Wednesday, March 28, 2012

A Hundred - finally!

One Hundred followers! Hurrah!



So here it is -- the 100 follower give away.  (Thanks Susan Oloier!)  The winner will receive a $100 gift certificate to Amazon.com or Barnes & Noble (your choice) for US follower. 

Or if you are an international follower in regions that they ship to, you'll get $100 US dollars worth of books from Book Depository.  I don't see that they have a gift certificate so we'll have to figure out what you want and I'll get it ordered. 

 I'm so sorry but if you live in a region not covered by Book Depository I can't offer you anything except my thanks for following.

I'll be closing the giveaway Friday 4/6/12 at 12 midnight Pacific Standard Time

Here is what you need to do to enter:

1) Be a follower on google friend connect (use the convenient "join this site button" on right)

2) Comment on this post.  Only comment once.  If you forgot to say something, pls reply to your own comment.
  • Please tell me the title of a book (and author) you want to read but don't have yet?
  • Have an e-reader?  Which one? 
  • And anything else you want to tell me? 
I'll be doing a random drawing at some point 4/7 or 4/8 and I'll be in touch with winners. 

Oh yeah!  Make sure there is some way to contact you by e-mail (either via your profile or blog or something).  I guess I should be all legal about this and say if you are a winner and I'm unable to connect with you by 4/15, I'll pick another winner on 4/18.

Ninety-nine and other things

The blog has 99 followers.  Thanks so much to the 6 most recent followers.  I swore I wasn't going to do this but I got impatient waiting for the 100th person.

The next person who signs up triggers the giveaway. 





Also, I noticed a lot of folks are signing up for the A - Z blog challenge.  I want to try but my track record for anything that requires constancy is pretty dismal.  Anybody have any advice on that?

I too saw Hunger Games over the weekend.  I loved it.  I haven't seen anybody saying they didn't like it.  I'm not sure I have anything to add except I really liked the costumes and makeup of the people in the Capitol and how they pulled off the "girl on fire" costumes! Wonderful.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

How important is the book cover?

I know the old adage "Don't judge a book by its cover".  But when you are talking about e-books, there are hundreds - thousands to choose from and everything/anything you can do to attract a potential buyer - including an attractive cover is imporant.
I'm not proud.  I admit I'm drawn to the pretty covers first.

which would you buy of each of these two pairings. Yeah, okay, this is skewed to the female reader.









Monday, March 26, 2012

Book Review - The Lure of Shapinsay by Krista Holle

Description from Amazon.com


Ever since Kait Swanney could remember, the old crones of the village have been warning her to stay away from the selkies. They claim that like sirens of old, the seal men creep from the inky waters, shed their skins, and entice women to their deaths beneath the North Sea. But avoiding an encounter becomes impossible when Kait is spotted at the water’s edge, moments after the murder of a half-selkie infant.

Kait is awoken unexpectedly by a beautiful, naked selkie man seeking revenge. After she declares her innocence, the intruder darts into the night, but not before inadvertently bewitching her with an overpowering lure.

Kait obsesses over a reunion deep beneath the bay and risks her own life to be reunited with her selkie. But when she lands the dangerous lover, the chaos that follows leaves Kait little time to wonder—is it love setting her on fire or has she simply been lured?


Here is a trailer!




What I liked
The main character, Kait Swanney is a strong, independent young woman who speaks her own mind and makes her own decisions.  Pretty tough cookie for 1800’s Scotland.
The mythology of the ‘selkie’ was something I’d briefly heard about and I think Melissa Marr wrote a short story about in an anthology I read.  That was the extent of my knowledge.  This story fills in all the gaps in a way that makes sense.
Kait’s obsession with Eamon, the selkie, is written well so that I believed and understood Kait’s actions.
The story ends in an unexpected but fitting way.
What I didn’t like
The middle drags.  I think the problem is that the “girl gets boy” part happens too quickly.  So all through the middle of the book I dreaded the “girl loses boy” part.
There were characters that were just there as plot devices.  Like Kait’s best friend who has the half-selkie baby.  She’s  there for a chapter  or so in the beginning to kick off the story.  An old hag who may or may not be crazy shows up halfway through the book.
Oh, and there is some “mating” going on.  Nothing graphic but not appropriate for younger teens.
_______________

I’m giving it 4 out of 5 stars – I liked it but you might not.

