Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Yay!!!! Giveaway Winners!!!!


Woo hoo!!!!


It's finally time to announce the giveaway winners!!!

I'm pleased to announce that...

...drumroll, please...

the winner of the e-book copy of
by J. A. Belfield 
is
Gena Robertson
and
the winner of that beautiful bookmark
(yes, I am jealous)
is 

Hazel Godwin!!!

Special thanks to our lovely author, J. A. Belfield who has been kind enough to provide these awesome prizes!  Stop by her site by clicking here.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Review: Touch of Frost by Jocelyn Adams





Release Date: February 1, 2012

Even the simplest of touches between Will Frost and Lauren McLean are forbidden.

To share love will surely mean death.

Since her granddad’s passing, Lauren has existed a few steps out of sync with the world. Desperate to feel the love only he offered her as a child, Lauren returns to the haven they once shared — a snow-covered cabin at the foothills of the Rockies.

It’s not the memory of her granddad that warms her ice-cold, frost-bitten body after being caught in a blizzard, though. It’s the man in whose bed she wakes.

Along with bringing life to her soul, Will stirs deep-rooted memories in Lauren and brings out the love she seeks.

What Will knows about himself — the secrets of his kind — he keeps hidden, forcing Lauren to search for answers, to question and ultimately put her life, and his own existence, in danger.

In love, though, there is always a way.

Can Will get around the rules? Or will Lauren give up her life simply to have one last touch from Will Frost?

Genre:  Paranormal Romance
Rating:   *  *  *  *
My Review:
This was a wonderful story.  Connecting with Lauren was easy; she was very likable.  The author has a way of bringing you into the story to where you are experiencing everything as Lauren does.  You mourned.  You felt the relaxing calm of nature.  You froze.  And you fell in love.  Will was an amazing character.  I loved the mystery of him.  He was such an intriguing character and his rescuing a lynx cub and raising her endeared him to me immediately.

There were a few things that I thought that could have been better done.  Word choice was sometimes an issue for me, despite the authors amazing ability to engulf me in the story.  This was especially so for the sex scene.  The story was so emotional and I felt the sex scene would've been better done focusing on the emotions.  The verbiage fell flat for me here.

Overall, a very enjoyable way to spend a winter's day: cuddled on the couch, cup of hot tea, fire going, immersed in this story.

Cover Art: 
What can I say?  This is such a beautiful cover!  The model is perfect (I like that the story doesn't tell us a lot about what Lauren looks like, but the cover gives us a visual to use) and her blank stare makes you wonder about Lauren's well being.  The snow and spectrum of blues hint to the story without giving too much away. The composition is well balanced and the words are easily read.  A flawless cover!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins


Goodreads Description:

In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV.

Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister Primrose, regards it as a death sentence when she steps forward to take her sister's place in the Games. But Katniss has been close to dead before — and survival, for her, is second nature. Without really meaning to, she becomes a contender. But if she is to win, she will have to start making choices that will weigh survival against humanity and life against love.

Genre:  YA Dystopian
 
Rating:  *  *  *

My Review:

I have really mixed emotions on this book and put off reviewing it for almost a week now, trying to hash out my thoughts.  Overall, it's an amazing story.  The story pulls you in and keeps you hanging on throughout; it's very intense and full of hold-your-breath moments.

The writing style fits the narrator, Katniss, with her straight forward approach to life and attention to detail.  I felt empathetic towards her situation though I just couldn't connect with her.  This character was written perfectly for her setting but, even though she makes incredible sacrifices for her family, I simply did not like her much.  I kept expecting major character growth that never came.  Rumor has it that comes in book 2.  Guess we will have to wait and see.  My favorite character was Rue.  She was lightness in a dark world.

The greatest problem I had with this book was the overall darkness of it.  Of course this is completely a personal preference, but I try to stay away from anything too dark.  It's one of the reasons I read fantasy.  I'm okay with monsters behaving monstrously, but I struggle when humans behave as such.  The ugliness of the capitol's behavior and the whole set up of the hunger games was so awful and truthfully just too much for me.

"Taking kids from our districts, forcing them to kill one another while we watch -- this is the Capitol's way of reminding is how totally we are at their mercy.  How little chance we would stand of surviving another rebellion.  Whatever words they use, the real message is clear. 'Look how we take your children and sacrifice them and there's nothing you can do.  If you lift a finger, we will destroy every last one of you.  Just as we did in District Thirteen.'" pg 18 The Hunger Games

I would be okay with such a dark theme if there was more hope in the story line.  This is dystopian literature, after all, and I was expecting an evil, oppressive force.  I was just expecting a character who rose above it or an event that represented hope for their future.  I kept waiting.  I thought the ending would be uplifting.  Nope.  Not really.

