Thursday, May 31, 2012

Interview with Genevieve Graham author of Sound of the Heart

SOTH tour banner.jpg

One Book At A Time is happy to have Genevieve Graham here today!  I asked her why she liked writing Historical Fiction and this is how she replied ....

I was NOT a good history student. I took history in high school because I had to, and I slept through most of those classes. What could be so fascinating about stuff that happened hundreds of years ago? What difference did that make to me?

After I had our daughters, I was constantly on the go and had no time to read. It wasn’t until our oldest was eight or so that my mother handed me a book which neither of us knew was going to change my life. And no, it wasn’t self-help or anything like that. It was Gabaldon’s “Outlander”.

I had never experienced anything like that: words that reached out of the page and grabbed me, taking me on journeys I never could have dreamed. I wept, I laughed, I stared openmouthed in amazement, and it certainly didn’t hurt our sex life. I ripped through every one of her books in the series … then read ‘em again. And again. I read them four times each, then listened to the unabridged audio after that - three times. I read everything I could find that looked to be along those same lines after that, including Sara Donati’s “Wilderness” series, books by Penelope Williamson, Jennifer Roberson … and then I decided to write my own. I’d never done it before, but I never planned on anyone but me ever seeing it. Where to start … Scotland? Why not? Diana sure made it appealing. The Highlands: a wilderness bursting with adventures untold. Plus, my ancestry is Scottish, so what could be more perfect for my foray into writing?

I think what I love most about writing Historical Fiction is that it tells stories which supposedly happened years ago, right? Well, no one alive today lived back then (unless you’re into reincarnation, and I’m not even going to go there). So theoretically, no one can tell me that the historical stories I’m writing did NOT actually happen.

When I write, I feel an urging, a sense of direction, almost “voices” in my head (and no, I don’t THINK I’m crazy …). The story almost writes itself. Which makes me wonder ... Could I be telling a story that already happened? Could these people have once lived? Because I have no idea where the ideas come from. It’s as if they come to me from somewhere else. From someTIME else, maybe?

The thing about historical fiction is: you can’t tell me it didn’t happen. And I love imagining that the adventures my characters share with me were real, and I’m right in the middle of them. That’s the point of all fiction, right? To make the reader part of a story that might have happened. But with historical fiction, the stories take me back to a time I would never otherwise see with my own eyes. A rugged, romantic, other-worldly kind of place.

Yes, some history is dull. Some history teachers can be pedantic (remember Ferris Bueller’s teacher? LOL) But I’ll never get tired of history again. Now I can’t get enough. And it’s an honour to be able to share it with all of you!

Why do you like Historical Fiction?

Genevieve Graham graduated from the University of Toronto in 1986 with a Bachelor of Music in Performance (playing the oboe). While on a ski vacation in Alberta, she met her future husband in a chairlift lineup and subsequently moved to Calgary to be with him. They have recently settled in a small, peaceful town in Nova Scotia with their two beautiful daughters.  Writing became an essential part of Genevieve’s life a few years ago, when she began to write  her debut novel, Under the Same Sky. The companion novel, Sound of the Heart, will be in stores  May 1, 2012.

Genevieve GrahamCONNECT ONLINE

Review - Sound of the Heart by Genevieve Graham

Sound of the HeartTitle: Sound of the Heart
Author: Genevieve Graham
Series: Companion to Under The Same Sky
Pages: 336
Published: May 1st 2012 by Berkley Trade 
ISBN: 9780425247341
Source: Sent by author for honest review

Description: Dougal MacDonnell, a fierce warrior from the Highlands of Scotland, is able to hear the thoughts of other men and dream how the future will unfold. Devastated by the loss of his family during the Battle of Culloden in 1746, he fosters a deep hatred for the English. But when Glenna, the love of his life and a Scottish outlaw, is captured and shipped overseas, Dougal is forced to join an English army made of vanquished Scots. Now fighting on the side of his sworn enemies, he embarks on a journey that will take him across the seas to the colonies. There he will risk everything for the chance to find his true love.

I Give This ...

I was a little hesitant to read this at first because I haven't read the companion novel.  I wasn't sure how much they were connected and if it really mattered.  I decided to read it anyway just because I liked the idea of it.  And well... I like stories set in the Scottish Highlands.

I was immediately thrown into a very familiar battlefield.  I half expected to meet Jaimie from Outlander in these opening pages.   It actually had a very similar feel to that story.  I liked Dougal from the moment we meet him.  I love the sense of family we get and how he immediately knows something is wrong because of who is standing beside him.  It doesn't take long from the real battle to begin because we all know what happens at Culloden.  

I thought it was interesting that Dougal was just as concerned for the well being of others as he was for his own.  It doesn't take him long to make a friend with the same beliefs as his own and for them to take a young pair of boys under their wings.  In return, those boys help them escape.  But, sadly only two make it out alive.  