Oh, and I almost forgot - I received an e-book copy in exchange for my honest review.


Friday, March 23, 2012

A Day At The Races

Yesterday, we went to Santa Anita Park.  It was for work... kinda.  You see, my boss, Mr. P. owns race horses.
I am a city gal - never been around horses much so I was in awe of the beauty/majesty of the horses.    But at the same time, I am reading "Scorpio Races" by Maggie Stiefvater so I was also keenly aware of the danger of the sport both to the jockeys and the animals.  In fact, the ambulance followed every race just out of camera range of the horses.



It was a gorgeous day, no horses or jockeys got hurt and a pleasant way to spend an afternoon. 


Monday, March 19, 2012

Book Review - Snow, Blood, & Envy by Jean Haus

From Amazon

With aspirations of being an animator, sixteen-year-old Nivi Nash thought she knew all about fairy tales. Take one beautiful damsel in distress, add a charming hero, and don’t forget a cackling villain. Throw in some pretty colors, a few songs, and mix well.

But caught in a real one, she learns the hero—though still hot—isn’t always charming, the story far from pretty, and the villain absolute evil. On the run for her life in a stolen SUV, she isn’t worried about her beauty, but happily ever after? Yes, she wants that the most. It means she’ll live.

The kiss always at the end of these tales?

Most of the time, okay maybe half of the time, the thought of that lip lock is far, far away where these stories are supposed to be. But tied to a stake on the side of a snowy mountain, the thought of her not-so-charming hero’s kiss burns away the reality of the knife hovering above her skin.

Appropriate for grade nine and up.

What I Liked:

Pretty much everything. I really like this author's writing. I first happened upon her novella “Sleeping Handsome” which is the retelling of Sleeping Beauty. I liked it so much I gave it five stars. This book is a full length novel and retelling of “Snow White” (except there aren’t any dwarves).

The character Nivi: She’s a thoroughly modern teen. The author does a really good job getting her motivation and thoughts down on the page so you understand and root for Nivi.

The pacing: Never slow, never dull. It kept me reading all the way through til the end.

The world: Unexpected! You wouldn’t think you could set a modern-day Snow White tale in NY but the author manages to do that. And you wouldn’t think Prince Charming would be found in Chinatown but he is.

The Love Interest: You don’t know if he’s good or evil. If he loves Nivi or hates her. Good job keeping us guessing.

The epilogue: The book not only had an ending, it had an epilogue, and I thought the epilogue tied things up in an unexpected but fitting manner.

What I didn’t like:

The parents: The stepmom seemed cartoonishly villainess and the dad seemed too clueless.

Rating: Another five out of five. I liked it a lot and recommend it.


NOTE: There is some violence but I consider it “mild”

NOTE: I received an e-book copy in exchange for an honest review.



Sunday, March 18, 2012

Book Review – Intangible by J. Meyers

Description from Amazon:

Twins Sera and Luke Raine have a well-kept secret--she heals with a touch of her hand, he sees the future. All their lives they've helped those in need on the sly. They've always thought of their abilities as being a gift.
Then Luke has a vision that Sera is killed. That gift they've always cherished begins to feel an awful lot like a curse. Because the thing about Luke's ability? He's always right.

And he can't do anything about it.

What I liked:

The book starts off strong and kicks right in with the action. The author has a really smooth writing style. I liked that she’s able to tell the story from each of the character’s POVs.

There is a kick-ass climax and plot twists that I didn’t see coming. Very good job keeping me guessing.

The Sera-Marc romance was hot without being adult

There was a real ending but left the door open for more

Shallow but I loved the cover to this and the short story introduction “Intuition.”

What I didn’t like:

My only real quibble was that I felt like there were too many magical/gifted creatures/beings running around. First we have the healer Sera and the seer Luke. Then we meet Fey who may or may not have some kind of power. Then along come a mind-reader and a vampire. Just when you think you’ve got it all figured out, yet another kind of creature comes in (and it is towards the end of the book).

With all the characters and their powers running around, it started to feel like Mystic Falls (from Vampire Diaries). In order to keep the story moving though, I felt some of the characters and their powers got glossed over.

Marc’s reaction during the end seems a little odd.
____________

I’ll be getting the next book to see if Marc changes his mind and to see if anything between Luke and Fey develops.

