Musing: Why I've Been M.I.A.

Bad day in school land.  Grad school is not a big self-esteem booster.  Scheduled programming will resume when my life is back on track.  

Look forward to a review of The Assassin's Curse by Cassandra Rose Clarke and The Believing Game by Eireann Corrigan! 


Prelude to Madness Blog Tour: Author Interview

Welcome to the last day of the Prelude to Madness blog tour, getting ready for Noree Cosper's awesome vampire novel, A Prescription for Delirium. Enjoy this awesome interview with the author.

What was your inspiration for Prescription for Delirium? 
 The characters came from a table top roleplaying game I played with my friends. So a lot of the story came from that. Other parts came from different stories, myths and legends about vampires, demons, and other creatures of the night.

What is your favorite vampire book? Movie? 
 Hmm, so hard to choose. Twi—no, I can’t say that with a straight face. Right now, I would have to say favorite novel would be “Queen of the Damned” by Anne Rice. Favorite movie would be “Let me In.” Which makes me think I really need to read “Let the Right One In,” which is the novel the movie was based on.

Tell us a little bit about your writing process. 
 This is still a work in progress, so bear with me. Usually my stories start out with a basic idea and a few scenes that play out over and over in my head. I put together my cast. I outline the scenes. Usually this is nothing really in depth, just a summary of what I want to happen, and the motivations of the characters. Then I write.

Who is your favorite Van Helsing brother in your novel, and why? 
 Adrian. There are so many different reasons. One of the main reasons is that I have a thing for arrogant men, especially, when they have the intelligence to back it up.

What was the hardest scene to write? The easiest? 
 This is a difficult question because I actually had to rewrite about 80 of the novel. It changed so much from the first draft that I wrote. I supposed you could say the hardest would be the sex scene that made it into the novel. Easiest for me would be the prologue. I was really in the zone when I wrote that.

Can you tell us more about Gabriella's unusual aura powers? 
 Well, Gabby can see aura, souls, and spirits. She can tell is a person is possessed or even influenced by other forces. The spirits she sees on the brothers are more symbolic while the possession is showing the demon being there. I can’t say a whole lot more, but sight is just the beginning.

What can we expect from your next work? 
 I’m working on the second book in the series, the continuation of the Van Helsing Organization. This takes place in New York and you get introduced to more supernatural beings.

The obligatory question . . . what is your best advice for aspiring authors? 
 Write what you love. Don’t spend too much time worrying about market trends. You love for what you write about will show through in your novel.

Alright, last one. Who is your fictional crush? 
 Oh SO many. I think I will have to go with….Dean Winchester.

Thank you, Noree!  Now that you all are super excited about this awesome classic vampire tale, check it out at Goodreads and look for my review, coming soon! 


Writing Tips: Why Reading Aloud is Your Best Editing Friend

So you've gotten through the hard stuff.  You've written the book.  You've bandaged your typing blisters. You've had a doctor's consultation for carpal tunnel.  What now?  Send it in and rake in the big bucks?  

Pardon me while I laugh hysterically. 


It sucks (unless you're me and you weirdly thrive on it) but it's the thing that will turn your book from .99 cent fanfiction slush to something that people will look at and say, hey.  That's a real book.  Rock on.  Yeah, they'll say that.  

The problem is, you've lived this book.  You've slaved over every word.  You know it too well.  One tactic: put it away for a while.  Another: read it out loud.  

So, it sounds a little painful, but it's one of those things my amazing fiction teacher suggested and it works.  And it's easy.  And it has all sorts of advantages.  You know the old form/from problem?  Where spellcheck doesn't catch it.  Read it aloud and you'll realize all the typos you thought you didn't have, that your brain fixed for you on every readthrough.  


- Boring parts:  So you're reading aloud and you find that you really just want to skip this passage and that reading it is painful.  Maybe that means you should cut it.  If even you think it sucks, what will your reader think? 

- Weird phrasing:  If you're reading it and it sounds like gibberish, time to take another look at that sentence. 

- Long sentences:  If you have to take three breaths to get through it, consider slicing it up.  Yeah, your reader won't be reading aloud.  But they'll still get lost by the end.  Unless that's your intention, in which case, go for it cautiously. 

- Dialogue:  Reading aloud is the best cure for weird dialogue.  If it sounds like you're speaking like a robot or a Shakespearean disaffect or some kind of alien, then it's a good sign you need to edit it.  Make sure it's how people talk.  People use contractions.  People leave out words.  They assume things and skim things.  Think how you talk.  Now think about what you're reading.  

Read aloud and you'll get your book in a new perspective.  Good luck!  