For the longest time, I wondered when we would be Glenna.  She seemed like she should be someone we meet in the opening pages.  When we finally do, it really seemed like a "duh moment" to me.  The clues were all there.  I didn't understand her at first, but her actions began to make sense.  She was doing the only thing she knew for most of her life.  It became harder and harder to shake off that lifestyle.  

I actually think the only downfall of this novel was that is could have been longer.  A lot of time is covered in this book and a few events just barely glanced over.  It never felt long and I was disappointed when it ended.  I will be seeking out the companion book though.  I think it might hold some answers to the questions that I have! 


Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Interview with Tracy Deebs author of Tempest Unleashed plus Giveaway!!

 I would like to welcome Tracy Deebs to One Book At A Time.  We did a fun little interview were I gave her one word and then she said the first thing that came to her mind! 

1. Ocean—Tempest (of course ;)  Oh, and sharks run a close second—I am deathly afraid of sharks

2. Blue—Berries (I love blueberries)

3. Surf—Freedom (but I love surfing more)

5. Love—My husband (I fell in love with him in less than a week)

6. Breathe—Ocean (I never feel as open and relaxed as I do when I’m at the beach)

7. Magic—Xandra (character from my upcoming urban fantasy, Soulbound)

8. Loss—Afraid 

9. Destiny—Exciting, Dangerous

10. Past—Fortune-telling

11. Selflessness—Theo (character from my upcoming dystopian YA, Doomed)

Now, it’s my turn.  What’s the first word that comes to your mind when I say mermaid?

Now for the giveway!!

Tracy is providing a SIGNED copy of Tempest Unleashed.  Giveaway open to US and Canada only and ends June 8, 2012!

Tempest Unleashed (Tempest #2)

Tracy Deebs  Tracy Wolff collects books, English degrees and lipsticks and has been known to forget where—and sometimes who—she is when immersed in a great novel. At six she wrote her first short story—something with a rainbow and a prince—and at seven she forayed into the wonderful world of girls lit with her first Judy Blume novel. By ten she’d read everything in the young adult and classics sections of her local bookstore, so in desperation her mom started her on romance novels. And from the first page of the first book, Tracy knew she’d found her life-long love. Now an English professor at her local community college, she writes romances that run the gamut from contemporary to paranormal to erotic suspense.

And for all of those who want the unedited version:
Tracy Wolff lives with four men, teaches writing to local college students and spends as much time as she can manage immersed in worlds of her own creation. Married to the alpha hero of her dreams for twelve years, she is the mother of three young sons who spend most of their time trying to make her as crazy as possible.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

ARC Review - My Life in Black and White by Natasha Friend

My Life in Black and WhiteTitle: My Life in Black and White
Author: Natasha Friend
Series: Stand Alone
Pages: 304
Published: June 28th 2012 by Viking Juvenile 
ISBN: 9780670013036
Source: Around The World Tours

Description: What if you lost the thing that made you who you are?  Lexi has always been stunning. Her butter-colored hair and perfect features have helped her attract friends, a boyfriend, and the attention of a modeling scout. But everything changes the night Lexi's face goes through a windshield. Now she's not sure what's worse: the scars she'll have to live with forever, or what she saw going on between her best friend and her boyfriend right before the accident. With the help of her trombone-playing, defiantly uncool older sister and a guy at school recovering from his own recent trauma, Lexi learns she's much more than just a pretty face.

I Give This ...

 This description of this book reminded me of Invisible Monsters by Chuck Palahniuk, which a read a number of years ago.  I knew it couldn't possibly be as graphic, but I was intrigued by the idea.

My first thoughts were that everyone surrounding Lexi is completely shallow.  Her whole life in been built around the fact that she's beautiful.  It's such a defining characteristic for her.  I felt like all a long she really wanted to step out of that aspect of herself.  She wanted to be something more than just the beautiful one.  She just no idea how to do it.  

The accident (and the situation leading up to it) that causes the transformation was...interesting.  Lexi's so called best friend Taylor and her boyfriend getting caught in that situation would lead anybody to fly off the handle a little bit.  But, the circumstances behind that accident were almost laughable.  In fact, they would be if it hadn't had such dire consequences.  I was more amazed at the excuses Taylor (and boyfriend) came up with.  Really?  I just didn't believe it.  And after all of that Lexi was so miserable without Taylor that she forgave her and went back to being best friends.  I think if she would have gone back to the boyfriend as well I might have screamed. 

But what really made this story work for me is Ruth, Lexi's sister.  Lexi hasn't really given her sister half a chance until now.  She couldn't see how her sister could possibly be happy without being popular.  I also liked how everyone tiptoed around Lexi, except for Ruth.  She told Lexi exactly what she needed to her.  She pointed out that she needed to stop feeling sorry for herself.  And, that the world was not going to end because of what happened.  It was interesting to watch the transformation in both Lexi and her relationship with her sister.

