Apr 30, 2012

Audiobook Giveaway of The Hunt by Andrew Fukuda

If you checked my blog yesterday, I reviewed The Hunt by Andrew Fukuda. Today I have a copy of the audiobook for giveaway. You can read my review of the book HERE. Below is the blurb for those that don't know what the book is about yet.


Blurb: 


Don’t Sweat. Don’t Laugh. Don’t draw attention to yourself. And most of all, whatever you do, do not fall in love with one of them.

Gene is different from everyone else around him. He can’t run with lightning speed, sunlight doesn’t hurt him and he doesn’t have an unquenchable lust for blood. Gene is a human, and he knows the rules. Keep the truth a secret. It’s the only way to stay alive in a world of night—a world where humans are considered a delicacy and hunted for their blood.

When he’s chosen for a once in a lifetime opportunity to hunt the last remaining humans, Gene’s carefully constructed life begins to crumble around him. He’s thrust into the path of a girl who makes him feel things he never thought possible—and into a ruthless pack of hunters whose suspicions about his true nature are growing. Now that Gene has finally found something worth fighting for, his need to survive is stronger than ever—but is it worth the cost of his humanity?




Fill out the Rafflecopter form below to enter. This giveaway is for the US/CA only. You must be 13 years or older to enter. Winner will be notified via email and will have 72 hours to respond with their mailing address.


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Apr 29, 2012

Review of The Hunt by Andrew Fukuda

Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Release Date: May 8th, 2012
Pages: 293
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal
Source: NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Hunt (The Hunt, #1)
Blurb: Don’t Sweat.  Don’t Laugh.  Don’t draw attention to yourself.  And most of all, whatever you do, do not fall in love with one of them.



 Gene is different from everyone else around him.  He can’t run with lightning speed, sunlight doesn’t hurt him and he doesn’t have an unquenchable lust for blood.  Gene is a human, and he knows the rules.  Keep the truth a secret.  It’s the only way to stay alive in a world of night—a world where humans are considered a delicacy and hunted for their blood.
 
When he’s chosen for a once in a lifetime opportunity to hunt the last remaining humans, Gene’s carefully constructed life begins to crumble around him.  He’s thrust into the path of a girl who makes him feel things he never thought possible—and into a ruthless pack of hunters whose suspicions about his true nature are growing. Now that Gene has finally found something worth fighting for, his need to survive is stronger than ever—but is it worth the cost of his humanity?

Review: If I had only one thing to say about The Hunt, it would be that it was extremely original. I'm not sure that it is a book for everyone-parts of it were pretty disgusting, and the vampires in this novel were grosser than most. I happened to love that though. The plot was suspenseful and the story was unlike anything I have read before. One thing I prize most in a book is originality, and this book is full of it. I know. A vampire book that's original? Who would have thought that could happen anymore?

It's not a perfect book, but what it's lacking in background details and world-building, it makes up for in its suspense, tight plotting, and just absolutely fantastic writing. Some sentences are choppy, some long, and it really helped to set the ominous tone for what was to come. I enjoyed the poetic style the book was written in. I like writing and a writer's voice that stands out, and it definitely did here.

The story was also filled with delightful doses of humor and I found myself laughing out loud more than once. But then there were times when I had to put the book down because the suspense and story was terrifying me. I was seriously frightened in a couple of places. I usually don't scare easily either. I found that I fell in love with this book from the very first sentence. I knew it would be a book that I would enjoy.

One thing I have to talk about without spoiling is the ending. It ended in a pretty devastating cliffhanger. But I kind of loved it because it was one of those revelations where your mouth dropped open in shock. Something happened that I should have seen coming all along but I was just oblivious to it and overlooked it completely. I love being shocked as a reader and it doesn't happen very often anymore. 

Complaints? The character development was a bit lacking. Which is why I said I wasn't too disappointed by the lack of perfection. The plot more than makes up for it. Even though the protagonist was fairly well-developed, most of the side characters weren't. A lot of scary things happened and I feel like I should have cared for those characters more, and I would have if the author had just spent a little more time on them. I could have also done without the snobbishness of the protagonist and Ashley June. It didn't make me like either of them as much as I could have. I understand why the author made them this way, but it's just going to take awhile for either of them to grow on me now. 

I also would have loved for some more background and details about how and why the dystopian world ended up the way it did. Since this is a new series, I am hoping more of that information is to come in the next book. Which I will definitely be reading. This book was amazing.

Final note: This book was like a runaway train. It kept picking up speed as it moved along and it never did slow down. It kept going until the very end when it crashed into the station and you were left with the aftermath of your thoughts. Loved it!


To pre-order a copy of The Hunt from Amazon.com (yes, I am an affiliate), click here: The Hunt.

Apr 27, 2012

Author Interview with Kendall Grey and a Giveaway of Inhale!


Today I have Kendall Grey on the blog to talk about her new book, Inhale, and her love of whales and writing. I read the book, and I loved it. So far it is one of my favorite reads of 2012. It goes on sale for purchase on May 1st. That's only a few days away! So if the blurb that follows interests you, why don't you purchase the book and show an indie author some love? I assure you, this book is fantastic. And all the proceeds from this novel go to whale education programs. Every single penny. 


