Thursday, June 30, 2011

30 Days of South Beach: Week 4

The final week. The final day. Where I say goodbye to eggs for breakfast for a while. Don't get me wrong. I love eggs. But every day for 30 days? That's a little much even for me. I have two boxes of cereal on standby right now. I just need milk.

Well, I have no idea how much weight I actually lost. If I had to guess, a good ten pounds, maybe. You can't lose as many inches as I did and only lose a pound or two. But I honestly have no idea as I don't own a scale. And I'd like to keep it that way. But I'll share my inches with you.

What I started at -

31", 30", 40.5"
arms - 11"
thighs - 22"

My ending measurements as of tonight -

29", 28.5", 39"
arms - 10"
thighs - 20.5"

Grand total number of inches lost: 7.5 in 30 days. Not bad.

Weight is always a struggle for me. Once I'm down to a comfortable realm, it's not hard for me to maintain weight. I just need to watch what I eat. Eating out all the time is a no go, and it's not just fast food, which I don't really eat. Any eating out will really do it. And the sweets. Good lord, do I love my sweets. Sugar free candy makes a good substitute but a treat every once in a while is okay. So long as it stays every once in a while. Carbs are a killer for me. I love bread and pasta. But I'll stick to whole grains. I prefer that kind of bread anyway.

Overall, I feel better. I'm more confident. My clothes fit a little better (albeit some are still a bit snug but I'm doing some toning exercises that'll hopefully help with that). I'm happy with what I've shed. Could I lose a little more? Probably. But I'll never be a stick. I just don't have that body. I just don't feel like a cow anymore. Always a plus.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have a bag of coconut M&Ms waiting for me in my freezer. My gift to myself after a month of dieting.

Blog Tour: Haunting Violet by Alyxandra Harvey + Giveaway!

Published June 21, 2011.

Violet Willoughby has participated in one too many fake seances to believe in the supernatural - especially after watching her mother fool widows and wealthy old men into handing over their fortunes. But she is forced to reconsider her jaded views when her mother is invited to conduct seances at the country estate of prominent Spiritualist Lord Jasper. There Violet encounters a frightening vision she can't ignore - the ghost of a girl her own age, seeking justice from beyond.

Thrust into the center of an unsolved murder amidst the highest echelon of Victorian society, Violet must discover the mystery behind this girl's violent death, before her twin sister suffers the same fate. The only person Violet can trust with her new secret is her mother's assistant Colin, the boy she's grown to love but can never be with because of the rigid rules enforced by the world Violet and her mother have swindled their way into. Can Violet find a way to accept her new talent and prevent another murder without risking her own chances for a future with the one she loves? (book back blurb)

I find the Spiritualist movement absolutely fascinating simply because so many people were hoodwinked so rampantly, and publicly, for so many years and it took a decent amount of time for them to catch on. This higher level of society, too hoity toity for their own good, bamboozled into thinking that women with wooden planks bound to their knees were their dead relatives come back to contact them. So smart they were.

What I loved most about HAUNTING VIOLET was that it didn't take itself too seriously, just like Violet didn't take herself too seriously. Here she was, having grown up in a world of trickery and lies, and she was nominally undaunted by it. She didn't get suckered into the life like her mother did. She held her own ground and kept being her own person. The book overall was a behind-the-scenes look at the lives of "street people" working their way into the first class cabins, the games they played and how duped they made the people above them who thought they were just that, above it all.

Violet is a strong, well-intentioned character that doesn't take any shit, not from ghosts or Colin or her "better off" suitor. Her mother she puts up with a little more but, well, I can relate with her there. The breaking point comes a little later when it comes to the parental figures. But she does reach it, just not in the way you might think. Or someone as strong as Violet, you'd think her set on one path but she really ends up wandering down another. It's shocking and at the same time relatively expected, but she doesn't curl in on herself. Violet stands tall, regardless of what she faces.

The main plot, Violet solving the murder mystery of the ghost's death, is compelling and at times frightening. The ghost shows up at the most inopportune times and does things to Violet that not only frighten her but aggravate her as well. It doesn't take Violet long to desensitize to the ghost and start throwing the sass right back. How else is she supposed to solve the murder when the victim won't even cooperate?

