Friday, December 28, 2012

Goodreads Giveaway

My first Goodreads giveaway ends on December 31st, so don't forget to hop over here and enter to win an advance copy of ALICE IN EVERVILLE!  And if you don't win, don't worry--I'll be giving away a copy every two weeks until the book releases in March!


Sunday, December 23, 2012

Happy Holidays!

Just wanted to wish everyone a very happy, healthy and safe holiday season!


Sunday, November 18, 2012

Mini Book Review: Blood Apples: A Grimm Diaries Prequel #6 by Cameron Jace


I’m returning from my blog hiatus with a review of Blood Apples, another prequel in the Grimm Diaries series by Cameron Jace.  However, I have to warn any readers that I’ll still be posting very sporadically through the end of the year…but I’ll be posting much more frequently beginning in January, getting ready for the ALICE IN EVERVILLE release in March!


Blood Apples, the sixth Grimm Diaries prequel, is narrated by Prince Charming and gives us new insights into some characters from earlier installments, including Snow White and (briefly) Peter Pan, as well as introducing us to new characters like Jack (of “and the Beanstalk” fame). I especially loved the imagery at the beginning of the story, when the Prince is “reading a letter made of pages of sand, delivered to me by a white dove guarded by two owls.” As always, the author weaves together not only a fascinating combination of fairy tales (this segment includes Snow White and Rapunzel), but also other influences that in this case include Greek myth, vampires and Romeo and Juliet. Also as always, I ended up googling and learning something new—in this case, that an apple can be a Wiccan symbol because when it’s cut a certain way, the seeds form a pentagram. After finishing this prequel, I’m dying to know more about Snow White, and especially about the mysterious Pomona introduced at the end of the story!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Blog Hiatus

Between my new teaching/tutoring job, my freelance editing, and finishing and revising my WIP, I'm feeling very overwhelmed...so I'm going to take a blog hiatus for the next month or so.  See you on the other side!

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Vampire Blog Hop: The Child Vampire


One of the aspects of the whole vampire mythos I find most fascinating is the fact that vampires don’t age after being turned.  Because of that, when I hear the word “vampire,” I don’t think of Twilight…or Vampire Academy…or Vampire Diaries…I think of Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire, even though it’s been almost ten years since I’ve read it.

And when I think of Interview with the Vampire, I don’t think of Lestat (Tom Cruise, for those of you who’ve only seen the movie) or Louis (Brad Pitt)…I think of Anne Rice’s incredible creation, the vampire-child Claudia, a fictional character I will never forget.  In the movie version, Claudia was played by 12-year-old Kirsten Dunst:

..but in the book, Claudia is only SIX.  She’s described as an angelic, doll-like beauty, but over time she comes to enjoy killing people and develops a very disturbing sexuality.  Here’s one quote:

Yet more and more her doll-like face seemed to possess two totally aware adult eyes, and innocence seemed lost somewhere with neglected toys and the loss of a certain patience. There was something dreadfully sensual about her lounging on the settee in a tiny nightgown of lace and stitched pearls… (p. 100-101)

I’ve always been fascinated by Peter Pan and the idea of the child who never grows up, and there is a lot of darkness and depth to that story in all its many reincarnations.  The concept of the child-vampire takes this darkness to an even more extreme and disturbing level.  There’s something so incredibly sad and delicate, terrible and poignant about the child-vampire. 

Anyway, if you’ve never read Interview with the Vampire, I encourage you to check it out!  


Monday, September 24, 2012

Mini Book Review: The Grimm Diaries' Prequel -- Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary by Cameron Jace



From the introduction to The Grimm Diaries’ Prequels:

It’s better to think of the prequels like snapshots of a magical land you’re about to visit soon. I like to think of them as poisoned apples. Once you taste them, you will never see fairy tales in the same light again.

I love anything to do with fairy tales, especially creative reinterpretations, and that’s exactly what Cameron Jace delivers in his Grimm Diaries’ Prequels.  His latest installment, Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary, is no different, combining the fairy tale The Snow Queen, the nursery rhyme referenced in the title, and a very disturbing real-life historical figure.

It’s hard to say too much about this one without spoiling it, but I can say that it’s probably the darkest of the prequels so far.  In fact, the origin of the Mary, Mary Quite Contrary rhyme as explained in this story is so disturbing, I was sure the author had made it up—it couldn’t be real.  But no…I did a quick google search, and sure enough, the author had done his research again!  Of course his explanation of the nursery rhyme is only one of several theories as to the rhyme’s origins, but still…wow.  I know I’m being very vague, but I don’t want to spoil it for anyone!

I also loved the way the author used mirrors, a common fairy-tale motif, throughout this story.  We have the Snow Queen mirror, the Snow White mirror, and the mirror from the “Bloody Mary” folktale—which by the way, may be the creepiest part of this story.