Review: The Caline Conspiracy by M.H. Mead

title:  The Caline Conspiracy

author: M.H. Mead

pages: 212

format: Kindle

isbn/asin: B007LNNHMW

buy it: Amazon

rating: 5/5 [in the genre] or 8/10 [all books I’ve ever read].

recommended for:  Fans of The Da Vinci Code, Michael Crichton, high-tech thrillers, or soft sci-fi. People looking for a fast-paced, quirky read.

Calines are the perfect pets. Smarter than border collies, playful as otters, elegant as cats, calines have been genetically engineered to be everything a pet owner could want.

Except that they might kill you one day.

The world is shocked when geneticist Ivan Frithke is murdered, and his own pet caline, Madeline, is the prime suspect. Is this an isolated case, a flaw in the calines’ design, or something more? The widow doesn’t believe her darling could kill, and hires PI Aidra Scott to prove Madeline’s innocence.

Aidra wants nothing to do with animals—genetically engineered perfection or not. Losing her beloved Doberman was so painful that she’s sworn off pet ownership forever. But the more she investigates, the more Aidra becomes convinced an innocent animal is being framed, and murder is only the beginning of the conspiracy.

The Caline Conspiracy is a novel of the near future by the author of the critically-acclaimed Good Fences and Fate's Mirror.

the basics
I don't read thrillers a lot, even though I watch crime shows like it's my job.  So this was a nice treat.  It grabbed me from the very beginning.  The near-futuristic world is carefully crafted, filled with little details don't necessarily have huge plot significance, but make the world feel absolutely real.  It's a world I hope to visit again.  Aidra is a snappy, confident heroine with some issues of her own.  I thought the thing with her old dog was a little sappy until the true story came out about why she was so broken up over it--then it all made sense.  The plot is nonstop.  Every time you think you're hitting a breakthrough, Mead throws in another wrench.  It was exciting and beautifully well-written. I look forward to their next work.

plot . 5/5
Breakneck.  You're thrown into the world of private investigation and right away, the action picks up.  There were certain characters that didn't really come full circle, like the spinner (like a tabloid writer) who gets his butt handed to him by Aidra, but it was a fun little scene that shows you a lot about her character.  After that, everything was fluid.  We follow Aidra as she follows leads with the delightfully snarky Morris, gets into trouble with the religious fundamentalists, has a sexy (and surprising) rendezvous with the smooth-talking geneticist Edo.  And then it's a race to the finish.  Some of the plot had the potential to feel deus ex machina, but Mead did a good job of keeping the consequences realistic.  My only snag is at the end, because I feel like the widow's actions would have been different.  But judge for yourself.  

concept . 5/5
I was a little iffy at first.  Some huge conspiracy about dogs?  Seemed a little over-the-top.  Yeah, this is the part where I admit that I was being super silly.  This was no campy puppy escapade.  Yes, that's a thing.  The calines, genetically engineered perfect pets, fit perfectly into this futuristic world where technology is paramount.  Humans have used it to shape the world to their every need, from all-in-one data phones to techno-masks that give you a new face and surrounding over video chat to gene therapy that can cure the worst ailments.  It's near-future enough that I could imagine this being our world, and it brings up a lot of issues about how much we should be altering nature, and what the consequences are.

characters . 5/5
Love.  Aidra is a spitfire, but not in your typical brainless foolhardy way.  She may be a little unorthodox, but she's got a good head on her shoulders.  I was able to relate to her instantly.  The supporting cast is fantastic.  Morris, the tech-nerd, is hysterically suave.  Edo is instantly dreamy.  Quinn is clever and adds a lot to the genetics questions.  Baxter has a sleek charm to him that screams businessman.  You don't get to know everything about everyone (for instance, we still know very little about Morris) but you feel like they're real people out there somewhere.

style . 5/5
The style is extremely high quality.  I could see this being something run out of the Big Six.  Mead writes in a concise, snappy way that provides enough detail without harping on it.  There's a sarcastic edge that makes it extremely funny at points, poignant at others.  The snappiness of the tone is perfect for a book populated with techno-terms.  Also, I'll say, I'm not big on sexy scenes but the one in this book was very tasteful.

mechanics . 5/5
Beautifully polished.  Mead clearly went the extra mile to make a professional product.

take home message
A breakneck thriller that mixes technology, murder, and man's best friend to make for a unique and compelling story.

Note: I received this copy free from the authors in exchange for a review.  The price of the book and its origin in no way affected my stated opinions.