Inhale (Just Breathe, #1)


Blurb: Strangers in reality, inseparable in dreams…

After years of suffocating under her boss’s scrutiny, whale biologist Zoe Morgan finally lands a job as director of a tagging project in Hervey Bay, Australia. Success Down Under all but guarantees her the promotion of a lifetime, and Zoe won’t let anything—or anyone—stand in her way. Not the whale voices she suddenly hears in her head, not the ex who won’t take no for an answer, and especially not the gorgeous figment of her imagination who keeps saving her from the fiery hell of her dreams.

Gavin Cassidy hasn’t been called to help a human Wyldling in over a year, which is fine by him. Still blaming himself for the death of his partner, he keeps the guilt at bay by indulging in every excess his rock star persona affords. That is, until he’s summoned to protect Zoe from hungry Fyre Elementals and learns his new charge is the key to restoring order in the dying Dreaming. He never expects to fall for the feisty Dr. Morgan…nor does he realize he may have to sacrifice the woman he loves to save an entire country.

*This book contains graphic language, sex, and some violence. Not suitable for readers under the age of 18.

**The author will donate all profits from the sale of the JUST BREATHE trilogy to whale education.


Here's Kendall!!

Kara: This is one of the most unique and original novels I have ever read. I've never read anything quite like it. What I am wondering is how did you come up with the idea for Inhale? 


Kendall: The original book (13 rewrites ago) featured Zoe, Gavin, and some shared dreams. That's where the similarities to the final version of INHALE end. Though I was proud of that first baby, dreams just weren't enough to keep the story moving. I'd been fascinated by Wicca and loved the idea of elemental balance. If you think about it, Earth's forces are in constant flux, sometimes influencing each other, sometimes playing nice, sometimes totally destructive. I started to write a completely different story centered on that theme, but I couldn't let Gavin and Zoe go. Then I thought maybe I could add the Elemental stuff to the Dreaming and make it work. I outlined and developed the world as I rewrote the story. My box of notecards with world-building notes, characters, and ideas continues to grow. :-) 


Kara: Are the characters in the novel based on anyone you know? Is there a Zoe and Gavin out there somewhere? 


Kendall: The heroine, Zoe, is the person I wish I could be. She's an amalgamation of a bunch of whale lovers I know -- dedicated, smart, fiercely protective, a little fragile at times. Gavin...he's just...Gavin. He's Australian (because that accent alone is enough to melt a girl's heart), a rock star (I've always had a thing for a guy wearing a guitar), and has super dream powers. I actually dreamed of a guy like him once. He even had the tattoos and lip ring. Picturing his tall, gorgeous, dreamy self turns me into a trembling mass of chunky rice pudding every time. *SLURP* 


Kara: Music plays a very important part in Inhale. What kind of music inspired you while you were writing Inhale? Do you listen to music while writing? Is there a playlist for Inhale? Which songs? 


Kendall: Music is hugely important to me, but I can't write with any kind of noise. When not writing, I listen to the kind of music Gavin's band, Just Breathe, plays - anything with swearing, screaming, loud guitars, and unusual melodies. There's a playlist up on my JUST BREATHE web site. You can check out the characters' "mood music" at http://www.justbreathenovel.com/Just_Breathe/Characters.html. Not all of the songs will make sense right now, but I know where these dudes and dudettes are heading in the other two books, so some of the tunes fit with stuff that's yet to come. :-) 


Kara: I can clearly see your passion for whales in your writing and story. Where did this passion come from? If you go back and think, when is the first time you really felt that passion and what happened?


Kendall: After I quit teaching, a friend asked me to be a subject in her doctoral research on situated cognition - immersion within active learning contexts to maximize understanding of a topic. For the class, we went up to Gloucester, Massachusetts to learn about whales and then apply our new knowledge by teaching passengers on a whale watch boat. The first time I laid eyes on a humpback, I freaked the hell out. There's actually a documentary someone made about the Whale Class, and you can hear me screaming through the entire thing. Ha! I was so taken, so completely overwhelmed by the immensity and beauty of the whales, I just lost my sh!t. We're talking about a spiritual experience here. Rocked my foundations. 


 I came home and started a corporation to teach kids about whales -- I still go into schools and do whale presentations today. I've been all over the world watching whales. I did a research internship in Hervey Bay, Australia in which we photo identified humpbacks by taking pics of their flukes. A lot of the stuff about Hervey Bay in the JUST BREATHE trilogy is based on my experiences there with real whales. In the books, I tried to stay true to the setting and the science surrounding the whales as much as possible.


Kara: The question I ask everyone I interview. When did you decide you wanted to be a writer? Has it always been your dream, or is this a recent development? 


Kendall: I was an English teacher for many years. I've always enjoyed writing, but I could never write a story from start to finish. I was good at little scenes but not at putting them together to create a meaningful, complete picture. Whilst on a whale watching trip in Gloucester again in 2008, I picked up Stephenie Meyer's "Twilight" and fell in love. Say what you want about those books, but they walked into my life at just the right moment and hit me just the right way. I'd been feeling down, unmotivated, and didn't have much direction after quitting my job. Something about the combination of reading the books and being with my beloved whales prompted me to think, "I could write a book!" So I did. :-) 


Kara: So, why Australia? Of all the settings you could have used, why did you pick Australia and Hervey Bay? 


