Sunday, December 30, 2012

2012 year in review

This year guys! There's so much to say about it, both as a blogger and a person.  I went to Glacier, discovered bourbon on the Bourbon trail, changed jobs, moved and on top of that still managed to read 120 books (surpassing my goal of 85 easily).   If not for the move, I probably would've read 125-130 books but in the past month my pace has slowed considerably. So this year has been great, personally, professionally and as a read.  Because it wouldn't be a blog without a top 10 list, here are my top 10 books I read of 2012.  (These are books I read in 2012, not necessarily books published in 2012).

1. Ruby Oliver series by E. Lockhart

Why it made the list
Not only was this my favorite series of the year, it was eye-opening.  This book is a fun contemporary with boys, cute clothes that seems fluffy. But it's not.  E. Lockhart impressed me with her ability to put such great depth into a book that doesn't feel heavy. 

From the review
This series is one of the best that I've read this year.  This is not a mushy true love story.  It's girly, but the right kind of girly.  Ruby is witty, intelligent, neurotic, boy crazy and completely awesome. I'm very impressed how these books touch upon some serious topics without taking themselves too seriously. Read review here

2. Quintana of Charyn by Melina Marchetta

Why it made the list
Melina Marchetta will always make my top ten list.  She writes people that are imperfect, damaged, relatable and completely believable.  Nobody writes characters like Marchetta does.

From the review
Very few trilogies are as complete and wonderful as this series.  Every book is strong and every character developed   This series in complex, with layers and depth and meaning.  Quintana of Charyn tore my heart out, but in a good way.  I would simultaneously be hurting and crying for joy.  Very few books touch me on that guttural level. The Lumatere Chronicles are a series that every book lover needs to read and re-read. Read the review here.

3. The Fault In Our Stars by John Green

Why it made the list
I don't think there was a YA book with more accolades this year, all well deserved. Maybe John Green's best work yet.  

From the review
The book goes between being funny and heart-wrenching in a way that I don't think has ever been done. Normally you have "books that make me laugh"  then on another shelf "books that make me cry."  Very rarely do you have books that make you do both. Read the review here.

4. The Assassin's Curse by Cassandra Rose Clarke

Why it made the list
This book is perfect for me even if it's not perfect for everyone.  Strong heroines and adventurous fantasy (think Tamora Pierce) is where my heart belongs. 

From the review
For those who like fantasy with strong heroines and are looking for Tamora Pierce meets Jacky Faber, this book is perfect for you.  In this book you'll find your next fictional crush (especially if you're into men who treat women with respect), a new fictional best friend and maybe even a favorite novel. Read review here.

5. Alif the Unseen by G. Willow Wilson

Why it made the list
Middle Eastern fantasy is my new favorite thing and I have this book to thank.  The nerdy computer science, the setting and the conversations about religion make this book a winner.

From the review
Alif the Unseen is such a unique book.  It's a computer-science heavy fantasy novel set in the modern Middle East.  There is coding, firewalls, cloud servers and genies, all in the same book.  Doesn't that sound amazing?  This book is fantasy blended with real science, something that I've never seen before. It's a big risk that pays off. Read the review here.

6. Goliath by Scott Westerfeld 

Why it made the list
This book is a great ending to a great trilogy.  Sometimes series falter on the 3rd book but not Goliath. Just as brilliant as ever.

From the review
I feel like me and this series were meant to be together.  The story of an alternative steampunk WWI, a girl dressed in boy clothes and a global adventure is just my style.  This series is spectacular and highly recommended, especially if you like history.  Deryn is near the top of heroines I love. Read review here

7. Deadline by Mira Grant 

Why it made the list
I was worried about switching protagonists. REALLY worried. But Grant knows what she's doing.  This series is the epitome of zombie fiction. There is no better.

From the review
I've become convinced that Mira Grant's Newflesh series has become the peak of the zombie genre.  This book is ballsy, a bit like a punch in the face sometimes because it never holds back.  Read review here.

8. Seraphina by Rachel Hartman 

Why it made the list
Welcome back high fantasy. We've missed you.

From the review
 It's got the drama of court politics, the romance of first love and an overaching story with a mystery to solve.   The women are smart and strong.  Seraphina is not the exception, but Glisselda and the Queen are both admirable women.  Strength is not measured in brute force.  Seraphina's intelligence, along with her bravery are what make her a heroine. Read review here

9. A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

Why it made the list
If there's a more honest book about grief I haven't seen it. The audiobook is narrated by Jason Isaacs, who is perfection.

From the review
A Monster Calls rings heartbreakingly true, capturing how it feels when someone you love is chronically ill.   It captures the sorrow, the anger and the guilt. Read the review here

10. Lions of Little Rock by Kristin Levine

Why it made the list
This was a book that completely surprised me.  Normally I hear about great books from other bloggers and anticipate reading them. This I randomly grabbed at the library and wow, it impressed me.

From the review
I loved the history, especially since it was history that I never learned in school.  But this isn't a history book, it's a novel with a historical backdrop. This is the story of how 12 year old Marlee found her voice.  Marlee doesn't talk.  It's not because she can't, she talks to her sister and her father, but because she's afraid to. Read review here

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Follow Friday - Book I'd give world

Follow Friday is a feature created by Parajunkee and Alison Can Read.  It's a fun blog hop where you meet other book bloggers and find people to follow.
What book do you think everyone should read? If you could gift the entire population with one book?  
You know how unfair that is right? Asking me to choose just one?  My mind immediately (really) shouted RUBY OLIVER & Melina Marchetta simultaneously.  Yes my mind argues with itself.  What's that to you?

The problem with Melina Marchetta is that it's nearly imposible to chose just one of her books.  Initially I thought, "Jellicoe Road" because it's just a brilliant book and everyone should read it. Really if you haven't and you like intelligent YA go read it.  But lately I lean towards the Lumatere Chronicles because they're deep high fantasy that say a lot about human nature, war, love, family and forgiveness.

However, if I have to give the WHOLE WORLD only one book.  I'm actually going to choose the Ruby Oliver series by E. Lockhart (and don't you dare say I can't pick a series!).  I've often said that I want to give every teenage girl a copy of this book.  So how could I pass up the opportunity to give it to everyone.  Ruby Oliver is fun feminism.  The book seems like light fluffy chick lit, but what you're really getting is a great story involving slut-shaming, girl on girl hatred, gossip and learning to love yourself. Really, all teenage girls should read this book. (Read my review of the first 3 books in this series)

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Carter Finally Gets It

4/5 stars

Carter Finally Gets It is a funny book.  It's about a freshman struggling to find his way through high school -- sports, ADD, virginity and popularity, the battles every high schooler faces.

I did have some struggles with this book.  Carter singleminded focus on losing his virginity wasn't always the most enjoyable thing for me to read.  Yes it's funny, but for me it's hard to listen to his continual objectifying comments about women. I get the point! Really I do!  Throughout the book Carter has to learn to think about himself and the opposite sex differently.  My question is, are high school guys truly this focused on sex?  I'm no idiot.  I know they think about it.  But at times Carter thinks about it SO MUCH that he can barely focus on anything else.