Books by Theme: Young Adult Romance for Cynics

So, I'm what I'd like to call a cynical hopeless romantic.  I can't stand your basic bodice ripper and Twilight made me pound my head against a wall, but give me your typical love-hate Pride and Prejudice subplot and I'm a googly-eyed middle schooler in bobby socks.  I imagine that's what googly-eyed middle schoolers wear.  Anyhoo, if you're like me and you have a taste for not-your-typical romance, here are some books to make your inner hopeless romantic and your inner cynic make a truce.  

Romance for Cynics

Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler
 Min just broke up with dreamy basketball hottie Ed--and she's telling him exactly why.  This quirky break-up novel is a letter from Min to Ed, telling the story of their breakup from start to finish through the most significant objects in their relationship.  Min is a quirky classic film buff with a sharp tongue and a romantic's wide naive eyes.  It's every high school relationship you've ever had distilled into one cheeky, heartwrenching memoir.
Read my review

The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot
If you've only seen the movie, it's time you read the book.  Forget the Disneyfied fairy grandmother and the druggie-looking love interest.  The book is so much more.  Enter Mia:  vegetarian, math failure, political activist with triangular hair.  Her grandmother, a severe fashion fascist with tatooed eyeliner.  Her mother, a free-spirited artist dating her daughter's math teacher.  Her best friend, a super genius with an equally bright (and stunningly attractive) brother.  It's as much a tale of finding yourself as it is of steamy makeout sessions.  And book Michael is a dreamy nerd.

Your typical romcom with an atypical twist.  Girl gets broken up with.  Girl recruits male best friend to teach her how to have sexy one-night stands.  Girl uses friend for sex.  Guy realizes that he's created his own worst nightmare.  Cue hilarious shenanigans, shapeless hemp frocks, 50s movie references, and a whole lot of bow chicka wow wow.  I swear, that's what they call it.  It's a hysterical sex-positive look at modern dating without the syrupy drama of your average romcom.
Read my review

Deep Secret by Diana Wynne Jones
You thought Diana wouldn't come up on this list?  Ha ha ha ha ha.  This book isn't romance per se, but it's got a great love story.  Rupert Venables is a magid.  That's means he keeps tabs on the multiverse and tries to keep things in relative order.  When his mentor dies, he needs to find a new magid.  So why not interview a bunch of options and bring them all to a science fiction convention.  That's where he meets Maree, a beautifully irritating recently-unemployed know-it-all.  Rupert's trying to stay far out of her way while he interviews the other candidates, but magic and strange affairs are afoot at the Hotel Babylon, and it seems that he and Maree are made to keep meeting.  It's a cheeky modern fantasy with a sweet love story and a lot of cool fairy tale elements.

Pretty Amy by Lisa Burstein
You thought your prom was bad?  Amy gets arrested at hers, for being in possession of marijuana.  Suddenly, her fun prom night with a mystery hottie is weeks of community service, disappointed parents, and manipulative ex-friends.  But there's this guy who seems to make everything better.  Right?  A tale of growth and self-discovery through the tough times, and finding the love that's good for you, not the love you think you need.
Read my review

Click the book titles to find out more! 

What are some unconventional romances (or romance-filled books) that you love? 


Release: Embers at Galdrilene by A.D. Trosper

Get The Re-release Of "Embers At Galdrilene" By A.D. Trosper For Only .99 Cents From 11/17/12 Through 11/24/12 - Don't Miss The Dragon's Call!

Embers at Galdrilene has undergone a huge transformation! It now sports a beautifully  redesigned front cover, spine and back cover. It also has an awesome custom designed interior and has been professionally edited. All thanks to the incredible team at Blue Harvest Creative. And as an added bonus, when you read the final page of Embers at Galdrilene, you'll get an exciting sneak peek for the prologue Tears of War, the second book in the Dragon’s Call series.

In celebration of its re-release, Embers at Galdrilene will be available for only .99 cents! But this price only lasts from November 17th to November 24th. Embers won’t turn into a pumpkin at the end of its re-release promotion, but it will return to its regular price of $3.95. Don't miss out on this bestselling fantasy book. Wrap up the holidays with the gift of reading!

Click HERE to buy at Amazon
Click HERE to buy at Barnes & Noble

“A ray of light, a stain of shadow, shall endure to breathe life and death into the future” 

The war between the Guardians and the Shadow Riders ended in total devastation. The final battle killed all the dragons and left nothing but fields of ash. A small clutch of dragon eggs was all that remained to provide hope for the future.
Five hundred years later, the ability to use magic is a death sentence and dragons are remembered as a curse. But the unhatched dragons sing for their riders...and soon six lives will be changed forever.
The elements of magic are drawn together as the dragons’ call leads them on an epic and dangerous journey of discovery. They soon learn everything they’ve been taught to believe about magic and dragons is wrong.
With the last of the dragons and the world at stake, they will risk everything to heed the call.
But an evil from the past soon threatens their discovery and newfound joy. Shadow Dragons ride the dawn once more...


