Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Calling all Future Editors...

I just received an email telling me about this really cool project. A well-published author, Alma Alexander, recently discovered an old story she wrote as a teenager. After writing several successful novels, Ms. Alexander realizes how much work this old story needs...and is enlisting you to help her! Every week she will post a chapter from the work, and you can read it and give her feedback in the comments section. I think this is great practice for anyone who wants to be an editor or just wants to hone their reviewing skills. I really want to do this and see how I fare as an editor and whether I enjoy it will help me make some decisions regarding careers (I'm hopelessly lost as to what I want to do with my life). So head on over to Rebirth of a Novel and start editing!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Bite Me! and Love Sucks! by Melissa Francis

AJ Ashe's life sucks a lot at the moment. Her mom just got remarried, and her boyfriend is now her stepbrother! AJ also has to worry about hiding her vampire identity from her new family, which shouldn't be too difficult since she has evolved a lot from the original blood-sucking murderous vampires. But when AJ thinks she might have accidentally turned a classmate into a vamp, she starts researching family history to find something to help her and discovers more about her family that she couldn't even begin to imagine.

This is pretty much the summary for Bite Me!, but Love Sucks! is just a continuation of the original plot. And you might be wondering why I'm only doing one review, and it's because neither of these books are worthy of their own review. They aren't really even worthy of a review, but I have to warn the troops that are on the frontlines of bad book-land before anyone picks these up. Ok, ok, these books aren't THAT bad, but they aren't that good, either.

I want to start out by saying that I did not finish Love Sucks!. I read the ending so I know what happens, but how could I continue to read this when The Hunger Games trilogy was calling my name (BTW I still don't have Mockingjay yet (what is wrong with me??) but I shall be reading it soon)? So yeah.

I just didn't think these books were very well executed. The vampires were kind of weird and not very plausible. I know that doesn't make much sense, since vamps aren't real, but Presenting Lenore had a discussion on plausibility in dystopian novels. And I thought that the vampires in BM and LS weren't realistic. They had all these crazy powers, like flying, that just didn't make any sense in contemporary vampire lore. So there was that.

The books in general were kind of silly. The dialogue was cheesy and that book wasn't deep or thoughtful or anything at all interesting. Trust me, I enjoy fluff but this, this was worse haha. I don't really know what else to say except BM and LS weren't very well written.

6 out of 10.

FTC: I got BM from my library and was sent LS by the publisher.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Julian Game by Adele Griffin

Raye Archer hates being known as the scholarship student at the prestigious private school she attends. She also wants to be noticed more by the other girls. So when queen bee Ella Parker starts paying attention to her, Raye will do anything to gain popularity. Even if it means pranking Ella's ex, the handsome and crush-worthy Julian Kilgarry. But when Raye starts falling for Julian, the consequences could be extreme, especially when you have mastermind Ella planning the revenge.

For the most part I enjoyed The Julian Game. The plot sounds pretty standard: girl pranks boy, girl falls for boy, boy eventually discovers the truth. Rinse and repeat. But The Julian Game took a different approach, which I liked. Raye actually does what I want every character to do in this situation: she tells Julian the truth. And that act has very desirable consequences. I liked Raye a lot because she was tough, smart and wasn't afraid to go after what she wanted. Even at the end, when some of the other characters weren't treating her very nicely, Raye was still able to stand up for herself and preserve her dignity. It was nice to see a confident character, and this is the reason why I enjoyed The Julian Game so much. The plot was also interesting, the dialogue was witty and this book ended up being a very good read.

7.5 out of 10.

Release Date: yesterday! So you can go to the bookstore and find it now.

FTC: I received this book from Flamingnet Book Reviews.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Rules of Attraction by Simone Elkeles

Carlos Fuentes doesn't want any part of the life his older brother, Alex, has laid out for him in Boulder, Colorado. He wants to keep living on the edge, and carve his own path—just like Alex did. Unfortunately, his ties to a Mexican gang aren't easy to break, and he soon finds himself being set up by a drug lord.

