Books: The Cheapest Vacation You Can Buy











So, last night I was extremely excited because the much anticipated novel GONE, GONE, GONE by Hannah Moskowitz came in the mail!  I’m the first stop on the ARC Tour, which will extend into April of 2012 (when the book is published), and since our ARC Tour reviews won’t start being published on our blogs until February 2012 (though we will be posting the reviews to Goodreads and the like), I thought I’d show you all some of the awesomeness that is Hannah Moskowitz:

The envelope made me giggle. 

I love, love, LOVE the cover!

Very cool!

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As the reviewers of this copy of GONE, GONE, GONE, our job is to write all over the novel, add photos, drawings, etc., so that when it gets back to Hannah, it’s a highly personalized, beautiful copy that proves its traveled the whole United States.  Hannah got the ball rolling for all of us reviewers:

 

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Isn’t it great?  I couldn’t believe it when I opened the novel!  It’s full of Hannah’s musings and vital information that readers wouldn’t otherwise know, and I’m honored to get the first look!

 

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And there’s so much more:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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So, what’s this novel about, you might ask?

It’s a year after 9/11. Sniper shootings throughout the D.C. area have everyone on edge, trying to make sense of the random acts of violence. Meanwhile, Craig and Lio are just trying to make sense of their lives.

Craig’s crushing on quiet, distant Lio, and preoccupied with what it meant when Lio kissed him…and if he’ll do it again…and if kissing Lio will help him finally get over his ex-boyfriend, Cody.

Lio feels most alive when he’s with Craig. He forgets about his broken family, his dead brother, and the messed up world. But being with Craig means being vulnerable, and Lio will have to decide whether love is worth the risk.

You need to add this book to your To Be Read pile stat!

 

 

 

 

THIS IS JUST TOO COOL!  So, now, if you will excuse me… I’ve got a novel to read and mark up!



The contest for Shine has just concluded, and I’m excited to say that the winner has been chosen using Random.org.
 
 
 
And the winner is… 
 
 
LilyxJames
 
 
 
An email has been sent out to the winner. If I don’t hear from him/her within 48 hours, I will select another winner using Random.org. Thanks to everyone who participated, and congratulations to the winner… but don’t despair if you didn’t win this round!
 
 
Stay tuned for my next giveaway: Mercy by Rebecca Lim–beginning 5/17

 And, June marks a great month for giveaways! 



 

The contest for Death Whispers has just concluded, and I’m excited to say that our two winners have been chosen using Random.org.
 
 
 
And the winners are…

EBook: Becky Paulk from Book Bite Reviews

Print Book:  SpadesHigh from Spades High Reads
 
 
 
Emails and tweets have been sent out to the winners. If I don’t hear from them within 48 hours, I will select new winners using Random.org. Thanks to everyone who participated, and congratulations to the winners… but don’t despair if you didn’t win this round!
 
Enter to win my other great giveaways:

Shine, by Laruen Myracle—Ends 5/13 — INTERNATIONAL



Tamara Rose Blodgett was kind enough to answer some questions for me in conjunction with her giveaway of her AWESOME novel, Death Whispers.  So, without further ado:

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What led you to write your debut novel, Death Whispers? What were your inspirations for the novel, if any?

Death Whispers is actually my second novel (Bloodsingers, written in 2007, will be revised and published in autumn 2011). I have four sons, all voracious readers and although they liked some of the male protagonist stories, they thought the “voice” of the male was written by a female that “thought” that was what males thought/acted like/ spoke about. I endeavored to portray boys as I interpreted them. My sons were my biggest critics and most beneficial betas. Laurell K. Hamilton, author of the TERRIFIC Anita Blake vampire hunter series, gave me the “spark” of an idea to write a book where a teenage boy deals with necromancy and is trying to gain finesse while also keeping it hidden. I wanted a book with more action, comedic dialogue  (that was the easy part…boys are funny naturally) and the “meat” of the book to center around the cool, paranormal abilities and what happens when they’re used.


What is the writing process like for you? Do you have a special place that you like to write, or any special rituals that you go through before/during the writing process?

