Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Leap Into Indie Giveaway!

Ah, indie books. They come in several flavors. At times they are what keeps me blogging. And at times they make me want to tear my hair out. Some people love them. Some people don't.

Well, today I'm here to spread the love. As a book blogger, some of the most interesting books I have had the opportunity to read are what I would classify as "indie". Now, before we get going with a list of the goodies, what do I classify as "indie"? Indie is what you aren't going to easily find at your local bookstore or library. Just like with indie music, you sort of have to be in the know to get into something indie bookwise. Until, of course, it catches on. (Which is great for the author. I'm not going to get into whether they are still indie or not -- that's not the point here.)

Some of you may know that I am hoping to release my own book, Moon Dance, later this year. It was actually while I was finishing up my first draft that I got into blogging. Which in turn is how I discovered al the awesome books here. Strange how that works, huh? Anyway, the following list of things you will win if you're the one picked from my giveaway is basically a "who's who" of authors I have read since I started I Write, I Read, I Review. There are SIX books here, and yes, someone is going have a very happy e-Reader, very very soon. So, lets get this show on the road! Let me show you what you'll be receiving if you win!

What's Up For Grabs?: 

I love all of these books. They are listed in no particular order of favoritism. I have included links to my reviews where possible, as well as to the books GoodReads pages. ONE (1) lucky winner is going to win e-Book versions of all of these. I did my research for them on, but if you need a different format I will do my best to work with you on that.

Blue Sky Days
by Marie Landry
GoodReads | My Review
C'mon, guys. You knew this was going to be here. Blue Sky Days is actually the book I initially signed up for this giveaway to promote. Is it true that I'm friends with Marie Landry? Yes. Is it true that her debut is absolutely awesome? Once again, yes. Blue Sky Days is a beautiful love story that will stick with you long after you turn the last page. This is the sort of book that you need to read if you like romance.

by Jessie Harrell
GoodReads | My Review
I said this at the start of my review, and I'll say it here: when it comes to Greek Mythology I am a total, utter and complete snob. I am obnoxiously picky, the characters are my babies and it's easy to rub me the wrong way. With that out of the way: Destined is quite likely the best retelling of a Greek Myth that I have ever read. It's romantic, it's brilliant and it is one of those books that absolutely must be read. 

Miss World
by Randi Black
GoodReads | My Review
There is a lot of sweet love involved in my giveaway package. I figured that it could use something with a little more bite, and I just finished reviewing the perfect thing to fill that void. Miss World is an absolutely fabulous novel. It's always fiercely honest, at times really funny and really captures aspects of the teen experience that most books just won't touch. Get ready to meet Kimmy, because whether you love her or hate her, I'm confident you *will* feel *something*. 

by Michelle Madow
GoodReads | My Review
Another sweet romantic tale, this one with some very interesting reincarnation themes. Michelle Madow's debut is an interesting tale of a love that has carried through time, and how far two people are willing to go in order to be together. Is love worth risking your life for? And even if you get that love, will you get to keep it? I found Remembrance to be a fairly original take on the idea of reincarnation, I liked Lizzy and Drew and I was very drawn to their story. 

The Scarlet Dagger
by Krystle Jones
GoodReads | My Review
Last but definitely not least. If you have not read The Scarlet Dagger yet, and you like vampires *or* dystopian, you are seriously missing out. The characters are strong, the plot twists and turns, the dialogue is both touching and funny, the world is well built, the mythology original and interesting... I could go on and on praising this. (It *did* receive my Kat's Meow Award...) Quite frankly, for me this giveaway wouldn't be complete without it. 

by Greta Maloney
GoodReads | My Review
The moment that I heard about this I absolutely had to read it. I love fairy tale retellings, and Little Red Riding Hood isn't a story that gets too much attention. Ryder pays homage to the original tale while not being afraid to add its own twists and turns. A unique and original take on a classic tale, Ryder is many things: a love story, a quest to claim mastery of oneself, a struggle for redemption. Above all, it is absolutely not to be missed. 

Well, that's "it", guys. :D What do you think? Did I make good choices? If you have already read some of these, or if the books I have chosen are not your cup of tea, fear not. You also have the option to choose to receive a $10 gift card from

How To Enter:

To actually enter the giveaway, it's super easy. Just leave a name for me to announce if you win, and an e-mail address for me to contact you at. (+1 entries)

Bonus Entries:

1. Tell me an indie book you have been dying to read. Who knows? If it's not too expensive I may be super nice and surprise you. (+1 entries)

2. Tell me an indie book that I might want to check out / read. I have a huge TBR pile but I'm always looking for more books that I should be keeping an eye on. (+1 entries)

3. See all the reviews up there? Click on one and comment. I love comments. They totally make my day. :D (+1 entries)

4. Follow me on twitter. (@Katallina) (+1 entries)

5. Tweet the following: I want to win 6 awesome eBooks from @Katallina as part of the Leap Into Indie Giveaway Hop! (+1 entries)

6. Follow me via FeedBurner / GFC (+1 entries)

Thanks so much for dropping by and checking out my giveaway! I wish everyone who decides to enter the absolute best of luck!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

[Blog Tour] Emily's House by Natalie Wright: Review

*A copy of the book was provided for review purposes.

I am often drawn to books that offer a glimpse into some type of mythology. This is often true of Greek myth, and equally so of self created mythos. It's not all that often that I find a well done book that deals with Celtic myths, though.