When Alex arranges for Carlos to live with his former professor and his family to keep him from being sent to jail, Carlos feels completely out of place. He's even more thrown by his strong feelings for the professor's daughter, Kiara, who is nothing like the girls he's usually drawn to. But Carlos and Kiara soon discover that in matters of the heart, the rules of attraction overpower the social differences that conspire to keep them apart.

As the danger grows for Carlos, he's shocked to discover that it's this seemingly All-American family who can save him. But is he willing to endanger their safety for a chance at the kind of life he's never even dreamed possible? (Taken from Amazon)

I loved Rules of Attraction! No surprise there, because it was almost idential to Perfect Chemistry, which I also thought was amazing. I read Rules of Attraction super quick because it really draws you in; I could not put it down. I love Romeo and Juliet and West Side Story type plots so Rules of Attraction fit in that genre perfectly. It also had great characters, and ones that were a little different from those in Perfect Chemistry. Carlos is similar to his brother Alex but he's even more cocky (if that's possible). I also thought that Kiara was more relatable than Brittany because she's more average and not drop-dead gorgeous or super popular like Brittany was in the last book. (I love Brittany, don't get me wrong, but she was too perfect sometimes). There was just the right amount of romance, suspense and humor to make Rules of Attraction a great novel. And the suspense part was really nice because it kind of mixed up the book and added some action so it wasn't just a love story. I think Rules of Attraction will appeal to anyone. And I heard that this is a trilogy? If so, I cannot wait for the next book!

9 out of 10.

FTC: I borrowed this from a friend.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

After by Amy Efaw

Who would leave her own baby in the trash to die?

Certainly not someone like Devon - straight A student, soccer player with Olympic dreams, more mature than her own mother. But desperation and panic drove her to do what most people can't even imagine. Now Devon's in a juvenile detention center, charged with attempted murder. If she's tried as an adult, she faces life in prison.

Does Devon deserve that punishment? Your answer depends on whether you believe her story - that she didn't even know she was pregnant. Was she buried in denial so deep that she was unable to register the seemingly obvious signs of pregnancy? Or were her actions the result of a more devious, premeditated plan?

With the utmost empathy and precision, author Amy Efaw carefully peels back the layers of Devon's past as she faces a possible future behind bars. The result is a gripping page-turner that will challenge your beliefs about conscience and consciousness. (Taken from inside flap)

I was kind of wary about reading After because it sounded so gruesome and chilling that I didn't know if I could get through it. I mean, the book is about a young girl throwing her baby in the trash. Who could do something that awful? I thought it would be interesting to learn about Devon and learn what caused her to commit this horrible act. Even though I did not agree with Devon's actions at all, Amy Efaw did such a wonderful job at writing Devon that I understood why she would do what she did. It amazed me that Devon could be in denial for so long about being pregnant, but the author actually made me believe it.

I loved that a large chunk of After took place in a courtroom. I love legal shows and crime dramas like Law and Order, so this was right up my alley. The lawyer assigned to Devon, Dom, is awesome. She's so smart and really helps Devon. What annoyed me about Devon, though, is that she was, at time, unwilling to give Dom the information that she needed to run a succesful defense. I knew the experience was traumatizing, but I would be doing anything in my power to get the least harsh sentence possible. But not Devon. And I thought that the ending was the WORST. ENDING. EVER! If you read this book, you will understand what I'm talking about, but if I was the writer that is not how I would have ended the book. It didn't even make sense to me. Unfortunately, that ending will bump down my rating a bit.

Besides that, I really got into After. I wanted to know what happened so I kept reading. Sometimes late into the night when I was supposed to be asleep. So if you think you can bear it, I would definitely recommend After, especially to those who like law and legal matters.

