Friday, July 30, 2010

Discord's Apple by Carrie Vaughn

Summary (courtesy of GoodReads)When Evie Walker goes home to spend time with her dying father, she discovers that his creaky old house in Hope’s Fort, Colorado is not the only legacy she stands to inherit. Hidden behind the old basement door is a secret and magical storeroom where wondrous treasures from myth and legend are kept safe unit they are needed again. The magic of the storeroom prevents access to any who are not intended to use the items.

Evie must guard the storeroom against ancient and malicious forces, protecting the past and the future even as the present unravels around them. Old heroes and notorious villains alike will rise to fight on her side or to undermine her most desperate gambits. At stake is the fate of the world, and the prevention of nothing less than the apocalypse.

And here's what I thought:  I was already familiar with this author because I've read several of her books in the "Kitty" series.  So, I had high hopes for this book, and I wasn't disappointed.  As you can see from the summary, our main character is a young woman who's called home by her father, and then discovers there's a little more in the basement than she had originally thought.   Woven into this main plot is the story of Alex, a mysterious man Evie encounters, and who has a lot of history of his own.  In fact, Alex's history dates all the way back to the time of the Trojan Horse.   So, we've got some mythology here, giving us insight into Alex, but also bringing the old stories right into the present --- because something in the storeroom has caught the eye of Hera (you know, Hera?  Zeus' wife?  Yes, that Hera).    In addition to these intertwined stories, there's an additional storyline running through this book: the one that Evie is writing for a comic book that she collaborates on with a friend (which, incidentally, also has a strong female character in it).

I liked several elements of this book.   Besides the even pace, and descriptive writing that I have come to enjoy with Vaughn's other books, I really enjoyed the storytelling aspect here.  I liked that there were stories within stories, or stories going hand-in-hand with other elements of the main story.   And, I never felt like I couldn't keep track of who was who, or what was what.   I liked how there were little things I recognized in this book, like the magical objects, or certain characters (sorry -- no more on this because, as usual, I don't want to give any spoilers here).   I also really liked how Evie is a consistently strong female character.  Like any of us, she has moments of doubt.  But, she's confident and smart --- and she uses her head to get out of tough situations (not her looks, not her sex appeal, etc).   I felt she was realistically written, even in the face of some of the more fantastical elements of this story.

Overall, I thought this was a great book, and one that I've already recommended to some of my friends.  The idea of combining mythology with the current world was an interesting one, and I had been curious to see how Carrie Vaughn handled it.   She didn't let me down!

Where I got this book:  Library!


The winners of my 105 followers giveaway are:  

Twisted Book Junkie -- who asked for pack #2 (The Ice Queen and the Handmaid's Tale)    and

Lisa R -- for asked for pack #1 (Beautiful Creatures and The Demon's Lexicon)

I used to generate me my two numbers (and it worked out quite well!).   Thanks to everyone who commented -- and a huge thanks for following me!!!

I'll be sending emails to both of the winners so I can get the packs in Monday's mail !!!

Hoppin' time .........

yes, it's a wallaby -- one of my favorite hoppers!
Jennifer over at Crazy for Books hosts this weekly event, and I'm always so glad!!   First, it gets me posting something here (and sometimes, I need a nudge on that).  Second, it lets me discover all kinds of new blogs that I never knew were out there.  Third, it's a good excuse to stop by blogs I follow, and say hello!!!!

Every week now, there's a question -- and this week's is:  Who is your favorite new-to-you author so far this year?      Actually, that's a tough question -- I had to go back through my reading to see who qualified for this.   I'm choosing:  Alexandra Bracken.   I read Brightly Woven recently, and I hadn't read anything else by this author, so technically, she's new to me!   

Thanks again to Jennifer for hosting the Hop!!!   She deserves a lot of credit for keeping all of us hoppers on track!!!!!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Just a small musing ........

because I'm still reading Discord's Apple, and don't have a review yet to post, I thought I'd put this up, instead:

Okay --- this isn't a post about a book.  It's mostly just a little musing for my own amusement.  And since I just had this discussion with a friend of mine, I thought I'd share with anyone reading.

We all know that stories about werewolves are popular.  I mean, let's see ---beyond Stephenie Meyer, we have loads and load of choice stories to choose from.   We have great books like Shiver, and Raised by Wolves, and Nightshade (at least I hear this one is great) (and please, there are more great werewolf/shifter books I could name here, too).  We have authors who write extensively with characters who are werewolves, like Dakota Cassidy, and Carrie Vaughn.  And yes, I know there are a lot of other authors out there --- this is just an example.   Stories about other shapeshifters also exist.  For example, Laurell K. Hamilton includes a variety of lycanthropes in her stories:  wereleopards, and weretigers, and even people who shift into swans.   And let's not forget the stories of beautiful men who change into seals.   But werewolves seem to be the most popular among animals, probably because they are, in nature, a little mysterious.  They're beautiful.  And soft-looking.  They're strong and fast.  Their social life lends itself to all kinds of potential stories about pack behavior and relationships. 