Overall, I ended up liking the book quite a bit.  It had it's teen moments that made me role my eyes and thank god I'm not in high school anymore.  But, it also had a really good message underneath it all. 


Monday, May 28, 2012

Guest Post with Stacey Kade author of The Ghost and The Goth Series

Today I have Stacey Kade author of the book Body & Soul (which is the 3rd in The Ghost and The Goth Series).  Welcome Stacey!

 1.    What would you be if you weren't an author?
I was a copywriter for a number of years before I was an author, so there’s that. But when I was a kid, I always told my mom I wanted to be a librarian so I’d get first pick of the new books coming into the library. ;)

2.    What's your favorite book?
Oh, dear. I always have to be difficult. ;) I don’t actually have ONE favorite book. I’m way too fickle for that. I love different books for different things about them. The humor, the love story, the setting, etc. But if we go by the number of times I’ve reread a single book (and watched the various movie and TV adaptations), it would have to be Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen.

3.    What's your favorite thing about Alona?  Will?
Hmm. I love Alona’s snark. I think sometimes she says what we’re all thinking, even if we know we shouldn’t be thinking that. As for Will, I love that no matter how hard his life has been (and it has been downright awful at times—sorry!), he doesn’t give in to despair or hopelessness. He just keeps fighting, in his own way. Maybe not exactly in the way Alona would want him to, of course, but she’s working on that. :)

4. Any plans to write an adult book?
I have a few ideas rattling around in my head, but I love writing YA and I’ve got a full plate at the moment, which is AWESOME! :D

5. What's next after The Ghost and the Goth is done?
I have a new series starting in 2013. Project Paper Doll is the series name, and the first book is called The Rules. I’ll have more details to reveal soon, but it’s got a little more of a science fiction edge to it. Dual first person again. Ariane and Zane. :) Ariane is a genetic experiment raised in a lab for the first six years of her life. She’s trying to blend in among the “full-blooded” humans. Zane is the guy who notices something is different about her, but he can’t quite figure out what. The greatest danger for Ari is someone figuring out who/what she is, and yet, there’s this deep desire in her for someone to really know her.
And though I think there have been rumors about it being a dystopian, it’s not. (I do love those books, though!) It’s set in the here and now. Modern day Wisconsin, actually. :)

About Stacey

staceykadeAs an award-winning corporate copywriter, Stacey Kade has written about everything from backhoe loaders to breast pumps. But she prefers to make things up instead. 

From her first childhood scribbles about a magical necklace that would turn people into cats, Stacey has long been fascinated with what happens when the “ordinary” bumps up against “out of this world.” What if aliens landed on Earth? What if the afterlife is really just another dimension?

She lives in the Chicago suburbs with her husband, Greg, and their three retired racing greyhounds, Joezooka (Joe), Tall Walker (Walker) and SheWearsThePants (Pansy). When she’s not reading or writing, you’ll likely find her parked in front of the television with her Roswell DVDs, staring rapturously at Jason Behr.

*Pic and Bio taken from author's website ....

Sunday, May 27, 2012

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

What Are You Reading, is where we gather to share what we have read this past week and what we plan to read this week. It is a great way to network with other bloggers, see some wonderful blogs, and put new titles on your reading list. Click on the picture to be taken to Sheila at One Person's Journey Through A World of Books!
Yeah for summer break!  Here's to lot of time with my girls and to lots of time reading!

Read Last Week:
  • My Life in Black and White by Natasha Friend 
  • Enshadowed by Kelly Creagh  
  • Dreamless by Josephine Angelini
Currently Reading:
  • Body and Soul by Stacey Kade

Up This Week: 
  • Her Highness, The Traitor by Susan Higginbotham
  • Tempest Unleashed by Tracy Deebs

Stacking the Shelves

Stacking The Shelves is all about the books we are adding to our shelves each week, sharing with you our excitement for our newest titles and maybe have you discover a new book in the process!  It's hosted by Tynga's Reviews!

For Review:  

The Queen's Vow: A Novel of Isabella of CastileMy Life in Black and White Enshadowed (Nevermore, #2)

  • The Queen's Vow by C.W. Gortner (Thanks to Historical Fiction Book Tours and Random House)
  • My Life in Black and White by Natasha Friends (Around The World Tours) 
  • Enshadowed by Kelly Creagh (Around The World Tours)

Friday, May 25, 2012

Review - Survive by Alex Morel

SurviveTitle: Survive
Author: Alex Morel
Series: Stand Alone
Pages: 272
Published:  August 2nd 2012 by Razorbill 
ISBN: 9781595145109
Source: Around The World Tours

Description:  Jane is on a plane on her way home to Montclair, New Jersey, from a mental hospital. She is about to kill herself. Just before she can swallow a lethal dose of pills, the plane hits turbulence and everything goes black. Jane wakes up amidst piles of wreckage and charred bodies on a snowy mountaintop. There is only one other survivor: a boy named Paul, who inspires Jane to want to fight for her life for the first time.  Jane and Paul scale icy slopes and huddle together for warmth at night, forging an intense emotional bond. But the wilderness is a vast and lethal force, and only one of them will survive.