Violet just has so much sass and spice about her, it's hard not to like her. Not that I went in going "I'm not going to like Violet." She's just such a dynamic, resilient character that you can't help but root for her. Even when it comes to Colin, things aren't simple with her and she lets it be known that she's pulled in multiple directions about it. Subtlety isn't really her thing, as evidenced a few times throughout the book. And while she gets embarrassed at first, she gets over it. Quickly. You can't help but love someone that springs back to their feet as often as Violet does.

The voice is fantastic. The second I started reading HAUNTING VIOLET the voice had me. It has just enough pomp about it to showcase the Victorian times but it's not so convoluted that that's all it becomes. It sounds just like what a "lower class" person pretending to be an upperclass one would sound like. It's compelling and riveting and it had me turning the pages. Seriously, I zoomed through this one in about a day. I didn't want to put it down.

Harvey's ability to capture the time yet keeping it relevant and interesting is great. Not only are you sucked into the plot of trying to find this killer hiding in plain sight but you're immersed in this beautiful world that's nothing but lies. You can't help but feel guilty for Violet and want to hit her mother with a stage coach (did they have stage coaches in England or just carriages?). Violet's mother is the type of pseudo-villain that you just love to hate. She's such a rich character that her nastiness just oozes off of her and you try to keep away lest you get some on you but you stay close enough so that you can get all her dirt.

Overall, HAUNTING VIOLET is a fantastic historical fiction steeped in accuracies and riddled with compelling characters that'll drive you through straight until the end. You'll get sucked in in no time and as you read, you'll find yourself trying to work out who dunnit, competing with Violet to see who can come to the right conclusion first. You don't want to miss this one.

Giveaway time!!!

Want to win my ARC of HAUNTING VIOLET? Then just 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.
  • Giveaway ends July 14th at midnight, EST.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Pottermore is . . .

Well, on July 23rd, JK Rowling made her big announcement regarding the release of Pottermore. Check it out below -

I'll admit, the sap that I am, I teared up a little. I'm not sure why. It could have very well been PMS.

What Pottermore apparently is is the official Harry Potter website; a compendium of information that puts the likes of the HP Lexicon to shame (probably one of the major reasons Rowling fought so hard to keep the encyclopedia from being released, among other copyright issues). It'll be an interactive site that allows users to be sorted into houses, assigned wands and relive the story through a new digital medium. It'll contain extra information that, until now, Rowling has only ever kept in her head and the HP books will be available for the first time in a digital format.

That last part is leaving people in a tizzy because, on a technical level, Rowling is self-publishing the HP books digitally. And she kind of is and it's making all of those self-published people go insane because it's a "new" movement in the publishing world. Nevermind Rowling is an anomoly and her publishing houses are still getting cuts of the sales. She's not doing it alone but she is doing it under her name, from my understanding.

Anyway, the release was kind of anti-climatic for me. I was expecting something a little more than just a website. Still, that didn't stop me from trying (for an hour) to get my email address into their database (I finally did at the end of the hour and after multiple attempts). I'm interested in seeing just what Pottermore is all about and I'm looking forward to the extra information that's been kept secret until now.

A bonus is the early access that 1 million lucky users will be granted prior to the October release. I'm just not sure how they're going about choosing those users. I've read that it was the first million to sign up, I've read it'll be a million at random and I've read that you have to register on the 31st and a million of those registrants will get chosen. I'm not really sure but I'll be keeping an eye on my email on July 31st, watching for an owl.

Based on some of the images that have already been released, the site looks promising. Check out the Press Room to see more. What do you think of Pottermore?

Monday, June 27, 2011

The Map of Time by Felix J. Palma

Pub date July 28, 2011.

Set in Victorian London with characters real and imagined, The Map of Time is a page-turner that boasts a triple play of intertwined plots in which a skeptical H. G. Wells is called upon to investigate purported incidents of time travel and to save lives and literary classics, including Dracula and The Time Machine, from being wiped from existence. (

DNF for only one reason: I couldn't keep dealing with the meandering plot. Everything else was fantastic. The writing was great, a beautiful translation (I've read some limp translations in my time). The voice sucked me right in as engaging and I couldn't wait to keep reading. The premise itself had me hooked and I wanted to know where it all went and ultimately ended up.