Kendall: Hervey Bay, Queensland is known as "The Whale Watching Capital of the World." Since I've been there and seen those sweet Aussie whales myself, it was a no-brainer. Plus, it's Australia, dude! HA! While I was there on the internship, we had a research permit that allowed us get very close to the animals. I could tell you AMAZING close encounter stories...Some of Zoe's experiences with whales in the books were actually mine. I'm working on a short story about Zoe as a young girl visiting Australia. It features a real-life whale serenade from my time in Hervey Bay. (See picture of the whale bloke in question below :-) 


Kara: After this trilogy is over, will you continue to write? Will it be about whales as well? Or will it be something else? 


Kendall: Right now, I'm finishing up the first draft of JUST BREATHE, the final book of the trilogy. It will leave one of the supporting characters in a very...precarious position. I'm planning to write that character's LURVE story when Gavin and Zoe's tale is done. This character is one whose motivations are quite sketchy throughout the trilogy, which makes for GREAT conflict, distrust, and tension. I also introduce several other characters in the second and third books, all of whom have weaseled into my heart in different ways. There are plenty more stories I could write about my wild and crazy Elementals if readers are interested. I'll probably leave the whales alone for a while, but I can always come back to them later. Or try my hand at some non-fiction. :-) 


Kara: The world-building in Inhale is really unique. Where did you come up with the ideas for the Dreaming and Elementals? 


Kendall: I read a lot of Aboriginal Australian myths and fell in love with their idea of the Dreaming (also called Dreamtime). Aboriginals pass down stories about human and animal "spirits" that carved out the shapes of the Earth and explain natural occurrences and land features. I twisted the stories my own way, but my "Dreaming" has deep roots in theirs. I also integrated bits from Jung's theory of the collective unconscious -- brilliant stuff. 


 As for the Elementals, I researched pagan traditions and the characteristics of the four elements. I created rules that govern the Elementals and Sentinels. Like the Dreaming, the Elemental world in my head is constantly evolving. I watch people, study their behavior, and try to classify them by which Elements are "controlling" them at the moment. My odd social observations often drive my writing and set off the light bulbs that trigger world-building breakthroughs. 


Thanks so much for having me on your blog, Kara. I'm truly honored and humbled to be here. These questions were SUPER fun!

This is a calf I "met" in Hervey Bay. He was so playful and cute.  I got a bunch of great shots of him breaching like this.


Here's the nose of the Hervey Bay humpback whale who serenaded me  with the most beautiful song I've ever heard. It was amazing! I'm totally talking to him in this pic. :-) For more whale-related info, you can visit the fictional Cetacean Research Network website from the JUST BREATHE trilogy at http://www.cetaceanresearchnetwork.com.

Book Trailer:




Kendall Grey:


Now for the giveaway. Up for grabs is an e-copy of Inhale. Anyone anywhere in the world can enter this contest as long as you can read an ebook. Just fill in the Rafflecopter form below. For this one I am going to require you be 18 to enter. There are some HOT sexual situations in this book. Giveaway ends 5/03/12. 



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Apr 23, 2012

Review of The Other Life by Susanne Winnacker

Publisher: Marshall Cavendish
Release Date: May 15th, 2012
Pages: 352
Genre: Young Adult, Horror-Post Apocalyptic
Source: NetGalley via the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

The Weepers: The Other Life
Blurb: 3 years, 1 month, 1 week and 6 days since I’d seen daylight. One-fifth of my life.

Sherry and her family have lived sealed in a bunker in the garden since things went wrong up above. Her grandfather has been in the freezer for the last three months, her parents are at each other’s throats and two minutes ago they ran out of food.

Sherry and her father leave the safety of the bunker and find a devastated and empty LA, smashed to pieces by bombs and haunted by ‘Weepers’ - rabid humans infected with a weaponized rabies virus.

While searching for food in a supermarket, Sherry’s father disappears and Sherry is saved by Joshua, a boy-hunter. He takes her to Safe-haven, a tumble-down vineyard in the hills outside LA, where a handful of other survivors are picking up the pieces of their ‘other lives’. As she falls in love for the first time, Sherry must save her father, stay alive and keep Joshua safe when his desire for vengeance threatens them all.


Review: The Weepers was a pretty intense, fast ride. It wasn't perfect, but it was really fun to read. It wasn't all that original either, but it was a decent, solid attempt at a YA zombie novel. When I started reading it, that was exactly what I was looking for. After reading quite a few books that put me into a reading funk, this was just the reading experience I needed to get out of it.

The creatures in this book are not actually zombies but humans that have evolved to a degenerative state because of a biologically mutated rabies virus. Or at least that's the impression I got. Some of the creatures still look human, but the rabies has devolved them into human flesh-eating machines. And some of the creatures have taken on animal characteristics-fur and they walk on all fours. Either way, they are scary as hell because they are fast and work in teams to take down humans. If that weren't disgusting enough, they stockpile their humans--injured and alive--by taking them back to their nests for safekeeping and eating later. 