7.5 out of 10. (Would have been an 8, except for the ending)

FTC: I borrowed After from my library.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday - 9

I haven't done a Waiting on Wednesday since January! I never seem to have free time on Wednesdays or when I do I just don't feel like posting anything. But as you know, Waiting on Wednesday was created by Jill at Breaking The Spine.

Memento Nora by Angie Smibert

Nora, the popular girl and happy consumer, witnesses a horrific bombing on a shopping trip with her mother. In Nora’s near-future world, terrorism is so commonplace that she can pop one little white pill to forget and go on like nothing ever happened. However, when Nora makes her first trip to a Therapeutic Forgetting Clinic, she learns what her mother, a frequent forgetter, has been frequently forgetting. Nora secretly spits out the pill and holds on to her memories. The memory of the bombing as well as her mother’s secret and her budding awareness of the world outside her little clique make it increasingly difficult for Nora to cope. She turns to two new friends, each with their own reasons to remember, and together they share their experiences with their classmates through an underground comic. They soon learn, though, they can’t get away with remembering. (From Angie Smibert's website).

No cover yet, but I think Memento Nora sounds amazing. It's dystopian so it should be good, but the memory aspect sounds so interesting! For more information on the book visit Presenting Lenore's Dystopian August posts. Look for it in stores April 2011.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Emma Michaels Interview

I had the pleasure of interviewing Emma Michaels, whose debut novel The Thirteenth Chime will be released on August 13, 2010. The Thirteenth Chime is a YA fantasy novel about a mysterious clock with a hidden power. For more information on Emma or her book, visit her website or her blog.

About Your Book:

Where did you come up with the concept?
The concept came from several ideas that I had since coming to Washington State. I love it here - it is so beautiful and green, yet there is water everywhere. You could step outside one day and write a book and then the next, go out to the exact same area and have a completely different yet wonderful idea. On the night in question, there was a storm hitting the area where I live and it had knocked out the power. We went next door to share a few candles and the storm raged outside. Suddenly, the howling of the wind died down and for a moment there was silence. Then the antique grandfather clock in the house began to chime. The sound echoed throughout the house and it made me unconsciously reach out to grab someone's hand, wanting to feel a bond in that moment. It was in that moment that the inspiration for "The Thirteenth Chime" was born.

How does The Thirteenth Chime stand out from other paranormal fantasy novels that are being published?
It is very unique in that there is currently no other book like it on the market. It also has a different flair to the writing-style that I use and I believe that readers will be able to be lost in the realism of the characters. Other than that, I guess my readers will have to decide!

Why did you choose a clock to be the focus of your book?
It was due to the inspiration I had that night during the storm. I spent almost two years researching the locations, concept and other factors within the book before I began writing. I am really pleased with the result and I hope potential fans will enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing the book.

Is The Thirteenth Chime a standalone novel or part of a series?
A)It is intended to be a part of my series "A Sense of Truth". "The Thirteenth Chime" is the first book in the series and it is my hope that if potential fans really enjoy it, I will be writing several sequels.

On Writing:

Describe your road to publication.
Getting published was difficult at first due to the amount of standard form rejections I received from agents. When I began querying publishers directly on my own, however, it was very different and encouraging. When you receive over a hundred rejections and then suddenly you begin receiving praise and offers, you start to wonder about what was going on at first. What I think I enjoyed most about publication was getting to talk directly to the publishers and finding out their expectations from the market, their thoughts on my novel, what they recommended and above all how much input would I have before, during and after the release. Fortunately, the publisher I ended up going with has been wonderful in hearing out my ideas. What was even better is that not only did they hear me out, they loved most of my ideas and they helped to make it a reality.

How do you pick your characters' names?
David's name was very important and it was decided early on. Destiny's name, however, took a bit longer. It was not until my fiance made a comment about how she just seemed to "be David's destiny" that I realized what her name should be. As to the other characters in the book, I often feel as though they chose their own names. I think when potential fans read the book, they will understand what I mean about the characters.