So did I hate it?  No.  It was a really good story with a less than stellar conclusion.  Would I recommend it? Yup.  Just with a "beware of the dark" warning.  Will I continue on into the series?  Absolutely.  Ever the optimist, I believe there's a happy ending somewhere for the people of the 12 districts.  Will I see the movie?  You betcha.

Novel to Movie:

One thing that really got me reading The Hunger Games was the upcoming movie.  I really do try to read a book before seeing the movie if at all possible.  The trailer looks amazing for the upcoming movie ***chill bumps*** and this just might be a case of me liking the movie better than the book.  I think the right actress could draw me into the Katniss character better than the book did.  Hmm.  Well, once I see the movie, I'll let you know.  ;)

Thursday, January 26, 2012


Oooooo.... Aaaaahhh......Oooooo...

I am so pleased to share with you another awesome cover reveal.  I'm such a lucky gal!

It's called "photo manipulation" when an artist combines photographic elements and sometimes hand-drawn ones.  I really love how that was done with this cover.  It's so pretty I want to frame it!  Also the descriptions of the short stories within sound quite intriguing and I look forward to reading this one by the pool (or dare I hope for a trip to the beach this summer? Hmmm).



Tidal Whispers


Anthology Release Date: June 3, 2012

Target Reader: Adult


Back of the Book:


Heart’s Desire by Julie Reece
After a terrible accident, Tessa returns to her family beach house to heal. She doesn’t expect to see her first summer crush from seven years before. Cameron, though, reappears and ignites a relationship that’s far more intense than ever before. The only problem? Summer is once again coming to an end, and this time, Tessa will have to decide whether to choose life with Cameron or to never see him again.

The Sweetest Song by Claire Gillian
Under Poseiden’s rule, Circe is the most destructive siren in the Pacific ocean, her songs luring ships and their crew to their watery graves. Not Otis, the best halibut fisherman in the Alaskan waters. His ship, the Calypso, has avoided disaster each time Circe set her sights on him.

Given one last chance to deliver Otis to Davy Jones’ locker, Circe takes to land to waylay the handsome captain. Instead, it may be Otis himself who hooks the Siren.

Pearl of Pau’maa by Kelly Said
Should Miki choose to wed the local wealthy boy she doesn't love, her stomach will stop grumbling. Her soul, however, will suffocate. With one last opportunity before she must concede, she sneaks off for a final dive to her hidden crate at the bottom of the seabed. What waits for her is more than a captured lobster. It's a treasure she cannot claim without great sacrifice or true love. 

The Undergarden by Jocelyn Adams
Nixie, a water sprite, lives a solitary existence as she struggles to understand the strange world beyond her waters.  When she meets one of the pink ones, a curious boy named Wyatt, their friendship blooms into a love that can exist only upon the sands that divide his solid ground from her underwater paradise. Some love, though, once born, cannot be undone, even in the face of death.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Not a book review...

I hope you will forgive this deviation from my normal bubbly book-related dialogue, but my heart grieves for some friends in Kenya and I can't help but share this with you, my fellow bibliophiles with whom I have come to cherish as dear friends.

the kids before school
Let me begin with some back story....

homes in the slum
the bakery
Last April, my husband Lars and then-10-year-old daughter, Lydia took a trip to visit a small Kenyan orphanage.  Our friend Ian's mom and step-dad (Charles & Alice Tillet) are missionaries there and work with Michael & Agnes.  Michael & Agnes take in orphans and raise them as their own.  They support themselves and another, larger orphanage with their small bakery.  Michael is also a pastor working with their devastatingly impoverished community in Naivasha, Kenya.  You can see more pictures from their trip by clicking here.

As you can imagine, my family grew to love these amazing people and the community they serve.






Now on to that which my heart aches over...

There's been a terrible fire that has ravished the community.  Here was the first communication we received:


Kambinbou a little village the houses made of tin and wood next to KCC where Pastor Michael and Agnes live is on fire and we are told burnt to the ground. Loss of life we don't know yet there is over 500 people who live there. For you that visited Michael and Agnes it is the little village we took you to near their house. Please pray I seem to be overwhelmed in tears the Kenya people suffer so much and this for one of the poorest villages in our area is hard to realize.

Charles

To the right are photos taken after the fire.  These people who had so little now have nothing.  They would not have had any running water to help put out the blaze and no fire department or insurance to aid them.  These are people my husband and daughter met in April.

Here's the next communication we received:

No one was injured in the fire this is unusual, but all is lost.

There is one family who we may be able to help. A mother, of a 8 year old and and grandmother who lived together, and another daughter who lived beside them. The mother buys vegetable's and resales them in town to have some money, Pastor Michael knows them well. They are the mother and grandmother and sisters of Patrick who helps us here at our house. They are temporarily living at Pastor Michael's compound where the orphans live, in a shed at the Village of Children.

If we could raise some money to rent a two room house for them for a year and buy them some mattresses and blankets and cooking utensils they could get back on there feet. The cost would be around $500.00 Any amount you can send would help.

