Sunday, April 29, 2012

Shopaholic Sundays (1)

Shopaholic Sundays are a new feature here at I Write, I Read, I Review. This is where I will be sharing the books that I have bought, borrowed or received either as review copies from authors or publishers, as gifts from friends, or from winning giveaways.

In addition to this, Shopaholic Sundays is an opportunity for me to share with you the books that I find exciting that are coming up in the following week, and to say a few words and highlight a couple I am really excited about. Let me know which books releasing this week you are excited about, too. :)

Odds are I will be linking this up to some of the new mailbox / showcase / etc. memes that are popping up since part of this is appropriate for that. I just feel that if I am going to get to change something on my blog, then it deserves a real and legitimate change. I want to see something good come of it, and anything that gets people talking more here seems like s step in the right direction.

I would love to hear your feedback on this, guys. :) My goal, as always, is to provide quality content that is interesting, entertaining and able to get everyone talking. 

So, what did I get?

For Review:

Love Sucks
by Sage Collins

Mailee Jones is about to answer the age old question: "How much love would a love sucker suck if a love sucker fell in love?"

Mailee is a Haustrix, an otherwise normal girl with a demon gene that causes her to consume love from any human she touches. Afraid of draining anyone completely, she's been leading an isolated life, relying on Eric, a hunky lust-draining Haustor and the only person she can safely touch. She's content to avoid humans for all but the quickest possible hand-brushes with the dreaded cheerleaders to keep from starving.

Until she meets Logan, a diabetic who is the first human to understand Mailee's anguish over her diet. But growing close to him means risking his love for her. Mailee's convinced it's time to do something--anything--to become human. But the only antidote requires her to release and be systematically infected by demons representing each of the Seven Deadly Sins. Sloth and Pride? Okay, fine, but sins like Wrath and Envy aren't so easy, as proven when possessed-Mailee punches the cheerleader who's making eyes at Eric. Can she honestly get through all the sins?

Not to mention this new issue--is she interested in Eric instead? Because if she turns human, she'll lose him. Forever.

I featured this in a Waiting On Wednesday post recently because I thought the premise was so interesting. So of course I am delighted to have the opportunity to review it. Odds are I will be starting it either tonight or tomorrow, since I am almost done reading Beastly. I am really looking forward to it. 

I Bought: (physical books)

I have two things I want to say about these books:

(1) I've resisted picking these up for a while now. I have learned, time and again, that what is "trendy" and what I actually like do not tend to line up very often. If you look at my one star reviews, a lot of them are for books that I broke down and decided to read so I could weigh in one what all the fuss is about. Will the Fifty Shades trilogy break this trend? We shall have to wait and see. These were requested by Jay. *shakes head* <-- Yes, my boyfriend actually wants to hear about them. Scary, huh?

(2) Whoever is telling employees at WalMart to stock these in the YA section needs to seriously stop! Now! Wow was I mad about that. Just because the author's books have some connection to Twilight, that does not mean they are immediately appropriate for the same audience. I've never been one to be very for controlling what teens read, but this is ridiculous. My issue isn't so much that they can get it -- that'll happen regardless. Rather, I am worried that people are going to pick these up and not realize what they are getting. And the backlash from that, because of store placement, is going to hit YA lit because someone decided this would be a clever marketing gimmick. *flame off*

The one positive thing I will say about this little adventure is that it will do one thing I've been making a habit of lately -- getting me out of my comfort zone. Because I read a lot more now that I blog, one of the side effects I've began to notice is that books can bleed together and this can cause me to have reading slumps or to start and stop multiple books because they just don't click.

I Bought: (for my Kindle)

1. Storm by Brigid Kemmerer -- Giselle over at Xpresso Reads seemed really excited about this book and the enthusiasm in her review made me want to check it out. I downloaded a sample from Amazon and I am hooked. I cannot wait to sit down with this 'for real' and read from start to finish. It left me with that feeling of "Oh, damn. The sample is done. I want the rest *now*." But I was at the hospital with grandma and didn't bring me card with me, so that could not happen at the time. 

2. Radiate by Marley Gibson -- Another book that ended up in my cart because of Giselle. I was already interested in Radiate, but with all that my grandma has been through in the past three weeks I've been wary to touch any books that have cancer as a plot point. This sounds interesting and inspiring, though. Do I realize this character and my grandma are in different situations? Absolutely. My reluctance was to do with keeping an 'up' mentality for her. This does not seem like it should disrupt that.

3. A Stiff Kiss by Avery Olive -- A while ago Avery wrote a post about having her first book signing and I clicked it, intending to congratulate her and curious what she had written. The blurb for her book sounded so interesting that I decided I should download it and write a review. Even though I am a bit behind on getting things done the way I want to, I figure if I get the book onto my Kindle the odds of it getting read are much higher. 

What Should I Buy Next?

There are certain posts that go up throughout the book blogging community that you can be certain I will follow. BB101 over at Parajunkee's View, Daydreamer's Ramblings over at Ramblings of a Daydreamer and the rambles that go up at Fiktshun's Ramblings all immediately come to mind. The one I want to mention here, though, is Fresh Batch. (Yes, you're getting mentioned again, Giselle.) I am not the greatest at keeping track of what is releasing, but I am also an incurable shopaholic who buys way too many new books. Fresh Batch "helps" with my addiction. :p

Why am I bringing it up here? Well, it's where I am finding the books that I will be talking about here. These are a few books releasing in the next week that I am tempted to buy. If there is one you'd totally love to see reviewed, let me know. :) 


1. Sweet Evil by Wendy Higgins -- A girl finds out that she must tempt people to sin in order to live. For your average 'I want to be a good person' character, that's bound to be a shock. Also, the romance is suppose to be good and that always draws me in. 