In the case of Emily's House, we can narrow that category down to the myths of Ireland. I was instantly intrigued by the blend of this fascinating mythology combined with three young modern teens caught up in a thousand year old conflict.

I have a few bones to pick with Emily's House, but overall I found it a fun read with fascinating myth, a likable main character and a fun and interesting adventure. Want my full review? Read on...

The Plot: (Summary from GoodReads)
Fourteen-year-old Emily Adams is flunking math - and life. But Emily has a secret that she has kept even from her best friends. Soon the ancient legacy coursing through her veins will force her secret to be revealed. Dormant for over a thousand years, an evil has arisen and this time, it will destroy anyone - or anything - that stands in its way. Three teens embark on a dangerous journey and risk everything. For Emily, the fate of her friends - and her world - lies in her hands. Travel with Emily as she unlocks the secrets of her Celtic ancestors as she goes on a mystical journey to the inner house and beyond.

The mythology aspect of Emily's House did not disappoint. I was delighted to read about creatures that I was familiar with, such as dark and light fae, as well as creatures I was not so well acquainted with, such as the thousand year old warrior Madam Wong. The various aspects of the mythology used in the book color and fabric every aspect of it. They weave into the overall narrative like a fine braid, enriching what is already a very interesting story. 

I felt that the way that the plot was told could be a little overwhelming at times. I think Natalie did the right thing breaking her book into parts, but when the story was being told to Emily, Fanny and Jake in the treehouse, I lost track of the narration and for a brief time had trouble remembering these three. It was an interesting tale, but ultimately a very long and richly done flashback. Was it important to the story? Yes. But the way that it was handled was a bit confusing for me. 

I also had a little bit of trouble suspending disbelief about how these three got from where they were over to Ireland. I understand this is a rather small thing in the grand scheme of the novel, but it really bugged me. Perhaps, with regard to this at least, I was just a little too old? Not sure, but I wanted to be sure to point it out in the sake of honesty. 

The Characters: 

Emily was a fun and likable heroine. She had a lot of spirit, yet still managed to maintain a certain level of vulnerability -- such as when they got to Ireland and she was unsure what they should be doing -- that made her relatable. I felt deeply sorry for her with regard to her family situation, but this darker spot in her life made watching her succeed in her quest, and its varying challenges, feel all the more rewarding. 

Although they were really minor characters, since they were from the flashback, I felt a certain level of connection and kinship with Soarla and Cathair. I don't have a ton to say about them, but I felt that they were brave and noble, and my heart went out to them in regard to their situation.

My only real issue with the characterization in Emily's House was that I felt the bad guys, whether they were the more mythical variety like Dughall or the more mundane type like Muriel, felt a bit Snidley Whiplash to me. They were flat. They did not express an array of emotions and I did not find any reason to feel sympathy or even pity for them. They were just ... bad. This probably isn't a huge issue considering the age group this book is meant for, but I tend to like a few more shades of gray in my villains, personally. To each their own, though.

In General: 

I've given some praise and some complaints here, but overall Emily's House is an interesting tale of one girl's journey -- with a little help from her friends -- to save the world. It's a fun, fast paced read that will likely hold your attention as long as you are patient enough to get past part one with it's massive (albeit interesting!) flashback. Recommended for fans of fantasy and mythology. 

Monday, February 27, 2012

Who Do You Love Giveaway Winner!

Hey guys! I want to thank everyone who entered the Who Do You Love giveaway. It's a shame we did not get enough entries to get the contest portion off the ground, but I still wanted to make sure that the giveaway winner's name got out there right away. The person who will be receiving a book of their choice from The Book Depository is...

Riz Bulatao

Congratulations! I have already sent out an e-mail, and hopefully I'll hear back soon with what book you would like.

As usual, the winner has 72 hours to contact me with their address and book of choice. If they don't another winner will be drawn.

Didn't win this time? That's okay! I love doing giveaways, so I am sure that you will get another opportunity. :) As always, thanks for dropping by and thanks for getting involved. 

Have a great day! 

Saturday, February 25, 2012

In My Mailbox (Feb. 25th)

In My Mailbox is a weekly feature hosted by Kristi over at The Story Siren where we get to share the fabulous books and book related things that we bought, borrowed or received this week. Curious what I got? Scroll down and take a peek! And don't forget to link me so I can drop by, say hi and have a look at your new treasures. :)

For Review: 

Hope's Journey
by Stephanie Worlton
Sydney is a straight-A student heading to college on a scholarship, and Alex is a quiet jock preparing to serve an LDS mission. But their dreams are shattered on the eve of their high school graduation when they find out that Sydney is pregnant. Separated, they must both trust in God as they search for the worth they once found in each other.

I was absolutely thrilled to be contacted about reviewing Hope's Journey and being part of the tour. I read about this book a few months ago and had been curious since. I've already zipped through it, I'm working on my review and I'm preparing questions for my interview with Stephanie. The Hope's Journey blog tour will be stopping by on April 10th. 

I Bought: (Physical)

You had to see this
one coming, guys!
Not bad for the price.
I love this thing.
Worth every penny.

Anyone who's been around I Write, I Read, I Review knows that anything House of Night related is a complete insta-buy for me. So I had to pick up Lenobia's Vow when I saw it at WalMart. Why haven't I reviewed it yet? Well, I know it's gonna end sad. And even though I know it's the past and there is hope in the present, I'm actually such a sap that this is holding me back. Give me time. It'll get done.