But I really like this book.  I just wanted to be upfront about that one issue.  Part of me wants to call this book Ruby Oliver for dudes.  Not because it's an excellent teenage feminist book hidden behind what seems like a cute fluffy story (Oh E. Lockhart! You are so tricky!).  A good chunk of this book is about Carter's quest to lose his virginity, but that's just a clever disguise to the real story.  This book is really about Carter accepting himself, not who the world, his friends or his sister tells him to be, but who Carter wants to be.

In the beginning Carter just wants to fit in.  He does all the same extracurricular activities and join the same sports team as his friends.  By the end of the book Carter is okay with being different, okay with doing his own thing and beginning to realize that girls aren't just walking vaginas and maybe he should care about the girl, not the just the sex potential.

This book is fun, extremely well narrated and very enjoyable.  I got a little scared inside the sex-driven mind of a teenage boy but overall I felt like the journey was worth it by the end of the book.  It's not as deep as Ruby Oliver, but I feel like the story is a good subliminal message for teenage boys.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Life and such

So I've been quieter than normal on the blog and goodreads lately.  My reading pace has slowed considerably (maybe even to normal people, not bloggers, reading pace).  In case you missed when I said it on twitter, I accepted a new job and moved to Louisville.  Moving is apparently time consuming and exhausting, who knew!

I'm doing public relations and social media for the Kentucky State Fair Board (which means the Kentucky Exposition Center, the Kentucky International Convention Center and the Kentucky State Fair).  I'm stoked.  Not only have I moved out of my parents garage (!!!!!), live in the largest city in Kentucky, but I'm writing professionally.  After the Great Recession threw off my career path it feels like I'm back on track.

This blog actually helped me get my new job.  Being a book blogger has kept me writing consistently even when that wasn't my job.  For the record, now that I'm done with the move I plan to get back on track with reading/blogging.  It just slowed me down for awhile.

I also want to say...


(From Tumblr)

Hope yours is wonderful and full of friends, family, laughter and hope.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Follow Friday - Learned about publishing

Follow Friday is a feature created by Parajunkee and Alison Can Read.  It's a fun blog hop where you meet other book bloggers and find people to follow.
Question: What have you learned from book blogging that you didn't know before about the publishing industry?
WOW. Um, everything that I know practically.  Before I was a blogger I didn't really think about where books came from. It's not like babies. Not everyone asks there mother one day "Where did this book come from?" I knew authors wrote them, sent them to agents or publishers, some editing happened them viola book magic.

I didn't know about publicity, ARCs, publisher mergers, author meltdowns, the cost of the materials for a book, etc.

One of the more interesting things I never realized was how little control authors had over their covers.  I love a well-designed cover and I'm rather picky about my covers. It's interesting that these pieces of art are SO IMPORTANT yet authors have minimal control over them.  Covers have much more to do with marketing than the book itself.  I should've known that but I never realized.

Monday, December 17, 2012

The Adoration of Jenna Fox

4/5 stars

When I looked at the goodread ratings I wasn't sure what to think about The Adoration of Jenna Fox.  My friends loved it, my friends loathed it. Nobody seemed to agree.  But the library had the audiobook, narrated by the incomparable Jenna Lamia, so I decided to find out for myself.

I was pleasantly surprised.  A lot of the reviews mention the ending.  So I went into the book expecting a horrible and terrible ending.  What I got was abrupt and an epilogue, but I'd built up something entirely else in my head and was glad that it wasn't what occurred.  The epilogue leaves a lot unanswered, skipping a lot of ethical discussions and leaves everything neat & tidy.  But like I said, I didn't mind.

The story begins when seventeen year old Jenna Fox wakes up from a coma.  She doesn't have any memories of who she was or her life before the accident.  She doesn't know who Jenna Fox is and if she's even that girl anymore.  This is a contemplative book.  There is a plotline, but what this book is about is what it really means to be human.  What makes us us?  The book explores that topic as Jenna struggles with her identity.

Without spoilers this book is hard to review.  It's science fiction without being focused on the science.  It explains the science enough, especially considering that it's really a character driven novel, but that's not what's most important in this story.  The science is meant to be a backdrop to set up the conversation about identity and the ethics of medicine. I liked having that conversation with Jenna and taking her journey of self discovery (even though some things were painfully obvious to us before they were to Jenna).

The narration by Jenna Lamia is perfect for this book.  Her soft spoken, doubtful voice is perfect for Jenna, combining with the story to make for an excellent listening experience.  I think my negative expectations helped this novel, I enjoyed it very much.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Follow Friday - Teary books

Follow Friday is a feature created by Parajunkee and Alison Can Read.  It'
Question: What is the last book that made you cry? Tell us about the scene....
The Crane's Diary made me a little teary.  I am not much of a sad cryer (I am more of an angry cryer and books just don't have that effect on me normally) so even a little teary is kind of a big deal.

I can't actually tell you about the scene because it involves major spoilers.  But it dealt with a topic that hit really close to home and I was surprised to react so emotionally (it was then that I realized how much I was enjoying and immersed in the book).  I wasn't sure how I felt about this scene existing or being so important to the plot. Ultimately I decided my worries had less to do with the novel and more to do with life stuff.

(Sorry this is so late. Today has been very busy.)

Sunday, December 9, 2012

The Cranes Dance (review)

4/5 stars

The Cranes Dance surprised me.  I'd never heard anything about it before grabbing the audiobook at the library.  I saw it on display at the end of the shelf and thought "Oooo ballerinas" read the description and went "Oooo crazy sister issues" and checked it out.

I didn't expect the slow moving, character driven story.  Much like a ballet, it took it's time getting the story out, but did so elegantly.  

At first I wasn't sure about the narrator.  For the first few minutes her slow pausing speech worried me.  But the more I listened the more perfect it became.  It is the speech of a ballerina trying to keep control over her life.  Kate Crane is the careful controlled sister.  In her mind, her whole life is acted in front of an invisible movie audience.  She tries to be as perfect as possible.  The audiobook narrator took on this persona perfectly with her careful calculated speech.

Kate's sister Gwen is completely different.  She's the golden dancer, beautiful and gifted in a way that Kate envies.  But she's wild and not quite sane.  Without actually being in most of the book, Gwen is a huge force.  We meet her through Kate's memories.  We get to know Kate by the way she compares herself to Gwen.  She lives her life in the shadow of her sister.  From taking care of her sister, trying to protect her from her demons, to comparing their dance careers, Kate cannot separate her life from Gwen's.

The story is slow.  Near the end there are some scenes that felt unnecessary  such as a sex scene that really doesn't advanced the plot. (Sex scenes in audiobooks are always so awkward.  These are not things that are meant to be described out loud).

There's a point near the end, no spoilers, where I kept asking "Is the book really going there?"  I didn't know how I felt about the direction it was taking.  It worried me, made me nervous.  But then I realized that mostly, it made me feel.  Over the course of the novel, almost without noticing, I'd connected so much with Kate that during this section I felt emotional and a bit teary.

During the last quarter of the novel, there may have been some unnecessary parts but as whole the novel was quite good.  Very few books can move this slowly, be almost completely internal dialogue  yet work so beautifully.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Follow Friday - Character I'd be

Follow Friday is a feature created by Parajunkee and Alison Can Read.  It's a fun blog hop where you meet other book bloggers and find people to follow.
Question: Activity: Who do you want to be? If you could choose any character from a book.  What do you think the character looks like and what do you have in common?
Okay the thing about being a character in a book is that BAD STUFF HAPPENS. They have hardships and death threats. While I like having fun, I also like not dying.  There are lots of book worlds I would like to go to.  Sure Hogwarts sounds great, minus that whole Voldemort trying to kill everyone thing.