But frankly, I'd like something a little new.   As much as I love wolves, and I do, I'd love to see a story about something different.  Like maybe.... someone who changes into... a possum.   Or maybe a ferret.   I'd take a raccoon.    Yes, yes, I know it would be cooler to ask for lycanthropy to result in something like a raven, or a hawk, or a panther.   But I wouldn't mind a story where our heroine has to deal with the effects of changing into, for example, a raccoon, and having to deal with her drive to root through garbage and then wake up in the morning covered in coffee grounds and pizza sauce.    Or I'd take a hero who changes into a magpie, and then has to explain why he has a huge fascination will all things shiny.    I'm not a writer, but I can imagine all sorts of possibilities here.      Any thoughts?    

And by the way -- I will say that Sam Merlotte gives me all kinds of things to think about......  imagine all the possibilities!!!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


I wanted to say a little sorry ---  didn't get around to visiting anyone's Teasers from yesterday because I got to enjoy having a migraine once I got home from work.   Which kinda sucked, because I look forward to spending part of my evening going down that list.

And, I seem a little stuck on my reading right now.   Perhaps it's all the heat and humidity here?   Just seems like I'm on "slow" speed here....

But I plan on posting tomorrow.   So thanks for being patient.     :)

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

105 Followers Giveaway !!!!

Since I reached 105 followers recently *yay!*, I thought it would be fun to do another giveaway!   And, I need to clean out some books off my shelves to make more room, too......

 So, I have two packs of books, and I'll choose two winners.   I'll also try to add in a few bookmarks, etc.   

1st pack = Advance Reading  Copies of Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl and The Demon's Lexicon by Sarah Rees Brenna

2nd pack = The Ice Queen by Alice Hoffman and The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood (not ARCs)

 To enter, all I ask is that you be a follower --- and please leave a comment letting me know which books you're more interested in.     Giveaway ends on Thursday at midnight, and I'll pick winners on Friday.

    This is just a little thanks to all you followers !!!!!!!!        

Teaser Tuesday !!!

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should be Reading and it asks us to...
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
My teaser this week comes from 13 to Life by Shannon Delany:   "If Amy and Sarah hadn't been my best friends, I think they might have seriously contemplated committing an act of violence against me as I stole their prize away for a reprimand.  Yep, looking back over my shoulder at them, I knew I was a dead woman."  p. 109

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Coming up --- new giveaway soon!!!

I had a most lovely discovery the other day when I realized I had passed 100 followers!!!    Back when I began my blog almost  a year ago, I didn't think anyone would read it.   

So now, I'm all kinds of happy.   I'll be spending this afternoon coming up with a great pack of books (or two) to have in a giveaway this week --- so stay tuned!!!!     And for everyone who reads what I put here -- THANK YOU!!!! 

Brightly Woven by Alexandra Bracken

Summary (courtesy of GoodReads): Sydelle Mirabil is living proof that, with a single drop of rain, a life can be changed forever. Tucked away in the farthest reaches of the kingdom, her dusty village has suffered under the weight of a strangely persistent drought. That is, of course, until a wizard wanders into town and brings the rain with him.  
In return for this gift, Wayland North is offered any reward he desires—and no one is more surprised than Sydelle when, without any explanation, he chooses her. Taken from her home, Sydelle hardly needs encouragement to find reasons to dislike North. He drinks too much and bathes too little, and if that isn’t enough to drive her to madness, North rarely even uses the magic he takes such pride in possessing. Yet, it’s not long before she realizes there’s something strange about the wizard, who is as fiercely protective of her as he is secretive about a curse that turns his limbs a sinister shade of black and leaves him breathless with agony. Unfortunately, there is never a chance for her to seek answers.

And here's what I thought:  I had seen some reviews of this book,and had ordered for our library, but it took a while for me to actually find it on the shelf (because it was always checked out).   I took this as a sign of a good book, and now that I've read it, I can definitely say it was worth waiting for.    As you can see from the summary, this book has magic in it, but it's really about a young woman's discovery of who she really is, and what she does with that knowledge.   Sydelle is a strong heroine, and she's going to be nobody's pawn (even though there are a lot of people who would like her to be just that).    There's adventure in this story, and a bit of romance, and there are some interesting things to think about.    For example, in this story, Bracken makes magic something to be respected.   As one of the characters explains, "...magic is a responsibility, a burden, a duty.  You are a slave to your faith and country.  You don't choose to have it.  Very few of us would, given the choice."    This is an interesting concept; usually, in stories, magic is something wonderful, and potentially, a lot of fun.  Or something powerful and dangerous that people want to have.   It does seem at first like Sydelle has much to do with magic.... and then story goes on and we learn a little more.   The revelation that she has about herself is one of the high points in the book (at least it was for me). 