I Give This ...

I had high hopes for this one.  It just sounded like it might have an edge and grittiness that other books don't have.  It is about a suicidal teen and a plane crash after all.  It wasn't all that I hoped for.

 I couldn't decide how to feel about Jane.  I was expecting a deeply troubled girl with an extreme emotional state.  But, I didn't get that at all.  In fact, it seems  like she blames her suicidal tendencies on family history.  Mental illness like depression might have families links, but suicide does not I believe.    Thankfully we skip right over that and find a girl who really has a desire to live.  There are so many instances were she could take the easy way out, but she never does.  I think it would take an extremely strong desire to live to get through the situation she's put in.

I think the really strong point of this novel is Paul.  He really seems to put Jane through the steps.  He pushes her boundaries and makes her see things in a new light.  She didn't need therapy, she needed someone like Paul (and maybe a life or death situation).  I admired him for that considering he had troubles of his own.

The actual survival part of this story was not as intense as I had imagined.  Jane's does it with little more effort than the show Man vs. Wild.  I really doubt that average person can do this.  And who survives a plane crash while they are in the bathroom?  There were just a few scenarios that I found not very believable. 


Thursday, May 24, 2012

B & K's Reading Daze

I have two girls who love to read as much as I do.  They are  6 and 4.  My oldest is in the beginning stages of learning to read.  My youngest still loves to be read too.  I'm so excited that this love of mine seems to be passing on to them.  So B & K's Reading Daze highlights some of the books they have enjoyed over the past month.  

K's Books:  
Dancing LarryTitle: Dancing Larry
Author: Daniel Pinkwater
He still likes blueberry muffins. He still works as a lifeguard at the Hotel Larry in Bayonne, New Jersey. He still lives with the Frobisher family. And his brother, Roy, still works at the zoo. But does Larry know how to dance? Not until he attends little Mildred's dance class- and that's when all the fun begins.
We haven't read this yet.  But she's proud of it!  She earned it in school by turning in all her book-it forms for the whole school year.  Plus, it's about a dancing bear and my little ballerina loves that!
B's Books:

Grandma, does my moon shine over your house?Title: Grandma, Does MY Moon Shine Over Your House?
Author: Mary Hansen Freund and Jane Freund 
A delightful story of a little girl who wants to know more about the moon and makes a call to her grandma. The girl imagines what the moon looks like traveling (such as wearing a hat and sunglasses and carrying a briefcase). Explore the imagination of a child as she thinks about the moon and whether her grandma sees the same moon that she does. 
It's funny what will make a book special.   The girls' great-grandma got this book for them.  She always included a little inscription inside and this time it also included one from the author.  Also, it's appropriate because my husband's mother lives 1500 miles from us! 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Review- Gilt (The Royal Circle #1) by Katherine Longshore

GiltTitle: Gilt
Author: Katherine Longshore
Series: Thought stand alone but looks like a series (different characters?)
Pages: 398
Published: May 15th 2012 by Viking Juvenile 
ISBN: 9780670013999
Source: Publisher sent for honest review

Description: In the court of King Henry VIII, nothing is free— and love comes at the highest price of all. When Kitty Tylney’s best friend, Catherine Howard, worms her way into King Henry VIII’s heart and brings Kitty to court, she’s thrust into a world filled with fabulous gowns, sparkling jewels, and elegant parties. No longer stuck in Cat’s shadow, Kitty’s now caught between two men—the object of her affection and the object of her desire. But court is also full of secrets, lies, and sordid affairs, and as Kitty witnesses Cat’s meteoric rise and fall as queen, she must figure out how to keep being a good friend when the price of telling the truth could literally be her head.

I Give This ...

The problem with reading quite a bit of historical fiction from the same time period is that you tend to read about the same characters over and over.  It becomes difficult to shed new light on a subject.  I've read a couple books revolving around Catherine Howard, but this one seemed like it might be something different.  I was right.

I liked that the story is told from the viewpoint of someone close to Cat.  We are seeing the events unfold through someone elses eyes.  Add to the intrigue is that it is someone who has known Cat before she was queen and before she went to court.  I think that's an important distinction.  While Kitty is a complete doormat throughout this book, I think she believes she can't be anything else.  She been discarded and the only way she feels worthwhile is to be at the beck and call of another.  Usually not a very redeeming quality in a lead narrative, but I couldn't help but root for her.  We all know Catherine's fate, but I was hoping that wouldn't happen to Kitty just because Catherine would drag her down with her.