So rather than summarize the plot for you, I'll just say I thought this book was pretty scary. There were some memorable scenes and moments that had me holding my breath. The despair that the protagonist feels for her situation bleeds from the pages and you really feel it. As far as zombie fare goes, it doesn't take much to scare me, but I did think this one was well-written with some pretty good imagery. It was also pretty bloody and gory, which is why I gave it a horror label as well. 

So why did it only get 3 stars? Well, it ended too soon. It was also too short! I really wanted more from this book. Just when it was starting to really pull me in and get interesting, it ended!!  I was a little pissed! And then there was the number thing. Every time Sherry was reminded of something from her life before the rabies, she would say something like,"1,139 days since I had felt raindrops on my face." Okay, so if she had only said this a couple of times, I maybe would have felt the significance. Problem was, I think she said this at least 30 times, maybe more. And it became annoying. And eye-rolling. I just wanted it to stop. 

The characterizations could have used some work. They were a little flat. I liked them, but I could have liked them a lot more if I had felt more for them. I also don't think the romance between Joshua and Sherry added anything to the story. I think they would have been better off as friends. Why does every SINGLE young adult book have to have a romance? Can't we just have a good zombie plot without the kissing? It almost felt tacked on. Like someone told the author, "This will sell better if there is a romance. Add a romance." No. NO. That's ridiculous. And I hope that isn't what happened. I hope that NEVER happens. Anyway, I liked this one. Didn't love it, but I will most likely be continuing with the series. It pulled me in enough and scared me enough to make me want to read more. And I kind of had a thing for the tattooed guy who wouldn't speak. Sounds like my kind of man. LOL.

Memorable quote:

"The six-story building in front of us looked even shabbier than the rest. Most of the white paint had peeled off, leaving a dirty gray. Even before the rabies, this building must have been vacant. It looked like it had been an office building for a shipping company. A trail of blood led inside. Fresh."

Oh, and in case you didn't know, I kind of have an unnatural fear of rabies. I wouldn't say it's a phobia, but it does freak me out. I'm always on the lookout for wild animals acting strangely. This book only helped to amplify my fear. 


To pre-order a copy of The Weepers from Amazon.com, click here: 
The Weepers: The Other Life.


Other Reviews:


Wendy Darling 3/5 stars
Joyous Reads 4/5 stars
The Book Geek 2/5 stars

Apr 18, 2012

Review of The Peculiars by Maureen Doyle McQuerry

Publisher: Amulet Books
Release Date: May 1st, 2012
Pages: 354
Genre: Young Adult, Steampunk
Source: NetGalley
**As always, I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.**

The Peculiars

Blurb: 
This dark and thrilling adventure, with an unforgettable heroine, will captivate fans of steampunk, fantasy, and romance. On her 18th birthday, Lena Mattacascar decides to search for her father, who disappeared into the northern wilderness of Scree when Lena was young. Scree is inhabited by Peculiars, people whose unusual characteristics make them unacceptable to modern society. Lena wonders if her father is the source of her own extraordinary characteristics and if she, too, is Peculiar. On the train she meets a young librarian, Jimson Quiggley, who is traveling to a town on the edge of Scree to work in the home and library of the inventor Mr. Beasley. The train is stopped by men being chased by the handsome young marshal Thomas Saltre. When Saltre learns who Lena’s father is, he convinces her to spy on Mr. Beasley and the strange folk who disappear into his home, Zephyr House. A daring escape in an aerocopter leads Lena into the wilds of Scree to confront her deepest fears.


Review:
This book was almost a DNF for me. But I persevered through and finished. And man it wasn't easy. The plot was slow-moving, the protagonist was too stupid to live, and honestly, I was just bored to tears. When your only likable character is the cat, you know you have problems. Touted as steampunk, The Peculiars was barely steampunk. There were a few steam inventions, some gears, and an airship. That was the extent of the steampunk. So if you are looking for a vivid steampunk setting, look elsewhere. 

The chapter titles spoil the chapter before you even start reading. Lena Plans an Escape? Bounty Hunters? Why thank you for telling me that there will be bounty hunters chasing after Lena in this chapter. I didn't want to be surprised at all. Really? Really? What was the author, editor, publisher, etc. thinking? DUH guys. Don't spoil your chapters for the reader. 

This book had so much potential. But nothing came together. The characters had no personality, and what personality they did have was unlikable. Lena was a complete Mary Sue. And she was a moron on top of that. She couldn't do anything right and she had no confidence in herself whatsoever. At one point she said she believed she had no soul and wanted to die. I'm not down with characters who just give up like that. 

The next frustrating thing was that the opening chapters were uhhh-mazingg. A train with criminal shenanigans on the way to a mysterious town at the edge of an untamed land? Too cool. Everything that happened after the train? Fail. I simply did not care about anything. The book did enough to just barely hold my interest, but I was nowhere close to loving what I was reading. Instead, the plot was clunky, it dragged, and ended up being more tedious than most things I have read lately. A shame because it had so much potential. I know I already said that. But it needs to be repeated. 