Please send what you can as soon as you can to help, we are giving what we can $100.00 and clothes, and some food.

Email us quickly, as soon as you get this message for help so we will know where we are in helping this family.

Peter who helps us at the house just said he wanted to give half of his weekly salary to help the people of the fire this week, he makes $18.00 a week,. Peter and Patrick both help us in the ministry in operating the sound equipment.

When help is needed God's people are there.

Also please pray for the others at Kambinbou over 500 people lost their homes, some of Naivasha's poorest people. The Red Cross will hopefully help also, perhaps tents and food.

We will send pictures and more information later. Send help through the address below and state it is for the family who was burned out of home.

When help is needed God's people are there.

Charles & Alice
The Church on the River: African Missions
In Care of:  Ian & Georgia Greene
521 Glenbrook St.
Lexington, Kentucky 40505

I share this with you asking for your help.  If you pray, please do so.  If you happen to have a few extra dollars, please consider sharing.  Perhaps you could use this month's book budget and work on that big stack of to-be-reads that we all have. :)

Thanks, my friends, for listening.


Cover Reveal: Julie Reece's CRUX


I'm stoked to have another praiseworthy cover to reveal to you.  I love good art and this cover is so beautiful!  What a gorgeous drawing!!! Enough is hinted with the cover that I know I want to read this book without even reading the description.  I love the mysterious man in the background and the juxtaposition of her modern hoodie and his maybe medieval garb.  I haven't read this author before, but with the intriguing description and great cover, this one's going on my to-be-read list for sure!


 
Crux
Book Release Date: July 9, 2012

Target Reader: Young Adult



Back of the Book:


She should have run. Now, she’ll have to fight.

Eighteen year old Birdie may be homeless, but she’s surviving, that is until a mysterious guy throws money in the air like a crazy game show host, and she grabs some with the idea she’ll be able to buy dinner that night. 

In that singular moment, unassuming Birdie becomes the girl in everyone’s viewfinder. Thugs want to kill her. Money-guy wants to recruit her. The very hot, very rich and very out of her league, Grey Mathews, wants to save her.

Birdie, though, wants nothing to do with any of them, until she realizes fate didn’t bring them all together. 

Her heritage did.

Now, with only twenty-one days left, she’s got to decide whether to follow in the footsteps of those before her or risk her life for people she’s only just met.

Keep an eye on this book at  J. Taylor Publishing.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Giveaway & Author Guest Post with J. A. Belfield!!!!

I cannot express to you how much I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE spending blog time with some of my favorite authors!!!  Today I get to share with you a guest post from J. A. Belfield the author of the Holloway Pack Series!  Yay!!!  Woo hoo!!!  AND she's even offering up a delicious giveaway of Darkness & Light (in e-format) and a beautiful bookmark (pictured to the right)!!!  You can see my reviews for Darkness & Light, Fated Encounter and Instinct here.

So I asked J. A. to share about her experience with becoming published and here's what she had to say....


BEING PUBLISHED—IS IT ALL THAT?
Well, what do you think?
Heck, yes.
I never dreamed I’d be published. Not when I first began writing. It all started out as a hobby for a bored stayed-at-home mum with far too many daydreams to send her insane. Only when I created Darkness & Light did the notion of being published begin to formulate—because for the first time, I’d created something I wasn’t ashamed to share beyond my sister and best friend.
I could bore you all with tales of my journey to being published but they’re exactly that: boring. I submitted to lots of agents. Got rejected by them all. Submitted to lots of publishers who accepted unsolicited manuscripts. Got rejection after rejection.
And then I got a yes.
Was it an easy ride?
No.
Agents and publishers combined, I submitted and got rejected close to 100 times. And, as in the UK barely any of them accept emailed submissions, the entire process of being told ‘thanks but no thanks’ took a long time. In fact, I think I spent around 20 months reading rejections letters.
They didn’t stop me though. I believed in Darkness & Light, dammit. And just as I was looking into the possibility of self-publishing, J.Taylor Publishing offered me a contract.
I didn’t go running over the hills, waving it in my hand like a lunatic. I carefully read the contract many times over a 24 hour period and made absolutely certain I wouldn’t be signing anything away I didn’t want to be. Only when 100% sure I was happy with what they had to offer did I sign and return the contract. And that was when I ran spasmodically around town telling anyone who’d listen.
It’s been an uphill climb from there. But in a totally scream-worthy and exhilarating kind of way. Because one has to go uphill to reach the dizzying heights, right?
My experiences with an Indie Publisher have been more fun than I imagined, smoother sailing than I’d ever have hoped for, and the support I’ve received has surpassed what I have a right to expect.
Yes, the publishing experience is a lot different to that with the big publishing houses. But, even though the Indie reach is not as great, they are fast becoming more widely recognised and accepted—especially by readers. And aren’t they who we’re supposed to care about?
The thing is, different writers have different goals/objectives/dreams when they decide to pursue the route of publishing. They have a different view on what constitutes success. If they’re aiming to make it big, become a star, be swept along in a best sellers campaign then yep, they’re going to want to chisel away at all those barriers blocking you from garnering a Big6 contract.
That wasn’t me.
My goal was small. After all, I write for pleasure first and foremost so earning money from it was never my primary reason for wanting to be published. The appeal of being published was wholly to do with the chance to have at least one person I didn’t know buy my book, and love it enough that they didn’t regret having bought it. Or having a paperback copy make it into the home of someone in the States, simply so I could smile at the thought of something created by me finding a place with someone across the pond. Or to have just one stranger come along and say, ‘Hey, read your book, thought it was awesome’.
I’ve achieved all three of those. And then some.
So, yeah: being published is most certainly all that.