But damn it all if I had to deal with another multi-chapter aside that served as filler while the characters traveled or thought or did whatever else it was they did. It was like someone constantly using filler words instead of employing the age-old failsafe, silence. I felt jerked around by the plot. Just as I was settling into the story, I was bucked right out of it and into someone else's but it wouldn't last long enough for me to acclimate; just long enough for me to lose my footing and have to get hold of it all over again.

I'm hoping, in the future, when my TBR pile isn't capable of growing teeth and eating me alive, that I'll be able to come back to this one, settle in and really finish it. It's a long one: coming in at over 600 pages so it will take some time. Unfortunately I don't have the patience to wade through it right now and deal with all of those lurches in the plot.

I loved everything about it. From what I read, the story was fantastic and compelling and the voice induced some writer envy in me. But the timing just wasn't right. Hopefully soon it will be.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Summer Blast Giveaway #3!

It's time for giveaway #3 in my Summer Blast! So what am I giving away this week?

One winner will receive a finished copy of WRITE (OR IS THAT "RIGHT"?) EVERY TIME : COOL WAYS TO IMPROVE YOUR ENGLISH by Lottie Stride! Whether you're looking to improve your own grammar or get some writing skills down, you'll want a copy of this. For your chance, just fill out the form below. Good luck!
  • Open to US residents 13 years of age and older only.
  • One entry per person per email address.
  • Duplicate entries will be deleted.
  • Giveaway ends July 2nd at midnight, EST.

And the winners are . . .

The winners of the audiobooks up for grabs in the Summer Blast Giveaway #2 are . . .


Congratulations! The emails have already gone out. And a big thanks to everyone who entered! If you didn't win this time, never fear. The third giveaway in my Summer Blast will be up soon. Keep your eyes peeled!

Added to the Pile + 82

Got a short stack made big because most of the books are hardcover -

Things I've Learned from Books + 107

Apparently this is what makes a good plot line. A line that runs from A to Z but with so much shit thrown into the middle that the reader will probably lose sight of the overall plot pretty quickly. The little bitty plot blips surely aren't enough. Some major monsters need to be thrown in because the characters just can't have lulls. That space needs to be filled with stuff. Lots and lots of stuff.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Contest Reminder!

Giveaway #2 for my Summer Blast ends tonight at midnight! Don't forget to get your entries in by then! You don't want to miss out on some awesome audiobooks. But if you do miss it, never fear. Giveaway #3 will be posted tomorrow! Stay tuned!

Free Audiobook Downloads from SYNC!

By a complete serendipitous twist of fate, while I'm giving away a bunch of audio books this week, June 23rd kicks off SYNCH YA Literature into Your Earphones' YA and classic free audiobook downloads! Each week until August 17th, SYNC will make available one current YA read and a classic or summer reading book for free download. These freebies will only be available for their single allotted week so be sure to grab them!

To start off the downloads, this week's featured titles are :

SHIVER by Maggie Stiefvater
ROMEO & JULIET by William Shakespeare

A perfect chance to download SHIVER and then participate in April's Shiver Summer! The rest of the schedule is as follows -

6/30 - 7/6
LITTLE BROTHER by Cory Doctorow
THE TRIAL by Franz Kafka

7/7 - 7/13

7/14 - 7/20
BEOWULF by Frances B. Gummere

7/21 - 7/27
CHANDA'S SECRETS by Allan Straton

7/28 - 8/3
ASHES, ASHES by Jo Treggiari

8/4 - 8/10
IMMORTAL by Gillian Shields

8/11 - 8/17
STORM RUNNERS by Roland Smith
THE CAY by Theodore Taylor

So mark your calendars and get ready to download!

80s Awesomeness! ~ 116

It was all about the New Coke in the 80s. For about 30 seconds until people started to actually taste it. New Coke failed. Hard. But Coca-Cola tried. They did.

What was New Coke? Just a reworked formula for the original coke. It was the 80s. They wanted to spice things up. They used too much paprika. Less than a year later they re-released the original formula so they didn't tank too much money.

It's sadly ironic.

Freaky Friday :|: 116

Title: Nightmare Hall: The Experiment
Author: Diane Hoh
Published: February 1994
Publisher: Scholastic (Point)
Pages: 160

Caryl Amberly is thrilled when she is selected to participate in Professor Maximillian Delure's new seminar until she learns of his reputation as a scientist, poet--and killer. (

That's a pretty interesting way of spelling Carol. Other than that, it's a pretty weird premise for a story. Well, I guess not weird but it can go so many ways that it's hard to really get a grasp on it. It could be good. But it might not be.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Last Vampire 2: Black Blood by Christopher Pike

Published November 1994.

