Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Spreading Good Karma One Book at a Time

Book Soulmates

Deanna at Polishing Mud Balls surprised me with a Random Act of Kindness by sending Pegasus by Robin McKinley to me--a complete stranger! She turned my day around. *happy dance* I love McKinley's writing style so I can't wait to read this book! Thanks Deanna! You make the world a better place.

Random Acts of Kindness is sponsored by Isalys and Vanessa at Book Soul Mates, where books find their soul mates. It's true, and I can attest to that!

Big love,

Great ARC Contests!

I would totally step into the OCTAGON for a chance to win Daughter of Smoke and Bone, but I must spread the good chance vibes around to everyone because I'm all about the karma!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

Around the world, black handprints are appearing in doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.

In a dark and dusty shop, a devil's supply of human teeth has grown dangerously low.

And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherwordly war.

Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real; she's prone to disappearing on mysterious "errands"; she speaks many languages--not all of them human; and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she's about to find out.

When one of the strangers--beautiful, haunted Akiva--fixes his fire-colored eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?

The book I'm most anticipating in 2011 is Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor. Ever since I read her book, Lips Touch Three Times, a collection of three stories about three different girls and the supernatural consequences of their first kiss, she easily became my favorite author. She spins pure magic with her words, and her "voice" reaches in to my very soul, speaking to the part of me that still believes in wishes and dreams and magic in a world where absolutely anything can happen.

Her blog has become a daily read for me because it's just as creative and fun as her stories. Some time ago she revealed the cover of Daughter of Smoke and Bone. It was underwhelming. I know the story that awaits inside is what's really important, so I'll buy the book no matter what. But what of the readers that have never read the author, experienced her world building, read words so tasty you want to devour the entire book in one sitting? Would they pick up this cover?

To me, the overlay of the bird detracts from the girl, and the colors don't blend.

We'll never know the answer because Little Brown decided to create a new cover, and it's awesome and beautiful and mysterious, and matched with the intriguing title, the novel beckons to readers "There's something you must know..."

On Taylor's blog she posted about her experiences while writing Daughter, and vicariously tagging along on her journey has been fun. I love to see nice people succeed, and the author, her hubby artist Jim Di Bartolo, seem to be fun, down to earth, nice, normal folks.

Imagine being Laini Taylor for a moment, and walking into BEA and seeing a huge banner of your book hung over the door?


Check out Reading Rants review of Daughter of Smoke and Bone. I've already pre-ordered my copy, but the wait has never seemed so long. I'll be ordering it on my kindle as well so I can get it the instant it's released!

Check out Frankie Writes for your chance to win an ARC for Daughter of Smoke and Bone and Forever by Maggie Stiefvater

Check out Cindy Pon's blog for a chance to win an ARC of Daughter of Smoke and Bone and Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma

Monday, May 23, 2011

Do You Suffer from Bibliomania?

Have you ever been told you have too many books?

Are you compelled to buy books every time Borders emails you a coupon?

Do you often refuse social invitations because guys in books are better?

Does furniture made of books make perfect sense?

Did you think your dog ran away only to find him curled up under a pile of books with a copy of LOLCAT GUIDE 2 WINNING?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, perhaps you suffer from bibliomania. Maybe it's time to cut down on your book hoarding.

Do you ever feel like you have too many books, and so little time to read them?

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Review: Mark of the Golden Dragon by L.A. Meyer

