community are rabid when it comes to plagiarists. They suck. Hard. If you've ever been plagiarized you know how it feels. It fucking blows. So when plagiarism erupts we pounce, lambasting and shunning the plagiarist into nothing. Because that's what they deserve. It's not like you can accidentally cut and paste entire posts onto your blog, with or without tweaks. So they deserve it. And Kristi deserves support and glowing puppy dog eyes because . . .  Are we going to start treating all plagiarists this way?  Are we trying to make plagiarism okay?

Don't get me wrong. Kristi is a different case. She's not some noob or a lesser known blogger that we can easily beat into submission. She's huge, popular, nice, well-connected. Do you know what this says?

WE HATE PLAGIARISTS! THEY'RE EVUL AND DESERVE TO FADE AWAY!!! unless you're big and popular and influential and then we'll just slap you on the wrist, shame people for saying mean things about you, give you squishy bear hugs and carry on with our lives.

Double standard much? For someone that tried to hide the transgression? That preached ethics while blogging a lie? That half-heartedly apologized only when forced to?  So is this the spooge on the blue dress or the undercover cop in the next bathroom stall? Yeah, we all make mistakes but the bigger people own them from the beginning. They don't lie about it, hide it, lie some more and then only when backed into a corner nominally admit to anything.

Kristi's actions have far greater repercussions then just fucking herself. It affects all of us. If the epitome of YA book blogging, the metaphorical leader of our roost, can't even live up to her own ethical standards, what's expected of the rest of us? People already sneer in our general direction. Do you think this helps? Do you think sucking up to a plagiarist just because she is who she is makes us look BETTER? Plagiarism sucks! Most of the time.

We look like assholes, guys. Giant, unwiped assholes. And I really, REALLY don't like having my reputation fucked by association. Not a fan. Which is why I'm distancing myself from Kristi. I'm removing her link from my blog roll and RSS feed and I will no longer connect her to my Added to the Pile posts. I can't in good conscience support or promote a hypocrite and a plagiarist. And I say this with an immensely heavy heart.  It makes me sad to do it but doing otherwise would force me to compromise my integrity. That's not something even on my radar of consideration. I've discussed all of this at length with my fellow lady YAckers. We've hemmed and hawed over it. Looked at it, or tried to, from a bunch of different angles. We ended up pretty much in the same boat and this was my decision as a result. It took evaluating, thinking, conversing, knowledge. I don't feel I'm doing this in haste but after careful thought.

This decision is mine and mine alone. I'm not asking anyone to take any kind of action. Please, for the love of god, don't bully Kristi. I'm sure there's very little anyone else can do to her that she hasn't already don't to herself. Plus you look like a total douche and don't do us any favors. Not to mention it only victimizes her ("oh poor Kristi for getting harassed!"  Srsly?  So it wasn't harassing when it was done to the other, lesser, plagiarists?) when she is the LAST person that can be called a victim here.  I'm just asking you all to think about what it means to rally behind someone that's broken quite possibly the only steadfast law we have amongst book bloggers. What this makes the community look like.

It's not about forgiveness or moving on. It's about sticking to our laurels. A friend can help her through this but a real friend will tell her, "you fucked up, BAD," and will remind her that she now needs to sleep in the bed she made for herself. This is not a place for ego-boosting. She SHOULD feel like a fraud because that's exactly what she's presented herself as.  Instead we've gotten a dividing line of those that think Kristi is exempt from being wrong and those of us that believe plagiarism is plagiarism and should be treated as such regardless of the offender.  It's not like this is just hearsay.  It's not like there isn't any evidence.  And the fashion blogs are the ones getting the hate mail for deigning to smear Kristi's "good" name.  Disgusting.

You don't have to agree with me. Just THINK. This has now gone beyond Kristi and we need to contemplate the greater repercussions of her, and our subsequent, actions. Our reputation as a whole is shit and this certainly isn't helping it. So just think about what it means to rally for someone so obviously guilty of plagiarism because she's not lesser or unknown or too new to matter. Let's not make ourselves hypocrites too.