Alisa and her partner, Ray, thought that they were the last vampires. Suddenly, however, in one area of the United States, there is a series of brutal murders that can only be the work of other vampires. Who created these creatures? How can they be stopped? (book back blurb)

Another fantastic book where Pike doesn't pull any punches.

Sure, Alisa has Ray, but they aren't alone in the world anymore and this creep creating vampires at will has world domination on his mind. Trust Alisa to point out to him how a world of vampires would ultimately fail. One of the reasons why I love her: her logic. You can't beat that.

Pike is absolutely ruthless with his characters and drives it home with Alisa. I don't want to spoil but I will say that she gets her heart ripped open in a few different ways. It's sad to read because you want something good for her but it's constantly down one alley of horrors after another. Still, it makes for an exciting read.

Pike doesn't spare details when it comes to gore and maiming his characters so when you set out to read BLACK BLOOD, make sure you're not really squeamish. But again, I think it makes it all the more real and even horrifying. It makes Alisa feel real. All of the loss and gain stands out more on the pages because she truly has to fight for it. Nothing comes easy for her.

The books, though, BLACK BLOOD included, ends with a spattering of hope which I think ropes you in for the next one. I'm anxious to read it. I want to know what sludge Pike is going to drag his characters through next.

While not really YA (Alisa is 5,000 years old and definitely doesn't have a YA voice, even for the 90s), the appeal is still there. It's vampires and love ripped through the shredder. I'm not surprised that it was marketed to the YA audience. If you like REAL vampires with horror and blood and loss, you'll love these books. Just don't forget the hope. There's still hope.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Calling Lena!

Hello, Lena!!! I'm still waiting to hear back from you about your Summer Blast prize! I don't want you to lose it but if I don't hear back from you within the next 48 hours I'll be forced to choose a new winner! Email me! Don't miss out!

30 Days of South Beach: Week 3

Well, I started incorporating small cheats into the diet so I'd thwart the Starvin' Marvin look I would inevitably go for and the weight loss has dropped off, but it's still going at a not-so-alarmingly quick rate.

This week I only lost an inch and a quarter, bringing the total to 6 inches lost in these three weeks. Only one and a half of those inches have been on my hips. Mother's ass!

My hips are the bane of my existence. Ever since I hit puberty I've been hippy with a bit of a bubble butt and nothing to balance it out on top. I am well proportioned if I wear the proper clothes (ie: no skinny jeans, I'm not a fan of looking like an upside down bowling pin) but it has chapped my ass from the beginning that I need to buy a size up for pants just to get them over my hips. And the thing is, I'm not all that fatty in that area. Not really. Realistically speaking I could probably only lose another inch or so before I start hitting bone and would need to lose butt. And that's never happened in the history of my ass's existence.

So here I am, a size 8, with 4 inches of space when I hold out my pants (legit like that chick in the picture) against my waist. That's a pain, especially when a lot of the clothes I buy are tailored for narrower women. That's why I love Pin Up Girl Clothing so much. They're vintage clothes made for women with figures so while I may not be able to fill out the tops too well (I don't buy tops from them for that reason), their bottoms fit fantastic and they look effing good. The styles are just made for chicks with hips. How could I go wrong?

Still, it's annoying to go out and buy jeans. Exercising does quite literally nothing. Last year I exercised for 8 months and while I toned my legs nicely, my hips stayed nice and pear-shaped. Urg.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

It's All About the Bitches 'N Hoes, Yo

Or . . . why I need to read more (or any) Tamora Pierce.

After reading this interview with Tamora Pierce I added a shit-ton of her books to my list I got thinking about feminism in today's YA and whether or not we really have enough strong female characters to go around. In that article she talks about a variety of other things, from birth control to TWILIGHT to families but the underlying tone is about women as heroines and the inequality they face in the reading world, even now.

I could probably point out ten female characters that I think are weak little ninnies and someone else could turn around and point out qualities in them that are anything but weak. In the same vein, what I would consider a strong female character could prove ingratiating or repugnant for someone else. The question is, what makes a female character strong?