2. The Vicious Deep by Zoraida Cordova -- It has mermaids in it, so it already has my attention. But we're adding a menacing element from them and a character who can't remember what happened to him when he disappeared for three days? This is getting strange and I am getting curious. 

3. The Breakaway by Michelle Davidson Argyle -- I've wanted to read this since the first time I heard about it. I don't know what it is that makes me so intrigued by the situation in this book, but I am and odds are I will buy it pretty quick. 


4. Taste by Kate Evangelista -- Everything about this book has made me only more eager to sit down and read it. The premise is fascinating, the trailer was catchy and the excerpts drew me in. What's not to love? 

5. Insurgent by Veronica Roth -- I absolutely loved Divergent so picking this up is going to be as natural as breathing. And if it's as good as the first book, I'll probably have to schedule a day to read it because when I read Divergent I could not put it down. 

6. The Killing Moon by N.K. Jemisin -- Harnessing the energy in peoples' dreams to be able to heal, sooth and kill? First up, taking what happens when someone dreams sounds majorly creepy. And then doing who knows what with it to boot? Yeah, you have my attention. This seems a bit different then what I would normally read, but the concept is so interesting I couldn't resist including it. 


7. Slated by Teri Terry -- The government has the power to erase your memory? I think I'd rather just die, thank you. The possible ramifications and misuses of this are making me queasy just thinking about it. I wonder what the truth is here? I guess I'll need to read to find out. 

8. Beguiled by RaShelle Workman -- A wicked, beautiful, beguiling God who rules a realm of hell? And someone named Venus who needs to go there to save someone? Sign me up. This is another book with an idea that immediately makes me want to pick it up. Yes, I really am that quirky. 

9. Knee Deep by Jolene B. Perry -- Will she make it out of this mess? That's all I can think here, having read the summary. This runs the risk of her jumping from one relationship into another and I wonder what the author will actually do with what she has put together here. I haven't been reading as much contemporary, which is a shame since I love it, so I am pretty tempted to check this out. 


10. Being Friends With Boys by Terra Elan McVoy -- This is a more 'fun' looking contemporary that I've been hearing about quite a bit. I was always one of the guys growing up so I can relate to what is going on here. I wonder just how odd things will get when someone realizes Char is a girl? 

11. Brownies and Broomsticks by Bailey Cates -- From the cover to the description this looks like it will blend a whimsical magic system and an interesting 'who done it?' mystery. What I particularly like, personally, is that the goal is to clear a character's name rather then to simple figure out who killed Mr. X ... The fact that someone's life / happiness / etc. depends on it makes it more compelling to me.

12. Wrecked by Anna Davies -- Last but definitely not least. I wonder what 'classic tale' we are dealing with here. My money says something to do with Merfolk since we're near water but there's other stuff going on, too, that could have me be totally mistaken. Either way, I definitely want to download a sample and see what I think. 

So, what did you buy, borrow or receive this week? What books releasing in the next week are you eager to read? (You can find a list of what's available here.) I'd love to know, so feel free to leave a comment. 

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Review: Amy and Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson

I've always loved to travel, but for the most part all of the traveling I have done has been with family. This isn't necessarily a bad way to see the world, but it does often mean that you end up seeing someone else's impression of it. That can be a shame, because the truth is we all see the world differently.

Roger and Amy's Epic Detour came highly recommended by my friend Marie over at Ramblings of a Daydreamer. We have liked similar books before, so I tend to trust Marie's taste. And once again, her suggestion did not disappoint. Between the well developed, believable and extremely likable lead characters, the fun, fascinating and quirky journey, the slow building romance and the great little touches throughout the book, like photos, playlists and receipts, Amy and Roger's Epic Detour is just that little bit different enough from everything else to stand out, while retaining the level of quality storytelling it takes to keep me interested.

The Plot: (Summary from GoodReads)
Amy Curry thinks her life sucks. Her mom decides to move from California to Connecticut to start anew--just in time for Amy's senior year. Her dad recently died in a car accident. So Amy embarks on a road trip to escape from it all, driving cross-country from the home she's always known toward her new life. Joining Amy on the road trip is Roger, the son of Amy's mother's old friend. Amy hasn't seen him in years, and she is less than thrilled to be driving across the country with a guy she barely knows. So she's surprised to find that she is developing a crush on him. At the same time, she's coming to terms with her father's death and how to put her own life back together after the accident. Told in traditional narrative as well as scraps from the road--diner napkins, motel receipts, postcards--this is the story of one girl's journey to find herself.

Morgan Matson has perfectly captured the heart and soul, the very essence and spirit, of the road trip. As I listened to Amy and Roger preparing to travel from California to Connecticut I was reminded of the many times that I have traveled by van from Ontario to Florida, or Alberta, with either my grandparents or my parents. The need for music? The desire to capture memories along the way, even though the placed passed on the open road are the 'journey' rather then the destination? The need for snacks? The wonder over what lies just beyond a highway? The energy of all of these things seemed to leap off the page and grab me.

Except this isn't a trip with mom and dad or grandma and grandpa. This is a journey of growth, discovery and healing for our hero and heroine, and they do not have someone directly dictating the route that they take. (Which drives Amy's mom crazy, but I'll get to that...) Amy and Roger do not follow the directions and instructions left for them, but rather take the journey at their own place, making their own stops. The mix of rebellion, growth, need, discovery and hope that comes from this decision is felt from start to finish.