So on to the giveaway!!!  Simply leave a post comment letting me know if you'd like to be entered for the e-book, bookmark (pictured above) or both.  Make sure to leave an email or another way for me to contact you should you win.  The winner will be chosen on Monday, January 30.  And as an added bonus, Stop by J. A.'s tomorrow for another giveaway (a Darkness & Light t-shirt!!!!).

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Awards!!!

Wow!  Holy Cow!!!  I'm so excited to announce that last week I was awarded not one, but two awards!!!  How does a girl get so lucky?!?

So here they are...

The Liebster Award (“Liebster” is the German word for friend or love) originated in Germany.

Thank you, thank you, thank you to J. A. Belfield for giving me this Liebster Blog Award and saying such sweet things about me!  J. A. said, " She may be pretty new to blogging but her blog has evolved so much in such a few short week and she is an incredibly supportive person".  That made me feel really great. :)

In accepting the Liebster Blog Award, the recipient agrees to:
*Thank the person who gave them the award and link back to that person’s blog
*Copy and paste the award to their blog
*Reveal the 5 blogs they have chosen to award, commenting on their blog to break the news!
*Hope those people in turn pay it forward by accepting and awarding “The Liebster Blog Award” to bloggers they would like to honor.

The bloggers I'd like honor are:

  1. Rachel at Rai29 Book Read n Review
  2. Angel at Mermaid Vision
  3. Jenn at Writers Block
  4. Bridget at Rants n Ramblings
  5. Kindle Mom at My Guilty Obsession

Each of these bloggers have amazing blogs that show a lot of book love.  Please take time to visit these gals!!!

 **********

And I was also awarded the Versatile Blog Award from Bailey at Novel Nerd.  Bailey always has insightful reviews posted.  You should check her blog out!  Thanks so much to Bailey for this award!
So here are the rules:
*Thank and link the blogger who bestowed you the award.
*Share seven random facts about yourself.
*Spread the love by passing the award to five other bloggers, and be sure to let them know.

Alright, here are my 7 random facts about myself:
  1. I have 2 tattoos.  Both of which I've done myself.
  2. I've been trying to get back into shape (I haven't been since my youngest was born... 7 years ago) and plan on participating in October's Tough Mudder Event.
  3. I love watching cooking shows and have a lot of food knowledge, but don't cook at all myself. Luckily I have an amazingly talented husband to do that for me.  Here's his food blog:  http://larrysmiley.com/
  4. I love animals.  I've had snakes, lizards, fish, birds, hermit crabs, mice, guinea pigs, cats and dogs as pets.
  5. My 2 favorite forms of cardio are Zumba and Just Dance on the Wii.  And yes, I have trouble not dancing anytime there's music!
  6. My favorite treats are dark chocolate and red wine.
  7. I've recently bought a professional-grade silk screening kit.  My family and I hope to produce t-shirts to raise money to build wells in Africa.  One of the organizations we are working with is the Uganda Village Project.
The bloggers I wish to bestow this honor are:

  1. Michele at Just a Lil' Lost
  2. Juhina & Farah at Maji Bookshelf
  3. Jenny & Kaitlin at Books to the Sky
  4. Tiffany at Tiffany's Book Blog
  5. The gal (who likes to remain anonymous) at Small Review

Again, these are bloggers I follow via email and have great blog content.  Get to know some of these gals!!!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Cover Reveal!!! J. A. Belfield's Eternal




Eternal


Book Release Date: July 2, 2012
Target Reader: Adult
Back of the Book
An unmarried woman living in a house of men breeds heresay and lore. If only the villagers knew the truth.

It’s not Jem Stonehouse’s marital status that brings unwanted strangers to town. Rather, it’s that she is the only female werewolf in existence — a prize to any pack.

Sean Holloway, the love of Jem’s life, has gone to great lengths to protect her. As a new attack becomes imminent, Sean realizes he must take greater measures with Jem’s safety or risk losing her forever.

His first task must be to marry her, but a force greater than the largest werewolf stands in his way.

Her mother.