My rating: 4 out of 5 stars. I liked it but you might not.

Note: I received an e-book copy in exchange for my honest review.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Book Reviews - Wither by Lauren Destefano & Bumped by Megan McCafferty

I just happened to read these books back to back and was struck by some similarities so I figured I'd review them together.
Here is the description from Amazon for Wither

By age sixteen, Rhine Ellery has four years left to live. She can thank modern science for this genetic time bomb. A botched effort to create a perfect race has left all males with a lifespan of 25 years, and females with a lifespan of 20 years. Geneticists are seeking a miracle antidote to restore the human race, desperate orphans crowd the population, crime and poverty have skyrocketed, and young girls are being kidnapped and sold as polygamous brides to bear more children.
When Rhine is kidnapped and sold as a bride, she vows to do all she can to escape. Her husband, Linden, is hopelessly in love with her, and Rhine can’t bring herself to hate him as much as she’d like to. He opens her to a magical world of wealth and illusion she never thought existed, and it almost makes it possible to ignore the clock ticking away her short life. But Rhine quickly learns that not everything in her new husband’s strange world is what it seems. Her father-in-law, an eccentric doctor bent on finding the antidote, is hoarding corpses in the basement. Her fellow sister wives are to be trusted one day and feared the next, and Rhine is desperate to communicate to her twin brother that she is safe and alive. Will Rhine be able to escape--before her time runs out?

What I liked:
This book grabs you from the very first sentence and keeps you turning pages.  I read the whole thing in two sittings  (I went to bed at 3am). 

The harrowing dystopic world where girls/women are kidnapped and sold as childbearers.

How each character is neither 100% good or evil.  The author builds these characters skillfully and you end up both loving and hating the husband, Linden, and can relate to both of the other two sister wives.  You can see how Rhine is torn between leaving this life of comfort and wealth and going back to her old life.

The sexual situation was dealt with.  Yes, there has to be some sex due to the mature subject matter.  To have none would be unrealistic.  But you see a door close, or somebody emerging from a bedroom.  That is it. 

Even though the book is the first of a trilogy it had an ending!! Yeah! 

What I didn't like

Some might find it offensive to read about a 13-year-old girl married and becoming pregnant by her 21-year -old husband.  BE WARNED.  I felt it was a little mature to be labeled a YA title. 

These are kind of quibbles.

The relationship between Gabriel and Rhine could have been more strongly established.  I'm not sure what is there on the page is enough for me to believe their relationship.

SPOILER-ISH
*







I didn't buy that Rhine could live there as long as she did without coming to more harm than she did.  She seems to have escaped any sort of serious consequences.




OKAY TO READ
All in all, I totally enjoyed reading this and will definitely pick up the next two books in the series.

I'm giving it four stars - I liked it.  Well written, engrossing,  but it may not be your cup of tea, especially if you don't care for the mature subject matter. 

BUMPED
Description of Bumped From Amazon

When a virus makes everyone over the age of eighteen infertile, would-be parents pay teen girls to conceive and give birth to their children, making teens the most prized members of society. Girls sport fake baby bumps and the school cafeteria stocks folic-acid-infused food.

Sixteen-year-old identical twins Melody and Harmony were separated at birth and have never met until the day Harmony shows up on Melody’s doorstep. Up to now, the twins have followed completely opposite paths. Melody has scored an enviable conception contract with a couple called the Jaydens. While they are searching for the perfect partner for Melody to bump with, she is fighting her attraction to her best friend, Zen, who is way too short for the job.

Harmony has spent her whole life in Goodside, a religious community, preparing to be a wife and mother. She believes her calling is to convince Melody that pregging for profit is a sin. But Harmony has secrets of her own that she is running from.

When Melody is finally matched with the world-famous, genetically flawless Jondoe, both girls’ lives are changed forever. A case of mistaken identity takes them on a journey neither could have ever imagined, one that makes Melody and Harmony realize they have so much more than just DNA in common.

------------------

Do you see the similarity in the subject matter between the two books?

What I liked

There are two characters = twins separated at birth one is celebrity surrogate Melody and the other
is Harmony,  raised in an ultra conservative religious community and about to be married.  I liked the contrast in the two sides of the issue.

I liked the world building the author did.  She even came up with inventive slang that teenagers would use in this unique world that sounded so very authentic. 