I loved the fact that the places they visited were out of the way; things that not everyone has necessarily seen or heard of. Yosenite, the loneliest highway, and Graceland all instantly come to mind here. I also love the variety of characters we meet as the story goes on. The fact that these people stand out even though our time with each is short shows that Morgan Matson has a real gift of quickly establishing a character and ensuring that the reader will connect with them. I know, that might sound kind of strange to have in the plot section. But in a book of this nature, the quality of character building is really a make it or break it thing.

My one huge complaint with the plot for Amy and Roger's Epic Detour is what Amy's mother does when she finds out that they are not following the schedule she left. She's protective of Amy; I get that. But without the pre-preparation that Morgan did to set up the plot for this twist, Amy and Roger would have been lost in the middle of America with no lodgings, food, etc. and the mother was not aware that Amy had what she did. It seemed to contradict itself and made me really dislike her mother a lot.

The Characters: 

I felt that I could really understand Amy. I've never lost a parent -- thank God -- but I recall very vividly how lost that I felt when my grandpa died when I was 14. I went through several months where my absent-mindedness and lack of focus actually ended up stigmatizing me to some teachers during the entire time I was in high school. Amy needs to find a way to face her grief, and to realize that there is a difference between being alive and living. I think that Morgan did a great job of using the road trip to parallel Amy's journey to (the beginning of) healing.

Roger is dealing with loss too, in this case of his manipulative ex-girlfriend, Hadley. I liked the fact that we saw both characters going on their own little 'missions' that helped them grow through their problems. I also think that it was clever how each character grew through the other's situations, not just their own. Roger seemed like a very real, down to earth, likable guy. I thought he had a great sense of humor and a level of sensitivity that made him appealing to me without taking away from the fact that he is a guy. (Not that guys cannot be sensitive, but when we women write them, we can cross a certain line. Fortunately that didn't happen here.)

There were many other interesting people that popped up throughout the book. It is something to Morgan's credit that characters like Bronwyn and Lucien were so memorable to me, since they are only in the book for a short period of time, before Amy and Roger are moving onto their next destination.

The Romance: 

I like many things with regard to the romance in Amy and Roger's Epic Detour. In one way or another, both characters start with hearts that are empty, injured or broken. And we get to see them slowly heal, allowing the characters to become people who could actually have a hope of falling in love. The romance between them is never rushed and feels very natural. It compliments the larger plots and themes and while it enriches the novel, I never felt that it "took over". That wouldn't have worked here.

In General: 

I'm so glad that I read this book. I really enjoyed it. I don't think I've said this yet, either, but if you are an Elvis nut like me there is stuff here that will make you smile. I didn't include that in my overall rating criteria here, obviously, but it warrants mentioning. Amy and Roger's Epic Detour walks a fine line between joy and sorrow, loss and love, despair and hope, and ultimately left me feeling that no matter how dark things get, there is always hope they will one day be better. That is a beautiful message, and this book carries it across with an interesting plot, memorable characters and an interesting journey worth taking.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

In My Mailbox (April 22nd)

In My Mailbox is a weekly feature created by Kristi at The Story Siren where bloggers get together to share the lovely books we received, bought or borrowed. Curious what I've been up to? Scroll down for a peek at some of the lovely things I've had arrive.

This week's stuff came mostly from the trip I took today with my brother Mikey, his fiancee Terrie and my niece Merissa. We went to the Oshawa Centre and I got to go to Build-a-Bear and Chapters. So yes, there are going to be some books *and* some bears here tonight. :D

For Review:

by Daniel Klaus
Grave-robbing. What kind of monster would do such a thing? It's true that Leonardo da Vinci did it, Shakespeare wrote about it, and the resurrection men of nineteenth-century Scotland practically made it an art. But none of this matters to Joey Crouch, a sixteen-year-old straight-A student living in Chicago with his single mom. For the most part, Joey's life is about playing the trumpet and avoiding the daily humiliations of high school.

Everything changes when Joey's mother dies in a tragic accident and he is sent to rural Iowa to live with the father he has never known, a strange, solitary man with unimaginable secrets. At first, Joey's father wants nothing to do with him, but once father and son come to terms with each other, Joey's life takes a turn both macabre and exhilarating.

Daniel Kraus's masterful plotting and unforgettable characters makeRotters a moving, terrifying, and unconventional epic about fathers and sons, complex family ties, taboos, and the ever-present specter of mortality.

This was sent to me by Random House as part of Bookurius' Blog It Forward! program. Thank you.

I'm not going to lie to anyone, this book may be a challenge for me. The diversity of what we read for Blog It Forward! is part of what I love about it, though, so I'll do my best to tell you what I think. :) It definitely looks interesting. 

I Bought: (Physical Copies)

by Alex Flinn
I am a beast.

A beast. Not quite wolf or bear, gorilla or dog but a horrible new creature who walks upright—a creature with fangs and claws and hair springing from every pore. I am a monster.

You think I’m talking fairy tales? No way. The place is New York City. The time is now. It’s no deformity, no disease. And I’ll stay this way forever—ruined—unless I can break the spell.

Yes, the spell, the one the witch in my English class cast on me. Why did she turn me into a beast who hides by day and prowls by night? I’ll tell you. I’ll tell you how I used to be Kyle Kingsbury, the guy you wished you were, with money, perfect looks, and the perfect life. And then, I’ll tell you how I became perfectly . . . beastly.

Anyone else have an obsession with Beauty and the Beast? I absolutely adore fairytale retellings to begin with, but Beauty and the Beast is probably my favorite fairytale of all time and it has a very special place in my heart. I have meant to read Beastly for a very long time. It was actually on my list of books I wanted to buy when I did my first purchase batch for I Write, I Read, I Review last summer. But as I often seem to do, I chickened out because I know when a book is on a subject or theme I love it's a danger it's going to go one of two ways: sky high, or rock bottom. 