Does giving birth to a vampire monster that eats its way through her uterus make her strong? Does kicking ass from one side of an arena to another make her strong? Does escaping an abusive relationship make her strong? But what about the external elements that seem to
counteract that strength? The bipolar boyfriend that pushes and pulls at her yet she sticks around. The love interest that weakens her heart and nearly costs her her life. Her inability to see the problem from the beginning. How many dimensions of a character must we evaluate to determine whether a female character is strong enough?

Irrespective of societal gender conditioning and other intensive psychological meanderings, is strength something that can be staunchly defined or, like scents, does it vary based on the person witnessing it? Personally I like my female characters strong but realistic. They can tell it like it is but they cave to basic human frailties like everyone else. But where I see strength, others can see weakness (Lena from DELIRIUM) and equally the same with the adverse (Bella from TWILIGHT).

The woman that stays in a loveless, mildly verbally abusive relationship in order to maintain order for her children, is she weak because she stays or strong because she holds her head high and flings the crap right back?

The woman that can nail anyone's ass to a wall, is she strong because she can defend herself or weak because she won't let anyone get close enough to really see her?

The woman that rules as a content queen next to a content king, is she weak for staying by her husband's side to maintain the status quo for the good of the kingdom or strong because she overthrows him because her ideas might be better?

Is there a right way and a wrong way to interpret strength? Is it possible for everyone to see the the same woman as strong and another woman as weak or will the crowd split?

I think when we try to faction out feminism, it gets rather convoluted. I don't consider myself a feminist of the bra-burning type but I'm willing to stand up for myself when I need to. Am I weak because I'm not out there picketing for equal salary on a daily basis? Or am I strong because I go to my bosses and demand more money for myself? And get it? I'd consider myself strong with faults, mainly because I'm human. It happens. But I think we need to evaluate a much broader picture when it comes to evaluating a female character's strength. I'm not exempt. I've definitely been guilty of going the black or white route when it comes to pegging a female character as strong or weak.

The reality is even in weak characters there's strength and even in strong characters there's weakness. So is it fair to call Bella weak? Sure she exhibits some great weaknesses but I'd be lying if I said she didn't exhibit any strength at all. I'd be lying again if I said Katniss from THE HUNGER GAMES was nothing but pure strength. But isn't that what makes them human and relatable? Their ability to be both strong and weak? So why are we so eager to shove them into one box or another?

What do you think? Can strength be finitely defined or can its definition depend on the person? Do you think we need more strong female characters in YA or are there plenty out there, we just need to take our blinders off? Why do you think it looks like we're unwilling to accept a weaker definition of strength for female characters, that it's an all or nothing deal?

Monday, June 20, 2011

Fat Vampire by Adam Rex + Giveaway!

Published August 1, 2010.

Doug Lee is undead quite by accident - attacked by a desperate vampire, he finds himself cursed with being fat and fifteen forever. When he has no luck finding some goth chick with a vampire fetish, he resorts to sucking the blood of cows under cover of the night. But it's just not the same.

Then he meets the new Indian exchange student and falls for her - hard. Yeah, he wants to bite her, but he also wants to prove himself to her. But like the laws of life, love, and high school, the laws of vampire existence are complicated - it's not as easy as studying Dracula. Especially when the star of Vampire Hunters is hot on his trail in an attempt to boost ratings . . . (book back blurb)

Absolutely fantastic. There is just no other way to say it. FAT VAMPIRE spoofs the hell out of everything that is vampire nowadays but maintains this underlying tone of seriousness that really hits home. Underneath it all it's about a kid fitting in in life. How many kids now are all vampire obsessed and want to turn into a vampire? Well Adam Rex takes that notion and slaps reality home like a puck into a net. If you're a meatball-looking geek in life, then guess what? You're going to be a meatball-looking geek in undeath. Except your lack of eating won't get you to lose any weight. Sorry.

It throws everything that pop culture has made of vampires right back in its face. Yeah, it sucks to have to go to school when you're a vampire because of that slight light sensitivity you have. The remedy? A poncho. Constantly. As if you weren't made fun of enough. And even as a vampire you can't get chicks to get with you because you're a bit of a creep factor. You take the je ne sais quoi that vampires are supposed to have and give it a holy water bath because that vampire blood didn't eradicate your inner comic book-loving goof.