The other thing that needs to be repeated? The only likable character was the cat, Mrs. Mumbles. Mrs. Mumbles was awesome. And she was basically just a cat. I know I love animals, but still. That should tell you something about this book. Every time she came into a scene I found myself smiling. And when she wasn't in a scene I am sure there was a scowl on my face. Because the rest of the characters were practically unbearable. Jimson and Mr. Beasley were dull. The author kept telling me what Jimson and Mr. Beasley were like, but I just couldn't find a personality anywhere. And I already mentioned Lena. She kept doing stupid thing after stupid thing. I'm afraid you have to make your protagonist a little bit redeemable or your entire story will collapse. And it did. Lena was a terrible main character.

I have to give the author a fistbump for some quotes that I absolutely loved.

"How do you know what God's design was? I am Peculiar. Maybe it's people like you who are the mistake! Maybe God's a Peculiar."

And this one too.

What do my hands and feet have to do with who I am? I don't know who I am. But do you know who you are? Does anyone really? What makes a decent person? Does being the same as everyone else mean being better than other people or does it just make it easier to look down your nose at them? This was from Lena's argument with a missionary worker. Yes. A missionary worker. I will leave it up to you to interpret these quotes and how you might feel they apply to real life.

Now that I am finished with The Peculiars, I think I can say that this isn't a terrible book. But I also don't think it was a good one either. My main issue was the completely moronic protagonist. I can't do stupid characters. The storytelling was decent. The writing was superb. But the plot itself? Meh. Definitely not bad enough for a one star rating, but definitely not good enough for a three either. Someone might like this book. I already see some that do. But it wasn't for me. I didn't care for it much at all.




The title of your home page




Apr 16, 2012

Review of Struck by Jennifer Bosworth

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Release Date: May 8th, 2012
Pages: 373
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian
Source: NetGalley. Obviously my review is honest and not based on the free book I was given.

Struck

Blurb: 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.


Review: So. Struck. Religion. Lots of religion. I cannot begin this review properly without mentioning how religious this book is. There are parts of it that are anti-religion. There are parts of it that are pro-religion. Basically, if you feel strongly about religion one way or another, there's a good chance this book will offend you at some point. I could talk about this for days. You all know how I feel about religion. And if you don't by now, then let's get it out of the way quickly. I hate organized religion, I'm an atheist, I wish more than anything that there was an afterlife and angels and all that, but I don't believe there is. Sorry. So it is very hard for me to suspend disbelief when it comes to books with religious undertones. And this book had a little more than religious undertones. It was loaded with religion from both sides: beginning, middle, and end. Fire and brimstone. The 7th seal. Revelations. Cults. The bible. False prophets and their followers. The 12 apostles. You get the picture. So if you tend to not like books that are about religion, I would stay far, far away from this one. To be fair, I abhor most books about religion. But I happened to request this one before I knew what it was really about. And the blurb doesn't say a whole lot about Christianity. I take that back. It says NOTHING about Christianity. Nothing about the bible, just cults. So it was a TAD misleading. Regardless, I read it. And here is the rest of my review that IS NOT about the religious aspects of the book.

The writing was decent but average. It was a bit on the simple side. Nothing poetic here. Just simple and to-the-point writing. It was almost a little blunt. Which is fine. I was actually in the mood for that at the time, so it worked out well for me. The imagery was pretty decent though. Earthquake destroyed L.A. and the tent version of Venice Beach were pretty cool. I enjoyed reading the setting. I just wished the story was not as religious as it was. Meh.

The characters were a bit flat. I believe they could have been developed better. That was also pretty average. The relationship between Jeremy and Mia totally didn't work for me. I thought their chemistry was nonexistent. I think a lot of that had to do with the fact that he tried to murder her with a knife in the beginning of the book. Yes, I'm serious. He snuck into her room and was about to stab her in the middle of the night when she woke up. She thought she was dreaming, so she didn't really recognize him in real life, and then they start a relationship of sorts. When she finds out he tried to kill her, she's not all that concerned about it. This was frightening to me. I don't know about you guys, but I couldn't date someone who was about to put a knife in my gut. But that's just me. And yes, I'm being sarcastic. Oh, and in case you were wondering, he also watches her house at night. So he's basically a stalker too. So not sexy. I need a healthy relationship in my next young adult novel or I am going to scream. Here's some random "not sexy" quotes from scenes with Mia and Jeremy.

I let my eyes linger on Jeremy, studying him, trying to see if I could see past the knife incident to trust him." No. No you can't. No sane person would.

No! I swear I've never gone near him. You were the only one I..." His words fell away, like they'd stumbled off a cliff. He must have realized there was no good way to say, you were the one I considered murdering. How is this sexy?

And another thing. The second it was revealed that an apostle was missing, I knew what was up. So that part of the twist was so predictable and easy to figure out. This is not a spoiler, by the way. If you have half a brain, you will see it coming anyway. 

Then there was the ending. It left me feeling very blah about this whole book. I hated the epilogue. I feel that all of that could have been worked into the story. It felt very amateurish to me. I am extremely irritated at the way the book ended. And unfortunately I can't talk about that because of spoilers, but I will just say I was looking for a different sort of ending and did not get it. 