Evil lurks at every corner and eventually bursts, bringing forth a vivid confrontation that kept me at the edge of my seat, turning page after page.” ~ Annamaria Bazzi

“The characters are well thought out, and the plot is great. I loved Galdrilene itself, and the idea of the dragon eggs singing to those who are meant to hatch them.” ~ The Crooked Word

“I was so impressed by this excellent story! The characters and setting were vividly detailed, and the storyline was unique and enticing. I loved that the characters had strong bonds and connections to other beings, and Trosper did a magnificent job with pacing and stringing together the plot.” ~ Katie Jennings (author of the Dryad Quartet and When Empires Fall)

“There is something about dragon stories that is truly captivating and Trosper has certainly encapsulated this in her novel. This story follows the lives of young men and women as they escape a life of control and fear to find their true talents and true selves… Expect to be entertained with dragon fights, romance and witty comebacks in Trosper's creation of an idyllic world. You are even given a rare insight into the workings of a dragon's mind.” ~ Elizabeth Wright of Bestchicklit.com

“Anne McCaffrey's Legacy… I was extremely wary when this book was immediately evocative of every story Anne ever told about dragons, their 'Impression' on their destined riders, and the immutable bond between the two. Like Asimov's laws of robotics, Pern's dragon lore is indelibly etched as 'fact' in my psyche and anything markedly different does not sit very well with me at all.

I am immensely pleased to say that A.D. Trosper did not let me down. There was enough of Pernish dragon-lore to satisfy my need for continuity, whilst at the same time enough differences to make this clutch of dragons her very own. Well done Ms. Trosper!” ~ Richard King

Here is where I'm supposed to talk about myself in third person for whatever reason. But, even though there are a lot of people in my head, referring to myself in third person still sounds too strange.

Born in Kansas, I spent a lot of my childhood moving around. I lived in Kansas, Oklahoma, Washington State (around Seattle), and southern California. I had many great adventures growing up. I'm now settled down in Kansas with my wonderful husband, three children, my wonderful dog Katie, assorted cats, and small flock of chickens.

I've been an avid lover of fantasy since I was young child. Dragons, elves, fairies, dwarves, and other denizens of the fantasy world as well as magic have always fascinated me. As I grew up, I developed an interest in vampires, zombies and my interests branched out to take in paranormal and urban fantasy.

I don't have any special writing credits to my name other than a wildly active imagination and the ability to form that imagination into written stories.
Want to know more or connect with me? Follow the links, I promise there is no wicked witch of the west at the end…most of the time.



ARC Review: Sam Cruz's Infallible Guide to Getting Girls by Tellulah Darling

title:  Sam Cruz's Infallible Guide to Getting Girls

author: Tellulah Darling

pages: 244

format: Kindle

isbn/asin: 978-0988054004

buy it: Amazon

rating: 5/5 [in the genre] or 8/10 [all books I’ve ever read].

recommended for:  Fans of The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot, the Georgia Nicolson books by Louise Rennison, or similarly funny, quirky, sex-positive teen lit.  Humor-lovers.  People who don't get squeamish about blatant references to sex and sexual activity.

Why the hell can’t chicks be more like guys?

That question plagues high school senior Sam Cruz. Sam is perfectly happy being a player. He just wishes girls wouldn’t change the game from sex to relationships. It makes him look like an asshole. But when Sam’s best friend, Ally Klinger, gets dumped, she begs him to transform her into someone who can screw around then screw off. No risk of heartbreak that way. It’s Sam’s chance to create the perfect female AND cheer up his best friend. Armed with Sam’s Three Step Guide to Backseat Success, Ally gets the game better than Sam thought she would and before long, Sam has his wish: the female version of himself. Too bad it’s driving him nuts. Told from Sam’s and Ally's alternating POVs, Sam Cruz’s Infallible Guide to Getting Girls is a fast-paced romantic comedy that follows these teens as they navigate the minefield of sex, love, and friendship.