*Acronym for Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape, military, see link.
**Originally I was going to link to both of her "apology" posts but quite frankly, at the end of the day I don't want to afford her website hits.

Not In My School (1)

Not In My School is a weekly meme hosted by yours truly that throws out one YA lit cliche a week for you to compare to your own high school days, current or past.  For more information go here.

And now for our first cliche!  Drumroll . . .

The clumsy kid, most likely female and usually endearing to the point of fawning over.

Srsly. in my school if you're falling all over yourself you would have been left to fall all over yourself.  A trip is one thing but if you're constantly at risk of slamming into lockers, spilling acid on yourself or getting into more car accidents than you have fingers, PEOPLE WILL AVOID YOU.  Usually because they didn't want to die at your clumsy ass expense.  Or at the very least be maimed.  And there certainly weren't guys falling over these girls to protect them or help them up.  In fact that probably would have been laughing their faces off.

What about you?  What was it like in your school?  Leave your link in the comments!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Feature Debut - Not In My School!

Oh hey!  Lookie here!  I'm starting something new!  What is it?  Other than a feature, you mean?

See, I wanted to freshen up my blog a little bit.  Just a smidge.  So I started fishing around in my brain for things to do and I landed on finding things in the YA books I read that just didn't hold true for me while I was in high school, like the snatchy cheerleader or wanting to be like the popular girls, for instance.  I'm constantly comparing things I see in books to my own high school experiences and I know I can't be the only one.

So I started rummaging around and I didn't find thing like this (if I'm mistaken don't be afraid to say so) so I said, "why the hell not?"  So I gathered up more cliches, wrote myself a nice laundry list, made a pretty little banner and went at it!  Posted on Wednesdays, expect to see just a little more snark from yours truly.

Cliches garnered from Joelle Anthony, Maybe Genius,, Yahoo! Answers, Teens Writing for Teens, Down the Rabbit Hole, Leigh Ann Kopans, Carissa Taylor and my own noggin.


1 - The clumsy kid, usually female and endearing to the point of fawning over

2 - The snatchy cheerleader

3 - The best friend love interest with oblivious consequences

4 - Redheads and their fiery shenanigans

5 - Boys with super long lashes

6 - Contrived slang

7 - The boring, droll plain but new girl that everyone falls all over themselves for

8 - Love triangles

9 - Funky eye color

10 - Dead parents

11 - Super douche love interest

12 - The chosen one

13 - Unsympathetic parents

14 - Proms actually IN the school

15 - The skinny chick that wants to gain weight

16 - Evil step-parents

17 - Magical objects

18 - Weird character names

19 - Writers everywhere

20 - Stalkers

Monday, April 23, 2012

Let me speak to you confidentially . . .

Over at Emily's Reading Room!

Eff yeah, man!  Imagine my surprise when I get an email from Emily asking if I'd like to participate in her feature.  Um, do squirrels hoards nuts?  Hell yeah, I would!  I don't read too many blog features consistently but Emily's Blogger Confidential I do.  Of course I jumped at the chance.  And the questions she asked us are pretty awesome so be sure to bookmark her blog to catch all of our answers in the coming weeks!

Who's us?  Only an epically awesome cast of book blogging characters that I'm so immensely flattered to be grouped in together with.  Srsly, I'm a bit giddy.  Other than myself this round includes -

Chachic from Chachic's Book Nook

Vanessa and Isalys from Book Soulmates

Penelope from Reading Fever

Sash and Em from A Tale of Two Bookies

Rachel from Parajunkee

Katie from Mundie Moms

Sab from YA Bliss

Natalie from Mindful Musings

Srsly.  Epic.  Come read our brains!

Songs of the Earth by Elspeth Cooper

Published February, 2012.

Author website.

The Book of Eador, Abjurations 12:14, is very clear: Suffer ye not the life of a witch. For a thousand years, the Church Knights have obeyed that commandment, sending to the stake anyone who can hear the songs of the earth. There are no exceptions, not even for one of their own. 

 Novice Knight Gair can hear music no one else can, beautiful, terrible music: music with power. In the Holy City, that can mean only one thing: death by fire—until an unlikely intervention gives him a chance to flee the city and escape the flames. 