The Mark of the Golden Dragon: Being an Account of the Further Adventures of Jacky Faber, Jewel of the East, Vexation of the West, and Pearl of the South China Sea (Bloody Jack Adventures)by L.A Meyer is the spirited and entertaining ninth installment in the epic story of Mary “Jacky” Faber, taking readers on an adventure through the South China Sea from Rangoon to London. There is high hilarity and scandalous scheming on land and sea as only Jacky can manage, making the book fun to read; however, the story takes an ominous turn that will keep readers turning the pages to find out what happens next.
The story opens with Jacky seated in her cabin aboard the Lorelei Lee with Jaimy, Higgins, and other loyal friends and crew celebrating their recent escape from the penal colony in New South Wales. Suddenly the wind and waves pick up as a typhoon moves in. It’s all hands on deck. The treacherous storm pummels the ships, and the mast of the Lorelei Lee is severed. Jacky becomes entangled in the lines, and pulled overboard into the roiling sea...
Jacky survives against the odds like I knew she would--bobbing up like a cork-- but finds herself washed ashore in a strange land desperate to get back to her loved ones and clear their names of crimes against the crown. And here the new adventure begins! You won't find any spoilers here, but Jacky meets some new and important people, one that's deeply satisfying and made me cheer for the scared little orphan girl that still exists deep within our heroine, while also running into some old enemies in some very gratifying ways. Awesome sauce!
I really enjoyed Mark of the Golden Dragon, and its a must read for fans of the series. Meyer does a great job with the series, and with each new book the characters continue to develop and grow and change.
Kudos for the tale he’s telling. It’s not a story focused around a single event or conflict that can be quickly resolved, but the story of an orphaned girl’s life as she makes her way in the world during the early nineteenth century. With paranormal romance being all the rage these days, it’s refreshing to take a break from the supernatural and read historical fiction, especially a series with such a fun-loving, spirited, and unpredictable protagonist as Jacky Faber.
Although written from Jacky’s perspective—often upbeat and witty—this story is just as much Jaimy Fletcher's as Jacky's. Meyer uses letters written by Jaimy as a tool to give readers a glimpse into his anguished mind after Jacky's presumed death. He's tortured by all the wrongs done to them in the past and vengeance coils inside of him, dark and sinister.
The only issue I had with the story was Jaimy Fletcher's limited point of view. In The Wake of the Lorelei Lee, Meyer expounded on Jaimy's point of view to give us the full impact of the brutal treatment he suffered at the hands of the guards aboard the Cerberus, and his eventual mutiny of the ship. It would have added more to Mark of the Dragon if he'd done the same, giving readers the chance to experience Jaimy's decent into madness. Jaimy has become such an interesting, dynamic character that I'm almost sorry the story is told from Jacky's limited point of view.
So is this the book where Jacky and Jaimy finally get their happily ever after? It’s safe to say without spoileriness that they don’t. The more I read, the more unpredictable this aspect of the series becomes. Jacky and Jaimy fell in love when they were very young, around nine or ten years old. How many puppy love romances like theirs actually survive the changes of growing up? Is their love strong enough to withstand all they've gone through?
Also, Jacky is a flirtatious young woman that loves to be the center of attention, and admits that she has feelings for Joseph Jared (the salty sailor that nicknamed her Puss-n-boots) and the suave and sophisticated Richard Allen. Jaimy, although he loves Jacky, has had his share of sexy business with Clementine by the river and in the hayloft. Tsk, tsk, you rascal!
How will this romance end? Meyer isn't giving us any clues, and in Mark of the Golden Dragon, he shows us that matters of the heart are never simple.
Mark of the Dragon is another fun addition to the Bloody Jack Adventures. If you haven't started the series, what's stopping you? Sail the seas, buckle some swash, and fall in love!
Addendum: LA Meyer agreed to an interview, plus I know something you don't know-na na--well, maybe you do know, but he actually told me this himself last summer while I was in Maine so I'm really rather excited about it, and relieved, and curious and frustrated (the man can really keep a secret) but all of this will be posted near the release date of Mark of the Golden Dragon
Posted on goodreads.com and shelfari.com

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Top Ten Most Challenged Books of 2010

In April, the American Library Association released the list of the top ten most frequently challenged books of 2010. Many books are challenged, but few are actually banned.

Color me na├»ve; I didn’t think banning books was something still happening in this country. Challenging books seems ridiculous, although I don’t argue a person’s right to do so. I’m sure people have good intentions, but we all know the name of that paved road. As an adult, I’ll decide what I’ll read, thank you very much. It’s a no brainer that the responsibility of monitoring what children read falls to the parents, not society.

Librarians, teachers, and booksellers are our First Amendment guard dogs protecting our right to read what we want, and keeping our choices uncensored. Let freedom ring!

The Top Ten Most Challenged Books of 2010:

1. And Tango Makes Three, by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson
Reasons: homosexuality, religious viewpoint, and unsuited to age group

2. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie
Reasons: offensive language, racism, sex education, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group, and violence

3. Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
Reasons: insensitivity, offensive language, racism, and sexually explicit

4. Crank, by Ellen Hopkins
Reasons: drugs, offensive language, and sexually explicit

5. The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins
Reasons: sexually explicit, unsuited to age group, and violence

6. Lush, by Natasha Friend
Reasons: drugs, offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited to age group

7. What My Mother Doesn't Know, by Sonya Sones 
Reasons: sexism, sexually explicit, and unsuited to age group

8. Nickel and Dimed, by Barbara Ehrenreich 
Reasons: drugs, inaccurate, offensive language, political viewpoint, and religious viewpoint

9. Revolutionary Voices, edited by Amy Sonnie
Reasons: homosexuality and sexually explicit

10.Twilight, by Stephenie Meyer
Reasons: religious viewpoint and violence

Can you imagine not being allowed to read The Hunger Games? It’s one of my favorite books. It’s being challenged for being sexually explicit. Did they even read the book? Hmmm, I say. I don’t recall anything sexually explicit… Violent? Well, yeah. A little. *wink* But that's the point.

