Friday, March 30, 2012

Review: Dying to Know You by Aidan Chambers

Dying to Know You 
by Aidan Chambers
Published: April 2012
Publisher: Amulet Books
Available: Amazon


In this contemporary love story, a teenage boy named Karl enlists a famous writer to help him impress his girlfriend, Fiorella. She has asked him to write her a letter in which he reveals his true self. But Karl isn’t convinced he’s good enough with words, so he tracks down Fiorella’s favorite author and begs him to take up the task. The writer reluctantly assents, on the condition that Karl agree to a series of interviews, so that the letter will be based on an authentic portrait of Karl. The letter, though effective, has unexpected consequences for Karl, Fiorella, and the writer.


This was a very difficult book to rate and review, and even now I keep going back and forth between a 3 and a 5, so I've settled on giving it a 4.

There were parts of this book I absolutely loved. The relationship between Karl and the writer (who is never named) is so touching and felt believable. Both were in need of someone in their life to fill a gap left by the death of a loved one. This is the main focus of the book, so I feel Chambers accomplished this amazingly. There is a questioning about why they need each other, but by the end it was pretty obvious that not only had managed to fill an empty space inside of them, but they found something more as well. Chambers also does a nice job of dealing with the issue of Dyslexia (an issue close to my heart). He shows the struggles children with Dyslexia face not only as a side effect of their disability, but also due to the misunderstanding teachers, parents and the public have about it.

What makes me hesitate to give this the higher rating is that it's told from the point of view of the writer, who is an older gentleman in his seventies. We don't feel Karl's struggles and depression, because the old man doesn't feel them. He can remember and understand what Karl's going through but he looks at the situation through the eyes of experience. I was also very hesitant to rely on the writer and his relationship to Karl because of the title of the book. I definitely went in with the assumption that someone was going to die and I didn't want to start caring for a character that was going to kick the bucket.

While the fact that the book was narrated by an old man didn't automatically deter me from reading Dying to Know You, I do think it's a harder sell for a younger audience. There are going to be some YA readers who love it, some who don't mind and others that will hate it, but I for one am glad I read it. It's a beautiful story of friendship bridging the generation and education gap.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Review: Awaken by Katie Kacvinsky

by Katie Kacvinsky
Published: May 2011
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Available: Amazon


Maddie lives in a world where everything is done on the computer. Whether it’s to go to school or on a date, people don’t venture out of their home. There’s really no need. For the most part, Maddie’s okay with the solitary, digital life—until she meets Justin. Justin likes being with people. He enjoys the physical closeness of face-to-face interactions. People aren’t meant to be alone, he tells her.

Suddenly, Maddie feels something awakening inside her—a feeling that maybe there is a different, better way to live. But with society and her parents telling her otherwise, Maddie is going to have to learn to stand up for herself if she wants to change the path her life is taking.

In this not-so-brave new world, two young people struggle to carve out their own space.


I was really impressed by this book. There's a sea of dystopian novels out there right now, and a lot of them tend to remind me of one another. There's heavy, and depressing worlds where people aren't safe alone and there's some vague references to a war, but Awaken take on a more realistic approach. After terrorist attacks hit a number of schools across the country, killing thousands of children, the country goes into a lock down on their children, instituting an online school program that is mandatory for all children.

What I love about Maddie is that she's not drawn into a rebellion by Justin, even though he's definitely on a mission to get her to join him. And when Maddie finds out exactly who he is, she's angry and hurt. But unlike so many romance driven dystopians she doesn't go out and make rash decisions, or more importantly stupid decisions. She goes into everything with her eyes wide open.

The ending was not what I expected and that made the story even stronger. This is the first in a series, and I am definitely interested in what happens to Maddie and Justin, but even if it wasn't I'd be satisfied with how Kacvinsky finished the book.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Review: Crossed by Ally Condie

by Ally Condie
Published: November 2011
Publisher: Dutton Juvenile
Available: Amazon


Rules Are Different Outside The Society

Chasing down an uncertain future, Cassia makes her way to the Outer Provinces in pursuit of Ky--taken by the Society to his sure death--only to find that he has escaped into the majestic, but treacherous, canyons. On this wild frontier are glimmers of a different life and the enthralling promise of a rebellion. But even as Cassia sacrifices every thing to reunite with Ky, ingenious surprises from Xander may change the game once again.


So I was really excited about reading the sequel to Matched. I really liked Ky and near the end of Matched Cassia really started to look like she was becoming stronger, and more determined. 