 With the Church Knights and their witchfinder hot on his heels, Gair hasn’t time to learn how to use the power growing inside him, but if he doesn’t master it, that power will tear him apart. His only hope is the secretive Guardians of the Veil, though centuries of persecution have almost destroyed their Order, and the few Guardians left have troubles of their own.

 For the Veil between worlds is weakening, and behind it, the Hidden Kingdom, ever-hungry for dominion over the daylight realm, is stirring. Though he is far from ready, Gair will find himself fighting for his own life, for everyone within the Order of the Veil, and for the woman he has come to love.  (

I tried.  I really, really did.  I WANTED to like SONGS OF THE EARTH, despite the utter creepfest on the cover.  Fantasy is what I write.  I want to be inspired by the fantasy I read.  And I tried.  I gave it more leeway, read a little further than I would have normally because it's adult fantasy (not sexy times adult, just not YA) and thus carries more fat.  It can take longer to get into the story.  So I was patient.  I waited.  And waited.  And waited.  By the 300 page mark I was done waiting.  I couldn't stand in the rain any longer.  I closed the book for good.

It was just so unbelievably dull I found myself falling asleep more times than not, not to mention kind of grumbling as I picked it up to keep reading.  After my hopes fell I didn't WANT to read it anymore.  But I kept trudging because maybe . . . nope.  And it's written in that standard "this is how fantasy novels should be written" voice that pretty much blends all the characters together and everyone sounds like they stepped out of Oxford in 1562 or something.  The only voice that really stood out to me was Darin's.  A spunky little thing that was blooming with personality.  If only there were more of him.  There wasn't.  I got Gair who's about as fascinating as a stump.

For 300 pages I read about people traveling, complaining about others and nominally conspiring.  Perhaps it was me zoning out while I read but not too much got absorbed.  The "conspiring" I felt was lackluster, not even a proper lady's gasp-worthy.  Gair's plight was so convoluted in stilted text that I just didn't care.  When some magic started appearing I was focusing far more on how much the voice bored me than anything that was going on.  He and one of his teachers transformed into animals together and he and another student got into a sword fight.  That's the extent of it.  There's some talk of the Veil and that thinning and stuff getting through but it's lost in the words.  I barely found it.

The story alternates POVs from Gair to one of the Gatekeepers of the Veil and then to the big nasty at the head of the kingdom that keeps everyone in a religious furor.  And the religion?  Far too Christian to be anything but Christian.  Sure, some words in the prayers were swapped out and the one god was a female but let's not call it something it's not.  It's thinly-veiled Christianity.  Why this book wasn't set during the Inquisition I have no idea.  That would make far more sense than ripping all of those elements and setting in a different "world."  Of which I wasn't thrilled with on the whole.  It had some potential but since its religion was overbearing it tended to overshadow everything else around it.  There were some token villages, horse-riding and the like.  Nothing special, really.

I started reading SONGS OF THE EARTH all super amped.  Yes!  A high fantasy!  I could get inspired!  And then my flower slowly, and then more quickly, started to wilt as I kept reading.  My own fault for getting my hopes up but quite frankly I expect a little more coming from the fantasies I read.  I'm not even harping on the whole Chosen One Syndrome but just written in a way that doesn't cure insomnia.  Who is spreading the vicious lie that fantasies need to be written in such stilted language?  I shall hunt him or her down.

Anyway, some might have more patience for it but in a book of about 450 pages with nothing more going on by page 300, that's the patience of a saint right there.  I commend you.  I couldn't do it.

Ban Factor: High - Bastardization of Christianity with magic.  That is all.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Titanic: The Long Night by Diane Hoh

Published March 27, 2012.

Author website.

Elizabeth Farr never wanted to return to America. During her family’s vacation abroad, she has fallen in love with England, and is despondent when her father refuses to let her stay. Returning to New York means having her debut into society, and that means a swiftly arranged marriage. Elizabeth will never go to college, never learn to be a reporter—as she sees it, her life is over as soon as the Titanic reaches port. Of course, if she’s unlucky, her life will be over far sooner than that. 