By the end of the story, some characters from the very first Grimm Diaries’ Prequel make a reappearance, perhaps setting up some connections that will pay off later in the series.  I can’t wait to see!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Book Review: Between You & Me by Marisa Calin





Phyre knows there is something life-changing about her new drama teacher, Mia, from the moment they meet. As Phyre rehearses for the school play, she comes to realize that the unrequited feelings she has for Mia go deeper than she’s ever experienced. Especially with a teacher. Or a woman. All the while, Phyre’s best friend—addressed throughout the story in the second person, as "you"—stands by, ready to help Phyre make sense of her feelings. But just as Mia doesn’t understand what Phyre feels, Phyre can’t fathom the depth of her best friend’s feelings . . . until it’s almost too late for a happy ending. Characters come to life through the innovative screenplay format of this dazzling debut, and unanswered questions—is "you" male or female?—will have readers talking.

Between You & Me is a fascinating, innovative novel written in screenplay format.  However, unlike a traditional screenplay written in third person, this novel is written in first person and the narrator, Phyre, addresses her friend only as “you” throughout the book.  As a result, the book is almost like a letter from Phyre to her friend.  I found the screenplay format really quick, easy, and interesting to read, and it worked perfectly in a book about a young aspiring actress taking her first acting class and performing in her first play.  However, I have taken script writing classes and even written a few screenplays, so I can imagine that readers unfamiliar with the form might find it a bit difficult at first.  For me, though, the form worked almost like verse, distilling the story to its most important and emotional moments.

A lot of this story centered on Phyre’s crush on her young, glamorous, female teacher, Mia.  Phyre has dated boys in the past and is confused by her feelings; at one point she says she’s not sure if she wants to be with Mia, or just be her.  This rang very true to me, as I remember having intense relationships with my female friends as a teenager that completely confused me—part of me wanted to be these girls, and part of me wanted to be close to them in a way that somehow seemed more intimate than friendship.  I think this is a pretty common experience among adolescent girls, and it isn’t explored enough in YA lit, so I was really glad to see it handled so well in this book.

This novel also explores gender through the fact that Phyre’s friend, addressed only as “you,” could be either male or female.  So many small exchanges between Phyre and “you” in the book could be interpreted differently based on whether “you” is male or female.  It makes the reader realize just how much gender influences our perception of people’s actions and relationships.

Finally, I have to mention that Calin’s writing is vivid, poetic, and beautiful.  My only small quibble is that I wish Phyre’s parents had been given a slightly larger role in the story.  Overall, I highly recommend Between You & Me.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Apologies, Copy Edits, and Excerpts

So as is probably apparent to anyone who reads this blog, I have been insanely busy these past few weeks...and my blogging has gone from sparse to nonexistent as a result.  I'm so sorry!  I have a new part-time job, but I am going to try to continue participating in Weigh-In Wednesday and writing book reviews as often as I can.  Another reason I've been busy is that I just finished copy edits for Light Sister, Dark Sister...so that's one good thing!  So to celebrate the completion of copy edits, I've decided to post another excerpt from the book...and this one is the copy editor's favorite part!  So here it is:


Scarlett:

All Hallows’ Eve

The night when the dead
return and walk the earth,
demanding remembrances
from the living.

All Hallows’ Eve

The night when the living
cloak themselves in darkness,
to escape the notice
of the hungry dead.

But what do you do
when you’re not sure which side
you belong to?

What do you do
when you spend every day
in the twilight
straddling the line
between two worlds?

What do you do
when you’re no longer sure
what’s disguise
and what’s true?
What hides you from the world
and what reveals you?   

Do you retreat further into shadows
and embrace the night?

Or do you step the other way
and reach for the light?

Bianca:

Halloween 

The night of disguises
when everyone transforms
into what they most want
or most fear.

Halloween

The night when normal rules
are tossed away
like the insides
of a grinning jack-o’-lantern.

But what do you do
when you’ve started to feel
like you’re wearing a costume
every day?

What do you do
when you suspect the safety of rules
may no longer protect you
so what’s the point
anyway?

Do you keep your hopes up, smile on,
and clutch the last rays of light?

Or do you look for new answers
in the murky realm of night?

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Alice in Everville in the Blogosphere!

Alice in Everville is still a little over 6 months away from releasing, but last week it popped up on a book blog...at Alex Bennett's amazing Electrifying Reviews.  Electrifying Reviews was one of the first blogs I found when I began seriously reading book blogs, probably about two years ago, so I was SUPER excited to see Alice in Everville pop up as one of Alex's Future Reads.  The fact that my book is really going to be out there in the world is starting to feel so real...and exciting...and scary... and maybe even a bit electrifying, for me if for no one else!  Anyway, you can check out Alex's post, including the other amazing books he's looking forward to, here.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Weigh in Wednesday


Weigh in Wednesday is a meme started by Lauren at Epilogue Review, and this week's topic is...

reading a book vs. listening to an audiobook.

So first I apologize for missing the last two weeks--I've been crazy busy!  I had to participate this week, though, because I love this question.  My answer is, in general, I prefer reading a book, but there are occasions when I prefer audiobooks, and I really like doing both.