I don’t want to come across cavalier, but, it is the easiest work I’ve ever done. It’s the revisions and editing process that is difficult. I sit down and the characters are inside my head… “alive.” I am simply
their vehicle to write they say/do/see/feel. When I am not  writing… they’re telling me to get back to work and write down the rest! I’m compelled to finish. Right at this moment, I have half of book three of the Death Series already in my head (and all of book two!). It’s a matter of how fast I can write it all down! No, I don’t have a “special place,” I squeeze time in whenever I can and often write in the middle of a chaotic disaster, noise, whatever (I certainly prefer quiet, that’s just not usually a reality for me). I don’t have “writer’s block,” and sit down each day for 4-6 hours and hammer out between 15-20 pages. Currently, I’m working on Death Speaks, book two of the Death Series, and The Pearl Savage, simultaneously.


What character do you identify with the most in Death Whispers? Why?

Ali, definitely (Caleb’s mom). She is not like me, per se…but there are some features that have creeped in there from my life. Ali is much more laid back for one! And she has an innate sense of “leash,” with Caleb…she let’s him think for himself and doesn’t get bogged down in things that are not critical; like the state of his room!


Are any of your characters or stories based on aspects of your own life?

This was an experiential novel. I could not have written it without my experience raising four boys, having their friends around, and the countless time spent around teenagers (as a family…we are a tad sarcastic). But, I haven’t modeled any of the characters after anyone specifically. I was not “guessing” during this novel, I am definitely writing “what I know.” My hope is that there is an authenticity that will resonate with readers: teens and adults alike.


What do you hope readers take away from your novel?

I hope readers feel it was a unique read and highly entertaining! If there were a moral premise, it would be only that the reader sees Caleb and his friends struggle through daily challenges and they strive to make the best choices they can, even in morally gray circumstances. That’s real.


Do you have a playlist in mind for your novel? If so, what music would you recommend a reader listen to while reading?

Wow! This is a pertinent question! I flat-out do not write as well without music blaring in the background! I will be posting a full playlist on my blog soon, so readers know exactly the music I listen to while I write. It is especially critical for the romance scenes and I prefer ethereal music that smacks of trauma with a creepy undertone. I really feel my best writing is when listening to these talented musicians. They absolutely compliment the tone that I wish to convey. Some of the music I listened to when writing this novel was: Seether, Underwhelmed, Red, Sully Erna (he was a critical inspiration during the fight scenes… when the teens are sure they can’t survive; wonderful!). My book trailer will have very carefully selected music and will really give the reader a feel for my writing…


Why did you choose YA literature as a starting point? Did you always want to write for this age group, or did it just happen?

I have always thought in terms of this age-group and it was, “what I knew.” My other novel, Bloodsingers, will be a YA crossover, and The Pearl Savage has a female protagonist that is  seventeen…it’s just where my head’s at with characters.


Do you have a favorite author or novel that you recommend your fans read? What are you reading right now?

I read between 3-5 books per week, many of which were chosen by my glorious husband. I just finished, Trapped, by J.A. Konrath, and loved it. I am a Kindle  devotee and generally read exactly what I write: Urban Fantasy/Sci-fi/Paranormal Romance.  I like the Grave Series, by Charlaine Harris. They are not YA, but more crossover…she does a fine job with the mystery aspect. I read all of Amanda Hocking and preferred the Troll Trilogy to the Blood Approves series.


How you do feel about eReaders? Do you think they enhance or detract from the reading experience? What’s your personal preference?

I jumped on the bandwagon the second they were available and affordable. I’ve never looked back since. I know for a fact I do more reading because of them. It’s simple schematics, the transport is so much easier. I’ll read a DTB (dead-tree-book) but only if that’s the only way. And I will continue to publish all my novels in paperback for those that prefer it, it’s about accessibility.


As Death Whispers is the first in a series, what can readers expect from the next novel? Do you have any plans for a new series at this time?

Caleb and his friends are in high school now and the dynamic has shifted, their paranormal talents continue to grow and they struggle with fine-tuning them. The government’s pursuit of Caleb has cooled, but for how long? Now, Caleb and Tiff join forces with police to hunt a serial killer, which puts the group at risk, again. Brett becomes a source of conflict in Jade and Caleb’s relationship as more details of his past surface. Some of the group develop romantic relationships with others and things become more complicated as encroaching adulthood sets the stage for a different dynamic. I’ve also introduced a few new characters that are critical to the development of the series. Jeffrey Parker (the other 5-point AFTD) will figure prominently in book #3, Death Screams.