People who it wouldn't suck to be
  • Alexia Tarabotti - So she does have death threats.  But Alexia is so analytical and curious that they never seem to bother her much.  Also her hubby is one sexy piece of Scottish werewolf mancake that I wouldn't mind spending some time with.  Plus I think it'd be fun to hang out in steampunk novel for awhile. I don't really have much in common with Alexia, except a love of books and a shared love her husband. That's enough right? 
  • Granuaile - I know you're thinking, isn't she just a secondary character in the Iron Druid series? (I've only read the first 3 so NO SPOILERS PLEASE). But Granuaile, aside from having a name I would hate learning to spell, has a lot of things going for her.  For one, she gets to spend lots of time around our favorite sexy druid Atticus.  For another, she's a super sexy redhead and I bet that'd be fun.  Also, she's a druid in training which is probably pretty interesting. She works in a bar and I like bourbon.  She likes mythology.  Other than much.  
People who I rejected after thinking about it
  • Alanna from the Lioness Quartet - I thought "I'd like to go learn to be a knight like Alanna" then I remembered how much work was involved and thought better of it.  While being a lady knight might sound badass, everything Alanna went through to get there is more effort than I'm really willing to put forth.  Me and Alanna are both feminists who like animals but I think she's more intense than I am. 
  • Deryn from the Leviathan trilogy - While I think I'd love riding around on an airship I think I'd make a terrible soldier.  I just don't have the bravery that makes Deryn such a great character.  I think me and Deryn could share a lot of jokes and laughter.  We both like traveling and going new places.  She's a loyal and trusthworthy friend, something I hope that I am.  Out of all the characters, she'd probably be the one I'm closest to.
  • Jacky Faber - Lots of fun, lots of flirts but too many near death experiences.  Can I just have the flirting parts of her life? I like boys, traveling, adventures and stories.  We'd actually probably get along quite well though her piratey ways would make me very nervous. 

Monday, December 3, 2012

Mountain Hollow Farm

Just wanted to share a little adventure I had recently.  Along with my friend Alena, we took a knitting field trip to Mountain Hollow Farm in Tazewell TN.  They have a knitting group that meets twice a week and we decided to join them for their Saturday session.

When they say, "Mountain Hollow Farm", it's not just a cutesy name invoking visions of sheep, yarn and all the knitting time in the world.  In fact, it's a working farm in a mountain hollow.  To get to Mountain Hollow you turn off the highway onto a small country road, then turn off the country road onto a small gravel road.  Be wary of other cars because passing is difficult.

When we arrived the official greater met us.  When I sat down my knitting bag he knew just what to do, plop himself down where he could not be ignored.

We met quite a few beautiful goats.  This one was probably the friendliest.  The goats at Mountain Hollow Farm are actually used to produce yarn.  So cute, cuddly and productive, how could you not love that face?

Yarn shops are always gorgeous, filled to the brink with colors and textures just begging to be taken home.  Mountain Hollow Farm had a nice selection, ranging from the pricey to quite fair (unless you like Walmart yarn and haven't experienced the glory of wool).  Yarn often gives me the puppy dog eyes, then somehow ends up going home with me and this place was no exception.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Drowned Cities, Unearthly & A Monster Calls (quick reviews)

The Drowned Cities

4/5 stars
Dark and gritty, this book is a fitting follow-up to Ship Breaker.  However if you're expecting a sequel with familiar characters and scenery this is not that book.  Drowned City follows a new protagonist, the feisty and plotting Mahlia.  She's a "cast-off", half Chinese, half American, abandoned by her father after the Chinese peacekeepers abandoned Americans to the local factions .  She's been formed by a world that hates her.  She lost her hand, while fleeing the battling armies and was taken in by a kindly doctor.

When Mahlia's only friend, the meek and gentle Mouse is taken by one of the warring factions, she's determined to get him back.  Enlisting the help of a half-man, a genetically modified war machine, she follows the army to save Mouse.

Even with a backdrop of war, this book is mostly about Mahlia.  It's about how she sees herself, who she really is and her fight for survival in a hostile world.  This is not a happy cheerful book, but if you've already read Shipbreaker you shouldn't expect that.  But it's a good, fast-paced, intense read.


4/5 stars
This was a really enjoyable read, especially when I was in Montana and visited Yellowstone (Read about that here).  The timing was accidental, but great.  The book was really fun, the male lead was outdoorsy, funny and the relationship developed over time.  I very rarely like a paranormal romance, so the fact that I like Unearthy speaks volumes about it's quality in comparison to everything else.  It was a little romantic for my taste, but because the the relationship was actually healthy that's not a bad thing.  The male main character wasn't controlling or demeaning or any of the other things that apparently pass for romantic in YA books. Where most paranormals go wrong this one went right.

A Monster Calls

5/5 stars
This book is brilliant.  I listened to the audiobook and Jason Isaac's is a wonderful narrator.  A Monster Calls rings heartbreakingly true, capturing how it feels when someone you love is chronically ill.   It captures the sorrow, the anger and the guilt.  I don't even feel like I really need to review this because it's all been said before.  But in case you've been living under a rock, read this book.  It'll hurt, but it's one of the most truthful books about illness and grief I've ever read.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Follow Friday - Book crush & pics

Follow Friday is a feature created by Parajunkee and Alison Can Read.  It's a fun blog hop where you meet other book bloggers and find people to follow.
Question: Activity! Who is your to die for book crush? What do you think they look like? Add an image to make us all happy.
I wrote a whole post and it disappeared. Excuse me while I cry in a corner.  This will be abbreviated.  While I do have lots of book crushes I don't typically visualize them as anyone recognizable.  What sticks out to me is personality, intelligence and sense of humor.  (One of the boys on my list has a huge scar if that tells you anything).

List of Fictional Boyfriends

  • Mr. Darcy from Pride & Prejudice
  • Naji from Aassain's Curse
  • Lord Maccon from Soulless
  • Atticus O'Sullivan from Hounded
  • James Easton from Spy in the House
  • Hector from Girl of Fire and Thorn

So because pictures are required I'll leave you with a few.  I've really enjoyed The Lizzie Bennet Diaries   Are you watching it? If not WHY NOT.  Go watch it now.  The shows Mr. Darcy is adorable and awkward, perfect casting.

Awkward enough for his own Socially Awkward Darcy meme

My first choice for Atticus is the cover model if he can act.

Barring him being an excellent actor. I might be able to deal with the dude who plays Klaus on vampire diaries if he will grow his hair, redden it and man-up a bit as the sword wielding druid.  If he won't work at least he's pretty for you!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Under the Bridge (review)

3.5/5 stars

Tate and Indy Brooks aren't the luckiest kids.  They don't live in the suburbs but they don't live in the bad part of town either.  They live in the buffer zone between the suburbs and poverty, not quite existing in either.   Their father is a bit of a hard ass.  He works hard and so should you.  That's his mentality and he has trouble understanding any other perspective. Tate and Indy spend their days skating Under the Bridge, the local skate park.