I generally prefer reading because I think it's a more immersive experience--there's no narrator standing between you and the text, and it's less likely your mind will start to wander while reading versus while listening to an audiobook.  Plus it's easier to go back and check something in an actual book, rather than rewinding and trying to find it in an audiobook.  In addition, a bad narrator can ruin a good book, so you have to be careful about that.

On the other hand, I love audiobooks because they've allowed me to experience so many books that I wouldn't have time to otherwise.  I don't have a car, so I listen to audiobooks on my ipod while I'm walking and running errands, and while I'm working out.  I'm able to listen at least two hours a day, which adds up to about 100 extra books per year.  In addition, audiobooks are great for those books you read a while ago, don't quite remember but don't want to devote the time to rereading in print, or if you want a refresher on earlier books in a series before you read the next one.

So overall, I like them both, but if forced to choose I'd go with reading a book!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Book Review: Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire

The new Abby Abernathy is a good girl. She doesn’t drink or swear, and she has the appropriate percentage of cardigans in her wardrobe. Abby believes she has enough distance between her and the darkness of her past, but when she arrives at college with her best friend, her path to a new beginning is quickly challenged by Eastern University's Walking One-Night Stand. 

Travis Maddox, lean, cut, and covered in tattoos, is exactly what Abby needs—and wants—to avoid. He spends his nights winning money in a floating fight ring, and his days as the ultimate college campus charmer. Intrigued by Abby’s resistance to his appeal, Travis tricks her into his daily life with a simple bet. If he loses, he must remain abstinent for a month. If Abby loses, she must live in Travis’s apartment for the same amount of time. Either way, Travis has no idea that he has met his match.



I received an ARC of this novel from the publisher and NetGalley.

I was very interested in reading Beautiful Disaster since it became one of the first self-published books to make the New York Times bestseller list and was subsequently bought by Simon and Schuster.  In addition, I knew the book had received a passionate response from readers, ranging from the rabid fans to those who felt Travis and Abby’s relationship was more “disaster” than “beautiful.”  Unfortunately, after reading it, I have to say I fall into the latter category.

The first thing that really bothered me while reading was the novel’s derogatory attitude toward women.  Aside from Abby, her best friend America, and her roommate Kara (whom Abby and America inexplicably hate and act horribly to throughout the book), all the women are portrayed as—and actually called, mostly by America—sluts/whores/bimbos/etc.  Abby and America think every girl who sleeps with Travis is trash and deserves to be treated as such; the fact that Travis is sleeping around just as much, or more, than these girls doesn’t seem to be much of an issue.  If anything, it makes him more attractive. 

As for Abby and Travis’ relationship, I’ll first say that I don’t mind reading about morally ambiguous characters or destructive relationships as long as they’re portrayed in a thoughtful, complex way.   In this book, though, the reader is supposed to be attracted to Travis and believe he’s ultimately the right man for Abby, even though he treats women like useless objects, is incredibly emotionally manipulative and needy, and at one point actually carries Abby into his apartment against her will.  He also calls her “Pigeon,” which just might be the least sexy nickname ever.  I also can’t believe he’s so cut and an almost inhumanly strong fighter, since he never works out and seems to spend most of his time drinking and lounging around on the couch or in bed.  The last ten percent of the book, when Travis becomes a larger-than-life hero and everything seems to work out perfectly, left me rolling my eyes too many times to count.

The one aspect of the novel that did intrigue me was Abby’s struggle to overcome her past and her own self-destructive tendencies.  There was a quite powerful scene early in the novel where Abby first loses control of her carefully constructed fa├žade, when she binge drinks at her nineteenth birthday party.  If the novel had focused more on Abby’s personal development rather than the romance, I think I would have found it much more intriguing.

On the sentence level, the novel did contain some grammatical errors, formatting issues, awkward sentences, and incorrect dialogue tags, which I hope will be fixed in the final Simon and Schuster version.  Despite that, McGuire’s prose was very readable, and the pacing was strong enough to carry me through the book even though I disliked the characters.  Because of this, I would try another novel from McGuire in the future; this one, though, just wasn’t for me.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Book Review: The Golden Lily


Tough, brainy alchemist Sydney Sage and doe-eyed Moroi princess Jill Dragomir are in hiding at a human boarding school in the sunny, glamorous world of Palm Springs, California. The students--children of the wealthy and powerful--carry on with their lives in blissful ignorance, while Sydney, Jill, Eddie, and Adrian must do everything in their power to keep their secret safe. But with forbidden romances, unexpected spirit bonds, and the threat of Strigoi moving ever closer, hiding the truth is harder than anyone thought.
So I liked the Vampire Academy books all right, but I’m REALLY starting to get into the Bloodlines series, and I think the reasons I like it so much more are:

a.       I can identify with Sydney much more easily than with Rose.
b.      I’m not a huge fan of fight scenes, and the Bloodlines books have less than VA.
c.       I LOVE Adrian.