Speaking of Catherine, this book made me dislike her intensely.  In the other books I've read, she's played off more naive and innocent (in the sense that she really has no clue what is going on around her).   I've felt that she was being set up by her family but had not idea the true danger her situation put her in.  This book made me think that may have not been so.  She conniving, selfish, and knows exactly what she's doing.  She will do anything and use anybody to get what she wants.  What still amazes me, is that she thought she could get away with it.  Did she think she could charm her way out it?  That her youth and beauty would be her saving grace?  

I liked the way some things are explained in this book.  Thomas Culpepper is an interesting character and their relationship takes some interesting turns throughout this story.  I like how the well known events unfold so that they are completely logical and make you believe they may have actually happened this way.   I also liked how the sexual aspect is toned down just enough for the young adult audience.  There's not much historical fiction geared to teens (and I know I would have loved this at a younger age).  I think this genre might open up new interests for teens and history.

I enjoyed this book a lot.  I'm looking forward to the idea that this might be a series.  Will the author take on another one of King Henry VIII's wives?  Or maybe Queen Elizabeth?  Time will tell! 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Review - Masque of the Red Death (Masque of the Red Death, #1) by Bethany Griffin

Masque of the Red Death (Masque of the Red Death, #1)Title: Masque of the Red Death
Author: Bethany Griffin
Series: 1st
Pages: 320
Published: April 24th 2012 by Harper Collins 
ISBN:  9780062107794
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss

Decription: Everything is in ruins.  A devastating plague has decimated the population. And those who are left live in fear of catching it as the city crumbles to pieces around them.  So what does Araby Worth have to live for?  Nights in the Debauchery Club, beautiful dresses, glittery make-up . . . and tantalizing ways to forget it all.  But in the depths of the club—in the depths of her own despair—Araby will find more than oblivion. She will find Will, the terribly handsome proprietor of the club. And Elliott, the wickedly smart aristocrat. Neither boy is what he seems. Both have secrets. Everyone does.  And Araby may find something not just to live for, but to fight for—no matter what it costs her.

I Give This ...

In getting ready to write this review I realized how long it's been since I read it.  So, I'm hoping that I can do this book a little bit of justice.  

This book has a really dark feel to it, which it should considering it's inspiration comes from a similarly names story by Mr Edgar Allen Poe.  I was intrigued by the world that the author has created.  The population has been decimated to a small portion and those who survive leave in fear.  They fear the plague because it's not gone.   They fear the violence that is threatening to overcome the city.   But, a few of them even fear the leader because he's not everything he seems.  

Araby first seems oblivious to all of this.  Despite the times, she's feel cared for and has a mask of her own.  Her father is respected and even idolized.  But, somehow she gets pulled into an underground society that so close to ripping open everything she knows.  But, that's not necessarily a bad thing.  Because, even her parents are holding secrets.  And she slowly unravels all of them she begins to regret that past decisions that she's made.  I think she took for granted what she had and begins to see that life isn't guaranteed.  She's been wasting moments.

I liked our male characters a lot.  Will really pulled at me.  He's so close to that life of privilege and has to go home everyday and watch his brother and sister live without.  I like that he sees something in Araby that she doesn't even see in herself.  I'm curious as to what the end of the story means because it wasn't what I was expecting.   As for Elliott...well at first I disliked him.  I thought he was careless and selfish.  But, he grew on me.  I'm still not sure were his true motives lie, but I can see something in him that makes me doubt my original thought on him.

And interesting story that was a little slow at times and a little confusing.  But, in the end I really enjoyed it and look forward to the next in the series!


Monday, May 21, 2012

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

What Are You Reading, is where we gather to share what we have read this past week and what we plan to read this week. It is a great way to network with other bloggers, see some wonderful blogs, and put new titles on your reading list. Click on the picture to be taken to Sheila at One Person's Journey Through A World of Books!
Read Last Week:
  • Dark Frost by Jennifer Estep   
  • Survive by Alex Morel
  • Sound of the Heart by Genevieve Graham 

Currently Reading: 
  • My Life in Black and White by Natasha Friend 
Up This Week:  
  • Dreamless by Josephine Angelini
  • Enshadowed by Kelly Creagh 

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Stacking the Shelves

Stacking The Shelves is all about the books we are adding to our shelves each week, sharing with you our excitement for our newest titles and maybe have you discover a new book in the process!  It's hosted by Tynga's Reviews!