Yes, The Pearl Savage (Publishing May/June 2011) will be the first book of the Savage Series, and Bloodsingers (Publishing autumn of 2011) will be the start of another series. TPS is a total departure from DW and is written in third person using diction (I think) would have developed after one-hundred and forty years of encapsulation in a post-Victorian America. Bloodsingers is true Urban Fantasy with warring vamps and shifters fighting over the Bloodsingers, a unique and powerful human sub-species that are sought after for their unique properties in their blood and genetic contributions.

I’m a “producer” and view all my novels as the beginning of a series; until they stop “talking” to me, I will continue to write about their “lives.” And they have much to say.

Thank you so much for reading my stories. My hope is that you enjoy them as much as I loved the writing of them.

I would like to thank Shana Benedict, for her graciousness, time, and professionalism ~

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Thank you Tamara!!! I am excited to have you on the blog and have really enjoyed getting to know you!  
 
This Giveaway is now CLOSED.
Winners: 

EBook: Becky Paulk from Book Bite Reviews

Print Book:  SpadesHigh from Spades High Reads


{May 11, 2011}   Inklings, by Aparna Warrier

From Goodreads: Stories tagged under urban life, oblique humor, romance, satire and even the purpose of life. In this book, you will find urban-style, simple prose, sprinkled with thought-provoking metaphors along the way.

Inklings offers a glimpse into the world of intelligent flash fiction, which, while not a popular genre in traditional publishing, is making an impact in online literature.

For an idea of what to expect, an introduction of five of the twelve stories in this anthology follows:

  1. “Intoxicated by Impossibility” – The story of one guy who can’t fall asleep because of one girl who’s not even there. Or is she?
  2. “Who Wrote the Rules?” – Existential angst clubbed with rebellion against The System.
  3. “The Revolt of the Coconut Trees” – Inspired by an academic study published in the Journal of Trauma, 1984, titled “Injuries due to falling coconuts.”
  4. “So What?” – What happens after the Storm.
  5. “Cheeky” – A story about that chubby part of a certain person’s face.

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I really enjoyed reading this collection of short stories. What I love the most about them is that they range from profound to humorous, incorporating all genres in-between. There is an underlying meaning behind each piece, and though it may take a second look, a closer reading, to get to the heart of each story, it is well worth it. Warrier has selected profound topics for her flash fiction, such as humanity, love and relationships, coming of age, politics, and change, to evoke further contemplation among readers. Though the selections may be short, they speak volumes and push the reader further, philosophically, as the stories take hold of the mind. On more than one occasion, the reader may need to re-read sections of the text in order to grasp all aspects of Warrier’s reflective prose, as each selection incorporates multiple ideas, but as each piece is fairly short, a close reading of the text is easily manageable.

I especially enjoyed “So What,” as it is such a short, yet profound blurb about society. Originally, I laughed, but as I thought about it, and then re-read it, I began to see multiple meanings and underlying messages that are incorporated in this two-paragraph story. “The Revolt of the Coconut Trees” is another favorite of mine. Warrier’s writing style is beautiful and she takes a look at humanity and its presence in the world in this humorous telling of coconut trees fighting back. “Greenie” was a wonderful coming of age story that transcends all cultures and is very touching, and I love that all readers, on some level, are able to identify with this story. All in all, Warrier is an exceptional writer and her flash fiction is a must read. Four stars.



From Goodreads: My life had always been blissfully, wonderfully normal. But it only took one moment to change everything.

Suddenly, my sister, Georgia, and I were orphans. We put our lives into storage and moved to Paris to live with my grandparents. And I knew my shattered heart, my shattered life, would never feel normal again. Then I met Vincent.

Mysterious, sexy, and unnervingly charming, Vincent Delacroix appeared out of nowhere and swept me off my feet. Just like that, I was in danger of losing my heart all over again. But I was ready to let it happen.

Of course, nothing is ever that easy. Because Vincent is no normal human. He has a terrifying destiny, one that puts his life at risk every day. He also has enemies . . . immortal, murderous enemies who are determined to destroy him and all of his kind.

While I’m fighting to piece together the remnants of my life, can I risk putting my heart—as well as my life and my family’s—in jeopardy for a chance at love?