In addition to our main character, Sydelle, there is also the young wizard, Wayland North.   He's a mystery unto himself, and the reader is only allowed small glimpses into what his story really is, and what he may be hiding about himself.   The development of the relationship between Sydelle and North is done so smoothly, that I kept reading just because I really wanted things to work out between the two of them.   ah, romance....    But it's realistic; it isn't always easy for them to get along, and he doesn't necessarily sweep her off her feet and solve all of her problems in one grand gesture.  As I said, Sydelle is a strong character, with a will of her own, and she's going to make her own destiny.   I enjoyed that while their relationship drove this story, I didn't feel like Sydelle was overshadowed by North.

And speaking of relationships, I really liked how the author worked Sydelle's weaving into the story.   If I say Alexandra Bracken wove together several interesting elements to make this layered story, it sounds like a pun.   But, Sydelle's skills as a weaver are important to the story.   The idea of pulling together threads and colors, and creating a beautiful design are just the way a good story is written.   And, weaving is a practical talent to have, as well -- Sydelle can repair cloth, or make cloth from scratch.   This whole repairing/creating comes into play with her relationship with North, as well.   

This story is beautifully written, with memorable characters.  There's danger and adventure, and a great story, with a nice resolution at the end.   This isn't a spoiler, really --- just be prepared that this is a complete story all by itself -- no cliffhanger to leave you stuck, waiting for resolution.  I liked that -- I read enough series as it is, and it's nice to have a completed story in one book.    I'm looking forward to seeing what this author brings us next. 

Other bloggers have very well-written reviews of this book, if you'd like to take a look:

Friday, July 23, 2010

Merry Sisters of Fate contest --- entry

One of the cool things about trolling through the world of blogs is that I always discover new and interesting things.   Over at Lavender Lines, I came across this contest at the Merry Sisters of Fate.  The challenge is to write something inspired by this picture.  So ... deep breath.... I am.  And even if nothing happens, I am bravely putting a poem out there, for anyone to see.     here goes.....

High upon this drowsy pedestal, 
I wait, drifting dreamless
under your stifling canopy.
How is it that you can only love me
If I pass this test,
I dare to wonder --
will you fold me into your
thorned arms,
draw me down
into a single bed
to drown me
in your fevered dreams.

the picture is "The Princess and the Pea" by Edmund Dulac.

The Clockwork Three by Matthew Kirby

Summary (courtesy of GoodReads): Three ordinary children are brought together by extraordinary events. . . Giuseppe is an orphaned street musician from Italy, who was sold by his uncle to work as a slave for an evil padrone in the U.S. But when a mysterious green violin enters his life he begins to imagine a life of freedom.    Hannah is a soft-hearted, strong-willed girl from the tenements, who supports her family as a hotel maid when tragedy strikes and her father can no longer work. She learns about a hidden treasure, which she knows will save her family -- if she can find it.    And Frederick, the talented and intense clockmaker's apprentice, seeks to learn the truth about his mother while trying to forget the nightmares of the orphanage where she left him. He is determined to build an automaton and enter the clockmakers' guild -- if only he can create a working head.   Together, the three discover they have phenomenal power when they team up as friends, and that they can overcome even the darkest of fears.

And here's what I thought:   Let me begin by saying that Matthew Kirby has an extremely descriptive writing style.   When I was reading this book, I always had a clear picture in my mind of the characters, or the places.   The writing is also very smooth, and I enjoyed how he introduces the characters individually, and then starts to weave their stories together.   For example, we meet Guiseppe first, learning about who he is, and what his situation is.  Then, we move to Frederick, and then Hannah.  Pretty soon, the story really picks up pace, and we learn how all three of them are all involved in the main story.   I never felt a disconnect when I moved from character to character as the chapters changed, which sometimes can happen in a story.  I felt sympathetic towards all three, and got caught up in their story (and worried about what was going to happen towards the end).    What I also enjoyed was that all three of them are strong characters; Hannah isn't a minor character, or completely reliant on the other two boys.  All three of them are quite used to being independent, and fending for themselves to some degree.   I would have been completely annoyed and disappointed if somehow, Hannah had been anything less than what she was.