 As Elizabeth and her family settle into their first-class cabins, Katie Hanrahan, a young Irish girl with dreams of finding fortune in America, makes her way to a steerage berth. Both girls have plans for the future, but love and death are about to intervene.  (

More kudos to Open Road for continuing to bring back the cheese.  While TITANIC isn't YA horror, the author carries the weight.  But in a good way.  TITANIC: THE LONG NIGHT proved to be a novel that transcended time, most likely because it's already a period piece.  It still read well despite the fact that it is an older title.

The two POVs alternate between Elizabeth, a first class passenger, and Katie, a third class passenger.  Unfortunately for me I just finished watching the Titanic miniseries on ABC and I'm getting plotlines crossed.  Hopefully I can keep them straight.

Elizabeth and Katie never really interact at all during the story except at a distance.  They both notice each other, make flattering comments, and towards the end actually come bodily close when they're trying to get on the boats.  But outside of that, and the grander story arc of the Titanic itself, their stories remain separate.  I had a real worry at the end that Hoh would pull an illogical ending out of it all and make everyone whom we've come across as a reader survive despite the OVERWHELMING odds against that happening.  Thankfully realism won over and while there were a couple of "oh, I'm not too sure that would work out like that" moments, they slipped easily enough into the surrounding story that the didn't seem too fantastical.

Elizabeth was a bit of a brat that wanted to go against all of the wishes of her parents and go to college and not marry the drone they scheduled her to marry and all of that.  And then she ends up meeting a boy on board that really forces her to see the forest for the trees and makes her fight for her right to party live her own life.  No, it wasn't a third class boy but one from first as is a much more plausible storyline.

Katie is going to New York to make a better life for herself and ends up falling in love on the way (also with someone of her own class as, again, classes mixing on the Titanic was, well, pretty nonexistent).  Of course it's to a boy that's more than likely horrible for her because he's a womanizer but I'm sure she'll settle his ways in the brave new world.

Elizabeth wasn't immensely likable within the context of the story but as a modern woman looking back she was only bucking the system, something most teenagers have a tendency of doing, especially when they're not susceptible to brainwashing.  Of course there were suffragettes at the time but I can't help but question just how set in her ways Elizabeth rightly should have been, having been indoctrinated from birth and all of that.  But I'm okay with it.

Katie's much more the free spirit, better able to be so since she doesn't have the confines of money and supposed class pushing down on her.  Or she doesn't have a stick wedged firmly up her bum.  One way or another.  She's basically the embodiment of everything that Elizabeth wants to be.  A nice irony there.  But it works and I found that much more believable than Elizabeth's situation.  Less pressure and all of that.

At the end of the day TITANIC: THE LONG NIGHT was definitely an excellent addition to all things Titanic in this world.  It has far more realistic love stories going on and Hoh did an amazing job of painting a picture of the shattering worlds of these passengers as the ship was sinking.  It was hard not to tear up reading it.  When it comes to the Titanic it's hard to think up something original to keep a well-known story fresh but Hoh's writing kept it all alive.  Love stories galore but the writing was killer.  I couldn't have asked for more.

Ban Factor: Low - No swearing, no sex, nothing really unsavory.  It's set in 1912 after all.  If the banners have something to complain about with this one then they're really running out of ideas.

Things I've Learned from Books + 148

Oh hey, look!  My feature finally has a banner thingy!  What's it been, three years?  Yeah, that's fine.  It's what's being done NOW that counts.

If you come across a dude that's so far into self preservation that he sleeps in Tupperware, perhaps it's time to toss him off the boat you've been exiled to instead of pining after him.  Obviously his super awesomeness surpasses his need for you.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

And the winner is . . .

The winner of a finished copy of BLACK DAWN by Rachel Caine is . . .

Donna S!!!

Congratulations!  I've already sent you an email so be sure to get back to me ASAP!  And a huge thanks to everyone who entered!

Guess What the Latest Kids' Gift Is?