For Review: 

SurviveDarkness Before Dawn (Darkness Before Dawn, #1)
  • Survive by Alex Morel  (Around The World Tours)
  • Darkness Before Dawn by J.A. London (HarperCollins)

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Review - Spirit's Princess (Spirit's Princess #1) by Esther M. Friesner

Spirit's Princess (Spirit's Princess, #1)Title: Spirit's Princess
Author: Esther M. Friesner
Series: 1st
Pages: 464
Published: April 24th 2012 by Random House
ISBN: 9780375869075
Source: Publisher via Netgalley

Description: Himiko the beloved daughter of a chieftain in third century Japan has always been special. The day she was born there was a devastating earthquake, and the tribe's shamaness had an amazing vision revealing the young girl's future—one day this privileged child will be the spiritual and tribal leader over all of the tribes. Book One revolves around the events of Himiko's early teen years—her shaman lessons, friendships, contact with other tribes, and journey to save her family after a series of tragic events. Once again, Esther Friesner masterfully weaves together history, myth, and mysticism in a tale of a princess whose path is far from traditional.

I Give This ....
DNF (Did Not Finish)

Aww....the joys of peer influence.   I added this book to my to read list because I have a couple other books by the author on my shelves that I haven't read yet.  I've heard good things about them and this one sounded just as interesting.  I like the idea that she takes real characters.  I was hoping this one would be good.

The problem started when I went to add it to my currently reading shelf on goodreads.  I noticed that it was getting a lot of low stars.  So I glanced at some of the reviews....I should know better.  A lot of people who are a lot more knowledgeable about the subject feel this book does not do justice to the time period nor to the character of Himiko.  Ok, I got that and decided to read anyway.

Right away I noticed that this book does not feel historic nor Japanese.  I've read other books set in Japan (both historic and more fantasy as well), and this is nothing like them.  I might have been able to get over that.   But, I found Himiko to be a character I wasn't interested in.  She was whiny and have little thought to how her actions might effect others.  She was always trying to prove herself, but did very little to show she wasn't just making poor decisions.       

I rarely give up on a book, but I managed to read about 20% of it.  This book is long (almost 500 pages) and I knew that I couldn't read that much more of it.  So, it went into the DNF pile.  I'm hoping the other books I have to still read aren't like this one.   


Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday - Endlessly by Kiersten White

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted at Breaking The Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week's pre-publication "can't-wait-to-read" selection is:
Endlessly (Paranormalcy, #3)Title: Endlessly
Author: Kiersten White
Publication: July 24, 2012
Try as she might, Evie can’t seem to escape her not-so-normal past. And what was supposed to be a blissfully normal school break is ruined when a massive group of paranormals shows up at her house, claiming that Evie is the only one who can protect them from a mysterious, perilous fate.  The deadly war between the faerie courts looms ever closer. The clock is ticking on the entire paranormal world. And its future rests solely in Evie’s hands.  So much for normal. 
I have to be honest...I'm not sure if I want this more because I really love the series or because I simply love this cover.  It calls to me lol.     

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Review - This Is Not a Test by Courtney Summers

This Is Not a TestTitle: This Is Not A Test
Author: Courtney Summers
Series: Stand Alone (but could see series)
Pages: 320
Published: June 19th 2012 by St. Martin's Griffin
ISBN: 9780312656744
Source: Around The World Tours

Description: It’s the end of the world. Six students have taken cover in Cortege High but shelter is little comfort when the dead outside won’t stop pounding on the doors. One bite is all it takes to kill a person and bring them back as a monstrous version of their former self. To Sloane Price, that doesn’t sound so bad. Six months ago, her world collapsed and since then, she’s failed to find a reason to keep going. Now seems like the perfect time to give up. As Sloane eagerly waits for the barricades to fall, she’s forced to witness the apocalypse through the eyes of five people who actually want to live. But as the days crawl by, the motivations for survival change in startling ways and soon the group’s fate is determined less and less by what’s happening outside and more and more by the unpredictable and violent bids for life—and death—inside. When everything is gone, what do you hold on to? 

I Give This ...

This immediately went on my to-read list just because its Courtney Summers.  I have to admit I was a little wary about zombies (not because I don't like zombie book, but because Courtney hasn't tackled this type of book before).   Turns out that I should have realized this book really isn't about zombies.  

I found it interesting that Sloane is so ready to turn it all in.  We get a little bit of a glimpse of why (and the full pictures comes throughout the story), but she never seems suicidal.  To me it just didn't fit with her character.  If she was that willing to die, I don't think she would have made such an effort to get to the high school.  I think in the back of her mind she knew she had something to live for.

At first I was a little annoyed about how the zombie apocalypse takes place.  We know next to nothing about it.  And it's never explained.  One moment the world is fine, the next its not.   But, as the characters get their moments in the book, I came to realize this story was about them.  It's focusing on the tensions that can be created when faced with this grim reality.  That the people who will survive are the ones who find their inner strength and courage to push on no matter what.  And that sometimes the only way to do that is to put your trust in someone you normally would have nothing to do with.  This type of catastrophe breaks down all social barriers.  I think the author did a fabulous job with this. 