Seriously, I think I could just read bantering dialogue between Sydney and Adrian for 400 pages, without any plot, and I’d enjoy it!  I especially loved the part where they snuck into the backyard…it was so sweet!  I also thought the contrast between Adrian and Sydney’s other love interest, Brayden, was great (I couldn’t stand Brayden, but I think that was intentional), and I enjoyed the running joke of everyone forgetting Brayden’s name.   The other characters were great as well—I’ve noticed a lot of reviewers seem to be annoyed with Jill, but I find her sweet, and I love watching the relationship between her and Eddie develop.

As far as the plot goes, though, I did have a bit more trouble.   One of the reasons I often get tired of series is that they seem to drag out every little event for drama, rather than getting to the really important plot points in a more direct manner.  This makes sense, since the authors need enough content to fill several books, but it does frustrate me a bit and I did notice it in both Bloodlines and The Golden Lily.  Once we got into the action-oriented aspect of the book in the last hundred pages, I also felt a bit disappointed by the direction Mead took, though I think this is more a personal preference than anything else.  I’m just so tired of hearing about the Hunger Games and similar books (I like HG—just tired of hearing about it!) that any storyline that references Roman gladiators and involves a large crowd eagerly witnessing violence seems a bit too familiar to me right now.

Mead’s real strengths in this novel are the witty dialogue, Sydney’s strong voice, the humor and character development, and all of those make The Golden Lily well worth the read! 

Friday, July 27, 2012

Monday, July 23, 2012

Book Review: Mister Death's Blue-Eyed Girls by Mary Downing Hahn


Based on an actual crime in 1955, this YA novel is at once a mystery and a coming-of-age story. The brutal murder of two teenage girls on the last day of Nora Cunningham's junior year in high school throws Nora into turmoil. Her certainties, friendships, religion, her prudence, her resolve to find a boyfriend taller than she is - are shaken or cast off altogether.

Most people in Elmgrove, Maryland, share the comforting conviction that Buddy Novak, who had every reason to want his ex-girlfriend dead, is responsible for the killings. Nora agrees at first, then begins to doubt Buddy's guilt, and finally comes to believe him innocent - the lone dissenting voice in Elmgrove.

Told from several different perspectives, including that of the murderer, Mister Death's Blue-Eyed Girls is a suspenseful page-turner with a powerful human drama at its core.

Mister Death’s Blue-Eyed Girls is absolutely stunning novel, but I did have to adjust my expectations a bit while reading.  I grew up loving Mary Downing Hahn’s creepy, mysterious ghost stories, and while I realized this book is for an older audience and doesn’t contain paranormal elements, I still expected a mystery/suspense type read.  The title, cover, blurb, and the first few chapters all support this expectation, and I actually think the marketing here does the book a bit of a disservice, since readers expecting a mystery or thriller are likely to be disappointed.  This novel is really a dark, subtle coming-of-age story that drew me in completely and ended up being so much more than I’d expected.

Even though the story is set in 1956 and the heroine, Nora, lives in a very different world than our modern one, I completely identified with her as she dealt with the aftermath of her friends’ deaths, her new religious doubts, her depression, and the general difficulties of being a teenager no matter what era you live in.  I especially felt for her as she wondered why she questions and is unwilling to accept things that others take for granted, and I loved her passion for poetry and the way poems were woven in throughout the novel.

I also loved the inclusion of Buddy’s point of view and the way his character developed throughout the novel.  The early scenes in which he’s questioned by police, pre-Miranda law, are particularly nail-biting.  His transformation in the eyes of the reader is total and very convincing.
This book is set in a (fictional, I believe?) suburb of Baltimore, and since I grew up in Baltimore, it was fun to recognize names and places and imagine what they would have been like back in the 1950s.  Much of the novel brought to mind my parents’ stories of growing up in Baltimore in the 1950s and 60s.

What impressed me most about this novel was that, while the murders occur very early on in the novel, Hahn manages to build up the emotional impact of their deaths over the course of the book so that, by the end, I was nearly in tears.  It takes a very skilled author to make us feel like we know and mourn for characters who aren’t physically present for most of the pages.  Mister Death’s Blue-Eyed Girls is a haunting novel in the deepest, truest sense.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Weigh in Wednesday


Weigh in Wednesday is a weekly meme started by Lauren at Epilogue Review, and this week's topic is YA VS ADULT FICTION.

While there are a few adult authors I really like, including Alice Hoffman (who's also written a few YAs!) and Eowyn Ivey, I'd have to say that overall I gravitate toward YA fiction.  YA has always been the first section I browse in the bookstore or library, and most of my favorite books are YA or children's.  I also like the variety and innovation in YA.  However, lately I've noticed YA becoming more trend-based and commercial, and I'm not a huge fan of that...especially when it seems publishers are focusing on books that will translate into major movies.  I actually prefer the kind of quiet, quirky stories that wouldn't make great movies, because...if I wanted to watch a movie, I'd watch a movie, not read a book!  I hope that YA becomes less trend-based and continues to allow innovation in the future, but no matter what, I think I'll always love YA.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Teaser from Light Sister, Dark Sister

As promised, here is a teaser from my upcoming novel in verse, LIGHT SISTER, DARK SISTER.  Enjoy!