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HarperCollins has been extremely gracious to allow me to read an ARC of this novel, through Netgalley, prior to its release in bookstores today, and though I will admit that I was a little bored in the very beginning of the novel, it soon took off and I was glued to the pages.  I wasn’t sure where the story was going at first, as it seemed to dwell purely on Kate’s inconsolability in the wake of her parent’s death.  I didn’t realize it at the time, but the beginning is actually extremely important in terms of developing Kate’s disposition, as well as that of her sister, Georgina.  Once Vincent came into the picture, the novel really took off, and Plum continued to develop all of her characters.  While the most development happens with Kate and Vincent, the other characters do play a substantial part in the novel, and I enjoyed getting to know them all. 

I highly enjoy Plum’s writing style.  Plum is able to capture the true feelings of the characters through her realistic dialogue and characterization.  It’s extremely easy to read, and I did find myself sucked into the story, lost among the characters and the mystery they evoke.  Originally, I thought Die For Me was going to be another fallen angel novel (which I like), but it wasn’t.  Instead, Plum tackles the ideas of revenants and their job on earth as the undead.  I’ve never come across a book dealing with revenants on this level, and Plum has added some wonderful twists, including the numa, another group of revenants that clash with Vincent and his kindred.  This aspect of the story was really interesting, and I enjoyed uncovering the mystery along with Kate.

I appreciate that Plum allows time for the love between Kate and Vincent to blossom and become real; so many books jump straight from introductions to “love,” in such a short span of time, and it was refreshing to watch this love story develop realistically.  I also loved that the characters didn’t fall for each other blindly; there was real heart and thought behind their decisions, and they do make difficult decisions in order to protect themselves, as well as those around them. 

I highly recommend this novel, and I would love to see it on the big screen soon!  It is packed with action and suspense, and I think it gives Twilight a run for its money.  Four and a half stars.



From Goodreads: Made into the acclaimed film Stand By Me, The Body is a mesmerizing tale of four young boys and their quest to find a dead body, never realizing how much death will affect their lives and their friendship.
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I saw this movie when I was just a young tween, and let me tell you, I fell in love.  I’m not sure if it was the allure of the characters and their “bad boy” image, or River Phoenix, but either way, I watched the movie nearly every day that summer, and have watched it at least once a year ever since.  I don’t remember exactly when I realized the movie was based on a novella by Stephen King, but I do know that, even thought I vowed to find it and read it, I never did.  I’ll blame that all on the fact that, at the time, the internet was new and I didn’t know about searches, etc.  I did look through the college library in town, but I never found The Body and soon forgot about my dire need to read the story as new exciting things cropped into my life.

A few weeks ago, something triggered the memory that Stand by Me was originally a novella, and I began my search anew.  Perhaps I’m just not tech savvy, but I still had a very hard time finding it.  I searched Barnes and Nobel and Amazon, but neither site had the novella in stock for a reasonable price (over $30), and most of them were compact discs anyway—not what I was looking for.  Dismayed, I figured that by this point it was out of print and I was out of luck.  One of my searches, however, pulled up a novel called Different Seasons, and I was curious as to why.  Fortunately for me, I looked into it and found that The Body is actually one of four novellas within the novel, and it was cheap enough.  Yet, I decided to check my school library prior to purchase, especially since I only wanted to read The Body (King’s work is very heavy and I’m not a dire fan) and I’d finally found the actual title of the book it was in.  I’m happy to say that I did find it, eventually, and read it, all these years after my initial inquiry.

And truth be told, I like the movie better.  I know I’m biased, seeing as I’ve viewed the movie so often and fell in love with it automatically, while I’ve only read the novella once.  Of course, the novella is much more detailed and actually answered some of my questions, like why Teddy’s dad held his ear to the stove (it was actually both ears), and what happened between the older gang and the younger gang when they came back from their trek to find the body.  Yet, I think the director of Stand by Me did a superb job capturing the novella on screen and he held true to the important main aspects of the novella.  For instance, the dialogue is straight from the novella, and it think the movie, overall, is a superb retelling—they don’t make movies like this anymore, staying true to the book.