Well, Crossed started off really well. Cassia is on a mission to find Ky and won't let anything stop her. She is stronger, she is more determined, she is...well, she's not smarter. She makes some really stupid decisions and there were points were I wanted to smack her across the head for her constant wavering between Ky and Xander.  

I really liked the back and forth narration between Ky and Cassia, because it shows just how differently they are thinking about things, even if they have the same end goal of being together. And just as Cassia became frustrating with her decisions, so was Ky. Ky is just trying to survive and he has very little hope that he'll ever see Cassia again, although it is the only thing he is holding on to. With him it's the rebellion and whether he should join. He doesn't want to and he doesn't want Cassia to join either. And that's where he starts his stupid decisions. 

Even though I was really frustrated with a lot of the choices the characters made, it was Condie's writing that saved this book for me. She has a very beautiful descriptive style that really lets the reader see what the characters are seeing without being overwhelming. If you liked Matched, the Crossed is a definitely read.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Hunger Games ~ The Movie

Wow! The movie was sooooo much better than I was anticipating. Maybe it's because of the Twilight movies and how I have always gone into them with lower expectations (because really, as much as I love the Twilight series - movies and books - they're not the best quality). Hunger Games on the other hand was much better written and a lot easier to screw up. Thank God that didn't happen.

Everything I wanted and needed to see were included in the movie. The reaping, the arena, the way the Capitol was in control of everything going on in the games, the Peeta/Katniss bread scene was exactly like I had pictured it to be like. About the only thing I was disappointed in was the 'Girl on Fire' outfit. I suppose I was just expecting something a bit more grand than what they created, but of course anything more would have increased the CGI effects and made too much.

For diehards who want and expect everything to be exactly the same, they'll probably get a bit frustrated with some minor changes. The most obvious being the origins of the mockingjay pin. But really the origins of the pin are fairly insignificant in the long run, while it's presence is what is really important.

For anyone who shed a tear while reading the book, I would definitely recommend taking a tissue or two or three. I was crying by the end of the first fifteen minutes, and then on and off again for the rest of the movie.   

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

New Cover Reveal for The Earthquake Machine!

Mary Pauline Lowry has had the cover of her novel The Earthquake Machine redesigned and I have to say it changes my entire perception of the book. So here's your first look at the new (and improved) cover:

I really think this cover is going to appeal to a much wider audience. It let's the reader know that this is really a story about a girl and her journey. The hair is what I love the most. It's short and looks a little like she's go a girl commando style going on.

Here's a side by side of the old and new covers:

Here's the blurb for The Earthquake Machine:

The Earthquake Machine tells the story of 14 year-old Rhonda. On the outside, everything looks perfect in Rhonda's world but at home Rhonda has to deal with a manipulative father who keeps her mentally ill mother hooked on pharmaceuticals. The only reliable person in Rhonda's life is her family's Mexican yardman, Jesús. But when the INS deports Jesús back to his home state of Oaxaca, Rhonda is left alone with her increasingly painful family situation.

Determined to find her friend Jesús, Rhonda seizes an opportunity to run away during a camping trip with friends. She swims to the Mexican side of the Rio Grande and makes her way to the border town of Boquillas, Mexico. There a peyote-addled bartender convinces her she won't be safe traveling alone into the country's interior. So with the bartender's help, Rhonda cuts her hair and assumes the identity of a Mexican boy named Angel. She then sets off on a burro across the desert to look for Jesús.

Thus begins a wild adventure that explores the borders between the United States and Mexico, adolescence and adulthood, male and female, English and Spanish, and adult coming-of-age and Young Adult novels.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Spring Cleaning Giveaway Hop!

Yea! It's giveaway time again! I really am obsessed :D

Hosted by I Am A Reader, Not A Writer, the spirit of the Spring Cleaning giveaway is to clean off our bookshelves of those books that we're done with, whether it's because we've read them already or because we just weren't motivate to read them through.

So I scoured my book case and ended up with three different books. All three are previously owned so there will be a bit of wear on them, but they are still in good condition.

One reader will get to choose one of the three books.

Book #1 Keeper of the Winds by Jenna Solitaire

I tried to get motivated in reading this one, but just couldn't. I hope there's a reader out there who will really want to read it.

Book #2 Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin

I picked this one up at the library book sale, so this book is stamped and stickered by my local library. It is in really good condition though.


Book #3 Songbird by Angela Fristoe

Yes, this is a personal copy of my book. It has been read a couple of times by family members, but is still in good condition. If the winner chooses this one, I will sign the book for them. 