There are some really interesting elements to this story, as well, that give it a bit of mystery.   Giuseppe's green violion, for example, seems to have a strong effect on anyone listening.  Hannah's new employer definitely has more to her than meets the eye.  Frederick's clockwork automaton also seems to have a smidge of magic.   However, despite these details, it takes all three of the characters to work together to really make things happen.   Overall, this was a good read.  The wonderful writing alone made reading it a pleasure, and it was a well-written story, as well.  

I will note, however,that this book didn't grab me as much as some others that I've read.  It could be because this book is for a slightly younger audience that what I usually read (I'd put it at age 10-12, as opposed to some of the teen books that aim for the 16+ crowd).   Sometimes, I wondered at how real some of the situtions were, particularly Giuseppe's dealings with Stephano (who seems like a nasty version of Fagin from Oliver Twist).  However, I think a younger reader wouldn't be bothered by any of this, and would just sucked into the story. 

Since I mentioned the writing, I should give an example, yes?  How about:  "The storm had left powdery clouds behind, and a shade of blue in the sky that showed all the other blues what they should look like."  (p. 14)   and "Sharing his memories felt like handing over a sharp knife.  A knife that others might handle carelessly."  (p. 61)

Received courtesy of Dark Faerie Tales Book it Forward ARC tour.   This book is due to be published in October, 2010.  Thus, any pages referenced to in this ARC (Advance Reading Copy) are subject to change in the final publishing.

WINNER of my CSN Stores Giveaway!!!!

The lucky winner of my $40.00 gift certificate from CSN Stores is: CHERYL (comment #18), who said "CSN is such a great online store. I really appreciate the chance to enter my name."    Congrats, Cheryl!!!!   I'll be sending you an email right now and also sending your email address to CSN Stores to send you the gift certificate.

Thank you, everyone, for participating and commenting!      I just passed 100 followers, so I'll be having some sort of giveaway for that soon, too!  

This winner was chosen through the randomizer at Random . Org.

Thursday, July 22, 2010


Is it that time again?  YES!!!!  or more or less.....            

Jennifer over at Crazy for Books hosts this great weekly event called the Book Blogger Hop, where you get to visit other blogs, meet new bloggers, read great posts ---- and just have fun!!!     I try to do this every week, and spend time on Friday and over the weekend visiting blogs, and I discover some cool ones every week.  

Adding to the fun, Jennifer now asks us to answer a question.   This week's question is: Tell us about the book you are currently reading.

Well, I had started Linger, but got completely sidetracked when an ARC from a blog tour arrived in my mail.  Now, I'm whipping through The Clockwork Three  by Matthew Kirby and loving it!   Plan to post in a day or so, so stay tuned!!    

And if you're curious, in the meantime, here's the link to the book in Goodreads.

Your Own, Sylvia by Stephanie Hemphill

Summary (courtesy of GoodReads):  On a bleak February day in 1963 a young American poet died by her own hand, and passed into a myth that has since imprinted itself on the hearts and minds of millions. She was and is Sylvia Plath and Your Own, Sylvia is a portrait of her life, told in poems.
            With photos and an extensive list of facts and sources to round out the reading experience, Your Own, Sylvia is a great curriculum companion to Plath's The Bell Jar and Ariel, a welcoming introduction for newcomers, and an unflinching valentine for the devoted.

And here's what I thought:   Let me begin by saying that I didn't really mean to pick up this book at first.  I had actually started Stephanie Hemphill's new book, Wicked Girls.   However, I had only gotten part way through the book and although I liked it, it was due back to the library (I could have renewed it, but I wanted to give other readers a chance at the book).   Wicked Girls is a story set in the time of the Salem witch trials, and is written in verse, a style that I don't always warm to right away.   However, I had been enjoying Wicked Girls until I had to return it.   I saw that our library had another book by Stephanie Hemphill, about Sylvia Plath, so I thought I'd give it a try.   After all, I have always enjoyed Plath's poetry (I took a number of poetry & poetry writing classes in college), and since Your Own, Sylvia was a book about Sylvia Plath, I didn't see how I could go wrong.

There are a number of very well-written reviews on other blogs about this book, some much better written that I would most likely produce.   I really enjoyed that Stephanie Hemphill had such an affection and passion for her subject.  It's obvious, even if you don't go right away to the notes at the back of the book, that she did a lot of research, and spent a lot of time thinking about Sylvia Plath's life.    This entire book is written in poems written in a similar style to Plath's, that tell Sylvia's life through the voices of other people around her.  Does that make sense?   For example, there are poems like "A Room of Her Own" by Warren Plath, and "Heartbreaker" by "John Hall, a college boy Sylvia dated in high school...."    In addition to the poems, on most pages, there are small footnotes that give bits of information and explanation into the real life of Sylvia.  This is helpful, because it tells you a little more about what's going on in a particular poem.   It's an interesting way to write a nonfiction book; the poems here are in the voices of real people, but of course, they didn't really write the poems.   And, if they all happened to write poetry, they wouldn't have all written in the same style of Sylvia, herself.  But what I found happening as I read the book was that I learned a little more about Sylvia's life, and also enjoyed reading the poems.  In fact, a few times, I made little notes to myself about a particular line -- and then went back and read through some of Plath's own poetry, just because reading Hemphill's book was an inspiration to re-visit those poems.    Stephanie Hemphill's own poems are so strongly written, that even if you didn't know anything about Sylvia Plath and you read one of these poems, on its own, it would stand alone as art.   They make me remember what I used to love about reading poetry, and attempting to write my own, as well.