I enjoyed the author's writing, and I loved the setting. The book was definitely readable and parts of it were awesome. I'm referring to a few scenes that I found particularly memorable. I would definitely read more of this author's work. I just hope that next time she stays away from religion as a topic. I don't think I can read another book like this one. I think this is a series and I'm not sure how many books. But I am done. Not reading the next one. But I will look forward to whatever Jennifer writes next. 

Apr 13, 2012

Review of Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail

Publisher: Knopf Doubleday
Release Date: March 20th, 2012
Pages: 336
Genre: Memoir
Source: Physical ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest TrailWild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Blurb:


A powerful, blazingly honest memoir: the story of an eleven-hundred-mile solo hike that broke down a young woman reeling from catastrophe—and built her back up again.



At twenty-two, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything. In the wake of her mother's death, her family scattered and her own marriage was soon destroyed. Four years later, with nothing more to lose, she made the most impulsive decision of her life: to hike the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State—and to do it alone. She had no experience as a long-distance hiker, and the trail was little more than “an idea, vague and outlandish and full of promise.” But it was a promise of piecing back together a life that had come undone.



Strayed faces down rattlesnakes and black bears, intense heat and record snowfalls, and both the beauty and loneliness of the trail. Told with great suspense and style, sparkling with warmth and humor, Wild vividly captures the terrors and pleasures of one young woman forging ahead against all odds on a journey that maddened, strengthened, and ultimately healed her.


Review:


220 reviews? Well you certainly don't need mine then. Because of that, I will make this less of a structured review, and more of a summary of my thoughts I had while reading this book. That's easier. And most of my responses to this book were more emotional than technical. Because, let's face it. The writing in Wild was outstanding. If you love books with beautiful prose, this is the book for you.


The story, however, was one of the saddest I have ever read. I did not know that at its crux was the topic of Cancer. Had I known that, I probably would not have touched this book with a 10 foot pole. Losing a mother to lung cancer hits a little too close to home for me. But in a way, maybe I needed to read this. Cancer has affected my family deeply. But before reading this? I thought this was going to be a great and fun piece of travel fiction. I like hiking stories. I guess I just didn't think it was going to go as deep emotionally as it did. Boy, was I surprised.


I loved the author's writing voice. As I was reading, I felt like I was truly getting to know Cheryl and what she was like as a person. Now that I am finished, I don't think if I met her we would be friends (I'm just being honest), but there is no denying that she has been through a lot and came out on top. Back to the writing voice. It was fantastic. I loved the tone AND her writing style. I found it extremely easy to get lost in the story and forget the world around you. For me, it was hard to relate to a former drug addict, but I definitely did try. And I want to talk about that more.


When it comes to my star rating, I can't give it 5 stars. And believe me, I want to. But this comes down to what I said in the last paragraph. Because I could not relate to Cheryl and her choices, I had to knock off a star. This seems kind of unfair because it is a memoir and this stuff really happened, but I have to think about how the book made me feel. I felt that the author made some pretty poor decisions, and because of that I had a hard time empathizing AND sympathizing with her. Heroin usage? Meaningless sex while being married? Everyone makes mistakes, and I get that, but I would not have done the things she did no matter how messed up my life was. And that was where the problem was for me. I am glad that she fixed her life, hiked the trail, and rose above it, however. I just think she was selfishly reckless. And because I know and have known people like this (and they have died), I have even LESS sympathy.


I can easily give this book 4 stars though. The writing was lovely and the author was great at developing emotions from the reader with her writing style. Great flow and transitions from scene to scene and from flashback to present time as well. And even though I could not relate to the author, I still enjoyed her storytelling and the adventure she was on. I also learned a ton about long distance hiking. I think this book will make readers want to get out there and hike and take action in their own lives.


Favorite Quote:


"It was wrong. It was so relentlessly awful that my mother had been taken from me. I couldn't even hate her properly. I didn't get to grow up and pull away from her and bitch about her with my friends and confront her about the things I wish she'd done differently and then get older and understand that she had done the best she could and realize that what she had done was pretty damn good and take her fully back into my arms again. Her death had obliterated that." Powerful.

To order a copy of Wild from Amazon.com, click here: Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail.




Apr 12, 2012

Review of The Edge of Darkness by Lissa Bilyk

Publisher: Self
Release Date: August 31st, 2011
Pages: 250
Genre: Science Fiction, Dystopia
Source: Review copy  from the author in exchange for an honest review.

The Edge of DarknessThe Edge of Darkness by Lissa Bilyk
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Blurb:


"I did not choose to become this way. This corrupted, innocent body. Who in their right mind would willingly choose this life? "


At the end of the interstellar war, Max Ryan, an unwilling cyborg living on the Rock, a notorious prison planet, is rescued and sent to live on the transport ship Eden as it travels home to Old Earth.


Max never thought she'd be doing anything other than baking the ship's bread for the next five years. But when she uncovers a conspiracy bigger than the war that enslaved her in the first place, she is in for the fight of not only her life, but those around her she has grown to love.


A dystopian novel exploring the themes of love, class, race, gender, and power.