Don't forget to check out the Linky list of all the other blogs participating in the giveaway hop!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Review: Torment by Lauren Kate

by Lauren Kate
Published: September 2010
Publisher: Random House Children's Books
Available: Amazon


Hell on earth.

That’s what it’s like for Luce to be apart from her fallen angel boyfriend, Daniel.
It took them an eternity to find one another, but now he has told her he must go away. Just long enough to hunt down the Outcasts—immortals who want to kill Luce. Daniel hides Luce at Shoreline, a school on the rocky California coast with unusually gifted students: Nephilim, the offspring of fallen angels and humans.

At Shoreline, Luce learns what the Shadows are, and how she can use them as windows to her previous lives. Yet the more Luce learns, the more she suspects that Daniel hasn’t told her everything. He’s hiding something—something dangerous.
What if Daniel’s version of the past isn’t actually true? What if Luce is really meant to be with someone else?


So, in my endless annoyance with misleading covers I find that I continue to not understand the reluctance of cover artists to READ the book they are designing a cover for! Or with the publishing houses to let author's say "Hey, this isn't right". I love the Torment cover. It is absolutely beautiful. But that's not Luce!! how can they continue to get this wrong, when her hair is such a big thing in the book? This is the second time, and since I've seen the cover of Passion the third book in the series I know they don't even fix it there!! Maybe I'm obsessing a bit, but it just drives me nuts.

Anyways, despite the cover I did really enjoy this book. I actually thought I'd already reviewed this one, since I read all three already released books in the series late last summer.

Torment changes the scenery and adds in many new characters, but still retains the same eerie, dark feeling of Fallen. Luce and Daniel have been separated and she is falling prey to not just one but two not so good guys. But Kate does a really good job of blurring that line between good and evil, how each side sees their side as the good side. With Daniel in the middle of the tug-of-war between the two sides, it's even harder to figure out which side he should choose, because neither actually seems all that good.

I was disappointed a bit with the separation of Luce and Daniel. It started to feel like the Twilight pattern (Book 1 - resist love, Book 2 - he leaves for her own good, Book 3 - resigned to being to together because they can't resist, Book 4 - loves other problems and maybe one will die) Maybe Kate won't fall completely into this repetitive mess.

The Announcers (or shadows as Luce called them before) were a really interesting development. Luce's experimentation with them changed things up, and I liked the out come of her learning to use them. Kate also did a great job in explaining how the Announcers work, or at least how Luce is figuring out how they work.

The ending was surprising, but I hate giant cliff-hangers. They tend to be big let downs that are dragged out for far too long in the next book. I wish Luce had actually done something that made an immediate difference to the war going on between Angels and Demons, or even to her relationship with Daniel.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Review: Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer

Life As We Knew It 
by Susan Beth Pfeffer
Published: December 2005
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Available: Amazon


Miranda’s disbelief turns to fear in a split second when a meteor knocks the moon closer to the earth. How should her family prepare for the future when worldwide tsunamis wipe out the coasts, earthquakes rock the continents, and volcanic ash blocks out the sun? As summer turns to Arctic winter, Miranda, her two brothers, and their mother retreat to the unexpected safe haven of their sunroom, where they subsist on stockpiled food and limited water in the warmth of a wood-burning stove.

Told in journal entries, this is the heart-pounding story of Miranda’s struggle to hold on to the most important resource of all--hope--in an increasingly desperate and unfamiliar world.


I am a huge fan of disaster flicks, but disaster books? I'd never really tried until this one. The library steered me towards this one by Susan Beth Pferrer with one of their "If you liked Hunger Games then you might like this" fliers, and I'm glad it did.

One thing that I liked about this story is that it's not about how people immediately become raving animals, raiding, raping and destroying everything. People are scared, and yes there's a bit of panic, but there is also a need for order and normalcy. I read one review of this book that said they couldn't believe that there would be school, etc. But honestly that is what people would expect. I have taught during natural disasters. When Hurricane Ike hit Houston a few years back, our school opened only a couple of days after despite the fact that 80% of the city still didn't have electricity and was still flooded. Parents sent their children to school because it was dry, safe, and a place to get two meals a day.

I wasn't too sure about the diary style at first especially since it felt more like I was being told instead of shown, but Pfeffer manages to make Miranda an interesting enough story teller to keep me going. What was interesting about Miranda is that I didn't actually like her, despite having to listen to her the entire book. And I think it's because she was still relatable. She whines and complains a lot, she slacks off and complains so more, but she's also trying to figure out how to hold herself together when the world is falling apart around her. She is selfish, and she does stupid selfish things, but they are things teenagers do because they are still kids who are learning.