This book contains strong language, drinking, euphemisms, and lots of “bow chicka wow wow.”

the basics
This book grew on me with every page.  At first I thought it was a bit over-the-top, a bit too down-and-dirty with some of the sex references and language, but the style caught me like a cold.  (I swear that makes sense.)  Yeah, it is a bit over the top.  A bit too clever for its own good.  But I loved it.  The writing is laugh-out-loud hysterical, the scenarios are romcom ridiculous but without the saccharine aftertaste, and the two POV characters are relatable and quirky.  Don't think this plot goes where you expect it to.  Darling spins the old stereotypes on their head in a believable way.  I thought Sam's final revelation was a little unnatural, but that's one of few complaints.  I lost a lot of sleep just not able to put this book down.

plot . 4.5/5
So you think you know where this is going?  You don't.  It's a little like She's All That (which, coincidentally, I watched for the first time in years a few weeks ago) if Rachael Leigh Cook were to turn the tables on Freddie Prinz Jr. entirely.  This isn't your typical boy changes girl, girl becomes sexy, boy falls for girl and tries to win her back story.  It's more like, boy changes girl, girl uses boy for sex, girl likes other boy, boy gets annoyed at being used, girl and boy get caught in hilarious antics with several people falling into the mix. In the end, I loved that Ally learned how to stay true to herself and feel more empowered and confident, and I loved that Sam didn't turn into some gushy prince charming.  Like I said, there was just that scene towards the end that I thought was way too quick and unrealistic.  Other than that, I can't complain.

concept . 4.5/5
It's not new.  It's been done in She's All That, No Strings Attached, insert-rom-com-here.  But Darling takes it to a different level.  It's not about girl becoming ideal slutty boytoy.  It's about girl getting what she wants out of sexual relationships and taking control.  I felt like maybe the scenarios felt a little too mature for high schoolers.  I'd have bought it more with college kids.  However, if you let that aside, it's a great fresh spin on the typical story.

characters . 5/5
So clever and funny.  Over the top but somehow still realistic and true, as only a good writer can do.  Sam is a cad with heart who realizes that he does want friendship and sex...but does he want it in the same girl?  Ally is a formless-hemp-dress-wearing brainiac taking trip on the wild side after her skeazy vegan boyfriend breaks her heart.  The cast is fleshed out with a revolving door of Sam's conquests, the snobby adorable indie lovebirds Rachel and Ian, and the delightfully catty diner staff.  Reminds me of the character style in the show Peep Show, which is much less risque than it sounds but delightfully British.  Anyway, I love them.  I want more.

style . 5/5
Maybe a little Bridget Jones?  I haven't read it, but for some reason that comes to mind.  See back to Cabot and Rennison.  It's a little risque, a little sexy, a little crazy, a little whimsical.  There were at least four or five things on every page that made me chortle and I swear, I was laughing so loudly that my cat freaked out.  Which is sad, I know.  Don't judge my spinster lifestyle.  :P  Darling has a way with bringing things to life and putting slapstick into print.

mechanics . 5/5
Great, nothing much to say here.  The switching POVs was awesome because the time periods didn't overlap perfectly, so sometimes a chapter would end with Sam deciding to do something or feel a certain way, and then in Ally's chapter, it would become obvious that he had totally changed his mind.  Which was cool, because even though you were in both of their heads, you were still surprised.

take home message
A hilarious, sex-positive take on modern dating relationships.

Note: I received this copy free from the publisher in exchange for a review.  The price of the book and its origin in no way affected my stated opinions.


Feature & Follow: Reach for the Stars ... and the Books

Q: Books are turned into movies all the time! Turn it around. What movie would make a great book? 

A:  Great question!  Donnie Darko immediately came to mind.  I could see someone like Chuck Palahniuk writing it, or Susanna Kaysen, or David Leviathan or John Green.  Someone dark and cerebral but with some whimsy.  There's just so much narration in it already, so many things that could be delved into further.  I'd want it to be something surreal and a little hard to follow, with snippets of Sparrow's book interspersed like in the director's cut.  That or The Dark Crystal or Labyrinth.

All follows loved and appreciated!  I can't wait to meet everyone! 
I'll stop by your blog as soon as I can! 

Insert shameless plugs: 

Reader appreciation survey and giveaway

Guest Review on I Am a Reader, Not a Writer

Hey guys!  Short post today.  

Check out my guest review for Among the Hidden by Margaret Peterson Haddix. 

You can find it at I Am a Reader, Not a Writer, a great book blog hosted by the most awesome Kathy. 



Treason Blog Tour: Character Interview with Braeden Drakonin

Welcome, one and all, to the Treason blog tour for S.M. Boyce's stunning new high fantasy novel!  You may recall that the Lichgates tour was my first ever tour here at Sarcasm & Lemons, and also one of my favorite new series.  Well, guess what?  The sequel is just as amazing!  

Today, we have a special guest: Braeden Drakonin, heir to the Stele and one of the main characters in Treason.  Also my favorite character, incidentally.  He'll be telling us more about his wonderful self. 

But don't stop there.  Check out my review of Treason and once you realize how fantastic it is, go look at the other tour stops for more fun, reviews, giveaways, and much more!  

Without further ado... 