I am so excited to have gotten to share this with you!!! Isn't it perfect?!? Gush! I especially loved that the graphic from the first cover was subtly included behind the title... also the white wolf is gorgeous!!!

Be anticipating Sunday with a guest blog post here from J. A. !!! She's graciously offering a giveaway, too! Woo hoo!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream

"A Midsummer Night's Dream"
by William Shakespeare

In A Midsummer Night's Dream, Shakespeare confronts us with mysterious images of romantic desire. There are Theseus and Hippolyta, about to be married; both are strange and wonderful figures from classical mythology.
Within Theseus's world of Athens, two young men and two young women sort themselves out into marriageable couples, but only after one triangle, with Hermia at the apex and Helena excluded, is temporarily replaced by another, this time with Helena at the apex and Hermia excluded.
In the woods outside of Athens, where the lovers suffer their strange love experiences, we find yet other images of desire, these involving the king and queen of Fairyland and an Athenian weaver transformed into an ass-headed monster.
Finally, there is the tragic love story of "Pyramus and Thisbe," ineptly written and staged by Bottom and his workingmen companions.

Genre:  Classic, Comedy, Play

Rating:  *  *  *  *

My Review:

It seems wrong to review Shakespeare. Nonetheless, here are my thoughts...

I've been wanting to read this since reading Kagawa's Iron Fey series. I found an app on my phone where I can listen to classics and that is how I "read" this. I now would love to see it performed as I'm sure some of the humor is lost in only listening. Otherwise, I enjoyed the play, felt bad for those affected (especially Helena) and found some humor, especially in Bottom. My favorite lines were the ones spoken in rhyme.

The recording was done by Libravox and was well done. Different characters were acted out by various readers and a narrator gave the stage directions.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Busting the Newbie Blues



I'm participating in this year's "Busting the Newbie Blues" event put on by Small Review. Here's what Small Review has to say about this event...
Starting out as a new YA book blogger is a ton of fun. You meet a bunch of new people who all share in your passion for YA books, you become a part of a friendly community, and you're continually exposed to wonderful new books.

But sometimes things can be a little discouraging when you're just starting out. You look at your blog and then look at some of the awesome established bloggers out there and wonder if you'll ever make the grade.

So here's to Busting the Newbie Blues! Don't be discouraged. Instead, take action! Participate in my Busting the Newbie Blues event, which will run through the entire month of January!


This event is designed to:

Put new YA book bloggers on the map
Increase blogger interaction
Start a discussion by sharing our experiences as new bloggers
Learn about what it was like for established bloggers when they were newbies


So how does this work? Simple:

Be a YA book blogger (oldie or newbie) (it's okay if you review adult books as well)
Select the questionnaire that best applies to you
Create a post on your blog with the questions and your answers
Grab the button below to include in your post or sidebar
Link back to here here so more people can join in
Sign the linky list below so we can all come and visit your blog!
Spread the word!


So here's my questionnaire:

When did you start your blog?
November 30, 2011

Why did you start your blog?
Honestly, I just couldn't help myself.  I had been writing reviews on Goodreads for a while and started participating in group discussions through which I met some really great gals, many of whom are bloggers.  I toyed with the idea and kept putting it off out of insecurity.  Finally, I just couldn't resist anymore.  And I love, love, love it!!!

What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced far?
Writing negative reviews.  Sometimes I'm just not going to love a book.  I know that.  You know that.  But authors are real people with real feelings and I would never want to discourage someone from following their passion for writing.  I'm always honest but try to be uplifting, too.

What do you find most discouraging about being a new blogger?
Computer issues.  Mainly when working with code ... which I totally don't understand.  I'm trying to add "Stalk me on Twitter, Facebook & Goodreads" buttons but am clueless!  

What do you find most encouraging?
The bloggers, readers and authors that I've met.  It's an amazingly warm, friendly community.  Everyone has been so encouraging and helpful.  I love reading everyone else's blogs and leaving comments.  Also it is such a great feeling when I review an Indie book and someone leaves a comment like "I haven't heard of this author before; their book sounds great, I'm going to check it out."

What do you like best about the blogs you read? Have you tried to replicate this in your blog?
I noticed some bloggers talk about the cover art.  I love cover art!!!  I'm an artist and (obviously) an avid reader; cover art combines two of my great loves.  I knew this was something that I wanted to do as well.

What do you dislike about blogs you’ve read? Do you try to avoid this?
I haven't seen anything that I really disliked.  I wouldn't want to read an unkind review where the review ripped a book apart, but none of the bloggers I follow are like that.

Any advice for other new bloggers?
Find supportive friends who blog or just love books.  Goodreads and RazOrbill are two sites where I've made great book friends.

Any questions you'd like to ask newbie or established bloggers?
How do I make those pesky "Stalk me on Twitter, Facebook & Goodreads" buttons?!?  And what's the one thing would you recommend I change on my blog to make it better.