I read this book a while back and it still sticks with me. Not the specific details, but definitely the ending. And considering what a selfish character Miranda shows herself to be throughout most of the book, the ending made me feel really sad for her. This is the first in a trilogy and I was originally very eager to read the next two books. I even picked up the second one and made it through the first couple of chapters before I stopped. It wasn't bad, but I don't think it was really a story I needed to keep going.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Review: Pieces of Us by Margie Gelbwasser

Pieces of Us 
by Margie Gelbwasser
Published: March 2012
Publisher: Flux
Available: Amazon


Two families. Four teens.
A summer full of secrets.

Every summer, hidden away in a lakeside community in upstate New York, four teens leave behind their old identities…and escape from their everyday lives.

Yet back in Philadelphia during the school year, Alex cannot suppress his anger at his father (who killed himself), his mother (whom he blames for it), and the girls who give it up too easily. His younger brother, Kyle, is angry too—at his abusive brother, and at their mother who doesn’t seem to care. Meanwhile, in suburban New Jersey, Katie plays the role of Miss Perfect while trying to forget the nightmare that changed her life. But Julie, her younger sister, sees Katie only as everything she’s not. And their mother will never let Julie forget it.

Up at the lake, they can be anything, anyone. Free. But then Katie’s secret gets out, forcing each of them to face reality—before it tears them to pieces.


First off, this book is not for the faint of heart. Pieces of Us is a very raw and honest look into the minds of four very different teens that all have some type of emotional problem. While I loved this book, I would not recommend it to any teen under sixteen simply because I think there is a need for a certain level of maturity to handle the subject matter. There is cussing, there is drinking, there is sex (consensual and not), and it's not pretty.

Written in alternating points of view we get to see the characters not only as they see themselves, but also how others see them. The alternating voices is one of Gelbwasser's strengths. Each of the four characters were very distinctive in their speech and in their thought process. I had a galley copy, so there were minor errors such as missing headings signalling the change in character point of view. But I was able to quickly figure out there had been a change, simply by what the characters were thinking.

Julie immediately grabbed me and I felt a lot of sympathy for her. She's the ugly duckling of her family and is constantly envious of her older sister Kate, but she also has her own personality and she stands strong, or at least she thinks she does. She really starts off as the unwilling victim. Her older sister Kate took me a lot longer to get into. She does initially come across as the shallow girl Julie sees her as, but the more of her view we see the more obvious it is that she's facing harder things than her sister ever imagines. Alex and Kyle are a completely different story. Alex is one of those teen guys that my father would have killed if I'd ever brought home. He has zero respect of women and he hides that side of himself from Kate. He is the abused becoming the abuser. Kyle's story seems to be a bit more on the sad side, but there were bits and pieces that really made me wonder at the extent of abuse he was suffering.

There is so much more I want to say about this book, but I can't figure out how to do it without spoiling the story. I will say that the ending left me with wanting more, but I think if I had been given the ending I wanted I would have felt that the author had caved under pressure. As it stands I was left feeling both hope and hopelessness for the characters. Definite read if you're looking for a good cry and a dark contemporary read.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Review: New Girl by Paige Harbison

New Girl 
by Paige Harbison
Published: January 2012
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Available: Amazon


They call me 'New Girl'...

Ever since I arrived at exclusive, prestigious Manderly Academy, that’s who I am. New girl. Unknown. But not unnoticed—because of her.

Becca Normandy—that’s the name on everyone’s lips. The girl whose picture I see everywhere. The girl I can’t compare to. I mean, her going missing is the only reason a spot opened up for me at the academy. And everyone stares at me like it’s my fault.

Except for Max Holloway—the boy whose name shouldn’t be spoken. At least, not by me. Everyone thinks of him as Becca’s boyfriend…but she’s gone, and here I am, replacing her. I wish it were that easy. Sometimes, when I think of Max, I can imagine how Becca’s life was so much better than mine could ever be.

And maybe she’s still out there, waiting to take it back.


I was really surprised by this book. When I first started reading I thought it was going to be a bit fluffier. Maybe some kind of Gossip Girl meets Harry Potter. I was definitely surprised, in a good way, especially after I've run into three books before this that I either couldn't finish or had to struggle through.

Told using two different points of view, the missing Becca and the "New Girl", Harbison gives an amazing contrast of two girls who essential want the same thing. Acceptance and love. But go about it in completely different ways, each resulting in very different outcomes.