Bianca:

Have you ever heard
of a phantom limb?
When a person loses
an arm, or a leg,
sometimes she feels
it’s still there.

Mostly, she feels like it
hurts—confused neurons
sending messages of pain
along pathways that no longer
exist.

Well, all my limbs are attached,
at least for now,
but sometimes I feel
there’s a whole phantom body,
once joined to mine, now

severed,

but still following me,
invisible—
boneless, jointless, weightless—

and when that body hurts,
my own neurons fire
with pain.


Scarlett:

Sometimes I feel
like a phantom.

I pinch my arm
and my fingers clutch air;
I dig my nails in my flesh,
but I feel no pain.

I look in the mirror
and I watch myself

vanishing

blurring around the edges,
lips and eyes dissolving
till I can’t see
or speak.

So I bring my edges back,
define myself
with kohl-rimmed eyes,
bruise-purple lips,
hair the blue-black
of a raven’s wing.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Exciting News

Exciting news...I've sold my second book to Pendrell Publishing!  It's another contemporary YA novel, titled LIGHT SISTER, DARK SISTER, but it's VERY different from ALICE IN EVERVILLE.

First of all, LS, DS [jeez, I pick long titles!] is written in verse, like novels by Ellen Hopkins and Sonya Sones.  In addition, while AiE is on the younger end of the YA spectrum, LS, DS features slightly older protagonists (yes, there are 2 protagonists!) and is a bit darker in tone, and fits more in the upper age range of the YA spectrum.

I love both AiE and LS,DS so much, and I'm super excited that I'll get to share both of them with you!

And it's even up on Publisher's Marketplace: http://www.publishersmarketplace.com/rights/display.cgi?no=8397

And here's a teaser description:

In SC Langgle's verse novel Light Sister, Dark Sister, sixteen-year-old twin sisters with opposing personalities must come together to prevent a potential tragedy.

This weekend I'll be posting a teaser excerpt from the novel, so be sure to check back!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Weigh in Wednesday


Weigh in Wednesday is a weekly meme started by Lauren at Epilogue Review, and this week's topic is Peeta vs. Gale.

This is an easy one for me...I was a fan of Peeta from the very beginning, because I never felt like I got to know Gale enough in the first book to really like him.  Peeta, on the other hand, was incredibly likable from that very first anecdote about him giving the bread to Katniss.  By the third book, I feel like the author was "team Peeta" as well--she seemed to subtly cast Gale in a more unflattering light--so I continued to prefer Peeta up to the very end.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Perfectionism

I am a perfectionist, and it's very scary for me to accept that I have a book coming out next year, and that book will NOT be perfect.  Because nothing is perfect.  While I know this, I'm still irrationally convinced a typo or wrong word choice will appear and ruin the book for any potential reader.  I remind myself that nearly every book I've read in the past year has had at least one typo, or if not a typo, at least something I would have done differently or a word choice or sentence structure that makes me stumble while reading--and yet I still enjoy those books.

Why am I writing this post now?  Well, I've been bugging my publisher with tons of tiny changes to my galleys, and I'm pretty much at the point where I can't make any more changes.  But of course I continue to look at my galley (basically a copy of my book formatted for printing), and tonight I noticed the word "a" where it maybe doesn't need to be, and a repeated word that I could have replaced with a synonym.  Yes, I am really that obsessive-compulsive!  And the worst thing is, I'm sure there are many similar issues I can't see because I've read the book so many times.  But what I need to remind myself is...

No book is perfect, and that's okay.

So what about you?  Do a few typos in a book bother you?  What about sentence structure and word choice issues?

And to leave this post on a more positive note, there's one thing about my book that's undoubtedly perfect...the cover.  Just look at that:




Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Weigh in Wednesday #11


Weigh in Wednesday is a weekly meme started by Lauren at Epilogue Review, and this week's topic is...

Fairytale Retelling vs. The Original Tale

This is a great topic, and my answer may be a bit of a copout, but I have to say...both!  I've always absolutely adored fairy tales, especially the darker, original Grimms and Han Christian Andersen versions, and obviously the retellings wouldn't exist without the originals!  One thing I love about retellings so much is that they make you look at the original tale in a new way, bringing out new depths and different sides to the stories and characters, so...I just think one wouldn't be as strong without the other!  Reading a great retelling makes me want to go back to the original, find different versions from various cultures, etc.; on the other hand, reading a traditional fairy tale I was previously unfamiliar with makes me want to seek out retellings or think about writing my own.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Stylish Blogger Award


So I received the Stylish Blogger Award from Jennifer at donniedarkogirl (thanks so much, Jennifer!) and to accept I need to answer these great questions.  So here we go...