Then I saw this at the Oshawa Centre Chapters and I couldn't say no. The deluxe edition has Beastly as well as Lindy's diary, and I paid $12 for it. I figure I got a good deal and I am really excited to start reading. (If I can find the time amidst all my edits for Moon Dance!)

by Kristin Cashore
Katsa has been able to kill a man with her bare hands since she was eight—she’s a Graceling, one of the rare people in her land born with an extreme skill. As niece of the king, she should be able to live a life of privilege, but Graced as she is with killing, she is forced to work as the king’s thug. When she first meets Prince Po, Graced with combat skills, Katsa has no hint of how her life is about to change. She never expects to become Po’s friend. She never expects to learn a new truth about her own Grace—or about a terrible secret that lies hidden far away . . . a secret that could destroy all seven kingdoms with words alone.

With elegant, evocative prose and a cast of unforgettable characters, debut author Kristin Cashore creates a mesmerizing world, a death-defying adventure, and a heart-racing romance that will consume you, hold you captive, and leave you wanting more.

This book was recommended to me by my friend Bonnie over at A Backwards Story. It sounds really interesting and I've been meaning to check it out for a while now. Today seemed like a good time to pick it up. For someone who genuinely enjoys fantasy fiction, I don't read nearly enough of it. Urban fantasy, paranormal, dystopian and contemporary eat up a lot of my reading time. It will be nice to visit somewhere a little different here. 

The Immortal Rules
by Julie Kagawa
In a future world, Vampires reign. Humans are blood cattle. And one girl will search for the key to save humanity.

Allison Sekemoto survives in the Fringe, the outermost circle of a vampire city. By day, she and her crew scavenge for food. By night, any one of them could be eaten.

Some days, all that drives Allie is her hatred of them. The vampires who keep humans as blood cattle. Until the night Allie herself is attacked—and given the ultimate choice. Die… or become one of the monsters.

Faced with her own mortality, Allie becomes what she despises most. To survive, she must learn the rules of being immortal, including the most important: go long enough without human blood, and you will go mad.

Then Allie is forced to flee into the unknown, outside her city walls. There she joins a ragged band of humans who are seeking a legend—a possible cure to the disease that killed off most of humankind and created the rabids, the mindless creatures who threaten humans and vampires alike.

But it isn't easy to pass for human. Especially not around Zeke, who might see past the monster inside her. And Allie soon must decide what—and who—is worth dying for.

This seemed like a complete 'no thinking required' decision when I saw it at Chapters. While I haven't gotten around to the rest of Julie Kagawa's Iron Fey series (they're staring at me from my bookself...) how could I possibly pass this up? Vampires + dystopian = win. It's really simple premise 'math' there for me. I've seen it done before, and done very well, and I am extremely curious to see how Julie will handle it. 

I Bought: (for my Kindle)

Even the Dead Dance To Live
by Rob Lopez
Callisto. Jupiter's second largest moon. Cold enough to suck the heat out of any pressure suit, and scoured by lethal levels of radiation every sixteen days as it orbits through Jupiter's magnetotail. Nobody in their right mind would want to live there. Work there, maybe. But live there?

But people do live there. Humanity built its first space city there. And for a while it looked like a good prospect. Mankind's stepping stone to the stars.

It's all gone wrong though. Civilization is crumbling. And the cycle of life and death is whirling faster than was ever intended. Survival is a delicate balancing act that requires soft and careful steps.

Enter Shakespeare Cruz, a man on the run from his own dark past. He doesn't do soft. And he's anything but delicate. He's got a price on his head, enemies on his tail and an ever tightening noose around his neck. He's got a warlord who wants him to keep his appointment with death and a ghost who wants him to fulfil an impossible obligation. It's not clear that either of them has picked the right man for the job.

The time has come for him to make his choice however, and he's got to make it fast. At stake is the soul of a city, the memory of a woman, and the life of one little girl.

Only one thing is certain - it's going to get ugly.

I heard about this book over on Absolute Write, where I was doing research about self publishing for Moon Dance. I've started to make a habit of seeing what others are releasing, and reading / reviewing stuff that appeals to me. The description for Even the Dead Dance To Live (love the title, by the way) immediately caught my attention, and so far the book has been fantastic. I must tell you all, this is not a typical selection for I Write, I Read, I Review. This is adult fiction (science fiction, specifically), so if you decide to check it out please keep that in mind. 

Belated Birthday Goodies: 

Okay, guys. This stuff is totally not book related -- directly, at least -- but I can't resist sharing it anyway. :)

I can't speak for any other writer out there, but for me, sound is essential when I am developing a story. It is one of the most vital tools that I have to really get to know my characters and get a feel for what their story is going to be like. Moon Dance's sound was a strange blend of country, current rock and hip hop, and Josh Groban. If I hadn't heard Josh Groban's music back in November of 2010 I am not sure if the book would be where it is now. For me, music is kind of like a set of cue cards for emotions and scenes -- I can use it to trigger things when I write, and that makes it really powerful.

The above CDs were purchased from iTunes as I turn my non-revising / blogging time (I hear you asking yourself, "What time is that?!" *laughs*) to figuring out the outline to my Merfolk story, Riptide. From upper left down, we have: Live by Natalie MacMaster, Endless Seasons by The Rankin Family, North Country by The Rankin Family, and 40 Days by The Wailin' Jennys. 