Harbison writes the "New Girl" (her name doesn't appear until the very end, so I won't spoil it for you) as a normal teen, who at first appears to be on the meek side. Even though she has no desire to go to boarding school, she does it because she knows how happy her parents are to give her the opportunity. Yes, it is a weak move, but it's also kindhearted and as someone who moved during high school I could also see her excitement about maybe being able to create an entirely different person, even if it never happens. The best part about the "New Girl" for me was how she comes to the realization that she deserves more than to just be a sad replacement for the missing Becca. There were moments were I became frustrated by her lack of willingness to tell her parents or someone about what was happening at school, but closer to the end there is a point where she begins to understand why she didn't. 

Becca's point of view is much more sexually charged, and she defines herself by her sexual appeal to the boys and the girls around her. She is all about appearing perfect and desirable. I didn't really like her character at first, because she was such a negative contrast to the "New Girl", but she grew on me and by the end I could understand why she was doing the things she did.

This book is definitely not for anyone who is against sex in YA books. Harbison doesn't go into gritty detail, but it's pretty obvious that the characters are sexually active and not just with one person. I like that she doesn't just gloss over, although the scenes are a lot more detailed with Becca than "New Girl" and for me it made sense. Becca uses sex as a way of taking control and uses the boys she's with. It's not about love and she has no boundaries for intimacy, so reading about her sex life isn't surprising. "New Girl" does see it as an expression of emotion and that sex is something private that while she doesn't hide, she doesn't see why it is anyone else's business what she is doing, so it comes across as more of an implication of sex instead of the harsher details the reader gets with Becca. 

I definitely recommend New Girl and will be looking for more from Harbison.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Review: The Promise by Apryl Baker

The Promise 
by Apryl Baker
Published: September 2011
Publisher: Black Matrix Publishing LLC
Available: Amazon


Cassie Jayne Bishop grew up in the sleepy town of New Salem, NC, the only non-believer in the tradition and power of the town Coven. When a stranger comes to New Salem, everything she thought was normal about her life unravels around her. Ethan makes her question everything, even her sister's death in a car crash years ago. As Cassie discovers the full truth about her heritage, and the clues start to pile up, she becomes determined to find out if the Coven was actually involved in her sister's death. What she uncovers terrifies her.
Her fate lies at the very heart of the secret the Coven protects. It's the reason she was born. Now, betrayed on every side, can she find a way to survive or will she be the catalyst that triggers a centuries old act of vengeance.


I'm always a little hesitant with witch stories. They're kind of like faeries for me, just not quite intriguing enough. The Promise, however, definitely managed to grip me. Baker has an interesting writing style that feels very natural and her characters really pop. She gives each of them very distinct voices.

Cassie, of CJ as she's also called, is spunky and not the sit back and wait kind of heroine. She is determined to figure out what is going on in the town and how her sister's death is related to it. She does make some silly decisions, but they come across as understandable because she's acting like the teenager she is. The romance with Ethan is spicy and there are some steamy scenes with the two, which only help show how Cassie is completely in over her head with the romance and the effects it has on her reasoning skills.

The mystery at the heart of The Promise is slow to build, and Baker does an amazing job of revealing clues along the way at a nice pace. It kept me wondering every page, thinking something is too obvious and then not at all, so much so that when I finally got to the end I was still surprised by who is doing what and why.

You can also check out my interview with Apryl Baker here.  

Friday, March 9, 2012

Review: Revealing Eden (Save the Pearls #1) by Victoria Foyt

Revealing Eden (Save the Pearls #1) 
by Victoria Foyt
Published: October 2011
Publisher: Sand Dollar Press Inc
Available: Amazon


Eden Newman must mate before her 18th birthday in six months or she'll be left outside to die in a burning world. But who will pick up her mate-option when she's cursed with white skin and a tragically low mate-rate of 15%? In a post-apocalyptic, totalitarian, underground world where class and beauty are defined by resistance to an overheated environment, Eden's coloring brands her as a member of the lowest class, a weak and ugly Pearl. If only she can mate with a dark-skinned Coal from the ruling class, she'll be safe. Just maybe one Coal sees the Real Eden and will be her salvation her co-worker Jamal has begun secretly dating her. But when Eden unwittingly compromises her father's secret biological experiment, she finds herself in the eye of a storm and thrown into the last area of rainforest, a strange and dangerous land. Eden must fight to save her father, who may be humanity's last hope, while standing up to a powerful beast-man she believes is her enemy, despite her overwhelming attraction. Eden must change to survive but only if she can redefine her ideas of beauty and of love, along with a little help from her "adopted aunt" Emily Dickinson.