Review:


I don't read a lot of science fiction novels. I definitely probably should read more. Almost every experience I have had with a sci-fi novel has been a good one. And since it's a genre I don't read a lot of, everything is pretty new and exciting to me. With The Edge of Darkness, that was no exception. Although it got off to a bit of a slow start for me, once I got past the initial set-up, world-building, and a little infodumping, it really got going. If you want to know exactly where I became hooked, it was when the two ships docked together. I swear, after that it was all action and breakneck pacing.


The story was fabulous. The plot was brilliant. And the ending--which I won't spoil--was probably one of the coolest endings in a book I have read, ever. Not to mention, I must note that this was a NaNoWriMo novel. That's right. The entire thing was written in one month. And the best part is, you can't tell. The author has a great way with words and I really think she has a great writing future ahead of her.


Another thing I would like to compliment? The world-building. Holy crap was it unique. And again, I am pretty new to most sci-fi, but I thought the usage of black holes, spaceships, cyborgs, and amalgamations were pretty original. Most books I read are pretty long. This one wasn't but the thing was that it didn't feel like a short novel. It felt like an epic story and there was enough meat there to make the setting and plot great. It was full of depth and extremely well-crafted.


If there was one thing I wanted more of in this book, it was character development. While I did get somewhat attached to the characters, I really didn't find myself caring for them all that much. I was kind of neutral actually. I liked them, but I didn't really find my emotions sparking when something particularly dreadful or exciting happened. I just wanted more background. I wanted to know more about who the characters were as people.


Lastly, there weren't a whole lot of descriptive passages. I know some readers love this. But for me, I'd rather be able to picture my settings vividly. I don't want the author to completely spell it out for me; I want to be able to make my own interpretations, but I need some place to start. And I did find that difficult in some of the scenes. I wanted more description of the ship, most of all.


But most of all? I love--no, adore--the author's views on religion. I realize these may not be her views in real life, but I just love the way she put it all out there in this book. I wouldn't say this book is anti-religion, but there are some passages that might offend you if you are particularly religious.


Favorite Quote:


"No, God didn't mean anything to me anymore. Maybe when he had experienced what I'd experienced, it would open his eyes to the real way of the world and the potential it could realise, and he's be less certain of his beliefs that were backed up by centuries of propaganda." Yes. This.


Another one:


"Only when something had been forbidden to you, do you truly appreciate its value." You  have no idea how this hits home for me right now with my husband being deployed and all.


I really enjoyed this book. I'd love to read more from Lissa Bilyk in the future. I hope whatever she is currently working on is as exciting as this was.

To purchase a copy of The Edge of Darkness from Amazon.com, click here: The Edge of Darkness.




Apr 7, 2012

ARC Review of Welcome, Caller, This is Chloe by Shelley Coriell


Publisher: ABRAMS
Release Date: May 1st, 2012
Pages: 299
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Source: Netgalley
Welcome, Caller, This Is ChloeWelcome, Caller, This Is Chloe by Shelley Coriell
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Blurb:


Big-hearted Chloe Camden is the queen of her universe until her best friend shreds her reputation and her school counselor axes her junior independent study project. Chloe is forced to take on a meaningful project in order to pass, and so she joins her school's struggling radio station, where the other students don't find her too queenly. Ostracized by her former BFs and struggling with her beloved Grams's mental deterioration, lonely Chloe ends up hosting a call-in show that gets the station much-needed publicity and, in the end, trouble. She also befriends radio techie and loner Duncan Moore, a quiet soul with a romantic heart. On and off the air, Chloe faces her loneliness and helps others find the fun and joy in everyday life. Readers will fall in love with Chloe as she falls in love with the radio station and the misfits who call it home.


Review:


I had this book rated as 4 stars. I have since changed it to 3. Why? Well, I read it about a week ago, and it just hasn't stuck with me like most books I like do. It's not memorable. It was fun and humorous, sure, but it didn't impact me like I originally thought it did. And that's the reason why I deducted a star. Now, back to your regularly scheduled review.


This was a somewhat lighthearted contemporary read. It touched on some pretty serious topics, and I actually thought it did a really good job. Chloe was extremely close with her grandmother. Her grandmother had Parkinson's disease and she was degenerating rather quickly. Her grandmother was also a pretty awesome character. She was wild, crazy, and just wanted to live life. Having Parkinson's made life difficult for her because she was having trouble coming to terms with the fact that she couldn't do everything for herself anymore. She was feuding with her daughter, who only wanted to help, but was going about it in all the wrong ways. I think this was the part of the book that impacted me the most. Because, while I don't have any experience with Parkinson's disease, I do have plenty of experience with Dementia and Cancer. And two loving grandparents who went through a lot of the same situations Chloe's grandma did. This part of the story contained my favorite quote in the book.


"What are you talking about? What are they taking?" Sometimes Grams didn't make sense.



"First they took my car. Now they want my home." Grams paced faster, her steps growing more unsteady. Was it anger, fear, the Parkinson's? "Then, they'll take my phone, saying I can't push the buttons. They'll take my magazines and movies, saying I can no longer see them. They'll take my computer, saying I no longer know how to use it. And you know what, Poppy? They'll be right. Because by then they'll have taken my hands, my eyes, and my mind. Pretty soon there will be nothing left of me."