I'll leave you with an example (one of the many that I liked).  (p. 196) from "The Arrival of Poetry"  ---

"Pretty on the outside, blue-bowed
And wrapped in the crisp paper of autumn,
Her words resonate danger.
Her poems are like a box of apples,
Sour and tart in her mouth,
They predict a fall."

And here are a few other reviews:

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Teaser Tuesday !!!

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should be Reading and it asks us to...
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

This week, my Teaser comes from Linger by Maggie Stiefvater, which arrived in the mail yesterday (*yay!*)
"I didn't have time to wonder at the instability of my condition.  I was trembling from the cold, but I didn't feel even a hint of nausea in my stomach, or the twist of my skin hat meant I was about to change into a wolf."  p. 78

Monday, July 19, 2010

Sapphique by Catherine Fisher

I received this book as part of an ARC tour from Dark Faerie Tales --- received it on Saturday afternoon, and read it today.   In one sitting.  Yes, it's that good.

Let's start with a summary, shall we?     Synopsis (Product Description):
"Finn has escaped from the terrible living Prison of Incarceron, but its memory torments him, because his brother Keiro is still inside. Outside, Claudia insists he must be king, but Finn doubts even his own identity. Is he the lost prince Giles? Or are his memories no more than another construct of his imprisonment? And can you be free if your friends are still captive? Can you be free if your world is frozen in time? Can you be free if you don’t even know who you are? Inside Incarceron, has the crazy sorcerer Rix really found the Glove of Sapphique, the only man the Prison ever loved. Sapphique, whose image fires Incarceron with the desire to escape its own nature. If Keiro steals the glove, will he bring destruction to the world? Inside. Outside. All seeking freedom. Like Sapphique."

And here's what I thought:    This might be a bit longer than my usual little reviews, because this book is SO GOOD!!!   Obviously, I can't contain myself.     Let me start by saying that I wasn't sure if I'd be able to get into this book quickly, because it's been a bit since I read Incarceron.   But, I had nothing to worry about.  From the very first page, I was hooked.   Catherine Fisher has created such an intriguing world here, that I was completely bound to gulping down this story, page after page.  Maybe it was just because I was so excited to read this book, but actually, Fisher's writing is so smooth, and the pace so quick, that I think any reader would have the same reaction that I did.

As in Incarceron, we have some of the same characters:  Finn, Claudia, Keiro, Jared, and Attia.    Finn and Claudia are in the Outside world, where rigid Protocol keeps everything tightly clamped down.   Keiro and Attia are still stuck inside Incarceron, desperately trying to find their way out.  But it's never so simple as you think.    Fisher weaves so many twists and turns into this story that I felt like every time I thought I knew what a certain outcome was going to be, I got completely turned around.    And, the characters are pretty real, despite the somewhat unreal setting.    Finn, for all of his time spent inside Incarceron, is still struggling with guilt about leaving others behind, and he's not really interested in becoming the smooth, Protocol-trained prince that everyone expects him to be.   Claudia, who expected that Finn would be able to take up the role of prince easily, is frustrated that he doesn't; and she's fighting her own battles against the plotting of Caspar and the Queen.   On the inside, Attia is tough and lives by her wits, but she's unsure at times.   And Keiro?  Well, he's still the cocky _________ (fill in your own descriptor here) that we knew in the first book.      But, as I said, all of the characters are well-rounded, and written true to themselves.  There was never a disconnect for me, where I was saying, "Hmm... that character wouldn't really act that way."  

This story really had it all for me:  great characters who I really cared about, smooth writing, creative storytelling, and a tiny bit of romance and intrigue.    I really loved the cleverness of how the author wove little gauzy bits of other stories into this story.  For example, there's a small bit at the beginning of a chapter where it's Sapphique's story, but it's actually a variation on a Brer Rabbit story.  (This is p. 60 of this ARC).    There are also parts in this story that started to really make me think hard about the real world that the story is set in.   Fisher gives us the information that this world is after "The Years of Rage," and later mentions that a ruined moon hangs in the sky, the result of an attack."  (p. 169).     And, there are parts where the thin veneer of the beautiful Outside seems to flicker, revealing that there may be something truly ugly underneath.      I am determined to NOT reveal any spoilers here, but seriously, it's hard!!   Let me just say ---- the world here is layered, just like the story, and there are surprises around every corner.    