Tate's a bit rough around the edges, always on the edge of a fight.  Normally he's fighting for good -- standing up to bullies, getting repayment when someone breaks a friend's board, etc--but still fighting doesn't exactly make in a stand-up rule following sort of guy. But he's still a good guy, despite his tendency to throw punches.

His brother Indy is another story.  He's intelligent but a screw-up.  Where Tate at least tries to stay in the right, Indy smarts off, smokes pot and does whatever.  He means well but does wrong.

The strength of Under The Bridge is Tate, who is a believable main character with a strong voice.  I liked Tate and all his imperfections.  Tate's self-awareness was endearing.  He'd beat people up, then two days later apologize because he realized that even if he was partially right, he went about it the wrong way.  He's a main character who wants to do good but doesn't always know how.

Under the Bridges biggest weakness is that it drags.   It spends over 50% of the novel before really getting into the nitty gritty of the plot.  Some of this helps build the characters and leads into the story, but mostly it's just too long winded and something needed to be cut.

During a typical family fight, their father kicks Indy out for disrespecting him and their mother.  It's one of those heat-of-the-moment things.  Their father loves them both, but his methods don't work especially where Indy is concerned.  Living on the street Indy falls in with a bad crowd.  Having already lost one friend to drugs, Tate refuses to lose his brother to that world. The heart of this book is Tate trying any way he can to save Indy. He tries on his own, he tries with help. He fights for his brother even when his brother doesn't deserve it.

I liked that story but think the book should've gotten there much sooner.  I cared about Tate so in turn I cared about his quest to save Indy.  Even though Indy was frustrating at times, Tate's brotherly love overpowers any misgivings so I had to root for Indy as well.

The ending went a little Disneyfied for me.  Also I had trouble suspending my disbelief where law enforcement was concerned in this novel.  But overall it's a good story with a lot going for it.  I like the gritty urban setting and Tate as a main character, those two elements carried the novel for me.

I received an ARC of this book through Netgalley

Friday, November 23, 2012

Follow Friday -Thankfulness

Follow Friday is a feature created by Parajunkee and Alison Can Read.  It's a fun blog hop where you meet other book bloggers and find people to follow.
What Blogs are you thankful for?
Oh goodness. I hate the idea of this question because I just know that I'll leave someone off.  There's a lot of blogs and bloggers I'm thankful for.  Without the encouraging and wonderful book blogging community I wouldn't have a book blog.

The Midnight Garden
I knew Wendy Darling over on Goodreads before I ever had a blog. She has always been one of the most kind and encouraging bloggers that I've known. 

The Readventurer
I love all these girls and this blog.  Flannery makes the best graphs, I find myself saying "heck yeah" to Tatiana's reviews and Catie is just a great friend/blogger/person.

Cuddlebuggery Book Blog
Steph and Kat run a GREAT blog.  It's hilarious, snarky and informative.  They're also really fun to talk to on twitter and Goodreads.

Kara is a great friend to bloggers everywhere--offering support when authors go cray-cray, retweeting posts and just generally being great to talk to. 

  The Nocturnal Library
Maja is quite the reviewer and her blog is excellent.

Typing Tiara
Ash is great.  She's fun to talk to and has good taste in books.


The Tournament of Heroines was one of the first blogging community events I experienced.  I represented Luna Lovegood and had a lot of fun.  I'm grateful for that opportunity.

Magical Urban Fantasy Reads

Mindy was my competition (representing Sophie from Hex Hall) in the Tournament of Heroines.  I could've not asked for a more classy competitor.  Some of the other match-ups were a little more feisty  but we became friends and I supported Sophie after Luna was knocked out.

Southern Book Bloggers ARC Tours

Love the ARC Tours for Southern bloggers. 

And yes there are more:  I have say that Megan at Book Brats is an excellent twitter companion and blogger.  I could not find a button on her site BUT she's great.  Forever YA is the first blog that I ever truly loved.  And of course I think we're all thankful for our Parajunkee & Alison Can Read. This blog hop has introduced me to say many great bloggers and that wouldn't have happened without you.

I'm sure I've forgotten somebody and I APOLOGIZE profusely.  My google reader is a hot-mess right now and I'm currently organizing and cleaning it up.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Chosen One (review)

4/5 stars

The Chosen One is one of those stories that is heart-wrenching and feels like it could be a true story.  It's not.  However, Kyra's voice is so authentic and she carries this novel.  She's youthful yet wise, but not in a way that feels like an adult interjecting themselves into a child protagonist   For Kyra, growing up in polygamist compound she's had to grow up fast.  At thirteen, she's spent most of her life raising her younger siblings and being given adult responsibilities.

Even though her father is a good man and tries to protect Kyra, she's seen enough to understand the world around her.  She's seen the young women married to old men, seen the women who fight-back ostracized.  Yet Kyra is still hopeful. That's part of what makes Kyra both tragic and realistic.  Like any child, she dreams of her own potential happiness.  She wants to have a choice in life, to marry her crush Joshua, not to be a child-bride to an older man.  She really believes that she might have a chance.

That is until the prophet has a "vision" of Kyra's and sees her marry her own uncle, an elder in the compound who already has six wives.

This story shines because it doesn't pretend there is an easy answer for Kyra.  She's thirteen and faced with an unwanted marriage, or potentially running away and leaving the family she loves.  On the outside it's easy to say Kyra should run.  But Kyra struggles are more realistic.  She loves her father, her mother and her gaggle of siblings. Just a child herself she can't imagine life outside the home she's always known.

This book navigates that inner conflict and the choices Kyra must make beautifully, without oversimplifying the problem.  The Chosen tackles a difficult issue with rare respect and intelligence.

This audiobook is narrated by the wonderful Jenna Lamia, who captures the story perfectly.  For a thoughtful  and genuine book this is highly recommended.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Follow Friday -Movies that could be book

Follow Friday is a feature created by Parajunkee and Alison Can Read.  It's a fun blog hop where you meet other book bloggers and find people to follow.

So I read the question wrong because of the first answer I saw was Jericho and it was morning.  Sometimes mornings aren't my smartest time.  (And by sometimes I mean every day that I have to wake up to an alarm clock).  I tried to come up with a new answer, really I did (okay try might be a strong word for "left blog in draft form until after work).
Question: Books are turned into movies all the time! Turn it around. What movie would make a great book? (Except I read television instead of movie, hence my answer)

I often complain about how hard Follow Friday Questions are.  After a long week at the office my brain has stopped working about this time each week so I never know how to answer.  This question is particularly hard because my favorite TV shows often start as books or are very different from the type of books I read.

So let's look at my favorite TV shows
Roswell - Book series first
Once Upon A Time - Based upon fairytales.  I would read a book that was similar to Once Upon A Time - fairytale characters trapped in modern times because of an evil witch's curse.  But since it's already based upon books and stories does that even count?
Revenge - Love this TV show but it's not the type of book that I typically read.  It's a great guilty pleasure TV show though.
Lost - Seems waaaay to complicated at times to be a book.  There are too many characters without any particular main character or point of view.  There are also too many storylines and back stories.  I think Lost worked best in the television medium focusing episodes on different characters, using cliffhangers and having excellent actors carry this story.
Doctor Who - Already has books doesn't it?