What? What?! How can I even start? There are so many things about this book that are just completely - Argh! I can't even think of how to describe it.

Revealing Eden starts off with a fairly interesting premise. Radiation is permeating the ozone and has managed to kill of the majority of fair skinned people. Survivors live under ground in a society based on a racial class system with white people at the bottom and black people at the top. Definitely a twist on racial issues I could find new and interesting. Then the author names the whites as 'Pearls'. Yes, Pearls. You know those rare and precious stones? What a horrible name for them. How atrocious. I'm white and I don't think being called a pearl would offend me. And trust me I've been called racist names before. What's even worse is that the first racist comment of the book actually comes from Eden, our Pearl protagonist.

I could have still gone along with the story if it had some kind of focus. What starts as a dystopian, takes an abrupt turn into Fantasy, as one of the characters undergoes a procedure to turn himself into a jaguar hybrid. The story moves out of the combs of their racial society and into the rainforest, where it then becomes a mesh of South/Central American mythology and environmentalist preaching.

On top of this is the total lack of a likeable, coherent main character. Eden is whiny, selfish, racist, self hating and all round bit*h. She is constantly flip flopping between pitying herself, hating herself and hating everyone else. She's a completely unlikable character. I didn't buy into anything she felt that was not negative. Her father is completely oblivious to her and couldn't care a bit about her in any capacity other than how she can help him in his scientific discoveries, yet there is a moment when Eden believes she is about to die that she decides he does care for her and she's been a fool to not see it. What? Like when she nearly drown and he told her it was an inconvenience, or when he chose his research over her life, while she had a gun pressed to her head? But wait! When she comes back alive, he does seem to care, so much he might even shed a tear! There was another moment when she decided she was wrong about her treatment of Bramford, the lead male of the story, simply because she put on a pretty dress, then moments later decides to try escaping him, because she hates him.

Bramford is at least interesting, and I wish the book had actually been told from his perspective. He makes some radical life changing decisions and has a past that makes his choices even more powerful. He's honestly the most human character and it's pretty obvious from the first scene with him that he's meant to be Eden's love interest despite her prejudice and constant hate filled words.

The love story angle is even more What?! One moment Eden can't stand Bramford, then he turns into a half human, half jaguar and she spends the rest of the book lusting after him, breathing heavy, squeezing her thighs, groaning and moaning. I thought it was about to turn into a porn or something. If she wasn't panting then she was blaming him for everything wrong with her life. Then just as suddenly she loves him. But wait! He loves someone else. So, how does Eden treat this person she claims to love? She tricks him into sharing painful details of the woman he loved and then uses them to hurt him. Deliberately. Of course, she kindly lets the reader know every few pages that he is a beast, a selfish beast, so she must be justified, right? Of course, because she's a horrible dirty Pearl, while he's a precious Coal.

I'm really sad to say that I spent about five days reading this, when I could have been doing anything else. I'd only recommend this for fantasy readers not offended by the idea of human/animal relations.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Review: Glimmerglass by Jenna Black

by Jenna Black
Published: May 2010
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Available: Amazon


It's all she's ever wanted to be, but it couldn't be further from her grasp...

Dana Hathaway doesn't know it yet, but shes in big trouble. When her alcoholic mom shows up at her voice recital drunk, again, Dana decides shes had enough and runs away to find her mysterious father in Avalon: the only place on Earth where the regular, everyday world and the captivating, magical world of Faerie intersect. But from the moment Dana sets foot in Avalon, everything goes wrong, for it turns out she isn't just an ordinary teenage girl, she's a Faeriewalker, a rare individual who can travel between both worlds, and the only person who can bring magic into the human world and technology into Faerie.

Dana finds herself tangled up in a cutthroat game of Fae politics. Someone's trying to kill her, and everyone seems to want something from her, from her newfound friends and family to Ethan, the hot Fae guy Dana figures she'll never have a chance with...until she does. Caught between two worlds, Dana isn't sure where she'll ever fit in and who can be trusted, not to mention if her world will ever be normal again.


I have to admit, it's been a while since I read this book, and I can't remember a lot of specific things that made me give it a 3 originally over on Goodreads. What I do remember is that I was attempting to read it at the same time as another book that just seemed to drag on forever. Which incidentally I also rated a 3. I'm changing my stance on this one. I'd go 3.5, because I definitely found it better than that other book I won't name here. 