While there are a few discrepancies, such as it the novella taking place in Maine, but in the movie it’s in Oregon, there really weren’t that many changes, until the very end.  Stand by Me, of course, changes the ending around, but it’s still nothing too drastic.  The characters in the confrontation with the gun are switched—but I can’t decide which version is better, and, based on this switch, the focus of the entire novella/movie changes from one character to the next.  Whereas the novella seems to have a focus on Chris Chambers, the movie changes it to Gordie LaChance—but I like both versions, so I can’t decide which is better.  Another big change is the ultimate end of Gordie’s three friends, Vern, Teddy, and Chris.  I’m not going to ruin it for you, but if you’ve seen the movie, just rest assured that Vern and Teddy did not end up the way the narrator says they did in the movie (and I like the book’s version of this one better).  While Chris’s ending is very similar, the age range is wrong, adding a sense of melancholy to this coming of age novella/movie—which I think is what really makes it superb.

To be quite honest, King’s style is really hard for me to read—I think it’s the small print.  He does go off topic on occasion in the novella, and I’m glad they cut that out of the movie, because Gordie randomly launches into a very weird story about sex and hatred, and I was confused during those two chapters and I still don’t see their connection to the novella as a whole.  Yet, aside from that, the novella was great, and I have to give it five stars because it’s really a wonderful story—and of course the movie gets five stars… there’s no question about that!  I guess I recommend reading the novella if you’re an avid reader or want the true story concerning the end, but otherwise, you can get nearly the whole wonderful story from just watching the movie.

5 starsBuy the Novella: Paperback or Kindle

Buy the Movie (highly recommended): Blueray or DVD



From Goodreads: I had the dream again. The one where I’m running. I don’t know what from or where to, but I’m scared, terrified really.

Austin Parker is never going to see his eighteenth birthday. At the rate he’s going, he probably won’t even see the end of the year. But in the short time he has left there’s one thing he can do: He can try to help the people he loves live—even though he never will.

It’s probably hopeless.

But he has to try.

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Houghton Mifflin Harcourt has been extremely gracious as to allow me to read an ARC of this novel, through Netgalley, prior to its release in January 2012, for which I am eternally grateful!  This is an amazing novel, and I do mean AMAZING!  I highly recommend it.  Bostic is a phenomenal writer, and her debut novel comes from the heart.  Bostic has created such authentic, vivid characters that, as the reader, you can’t help but feel for them; it’s like they’re your best friends too.  I love Austin and Kaylee, and though the story obviously doesn’t have a fairytale ending, it does offer comfort.  I cried.  This is not the norm; novels very rarely evoke that much emotion from me.  Emotions, yes, but to the point of tears?  Not often.  Yet, Bostic ability to create very real characters, struggling with a very real sickness, is written with such love and care that it’s impossible not to make a connection and be saddened, and heartened, as you read. 

Bostic has taken a difficult topic, one that many have experienced, and created a tale of love and inspiration, as those around Austin must learn to let go and move on, just as he must come to terms with the sickness ravaging his body.  Bostic has touched a part of my soul through her writing, and I am excited to read more!  She’s an up-and-coming author to watch; if you like Gayle Forman’s novels (If I Stay and Where She Went), then you’ll love Megan Bostic!  Five stars.



From Goodreads: Amanda is fourteen when her mother deserts her to be with a new man.  Hurt and betrayed, Amanda loses faith in the world.  To soothe her pain, she retreats into fly-fishing, until she learns that her loving grandmother has terminal cancer.  Amanda struggles to find answers.  Then one day she discovers that her grandmother, against the doctor’s orders, has gone fishing somewhere on the Junction River.  Frightened, Amanda, along with Shana, her adopted dog, and Vernon, a grieving alcoholic, searches the river—but marches into an unexpected, terrifying event that, in a surprising way, helps her learn to forgive and to see the good in the world.

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This is a really well done novelette describing life through an angry fourteen-year-old’s eyes.  I enjoyed it immensely, especially the superb imagery and description Kadish provides in regards to fly-fishing.  I never was much of a fisher, but I enjoyed it as a little girl.  The thrill of catching a fish still weighs heavy in my mind, and through Kadish’s prose I was easily able to envision Amanda as she trekked along the river, dredging up my memories of carefree summers and the palpable heat.  Although I’ve never been in Amanda’s shoes, I believe Kadish does a superb job capturing her thoughts, feelings, and overall struggle as she attempts to cope with her mother’s betrayal and her grandmother’s sickness.  I enjoyed the story, though some of the incidents do seem far-fetched, and while there is some discussion of religion, it is not an overbearing topic within the novel, but rather a touch upon the philosophical side of humanity.  Three and a half stars.