The first answer I saw mentioned Jericho and I can see that as a book, especially since dystopians have become so popular.  My problem with this question is that television and books are such different mediums (even when compared to movies and books which I believe are more similar).  Television shows are continual so they need lots of characters and subplots.  Movies and books have a limited time span so every word needs to count.  While having a television show where Jack, Locke, Kate, Sawyer, and at different times other characters are the main characters works great.  As a book it's harder to utilize that many point of views without confusing the reader.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Notes from Nano 2012 - Day 12

Every November is a bit crazy.  Not because of the holidays, or work or anything else.  I choose to have a crazy November.  For the uninitiated,  November is National Novel Writing Month.  It's a crazy adventure where writers from all over the world attempt to write a 50,000 word novel.  It's creative, messy and the mental health professional probably aren't very fond of us.  But it's a great experience because writing is normally a solitary activity, but NanoWriMo makes it social.

This is just a Nano update about my experience.  I don't have the secret answer to winning NanoWriMo or any valuable writing advice.  There are plenty of published authors, agents and people who could give you better advice than me.

The Good

  • Want to give a shout out to some of my NanoWriMo friends. (Linking to twitters because that's where I'm getting most of my Nano encouragement).
    • Megan at Book Brats challenged me to a 5000 word Sunday to which at first I said "SAY WHAT" then after a moment said "GAME ON!"
    • Ash over at Typing Tiara already has 50K.  I know, right?  She's a badass novel writing queen.
    • Izabe the Red is now my official writing/drinking buddy.  Because two girls who love bourbon are meant to be friends.
    • Aethre - how many times have we done Nano together now?
  • Sundays are once again my biggest day.  Sunday morning, right after my cup of tea, is by far my most natural writing time.  This is something that I need to remember, not just for Nano and blogging but for all my writing endeavors   
  • I've discovered the ability to drink, watch football and write at the same time. I have no idea if the words are pretty but who says a girl can't have it all?
  • Lunch breaks are an excellent time to write because I'm less apt to waste time on the internet.

The Eh

  • Going to a UK game on opening night of NanoWriMo was probably not a good Nano decision but was a good life decision (especially since I caught up!)
  • Work seems to be trying to interfere with Nano. Boo!

The Procrastinations

  • Tumblr.  Last year someone (cough Anna Meade cough) talked me into getting Tumblr.  Now it's the best time-suck in the universe.  <3 <3 <3
  • The Lizzie Bennet Diaries.  -Of coures everything is climaxing in my favorite web series during November.  Hank Green, Jenni Powell, Bernie Su do you just hate me that much?  In light of Episode 60 aka Darcy Day I rewatched the entire series.  Any more of an explanation would involve spoilers.

The Bad

  • Blogging - I've discovered it's quite difficult to be a book blogger and do NanoWriMo.  I have to choose between reading and writing which just breaks my heart.
  • Exercise - Okay maybe I wasn't doing this anyways.
  • The forums - I miss the NanoWriMo forums.  But I'm having a hard time finding time to go enjoy the NanoWriMo community to it's fullest.  This makes me very sad.  Luckily there's a vibrant Nano community on twitter but I just can't seem to find my footing in the forums this year.
  • Pep Talks - Despite my best efforst I cannot get the pep talk sto come to my inbox.  I'm going to email someone at Nano about the problem. Life without pep talks is not a life that I want.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Fitz (reivew)

3.5/5 stars

In writing you hear the mantra "show and don't tell" all the time.  But sometimes, just occasionally, writers break that rule and it works. Fitz is an example of that.  This is not the type of book where you go on a grand adventure with the main character, or follow his struggles for months and years.  Instead the book takes place over the course of one day.   Fitz (the main character as well as title) is searching for answers about his past.  And while these stories may be told through dialogue, they're nonetheless compelling.

Fitz is a believable narrator.  I instantly bought into the voice of this novel.  Fitz is confused.  He feels like he's missing something vital in life.  But he's a good kid--makes good grades, doesn't get into trouble, treats his mom well.  Except on this one day, that's not who Fitz wants to be.  Like a costume, he puts on a thuggish persona and sets out to teach his father a lesson.

The thing is Fitz has never met his father.  He's been this distant unknown, his mother not even willing to tell him his father's name.  All of that only makes Fitz more curious.  Instead of just listening to his mother's stories, Fitz takes matters into his own hands, finding out everything he can about his mysterious father.

 While his father may send the monthly check, Fitz knows it's no replacement for a relationship.  What Fitz wants is time and answers.  His mother refuses to give him the answers and his father has never given him any time.  Fitz decides to take what he wants, kidnapping his father to force some father/son bonding time.

The voice in this novel is perfect.  Sometimes Fitz tries to sound mean and harsh, but you can tell that he doesn't even quite believe it himself.  He's not much of a bad guy, even though he's kidnapping his father.  Fitz may wave a gun around but the reader never believes he's really capable of shooting anyone.  This creates a strange sympathy for Fitz.  Yes he's doing something stupid, but as the reader you really don't want to see him punished for it.

While the story is small what it means for one boy's life isn't.  Sometimes things that don't seem important to you might be all consuming to someone else.  That's how Fitz feels about finding out why his father left.  As far as problems go, it might seem fairly minor.  Except for Fitz it's the most important question in the world.

The epilogue undermines the rest of this book.  It feels tacked on, like the author didn't really know how to end the story.  So while the rest of the book was understated and impactful, the epilogue was too clean and simple to match the realism of Fitz's story.  It's a bad way to end an otherwise great book.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Follow Friday - Similar books, ideas, etc

Follow Friday is a feature created by Parajunkee and Alison Can Read.  It's a fun blog hop where you meet other book bloggers and find people to follow.
Question: Do you mind books with similar ideas to other books? Similar concepts, backgrounds, retellings or pulled-to-publish fanfic?
Oh goodness this cannot possibly be a yes or no question because that's more than one question.  So I'm going to have to answer them all seperately.

Similar Concepts?
Depends on how similar.  There are broad concepts that I will always love.  Girl dressed as boy to make her way in the world (in fact there's going to be some of that in my NanoWriMo story this year) is a concept that I will read almost every time.  It's just something I absolutely love.  However "girl meets supernatural creature she's destined to be with" is concept that I hate, thus those are out.  So really it depends on the concept.

Most books pull from the same mythologies, especially if you read a lot of fantasy.  I actually enjoy seeing the greek/roman/norse legends in different variations   There are certain characters from faerie that I've encountered in numerous series and I always find the different interpretations interesting.

Oh goodness I love re-tellings.  Seriously I want to read ALL THE FAIRYTALE RETELLINGS.  (Publishers that's a subtle subliminal message there).  Once Upon A Time is my favorite TV show because it gives new life to so many great stories.  We get everything from sassy Belle to kick-ass Snow White.  Fairytales are wonderful because of their simplicity.  Because they are simple you can expand upon them and always find ways to make it your own.  (If you're wondering why these are different from my next answer, fairytales are in the public domain).