As for the two Hunger Games movie books, they were on sale so I pretty much went "Why not?". The Tribute Guide is alright for the $6 or so it cost me. I may like it better if I spend more time with it. The Illustrated Movie Companion was more expensive (I think I paid $15 or so after the sale) but I absolutely love it and I feel it was worth every penny. Can you tell I am excited for the movie? :D

I Bought: (Kindle)

Yeah, this is new! I'm trying to highlight what I buy for my Kindle now. I finally figured out how to organize everything into categories. If you saw the video I did during the Wicked Winter Readathon you probably saw that my room looks like it is under constant attack from a tornado of books. A ten by ten space is not the place to house a library. :p Anyway, curious what I've been downloading? Well, have a look. :) 

A Hunger Like No Other is something that Darkfallen and Greta from Paranormal Wastelands talked about when they visited for a Saturday Spotlight post. I've wanted to read it ever since. When I saw how many books are in the Immortals After Dark series I figured it would be a good choice to start adding to my Kindle. I've already finished and reviewed this. I love it and gave it five hearts. 

Shadows, to my knowledge, is a prequel to Obsidian. Remember that book? It's one that I had wanted to read for ages and that I totally devoured when the opportunity to do that came up. I loved it. Downloading this for my kindle was an absolute no-brainer since I'm dying to dive in and the physical book does not appear to be available in Canada yet.

Dark Lover is something I bought out of curiosity. I've heard fantastic things about J.R. Ward for years and had not given her a chance for various reasons. Well ... I'm conflicted. I don't hate this book, but I'm not falling truly madly deeply for it either, which is really too bad. But that's the way the cookie crumbles, I suppose. It can happen just as easily with a physical book. At least if I do end up DNFing this (not sure what I'm doing yet) it won't be cluttering my floor.

Ryder is the debut novel of my friend Greta Maloney. (Yep, that's the same Greta I mentioned earlier.) I had no idea she was writing a book, but the moment I found out onto the Kindle it went. I've already read it and put up my review. In short, if you like werewolves and original fairy tale retellings you need to zip over to Amazon and grab Ryder *now*. It is gripping, original, well written and memorable. (Another easy five hearts.)

Well that's "it" for me this week. :) I think I did really great, especially considering how much of this stuff that I actually read! :) I hope that the "book fairy" was every bit as kind to you. :D Have a great day! 

Review: Ryder by Greta Maloney

I downloaded this oh, say, ten seconds after I first heard about it. I had no idea prior to receiving an e-mail that Greta was planning to publish something. But as has been the case before, the moment one of my friends does publish something I have to read it. I have to weigh in. As a fellow writer, I feel like there is no better I can do then to read their creation and share what I think.

Well, this certainly went beyond that. I love fairy tale retellings. Little Red Riding Hood has certainly been done before, but it's not the most common story chosen. (That honor tends to go to the princess stories -- Snow White, Beauty and the Beast, Cinderella, etc.) Not to mention the fact that this looked like it was going to have an absolutely brilliant trio of twists. (1) Riding hood became Ryder -- a boy. (2) The wolf is a fourteen year old girl, and she and Ryder fall in love. (3) Oh yes, I should mention she's a werewolf, too. Can you see why I was so anxious to dive in? Not your mother's fairy tale, is it?

Long story short, how could I not read this? It's the type of story I would have read regardless. I want to make that abundantly clear. Regardless of who something is written by, either I can pay attention, I want to keep going, I am enchanted, entranced, enthralled. Or I am not. With regard to Ryder, I absolutely could not put this down. If I hadn't been tired last night I likely would have finished it in one sitting. Read on to hear my thoughts on this beautifully written and unique take on a timeless tale...

The Plot: (Summary from GoodReads)
Everyone has a secret.
You're lying if you don't.
Fourteen year old Piper has tried to keep her secret hidden.
Everyone who finds out always winds up dead.
Only the man in the dark suit knows the truth.
A man she only met once.
The man who made her what she is today.
The man who bit her.
But that's all about to change.

Piper Glendale is on the run from the moon as her secret Sister Wolf wars with her. Fighting for control, Piper tries to keep her buried deep inside. But sometimes her sister breaks free.

Escaping from an institution, The Sister Wolf claws her way out. On the run her powerful body runs dry. The sun has finally risen. Piper has regained control.

Awaking in a cemetery, she prowls through the grave stones in search for food and shelter. Overlooking a hill, Piper sees a boy. A boy who is about to change her life. A boy in a faded red hood.

Based on the beloved children's classic Little Red Riding Hood, "Ryder" is a modern retelling with a twist.

The first thing that I want to say, and I'm going to get to it right away since it's right there in the summary, is that I thought the blend of extremely descriptive and vividly image driven writing paired very well with the random sprinklings of freeform poetry that were used throughout the book. The writing style chosen for Ryder felt fresh and different, and was always used to enhance what the characters were experiencing; never to simply draw attention to itself. It caught me off guard at first, but as I made my way through the book it blended in very well.