I received a copy of this novel from the author in exchange for an honest review.



From Goodreads: The first time Juli Baker saw Bryce Loski, she flipped. The first time Bryce saw Juli, he ran. That’s pretty much the pattern for these two neighbors until the eighth grade, when, just as Juli is realizing Bryce isn’t as wonderful as she thought, Bryce is starting to see that Juli is pretty amazing. How these two teens manage to see beyond the surface of things and come together makes for a comic and poignant romance.

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One of my students recommended this novel for me, so I picked it up the other day.  It’s a pretty quick read, and for the most part I enjoyed it, but truth be told, I’m a little torn about this coming of age novel.  In terms of writing, I think it’s great.  Van Draanen is very talented and she created a cute “he said, she said” novel.  I really enjoyed reading both perspectives of each situation, and I can just imagine how this really happens in boy/girl relationships.  Van Draanen does a phenomenal job capturing the voices of her young teen characters, and I enjoyed that aspect of the novel very much.  However, I found the storyline itself a little boring.  I think part of this has to do with the fact that I’m not a young adult anymore, but even so, I wasn’t enamored with the story like I’d hoped to be.  Reading about chickens and trees isn’t really interesting to me, and although that is just a small portion of the novel overall, all the scenarios seemed a little drab for my taste.

Out of all the characters in the novel, the only one I actually like is Bryce’s grandfather—he’s the only one who seems to have his head on straight.  Juli, I think, is creepy.  She has a stalker mentality and is too easily hurt by others. Bryce, on the other hand, is just a jerk.  While I was originally on his side, his true colors began to show and I began to harbor a dislike for him.  I am thankful for the double-sided view though, as I was able to understand both viewpoints as each character told their experiences, but just the same, the characters irked me.  While it is obvious that the characters change as the story unfolds, my main complaint is that I feel the novel has no ending.  It just stops—and while it may allude to a happy ending, the fact that it wasn’t concluded is what I have a hard time with.  While some readers may enjoy this aspect of the novel, it just wasn’t for me. 

So… I watched the movie too, since I’m putting this on the outside reading project for my students, and they’ll have to watch the movie if they choose this book for the project.  Well, I wasn’t impressed.  The acting was alright, and I was glad that the director stuck to the plot line for the most part, but it didn’t dazzle me.  I guess that is to be expected, because the book didn’t hold my attention either, but I was hoping that maybe the movie version would be a little more interesting for me.  I’m sorry to say it wasn’t, but again, my students seem to love this book, so I’m sure they’ll enjoy the movie as well.  Personally, I can only give them two and a half stars all around.



From Goodreads: Reychel is a slave girl surrounded by magic, lies and manipulation. Her best friend disappears in the middle of the night leaving Reychel to face her fifteenth birthday, the day her master burns his brand into the back of her bald head, alone. She’s sheltered from the outside world and doesn’t have any hope for escape, but when people desperate for freedom ask for her help can Reychel learn to believe in herself?

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First and foremost, what a beautiful cover!  I’m always enticed to read novels based on the covers…  I know, I know, I shouldn’t judge books that way, but when there is such a gorgeous cover, I can’t help but gravitate to it.  Very, very beautiful!

Aside from the cover, though, I was also drawn to this novel as I read the first chapter on Jensen’s blog.  The story is very intriguing and my interest was piqued, so I bought it from Amazon and read it in a few hours (it’s a short read).

While I really enjoyed the story line, and Jensen has a very creative imagination and wonderful gift, I did find that the novel had a few elements that were not to my taste.  I love that the story moves quickly, which is a sure winner for young readers, however, I found that the rapid pace creates some underdevelopment throughout the novel.  Jensen introduces many new characters through the span of the story, yet I never felt like I truly knew any of them.  The characters swiftly move from one situation to the next, which made it hard for me to form a connection.  This, in turn, created a more choppy novel than a fluid one, yet this aspect also fits the novel well as it parallels the main character, Reychel, as she is pulled in multiple directions at once; her whole life being changed on a moment’s notice.