Is there anything you’d like to tell us about your blog? Feel free to link a few of your favorite posts or posts you wish had more comments.
Mainly I would just like to say how much I appreciate those who visit my blog and especially when you leave comments.  I love talking books with others!!!  Also many of the books I review are Indie books and only cost a few dollars.  You should check them out ;)

Thanks for spending some time with me!!!

Enchantment by Charlotte Abel

Sixteen year old Channie Kerns leads an idyllic life of seclusion and magic deep in the Ozark Mountains ... until her family is forced to flee for their lives.

They leave everything and everyone behind to start over in Louisville, Colorado. Magic is forbidden while they are in hiding, but Channie can't resist the temptation to enchant a group of local boys. When her overbearing parents catch her flirting with these "sex-crazed, non-magical boys," they slap a chastity spell on her to protect her virtue.

The spell is triggered by lust, so just navigating the halls at school is an ordeal. She can't even touch a boy she's attracted to without blasting him with a jolt of magical energy that feels like a taser attack.

The situation becomes unbearable when Channie falls in love with Josh Abrim, a BMX racer with dangerous secrets of his own. She rebels against her parents and turns to dark and forbidden magic to break the chastity spell ... with disastrous results.


Genre:  YA Fantasy

Rating:  * * * * 

My Review:
This books was full of surprises. It's shockingly well-edited. I've read plenty of professionally published books with more typos and wording issues than "Enchantment." I also was not expecting the story to be so well-told. Abel's verbiage was flawless. I wasn't 100% sold on the story line when I read the description, but I'm so glad I gave it a try. The characters felt authentic throughout the book. The story developed well, though I thought it was a little slow in sections and had a predictable moment or two (I find these to be hallmarks of romances). Overall, a really great read. I am very eager for the next book in this series, Empty (potential cover art below).

Cover Art:
I love purple and that really draws me to the cover as well as the expression on the girl's face which adds a sense of mystery.  I could do without the bike silouhette which I think clutters the cover.  I do like the font used for the title and the cover words are very readable (which is sooo important).

When I checked Amazon, Enchantment was only 99 cents and it's so worth it!!!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Raised by Wolves by Jennifer Lynn Barnes



Adopted by the Alpha of a werewolf pack after a rogue wolf brutally killed her parents right before her eyes, fifteen-year-old Bryn knows only pack life, and the rigid social hierarchy that controls it. That doesn't mean that she's averse to breaking a rule or two.

But when her curiosity gets the better of her and she discovers Chase, a new teen locked in a cage in her guardian's basement, and witnesses him turn into a wolf before her eyes, the horrific memories of her parents' murders return. Bryn becomes obsessed with getting her questions answered, and Chase is the only one who can provide the information she needs.

But in her drive to find the truth, will Bryn push too far beyond the constraints of the pack, forcing her to leave behind her friends, her family, and the identity that she's shaped?

Genre:  YA Fantasy
 
My Rating:  * * * * *
 
My Review:
 
Wow.  Wow.  Wow.  And I almost didn't read this.  See, on a trip to the library to pick up some books I had placed on hold (my favorite way to get library books... no browsing only to find the 1st book in the series is at the branch across town) I happened across this book.  But then I got busy and it was return or renew time.  I thought I'd return it, but then I opened it, and then I pretty much didn't put it down.  

I loved this book.  Bryn was a great character and I felt for her every step of the way.  She makes mistakes and hurts people she loves, she is hurt by those same people, she deals with the situations before her and she grows into a dynamic leader.  This book had no slow, drag-it-out moments and lots of suspense and excitement.  There's a bit of predictability involved, but not so much as to annoy a reader.  I really loved the ending.  I will definitely read the rest of  this series.

Cover Art:
 
Our library places some books face forward on the upper shelves.  This was one of them and the cover caught my eye enough that I brought the book home.  'Nuff said. 

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Burnt Children by R. E. Washington


Goodreads description:

In Meli, if you're born with the wrong magic the Purifiers rip it out. They'll etch a black flame into your skin, labeling you a Burnt Child. Elaria is one of those Burnt Children.

She's not allowed to handle magical items and the only thing she can do is work with dangerous rokas stones that are likely to explode at any moment. But Elaria has a secret. She can see magic.

This rare ability draws Elaria to a strange locket that holds a dangerous mystery surrounding the leader of the Purifiers and a conspiracy that could change all of Meli. Soon, Elaria is hunted by Purifiers, befriended by a murderer, and haunted by the ghost of the very woman who doomed the Burnt Children fifty years ago.

All Elaria wants is to find a place to belong. But with a strange power growing inside of her, she realizes she must choose between saving herself or saving the world.

Genre:  YA Fantasy

Rating:   *  *  *

Favorite Quote:
"I don't see how any of this is a group decision."  she pointed to Korvin.  "You are here because you stalked me."  She turned to the man.  "You, though I'm grateful you saved us from the bear, are still a stranger.  I don't even know your name."  She looked at Nila.  "And you, I'm pretty sure are evil."