1. What's your favorite song?

Okay, I think that's pretty much impossible to narrow down, but one of my favorites is Disarm by The Smashing Pumpkins.

2.  What's your favorite dessert?

Also impossible to narrow down...maybe pumpkin pie?  With whipped cream!

3.  When you're upset, what do you do?

I have OCD and anxiety, so I'm actually not very good at dealing with being upset...I tend to choose random things to obsess over.  I try to get any work I have to do done so I can relax.  And if I can't do anything about the problem, I try not to think about it...although I'm not always so successful!

4.  What was your favorite pet?

I have two amazing dogs right now, a Chihuahua named Chin-Mae and a Maltipoo named Sasha, and there's no way I could choose between them!  Chin-Mae can be more gruff and standoffish--he's a rescue dog who wasn't trained well when younger--while Sasha is super-friendly and sweet.  I love them both so much and they compliment each other perfectly!

5.  What do you prefer to wear, black or white?

I like both!

6.  What is your biggest fear?

Something awful happening to the people (or pets!) I care about.  And the apocalypse, which encompasses the former!

7.  What is your attitude mostly?

I'm at a point in my life where I don't feel particularly stable career-wise/financially, so unfortunately my attitude is a bit stressed out and distracted most of the tme!

8.  What is perfection to you?

Not worrying about being perfect.

9.  What is your guilty pleasure?

Frappucinos and Coffee Bean Ice Blended drinks.  I get one almost every day even though I absolutely cannot afford them.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Weigh in Wednesday 10


Weigh in Wednesday is a weekly meme started by Lauren at Epilogue Review, and this week's topic is:

Reading one book at a time vs. reading multiple books at a time.

I definitely prefer to read one book at a time--I think it makes for a stronger reading experience, and I like to check my current book off my list before starting a new one!  However, if I'm reading a really long and/or difficult book and I'm thinking about giving up on it but not sure I should, I might put it aside and read something short and light (or something I've read before and know I'll like) to give myself a break.

Technically, though, I'm always reading two books at once, because I always have an audiobook on my iPod for when I'm working out/running errands/walking.  But the audiobook format is so different that it doesn't really feel like reading two books at once, and I've gotten used to balancing the two!

Top Ten Tuesday


Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme started by The Broke and the Bookish, and this week’s topic is…

TOP TEN CHARACTERS WHO REMIND ME OF MYSELF OR SOMEONE I KNOW IN REAL LIFE

Oh man, this is a hard one!  Don’t know if I can come up with ten, but let’s see…
First, characters that remind me of myself:

Jess Aarons from Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson: I actually have very little in common with Jess—he likes to run, live on a farm with a bunch of sisters, and is a great artist.  I am none of the above.  But I think because of a loss I experienced when I was a young child (my infant sister died when I was 3), I really identified with Jess because of the loss he experiences during the book.  Crying while reading this book is one of my most vivid childhood memories of all time.

Anne Shirley from Anne of Green Gables: Like Anne, I spent my childhood hoping for a “bosom friend,” and I wanted to find a “Lake of Shining Waters” and a “Haunted Wood.”

Witch Baby from Witch Baby by Francesca Lia Block: Witch Baby is a sensitive teenage girl who has a hard time separating herself from the pain she sees in the world around her.  My eighth-grade yearbook page has a quote from this book: “What time are we upon, and where do I belong?”

Marianne from Sense and Sensibility: I actually don’t identify so much with Marianne anymore (I think now I’m a little more Elinor, or somewhere in between), but in high school I was a huge romantic and Marianne was pretty much my idol.

Laurel from Wings by Aprilynne Pike: Okay, I actually have nothing in common with Laurel, EXCEPT that like her, I can’t stand tight/constrictive clothing—I hate jeans and long-sleeved shirts and wear tank tops even in the winter, just with an open cardigan over them.  Do you think this means I’m a fairy???

Now, characters that remind me of people I know:

Maeve from Tallulah Falls by Christine Fletcher: Maeve reminds me a bit of my friend Tracy—wild and unpredictable, yet someone you can’t help wanting to spend time with.

Sophie from The BFG by Roald Dahl: Sophie reminds me of my sister because they’re both brave and plucky, and probably also b/c my sister loved Roald Dahl as a kid.

Gene from A Separate Peace by John Knowles: Gene reminds me a bit of my friend Matt—thoughtful, intelligent and sensitive.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Book Review: The Wood Queen by Karen Mahoney



Donna Underwood is in deep trouble.An ancient alchemical order is holding her accountable for destroying the last precious drops of the elixar of life. Never mind the fact that Donna was acting to free her friend, Navin, from the dangerous clutches of the Wood Queen at the time. But what the alchemists have in store is nothing compared to the wrath of the fey. The Wood Queen has been tricked and Donna must pay. Get ready for all hell - quite literally - to break loose...