Alright, Braeden.  I have a few questions for you today.  Will you marry me?  Ha, oops, how did that get in there.  I mean . . . when did you begin to realize that your feelings for Kara were stronger than just friendship? 

(Laughs) I’m afraid I’m taken, but thank you. This is a bit of a personal question to start off, but I guess we can roll with it. To be honest, I don’t even know when I actually fell for her. It happened sometime while we were travelling to each kingdom. Even after I realized the Grimoire couldn’t…uh, help me, I couldn’t bring myself to leave her.

I think that’s the thing with love, though. It sneaks up on you.

Gavin makes some big changes in this book.  How were you feeling about him by the end?  Do you think you'll ever be close to him again?  

Eh…Gavin. I hope so. We grew up as brothers, and I want that back. I don’t know if I could ever truly trust him again, but I’d like to hope that’s possible.

What was it like for you when Kara was playing the protective card and afraid to get close to you? 

Infuriating. Maddening. Frustrating. Adorable. That woman…I don’t know how she hooked me like this.

We see a lot of darus in this book, from Aislynn's shimmering extra-sensation to Gavin's thorny armor.  Can you tell us more about the daru?  

Well, I’m not sure how detailed you want me to get, but the daru is a royal’s raw power. Some say it’s our soul, but we’ll never know for sure. The only known fact is that we become absolutely powerful and draw energy from our subjects. Some of us have added powers, like Aislynn’s heightened senses. I don’t have that.

What's your favorite kind of Earth music? 

Good one! I haven’t gotten that question before. I’d have to say I love dark cinematic music. You know, those scores and soundtracks made for movies. I get lost in those songs.

If the other yakona were no longer prejudiced against Stelians, would you consider living full-time in your Stelian form?  

Probably not. I spent the better part of my life in my Hillsidian form. It’s comfortable. It’s what I know. If I don’t have to change, I won’t.

Alright, last one.  Would you really consider going to live in Scotland if the war never ends?

Hell yes. Scotland is an amazing place, haggis and all.  

Well, that wraps up our interview.  Thanks for visiting Sarcasm & Lemons!  

(Winks) My pleasure.

Oh, stop, you'll make me blush.  

And for the rest of you...go check out the rest of the tour, and don't forget to get your very own copy of Treason!  

Waiting on Wednesday: The 39 Deaths of Adam Strand by Gregory Galloway

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a feature hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine to feature yet-to-be-released books.

gregory galloway

Learn more

coming february 21, 2013

Adam Strand isn't depressed. He's just bored. Disaffected. So he kills himself—39 times. No matter the method, Adam can't seem to stay dead; he wakes after each suicide alive and physically unharmed, more determined to succeed and undeterred by others' concerns. But when his self-contained, self-absorbed path is diverted, Adam is struck by the reality that life is an ever-expanding web of impact and forged connections, and that nothing—not even death—can sever those bonds.

In stark, arresting prose, Gregory Galloway finds hope and understanding in the blackest humor.

c.j.'s thoughts

It had me at the title, and never let go.  Dark humor is kind of my thing.  The silver side of morbid.  The profound truths found in laughing at death.  It has the potential to be tasteless, but I trust Galloway.  I'm seeing more of a It's a Wonderful Life kind of route with a bite.  Proof that what you do has ripples.  And honestly, it gives me hints of John Green for some reason I can't explain.  Wasn't lucky enough to get this ARC, but I might stave myself off with Galloway's first title.  It's going to be a long wait until February.


Wishlist Wednesday: The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

Wishlist Wednesday features books that have been on your wishlist for a long time, old or new.

michelle hodkin

Mara Dyer doesn’t think life can get any stranger than waking up in a hospital with no memory of how she got there.

It can.

She believes there must be more to the accident she can’t remember that killed her friends and left her mysteriously unharmed.

There is.

She doesn’t believe that after everything she’s been through, she can fall in love.

She’s wrong.

c.j.'s thoughts

As usual, I hit the bandwagon a little late on this one.  Evolution is already out, yeah?  But I'm still dying to get a hold of this.  The blurb is just bare-bones enough to catch my interest and give me a tease of what's coming.  Amnesia stories can bug me, but I have faith in this one.  Also, I'll admit it: the cover is pretty and I want it.  And I'm a little bit of a hopeless romantic, so I'm hoping this love thing is well done and entwined around a strong central plot.  Not to mention the hints of supernatural goings-on.  I'm in.