Another aspect I struggled with was the language within the novel.  There seems to be a disconnect between modern and archaic language, and as the novel has a more old-fashioned, historical feel to it, I found some of the dialogue ill fitting as the characters used slang on occasion.  Yet, as this is the first novel in the series, I anticipate that it will continue to get better as Jensen fleshes out the entire story and refines her work.  Anathema is just the beginning, or the foundation, if you will, of a great story.  While I was disappointed that there was not much action in terms of Reychel using her ability as The Cloud Prophet, it makes sense that it will take time for her to develop them.  To counter this, Jensen provides many other twists and turns to keep the action going, which I believe is a testament to her writing capabilities.

Originally, I found myself admonishing Reychel for not being an assertive, strong character—she is quite wishy-washy.  Although she does begin to assert herself more towards the middle of the novel, she again relapses while in the presence of her master.  This character portrayal is actually quite superb on Jensen’s part, as Reychel has grown up in slavery.  She knows nothing but submissiveness, and so it makes sense that her character question everything.  I am glad that Jensen choose to portray Reychel in this manner in the first novel, though I do hope to see a more assertive Reychel begin to develop as the series progresses.

I did enjoy this novel, save a few personal objections, and I definitely think this is a great book for both MG and YA readers alike. and I am very excited to read the next installment, Oubliette, which comes out this June!  I do recommend picking up a copy of Anathema prior to the sequel’s release!  Three stars. 3 stars



From Goodreads: When Hollywood It Boy, Reid Alexander, arrives on location to shoot his next movie, his goals are the same as always-film another blockbuster hit and enjoy his celebrity status to the fullest while doing so. His costar is a virtual unknown with whom he had blazing hot chemistry during her auditions. The universe is lining up nicely to grant whatever he wants, as usual, until he’s confronted with unexpected obstacles on location like a bitter ex-girlfriend and a rival for the first girl to spark his genuine interest in years.

Emma Pierce just got her big break after more than a decade of filming commercials for grape juice, department stores and tampons, and more recently, bit parts in made-for-TV movies. Nailing the lead role in a wide-release film sent her agent, father and stepmother into raptures, and should have done the same for her. The Problem? Emma is experiencing a building desire to be normal, and starring in a silly, modernized adaptation of one of her favorite novels-opposite the very hot Reid Alexander-isn’t going to advance that aspiration.

Graham Douglas doesn’t fear playing the part of a nerdy dimwit; when it comes to choosing film roles, if it pays, he’ll do it. Besides, his friend Brooke Cameron snatched up the role of the bitchy hot girl and could use his help as a buffer, because her ex is the star. Graham has no problem keeping a handle on the situation, until he finds himself attracted to Reid’s costar, Emma, the girl Reid is pursuing full-throttle with his standard arsenal of charm, good looks and arrogance.

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Have you ever read a novel that causes your heart to pound and puts butterflies in your stomach, because it’s so good?  Well, this is one of those novels, and I highly recommend it!  I loved it!  This is just an absolutely fantastic read, and what a beautiful cover!!!  It’s such a refreshing novel too—I’ve never come across a book like this one, focusing on teenage celebrities!  I really enjoyed myself while reading this novel, and as our nation is always so wrapped up in celebrity activities, this is sure to be a pleasing fictitious tale for all.  Webber does a magnificent job creating a novel around such a fascinating topic, and I was glued to the story from the very first page.

The writing style is superb, and I love the way Webber chose to present the story through the back and forth perspectives of the two main characters, Emma and Reid.  By utilizing this writing technique, Webber allows the reader to step into both Emma and Reid’s shoes through their first person narrative, and it’s a breathtaking way to become one with the characters.  I also loved the inside view the reader obtains in regards to what happens on and off the set, as the actors and actresses come together to create movies for the public.  It was really interesting to read—and it’s a topic I’ve wondered about for years!

It’s a true love/coming-of-age story, and the characterization is just beautiful.  While I love to hate a few choice characters within the novel, Webber has portrayed them all realistically, and I found myself connecting with them all as I read.  The love story portion of the novel is also extremely beautiful, even though I occasionally wanted to shake the characters in regards to their choices, and I even found myself yelling at them, aloud, as I read.  I think that’s an aspect that makes the characters so believable, creating a bond between them and the reader.  Webber is an amazing writer, and she’s an up and coming author to watch!  I am very impressed, and excited for the sequel to this novel—I’m on pins and needles!  Pick it up STAT on Amazon!!  Five stars!

5 stars

I received a copy of this novel from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Tammara_Webber_Fan_Club

Check out all the books in this awesome series!