Pulled-to-Publish fanfic?
Hell no.  As a former fanfiction writer it baffles my brain that anyone thinks this is okay.  The ethics and the disrespect to intellectual property is one thing but what bothers me most is the disservice it does to the whole fanfiction community.  Fanfiction is a wonderful playground for budding writers.  It gives you a world to work in and characters with certain behaviors that you can explore.  Basically it gives you shortcuts to flex your writing muscles.  Fanfiction is much easier than original fiction, especially when it's fantasy and there's no real world building involve.  I'm going to stop rambling because I have a whole unpublished (okay only half-written) blog post on this topic that eventually I'll get around to posting.  But in my book this is not okay.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Sorta Like A Rock Star (review)

4/5 stars

Amber Appleton is the Princess of Hope, despite being homeless, not having enough money for food, having no father and generally a sucky life.  But she knows that J.C. (Jesus Christ) is watching out from her and the eternally upbeat girl knows that as long as she's gotta Buddy Big Boy (her dog), her friends and her mom, things are alright.

I can see readers struggling with Amber Appleton in Sorta Like A Rock Star.  She seems simply too odd and too happy to be realistic.  However, for me, she feels like someone who could've been my bestie back in high school.  My friends were a quirky group of girls with our own style, our own slang, who spent most of our times hanging out at Christian rock shows.  (It was a good way to spend high school).  So Amber would've fit right in with us.

Amber's hope takes a hit when she experiences a personal tragedy.  She finds herself feeling hopeless, depressed and wondering why J.C. let's things happen and blaming herself.  She's hurting in a way that feels unfixable.  This book follows a group of friends, a school and a whole community that rally around Amber.  Even when she's angry and lashing out, they want to give her what she gave so many people: hope.

This book hits on a lot of life experiences.  It goes from funny, to sad without ever losing it's voice.  It's hard to imagine that the spunky and fun start of the book could possibly weather a tragedy with it's humor and voice in tact.  But it does and that impressed me.  This book is definitely worth reading (or listening to, the narrator is superb).  Hopefully it surprises you as much as it surprised me.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Follow Friday - Dealbreaker

Follow Friday is a feature created by Parajunkee and Alison Can Read.  It's a fun blog hop where you meet other book bloggers and find people to follow.
Question: What is a deal breaker for you in a book?
The overplayed "star-crossed lover"  or fated thing you see a lot in YA.  Take this description that I totally just made up:

A spaceship hovers above earth, not attacking or communicating, leaving everyone on the planet wondering.  There are riots in the street and the world starts going to hell in a handbasket.  Sally doesn't know what she's going to do.  She has a little sister to protect and parents who rarely show up in this book.  Then she meets Guy.  He's a dangerous risk taker and rather rude at times, everything she shouldn't want in a boy.  But he makes her heart flutter and it feels like they are destined to be together.  So in the shadow of a spaceship, when the world is ending, these two lovers think about nothing but staring annoyingly into each others eyes until the halfway through the book when of course something more ominous than aliens appears: the  love triangle.

You know the books I'm talking about.  When the actual plot becomes subservient to an unhealthy obsessive relationship.  When I skim descriptions and I see anything that sounds like star-crossed lovers, a pair that is "destined to be together" or love triangles, I put the book back on the shelf.  No reason even starting a book that I'm doomed to hate it.

Just a warning I'm going to be hopping through late this week.  So I'll visit, just probably not till Saturday or Sunday because of work.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Lost Prince (review)

2.5/5 stars

I hate to do this to a Julie Kagawa book.  Against my normal tendency, I really enjoyed The Iron Fey series, especially loving when she switched to the male POV with the last book.  Then against normal tendency again I liked her vampire novel The Immortal Rules.

I was excited about her new book.  Set in the Iron Fey world and with a male protagonist I felt sure I would love it.  But I just couldn't connect with The Lost Prince.  The first couple of pages, where Ethan is all brooding, moody and with a few piercings I was excited.  Then as the book went on I became less and less invested.  I've spent a few days trying to understand why this book frustrated me so.

For me the problems started when Kenzie was introduced.  She's little, cute and spunky.  Normally I like spunk.  But this just felt like a "try too hard" spunky character.  She's the intrepid reporter trying to interview the new troubled kid, everyone in school loves her, she's smart and always calls Ethan "tough guy."  Really when all that's added together it feels a tad like a Mary Sue.  Sometimes characters are just so perfect that they're more of a caricature than a person and that's the case with Kenzie.

Ethan is supposed to be this brooding troubled youth.  But almost immediately when he meets Kenzie his heart starts fluttering.  He continually talks about how small she is, how he wants to protect her, his slim body against his, etc etc.  It just got obnoxious.  I don't like the emphasis on Kenzie's petite frame or Ethan's need to protect her.  Even though it's not instalove, the relationship doesn't have the build up or emotional resonance that it needed.  It's just kind of there annoying me through the whole book.

The foreshadowing felt a bit overt in this book.  There were "twists" that I picked up on almost immediately while Ethan spent nearly the whole book oblivious.

As always Kagawa writes some of the best fight scenes in YA books.  That has not changed.  The problem is the characters have.  Maybe that's why the Iron Fey worked and this did not.  It had a humor and levity brought by Puck.  He makes an apparence in this book, but it's way too brief and too much of a reminder of why this book doesn't work.  I know a lot of people will like this book.  But Ethan and Kenzie fell completely flat for me.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Throne of the Crescent Moon (review)

4/5 stars

Guys, can Middle-Eastern fantasy be my new thing?  I know I've only read a grand total of two or three Middle-Eastern fantasy books but I kind of love them.Throne of the Crescent Moon is a solid high fantasy.  While it may not doing anything groundbreaking or different, what it does, it does well.

One of my favorite things about this book is the humor, the little teasing jabs between friends.  I always like characters who can make jokes while saving the world.  They're much better than the heroes who take themselves too seriously.

I want to talk about romance in fantasy a little bit.  Theres a right way and a wrong way.  The wrong way is particularly popular in YA right now, the love story because the central and overwhelming plot despite life-threatening world-destroying dangers going on outside of the relationship.  The right way is in the background, where there are two characters who obviously like each other but are too busy saving the world to deal with that right now.  This book has a very sweet first crush.  They are young gifted warriors and they're in such denial that it's adorable. When romance is background to the fantasy storyline, it gives the reader something to root for.  You want the world to be saved, peace to reign so that main characters can finally get their kiss on.

For me, the characters and their relationship with faith is where this book shines.  Raseed is a young overly pious holy warrior, who is working with Doctor Adoulla Makhslood, a somewhat sacrilegious ghul hunter.  Adoulla serves God by fighting demons, but breaks other rules whenever he wants to.  Raseed struggles with loyalty and faith.  Raseed serves Adoulla, who saves lives and serves God.  But in a lot of ways Adoulla is rather unholy.  Adoulla obviously believes in God, but struggles with the sacrifices he's made in his life as a ghul-hunter.  It's an interesting dynamic, faith and disobedience intertwined in a way that feels very realistic.  People are rarely completely good, usually even people of faith pick the rules they follow and the rules they choose to disregard.