The best part? The homage to The Lost Boys. Oh yeah, it's in there. And it's not very subtle if you're a fan of the movie. But it's awesome all the same.

There wasn't a character in FAT VAMPIRE that I didn't like. I thought Doug was an insanely complex character that even from the beginning wasn't your standard geek because he's never not a vampire in the book. So while he wants to geek out at Comic-Con, he needs to raid the local blood mobile in order to do it. And you can see him change; slip into his vampire skin a little better. And people notice it too, but it's not necessarily in a good way. And he has a hard time with this and it shows. Doug's just such a dynamic character; I really couldn't get enough of him.

Sejal was pretty cool too. There was really no bowing to American pressures at all and she really stood her ground when it came to Doug. She told him how it was without any pretenses and didn't back down. She's super girl for doing that, I think. But in the end she was there for him exactly how he needed her to be, which is different from how he wanted her to be. Read it and you'll see what I'm talking about.

The ending? Amazing. At first it starts off kind of quirky and goofy and then it just slams you with seriousness that leaves you going awww in a sad sort of way. It doesn't cut any corners, it doesn't sugar-coat anything. It ends exactly how the story should end and I love it all the more for it.

Again, absolutely fantastic. It's a satire without really being a satire but maintains it's seriousness about itself without taking itself too serious. It's funny (Doug is called Assferatu, win), it's witty and it puts vampires right back in the grave where they belong. Read it. You'll love it.

Giveaway Time!!!

Want to win my ARC? Then just fill out the form below for your chance.
  • Open to US residents 13 years of age and older only.
  • One entry per person per email address.
  • Duplicate entries will be deleted.
  • Giveaway ends July 4th at midnight, EST.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Summer Blast Giveaway #2!

It's a serendipitous coincidence that June is audiobook month because for the second giveaway in my Summer Blast I'm giving away audiobooks! Look and see!

BEASTLY by Alex Flinn

There will be five winners of this giveaway! Just 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 June 25th at midnight, EST.

And the winners are . . .

The winners of the first giveaway in my Summer Blast, for a slew of BEA swag packs, are (in place order) -


A super big congratulations to everyone! The emails have already gone out so be sure to check (including your spam filter! blasted thing). And a huge thanks to everyone who entered! If you didn't find yourself a winner this time, never fear. The second giveaway in my Summer Blast will go live soon. Keep your eyes open!

Things I've Learned from Books + 106

Even as a vampire with a lard ass, with the right je ne sais quoi, you can get the bitches.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Contest Reminder!

The first contest of my Summer Blast Giveaway ends tonight at midnight, EST! Don't forget to get your entries in by then! But if you do happen to miss it, giveaway number 2 will start tomorrow. Keep your eyes open!

80s Awesomeness! ~ 115

I'm not sure what their purpose was or even how the game was played, but I definitely played it. They were cute, not all that cuddly and pretty much useless once you got them put together but you just HAD to have them. Why, we may never know.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Freaky Friday :|: 115

Title: Nightmare Hall: Pretty Please
Author: Diane Hoh
Published: January 1994
Publisher: Scholastic

On the campus of Salem University, Johanna Dunn's beautiful face is scarred in an accident and a crazed perfectionist decides that Johanna is now too ugly--to live. (

Well that's interesting. And different. I'm not sure if I've ever come across a book like this one before. I'd have to read it just to see how it's handled.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

More Harry PotterMore Harry Potter?

What is Anyone? Clicking on the site itself takes you to a countdown on YouTube. What is this counting down to? And for the love of god why do I have to wait 6 days to find out? Is something coming on Harry's birthday? What's the date of the Battle of Hogwarts? There are a few things this could be coinciding with and I could speculate until I'm blue in the face. And soldier boy, the man that got me hooked on this damn series to begin with, is doing Army stuff until late next week! I can't even speculate with him! Gah! Grrrr.

The Fairy Godmother by Mercedes Lackey

Published May 1, 2010.

In the land of the Five Hundred Kingdoms, if you can’t carry out your legendary role, life is no fairy tale...

Elena Klovis was supposed to be her kingdom’s Cinderella— until fate left her with a completely inappropriate prince!

So she set out to make a new life for herself. But breaking with “The Tradition” was no easy matter—until she got a little help from her own fairy godmother. Who promptly offered Elena a most unexpected job...