Once I let go of the zombie portion of the story,  I found that this was really just like every other book I've read by Courtney Summers.  And I enjoyed it immensely.

Monday, May 14, 2012

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

What Are You Reading, is where we gather to share what we have read this past week and what we plan to read this week. It is a great way to network with other bloggers, see some wonderful blogs, and put new titles on your reading list. Click on the picture to be taken to Sheila at One Person's Journey Through A World of Books!
Read Last Week:
  • Gilt by Katherine Longshore  
  • The Girl in the Clockwork Collar by Kady Cross

Currently Reading: 
  • Dark Frost by Jennifer Estep 

Up This Week:  
 Survive by Alex Morel
Sound of the Heart by Genevieve Graham

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Stacking The Shelves

Stacking The Shelves is all about the books we are adding to our shelves each week, sharing with you our excitement for our newest titles and maybe have you discover a new book in the process!  It's hosted by Tynga's Reviews!

For Review:

Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass, #1)The Unquiet
  • Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Mass
  • The Unquiet by Jeannine Garsee

Friday, May 11, 2012

Review - The Immortal Rules (Blood of Eden, #1) by Julie Kagawa

The Immortal Rules (Blood of Eden, #1)Title: The Immortal Rules
Author: Julie Kagawa
Series: 1st
Pages: 480
Published:  April 24th 2012 by Harlequin Teen 
ISBN: 9780373210510
Source: Publisher via Netgalley

Description: In a future world, Vampires reign. Humans are blood cattle. And one girl will search for the key to save humanity.  Allison Sekemoto survives in the Fringe, the outermost circle of a vampire city. By day, she and her crew scavenge for food. By night, any one of them could be eaten.  Some days, all that drives Allie is her hatred of them. The vampires who keep humans as blood cattle. Until the night Allie herself is attacked—and given the ultimate choice. Die… or become one of the monsters.  Faced with her own mortality, Allie becomes what she despises most. To survive, she must learn the rules of being immortal, including the most important: go long enough without human blood, and you will go mad.  Then Allie is forced to flee into the unknown, outside her city walls. There she joins a ragged band of humans who are seeking a legend—a possible cure to the disease that killed off most of humankind and created the rabids, the mindless creatures who threaten humans and vampires alike.  But it isn’t easy to pass for human. Especially not around Zeke, who might see past the monster inside her. And Allie soon must decide what—and who—is worth dying for.

 I Give This...

I've been trying to stay away from vampires.  I kind of felt like it was over played, and I was willing to walk away.  But, when I heard that they were going to be the subject of Julie Kagawa's newest novel, I jumped right back on board.  You see, Kagawa has a knack for telling a story in a different manner.  She breathes new life into it.

I was intrigued by this world the she's created.  A virus basically wiped out the human populationThe vampires were immune to this virus and came out of the dark.  In exchange for protection from the rabid creatures in the wild, human agree to live in vampire cities.  I found the hierarchy of the vampires and their cities to be fascinating.   It turns out its a very intricate system.  Only certain vampires have the power to rule.  And due to the virus, only certain vampires can actually turn a vampire human (and not into a rapid).

Allison is barely living it seems in this.  She takes great risks just to survive.  She refuses to become a blood slave just to provide herself with a few extra comforts.  But, I think this might have been her downfall.  She trusts way to easily.  She trusts that the band of people won't turn on each other.  She trusts that there are few things worse than being a vampire.  And she trusts that when the unthinkable happens that she can be different.   Maybe it's because of all this that she really impressed me as a vampire.

In this story, vampires are hard to tell from human.  But, their thirst for blood can consume them.  We see Allie really struggle with it at times.  But, she always proves she's better than that.  She tolerates a lot of mental abuse for her creator, but I think she realizes that there is no better person to teach her how to survive. And maybe through this she can be a different kind of vampire.

What's difficult about this story is that there are no very different sections to it.  First is Allie in the vampire city (including after she is turned).   And there's the whole story when she roaming the wilderness.  There she gets caught up with a rogue band of humans.  They're looking for a sort of Eden...the answer to all their prayers.  But, something (or someone) is looking for them.  It's interesting because in the end you realize how connected this story really is.  The leader of this group and Allie's creator have way more in common than you could ever realize.

An interestingly woven story.  I will definitely be seeking out the next one.