That quote was hard to read. It hit home. If I could go back in time and change the way I had treated my grandparents... I know it's hard to be patient when someone is being difficult in their old age. But we must always remember that it isn't their fault and try to put ourselves in their shoes. Show a little compassion. It makes a world of difference.


I felt the book kind of sat in the middle between lighthearted fluff contemporary and make-you-sob serious contemporary. I didn't love Chloe as a main character. She was fairly self-serving, but her big personality made her somewhat likable. It was hard with her though. I saw myself in a lot of her actions. I was a lot like her in my teen years. I tried not to be so self-indulgent, and I was always trying to be a better person. I think it was the same with Chloe. She just had a really hard time with it.


Duncan, on the other hand, was perfect and stole every scene he was in. He and Chloe were perfect for each other, and they balanced each other out extremely well. Duncan was your typical mysterious guy character, but he actually does have secrets worth keeping and it is interesting to find out why he is keeping them. But once all this starts being revealed? I fell in love with him. He was utterly perfect.


As for the actual writing mechanics? For a debut novel, I was pretty impressed. I thought the story was great (it could have gone a little deeper), but it certainly kept me entertained and not wanting to put the book down. The characters were, for the most part, well-developed and entertaining. There is a character here for almost everyone to relate to. I really enjoyed this story. I'd recommend this one for anyone who likes good high school stories, contemporary novels, and learning about how a radio station works. I know I didn't mention much of that, but that part of the story is fun and really interesting as well. So were Chloe's actual radio shows. This is just an entertaining read. I look forward to reading more of this author's work in the future.

I received a  free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinions.

To pre-order a copy of Welcome, Caller, This is Chloe from Amazon.com, click here: Welcome, Caller, This Is Chloe.


Other Reviews:

Reading in Winter 3/5 Stars
Wear the Old Coat 2/5 Stars



Apr 5, 2012

Giveaway of Five Flavors of Dumb by Antony John



Have you always wanted to read Five Flavors of Dumb but haven't gotten around to it yet? Is it one of your favorite books and you just want to own a copy for your very own? Well, now you can. I'm giving away a copy of the book to one lucky reader. This was a 5 Star read for me. And if you have been following my blog, you know that every book that earns a 5 Star rating from Great Imaginations this year will be up for giveaway. This book is the first. And while I cannot make every giveaway on Great Imaginations international, this one is.

That's right. This giveaway is International. If you are in the US or Canada, I will be shipping from Amazon. If you are international, I will be shipping from The Book Depository. This giveaway is for a Hardback of Five Flavors of Dumb. This is a top rated YA book. You can read my review here. You can read the synopsis and other reviews on Goodreads, here. Enter using the Rafflecopter form below. Contest will end on 4/18/12.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Apr 4, 2012

March Wrap-Up Post

Okay, so I'm a little behind with my wrap-up post this month, which is fine because I have some bad news. I've read like absolute sh*t this month. First of all, I was gone a week in Florida and not updating my blog. I only got one book read that month. And then the rest of the time I was catching up on review books and getting distracted. A lot. So my challenge progress really, REALLY sucked this month. But I've already buckled down and I am kicking April's ass. So hopefully I have much better news for you in my April wrap-up post.

I had an amazing time in Florida. So amazing that we are almost fully trying to focus on finding jobs in Florida so we can move there sooner than we had planned. I'm not sure how that will all pan out, but we are really trying hard to get there and make it happen. Florida is my home. And I just want to get home. Where I feel comfortable. Where my friends are. So, as soon as Dan gets back from being deployed, that's what we will be focusing on. I may have to get a part-time job to supplement our income (besides my editing), and I have already told him that I am more than willing to do this.

That's my news for March. I can't wait to get back to manuscript editing in April. I have two planned.

On to the (LOUSY) challenge updates!




For the Debut Author Challenge, I have completed 2 books for the month of March.  The books I read are:


~ Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
~Slide by Jill Hathaway

Clicking on the links takes you to my reviews. I don't have one for Shadow and Bone yet because it's still a bit early to post my review. But I loved that book and it got a 5 star rating for me. Stay tuned to this blog because I will be giving a copy away closer to the release date.


For the TBR Pile Challenge, I only completed 1 book in the month of March. And the book was The Juliet Club by Suzanne Harper. And it was TERRIBLE. That book earned a lovely 1 star rating from me. I'm really trying to blow through my review books, so my progress on this challenge is slow going. I figure I can always make a push for it at the end of the year if I have issues staying caught up. 

~The Juliet Club by Suzanne Harper

Clicking on the links takes you to my review of that book.


Again, I did terrible on the 50 States Challenge during the month of March. Only one book. Everything I seemed to read was international or fantasy. Which was cool, but not helpful. Hopefully April will be better. The book was

~Slide by Jill Hathaway

I already posted my link for this review above.

As for my totals, I read 9 books in the month of March. And that is awful. It has put me behind in all my challenges, and WAY behind in my Goodreads challenge. This month is all about catching up.

As always, if you have a wrap-up post you want to tell me about or have me come comment on, leave me the link in the comments. And if you just feel like saying "hi," that would be great too. Have a great April!!

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