My Rating:
This was a hard one to rate.  The story itself was AMAZING.  The world, the journey, the action... it was a fantastic story.  From the beginning, you are pulled into the story.  It's an exciting tale.  The story on it's own would easily merit 5 stars.  

The characters are a bit harder to rate.  Overall, I didn't feel overly connected to them.  I cared what happened with them, but only so much; they were not what compelled me to finish this book.  Some characters were better than others.  One of the antagonists I really hated, which is a good thing in an antagonist.  But some of the other characters I struggled to understand their motivation; its not that most weren't clearly noted, I just didn't feel it from them.  Some character's actions seemed to contradict what we learned about that person.  The romantic parts seemed a little forced.  That magic you experience when you really empathize with the characters and what they are feeling just wasn't there.  

I struggled some with the ending.  Fear not, it's a happy ending (I don't feel it spoils anything to say that.  Personally I hate books with sad endings, so if you read enough of my reviews, you'd know that I wouldn't purposely read anything that ends tragically).  The first part of the ending worked really well; Elaria is able to find a way to defeat the antagonist.  It fits perfectly.  The second thing she does is to rectify, as much as she can, the damage done by the antagonist.  Now that's great but I've read it over twice and I'm still not sure how that was all supposed to work.  I was left with "huh?" as my last thought instead of "ahhh, good book."

So overall, well worth the read even with the few bumps along the way.

Cover Art:
Love this cover!  It has a nice balance of  "story hints" elements without overdoing it (a pet peeve of mine).  I would like to see the background dark and smokey instead of just white.  If this book was in print, a smokey gray/purple background wrapping around the spine and back would really set it apart. 

Thoughts About Creating....

Creating...

When you think about the creative process, be it writing a novel or painting an abstract design, everyone goes about it in their own unique way. As a writer, I'm just getting started, so that process is still being formed, but as an artist, my process has pretty much solidified in the many, many years (yup, I'm old, who knew?) of practice. I find this unique creative finger print each of us has to be a fascinating subject. 

 Today I was reading a blog from one of my favorite authors, Maggie Stiefvater.  If you've read any of her work (Shiver, Linger, Forever, Lament, Ballad,  ...I could go on) it reads almost as poetry.  Her wording is so beautiful it's breathtaking.

Maggie is a self-proclaimed perfectionist, a kindred soul to me.  As an artist, I often leave my "half-done" work sitting out for weeks while I stare at it deciding if it's finished or what else needs done.  For classes I've taken, I've many times stayed up all night finishing a project.  Not due to poor time management, just a compulsive need to have it just so.  The picture on the upper right is of one of those school projects on which I logged unbelievable hours.  After painting unique textures on bristol board, I cut mosaic tiles out and placed them together to form this image.  As this is a book blog, I won't go into further detail (I can ramble something fierce about art & wouldn't want to bore you -- tee hee hee).

In honor of our shared perfectionism, I have included the blog I read earlier today below.  There's a link at the end for you to enjoy more from Maggie's blog.

*****************

And I think this is okay.

I know a lot of writing advice out there encourages you to kill your inner editor and let your work run free and to release mental possession of your draft. I know this advice is trying to battle the scores of writers out there who cling to their drafts, picking over them instead of working up the courage to send them out to critique partners, agents, and mothers. But I'm not sure I really like this condemnation of continual editing as a universal truth. For a beginning writer? Yes, I think there's some sense to it. You have to learn how to tell when a first draft is done. You have to learn how to give it away. But once you've finished a novel or two, I don't see why writers should be encouraged to think perfectionism is a dirty word. For me, "done" is such an intuitive thing. I can tell when my novels are done when they stop needling at me. When I stop thinking of things to do to them. When the characters are no longer acting out scenes in my dreams. It can't be about the fear that I haven't covered everything. It has to be that feeling that the movie in my head has reached the last reel. Until that happens, I edit and re-read and tweak and move one word three sentences down the page. Though a reader might not notice that you changed "cold" to "icy" on page 47, a word by word attack on a draft can change the subconscious effect of it on a reader.

So yes, I am an unrepentant fastidious editor.

I think this pretty much goes for every element of my life. So it should surprise no one when I say that I edited the recipe for November Cakes. A few months I posted about how I was delighted to have invented a food for THE SCORPIO RACES, and then I added a recipe. Well, it was still niggling at me. They were fine, but FINE IS NOT GOOD ENOUGH. I spent several months turning over possible solutions to my perceived unhappiness with my first November Cakes recipes, and then . . . I edited it.