Another thing that stood out was that the aspect of Little Red Riding Hood which Greta chose to keep was the relative sense of poverty that the story evokes when compared to many other fairy tales. So often in fairy tales (once again mainly refering to the princess ones, I suppose) we see characters surrounded by a setting of great splendor. This is also often the case in YA love stories. Ryder deals with a homeless girl who has a wolf living within her, itching to break free under the strain of the full moon, and a boy and his grandmother who are barely getting by. At the same time, though, I feel that Greta did a great job of showing that despite the issues that might make their life seem imperfect, she also showed that regardless of this fact, they still had something worth fighting for. I connected deeply with Ryder and Piper and I genuinely wanted to see them happy.

I liked the blend between the dull grays of a very stark reality that most would not instantly want to inhabit blended against a very sinister magic that seemed to merely be counting down the hours to Piper's demise. There was no fairy godmother here who was going to make everything magically better for these two regardless of what they did. There was also no woodsman who was going to come by and make their problems disappear. Red Riding Hood, by it's own nature, is a passive fairy tale and I think that Greta did a great job of turning this on it's head. If her characters wanted to survive they would have to make that happen for themselves.

The Characters:

Piper was incredibly intriguing. One one hand, she is a fourteen year old girl, homeless and wracked with guilt over the deaths of her parents. On the other she is a werewolf, possessing a dual nature that makes her capable of changing her form under the light of the full moon. She struggles with the duality of what she is. She questions where she ends and her Sister Wolf begins. While she is ultimately a heroic figure, at times I could not help feeling that this was what it might be like to see the events of Frankenstein from the point of view of the Creature, or of The Tempest through Caliban's eyes. Every story needs some form of antagonist, some opposition or conflict that drives the plot. While Piper's Sister Wolf was not the only issue in the book, she is a situation that is far closer to home then most people -- real or fictional -- will ever get to their personal demons. 

Ryder takes the basic concept of Riding Hood and basically makes it explode. Aside from a certain amount of innocence and trust and a red hood, the role is very much open for interpretation. Greta took hold of this and ran with it. Where Red Riding Hood is a very basically constructed character (as most storybook characters are) Ryder was deep and complex. While he did not have something living inside of him like Piper did, he had his own struggles, his own past issues that he had to deal with, that made him real and memorable. The grimly realistic and mundane nature of Ryder's issues contrasted beautifully with the more darkly whimsical nature of the things that Piper faced. I think that gave the book a very balanced pace and a very stark feeling, making it a little frightening in both a supernatural way and in a way that reminds us that this world is not always a pretty place. 

Marti, Ryder's grandma, was also well fleshed out. I have a feeling she knew that Piper's life was not easy and that she was doing her best to help even if she didn't simply take Piper under her roof. (You must realize that her circumstances would not allow that, and that it would have broken the symbolism of the source material. The fact that Piper either snuck in or was brought in by Ryder is very important.) I really enjoyed the story of how she met her husband; it added a layer to her character and because of something related to it became important to the overall plot. 

The Romance: 

As with most fairy tales, the love and attraction between the main characters came quickly and easily. That was fine with me, because the question of when would he love her was never the real issue. Rather, it was at first would he continue to love her after knowing the truth, and then would he survive loving her once that decision had been made. 

Now, sifting all of those questions that center around Piper's issues aside, I also liked the fact that we got to see a very clear picture of what life would be like for these two if they could get past the problems that life was throwing at them. This story took place over the span of several months so we got a clear image of these two characters not only growing together, but also of the fact that they had staying power outside of the supernatural issues that could have separated them. People don't need to have a werewolf inside to have trouble in the love department. The fact that Ryder and Piper wanted to be together, period, was really important. And I think Greta did a good job at making their feelings for each other feel sincere and natural. 

In General: 

I know that I have already given this book praise for its vivid descriptions. I also want to take a moment to tell you that these can be gory, shocking and quite horrific. This did not overly bother me, but not everyone is the same and since this stood out to me that tells me it is something I should make sure people are aware of when they pick this book up. The way that the story is written is definitely to it's benefit. But it is what it is, if you get what I am saying. 

If you enjoy fairy tale retellings, beautiful writing or werewolves then you must read Ryder. It's gripping, it's original, and it will stick with you. 

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Review: The Taming by Eric Walters and Teresa Toten

*A copy of the book was provided by Random House through their Blog It Forward program. Thank you.

My initial thoughts when I first heard about The Taming went something like this: a book based on The Taming of the Shrew. One of the few Shakespeare plays I haven't read, but I did love that movie Ten Things I Hate About You. Okay. What the heck, I'll give this a go.

Have you ever read the summary on a book and somehow not read the last line? On multiple occasions? Didn't think so; it *has* to have been a me thing. I actually managed that here. So when I got part way through this book and things started seriously going south my reaction was essentially "wait what?", and when they drew to their conclusion I was left in stunned silence.

For those who do not know much about this book, it is the chronicling of an abusive relationship from its seemingly beautiful infancy to its ultimately dark and harrowing conclusion. For some readers this will be an appreciated voicing, a true cautionary tale. But for others -- like me -- this may be a case where the correct phrase would be proceed with caution.

The Plot: (Summary from GoodReads)
Katie likes to believe she's invisible. It seems much safer than being exposed as she is--shy, poor, awkward. So getting up on stage in the school production of The Taming of the Shrew should be complete torture. But as Katie tells it, something totally unexpected happened when she stepped on stage: "My head exploded. I loved it. Acting hit me like a sucker punch and I loved, loved, loved it! . . . Invisible Katie became visible Katharina."