And what about Twilight? It’s not high brow literature, but it’s a love story that captured the hearts and imaginations of a gazillion people, and not just tweens. Yeah, I’ve read all the articles about Twilight and its purported Mormon dogma within, but I’m not Mormon so I didn’t recognize it so what of it? Stephanie Meyer is Mormon so it’s logical that its fingerprints would show up in her writing, but the story didn’t have religious overtones. Sure, there were things regarding Bella and Edward’s behavior that I didn’t agree with—Bella feeling incomplete without Edward and Edward being a scary stalker boyfriend—but I suspended belief and got into it, and it was a decent read.

My soapbox issue with Twilight is the creepy dhampir kid, Renessme, drinking blood from a sippy cup, and being called “half immortal.” The term half immortal makes my brain short circuit.

W-w-w-what does that mean exactly? Either you are mortal or you are immortal. Half human, half vampire is a dhampir, but the word doesn’t show up once in the book. I guess they don’t discuss vampire mythos at ward meetings. Heh.

Renessme, Creepy Dhampir Kid played by Mackenzie Foy

For the record, I'm Team Jacob, and his imprinting on CDK is wrong in so many ways, but I digress...

Thanks ALA. God Bless America!

Wordle Word Clouds

Getting started is the most difficult part of my writing, and
 because I'm such a procrastinator, I can always find something
 to entertain me!
Check out my free write word clouds!  Fun, fun, fun. 
  Wordle: ramblings2
Wordle: Ramblings

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Review: Blood and Ice by Robert Masello

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

4 Stars Recommended

For most of the book, Blood and Ice, is two incredible stories, beginning 150 years ago with the harrowing events that transpired on the ship, Coventry, once it was blown far off course into the dangerous waters of the South Pole. Sinclair, an affable, idealistic young soldier, and his beloved, Eleanor, are chained together and thrown overboard into the freezing glacial waters. What crime did they commit that the crew thought they deserved such treatment?

Fast forward to present day, to Michael Wilde, journalist, an adrenaline junkie high on life until a terrible accident forces him to withdraw from life because of a freak accident that's left the woman he loves unconscious in a hospitable bed, her prognosis grim. Michael's employer, after months of waiting, pushes him to take an assignment on scientists working in the most extreme climate in the world, the South Pole.

The author does an excellent job of alternating between both stories with thrilling suspense until they collide, mixing science and folklore in an exciting way. I'm almost afraid to say the word....shhh, come closer...closer....vampire...because perhaps you might think I'm giving something away. But I'm not, it's on the back of the book (but strangely not in the classification for the Library of Congress) and told in a way not expected.

The magic is the unique story and how it brilliantly unfolds. Robert Masello is a wonderful storyteller. There's nothing cliche about his writing and it's not like any other vampire novel I've read before. His masterful descriptions made me feel like I was there along side each and every character, experiencing it all for myself, and isn't that why we read--to live vicariously through the characters? To feel the excitement and pride of the soldier eager to fight for his country? To feel the bone chilling bite of the arctic wind on our skin, or feel the claustrophobic dive in freezing arctic waters and, seeing with our minds eye, a glacier wall descend and disappear into the dark depths below?

There's a lot that's scary in this book: arctic diving, living in the harshest environment in the world, the Crimean war, and the post war conditions, and for those that love the paranormal, the vampire- still scary, even if you know it's coming.

As always, what makes me love a book, is the way an author makes me love the characters so much that I can't put the book down, the way they can turn a phrase making me shudder with fear or my eyes well up with emotion. (I'm weird that way) It's awesome when that happens! This is a great story blending history, science and horror. I ~almost~ want a sequel. I can't help wondering what the characters are up to now.