This book is a great adventurous tale with ghul hunting, magic and conspiracy.  But it also has a little bit of first-love and questions of faith to give it a little more depth.  I wish more books were this fun to read.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Follow Friday - What irks me

Follow Friday is a feature created by Parajunkee and Alison Can Read.  It's a fun blog hop where you meet other book bloggers and find people to follow.
What writing devices or tricks irritate you most when reading a book?
Oh goodness I have so many pet peeves.  Once I started making the list it kept just getting longer and longer.  I feel like the more you read the more aware you become of what you like and don't like.  So here is my rather long answer to the question....
  1. Weak female heroines.  Neither a device nor a trick, but my ultimate pet peeve.  These characters are usually recognizable because their idiocy  as well as their tendency to focus on romance when the world is exploding around them.
  2. Overused words, especially strange words.  For example, Switched by Amanda Hocking used the word "foxy" until I started wanting to stab my eyes out.  Unacceptable and obnoxious.  (I know that sometimes repetition can be cleve and cute, but unless there are special circumstances and explanation normally it's not).
  3. Trying to infuse meaning into everything.  Sometimes things are deep and meaningful but sometimes a rock is just a rock.
  4. Heroines who never call the cops.  I don't know if this counts as a device but I just want to throw it out there anyways.  In mystery books characters ALWAYS find a way to break into the killers house or sneak through a crime scene, and it is ALWAYS a terrible terrible idea.  If there is a crime why not just call the cops?
  5. Switching narrators just for convenience.  I feel like sometimes authors like to hop around in different characters heads a little too much.  I've noticed a few books that way till the book is nearly over and then hop into a random character's head for the first time just to reveal a clue.  Authors need to be very intentional about the narrator and not just hop around to make storytelling easier.
  6.  While we're on the topic, alternating narrators for 2 romantic leads. I've only liked one book that used this technique.  Mostly it makes me feel stabby.
  7.  Female characters that are basically pretty props. Ugh, develop or eliminate these characters.  Women are not just walking boobs.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Quintana of Charyn (review)

5/5 stars

Quintana of Charyn was not what I expected.  It's predecessor Froi is a dark descent into madness, chaos and war.  From Quintana I expected something even darker.  Yet, overall I found Quintana to be a very hopeful book. That's not to say it's a happy, sunshiny novel.  It's not.  But Quintana is overall a story of hope and healing.

In Quintana of Charyn, the whole land of Skuldenore is poised to implode.  A chaotic civil war is brewing in Charyn, every side wanting  Quintana's baby for their own political purposes.  In Lumatere, Isaboe still wants to punish every Charynite for her family's death.  The other countries are watching Charyn like vultures, ready to sweep in and take power the moment there's an opportunity.

Yet with all that happening, like every Marchetta book, what I remember is the characters

There is Isaboe, strong and powerful Isaboe.  Isaboe who still cries about her family and has locked away whole sections of the castle where they died.
"But Isaboe could not think of being one with their enemies. Not with the memory of what had been done to her family.  Finnikan's father was close at hand. Hers was dead and she had prayed these past years for the grace of forgiveness, but the Goddess refuse to send it."
We see how a Queen's rage can impact the future of her county.  In this book we see Isaboe at her best and at her worse.  More importantly Isaboe sees and faces herself.

Then there is Phaedra.  Underestinated, quiet, "worthless", kind-hearted Phaedra.  Phaedra, who I loved in the background of the last novel.  In this novel Phaedra's quiet beauty and value is finally realized.  We see her strength thrust into the forefront.

Key to this story is Phaedra's kindness.  Phaedra and a group of poor starving Charynite women shelter and protect the very prickly and unloveable Quintana.  This is a story where they realize that even though Quintana seems quite mad, she's also smart and made huge sacrifices for her people.

This book is brilliant.  It's the type of novel that sticks with you afterwards.  Few books show how the lives of people and countries intertwine and overlap until they are almost indistinguishable   Isaboe's personal journey is Lumatere's personal journey.  Quintana's fight for survival is a battle for her country.

Very few trilogies are as complete and wonderful as this series.  Every book is strong and every character developed   This series in complex, with layers and depth and meaning.  Quintana of Charyn tore my heart out, but in a good way.  I would simultaneously be hurting and crying for joy.  Very few books touch me on that guttural level. The Lumatere Chronicles are a series that every book lover needs to read and re-read.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Florence (review)

2.5/5 stars

As far as paranormal romances go, Florence is unobtrusive and unoffensive.  But it feels just like same-old-same old to me.

Florence is your typical misunderstood loner.  For years she's been "new girl" and nobody really knows or cares about her.  She' invisible to her classmates.  However, everything changes on a school field trip when she's kidnapped by mermaids.

The mermaids take her to be Prince Kiren's familiar, something that is not really explained, but never mind she's deemed inappropriate.  So I guess the whole reason for her abduction doesn't need a real explanation (except I'd really like one).   After a short discussion about disposing of her, the young Princess Yolee begs to keep her as a friend.  With only nominal objections, Florence is allowed to stay in Niemela.

Florence is a special human (haven't we all seen that before?).  She can understand the merpeople's language and commune with animals.  This is never explained or explored in the book.  It's noted as an oddity.  I kept expecting there to be some kind of big reveal but it never materialized.  Florence just knows the language because otherwise the book couldn't exist.

This book is very slow to get to any kind of plot.  The first half of the book is spent introducing us to the undersea world--the brightly colored mermaids, the Oceanarium where everything lives in harmony (which makes me wonder how the carnivore creatures survive) and everything is just sparkly, pretty and idealized.

When the book finally starts getting to the plot, rather than surprise you with twists the book switches point of views and blatantly shows you what's happening in the background.  If the author had saved the twist, choosing to reveal it at a more dramatic moment it could've been interesting.  But it was underwhelming.

The writing is actually not troubling.  There were a few mistakes, and a few thesaurus-happy moments but overall it was pretty readable in that regard.  The problem was the story itself, which was predictable and never really made me care.

Did I mention that this book all takes place in 6 days?  Florence somehow becomes key to the undersea world, is accepted and eventually falls in love with a merman?  For me that's hard to believe.  However I feel like people who like most paranormals (despite their flaws) will enjoy this book well enough.  The book reads quite young so I think the younger fans of paranormal will probably enjoy it.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Follow Friday - Not my usual genre

Follow Friday is a feature created by Parajunkee and Alison Can Read.  It's a fun blog hop where you meet other book bloggers and find people to follow.

Question: When you step out of your USUAL genre what do you like to read? Best books in the genre?

Ugh that's hard.  I typically read Young Adult, but a wide range of YA.  I read fantasy, science fiction, dystopian, contemporary, etc.

I suppose the closest I get to stepping out of my genre is when I read adult urban fantasy.  Typically these are trusted authors.  Sean McGuire's Toby Daye series, Jim Butcher's Dresden Files or otherwise highly recommended books.  It's hard to even say that feels like stepping out of my genre.  I do read adult books, but it tends to be a mishmash (normally whatever good audiobooks the library has).  Urban fantasy is the only adult genre I consistently step out of YA for (though wouldn't that just make it one of my genres?).

I know that's not much of an answer, but I'm a genre hopper.  There are a few genres I don't enjoy, but I don't normally go looking for books in those genre.  If I read them it's normally a case of extreme peer pressure.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Viva Jacquelina! (review)

4/5 stars

It's hard to believe that Viva Jacquelina! is the 10th Jacky Faber book.  At times this series feels like it's dragging on and on but on the other hand I'm like "WAIT I've read TEN Jacky Faber books? Are you sure it's that many?"

I think many of us who love Jacky have intense yet confusing feelings about her.  We love her adventurous spirit and flirty ways.  Yet we feel like sometimes she takes the flirting too far and will never settle down with good reliable Jaimy, that maybe she loves the sea more than she'll ever love anyone.