"Cuz every girl's crazy 'bout a sharp dressed man..." -- ZZ Top

Well guys, here he is! I made Kyden as a build-a-bear! Moon Dance might (in the current version I'm using) have Sara and Kess on the cover, but Kyden is definitely the most spoiled of all my characters and I had an absolute riot making him today. I'm probably going to make all of them eventually, but I needed to start with someone, right? :D 

Let me tell you ... Making him was not cheap. I kinda went crazy doing this bear, actually. He has a Beating Heart (you squeeze him and you can feel / softly hear his heartbeat), he has a quote from "In these arms" by Bon Jovi in his left hand, he got a nice outfit, I paid $20 for his boots (I did not realize this until I got to the car. So glad I didn't look -- they were expensive but he wouldn't be the same without them) and yes ... I even bought him sunglasses. 

Mao (to Kyden:) "Unlike my guys -- I like 'em tall with money." -- Tata Young
Uh-oh... I think she just dissed you, Kyden! 

Not to be outdone, Mao the Shimmer Kitty I made last year got a new dress. Even though I made Kyden today, when I saw this dress my immediate thought was "Oh my God, it's the Moonbeam!" (the dress Kess buys Sara in Moon Dance) and I just couldn't leave it behind. Mao's too tall to be Kyden's girlfriend, but since we weren't able to get Terrie's passport today, we're going to split on gas sometime in the next few weeks and get that and go to Build-a-Bear and Chapters AGAIN ... So we shall see what happens then. 

Once again, a tremendous thanks to Mike, Terrie & Merissa for taking me. Today was totally awesome and I had a great time! 

Well, that's my week! How was yours? I'd love to see what you got, so feel free to leave a link and I'll come and check it out. Have a great day! 

Friday, April 20, 2012

Authors On Reviews: To Comment or Not to Comment?

To Comment or Not To Comment? That is the question that is being asked over at Reading Romances today, and as both a blogger and a (future) author, I could not resist giving my opinion. If you would like to find out more about the hop, please click here.

So, should authors leave comments on reviews?

Yes... and no. I don't think there is a wrong or right answer here, because the question is too general. Like many things in life, author comments in and of themselves are not a bad thing. It's how they are used, when they are used, and why they are used that must be considered. Think of all the things this applies to... Fire can cook our food, but it can also burn down a house. Medicine can be used by a doctor to treat an illness, but certain types and prescriptions can also be used as drugs, which in turn could lead to an argument over money where someone winds up shot.

There is a lot of talk about there being six degrees between people. They are far fewer degrees separating how "good" or "bad" most things in our world are. It is how we choose to use them that matters. Comments, be they on reviews, message boards, in a classroom or anywhere else are not exempt from this.

As a blogger, I love receiving comments from authors. They totally make my day! I will not lie, though. There are times when I have reviewed something in a way that might not be what they wanted, seen their name attached to an e-mail message or comment, and paused a moment before I read it. However, I have been fortunate. I do not tend to get "hate" mail for my reviews. Then again, I have done everything in my power to build my reputation as a blogger on giving reviews that are honest and fair.

I *hope* the readers who visit my blog feel secure that my opinions are really that -- my opinions; and that the authors who approach me about reviews feel more comfortable knowing that while I do not love every book I read, I have the utmost respect for anyone who has the guts to place butt in chair and bare their soul on the page. I'm down there in the trenches, I know what it's like, and I believe that writing a novel is no small feat. Nor does my solitary little opinion have the power to decree that a book was "garbage". Because even if I think a book is "ZOMG teh most a-MAZ-ing thing evah! 111" (You have no idea how long that took to type...) one of my readers could sit down to read the same book, even after my review, and hate it with the fire of a thousand suns.

Here's what I think authors should NOT do: Make Fools of Themselves. Running around and calling bloggers (or anyone) idiots or unenlightened for "not getting" the book. Or (God forbid!) trying to "explain" (read: argue with the reviewer) the book to the person who didn't like it. If two readers discussing a book get into this (civilly) it can make a great debate and be interesting. When an author does it -- especially on the internet where everything is basically written in electronic blood -- it's just a really, really, bad idea.

But for an author to come along and give feedback on my review such as "Wow, you really got (insert part)."? That can be really cool, as can being thanked for my time, having something random or funny posted to me regarding a character I liked, being asked an interesting questions, or pretty much anything else. As long as the author isn't telling me (1) I was wrong not to like their book, or (2) How I should interpret or feel about things in their book, we'll get on fine. Because both of those things are out of an author's hands the moment a reader picks up a book and starts to read.

Why Do I Feel This Way?

All during the writing and editing process, a book is like making a sculpture. You can chisel stuff away, or you can wet what you are using to mold the piece and reshape it. But when you publish a book and it is in the hands of a reader or a reviewer, it's like that piece has gone through the fire and been hardened. It is what it is, and just like a piece of art, it is open to being seen differently by everyone. So, what's an author to do? Get better during the shaping, accept that there will always be those who will see the finished piece differently then you do, and have the courage to go and work on another piece.

As long as you have the courage to keep writing, there is no need to be afraid that some people won't like what you have written. Since it is impossible to please everyone, the only person a fear of the inevitable is going to hurt is you. This goes for authors writing the books we read, and reviewers who seem to be constantly more afraid of backlash for reviewing them.

To read we need books. To write we need readers. Let's not forget this, people!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Waiting On Wednesday (April 18th)

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted at Breaking The Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week's pre-publication can't-wait-to-read selections are:

Love Sucks
by Sage Collins
Mailee Jones is about to answer the age old question: "How much love would a love sucker suck if a love sucker fell in love?"

Mailee is a Haustrix, an otherwise normal girl with a demon gene that causes her to consume love from any human she touches. Afraid of draining anyone completely, she's been leading an isolated life, relying on Eric, a hunky lust-draining Haustor and the only person she can safely touch. She's content to avoid humans for all but the quickest possible hand-brushes with the dreaded cheerleaders to keep from starving.