Karen Mahoney’s Iron Witch series hasn’t gotten as much attention as many of the other YA series based on fairy mythology, and I think that may be due to the Iron Witch hitting shelves after the fairy trend had begun to run its course, not because the series isn’t interesting or worth reading.  As a lifelong lover of anything to do with fairies, I’m really enjoying Karen Mahoney’s take on fairies and the way she’s developed her mythos in this second volume.

As in the first book, I loved the way The Wood Queen combined fairies, alchemy, and the Maiden with No Hands fairy tale (there’s a good author’s note about the fairy tale at the back of the first book if you’re not familiar with it.)  We see further development of both the fairy tale and alchemy themes in this second volume, particularly as they tie in to Donna’s relationship with both her parents and the alchemists.  Hard to say more without spoilers, but I thought this was well done and intriguing.

As for the fairies themselves, I love the way Mahoney creates her own version of wood elves while still staying grounded in traditional fairy mythology.  Her fairies are scary yet alluring, and wonderfully described in a way that ties them to the natural world.  One of the reasons I like Mahoney’s books, particularly compared to some of the other YA fairy series, is that she includes evocative imagery without getting overly angsty/descriptive/romanticized the way some of the other books do.  I also love Mahoney’s use of names for people and places—they’re simple but still redolent with fairy tale and mythological imagery: Underwood, Ironbridge, Winterthorn, etc.

I really liked the new character, Robert, who was introduced in this installment, and I hope we’ll see more of him.  [Little thing, but why was his last name Lee?  Kept making me think of Robert E Lee…]  As another gay character, Robert reinforced Mahoney’s dedication to diversity of all forms in her books, which is nice to see, especially since she doesn’t place too much emphasis on it—it’s just there.  However, as in the previous installment, I found myself wondering if it would be easier to connect with Donna herself if the book was written in first person rather than third.  I’m really not sure, and on the bright side, the third person does cut down on some of the angst.  I also LOVED the brief mention of the clockwork birds—can we please have more of those in the next book?!

My one major problem with the book, however, had to do with the plot…

WARNING: SPOILER FOR FIRST HALF BELOW

…Donna is given three days to save her mother from the Wood Queen’s curse.  Given that time frame, I never felt like Donna’s behavior was quite urgent enough.  When she should have been telling Xan what was going on and asking him for advice, she was kissing him and then watching him cook instead.  I wanted to yell at her, YOU'RE RUNNING OUT OF TIME!  Especially on the last day Donna has to save her mother, I felt like the pacing was off—for much of this day I was unclear on what time it was, which should have been crucial considering the hours were ticking down.

SPOILER OVER!

In the end, though, Mahoney did achieve some nice dramatic tension and set up an intriguing new drama for the third installment of the series.  If you’re a fan of fairy books and you haven’t checked  these out yet, I definitely recommend you give them a try!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Weigh in Wednesday #9


WEIGH IN WEDNESDAY is a weekly meme started by Lauren at Epilogue Review, and this week's topic is:

Action/adventure vs. romance (if the story has only one):

This is a hard one for me, but since I generally prefer character-driven stories over plot-driven ones, I'm going to go with romance.  I'd say that in general, romance tends to be more about character development and action/adventure tends to be more about plot (of course there are many exceptions to this rule, and most books contain at least a little of both).  However, I prefer a romance that is realistic and based on the way two people relate to each other rather than looks/some sort of paranormal-based attraction/reincarnation/etc.  I also don't think every romance has to have a happy ending, and I prefer if things aren't tied up in a neat little bow.  As far as action goes, I don't really enjoy reading action scenes just for their own sake--if I'm invested in an action sequence, it's because the author has made me care about the characters involved.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature at The Broke and the Bookish, and this is my first time participating.  This week's list is Top Ten Books on the Summer TBR List, and my list includes both already released books I haven't gotten around to yet and a few books coming out later this summer.  So here it is:

1. TIGER LILY by Jodi Lynn Anderson    
Peter Pan is one of my top-five favorite books of all time, so I'm really excited but also a little nervous to read this retelling.  I've heard that it's told from the POV of Tinker Bell, who is such a fascinating character, so that intrigues me as much as the idea of Tiger Lily as heroine.

2. MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH by Bethany Griffin
I read Bethany Griffin's contemporary YA, Handcuffs, awhile ago and really liked it (I'm actually hoping to reread it soon too).  I think a modern retelling of Poe's story sounds fantastic, and I'm eager to see what she does with it!

3. GRAFFITI MOON by Cath Crowley
I've heard that the writing in this one is fantastic--poetic and evocative.

4. INSURGENT by Veronica Roth
I have to admit I'm a little nervous about getting through this one--while I think Divergent was very well-written, I had a hard time relating to Tris (I'm such a wimp compared to her, I think she would have just kicked me under one of those flying trains or something!) and I wasn't crazy about some of the violence.  But the sequel is getting so much buzz that I'm super curious and I just HAVE to read it.