This was a wonderful book, and I thank Dark Faerie Tales for letting me sign up on this ARC tour (my first one, actually).   I literally sat at my dining room table and read and read, gulping down this story.   This book was so satisfying, like the tastiest, richest food you can imagine.   And of course, I'm ready to read it all over again!     But, I'll be passing this book along shortly to the next person in the tour.    For more information about the ARC tour for this book, and to see who's blogging about it, please visit this link.

And here are a few more thoughts ----  isn't the cover gorgeous???   You can't quite tell from the little picture here,  but it's also a very layered design, with lots of subtle details.     Like the first cover, for Incarceron, I wouldn't mind having this framed on my wall.

And, here's one of the first sentences that I really loved:  "Then he picked the inkwell up and hurled it after them.  It exploded into a black, dripping star."  p. 20.    Love that image.

Please note:  this book is supposed to be out in December, 2010, according to the publisher's note.   All page numbers that I referenced are from the Advance Reading Copy, and are subject to change in the final publication.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

CSN Stores Giveaway !!!!!!!!

I'm not  quite up to my blogiversary yet (actually, that's in September), but I decided to do an early celebratory giveaway!!!!

I’ve been contacted by CSN Stores to give away a $40.00 gift card to one of their stores!!   You may have seen other blogs mention CSN Stores – they have 200+ stores, all on one website (so convenient!) and they have LOADS of cool items to choose from.  I've already picked out some nice table lamps  that I would love in my house.  Like this  lamp --- so cool, yes??     I could use some new lighting -- and something fun!  And speaking of fun... check this one out (yes, that pink fuzzy thing is a lamp!).   Did I already say how many different things they have to choose from?   It's like being a kid in a candy store!
And I wanted to share that feeling with everyone else!!!!   So, I'm running a giveaway this week -- one lucky winner (chosen by randomizer) will win a $40.00 gift certificate, to be used at any of the CSN Stores.

The Rules:
This giveaway is for US and Canadian residents only.
It will end at 11:59 pm on Thursday, July 22, 2010.
You do not need to be a follower to enter.
Please leave a comment to enter! (isn't that easy?)

CSN has tons of other things for booklovers -- bookends, bookshelves, comfy chairs.......   check them out!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Friday hoppin' time again ------

It's Friday -- and that means it's time for another Book Blogger Hop!!!!!  Crazy for Books hosts this weekly event, where book bloggers get to hop around, finding each other and generally sharing our love of books!   Fun, huh?    And the nice thing is, if you can't visit everyone today, Jennifer explains: The Hop lasts Friday-Monday every week, so if you don't have time to Hop today, come back later and join the fun!  This is a weekly event!  And stop back throughout the weekend to see all the new blogs that are added! 


I guess I'm with everyone else who's dancing in their seats and waiting for Mockingjay!   I have read Hunger Games and Catching Fire and finally (finally!!) treated myself and ordered all three books.  So now, I'm just waiting for that magic box to appear on my doorstep with Mockingjay!   

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Teaser Tuesday !!!

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should be Reading and it asks us to...
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
Seems like this is a great motivator for me to post at the start of the week!   Plus, I visit other blogs to see their teasers -- it's a perfect way to find cool blogs, and discover books add to my TBR list!   :)
This week's teaser comes from Brightly Woven by Alexandra Bracken:  "I don't know what I was expecting of Provincia, but now that I was standing directly in front of its famous walls and four high towers, I was wholly underwhelmed.  Even the tallest spires of the castle were smaller than I had imagined."   p. 215

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Dark Alchemy by Sarah Lovett

Summary (courtesy of GoodReads):  A string of deaths in laboratories around the world has the scientific community on edge -- and the FBI on high alert. To the FBI, the circumstances surrounding the scientists' deaths spell the work of an unusually skilled serial poisoner, and they have zeroed in on a single suspect: the brilliant, beautiful Dr. Christine Palmer. A world-renowned toxicologist and leader of numerous international research teams, Palmer is one of only a handful of scientists with highly classified knowledge of the deadliest experimental neurotoxins and their antidotes.  When a molecular toxicologist is poisoned while working at a top-secret research facility outside Santa Fe, Dr. Sylvia Strange and counterterrorism expert Edmond Sweetheart are recruited to assemble a psychological profile of Palmer in an effort to link her to the crimes. But as Sylvia's investigation of Palmer's charismatic persona draws her ever more strongly into the scientist's orbit, hunter and hunted become perilously intertwined. And when Sylvia discovers that her partner may be withholding crucial information, she no longer knows who can be trusted: is the killer friend or foe?   Sylvia will risk everything she holds dear, only to learn that there is no safe haven from a voyeuristic killer whose weapon of choice may go undetected in the food you eat, the clothes you wear, or the air you breathe.