Faeries aren't really my thing. I don't know what it is, but I just haven't been able to really get behind them. Although I am reading a piece right now that is being work shopped over at that is absolutely hilarious. What did draw me into Glimmerglass was the cover. I absolutely love it. Now, I've been sucked in by covers before, but here I really do think the cover suits the story, no matter if I was vaguely dissatisfied with the writing. 

The world building was actually really well done. I had no trouble visualizing Avalon and I love how it is developed as an actual place that has not only Faerie laws but also a human government element controlling the boarders. Things made sense there even if there was a touch of magic. It didn't feel like some fairy tale land, but rather an alternate world that exists with rules that are logical.

Dana comes across as pretty selfish and annoying at first, but she did grow on me. I can remember being really frustrated with her instant attraction to Ethan and that she is quick to judge others despite being a horrible judge of character.

Ethan seems like the extra slick guy, and he is, but halfway through the book he turns kind of creepy by using magic to calm Dana into submission during a make out session. The saving grace of the situation - Dana flips and actually starts to respond in a sensible, normal way. Ethan's a bit less appealing than that, but since he's introduced way before the two other attractive guys that pop up in Dana's new world. Ethan's sister Kimber was plain annoying at first, even more judgmental than Dana, but once we get some back story on her, she becomes very likable.

There were a few nagging things for me. Like how Dana was constantly sleeping. It seemed like every time I turned the page she was just waking up or going back to bed. I wanted to tell the author that it's okay to imply that a day or even two had passed. And it was a bit bothersome how easily Dana's affections strayed. But that is typical of a teenage girl, particularly one who is completely surrounded by hot, HOT guys. 

I have to say that I loved the idea of a Faeriewalker. Being a non-Faerie  reader I don't know how original that concept is, but I loved how Black described it and what Faeriewalkers can actually see that is different.

I'm not sure if I ever realized that this was the first in a series. Maybe because I forgot to look, but it was actually the cover of the sequel that made me realize it. I am planning on reading the second book Shadowspell (now that I'm aware of it) and I hope that it sticks with me a bit better than Glimmerglass

Monday, March 5, 2012

Review: Red Riding Hood by Sarah Blakley-Cartwright

Red Riding Hood 
by Sarah Blakley-Cartwright
Published: January 2011
Publisher: Poppy (an imprint of Little, Brown and Company)
Available: Amazon


The blacksmith would marry her.
The woodcutter would run away with her.
The werewolf would turn her into one of its own.

Valerie's sister was beautiful, kind, and sweet. Now she is dead. Henry, the handsome son of the blacksmith, tries to console Valerie, but her wild heart beats fast for another: the outcast woodcutter, Peter, who offers Valerie another life far from home.

After her sister's violent death, Valerie's world begins to spiral out of control. For generations, the Wolf has been kept at bay with a monthly sacrifice. But now no one is safe. When an expert Wolf hunter arrives, the villagers learn that the creature lives among them--it could be anyone in town.

It soon becomes clear that Valerie is the only one who can hear the voice of the creature. The Wolf says she must surrender herself before the blood moon wanes...or everyone she loves will die.


When I picked this up, I was doing so under the impression that the movie starring Amanda Seyfried was based on Blakey-Cartwright's book. Not so. Apparently director Catherine Hardwick came up with the idea of turning it into a book during production. Prior to knowing this, I actually enjoyed the book and what I had assumed was an alternative ending. Now that I know this I feel very let down.

The characters were interesting, and it was nice to get inside Valerie's head a bit more. I enjoyed the movie, and thought it was fairly well done. A bit Twilighty, but decent. Valerie's character in the book comes across a bit more selfish and wishy-washy as far as her affections went. Henry was also a bit more developed than he was in the movie and I actually could see why Valerie might have wavered, especially considering how in the book Peter has been absent for years, only showing up right before the wolf attacks the first night.

The slight differences in the beginning of the book were nice, making it at least feel like I was getting something new out of it. The minor differences between the movie and book pop up often enough that it kept me read, if only to find out what else would be changed. Which leads me to the ending. Or what I thought was the ending. Apparently, the library book I borrowed was one of those printed before the movie released, and was published with the ending missing. On purpose. Yeah. So while I thought the author had deliberately left things hanging with a mystery or at least a suspicion that Peter was the wolf, what really happened was the publisher decided to work with the movie production company and not release the last chapter(s) until the movie came out. It totally ruined the book for me. I mean what a way to give in to the movie industry and sacrifice your story for a few extra movie tickets.

If you've seen the movie, then skip this one. At least that way you'll get the actual ending.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Interview with Apryl Baker, Author of The Promise

I am thrilled to be interviewing the author of The Promise, Apryl Baker. I have known Apryl for over two years and I absolutely love her writing style! The Promise is her debut novel with Black Matrix Publishing.