Soldier Boy is pre-emptively buying archery equipment so he can start bow hunting in the desert when we move.  It's something he's wanted to do for a while (bow hunting, not necessarily in a desert climate) and he has the opportunity to get discounted gear now so he's taking it.  I'm simply biding my time.  I've always (at least since high school) wanted to learn to shoot with a bow and arrow but I'm more of a marksman type of person. We've already had the discussion.  I'll be staying home while he goes to kill us dinner.  Unless the apocalypse happens.  But that's a different story.

Anyway he dropped his newly acquired bow off yesterday to have it put together and he was talking to the guy doing it and the guy was telling him about the NEW MUST HAVE THING for kids lately.  He sold, like, a billion of them like he's never done before.  Can you guess what it is?

Yup.  A recurve bow.  As opposed to one of these guys, that Soldier Boy purchased, that you can scope out and redistributes weight for prolonged pull back and is obviously all sorts of modern and fancy.

Why are kids wetting themselves over recurve bows?

Oh yeah.  THE HUNGER GAMES.  They want to shoot like Katniss!  And this is boys and girls.  Soldier Boy was saying a 15 year old boy was in there trying out a bow while he was there (a little unsuccessfully since the draw weight was a smidge too much for the kid).  But the sales guy has made a direct correlation of an increase in recurve bow sales for children thanks to the likes of THE HUNGER GAMES.

I think that's pretty neat!  Gets them outside, teaches them a lesson in patience and should the zombie apocalypse happen we'll have a whole generation of Daryls ready, willing and able to bring the smackdown on the undead masses.

You can fire a recurve bow, you can aim a crossbow.

I'm sure some people would be all like, "OMG that's so dangerous!  Will someone think of the children!"  And I'd be all like, you're dumb.  And you probably don't let your own children handle dinner knives for the sake of their safety.  Personally I'd rather have a kid that's willing to breath fresh air and learn something that's rightly an art than sucking Cheetos in front of a video game for 12 hour clips.  Can kids shoot each other with arrows?  Of course.  But have you SEEN YouTube?  Kids don't need anything anywhere near as sophisticated as a bow and arrow to pwn themselves.

80s Awesomeness! ~ 156


Yup.  It's slang.  Stands for those of the dork/geek/spaz variety that inevitably do something stupid.  I'm pretty sure I've heard that word before in describing something hedonistic.  These two definitions seem rather contradictory since your standard dork probably doesn't do sexy time things in spades.  A narbo in Narbo!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Freaky Friday :|: 156

Title: Help Wanted
Author: Richie Tankersley Cusick
Published: 1996
Publisher: Scholastic Point
Pages: 224
Cusick's latest thriller brings to life what every teenager both wants and dreads--the part-time job. When Robin Bailey takes a job as a tutor for Mr. Swanson's shy daughter, the unreasonable demands soon begin to outweigh the compensation. Eventually Robin's job becomes her worst nightmare.  (

Oh look!  Freaky Friday finally has it's own banner!  It's only been 3 years!  Woohoo!

Anyway, sounds like a job I would quit.  Because it's so much easier to attempt to sate your boss's murderous rampages than just walking away.  Obviously.

Last Call for Booksahol!

This is it!  Tonight's the last night to enter to win a nice, pretty finished copy of BLACK DAWN by Rachel Caine!  So get those entries in by midnight, EST, for your chance to snag it.  You don't want to miss it!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Accomplice by Eireann Corrigan

Published August 1, 2010.

They've gotten good grades - but that's not good enough. They've spent hours on community service - but that's not good enough. Finn and Chloe's advisor says that colleges have enough kids with good grades and perfect attendance, so Chloe decides they'll have to attract attention another way. She and Finn will stage Chloe's disappearance, and then, when CNN is on their doorstep and the nation is riveted, Finn will find and save her. It seems like the perfect plan - until things start to go wrong. Very wrong. (

Have you ever read a book and while reading it your perception of yourself dissolves into something horrifying? Like you're reading completely awful, irredeemable characters who are unabashedly okay with what their doing that that shame and guilt has nowhere else to go but into you and thus you feel nothing but shame and guilt on these characters behalf because what they're doing is so unbelievably terrible that SOMEONE has to feel bad about it? No? Okay so I felt like a completely awful person for reading ACCOMPLICE, as if it were real and I had the power to stop these two atrocious bitches from carrying on their lie and harming everyone around them but I, too, did nothing and watched it play out in wide-eyed train-wreck horror.