Evan Cooper is, as they say, another story. He knows just what it takes to get noticed, and he uses every one of the skills he's honed after years of being the new kid. Like tossing the keys to his father's high-end Audi to a kid he's never met, first day of school. "I have insurance for car theft," he explains to a shocked Danny. "And there's a full tank." An abuse of the power that comes with privilege and money? Sure.

But more dangerously, is his romance with Katie another version of the same thing? Or is it the real thing?

I had no trouble getting started with this book. Kate's character at the start is shockingly self-destructive in the way that she devalues and belittles herself, to the point where it was like when something bad happens on the news and even though we should, we cannot look away. On the other hand, there was Evan. So charming and clever, so easily oiling his way into this new environment. Each seemed to be carrying a secret, a weight of some sort, from the beginning and I was curious to know what those were.

I was enjoying seeing these two get to know each other. At the time I was having a decent amount of fun with it. Sure, Evan seems a little entitled but we know from word go that he has money and this is a fairly common way for someone like that to be characterized. As things began to go wrong, though, I was actually shocked at my initial perceptions of the characters. It was embarrassing enough from the point of view of purely being a writer. It was much worse as someone who has been here, done this and should have seen the tale for what it was from word go.

I will say that not spelling out what the reader is getting is clever. It allows the situations the characters end up in to carry more of a weight or punch. But at the same time, that kind of thing can backfire for certain individuals and it did that here for me. If I had known what I was in for, it is likely that I would have politely declined this one. Not because of any issue with the writing, characterization, etc. Everything here is good. But because my own personal history pre-disposes me to not like or want to read something of this nature.

The Characters:

I love when characters contrast and raise each other toward some central point, some balance. I also love when we get the male and female POV if something is romance. It forces the author(s) to think and come up with something more compelling then a simple lack of communication or leaving the reader in the dark regarding a character's thoughts.

I don't think I ever wanted to be invisible, exactly, but I do recall wanting to be left the heck alone during my high school years. Kids can be cruel and petty and I'd had one too many friends "mess up" in some way or another to the point where I simply got tired of it. I was able to relate to Katie in this regard. She had her own reasons, but the results were the same. I also felt a kinship with her in how she felt able to come alive on a stage. I can't act my way out of a paper bag; my thing is music. But the point remains: having a creative outlet can do wonders for a person and while I was shocked with what I ended up with in Katie and Evan, I am glad that it is Katie's love of acting that helps her gain strength, rather then her need of a boy.

Evan immediately intrigued me, which was cool at the time. It makes my skin crawl now. It makes me feel really, really, stupid. It makes reviewing very hard, because it means two things: (1) my enjoyment in the book was lessened, but (2) the authors did a damn good job at what they set out to do, which was to show how easily someone can slip past a person's defenses, how easily they can seep in if we are not paying attention and watching out for it.

I liked Travis and Lisa. I did not like Katie's mother. And whenever I heard anything about Evan's father I cringed, because for a certain portion of the story Evan actually had my sympathy (and curiosity).

The Romance: 

Let me clear this up, one more time: this is not a love story. It is an exceptionally well done account of how something that looks good and exciting and normal can slide until all that is left is rot, and eventually ashes. The only really good thing I can say here is that they did not make the mistake of having Katie be perfectly content without him at the end. They had the guts and the honesty to show that even though she freed herself from him, she was not totally freed of the pain of losing him. Because when you are with someone who is abusive (whether it be physical, sexual, mental or verbal) you slowly go down a slippy slope and your worth becomes tied to their presence. It is *not* something that one breaks overnight and the way we leave Katie at the end is honest, raw and real in keeping with the way the rest of the book was handled.

In General: 

Let me try and spell this out as clearly as I can. The Taming is an absolutely excellent book that succeeds admirably at what it is trying to do. But what it was trying to do, the path it was trying to take, was honestly not a journey that I wanted to go on. And I would be lying if I said I wasn't just a little annoyed that I didn't realize what I was getting myself into here.

If you are up for what it offers and know what you're diving into, the book is excellent. I just don't want to see anyone else end up in the slightly awkward situation I found myself in here.

And for the record, it is the GoodReads description that had me confused. It's missing a line from the back of the book, at the end of the blurb: "Over the dizzying course of their relationship Katie must confront the fact that the power of love can conceal darker truths.". I think that sums it up nicely.

*This is based on the quality of the book, trying to remove
any of my personal issues and focusing purely on the writing
and story. I do not feel it would be fair to judge this based on
my own history and emotions. Note is here to clarify what
may appear as a strange rating. Thank you. 

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Top 10 Books I'd Save If I Was Going To Be Abducted By Aliens

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created here at The Broke and the Bookish. This feature was created because we are particularly fond of lists here at The Broke and the Bookish. We'd love to share our lists with other bookish folks and would LOVE to see your top ten lists!

Each week we will post a new Top Ten list that one of our bloggers here at The Broke and the Bookish will answer. Everyone is welcome to join. All we ask is that you link back to The Broke and the Bookish on your own Top Ten Tuesday post AND add your name to the Linky widget so that everyone can check out other bloggers lists! If you don't have a blog, just post your answers as a comment. Have fun with it! It's a fun way to get to know your fellow bloggers.

It's been a while since I've had time to sit down and do one of these, but I'm *back*! :D I couldn't *not* do this topic. Oh, and btw, I know I altered the title just a little. I couldn't resist. Go with it, k? :D

This Week's Top 10: Books I'd Save If I Was Going To Be Abducted By Aliens

"Who are you? What do you want?" I started to back away from him and tripped on the leg of my own bed, landing on the sloppily made thing with a slight thud. 