And here's what I thought:   Yikes, right?!   I liked this idea of the whole alchemy of toxins and poisons.  And the premise of the book reminded me of some of the medical thrillers I've read in the past.   However, I wasn't too big on this book.   The plot was cool, and the pacing was ok.... but I got distracted by some of what seemed to be "overwriting" in this book.   "Overwriting" is like overacting (at least, that's how I see it).   Something is described in such a way that it's overwrought.  Or dialogue just seems too odd.   Or a character's thoughts just don't seem to be in line with how their personality is laid out.   Here's an example:  "Behind him the New Mexico sky was the color of raw turquoise and quartzine, metallic cirrus clouds highlighting a blue-green scrim."  (p. 8).  Okay.   Is this the way anyone describes something?   In their heads?   Or am I supposed to believe this is how the character actually sees things --- making this like an inner dialogue?   Here's another one:  "The wildfire had prowled like a ravenous beast, taking bites from forest and town."   Um.... yeah.   And some of the character names were also distracting:  "Edmond Sweetheart." "Dr. Sylvia Strange."  "Drew Dexter."  "Cash Wheeler."  As much as the story intrigued me, I felt like I couldn't take the book seriously.  Which was a shame.   Maybe other people have really liked this book (and by the way, Dr. Sylvia Strange appears in other books by this author), but this wasn't my cup of tea.

This book met one of the requirements for my Hogwarts Challenge - category:  Defence Against the Dark Arts - read any book that has defence(defense), dark and/or art(s) in its title, read any book that is about self defense, war, history of war/marital arts, murder mysteries

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Birthmarked by Caragh M. O'Brien

Summary (courtesy of GoodReads):   After climate change, on the north shore of Unlake Superior, a dystopian world is divided between those who live inside the wall, and those, like sixteen-year-old midwife Gaia Stone, who live outside. It’s Gaia’s job to “advance” a quota of infants from poverty into the walled Enclave, until the night one agonized mother objects, and Gaia’s parents are arrested.  Badly scarred since childhood, Gaia is a strong, resourceful loner who begins to question her society. As Gaia’s efforts to save her parents take her within the wall, she herself is arrested and imprisoned.

And here's what I thought:   From this little summary, you probably already have the idea that this takes place in our world, but somewhere in the future (seems like about 300 years).    We're now in the "cool age",  and it's safe to say that people are dealing with the repercussions of using too much oil, and abusing the environment's resources.   This is a theme throughout this story, as it seems that the people outside the wall are used to living relatively simply, and the people inside the wall have access to more technology.  People from outside the wall have the impression (from the "tvaltar") that life inside the wall is really great, and everyone is young and beautiful --- but the reality is, the people who live inside the Enclave, are having some serious issues.  The whole practice of midwives "advancing" babies to the Enclave is to solve some genetic issues that have started to crop up.   So, there's also a theme in this book about how demanding physical perfection isn't always a good idea.   The author uses the story to develop these ideas, and make the reader think (at least, it made me think).

I thought the characters were pretty well-developed; Gaia's smart and determined, and when she comes into contact with authories inside the Enclave, she doesn't fold under the pressure.   The wary friendship that she starts to develop with Capt. Grey is interesting, and well-written.  Even the supporting characters are well-rounded, making the interactions between all of them feel realistic.   I did have moments of recalling Margaret Atwood's Handmaid's Tale a few times in this story, though.  For example, the whole idea of the midwives "advancing" the babies to other parents, and when Gaia sees women inside the Enclave dressed entirely in red.   Atwood's books Oryx and Crake, and The Year of the Flood, also focus on ideas of abusing the environment and genetics.  Overall, I really enjoyed this story and found it a good read that made me think.  I didn't feel like O'Brien was beating me over the head with her opinions, but instead, presented ideas and opinions through Gaia (or other characters), so that there was more than one view on a subject, such as the practice of "advancing" newborns.    I found this is a quick-paced, well-written story.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Strappin' on my springs........

because it's time for the Book Blogger Hop!!!!   Every week, I discover some great new blogs -- and have a lot of fun!!!    Jennifer over at Crazy for Books hosts this weekly hop --- and now, there's a little something extra -- As she explains:  This week's question:  Tell us about some of your favorite authors and why they are your favorites!