Do you have any specifications as to when or where you write? For example, do you write with music in the background?
I prefer writing at my desk with my main laptop and mini. I will sometimes listen to music when I write, but usually I do that when I am writing an emotional scene and I need to feel a certain way.

How do you combat writer's block?
I combat it by writing every day, preferably at the same time of day. I work out and do Yoga - which is very important to keeping yourself healthy, especially if you do a lot of typing because you will need to have great circulation to keep up with it. I also make sure I get out into the world I write about whenever possible in order to refresh my view and find new inspiration. Bottom line - it is going to happen, but it is how you prepare and handle it that makes the difference. Even if you can't think of 'what' to write, just write! It doesn't matter what it is as long as you keep writing and then before you know it, you are back in your groove.

For Fun:

If you were stranded on a deserted island, what three things would you bring?
Oh the irony considering I live on an island and I have been stranded on it *laughs*. Before I came to Washington, I was a city girl. After I met and began dating my now fiance, I never would have thought of half of the things that it is important to keep an hand. But let's see, three fun items... definitely no clocks! A piece of chocolate (why not?), a hat and a good book. Believe it or not, it's functional, serves multiple purposes and I'm still waiting on a few book releases as a good possibility!

What was your favorite book as a child?
Tamora Pierce's "In the Hand of the Goddess".

List one interesting fact about yourself.
I did a lot of fencing in my teens and I continue to love it to this day. Luckily, my fiance enjoys it too!

Thank you so much for having me here and interviewing me and to everyone reading! Your support means so much to me and I hope you will love "TheThirteenth Chime"!!!!

Thank you Emma for participating in this interview! Please check out Emma's new book, The Thirteenth Chime, this Friday when it is released!

Monday, August 9, 2010

More Books in The Mortal Instruments series? Thank you Cassandra Clare!

Every once in awhile I will check out some of my favorite authors' blogs and since I'm going to a Cassandra Clare book signing, I thought I would see if there were any updates. And updates there were. I'm probably the last person to find this out, but there are going to be two more books added to The Mortal Instrument series! For those who don't know, it was first a trilogy, and then Cassandra added a fourth book, City of Fallen Angels. But now there will be City of Lost Souls and City of Heavenly Fire. I am so excited for all these new books coming out! And in between these book releases, Cassie is writing The Infernal Devices trilogy, the first book Clockwork Angel is coming out August 31. For more information, visit Cassandra Clare's blog.

The Lighter Side of Life and Death by C.K. Kelly Martin

Acclaimed YA author C. K. Kelly Martin offers a sexy, soulful story of one confused boy, two girls, and all the complications that ensue in this romantic feel-good love story that celebrates friendship, first love, first lust, and second chances.

Sixteen-year-old Mason Rice is having the night of his life. He's just delivered an incredible performance in the school play, basked in celebratory afterglow vibes at the party of the year, and lost his virginity to one of his best friends—the gorgeous but previously unobtainable Kat Medina. His dreams are coming true, and the future looks golden.

Unfortunately, Kat sees things very differently. Crossing the friendship line was a big mistake, and all she wants is to forget it and move on, even if that means forgetting Mason altogether. What's a guy to do? Well, if you're Mason, you hang your hopes on the first attractive twenty-three-year-old you cross paths with. At first Mason wonders if he's imagining the chemistry . . . until Colette invites him over to her apartment. Suddenly Mason's living in a whole new world. (From GoodReads)

This is my first C.K. Kelly Martin novel and I loved it! It was just such a well-written story with a good premise...how could you not like it? One of my favorite parts of TLSoLaD (the title is entirely too long for me to type out) is that it was written from a boy's point-of-view. Sometimes I shy away from these books because I just like reading about girls better, but if it's done well (John Green, anyone?), reading about a boy ends up being more interesting. So it had that going for it. I also liked the family dynamics becaues in the story Mason's dad gets remarried and his new wife and her two kids move in. There's a six year old boy and then an extremely moody thirteen-year-old girl who Mason has some pretty intense fights with. But it's what you would expect to happen with step-siblings. I liked that it wasn't all Brady Bunch perfect.