Until she meets Logan, a diabetic who is the first human to understand Mailee's anguish over her diet. But growing close to him means risking his love for her. Mailee's convinced it's time to do something--anything--to become human. But the only antidote requires her to release and be systematically infected by demons representing each of the Seven Deadly Sins. Sloth and Pride? Okay, fine, but sins like Wrath and Envy aren't so easy, as proven when possessed-Mailee punches the cheerleader who's making eyes at Eric. Can she honestly get through all the sins?

Not to mention this new issue--is she interested in Eric instead? Because if she turns human, she'll lose him. Forever.

Premise. I talk about that word a lot here at I Write, I Read, I Review. I talk about that word, because it's important. It's like the worm on the hook that catches a fish, it's what makes the deal so that when I read something I will either feel I got what I came for, or I will think the author "broke" it. The other half of the whole premise discussion is obviously execution. But here's the thing: if the premise of a book does not grab me, I'm probably not going to be taking to you about the book in question. Premise is to enticing me to read a book what customers should be to those who are working at providing a product or service: King.

Now that I've said that, I will say this: Oh. My. God. This book sounds totally, epicly, knots in the pit of my stomach and hairs standing up on the back of my neck amazing. Y'know that feeling I talked about when I reviewed Wicked As They Come? Yeah, this is like that. The "I must read this NOW." feeling. The feeling where something about a book gets under the skin like the itch of a bug bite and you can't stop scratching.

Lets see... Girl with a demon gene who has good reasons not to fall in love? Boy who makes her want to be able to do that so she is actually willing to sacrifice the demon aspect of herself? (As opposed to a fantasy or paranormal creature wanting to change someone -- I like that but it's far more common.) And needing to deal with being infected with the seven deadly sins? (Yikes and wow.)

This book definitely has my attention and I will be counting down the days until I can read it.

The Selection
by Kiera Cass
For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape the life laid out for them since birth. To be swept up in a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels. To live in the palace and compete for the heart of the gorgeous Prince Maxon.

But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her. Leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn't want. Living in a palace that is constantly threatened by violent rebel attacks.

Then America meets Prince Maxon. Gradually, she starts to question all the plans she's made for herself- and realizes that the life she's always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined.

I've been excited about The Selection for ages and it has gotten a lot of attention from what I've seen. I know I've visited a lot of blogs talking about the book / reviewing it, and I've heard a wide variety of opinions, which makes me all the more eager to read it. If people are seeing it in various ways it means there is something there that is drawing them in or driving them away, and that's far better then blending into the woodwork if you ask me. 

I never got into The Bachelor, but I did audition for Canadian Idol and I can tell you that trying to get involved with reality TV of any sort is grueling, exhausting work. Tying this together with the fact that America already loves someone, a Caste system, a prince who gets to choose between 35 girls to be his (how is Kiera not going to make this guy an asshat, I am eager to see. Seems like it'll be a challenge in my opinion... ;) ) ... These things all combine to create something that I know I need to weigh in on.

Plus, isn't that cover totally gorgeous? That's never a serious consideration about whether I'll read a book or not -- it moreso decides if I a want hard or eBok copy -- but I'd have to be blind to stay mum about it. 

So, what has you totally excited this week? Are you looking forward to Love Sucks or The Selection? Feel free to link me to your post and I'll do my best to drop by and say hi! 

P.S. Sorry I've been a bit off the last few days, guys. My grandma was rushed to the hospital via ambulance on the 8th, she's still there now and life is a little hectic. She's doing *far* better then she was when she got there, but they still aren't sure what *exactly* is the matter and they are doing a lot of testing. Prayers and well wishes for Kathleen "Kaye" Perry are both deeply appreciated. Thank you.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Review: Under The Never Sky by Veronica Rossi

I've wanted to read this for ages, and after I saw the trailer for the book, that went from "I really want to read that book." to "I am downloading it to my kindle and reading it NOW." You see, Under the Never Sky and I have a little history, and I wanted to make sure that was not going to interfere with my views on the book when I read it. Waiting seemed like the most classy way to address that.

Well let me tell you, my initial thoughts about the book were dead on. It was an absolute joy to read and I loved it. Veronica Rossi has written an extremely compelling story with characters I adored and a world that I eagerly look forward to visiting again.

But enough preamble, let's get to the goods, shall we?

The Plot: (Summary from GoodReads)
Since she'd been on the outside, she'd survived an Aether storm, she'd had a knife held to her throat, and she'd seen men murdered. This was worse.

Exiled from her home, the enclosed city of Reverie, Aria knows her chances of surviving in the outer wasteland - known as The Death Shop - are slim. If the cannibals don't get her, the violent, electrified energy storms will. She's been taught that the very air she breathes can kill her. Then Aria meets an Outsider named Perry. He's wild - a savage - and her only hope of staying alive.

A hunter for his tribe in a merciless landscape, Perry views Aria as sheltered and fragile - everything he would expect from a Dweller. But he needs Aria's help too; she alone holds the key to his redemption. Opposites in nearly every way, Aria and Perry must accept each other to survive. Their unlikely alliance forges a bond that will determine the fate of all who live under the never sky.

I loved the way that the two cultures in this book -- those who inside domed cities and those who survived outside, dealing with Aether storms, food shortages, etc. are handled. The problems each society faced made sense for their circumstances and felt very real, and the customs, values and ideals of each society seemed to be well thought out, too. Neither was shown to be better then the other; both had their own quirks that made me understand why someone would want to live there (under the circumstances the book is set in) and I could understand why characters would wish for something else.

I love how we got to see each character in their natural environment before they were both thrown into the full forward adventure they were meant to undertake in this book. It helped tremendously in the building I just talked about and it showed what each character had to lose -- and to gain -- by ending up traveling together.