 Um..... ok!   I have a bunch of favorite authors, but I'll just put a few down here (and try to keep it short):
Margaret Atwood -- because her writing style is beautiful and artistic, and her stories sometimes make me a little uncomfortable (but that's ok - they make me think).
Alice Hoffman -- I like some of her books so much that I not only have read them more than twice, but I have extra copies so I can give them away!  Blue Diary and Ice Queen are my favorites.  Like Atwood, the stories sometimes have surprising (and occasionally, disturbing) twists, but she writes beautifully.
Ray Bradbury -- again, another author whose writing I just love.   There are sentences in Something Wicked This Way Comes that I savor --- I kind of roll them around in my mind -- like eating a wonderfully rich dessert.  He's a fantastic storyteller.
Neil Gaiman -- another amazing storyteller.  I have never disliked one of his books, and he's wonderful to hear in person.  I've been lucky enough to have gone to a few signings over the years -- he is really awesome.  And he's very cool.  And kind of cute, too.

and last, but certainly not least --- is China Mieville.   His stories take me to a completely weird, disturbing, compelling place every time I read his books.  I have been hooked on his books ever since I discovered The Scar a few years ago.   His book, The City & The City has won several awards, and his newest book, Kraken, was a book I just couldn't wait for -- so I treated myself at Book Depository UK.... and then gleefully danced around my house when it arrived.   He's an extremely smart man --- reading his political essays is just as good as reading his fiction -- he writes that well.

Whew!   I'm looking forward to seeing who everyone else lists!   :)

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Kitty and the Midnight Hour by Carrie Vaughn

Summary (courtesy of GoodReads)Kitty Norville is a midnight-shift DJ for a Denver radio station - and a werewolf in the closet. Her new late-night advice show for the supernaturally disadvantaged is a raging success, but it's Kitty who can use some help. With one sexy werewolf-hunter and a few homicidal undead on her tail, Kitty may have bitten off more than she can chew?    From the Publisher (Warner Books)

And a little note:  I tend to grab my summaries from GoodReads for a few reasons.   First, I see no need to reinvent the wheel.  If someone has already written up a nice summary, I don't feel the need to write another one.  Second, because I am quoting the entire summary, I avoid any plagiarism (which is why I'm now giving the link to the GoodReads summary also).   Third, I'm a bit lazy.  I'd rather just get on with writing my thoughts on the book (which refers back to the first reason, as well).   :)

And here's what I thought:  I had actually read this book a while back, because one of my friends was raving about it.  I actually liked it very much (and still do), but didn't get past the third book in the series.   Not because I didn't like the series, but just because I forgot by the next time a new book in the series came out.  Re-reading this was fun, and made me think it might be a nice idea to pick up all of the books in the series and just have a "Kitty feast."    So on to the book --- Carrie Vaughn has created a great character in Kitty Norville.  She's smart and tough, (but not too wise-ass), and she's pretty realistic about what it's like to be a werewolf.  I thought it was great that the story really begins when Kitty's hosting one of her usual radio shows, and it turns into a whole "let's talk about vampires and werewolves" show.  The story progresses along with a good pace, and there are some strong supporting characters here, as well.   I like that in Vaughn's world, she has Kitty explain about the whole "mass conversion" (at least that's what I call it) from human to wolf.  On page 63, Kitty basically explains, "We were bigger than regular wolves -- conservation of mass, a two-hundred-pound man becomes a two-hundred-pound wolf, when a full-grown Canis lupus doesn't get much bigger than a hundred pounds or so."  Not to be picky, but I always have a difficult time when *ahem* in certain stories (*or should I say, movies*), the werewolf is HUGE, and seems to be more than twice the size/weight of the human.   Vaughn also does a nice job with Kitty and how it is when she changes into a wolf -- the wolf becomes like an alter ego, another self.   This book was a pretty quick read, and a great story.  

And, there's a fun playlist in the Acknowledgments before the book starts.  I would totally agree that this would be a great soundtrack to this book. 

This book met one of the challenge categories for my Hogwarts challenge.  I'm determined to start ticking off these through July and August!!  Challenge category:  Transfiguration - read any book that has trans or figure in its title, is about shape shifting, has a shape shifter in it, or is about anything having to do with changing one thing into another

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Teaser Tuesdays!

Can't believe it's this late in the day and I haven't posted my Teaser yet!!!!  Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should be Reading and it asks us to...
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
This week's teaser comes from BirthMarked by Caragh M. O'Brien:  "Gaia could hear his boots approaching over the cobblestones, and still she kept her gaze studiously on a flowering vine that grew on the wall beside her.  He brought a faint scent of coffee with him, a scent from freedom."    p. 139
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