These two girls were sociopaths. Irredeemable, soulless, selfish, atrocious human beings for pulling off a stunt like this. And when it started to head south instead of coming clean and sacrificing themselves because, you know, it was the RIGHT thing to do, they let it all play out at the expense of innocent people, the American public, tax payer money and a good college. Holy crap. Did I mention I felt like a completely worthless human being reading this?

Reading Finn's point of view was disgusting. She kept saying, at points, that she felt bad and this was WRONG and they should turn themselves in but that was interspersed between getting the right camera angle for her face, what outfit to wear on national TV and just what the perfect level of tear face was. Needless to say I had a hard time believing anything Finn said about feeling guilty because her actions spoke far louder than any of her words did.

Chloe was just completely and soullessly insane by the end of it. It's not in her POV but you still get to see her crazy in full on spotlights and you still get to see what a manipulative, egomaniacal bitch she really is and just how much of a lapdog Finn is. I would say blame the parents but I wouldn't know what to blame them for. Not chaining them to the radiator? I have no idea. This was one of those horrible teen decisions that completely raped all other teen decisions by about 30 years in jail. If these were my kids I honestly have no idea how I would react. I certainly wouldn't protect them but I don't know if I'd beat the everloving fuck out of the before they went to jail first or not. And Protective Services would probably let me do it because this is just one of those thing that, well, deserve it.

I only kept reading because I wanted to see how it ended. I wanted to see if these two soulless creatures got their comeuppance. I don't want to spoil so I'll say it was too little, too late. It's only when one gets left in the dust while the other goes off and succeeds and only after the dust bunny sees the aftereffects of the horror they caused does she realize "this is kinda shitty." So like the last sentence redeemed itself but it was like "it took you that long to do it?" Disappointed.

Not to mention I don't find it at all plausible that something like this could actually be pulled off successfully without anyone being any the wiser. There were far too many holes in the girls' logic, too much evidence and too much looking in the other direction to service the plot.

So what do we have? Two heartless bitches decide to pull an epic stunt in order to get into college to the detriment of hundreds of people except them who really don't eat their just desserts in the end although it's insinuated that they do. Finn's actions and thoughts completely contradict each other and Chloe is the obvious benefactor in this equation because she's pretty. Everyone knows you can't be kinda plain and be successful at something like this. As we're so reminded by Finn every other effing page. Yeah, sorry. I don't really have much good going for ACCOMPLICE. The idea was good but the execution was rather horrifying. In a story like this I think it really helps, especially if you have inherently unlikeable characters, to have them get it in the end. And I mean really get it. Because when they don't? It really sucks. There's no validation, no closure, nothing. And that's a killer.

So, um, read it for the crazy chicks. Just be prepared to be the sponge for all the shame and guilt they DON'T feel. It was horrible.

Ban Factor: High - Two miscreants thumbing their noses at the law for the sake of a college essay. Teenagers unhinged? For shame!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Why Requiring a Follow Doesn't Make Me Satan

Look, when I first started this whole book blogging thing I was right there with you. How much more shameless of an act can you get than requiring people to follow you in order to enter your giveaways? Seriously? Number whores! Fakers! SHENANIGANS! I call upon you SHENANIGANS!

Take a look at my follower number. See that? I fell onto the number whore street corner and offered it my leg. A good chunk of that number was from me requiring people to follow my blog when I was giving away an ARC of Cassandra Clare's CLOCKWORK ANGEL before it was released. My numbers totally blew the EFF up. And you know what? It boosted my ego. That was the only time I turned into a shameless shiller. Everyone got what they wanted although I kinda needed to shower afterwards.