I also really liked how slowly the characters trust in each other built, and how characters could change how they were thinking throughout the story, both for the good and for the bad. It made me really question "What does this person really want? Really mean?" etc. which is important. If a reader is considering what's going on and is thinking about it, you've succeeded in making them a participant in the story, they are actually taking part. This is always a huge plus.

The last thing I will say is that I like how the overall mood and tension of the book shifted as characters came and went. The tension between Perry and his brother v.s. the joy between Perry and Talon; the behavior of those Aria lived with v.s. the way that she and Perry's attitudes changed toward each other. People were often just as, or even more, dangerous then the environment. And they were not above trying to fool me into thinking otherwise.

The Characters: 

Aria was a heroine I quickly came to admire. Her quest, to find her mother, is noble. Despite being niave and afraid she meets each challenge she faces throughout the story head on and to the best of her ability. While she has faults, such as her prejudice against the outsiders, she is willing to admit (if through actions rather then words) that she is wrong and to take any necessary actions to make that right. 

Perry is a fantastic hero and I totally loved him. I liked how much he wanted to take care of everybody and how, despite how much he discredited himself, his actions spoke of someone else entirely that he just didn't seem to see in himself. As well as being compassionate (to his own, at least!) he was also decisive, thoughtful, brave and kind. I think that Veronica Rossi was really walking a fine line trying to show both the feral nature of being an outsider and showing that Perry was a decent and honourable man, and I think she really succeeded with this. 

Roar was hilarious and instantly likable. I think that the timing used to bring him in was clever and he was one of the characters who could change the entire dynamic of a scene just by being in it. 

The Romance: 

I love the fact that the romance was, in its way, a journey that paralleled the journey the characters took physically. While they were wandering father from their homes and letting go of the ideas they had been raised with, they were also equally journeying toward one another. The romance in Under the Never Sky was satisfying and interesting, but it was never rushed. Between the prejudices between the various people living 'under the never sky', the ideals of each society and the situation the characters found themselves in, I think the romance highlighted many of the book's strongest and most interesting themes and that they, in turn, enriched the love story. 

In General: 

Under the Never Sky did not just meet my expectations, it totally exceeded them. Adventure, romance, memorable characters -- at times touching, terrifying or even funny -- what more could you possibly want? If you've been waiting to read this book like I was, wait no longer. 

Monday, April 16, 2012

Trailer Reveal and Excerpt: Taste by Kate Evangelista

Today it's my pleasure to share the trailer and an excerpt for Taste by Kate Evangelista. You might remember it from my Waiting on Wednesday post a couple weeks back. I was really surprised how many people commented they hadn't heard of the book, and really glad that so many want to check it out. That's always really fun for me. I enjoy spotlighting books that look fantastic but which might not be getting all the attention they deserve.

But for those of you who missed the WoW post, here is the cover and blurb for Taste:

by Kate Evangelista
At Barinkoff Academy, there's only one rule: no students on campus after curfew. Phoenix McKay soon finds out why when she is left behind at sunset. A group calling themselves night students threaten to taste her flesh until she is saved by a mysterious, alluring boy. With his pale skin, dark eyes, and mesmerizing voice, Demitri is both irresistible and impenetrable. He warns her to stay away from his dangerous world of flesh eaters. Unfortunately, the gorgeous and playful Luka has other plans.

When Phoenix is caught between her physical and her emotional attraction, she becomes the keeper of a deadly secret that will rock the foundations of an ancient civilization living beneath Barinkoff Academy. Phoenix doesn’t realize until it is too late that the closer she gets to both Demitri and Luka the more she is plunging them all into a centuries old feud.

I spent a lot of time talking about why I am absolutely dying to get my hands on this book in the WoW post. So I'll keep it simple here: sounds totally amazing, doesn't it? Yeah. That'll do.

The Trailer: 

Feel free to leave your thoughts. I'm waiting until my post goes live to view this, so I'll likely be chiming in with my thoughts as well. :)

The Excerpt:

Well, this is very exciting. I don't think I've ever gotten to share one of these on I Write, I Read, I Review before. I *have* read this and I think it's great -- it has only increased my interest in reading the entire book. I hope that you enjoy it too.

Taste Excerpt
By Kate Evangelista

I mentally stomped on the intimidation their perfection brought into my mind and said, “Excuse me.”

The group froze, startled by my words. The girls had their brows raised and the boys stopped mid-speech, mouths agape. They stared at me with eyes the shade of onyx stones.

I smiled and gave them a little wave.

The boy a step ahead of the rest recovered first. His stunning features went from shocked surprise to intense interest. He reminded me of a hawk eyeing its prey. I gulped.

“A Day Student,” he said, his eyes insolent and excited.

Something about the way he said “Day Student” made my stomach flip. “Excuse me?”

They snickered. The boys looked at each other while the girls continued to stare, muffling their laughter by delicate hands. I seemed to be the butt of some joke.

“You broke the rule.” The boy’s grin turned predatory.

The students formed a loose semi-circle in front of me. My gaze darted from face to face. Hunger filled their eyes. The image of lions about to chase down a gazelle came to mind. I mentally shook my head. I was in the mountains not the Serengeti for crying out loud.

I took a small step back and cleared my throat. “Can any of you give me a ride back to the dorms?”

The boy wagged his forefinger like a metronome. “Ah, that’s unfortunate for you.”

One of the girls pinched the bridge of her nose. “Eli, you can’t possibly—”

“It’s forbidden, Eli,” another boy interrupted, pronouncing the word “forbidden” like a curse.