Now, instead of sleeping in the chimney, she has to deal with arrogant, stuffed-shirt princes who keep trying to rise above their place in the tale. And there’s one in particular who needs to be dealt with...

Sometimes a fairy godmother’s work is never done...

DNF. It's a really intriguing concept and the blurb really roped me in but I wasn't taken by the writing at all. It was very slow-going and after maybe 50 pages I started to procrastinate reading. I didn't even give this one to my unwritten rule of the halfway mark before abandoning. Why? Because it was close to 500 pages, making the halfway mark pretty much an entire book unto itself. So I left the ship at 100 pages and I felt it was a slog just to get to there.

I liked the world it was building and the characters in it. Elena was a great character and I really felt for her when she was abandoned and the strength she held in the face of all of that. I liked how the fairy godmother concept was twisted and instead of getting the prince, Elena gets the wand. It's all really neat.

But from the beginning I had a feeling it was going to be hard to get through just from the writing style. And I was right. It just wasn't for me. I don't have the patience to slog through something so slow moving. If you do, then by all means I'd recommend it. I liked what I read so far but not enough to keep it up. It would have taken me a month to finish it and I just don't have that kind of time. Not with how large my TBR pile is. Maybe I'll try picking it up again in the future.

Just know it's very long and very slow but if you stick it out, I think it'll end up being a great world and a great story. I just didn't have the patience to wait around and find out.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

And the winner is . . .

The winner of an ARC of ASHES by Ilsa J. Bick is . . .


Congratulations! I've already sent you an email. And a big thanks to everyone who entered! It's awesome to see that much interest in one of my favorite authors!

30 Days of South Beach: Week 2

I've been throwing in a few cheats into the mix. Nothing too major. Went out for dinner last Friday since solider boy was headed to annual training for two weeks. And then I had a work lunch yesterday. For dinner today I threw in some corn chips. But despite all of that? I'm still down another 1 1/4 inches from last week, bringing the total number of inches lost to 5 1/4. Nothing to sneeze at!

The only kind of a pain thing is that I slimmed down from the waist up pretty quickly while I still have a nominal amount of junk in my trunk. Of those 5 1/4 inches, only one inch came off of my hips. If I could program weight to drop off from only certain areas of my body, I totally would. As it stands, if I lose a substantial amount of weight, I'll start looking like a Starvin' Marvin with a ghetto booty. Weird look if I say so. Another reason why I'm throwing in cheats every once in a while. I don't need anyone turning my chest into a glockenspiel.

The important thing is my jeans don't suffocate me anymore. One pair is still a little snug but another 1/2 minimum I should be good. Yay!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Author Bites - Julie Kagawa and Faeries

After reading THE IRON KING I sort of started fangirling Julie Kagawa and she was nice enough to answer some interview questions for me (and humor me about some 80s movie love). So read on and join the Iron Fey love. Thanks for stopping by, Julie!

What initially gave you the idea for the Iron Fey series?

Faeries, the old, ancient fey, not the glittery winged sprites, have always fascinated me. But I wanted to write a book that was different than other faery books. So I began thinking: what are the fey afraid of?The answer, in most ancient mythos, is iron. Faeries can't stand the touch of iron and steel. So, what if there was a new type of fey that had evolved with progress over the years? What if they weren't only immune to iron, their existence was slowly poisoning and corrupting the lands of the traditional fey? And I realized we already have "monsters" in machines: gremlins, bugs, viruses, ect. And from that thought, the Iron fey were born.

Be honest: how much did Labyrinth and The Neverending Story factor into your stories' creation? :)

I did love Labyrinth and The Neverending Story as a kid (Okay, maybe I enjoyed Labyrinth more when I was older), but the story of a child abducted by faeries and having a changeling left in his place is not new, nor was it solely Labyrinth's creation. This is an old, old tale, far olderthen David Bowie and his army of dancing goblins. ;-) Labyrinth and other movies did play a part in The Iron King's creation, but so did many other things.

Did you have any speed bumps when it came to character development?

Meghan was probably the hardest character for me to write, because it was difficult to balance loyalty, strength, and determination with the fears of a teenage girl. She isn't some superhero or martial arts expert; she's a normal girl thrown into extraordinary, terrifying circumstances, and she has to muddle through as best she can.

Meghan appears to have feelings for a guy that wants to kill her. Why go down this path?