The boy, who had just materialized in a brilliant show of indigo and gold sparks of energy, stared at me unblinking. "You don't know?"

Rolling my eyes had never been a talent I was certain I'd mastered, but the change in his expression hinted that I'd gotten it right. "No, I just asked you that for shits and giggles. Now, mind answering?"

Snarky. Awesome. What was I thinking? If he could make himself just pop into my bedroom, who knew what else he might be capable of? No. Scratch that. Ignorance was definitely bliss in this situation. By a long shot. 

He let out a slow sigh, as if the very sight of me sitting on the bed was draining him of patience. "We don't have time for this. If I don't have you back to the ship by midnight, Chairmen Vardesari is going to send a squad to collect you. You do not want that." 

Okay, wait. My thoughts seemed to scatter in a thousand directions, as if they were a bag of marbles someone had just dumped on the floor. I'm the human. He's the alien. How did I end up being some experiment like E.T.? 

As I rose from the bed and stepped toward him I almost fell again, my legs feeling like they were made of rubber. He reached a hand out and steadied me. 

"Look. I know this must be weird for you--"

"Weird?" I flung my left hand out to point toward the door. "No! Weird is about 10,000 miles that way."

He dignified that comment with a laugh, which seemed to light his strangely hued blue eyes, changing them from ice to a richer shade akin to a tropical sea. He walked over to my bookshelf and immediately I felt the little hairs on my arms and neck stand on end. Oh, no. Do not touch the books, buddy. You do not wanna know how long it took me to organize those. 

He picked up a copy of Obsidian, flipped through it as if breathing in the scent of the paper, and tossed it at me. Somehow, I managed to catch it. "Go on. Grab some of these. It'll give you something to do on the ship and might keep you from being so homesick."

Walking over to the bookshelf I skimmed my finger along the spines of my collection, gathering the things I thought I'd need. 

How To Date An Alien
by Magan Vernon
by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Across the Universe
by Beth Revis

"What are you doing?" His eyes seemed to glitter with mischief as he came up behind me, putting his hands on my shoulders. "Hoping one of your human authors has left a clue?"

"Maybe. You are the one who picked Obsidian."

He shrugged and took the books from me. "Your call. What else do you want? We really need to get moving."

I rubbed my eyes as I continued to scan the shelves, trying to think of what books might be of most use to me.

The Hunger Games
by Suzanne Collins
The Sky Is Everywhere
by Jandy Nelson
Tiger's Quest
by Colleen Houck

"What are these?" He set the first three books I'd chosen inside of a large leather bag and read the titles of the books I was handing him. "Damn, we're not that crazy. You think you're going to get thrown into an arena or something? And these Tiger books weigh a ton. You're bringing three of them?"

"Yep. And you will be coming back to get the next when it releases."

He gave me a you're nuts look which I promptly ignored. What else? What else?

"This one's weird. It has words in lines that don't match up."

"Poetry." It took every ounce of self control I had not to slap a hand against my forehead and go duh.

"It's sad."

"You can read English?" I asked. Certainly hadn't expected that. Note to self: no journals.

He dumped The Sky Is Everywhere into the bag unceremoniously, making me want to jab him with my knee somewhere painful. "Of course I can."

I shrugged. The way he had said the words was not lost on me, but I had no time to try and guess what kind of person my visitor was. There was something I was missing. I just knew it. I had to figure out what it was.

The Iron Fey series
by Julie Kagawa
Moon Dance
*note: Not actual cover
Book In A Month
by Victoria Lynn Schmidt

"Whoa, whoa! I told you to pick some books. Not that you could pack your whole library." He put his hands up as if he was going to reject The Iron Fey series.

"The bag doesn't look too full." I argued dropping them inside. I was about to let copies of Book In a Month, and my first novel Moon Dance follow it but he grabbed them from my hand.

His fierce expression turned puzzled and then softened. "You write?"

I nodded. "Yeah. That's mine."

He put the textbook and my novel into the bag with more care then the other books had received.

He glanced around my room until his gaze fell on the alarm clock. 11:55 p.m. "Anything else? Quickly, now! We really don't want to be here when that hits midnight."

I opened a drawer and began to rummage through its contents until I found what I was looking for. "Gotcha."

I pulled the notebook and pens free from the rest of my collection and he took them from me. He gave me an impish grin. "Why am I not surprised?"

He held his hand out to me and after a moment's hesitation I took it, my fingers slipping slowly into his. He gave a slight tug, drawing me to him. Slinging the bag with my things over his shoulder he wrapped both arms around me. His breath was warm, tickling the back of my neck; then in an instant that sensation was replaced by a tingling as if my entire body had fallen asleep rather then just a foot or fingers.

"Close your eyes." The words were soft, but there was no mistaking that they were a command. I let my lids drop, a drowsiness sweeping over me that would likely have made me do it even if he hadn't asked me to. There was a strange surge of power, then the air around me was filled with an instant chill that pulled me from my trancelike state.

We were across the street, my family's home lighting the night sky from several windows that no one had bothered to turn out. I felt his arms tighten around me more, as if he sensed that I might run at any minute.

Then, without warning, a deafening sound filled the air, and where my home had been a burst of orange flames, like a deadly blossom contrasting against the night sky, light everything as if we stood beneath the noonday sun. I stood still, my body trembling and my mouth hanging open with no words coming out.