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Teaser Tuesday: The Assassin's Curse by Cassandra Rose Clarke

"Teaser Tuesday" is a weekly feature hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading.  

i'm loving this book. honestly, how did it take me so long to read it!? i've had the arc for months now.  got denied a bunch of arcs by penguin (sadfacehere), but also got several i really wanted, so i guess it evens out. 

cassandra rose clarke

I knew we couldn't stay here--knew I couldn't stay here.  
But I wasn't leaving Naji behind.  "Here," I said, 
shoving the sword at him.  "To protect me with."

books are an escape. they put into words what we can't. if you're suffering in silence, you're not alone. 


Books by Theme: Reads to be Thankful For

This is a special Books by Theme.  It's November and for the Americans among us, that means Thanksgiving.  It may have a terrible, sad history, but let's focus on the good bit: it's a day to remind us that we have a lot to be thankful for.  So these are the books I'm thankful for.  They're books that got me through tough times.  Books that made a difference in my life. Books that got me where I am today.  

Reads to be Thankful For

Lichgates by S.M. Boyce
 I had a hell of a year last year, and I was in a pretty dark spot.  One of the reasons I started this blog was to help dig myself out of the hole.  I was a newbie, with no sense of the blogging world.  Just a dream and a silly title.  Then came S.M. Boyce inviting me to be a part of her blog tour.  Through her, I've met some of the greatest bloggers and writers out there and I've become part of a wonderful, supportive community.  And guess what?  Her book rocks.  It's YA fantasy come to life, with a super original world, realistic characters, and nonstop adventure.  I'll never forget the start it gave me.
Read my review

The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
This was with me for one whole summer.  It's a long book, the real version, and I read just a few pages a night before I went to sleep.  I feel like this book lived a huge part of my life with me, and it was an instant favorite.  Edmund Dantes is deep, relatable, and broken--the perfect anti-hero.  His story is filled with revenge and redemption, sorrow and triumph.  It's a reminder of what happens when one object consumes a man, and what he must give up to pursue it.  It's also just damn beautifully written, and it makes me want to write.

Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling
This won't be a long entry, because you already know how much this rocks (or you've already spurned it).  But Harry Potter was my childhood.  The movies ended the year I graduated college, the year I became a semi-official adult.  I feel like Harry and I grew up together, and I spent so much time in his world, making up my own characters on fanfic and roleplay sites.  Harry got me through an awkward childhood and kept the whimsy in my life.

I feel sad every time I finish these books, because I don't want them to end.  They're the purest, most whimsical, most breathtaking examples of childhood fantasy.  They remind me why I wanted to become a writer in the first place, and they make me feel like there's magic in the world even when it seems dark.

If you come around here a lot, you know that I love her.  I can't even pick just one.  My love of her started with The Chronicles of Chrestomanci Vol. 1, continued with Howl's Moving Castle, Dark Lord of Derkholm, and so many others.  Her books are fantasy incarnate.  They're original.  They're clever.  They're full of flawed people, plain-looking heroines who get the prince, downtrodden losers who find their inner magic, hope.  They've been there for me at every unsure moment.

The most perfect book ever written.  Wilde is my mentor, my idol, my inspiration.  I've knelt at his grave and read his works and his quotes countless times.  He never takes life or himself too seriously, and he reminds us that above all, art is beautiful.

Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace
Speaking of literary genius.  I read this book over the course of my senior year of college. Senior year wasn't the best of years.  It was full of fun and awesome things, but it was also full of endings.  This book was the constant.  It was something I could go to every night to ward off the thoughts that kept me down.  It was something that made me think deeply about life.

Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine
It reminded me that princesses can be clever, and strong, and selfless.  There's so much more beyond a pretty face.  I've reread this so many times I can't even count.  It's better each and every time.  Every girl should read this before she goes to middle school.  And once every so often, just to remember.

The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
Do I need words?  He's been present in so much of my life. 

The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
I feel sad every time I finish these books, because I don't want them to end.  They're the purest, most whimsical, most breathtaking examples of childhood fantasy.  They remind me why I wanted to become a writer in the first place, and they make me feel like there's magic in the world even when it seems dark.

Grimm's Fairy Tales
My favorite bedtime stories, even though they were creepy.  Especially because they were creepy.

Arthur Goes to School by Marc Brown
By all memorable accounts, the first book I ever read completely on my own without ever having heard of before.

Be Nice to Spiders by Margaret Bloy Graham
And finally, the book that my family taught me to read on.  An underappreciated classic that taught me to read....but not how to be nice to spiders.

I could go on and on and on, but I'd be listing for so long.  Maybe I'll have to do another one of these again.  All I can say is...books are magical, and they've kept me going.

Click the book titles to find out more! 

What books are you thankful for? 