Viva Jacquelina! felt like a solid book in the series.  I can't say that it necessary moves the Jaimy/Jacky storyline forward, but it also doesn't go off on strange tangents.  Instead the book follows a logical progression (well as logical as it gets where Jacky is concerned).  Jacky is once again in the service of British intelligence.  She goes off to war in Portugal, fighting the French and riding off with guerillas to gather more intelligence.  When the guerillas are ambused, Jacky is seperated from her friends.  In true Jacky fashion, she goes off on her own and finds new and exciting friends.  By luck, she stumbles upon the house of master painter Goya, becoming a servant and model for his painting students.  If that sounds like a strange chain of events then you haven't met Jacky Faber (Let me remind you when was randomly stolen away by a female pirate....).

In warzones Jacky is almost introspective, thinking about her own cowardice and fully aware of the harsh realities of war.  This version of Jacky has actually grown on me.  She's more grown-up, more aware of the consequences of her actions.  She may not be as fun and flirty, but there are times for silliness and times for contemplation.

Of coures Jacky still flirts, but her flirtation (except for with Lord Richard Allen in the beginning) feels tamer than normal.  She's actually aware of the effect her womanly ways have, especially on a younger boy named Cesar, and seems to hold back just enough to remain mostly loyal to Jaimy.  There may be kisses but if anyone tries to get too close, Jacky pushes them away.

Some of the more recent Jacky adventures have felt random and disconnected for the series as a whole. They've felt like adventures that are meant to prolong the story.  So I fully went into this book nervous, expecting disappointment.  But by following real history, returning Jacky to her roots as a British soldier, this book managed to feel more like a planned novel and less like a divergence.

I was surprised by how much I liked this book.  This book is very readable and very fun, without being stupid.  There are some great moments, such as  Jacky discovering hallucinogenic mushrooms, her posting for a very famous pinting (Maja denuda by Goya) and of coures I loved the interactions with Lord Richard Allen at the beginning of the book.

At the end of the book, Jacky and Jaimy are finally sailing in the same direction.  Of course that could mean nothing. There have been plenty of books that ended with a grain of hope, then something happens before they ever land on the same continent.  But I feel like that won't happen this time.  Maybe I'm just overly hopeful, but the timing feels right for Jaimy/Jacky to meet again.  After seeing so much war and death, how could they not run back to each other?

I'm giving this book a better rating than more recent Jacky books.  However, if the next book just goes off on another tangent, all the potential for getting this story back on track will be lost and it won't deserve 4 stars.  It's hard to know if my positive feelings are just hope, or if this series is actually heading in the right direction again.  All I can say for sure is that I really enjoyed this book.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Follow Friday - Book to Halloween movie

Follow Friday is a feature created by Parajunkee and Alison Can Read.  It's a fun blog hop where you meet other book bloggers and find people to follow.
Question: What book do you think would make a great Halloween movie? Please explain in graphic details of goriness....
Scary movies aren't really my thing. They don't normally scare me at all.  Everyone else is jumping and leaving the lights on while I'm wondering what the point of the whole movie was.  Just warning you I'm not expert in Halloween movies (unless they are the Disney channel variety).

My first instict was to say Anna Dressed in Blood. BUT since the first answer I read someone said that I decided to try to choose something different.

So I'm going to go with Feed by Mira Grant.  It's the peak of the zombie genre.  While the main characters, a team of bloggers following a presidential campaign, kill lots of zombies I like the fact the zombies are not the big bad guys of this movie.  What's actually scary is the conspiracy that's going on behind the scene--trying to change the outcome of a presidential campaign using zombies as a weapon.

There is blood. Lots of it.  Main characters die. Everyone re-animates.  The book is scary, but the intelligent kind of scary that I much prefer.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Mark of the Golden Dragon (review)

3.5/5 stars

The Mark of the Golden Dragon was better than expected, though I must admit my expectations were low.  I'd been warned that if I expect resolution this was not that book.  The Jacky Faber story keeps going in circles.  They are fun romps, but never-ending cycles that don't advance the plot forward.

However I gave Jacky a long break.  Months and months.  In this book Jacky herself claims that she's best in small doses and I'm thinking that maybe she's right.  So for Jacky Faber fans who are growing tired of her running around in circles, leading Jamie on and never growing up I had advice for you. Take a break between books.  Listen to something else.  Give Jacky a few months to fade from your mind.  Then when you come back enjoy the high sea adventures, fun flirtations and everything we love about Jacky.

Aside from the break, this book had a few things in it's favor from the start.  Lord Richard Allen is one of my favorite Jacky flirtations.  He's older, dashing, snarky and I love him. So I'm automatically biased towards book with him in it.  So when you're deciding how you'll like this book, consider how much you like Lord Richard Allen.

I always enjoy books where Jaimy actually does things.  That may sound silly, but sometimes I feel like he's off on a ship somewhere just writing love letters to Jacky.  Though he and Jacky are separated,  and there are letters, he's got a big part to play in this book.  Jaimy has gone mad with grief, turned into a  highwayman.  There's some entertainment value to that, especially since he's seeking revenge upon some of our favorite villains.

The problem with this series is not that the books aren't enjoyable.  They are, especially in audiobook form narrated by the incomparable Katherine Kellgren.  However after the first few books each subsequent book seems to start at point A and end at point A.  There is no forward progress.

As expected at the end of Golden Dragon we were back in exactly the same position we'd been before.  It's entertaining, but like Jaimy I've reached the point in my relationship with Jacky where I want more than she seems to be willing to offer.  Despite my misgivings, I know Jacky has a way of bouncing back so I haven't given up on this series yet. I doubt I ever will.

If you like Jacky Faber, stick around.  Later this week I will review Jacky's 10th adventure Viva Jacquelina!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Follow Friday - My blog aspirations

Follow Friday is a feature created by Parajunkee and Alison Can Read.  It's a fun blog hop where you meet other book bloggers and find people to follow.
Question: What do you hope to accomplish with your blog? Is it to one day become an author yourself, just for fun, maybe get some online attention, or maybe something very different?
That's a really good question. To be honest, I had to think about it.  When I initially started thinking about using my old blog as a book blog I was already reviewing on Goodreads.  Since I was already doing a portion of the work of a blog I thought "Why not?"

I wanted to focus on strong female heroines when I started blogging.  My favorite features to write are my Breakdown of a Heroines.  Honestly I wish I could do them more often.  But not every character is a great heroine and not even every heroine jumps out at me like that.  Normally they have something special, not just amazing fighting abilities.  I wanted to talk about how being a heroine is more than just an ability to fight and highlight books with exceptional examples.

I do like to write, but wanting to write books has absolutely nothing to do with my blogging.  Except for occasional mentions I try to keep my personal writing and my book reviewing separate.  I review because I genuinely love reviewing, not because I want people to see my reviews and think "I want to read a book by that girl." (As for my story writing, it's currently not actually happening.  Though I'm currently searching for a NanoWriMo idea).

My degree is in journalism.  Currently I'm not working in any type of journalism/writing field, so I see blogging as a way to keep writing.  It's a very different style of writing from the newspaper journalism I studied, but it's writing.  Blogging let's me keep writing.

I know that's a long-winded answer.  I don't hope to accomplish just one thing with my blog, but a lot of things.