Friday, February 26, 2010

New Look, New Book

Whenever I open a new blog (and you would be surprised at how many blogs I've had), I tend to have a few months of searching for just the right template.

It has to be simple enough to adjust for me, and pretty enough to make sure y'all don't run screaming.

I tend to like 3 column templates because it gives me more room for widgets without cramping everything together. I like the ones that have a linkbar even better--heavenly bliss if they have sublinks! *swoon*

My current search item is a template that has a linkbar, and where the posts aren't the full posts--you know, where it has a "Read More" link at the bottom? Ever since I saw Book Lovers, Inc 's layout, I've wanted one so bad.

I'm a bit of a Blog Layout Whore. *grin*

I tried to figure out how to do the "Read More" thing through Blogger settings, but no dice. *sadface* So I'm on the hunt for a layout that has all the things I want...*longing sigh*


1: I picked up Book 5 (Hunted) of the House of Night Series, and I will be starting to read it in a little while. *Squee* I can't wait. (This is a series that literally had me up for about an hour and a half thinking about after going to bed. That, my dears, is a big thing.)

2: I changed my blog button, so if you had my old one, please replace it with my new one on the sidebar. :)

3: Please don't freak if you come back in an hour and the template has changed. Again. Did I mention I'm a bit obsessive about my templates? Heh heh.

Later lovelies!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Review: Fire

Title: Fire
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Author: Kristin Cashore

Beautiful creatures called monsters live in the Dells. Monsters have the shape of normal animals: mountain lions, dragonflies, horses, fish. But the hair or scales or feathers of monsters are gorgeously colored-- fuchsia, turquoise, sparkly bronze, iridescent green-- and their minds have the power to control the minds of humans.

Seventeen-year-old Fire is the last remaining human-shaped monster in the Dells. Gorgeously monstrous in body and mind but with a human appreciation of right and wrong, she is hated and mistrusted by just about everyone, and this book is her story.

The concept of "monsters" was confusing at first, probably because preconceived notions of monsters are ugly whereas these are so beautiful they muddle your head--making you easy prey. After a couple of chapters, it grew on me, and I think Ms. Cashore did a really good job with it. I really liked the fact that her interaction with Prince Brigan started off on probably the worst foot it could, and that their relationship slowly grew--it didn't just pop out of nowhere. I didn't start off the story thinking, "Well that relationship is pretty much set. " Particularly since she was already involved with someone, albeit in a more casual way than you'd expect.

This installment of the Seven Kingdoms books is actually set 30 years prior to GRACELING, and has a single crossover character, which anyone who has read the first book will recognize easily.

There were quite a few shocking moments later in the book, and the questions steadily piled up as the story progressed.

It wasn't an amazing book, but I did enjoy this book and I do recommend it, so this rating is...

4 Stars

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Linger & Others

This is just a quick post to point you to a couple of really cool contests going on with book prizes!

The first is being held at A Blurred History by Andrea Cremer, Questioning Cupid, where you comment what couple should have gotten together that didn't (a la Buffy & Spike--which is my personal choice.) and you can win books!

If you're looking to win Linger by Maggie Stiefvater, there are quite a few going on--including on by Maggie Herself!

Linger Cover LargeIn Maggie Stiefvater's Shiver, Grace and Sam found each other. Now, in Linger, they must fight to be together. For Grace, this means defying her parents and keeping a very dangerous secret about her own well-being. For Sam, this means grappling with his werewolf past . . . and figuring out a way to survive into the future. Add into the mix a new wolf named Cole, whose own past has the potential to destroy the whole pack. And Isabelle, who already lost her brother to the wolves . . . and is nonetheless drawn to Cole.

At turns harrowing and euphoric,
Linger is a spellbinding love story that explores both sides of love -- the light and the dark, the warm and the cold -- in a way you will never forget.

Comes out in stores everywhere July 20th.
Pre-order here.

Enter to win an advanced review copies of LINGER,
Sisters Red, The Dead-Tossed Waves, and The Replacement on Maggie's blog.

Just thought I'd share! *wink*

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Review: Graceling

Title: Graceling
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Author: Kristin Cashore

In a world where some people are born with extreme and often-feared skills called Graces, Katsa struggles for redemption from her own horrifying Grace, the Grace of killing, and teams up with another young fighter to save their land from a corrupt king.

Katsa never really had a chance in what she did with her life. I was immediately aware of this, from beginning to end. From the moment her Grace, her ability, manifested, she was doomed to be used as a tool as long as she remained with her uncle, the King of Middluns. It took her years to begin to rebel, by building the Council and going "undercover" in a roundabout way, but she remained the King's "lady killer" to everyone else.