One, because I wanted to drive home the point that the fey are dangerous. That they are the faeries of old: beautiful, intriguing, seductive, and eternally caught up in the politics of the courts. Ash is an Unseelie Prince, Meghan is a Seelie Princess--in his mind, she was the enemy. But, two, I wanted to show Ash's character progression as well. From a cold, heartless Winter fey completely loyal to his court and Queen Mab, to someone who discovers he can love again after all. If Ash didn't start out cold and dangerous, his character arc would not have been as dramatic or compelling.

Do you think that with today's growing technology, the world's ability to wonder on the fantastical is dwindling?

Not at all. Look at the shelves of YA books today; paranormal and fantasy continue to dominate. Even in the tech world of computers and gizmos and video games, people are still drawn to magic and fantasy (As any WoW gamer will tell you, if you can drag them away from the computer long enough to talk.). I think technology is just another platform to explore the fantastical, like Summer and Iron glamour, merged together to become one. :)

What do you think makes your work stand out from the other Fey-centric stories out there?

*Grabs gremlin, tosses out window before it can eat computer wires.* Sorry, what? I was distracted. Crazy Iron faeries.

What do you hope your readers take away from your novels, if anything?

I only hope that readers will close the last book with a sense of rightness, that Meghan's story could not come to an end any other way, and that everything finally came full circle. That this was the story of a young woman discovering who she was, learning responsibility, and accepting that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the one. Not a Happily Ever After in the traditional sense, but it was the right ending for her.

And besides, there's still The Iron Knight. ;-)

Contest Reminder!

Just a reminder that today is the last day to enter my contest for an ARC of ASHES by Ilsa J. Bick! You know you want a copy because it's such a freaking awesome book. So be sure to get your entries in by midnight, EST, tonight!

Monday, June 13, 2011

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

Published 2010.

Let your imagination unfold, glimpse a land shrouded in mystery, and become enlightened through the profound spiritual truths of an ancient land. This dynamic book enables you to work with the Egyptian gods and goddesses - and gain deep insight into your nature while experiencing a full awakening of your consciousness.

PATHWORKING WITH THE EGYPTIAN GODS takes you deep into the Egyptian Mysteries, bringing eighteen major deities to life through guided pathworkings. After a soul-level initiation, you will tour this ancient land through astral travel techniques, commune with the gods, and bear witness to ancient Egypt's history, mythology, daily life, and spiritual practices. Discover the enduring legends behind the deities and connect to their potent energies with rituals, meditations, blessings, consecrations, hymns, and their sacred names. (book back blurb)

DNF. What really turned me off was that at the very beginning, it chastised other pathworking books for being nothing more than glorified short stories. When I started reading, most of what I found was . . . short stories. Maybe they would mean a lot more if I was actually experienced with pathworking but the way they were told, I couldn't help but feeling this is exactly what I would experience if I did it, as if my own experience wouldn't differ at all.

If you don't know what pathworking is, it's basically a form of meditation used to heighten to your own awareness of yourself. It's a means for seeking meaning in your life. It takes meditation a few steps further and actually puts you into a transitive state where it's intoned that you will witness what it is you're seeking to witness.

I'm not casting doubt on any of this. I got the book because I thought it was interesting. But it's not for beginners in the slightest. The introduction is short and then it jumps right into the pathworking. I wasn't comfortable with it so that was something I didn't like. And the other issue I had with it was its own insistence that it wasn't just a collection of short stories but something more when all I saw was a collection of short stories.

Like I said, if I was more familiar with pathworking I probably would have a greater appreciation for it but since I'm about as noob as they come, I was kind of turned off by what this book offered. I would have liked to know from the back blurb that it wasn't for beginners. If I would have known, I wouldn't have taken the time initially.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Summer Blast Giveaway #1!

The first giveaway of my Summer Blast is a ton of BEA Swag! And I mean a ton. Just take a look!

1st place winner gets all this plus their choice of one of the posters below -

2nd place gets all this plus their choice of one of the remaining posters below -

3rd place gets the following plus their choice of one of the remaining posters below -

4th place gets this plus the last remaining poster below -

5th place (top) and 6th place (bottom) -

And 4 winners will each get a bookmark -

Of course, the poster choices -

All of that for all of you! 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.
  • Giveaway ends June 18th at midnight, EST! Good luck!

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