I was never big on the additional entries hoops some bloggers made entrants jump through (post here, follow there, comment on this, walk my dog . . .) or requiring anything. All you had to do was comment; if you happened to follow I'd give you an extra entry but that's it. If you didn't follow, no sweat off my back. But the bigger my giveaways got (Summer Blast Giveaway, my Halloween giveaways, etc.) I would get a little grumbly that someone whom I'd never seen before, either following or commenting, was snagging the stuff I was giving away and then I'd never see them again.

How can I prove it? Really I can't. It's more of a gut feeling. The more giveaways you have the more you come to recognize the names on your list and just who's hanging around after the giveaway's gone. I have no viable proof but I know there are people who are drive-by giveaway entrants and when they won something it really rankled me. Of course I'd give it up. I'm not an asshole (most of the time) but I'd be grinding my teeth doing it. And I kept doing it because if I required a follow then I really was an asshole that was just in it for the numbers and I certainly didn't want that.

It was Jen at Reading with Tequila that made me look at it from a completely different perspective. It was because of her that I realized requiring a follow of some kind doesn't mean you're the epitome of blogging douchery and should be shunned onto a bed of spikes. It can mean that you don't want to give your shit away to just anyone.

So I'm wandering around people's posts this past Tuesday with the tips for book bloggers Top Ten as this week's theme and I'm seeing a lot of good stuff but at the same time I'm also seeing shunning in the name of requiring a follow and it stings a little because it's something I do. And I don't do it for the numbers simply because, for the most part, I don't give a shit about my numbers. Even as I sit here and require followers for my giveaways, my numbers increase organically. I don't get large dumps of sign-ons when I post giveaways. They creep up, creep down and sometimes just kind of hang out. Like everyone else's.

I just want to say that requiring someone follow you on your blog in order to enter your giveaways isn't the end of the world. It's not even halfway there. I ended up doing it (and giving people a variety of ways to follow) simply because I wanted to delude myself into thinking that I'm giving stuff away to people that actually use my blog and aren't just using me for the free shit.

An argument: but what if you're not the one supplying the giveaway? What right do you have saying who can enter and who can't? Um . . . my blog? For which I put into my own time, unpaid? For which I dress it up nicely with my own money? For which I give it its own URL, paid for with my own money? Because I fucking can? It is by the very act of my good graces that publishers and authors have access to my blog to use as a conduit for promoting their wares. If they don't like the way I function there are a shit-ton of other blogs out there they can use that I'm sure would be more than willing. Have at it. It's all in my policy. It's how I'm conducted my blog from the very beginning. If I am hosting a giveaway of an author or publisher, I don't forfeit my blog to them and let them dictate terms on who can enter or not (unless it comes to country restrictions, which is absolutely reasonable). It's still my blog, regardless of whether the giveaway comes from me or from someone else. I don't want my blog being a passing stop for anything I give away, or I allow to be given away in my space.

It's a synergistic relationship. With access to publishers and authors I can gain a greater audience with better giveaways which opens the publishers and authors up to a greater number of people. So, well, wouldn't it be better for everyone involved if there was a regular readership to said blog that would be better able to get the word out than a cluster of passers-by that may or may not care? Repeat customers are where the business is, people.

So considering everything I do for this blog, for the authors, for the publishers, for the books, for other bloggers even, am I really asking that much for people to follow my blog for a chance to win something I give away? Is that really so much to ask? For the daydream notion that the bookly good stuff I give away ends up in the hands of repeat readers of my site, someone that actually enjoys something other than what I'm giving away instead of someone that blog hops for the free shit and nothing else. Really?

This is why I do it. I may not care about the numbers but I do care about content and I'd like to think people are into me for more than just what I can give away. I don't think that's a lot. I don't ask for anything doing this. I don't host advertisements because I refuse to relinquish control of what gets advertised on my blog. I don't ask for donations because, quite frankly, I think that's tacky. I volunteered for this and I knew going in what it would cost. Why would I put my hand out for it? I don't participate in any kind of incentive program (aside from the fact that Amazon yanked their program out of Connecticut due to a tax issue, you're a douche, Malloy). I just want some reassurance that people are actually reading the shit I spit out. That's all. So call me an asshole for doing it. But I'm pretty sure there are a lot worse things I could be doing as a book blogger than requiring a follow for my giveaways.

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