The silence seemed to swallow us in the aftermath of the blast, until finally I seemed to regain my voice. "Mom and dad! Shawn! Oh my God!"

"No one else was home. I would not leave your family to die. I'm not that mean."

Wait. Who said anything about him being mean? "That wasn't mean. That was psychotic."

He lifted me off the ground, now carrying me, the bag with my books and a bag he'd been packing with other things all at once. Okay, so alien boy was strong. I'd have to keep that in mind.

"Think what you like." he gave a casual shrug. "Doesn't change the results."

What? If I didn't get some kind of answer -- that made sense -- I was going to start laughing like a crazy lady and not be able to stop. My tongue felt heavy in my mouth, as if it was fighting me as I tried to string words together. Finally, I settled on just one. "Why?"

He rested his chin lightly against the top of my head. It should have been a reassuring gesture, but knots had formed in my stomach and goosebumps were running up and down my arms. When he spoke, his voice was so soft I was only half sure I'd heard it. "Insurance. Wouldn't want you to change your mind."

I never made up my mind in the first place...

I ground my teeth together, trying desperately not to scream. As I thought of the last half hour I had spent worrying about which books to pack, of all stupid things, one fact became abundantly clear: I was meant to read books. Maybe even to write them. But this adventure I was about to embark on would likely be the death of me if I didn't get my priorities straight.

So, what books would you save from a natural disaster / being abducted by aliens / etc? I'd love to know, so feel free to share. :D

Monday, February 20, 2012

Review: A Hunger Like No Other

Note: This book is *not* YA.

When Darkfallen & Greta from Paranormal Wastelands came here to I Write, I Read, I Review last November as guests for Saturday Spotlight (really need to get back to that, but that's another subject...) one of the books that they talked about was Kresley Cole's A Hunger Lke No Other. I went to their blog and looked at their review for it while putting the post together. I laughed. A lot.

I've been interested in checking the book out since. That was back in November, though. Why did I wait until February? Well, some of you might know that my birthday was on Thursday and I turned 30. It's been a while since I sat down with an adult paranormal and considering that I was feeling a little glum about starting a new decade I figured perhaps it would be a good idea to read something that was about characters a little further along in life then what I normally do.

But enough babbling about how I found the book and me questioning whether turning 30 and reading YA makes me feel a little "old" -- (I don't think it's a serious issue; I think I simply wanted a change in pace) -- that's not why you're here. Did I enjoy A Hunger Like No Other? Read on and find out.

The Plot: (Summary from GoodReads)
A mythic warrior who'll stop at nothing to possess her . . .

After enduring years of torture from the vampire horde, Lachlain MacRieve, leader of the Lykae Clan, is enraged to find the predestined mate he's waited millennia for is a vampire. Or partly one. This Emmaline is a small, ethereal half Valkyrie/half vampire, who somehow begins to soothe the fury burning within him.

A vampire captured by her wildest fantasy . . .

Sheltered Emmaline Troy finally sets out to uncover the truth about her deceased parents -- until a powerful Lykae claims her as his mate and forces her back to his ancestral Scottish castle. There, her fear of the Lykae -- and their notorious dark desires -- ebbs as he begins a slow, wicked seduction to sate her own dark cravings.

An all-consuming desire . . .

Yet when an ancient evil from her past resurfaces, will their desire deepen into a love that can bring a proud warrior to his knees and turn a gentle beauty into the fighter she was born to be?

The first thing that I immediately recognized as I started turning the pages here is that this book gives a much larger focus to the romance then the majority of the stuff that I read now. Even books that do tend to have romance in a starring role in YA tend to rely heavily on other plotlines and issues to balance things out. It's not that there was nothing else to A Hunger Like No Other. But there was no denying why the reader was here and the book wasted no time in getting things set up straight out the door. 

I liked this and found it refreshing. 

Don't let it fool you into thinking that's all there is here, though. Kresley Cole does a fantastic job of blending various supernatural beings together into one overall collective called the Lore, creating her own mythos and rules for each so that they take on a fresh new light and creating issues that will allow them to interact in interesting ways, both with regard to romance and with regard to dealing with each other. Mistrust to outright hatred of other species is one of the things that has been carefully etched into the world building, is a huge theme within this book, and is something that I would wager is going to rear its ugly head time and again as the series continues. 

Another thing that I really liked about A Hunger Like No Other is the contrast between ancient traditions, rules and ideals and trying to survive in the modern world. Watching Lachlain learn to adapt to the times after being imprisoned for 150 years was pretty amusing and allowed for some very interesting situations. And Emma's need and enjoyment of modern things made her relatable to me. I especially liked her reliance on her iPod to escape situations that she found aggravating. 

The Characters: 

I liked the contrast between Lachlain and Emma. I feel strongly that the book would not been nearly as good without it. 

Emma is a 70 year old vampire / valkyrie "half breed". She has been raised by her Valkyrie aunts her entire life, since her mother died when she was very young and she never knew her father (or even who he was). She's seeking that when we find her. I've read some reviews where people have complained that Emma is too weak. But honestly, that is the point. Emma's growth in A Hunger Like No Other is to go from being someone who is naturally timid and kind and gentle to finding a way to gain strength and achieve respect without losing the good parts of her initial characterization. Plus she cries pink tears. How neat is that? I'm not one to enjoy a character's misery, but I'll give credit for originality where it's due. I've heard of blood tears before, but pink tears? Really? 