Thursday, May 10, 2012

Review - Wanted by Heidi Ayarbe

WantedTitle: Wanted
Author: Heidi Ayarbe
Series: Stand Alone
Pages: 400
Published: May 1st 2012 by Balzer + Bray 
ISBN: 9780061993886
Source: Arranged Tour Through Teen Book Scene 

Description: A one-word text message: That's all Michal "Mike" Garcia needs to gather a crowd. Mike is a seventeen-year-old bookie, and Sanctuary is where she takes bets for anyone at Carson High with enough cash. Her only rule: Never participate, never place a bet for herself.  Then Josh Ellison moves to town. He pushes Mike to live her life, to feel a rush of something -- play the game, he urgest, stop being a spectator.  So Mike breaks her one rule. She places a bet, feels the rush.  And loses. In an act of desperation, she and Josh -- who has a sordid past of his own -- concoct a plan: The pair will steal from Carson City's elite to pay back Mike's debt. Then they'll give the rest of their haul to those who need it most. How can burglary be wrong if they are making things right? 

 I Give This ...

One thing I loved about the previous book I read by Heidi Ayarbe is how real the whole thing feels.  While you are reading, you think that this could happen to anyone and anywhere.  I was curious how a female teenage bookie might fit into this theory.

From beginning to end I just had a hard time wrapping my mind around the bookie part of the story.  I guess I just don't see it in the high school setting.  Is this something new?  Is it common?   I guess maybe it's a new kind of rush for teenagers, but it just seemed weird.  It wasn't even the fact that a female ran it.  It was literally just the bookie part.  And that it was right under everybody's noses.   How the hell did nobody pick up on that fact?  No one thought "Hey...isn't it a little weird that this group of kids is all together when none of them normally hang out?"   I would have thought that.

Aside from all that, I really like Michal.  She's interesting to me because she honestly thinks she nobody.  When obviously she's chosen to facilitate an activity that more than just gets her noticed.  It really causes her unwanted attention.  I think she thinks that because she's a spectator, that it makes her less than those who participate.   Which is interesting when Josh shows up.  Josh is bound and determined to make her feel something.    I think he wants her to see herself a little more like those around her see her.

I also really enjoyed the portrayal of the gangs in the area.  I really felt the intensity of the situation.  It was threatening and realistic.  I also liked how Michal and Josh push the envelope.  I don't agree with the way the went about their escapades.  After all, two wrongs never make a right.  But, I really agreed with the overall message.

The ending floored me.  It wasn't at all what I was expecting.   I closed the book with unanswered questions.  I also drew some similarities with a high profile case in Florida at the moment.  I wondered though, if it was just timing.  Overall and interesting read that I had a little bit of hard time filtering out.  It won't stop me from reading her next book though!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Review - Shadows on the Moon by Zoƫ Marriott

Shadows on the MoonTitle: Shadows on the Moon
Author: Zoe Marriott
Series: Stand Alone
Pages: 464
Published: April 24th 2012 by Candlewick Press
ISBN: 9780763653446
Source: Publisher via Netgalley

Description: Trained in the magical art of shadow-weaving, sixteen-year-old Suzume is able to re-create herself in any form - a fabulous gift for a girl desperate to escape her past. But who is she really? Is she a girl of noble birth living under the tyranny of her mother's new husband, Lord Terayama? Or a lowly drudge scraping a living in the ashes of Terayama's kitchens? Or is she Yue, the most beautiful courtesan in the Moonlit Lands? Whatever her true identity, Suzume is destined to use her skills to steal the heart of a prince in a revenge plot to destroy Terayama. And nothing will stop her, not even the one true aspect of her life- her love for a fellow shadow-weaver.

I Give This ...

There was something about this book that called to me from the start.  I'm not real versed in books set anywhere in Asia (I know I'm really generalizing there but work with me).   But, I had this on my wishlist before it even had a US release date.  

To say that Suzume's life hasn't been easy might be a gross understatement.  She watches her father get brutally killed.  Her mother drags her off when she marries another man under the pretense that it's for the protection (so they won't be in ruins).  But, she sees something her mother doesn't when it comes to Lord Terayama.  When she begins to fear for her own life, she goes into hiding right under his nose.  She eventually feels she needs to leave the safety on the household.  Through all of this she learns that she is capable of a certain kind of magic.  With a little bit of instruction, she can put herself in a position to extract revenge on those who have wronged her.

I found the story enchanting.   Suzume was an interesting character and I felt every heartache along with her.  I understood why she felt the need to cut herself.  I understood her absolute dedication to her goal of extracting revenge.  I understood her confusion on living for herself and carrying on her families memories.  It was all beautifully crafted together.   I also loved the explanation of her shadow-weaving.  It was an interesting type of magic that I don't recall every reading about before.

I think my favorite part of this book was the intricate cultural details.  It may not be entirely real, but it felt like it could be.  I loved the idea of the Moonlit Lands and the Shadow Princess.  It had a historical fiction feel with a cultural that I'm completely unfamiliar with.  If I can find more books like this...I might have a new country I love to read about!

I tore through this book.  It closes nicely, but I think it leaves room for a sequel.  I would read it if she wrote it!  



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