One of the things I had a problem with...well,not necessarily a problem but I was expecting to turn out different was the drama with Kat. I thought that was going to be a major part of the book and it was, but when Mason starts having an affair with Colette the other drama is pushed into the background. So much that I forget it's even there and that it's kind of feuling this whole affair with Colette. Speaking of Colette, she was an interesting character. Interesting in that I had no opinion on her. I was completely neutral and it felt like there was some distance between her and the reader. Now, I don't know if this was done purposefully or just a side effect but I just felt kind of blah about her.

Other notes: this book takes place in Canada, which I think is AWESOME. I honestly think this is the first book that I've read that takes place in Canada. It wasn't drastically different or anything, but you'd see some small differences and that made the book really cool. Also, I love the title but didn't really see how it fit with the book. The book isn't that light (Mason's feelings towards both Kat and Colette are pretty serious) and the 'life and death' part was kind of irrelevant. The whole time I was waiting for someone to die, which would have been really out of place, but the title made me think someone would. I'd love to hear some other opinions though.

Regardless, I thought The Lighter Side of Life and Death was extremely well-written, funny and serious at the same time, and just an all around amazing novel.

8 out of 10.

FTC: I received this book from Random Buzzers.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Manifest by Artist Arthur

When fifteen-year-old Krystal Bentley moves to Lincoln, Connecticut, her mom's hometown, she assumes her biggest drama will be adjusting to the burbs after living in New York City.

But Lincoln is nothing like Krystal imagined. The weirdness begins when Ricky Watson starts confiding in her. He's cute, funny, a good listener - and everything she'd ever want - except that he was killed nearly a year ago. Krystal's ghost-whispering talents soon lead other "freaks" to her door - Sasha, a rich girl who can literally disappear, and Jake, who moves objects with his mind. All three share a distinctive birthmark in the shape of an M and, fittingly, call themselves the Mystyx. They set out to learn what really happened to Ricky, only to realize that they aren't the only ones with mysterious powers. But if Krystal succeeds in finding out the truth about Ricky's death, will she lose him for good? (Taken from back cover)

I had so many problems with Manifest. I thought that this book was all over the place. Reading the back cover there sounds like there will be a solid narrative and a clean-cut plot. Unfortunately, the summary is a bit misleading. First off, I was expecting some big romance with Krystal and the ghost, Ricky. But there was none. Actually there was a lot of Krystal being jealous of Ricky's dead ex-girlfriend who was also a ghost. And she occasionally got butterflies in her stomach when she thought of him. But they hardly even talked. Half-way through the book I forgot he was a character.

Second, there's this subplot with creepy pornographic pictures and the hint of a rapist lurking around. The subplot actually turns out to be a major plot point important to the story, but I felt like it was just thrown in there for fun. There was some foreshadowing because Krystal starts getting IMs and texts from the creepy rapist, but there is absolutely no foreshadowing towards the actual culprit. It was like the author picked a minor minor character she had mentioned once before and said "Here, he's the bad guy!"

Those were the two things I had big problems, but throughout the book other little things annoyed me. The sub-plot of why Krystal mom divorced her dad was really weird, and at one point Krystal breaks a window because all these ghosts are attacking her, but she has to tell her mom and step-dad that she was having a nightmare. That doesn't sound that far-fetched, right? However, they admit her to the hospital for observation. I thought that was very extreme. It's definitely a problem if your nightmares are bad enough that you break a window, but she wasn't harming herself. I don't even know if the hospital would even admit you. There were just a lot of things like that made me do a double take because it was so bizarre.

The only part I liked was the development of Krystal's character. She's extremely whiny in the beginning, especially towards her mom and step-dad but by the end she has accepted the fact that her parents are divorced and tries to be a little more civil. But still, Manifest was poorly executed.

4 out of 10.

Release Date: Today!

FTC: This book was provided to me by the publisher.