Lachlain has spent the last 150 years being tortured by vampires. He cuts off his own leg in order to escape when he scents Emma, only to discover that she, the one his instinct is claiming is his mate, is a vampire. Needless to say, Lachlain is not thrilled. If Emma's growth is to become strong, Lachlain's is to learn tolerance, to make some semblance of peace with his past and to realize that people are individuals -- one's species does not instantly or immediately decide how a person will behave, what they think or feel. I think Kresley Cole did a fantastic job here, especially as the fact that Emma is a vampire (rather then realizing she is half vampire) is all that he sees at first. With his history and the things he has endured, it is a miracle that he does not kill her. 

I loved and hated Emma's aunts. As individual characters whom I hope get their own stories I thought each was unique and interesting enough to warrant it. As a collective force trying to control Emma's life, they annoyed me -- quite possibly because I see my own family there so strongly. Like Lachlain they had their own prejudices and ideas that made them less then ideal. This was good because it showed the reader that is not an isolated trait that is "his" but rather a way in which the world these characters live in works. If anything Emma is the unique one in this regard. Anyway, I also loved the irony that in many ways it is their actions that were responsible for Emma's "weakness", the very weakness they were trying to get rid of. This all seems to have been very well thought out.

The Romance: 

Let's get right to why I have that note at the top of my review for this book. Here there be sex. Lots of extremely hot, makes you want your own Lykae to show up and claim you as his mate, extremely well written and plot / character developing sex. Yes. You read that last part properly. The intimacy, as a whole, was in no way wasted in A Hunger Like No Other. (Note: I recognize that 'sex' and 'intimacy' are not the same thing -- to make it clear, this book succeeds on both levels.) 

I've read reviews of people who feel that books like these encourage sexual abuse. *shakes head* This, to me, takes the core of the story out of context. Humans do not view the whole mating thing, nor behave in the same way regarding it, that the Lykae do. It's really that simple. It's a question of suspension of disbelief, and if you tell me you couldn't do that I've got no qualms with ya. But saying an author is advocating abuse here? I'm going to have to disagree with you there.

We know how Lachlain is feeling, just as well as what Emma is, throughout the entire story. Are there times he does stuff that is totally out of line? Absolutely! At first I would wager that while one half of his brain is going "Hey genius, here's your mate!" the other half looks at her and all it can think of is excruciating burning agony because it was vampires that tortured him, and initially when he sees Emma that is *all* he sees. Kresley does a great job at showing this, because for the first chunk of the book he does not actually *think* of her as Emma, but rather as vampire. 

Emma is terrified of him in the beginning. And who can blame her? I'd be freaking out too if someone kidnapped me and told me I was going to drive them to Scotland! (Especially since I can't drive, but that's beside the point...) The first section of the book is pretty rough. But c'mon, that's pretty much what you're signing up for with a plot like this. It's moot, a given. The real question as far as whether the romance is good ends up being "Can the author convince me that these two WANT to be together by the end?" For me, the answer here was...

Yes! For me this is the makes it or breaks it aspect of a romance novel and this is an area where I feel A Hunger Like No Other excelled. All while we are watching Emma become stronger and more independent, we are also watching Lachlain struggle with the situation fate has put him in. And as he accepts that it is really happening, as he realizes what he has done to his mate, the man's remorse coats the pages. Yes, he *needs* her. But as the book moves along simple possession is not going to be good enough. He wants to love and be loved in return. He becomes focused on trying to make Emma happy. 

And sometimes Emma pretty much wants to tell him to shove it. And I thought this was good. Because if she had given in too easily after all that had happened, if she pulled a complete 180 on me, I wouldn't have been able to buy it. Is there a fairly clear turning point? Yes. It ties in with the mythology Kresley created very well and within the context of the story it makes total sense. But even after this point, both characters must take action in order to ensure what they could have is what they will have. Sorry if I am confusing you! Just trust me, the flow of the romance is completely dead on and this will definitely be a book I'll be looking at as a writer while trying to work on my own stories because (at least to me) it made this aspect of romance writing -- which I feel is absolutely crucial -- finally make sense to me.

In General: 

I think this is going to be the start of a beautiful new obsession. You have no idea how tempted I am to click three buttons and get the next book on my kindle. (My brain is currently screaming: Now!) But I know better then that. I read as I go, and this book / it's review isn't going to be for everyone, so that wouldn't be fair. What I will say is that it has made a strong case for the idea that "Man cannot live on (insert item here) alone." I loved and enjoyed paranormal romance long before I got into YA and there's no logical reason I shouldn't be reading both.

Even comparing a YA paranormal to an adult paranormal, they both cover different concepts and themes that I'm interested in exploring, both as a reader and a writer. (And for the record, this goes beyond being about sexuality. Sex, all by itself and with no reason, is boring to me. That's actually how I lost interest in adult paranormal in the first place. It has to be enhancing something -- plot issues that have already been started, character development or growth, a theme of the book, etc.) 

So, do I think A Hunger Like No Other is worth your time? Absolutely! I really loved this book and I thought that it was very interesting, well thought out and well written. If you were curious about it before my review (or became curious from reading my review) and still want to check it out now? Run, don't walk, and grab a copy of this. It's absolutely brilliant and I'm honestly shocked it took me this long to read it. 

You Might Also Like:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...