It was only when she met Prince Po of Lienid--and I couldn't help but think of Kung-Fu Panda every time I read his name--that she began to realize how much power she really had.

This was a very enjoyable read. Katsa grew over the course of the story, and each step in the plot made sense. At one point, I was on the verge of tears, and when that area, for lack of a better term, was revisited, I was right back to nearly crying.

I think I would've liked more interaction between Katsa and some of the other minor characters, such as her cousin, Prince Raffin. One thing in the later part of the book that really bothered me was Princess Bitterblue. She was described as very young, but her speech and ability to comprehend seemed far older--closer to Katsa's late teens than a small child.

I liked the fact that this book didn't shy away from the "issue" of pre-marital sex. I thought the author did a very good job of incorporating it into the relationship between Po and Katsa without it becoming a major plot point or something that the story obsessed over. I was oddly glad to see that the author didn't reveal Po's secret to his family--I had half expected there to be a tearful family moment involving it. The ending was surprising but in a good way.

This was about changing circumstances, owning yourself and your actions, adapting to situations. It's a whole new kind of coming of age story, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Rating: 4 Stars

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Honest Scrap!

The lovely Anne Riley awarded me the Honest Scrap award! This is my very first award for this blog--thank you so much, Anne! *mwah*

The rules are that I have to post 10 things about myself and then pass the award on to 5 other blogs...

Well, let's see:

1: The first book I ever read on my own and enjoyed was Anne of Green Gables when I was nine.

2: I had the fourth Harry Potter book before the others and I never did bother to crack it open until I was eleven years old and I had devoured the first 3 books--I was really miffed that my grandfather had given me the fourth book in a series, so I was determined to hate all of the books. *grinning eyeroll*

3: When I was about four years old, I gave my dad a black eye the day after my mother did. They were running around the house, and she whacked him with a broom on accident. He was teaching me how to use a staff and I whacked him with the stick on purpose.

4: I was actually forbidden to read Laurell K. Hamilton's books when I was nine...I snuck them and was caught and forbidden again....and I kept sneaking them. Seriously, don't tell me I can't read a book because I will so not listen! LOL

5: Both of my parents are really good at drawing--I, on the other hand, can't draw a stick figure, although I continually try to draw faces. The best I get is this:

I kind of presume this was supposed to be Goth / Punk Lucifer rebelling.
I think.

6: I should never ever ever draw. Ever. I think his hair is that side-part my mom had going on when she was 16. In the late 80's. O_o

7: Spiders freak me out but I think some of them are pretty.

8: I'm a firm believer that all cute and fuzzy things should be cuddly and not be able to rip your face off. Example:

The Wombat.
Cute. Fuzzy. Totally cuddly-able.
Completely able to take your face off.

9: I think French Fries dipped in Ranch dressing is really good.

10: I can't think of a tenth thing to tell you about me, so I'm just going to...uhm...drift away...

Who I'm passing this on to...

1: Dawne Dominique for making my amazing and beautiful banner.

2: Dawn Embers because she posts really insightful blogs about writing.

3: Harley D. Palmer because she's just getting started in the blogging world, and she needs blog fodder!

4: Tara Fouts because she hasn't updated her blog in a while too!

5: Whoever comments on this first, because I can't think of anyone else--which is saying something because I follow well over 100 blogs. O_O

In other news, I had to go up to the library today! Squee! This means I have books! I picked up Graceling by Kristin Cashore, the book before Fire which I had already picked up. I decided to stop reading Fire and read Graceling first, so that it makes more sense for me.

I also got books 2, 4, and 5 of the Percy Jackson series--but I'm going to wait to read them until I get book 3. And I also got Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman, at the insistence of Parker.

I'm actually currently reading Eden's Hell by Dawne Dominique, which she graciously sent me a PDF file of for review. I haven't gotten far because I had an epiphany for my own writing, so I've been focusing on that for the past two days. But once I finish it, which shouldn't be too long, I will be posting my review. (As always, my reviews will be colored by nothing but my own opinion.) I'm also reading Pride & Prejudice, but I don't think I'll be reviewing that. LOL.

Later, lovelies!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Review: Nightlife

Title: Nightlife

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Author: Rob Thurman

Welcome to the Big Apple. There's a troll under the Brooklyn Bridge, a boggle in Central Park, and a beautiful vampire in a penthouse on the Upper East Side---and that's only the beginning. Of course, most humans are oblivious to the preternatural nightlife around them, but Cal Leandros is only half human.