Between the Lines (#1)

Where You Are (#2)

Good For You (#3)

Here Without You (#4)



From Goodreads:  After the death of her free-spirited mother, sixteen-year-old Alex Lee must leave her home in northern California to live with her wealthy grandmother in Savannah, Georgia.  By birth, Alex is a rightful, if unwilling, member of the Magnolia League, Savannah’s long-standing debutante society.  She quickly discovers that the Magnolias have made a pact with a legendary hoodoo family, the Buzzards.  The Magnolias enjoy youth, beauty and power.  But at what price?

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Hachette Book Group has been so gracious as to allow me review an ARC of this novel, through Netgalley, prior to its official release today.  However, it pains me to say that this novel was not as enthralling as I hoped it to be.  I was drawn in by the synopsis, and Alex’s snarky attitude was a refreshing and hilarious aspect of the novel, but aside from her perspective, I have to say that this novel just isn’t for me.  I believe the premise for the novel is wonderful, and that many readers will enjoy it, but it just didn’t spark my interest as the story progressed.  I’m not sure why, really.  Crouch is a very talented writer, and I enjoy her style very much, but the mystery of the Magnolia League didn’t pull me in as I had planned, and I felt like it was very drawn out, lacking action.  While there is some suspense behind the true activities of the Magnolia League, I found much of the foreshadowing that Crouch implores to be too telling for my taste.  The novel does leave the reader with a huge cliffhanger, but for me, much of what happened was to be expected and, unfortunately, I personally have little interest in continuing this series.  Two stars.



Houghton Mifflin Harcourt has been extremely gracious to allow me to review a copy of this novel, through NetGalley, prior to its release today.  The synopsis is as follows, from Goodreads:  Meredith Willis is suspicious of Adrien, the new guy next door. When she dares to sneak a look into the windows of his house, she sees something in the cellar that makes her believe that Adrien might be more than just a creep—he may be an actual monster.  But her sister, Heather, doesn’t share Meredith’s repulsion. Heather believes Adrien is the only guy who really understands her. In fact, she may be falling in love with him. When Adrien and Heather are cast as the leads in the school production of Romeo and Juliet, to Heather, it feels like fate. To Meredith, it feels like a bad omen. But if she tries to tear the couple apart, she could end up in the last place she’d ever want to be: the cellar. Can Meredith convince her sister that she’s dating the living dead before it’s too late for both of them?

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I’m sorry to say that I really did not care for this novel.  I was drawn to it by the synopsis, and in the beginning, I was really into it, but as the story progresses, I feel like it begins to slowly fall apart and become confusing.  One of the main aspects of the novel that is perplexing is the constant flux between first and third person narrative.  Nearly every chapter changes point of view.  Meredith initially begins telling the story, but then the chapters begin alternating between Meredith’s narration and the third person narrative, which explains what’s happening to other characters.  While I don’t think this ruins the novel, I also don’t think it strengthens it.  I like both narrative styles equally, but I am not a fan of their juxtaposition within a novel.  I am more traditional and like a constant writing style present as I read. 

I also was unable to connect to the characters.  I’m not sure if the narration style had anything to do with this, but I never felt like I was able to get to know them.  From what I gathered, the characters really don’t seem to have many redeeming qualities either, and in order for me to fall in love with a novel, I really need to like the characters.

The amount of blood and gore in the novel shocked me.  I don’t mind a little, and I actually come to expect it in zombie novels, but this is not for the faint of heart.  There are occasions within the novel when innocents become meals, and their flesh is stripped from their bodies, piece by piece, while they scream in agony.  That was a little too much for me to handle, and I found myself skimming those sections.  Aside from that, I do think that the premise for this novel is a good one, but it isn’t my forte, hence, I give it two stars.



Just a reminder that these three books release today:

Shine, by Lauren Myracle, is a wonderful coming of age story about a girl putting together the pieces of a mystery involving a hate crime against her best friend.

The Drop, by Jeff Ross, entails extreme snowboarding and a kidnapping plan gone wrong–and is part of the Orca Sports collection for reluctant readers.

Gravity Check, by Alex Van Tol, entails extreme mountain biking and the suspense of stumbling on a  grow-op–and is also part of the Orca Sports collection for reluctant readers.

Pick them up today!!



et cetera
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