Don't think I've told you everything about the story! Experience the book; put on a parka, and travel to the Pole!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Spring Carnival Winner Announced

My lucky Carnival winner is:



Michele L

Congratulations! I hope you enjoy Bloody Jack and the entire series as much as I do. Keep in touch, and let me know what you think.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Holly Black on Goodreads

Holly Black, author of the Curse Workers series, A Modern Fairy Tale series, and The Spiderwick Chronicles will be on Goodreads live May 9-13, 2011 to answer questions regarding her books.

Stop by and join the discussion here.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

In My Mailbox (1)

In My Mailbox is hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren and is a fun meme for sharing books we received (purchased, borrowed, found, received from publishers, or a two-foot traveling book troll just passing through whose rucksack was too heavy, etc.) during the week.

The Medusa Amulet by Robert Masello

Department 19 by Will Hill (YA debut novel)

Rotters by Daniel Kraus (YA)

I'm very excited about all of these wonderful books. Read them? Comments?

What books found their way into your hands this past week?

Friday, May 6, 2011

Book Endings: When the End Really Means THE END

Have you ever finished a book and felt the ending worked for the story, but it left you craving more, left you wondering what happens next? Have you ever frantically searched the internet to find if a sequel was in the works, or emailed authors wanting to know their vision of what continues once the final words are read and the back cover is closed?

I confess. I've done it.

Sometimes readers are rewarded because a book was compelling enough or generated enough interest (ka-ching!) that the publisher warranted a sequel, or better yet, a series. Perhaps a sequel or series was in the plan all the while with the author already pounding out the next book as readers squirm on that ever-dangling hook.

But what if the end really is just that, the end, and the ending is too ambiguous for left brain dominant people craving logic and reason and closure, or perhaps the wondering or not knowing is just too frustrating, and the countless 'what if's' you come up with don't satisfy? What if you want more and the writer is done, done, done?

I felt this way about Holly Black's Valiant, the second book in her modern faerie tale series. It is my favorite of the three books, and I loved it. Val's struggle and heartbreak is palpable, her personal journey and subsequent growth completely believable. Having said that, her relationship with Ravus intrigued me, and I wanted more but the book just...ended. I read the third book, Ironside, and cried because Val and Ravus only made a cameo appearance--I think they were together but maybe I did that subconsciously, I can't remember now--but it wasn't enough. I cried, I emailed the author, searched the web, and waited for another book. And waited. And waited.

I never heard back from Holly Black, and I haven't heard any news on her continuing Val and Ravus' story. Val and Ravus are such incredibly rich, dynamic characters that I can't imagine their story not being told. Anyone else feel the same way?

Another story I want to continue is Sunshine by Robin McKinley. Rae and Constantine's story is captivating and I was completely and utterly enthralled by them. This story also has one of the scariest scenes I've ever read--and I've read a lot--and it plays my survival instincts like an instrument with McKinley strumming my nerves raw. I wasn't expecting it, and it's brilliant. For those that have read it, it's the scene where Rae decides to go to the lake alone, and appears in my book on page 12. (See, it left such an impression I still remember the page!) I emailed the author, searched her forum and found nothing. The agony,the agony!

I did just find this though, which wasn't there before: http://robinmckinleysblog.com/page/6/?s=there+is+no+sequel+to+SUNSHINE. (Haha, read the link addy) Can't get any clearer than that! I guess I wasn't the only one filling up her email.

Any of you read Sunshine? How did you feel about the ending? Did anyone else crave pastries while reading it?

In the above linked post, McKinley mentions Albion, which is not a sequel to Sunshine, but takes place somewhere else and she's not sure the characters even know about Rae and Charlie's Coffee Shop.

Hmmm, I say. Hmmm.

So she's writing a book that takes place in the Sunshine world. Definitely not the sequel this reader wants, but I'm definitely on board with it.

Candace over at her blog feels her most recent reread, Dust of 100 Dogs by A.S. King, fits into the "need to know more" category. Dust of 100 Dogs is a unique story about Emer/Saffron cursed to be reincarnated 100 times as man's best friend, and once the curse is fulfilled she moves forward towards her destiny. This is a unique, fun read but the ending, although works great for the story, left Candace wishing for more. Fortunately, author A.S. King will visit Candace's blog in June and tell us just what happens when Saffron gets off the plane.

I was satisfied with the ending of Dust of 100 Dogs, but I'm envious of Candace getting her wish! How awesome is that? What did you think of the ending?

What books have you read that leave you wishing, hoping, and dreaming of a continuation of the story?

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