His father's dark lineage is the stuff of nightmares---and he and his entire otherworldly race are after Cal. Why? Cal hasn't exactly wanted to stick around long enough to find out. He and his half brother, Niko, have managed to stay a step ahead for four years, but now Cal's dad has found them again. And Cal is about to learn why they want him, why they've always wanted him: He is the key to unleashing their hell on earth. The fate of the human world will be decided in the fight of Cal's life....

I've been reading first person POV books since I picked up Laurell K. Hamilton's Guilty Pleasures when I was twelve. I fell in love with the style then, but over the years it was rare to find an author who could really pull of the style of writing.

Rob Thurman made me fall back in love with first person, frankly. I read it in 24 hours, and it took me that long because I had to sleep. She weaved sarcastic observations with beautiful prose with such ease, it felt completely natural. One such passage was:

A morning mist dissipating in the rising sun. A broken bird plunging from the sky. A scuttling dark thing fleeing the light of day. Shit, I should've been writing some of this down. Dying really brought out the poet in me. (Page 2 of Nightlife)

There's plenty of action in this book and I love that she actually didn't use a lot of cuss words in the book, and when she did, it helped build the characters and their personalities. Cal is impatient, but lazy, slightly self-loathing but not in a annoying way, and purely because he knows what he's capable of. But he's also in control enough that he ignores that and keeps going. He wants roots, not so much for himself as for his brother--which is admirable. I like that he goes against his brother because he knows that Niko deserves better than constantly moving around.

I'd love to see more with Cal and Georgina, especially considering her role in everything but I can understand why there was very little of that. (I do have hopes for the rest of the books, as well as Niko and Promise.) I tend to prefer more romantic elements in what I read, but wow I barely even missed it in with this book.

And then there's Robin. Robin Goodfellow, a puck, used carsalemen (really, Ms. Thurman, perfect job for him. Seriously.) and unwilling/willing sidekick to Niko and Cal--caught completely by surprise and drawn into everything because he's lonely and, frankly I think because it cannot ever get boring with Cal and Niko! He's my kind of guy--perpetually dirty minded (I love the constant jokes at Niko's expense.), generally out for himself but has rare moments of heroism, and completely in love with himself. He was the comedic relief, and I just adored him.

I'm going to stop gushing here, because you should go and buy this book! I'm going to be on the lookout for the rest of them and I'll be buying them as soon as humanly possible.

Side note: As a die-hard fangirl of Supernatural, I want to mention that if, gods forbid, Supernatural gets cancelled, my squealing obsession will then be transferred to Cal and Niko. You cannot get a higher judgement from me!

Rating: 5 Stars

Author Information:

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Review: American Gods

Title: American Gods

Genre: Science Fiction / Fantasy

Author: Neil Gaiman


Shadow gets out of prison early when his wife is killed in a car crash. At a loss, he takes up with a mysterious character called Wednesday, who is much more than he appears.

In fact, Wednesday is an old god, once known as Odin the All-father, who is roaming America rounding up his forgotten fellows in preparation for an epic battle against the upstart deities of the Internet, credit cards, television, and all that is wired. Shadow agrees to help Wednesday, and they whirl through a psycho-spiritual storm that becomes all too real in its manifestations. For instance, Shadow's dead wife Laura keeps showing up, and not just as a ghost.

Armed only with some coin tricks and a sense of purpose, Shadow travels through, around, and underneath the visible surface of things, digging up all the powerful myths Americans brought with them in their journeys to this land as well as the ones that were already here. "This is a bad land for Gods," says Shadow.

I don't usually read Science Fiction, but an acquaintance on Twitter recommended this book to me and I'd heard about over the past few years in a general sort of way, so I picked up American Gods from the library last week.

Because of the sheer length of this book (456 pages of actual story), it took me two days to read it--three if you count the day where I didn't read it at all. However, don't let the length of it put you off--this was an amazing read! I love that Gaiman plucked bits and pieces from so many different pantheons and cultures and made it

Shadow is a man who made mistakes, understood that he was wrong, and accepts the consequences for his actions; he's also a man who knows when to question and when to keep silent. One of the twists of the book, I figured out about halfway through, long before Gaiman actually revealed it, but compared to the big, underlying twist...that was small potatoes.

The characters are varied and remarkable. I am truly in awe of this man's ability to tell a story. If you haven't read it yet, I completely recommend that you do.
5 Stars

Author Information:

Official Website