Can you tell us what The Promise is about in a single sentence?

Armed with kick-ass shoes, can CJ stop a maniacal coven leader, save the town, and still get Mr. Melt In Your Mouth Gorgeous while surviving the darkness coming for her?

Can you tell us a bit more about The Promise and how it came about?

I call The Promise my Post-It Note idea. I was driving home from work and listening to Theory of A Dead Man’s Not Meant to Be. I passed this little community called New Salem and the image of a girl sitting beside a gravestone popped into my head. I couldn’t shake it so when I got home, I jotted it down on a yellow sticky and stuck it on the wall beside my computer. Over the next few days, I kept jotting down ideas and before I knew it I had a complete outline of a book on a wall of yellow, purple, and pink.

It's essentially a story of friendship and the ties that bind us together. Here is a little blurb that will give you an idea of the story:

Cassie Jayne Bishop grew up the only non-believer in the town Coven. When a stranger comes to the sleepy town of New Salem, NC, everything she thought was true unraveled around her. Ethan made her question everything, even her sister’s death. Clues start to pile up and Cassie is determined to find out if the Coven was the real reason her sister died. What she uncovers terrifies her. Her fate lies in the very heart of the secret the Coven protects. It’s the reason she was born. Now, betrayed on every side, can she find a way to survive or will she be the catalyst that starts it all?

The Promise centers around the world of witchcraft, not Wicca, can you explain the difference for us, at least as it pertains to your book.

Wicca is a religion involving deities. In the world of The Coven series, witches practice witchcraft, not Wicca. They use the Elements for their spell crafting and not prayers to gods and goddesses. They also fundamentally believe that true magic is neither white nor black, but a culmination of the two. We get to see both black magic and white magic at work in The Promise.

Was it fun writing the scenes between Cassie and Ethan?

LOL, yes. I laughed, I cried, and I blushed. I blushed a lot. They were very near and dear to my heart. My favorite scene between them is when they are lying on her front porch kissing and her Dad walks up and finds them. One of the seventeen year olds who did a test read for me told me when she read that, she dropped the book and felt her own face flame What girl wouldn't die of embarrassment to be caught making out by their daddy?

If your book was being made into a movie who would you envision in the leading roles?

Cassie: Emma Roberts

Ethan: Jake Abel

Kay: Phoebe Tonkin

Jeff: Matt Lanter

A lot of authors have playlists for their books. Do you have one? If so, would you mind sharing a few of the songs?

Here are a few of my favorites and many, many ideas were born out of these songs. Music inspires a person as much as anything else and helps you to figure out sticky parts that give you trouble.

Theory of a Dead Man: Not Meant to Be

Dashboard Confessional: Dusk and Summer

Fall Out Boy: I Don’t Care

Thriving Ivy: Angels on the Moom

Buckcherry: Sorry

Dashboard Confessional: Stolen

Can you tell us a bit about your road to publication?

It was slightly You work so hard on your book. Then you polish it up and send it off on its merry little way only to have the dreaded REJECTION letter sent back to you. It was tough getting all those no's, but with each one, I went back to the book and worked on it. I remember the day I got the email offering to publish it. I jumped up and down and I swear the neighbors heard me screaming. It was great. The road here was hard and riddled with rejection, but so worth it in the end if I can make one person laugh or cry when they read my little sticky note idea.

What is your all time favorite book?

That's so hard. I love so many different ones. I would have to say my favorite is an old classic, Pride and Prejudice. Though, Kim Harrison's The Hollows series comes in a close second.

What advice would you give aspiring authors?

No matter how hard it is or how often you find yourself wanting to give up, don’t. When you get told no, go back and just keep working on it. Many agents and publishers will give you good advice on what they didn’t like about it. Find the things that are consistent and rework them. Just keep plugging away and eventually you will find a home for your book. There are great books out there and soon yours could be one of them.

Also find yourself a great writing group. The people there will help you to grow and hone your skills to an art truly worthy of the written word. The best advice I was ever given was to check out The folks I met there are the main reason I am published today. They are brutally honest, but they will support you and give you the help and encouragement you need to finish your work and make it the best it can be. I owe them a lot.

Where can our readers find you?

I'm always in need of followers on twitter and my blog. All are welcome to come listen to my ramblings and ask questions.


Twitter: @AprylBaker

Blog: My Crazy Corner

Thanks to Apryl for stopping by!! If you haven't checked out The Promise yet then I definitely recommend you do!