The nervous murmur at the pit of my stomach grew louder. Six against one. Not good odds. Instinct told me to cut my losses and run. Bad enough I faced expulsion, now it seemed like weird, beautiful people who’d suddenly appeared on campus wanted to beat me up. No, scratch that. Judging from the way they studied me, beating me up wouldn’t satisfy them. Something more primal prowled behind their looks.

I definitely wasn’t going down without a fight. Years of self-defense and hand-to-hand combat classes had me prepared. While other children from rich and important families got bodyguards, I got defense training. But I think my father meant for my skills to go up against potential kidnappers, not against other students who may or may not be crazy. Oh God! Maybe I stepped into a parallel universe or something when I reentered Barinkoff.

“None of the students are supposed to be on campus,” I said. Then, realizing my mistake, I added, “Okay, I know I’m not supposed to be here either. If one of you gives me a ride back to the dorms, I won’t say anything about all this. Let’s pretend this never happened. I didn’t see you, you didn’t see me.”

“We’re not ordinary students,” Eli answered. “We’re the Night Students.”

He’d said “Night Students” like the words were capitalized. I didn’t know Barinkoff held classes at night. What was going on here?

Eli smiled with just one side of his mouth and said to the group, “She’s right, no one will have to know. We’re the only ones here. And it’s been so long, don’t you agree?”

The rest of them nodded reluctantly.

“What’s been so long?” I challenged. I fisted my hands, ready to put them up if any of them so much as twitched my way.

“Since the taste of real flesh passed through my lips,” Eli said. He came forward and took a whiff of me then laughed when I cringed.

“Flesh.” Yep, parallel universe.

“Yes,” he said. “And yours smells so fresh.”

Someone grabbed my shoulders from behind and yanked me back before I could wrap my mind around the meaning behind Eli’s words. In a blink, I found myself behind someone tall. Someone really tall. And quite broad. And very male.

I realized he wore the same clothes Eli and the other boys did. Not good. He was one of them. Although… I cocked my head, raking my gaze over him. He seemed born to wear the uniform, like he was the pattern everyone else was cut from. My eyes wandered to long, layered, blue-black hair tied at the nape by a silk ribbon. Even in dim light, his hair possessed a sheen akin to mercury.

I looked down. The boy’s long fingers were wrapped around my wrist like a cuff. His fevered touch felt hotter than human standards, hot enough to make me sweat like I

was standing beside a radiator but not hot enough to burn.

“I must be mistaken, Eli,” the boy who held my arm said in a monotone. “Correct me. Did I hear you say you wanted to taste the flesh of this girl?”

A hush descended on us. It had the hairs at the back of my neck rising. How was it possible for the atmosphere to switch from threatening to dangerous? Unable to help myself, I peeked around the new guy’s bulk. Eli and his friends bowed. They all had their right hands on their chests.

“Demitri, I’m sure you misheard me,” Eli said.

So the guy standing between me and the person who said he’d wanted to taste me was named Demitri. I like the sound of his name. Demitri. So strong, yet rolls off the tongue. Definite yum factor.

“So, you imply I made a mistake?” Demitri demanded.

“No!” Eli lifted his gaze. “I did no such thing. I simply wanted to show the girl the consequences of breaking curfew.”

“Hey!” I yelled. “Don’t talk about me like I’m not here!”

Demitri ignored my protest and continued to address Eli. “So, you threatened to taste her flesh.” His fingers tightened their grip around my wrist. “In the interest of investigating this matter further, I invoke the Silence.”

All six students gasped, passing surprised glances at one another.

Before I could ask about what was going on, Demitri yanked me down the hall toward the library. But why there? Oh, maybe we were getting my things. No, wait, he couldn’t have known about that. Everything was too confusing now.

Eli and the others didn’t try to stop us when we passed them. Demitri’s cold command must have carried power. Handsome and powerful, never a bad combination on a guy.

We reached the heavy double doors in seconds. He jerked one open effortlessly. I’d needed all my strength just to squeeze through that same door earlier. To him, the thick wood might as well have been cardboard. I raised an eyebrow and mentally listed the benefits of going to gym class.

“Why are we here?” I asked after my curiosity overpowered my worry. I’d almost forgotten how frightened I’d been right before Demitri showed up. I wasn’t above accepting help from strangers. Especially from gorgeous dark-haired strangers with hot

hands and wide shoulders.

Demitri kept going, tugging me along, snaking his way deeper into the library. I had to take two steps for every stride his legs made. I tried to stay directly behind him, praying we didn’t slam into anything.

He stopped suddenly and I collided with him. It felt like slamming into a wall.

“Hey,” I said, momentarily stunned. “A little warning would be nice!”

He faced me, and I gasped. His eyes resembled a starless night, deep and endless. Their intensity drilled through me without pity, seeming to expose all my secrets. I felt naked and flustered beneath his gaze.

“You could have died back there,” he warned.

A lump of panic rebuilt itself in my throat.

Want to know more about Taste? Click here.

Find Kate Online At:

About The Author:
When Kate Evangelista was told she had a knack for writing stories, she did the next best thing: entered medical school. After realizing she wasn't going to be the next Doogie Howser, M.D., Kate wandered into the Literature department of her university and never looked back. Today, she is in possession of a piece of paper that says to the world she owns a Literature degree. To make matters worse, she took Master's courses in creative writing. In the end, she realized to be a writer, none of what she had mattered. What really mattered? Writing. Plain and simple, honest to God, sitting in front of her computer, writing. Today, she has four completed Young Adult novels.

I'd like to thank Kate for inviting me to take part in the Taste reveal. I absolutely cannot wait to read Taste when it releases. I'd love to know your thoughts, so feel free to leave a comment. 

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