5. SHADOW AND BONE by Leigh Bardugo
Another one I'm curious about because of the buzz--everybody seems to love it!

6. INDELIBLE by Lani Woodland
I just finished Intrinsical last week, so I'm dying for the sequel and more ghostly creepiness!

7. LONG LANKIN by Lindsey Barraclough
This one's been out in the UK for awhile, but it's coming out in the US in July.  It sounds wonderfully dark and atmospheric--a thriller based on a murder ballad.

8. THE WAYFARER by RJ Anderson
I read the first book in this series, Faery Rebel, so long ago and it's one of my all-time favorites--definitely one of my favorite fairy novels, and a lesser-known one.  I don't know why it's taken me so long to get to the sequel.

9. DARK COMPANION by Marta Acosta
I love a good gothic mystery!

10. FROM BAD TO CURSED by Katie Alender
Another sequel I've put off way too long after enjoying Bad Girls Don't Die.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Book Review: Struck by Jennifer Bosworth



Mia Price is a lightning addict. She’s survived countless strikes, but her craving to connect to the energy in storms endangers her life and the lives of those around her.

Los Angeles, where lightning rarely strikes, is one of the few places Mia feels safe from her addiction. But when an earthquake devastates the city, her haven is transformed into a minefield of chaos and danger. The beaches become massive tent cities. Downtown is a crumbling wasteland, where a traveling party moves to a different empty building each night, the revelers drawn to the destruction by a force they cannot deny. Two warring cults rise to power, and both see Mia as the key to their opposing doomsday prophecies. They believe she has a connection to the freak electrical storm that caused the quake, and to the far more devastating storm that is yet to come.

Mia wants to trust the enigmatic and alluring Jeremy when he promises to protect her, but she fears he isn’t who he claims to be. In the end, the passion and power that brought them together could be their downfall. When the final disaster strikes, Mia must risk unleashing the full horror of her strength to save the people she loves, or lose everything.

The setting and world-building of STRUCK, screenwriter Jennifer Bosworth’s fiction debut, was both my favorite and least-favorite aspect of the novel.  I live in LA, and I’m already terrified of earthquakes…seriously, Jennifer Bosworth, do you have to make it worse?!  Bosworth’s world-building is so successful because she clearly knows LA well, and she creates a very believable portrait of the city after a devastating earthquake—I can definitely see downtown LA as the Waste, a dangerous wasteland that’s also the center of a mysterious, dark partying movement.  And Venice Beach is the perfect place for both Tentville, home of those displaced by the earthquake, and Prophet’s stronghold.  Bosworth refers not only to general areas of Los Angeles but specific streets, neighborhoods, and landmarks, which made the book particularly fun for me as I recognized those places.

I also loved Bosworth’s dark, vibrant, and very cinematic imagery throughout the novel—there was one image involving the world cracking open like an egg that was just stunning in context.   The main characters were intriguing and likable.  I hope that if there’s a sequel, Bosworth reveals more about the past of mysterious love-interest Jeremy—I’d love to know more about his background, though I’m not sure it would have fit into this novel.  I do admit to becoming irritated with Mia’s mother—at many points I just wanted to reach into the book and shake her and tell her to snap out of it!  I do understand why she acted as she did, though, and her behavior was essential to the plot.

If you’ve read any reviews of STRUCK, you’ve probably noticed there’s a lot of discussion about religion in the novel.  As someone with a completely non-religious background, I wasn’t sure how I’d react to this aspect of the novel.  Most of the cult aspects didn’t bother me at all—I felt this was more a portrayal of one power-hungry individual who CLAIMED to hear God for his own benefit, rather than an actual statement about God or any one religion.  However, there was also a lot of religious imagery and references to the Bible, especially the Book of Revelations and Christ and the Apostles, throughout the book, and that was a bit thornier for me.  I’m not sure how accurate the Revelations references were, but I do find that stuff fascinating, the same way I’m fascinated by mythology and folklore.  However, with Prophet’s twelve Apostles and the suggestion that Mia might be intended as a martyr to die for their cause, I became a little uncomfortable. I think maybe I’ve just endured enough Christ-on-the-cross metaphors in high school and college English classes, and I don’t really want to think about that any more than I have to!

Plot-wise, there was a lot going on in STRUCK—Mia’s addiction to lightning, her mysterious stalker/savior Jeremy, the two opposing cult-like groups with their doomsday prophecies, and the disastrous earthquake and its social consequences.  While all of these plot threads came together by the end, it was a LOT, and at times I became overwhelmed and wanted to put the book down for a while.  However, I tend to prefer quieter, character-driven stories rather than cinematic, action-packed ones, so other readers may enjoy the plot more than I did.  I also wished we’d learned more about the roots of Mia’s lightning addiction—I would have loved a flashback to the first time she was struck, for instance, and more about how and when she realized the lightning was seeking her out.

Overall, STRUCK was definitely worth the read and left me with a lot to think about!