Yesterday I tried out my fix. Of course it was hugely better. The cakey bit was fluffier, richer, more nuanced. The glaze was gooier and clung to the crevices of the cakes better. The entire consistency was improved. Now you bite through a caramel-honey glaze with a bit of resistance and into a fluffy, sweet dough beneath. That was what I was trying to do before.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that you shouldn't kill your inner editor. Just set up boundaries for her. Also, use this recipe and not the other.

***You can see the recipe and yummy-looking pictures as well as read more from Maggie's blogs by clicking here.***

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Reading Challenge Mania




As the year begins anew, there's many, many reading challenges in which to take part.  Last year I only took part in the Goodreads Reading Challenge at which I failed miserably.  See, I had no clue how many books I normally read in a year's time and decided to take a friend's challenge and up it by 25.  175 books in a year isn't really plausible.  I'm an avid reader, but I do sleep.  I however did read a total of 88 books last year.  Not too shabby if I do say so myself.


So for this year's Goodreads Reading Challenge I have challenged myself to read at least 100 books.




Anyone can join.
You don't need a blog to participate.
Non-Bloggers: Post your list of books in the comment section of the wrap-up post on Jamie's blog.
Audio, eBooks, paper, re-reads all count.
No need to list your books in advance. You may select books as you go. Even if you list them now, you can change the list if needed.There are four levels:

The Mini YA Reading Challenge – Read 12 Young Adult novels.
The "Fun Size" YA Reading Challenge – Read 20 Young Adult novels.
The Jumbo Size YA Reading Challenge – Read 40 Young Adult novels.
The Mega size YA Reading Challenge – Read 50+ Young Adult novels.

Run's January 1, 2012 - December 31, 2012.

***  I read a great deal of YA so I'm going to challenge myself to the "Jumbo Size" of 40 books.  ***



This challenge will run from Jan 1, 2012 - Dec 31, 2012.
  • Anyone can join, you don't need to be a blogger.
  • Any genre or length of book counts, as long as it is in ebook format.
  • You can list your books in advance or just put them in a wrap-up post. If you list them, feel free to change them as the mood takes you.
  • When you sign up in the linky, put the direct link to your post about joining the E-Book Reading Challenge.
  • You can move up levels, but no moving down.
  • Sign-ups will be open until Dec 15, 2012, so feel free to join at any time throughout the year.
Levels:

Floppy disk - 5 ebooks
CD - 10 ebooks
DVD - 25 ebooks
Memory stick - 50 ebooks
Hard drive - 75 ebooks
Server - 100 ebooks
Human brain - 150 ebooks

***  I am going for the Memory Stick level of 50 ebooks.  
I believe I will do more, but I'm going conservative with this one.  ***



This challenge will run from Jan 1, 2012 - Dec 31, 2012.

As they would like to see quality reviews linked up to their monthly wrap-ups, only bloggers can enter. Sorry about that!
Any genre, length or format of book counts, as long as it is a book that's been sitting on your shelf for some time now. Only books released in 2011 and earlier! NO ARCs and 2012 fresh-off-the-press releases allowed!

You can move up levels, but no moving down.
Sign-ups will be open until Dec 15, 2012, so feel free to join at any time throughout the year.
At the end of each month one of the hosts will post a wrap-up. Every wrap-up will have it's unique theme, a mini-challenge, a giveaway and place for you to link up your reviews from this month. For each review you link up, you will get one entry in a drawing of one book of choice from Book Depository. It's open to INTERNATIONALS. For participating in the mini-challenge you will get +1 entry.

December is a wrap-up for the whole year. All the book reviews you linked up January-November + the ones you'll link up in December will be entered into a HUGE giveaway - 12 books, 12 winners, INTERNATIONAL.
Levels:
1-10 - A Firm Handshake
11-20 - A Friendly Hug
21-30 - A Sweet Kiss
31-40 - Love At First Sight
41-50 - Married With Children

Hosts:
Evie from Bookish - http://www.evie-bookish.blogspot.com @SeoEvie
Nicole from All I Ever Read - http://www.nicoleabouttown.com/ @Nicoleabouttown
Bonnie from Hands and Home - http://www.handsandhome.ca/ @HandsHomeBlog
Donna from Book Passion For Life http://bookpassionforlife.blogspot.com/ @BookPforLife
Caitlin from WatchYA Reading http://whatchyareading.net @caitlingss
Rie from Mission To Read http://missiontoread.com/ @missiontoread
Vicky from Books, Biscuits & Tea -http://booksbiscuitsandtea.blogspot.com/ @alouetteuette 
Christa from Hooked On Books http://christashookedonbooks.blogspot.com @ChristasBooks
Jenna from Fans Of Fiction http://fansoffiction.blogspot.com/ @fansoffiction
Angel from Mermaids Vision http://mermaidvision.wordpress.com @mermaidvisions 


***  I so need this challenge!!!  You should see how many print books are on my shelf and how many ebooks await my attention on my Kindle.  
I am challenging myself to "A Friendly Hug" of 11 - 20 books ***