Review: Coraline by Neil Gaiman

title:  Coraline

author: Neil Gaiman

pages: 194

format: Kindle

isbn/asin: 9780061139376

buy it: Amazon

rating: 4/5 [in the genre] or 7/10 [all books I’ve ever read].

recommended for:  Fans of Tim Burton, obviously.  Lovers of scary stories, haunted houses, and things that go bump in the night.

Coraline's often wondered what's behind the locked door in the drawing room. It reveals only a brick wall when she finally opens it, but when she tries again later, a passageway mysteriously appears. Coraline is surprised to find a flat decorated exactly like her own, but strangely different. And when she finds her "other" parents in this alternate world, they are much more interesting despite their creepy black button eyes. When they make it clear, however, that they want to make her theirs forever, Coraline begins a nightmarish game to rescue her real parents and three children imprisoned in a mirror. With only a bored-through stone and an aloof cat to help, Coraline confronts this harrowing task of escaping these monstrous creatures.

the basics
I really wanted to love this book, especially considering how much I love Neil Gaiman and how much I enjoyed the movie.  I just didn't.  I liked it, I really liked it, but it didn't give me the tingly literary elation of Stardust or Neverwhere or The Graveyard Book.  The aesthetic is wonderful, and so is the writing.  Pure Gaiman, eerie and like an old timey story.  I think the hitch for me was in the plot.  It just went so fast.  I had expected a slower, more suspenseful introduction to the other mother's evil, but that revelation came right away and most of the book was spent trying to free the captive souls.  I would have liked to see a switch in emphasis.  That said, it's still classic and the concept is brilliant beyond measure.

plot . 4/5
It starts out perfectly, with a great eerie horror-story set-up.  Neglectful parents.  Girl goes exploring.  Strange things keep happening and suddenly she's in an eerie otherworld that seems in some ways too perfect, in other ways ghastly.  Here's where I thought it fell a little flat.  I wanted the reveal to be slower.  I didn't expect the other mother to reveal her true colors so quickly.  It made it feel less horrific to me that we were shown the truth so quickly.  So I didn't feel as invested in the end, because it just seemed to take such a long time.  I think it just peaked in its horror too quickly.  Not to say that it wasn't exciting.  I just have higher standards for Gaiman.

concept . 5/5
No complaints here.  The concept is brilliant and sadistic and unique in a way that Gaiman is so perfect at.  It takes every child's greatest desires and worst nightmares and rolls them into one.  Dolls and toys become sinister.  Freedom from parental control becomes terrifying.  It reminds me very much of old Are You Afraid of the Dark? episodes.  Want to come live with us, dear? says the eerie otherworldly parental figure.  Seems like a great idea...until she shows her teeth.  It's classic in ways, but Gaiman gives it a darkly funny twist.

characters . 5/5
Gaiman's characters tend to be caricatures of reality that somehow seem perfectly real themselves.  I don't know how he does it and I envy him for it.  Coraline is the stereotypical little girl drawn to such epic proportions that she's totally believable.  Very Roald Dahl like, only with bite.  No recipes.  Day-glo gloves. Always wanting to be treated with more attention, fewer rules.  Her parents are exaggerated too--the absentminded adults who send their daughter out into the yard to play.  It's this that gives the story a lot of its dark fairy tale quality.  But exaggerated as they are, they're still relatable and so real-feeling.  You want to root for them.

style . 5/5
Gaiman's style is one of my favorites in literature.  Part fairy tale, part satire, witty and dark and elegant and eerie.  His pages are filled with sarcasm and poetry, silliness and the most beautifully vivid descriptions.  You feel like you're in a magical place from page one.  It manages to feel childishly whimsical and also very adult. Different ages of readers would all love and understand it, but they'd get very different things out of it.

mechanics . 5/5
Perfect, as always.  The addition of pictures makes it feel even more like an old woodcut fairy tale tome.

take home message
A dark modern fairy tale that waxes both horrific and whimsical.

Note: I purchased this copy. The price of the book and its origin in no way affected my stated opinions.


Showcase Sunday #6

Showcase Sunday is a meme to show off all the books you've collected this week!  

good haul this week!  i bought them all, but it was quite worth it. i just couldn't help myself at the bookstore. or on betterworldbooks.com. or on amazon. 

...i have a problem. 

acquired this week 

Drain You by M. Beth Bloom  {paperback} 
An Abundance of Katherines by John Green  {paperback} 
Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor  {paperback} 
The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer  {paperback} 
Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe  {paperback} 
The Overcoat and Other Short Stories by Nikolai Gogol  {paperback} 
The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo  {paperback} 
Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf  {paperback} 
My Sore Hush-a-Bye by Renata F. Barcelos  {kindle} [not pictured] 
Dark That Day, After All by Jason McIntyre  {kindle} [not pictured]