What I didn't like

Character development -  There was very little of it.  For two thirds of the book Melody doesn't really like Harmony and then, all of a sudden, she loves her sister?  The changes were too abrupt to be believable.

While the author tried to present both sides with the two characters, Melody's character is much stronger and she came off as pretty brainless.  And the slang, although original, tended to make some of the conversation confusing.

No matter how I tried, the idea of Melody's services as a "bump-ee" were being sold by her "parents" was not acceptable to me.  And there was sex.  More graphic than Wither but still on very tame side.
Another WARNING:  Mature subject matter I didn't think was appropriate for YA.

Ah how I hate those cliffhanger endings and this one had one.  There isn't enough here to get me to pick up the next one.

I'm giving this one three stars - Liked it more than I didn't like.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Hunger Names

I follow Rachel Morgan's blog: 
http://www.rachel-morgan.com/
She's got the first book of her Creepy Hollow series out and is currently conducting a blog tour. 

I'm not part of the tour or anything but the book sound great.  And she has a very interesting blog.  Check it out if you can and get her book if it sounds like something you like to read.

Anyway, her post today led me to this site:

http://hungernames.com/

It gives you what your name would be if you were a character in Hunger Games, what district you're in and how you met your, ahem, demise.

Me? 

I'm CUP GOLDENWOOD.  I'm a district 6 tribute in the 41st Hunger Games and apparently fell victim to a swarm of monkey-like creatures.  Haha.  Sounds like another one of those Rachel Harrie Campaigner challenges.

"Hey Cup!  Get me another cup would ya?"

Tell me what your Hunger Name is?

Monday, March 12, 2012

How far is going too far in a Critique?

I'm sure he meant well.  I went to critique group meeting last night and one of the members handed me a page. 
"What's this?"  I asked.

"My handwriting is messy so I retyped how I would write your opening."

At first I was very offended.  And then I thought, well, he was trying to be helpful...

And then same person later told me how he would change the plot.

 I got very prickly and defensive.   I think I said something like "I disagree and it is my story so I'm not changing it."   

And again afterwards I berated myself.  After all, he was just trying to be helpful.

But still, I don't think re-writing my words is something I want a critique partner to do.  I want a CP to point out my weaknesses and suggest how to fix. 

And I don't think critique partners should be telling me how to change my story.  Maybe suggest and point out what isn't working and why. 

I know this person had the best intentions but I feel he crossed the line.

Do you think this person went too far?   Or do you think I need to get a tougher skin?

Tagged for Lucky Number 7

Gwen at Fulfilling Dreams has tagged me for the latest meme making the rounds of the campaigners.  Please visit her fun and informative blog at:  http://www.fulfilling-dreams.com/
You'll love the dinosaur.  Trust me.  Just go visit!


Here are the rules:


1. Go to page 77 of my current MS/WIP

2. Go to line 7

3. Copy down the next 7 lines – sentences or paragraphs – and post them as they’re written. No cheating

4. Tag 7 authors


At first I was really psyched because page 77 is one of the most fun parts I've written.  But then line 10 is the punchline and line 7 is halfway into the joke.  So when you read it out of context it isn't funny.  And then lines 11-14 are the next scene.  So it was totally not going to make sense. 

Then I got anxious that this was going to be the first time anybody outside my Critique Partners ever saw part of my WIP and I decided I just couldn't do it. 

I know.  I'm no fun.  But the writing isn't that great (yet) anyway and I would like to DAZZLE you when I finally do share something here from my WIP.

Anyway, if you are reading this, consider yourself tagged.  Although, if you feel like I do, I totally understand.  If you do decide to participate, drop me a line so I can read your awesomeness! (and so I can technically say I didn't break the chain...)

Friday, March 9, 2012

Hunger Games National Mall Tour


Let the pre-awareness/marketing begin!
Oh and may the odds be forever in your favor.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Dance of the Spirits

This is what the Cree Nation calls the 'Dance of the Spirits'.  (Aurora Borealis  in case you were wondering).  Tonight is supposed to be a good night to see it because of the solar flares.

The things I do for work.

My work takes me to strange places.

Where I have to deal with some real snakes.

Some rats and alpha male types.

And some show-off.









Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Campaigner Challenge #2 - The Angry Dance of Spirits

The Angry Dance of Spirits


The Cree were the first to notice. They called it the ‘Dance of Spirits’; mystical curtains of aqua illuminating the heavens. When the O-zone layer disappeared, the curtains morphed into angry yellow orange spikes, exploding in the dark skies like fireworks.
The electro-magnetic sky transfigured the water. What was once liquid became gelatinous and undrinkable. Those who tried suffocated, those who resisted died of dehydration.
The gelatinous water sunk beneath the earth’s crust, pushing up the ocean floor. The sea became vast deserts of stinking dead sea creatures and trash. Gangs of scavengers formed, searching for pure water encased in metal, the only thing the electro-magnetism cannot penetrate.

We huddle under the graffitied remains of a concrete bridge, waiting for the deadly sunlight to fade. Kai tends to the jagged cut to my left shin. I’m still able to bleed; a good sign.

He reaches into our bag of medicines, finds the picture I hid . A smiling boy chasing a ball. In the background are acres of water.

Kai swallows convulsively, licking his cracked lips, suffering silently. I take our precious canteen. Before he realizes what I’m doing, I douse his hair, hoping it will break his fever.
_______________________________________

I'm entry #42 here if
http://www.rachaelharrie.blogspot.com/2012/03/second-campaigner-challenge-of-my.html
Here are the parameters:
There are five prompts: the four photos above and the following:
Two people are sitting together under the remains of a concrete bridge. Their backs are against a rusted bridge support. One person’s leg is cut. The other person has wet hair.

Do one or more of the following:
  • Write a short story/flash fiction piece of less than 200 words based on the prompts - I picked this one and just so you know, I'm at 199 words. Had to take one out to come in at less than 200.
  • Write a pitch/logline for a book based on the prompts (less than 100 words)
  • Write a poem with a twist using the prompts as inspiration (in less than 200 words) - poetry? Um, no.
  • Write a story/poem in five sentences, each sentence based on one of the prompts
  • Write a poem/flash fiction piece (in less than 200 words) about the water pear *without* using the words “pear”, “spoon”, or “droplet”.

For added difficulty/challenge:
  • Complete at least three of the above activities and tie them all together with a common theme (feel free to either state the theme in your post or leave us to guess what it might be)
I'm only doing one activity but my theme is an environmental, 'don't mess with mother nature' theme.
  • Write in a genre that is not your own
Yes, trying a dystopian, sci-fi genre instead of contemporary YA that I normally write.
  • Ask Challenge entrants to critique your writing. After the Challenge closes, you may wish to re-post your revised piece(s), and I’ll include a Linky List at the bottom of this post for those wishing more feedback on their revisions (note: revised entries will not be judged, so please label clearly your original post and your revisions. Please do not offer critique unless someone asks for it, as per the usual blogging conventions. If you do ask for critique, make sure you ask for it clearly so people know you want it, and please be prepared to receive feedback that may not be 100% glowing. If you are a critiquer, please be tactful and courteous, and remember to provide positives as well as negatives.)
Gonna skip this one. I have plenty of work that needs critiquing. Have to save my requests for that.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Colors Like Memories by Meradeth Houston - Cover

Julia has a secret: she killed the guy she loved. It was an accident—sort of.


Julia is a Sary, the soul of a child who died before taking her first breath. Without this 'breath of life' she and others like her must help those on the verge of suicide. It's a job Julia enjoyed, until the accident that claimed her boyfriend’s life—an accident she knows was her fault. If living with the guilt weren't enough, she's now assigned to help a girl dealing with the loss of her mother, something Julia is not exactly the best role model for. If she can't figure out a way to help her, Julia will lose her position in the Sary, something she swore to her boyfriend would never happen.


COLORS LIKE MEMORIES will be available in May!
 
Yeah! The book sounds like something I will absolutely pick up.   
She's got an awesome blog too http://meradethhouston.blogspot.com
where she shares her gorgeous photos of Spain as well as writerly tips.
 
 

Sunday, March 4, 2012

ComiCon tickets


It used to be so easy to get tickets.  Go to the convention center, walk upstairs, buy your ticket, and you're in.

Not this year.  This year, they instituted a new system.  You had to sign up for a membership ID prior to tickets going on sale.  I did that four weeks ago.

Yesterday, Saturday, the tickets went on sale at 8:00 am pacific time.  Armed with my membership ID, I clicked on the site at 8:00 am exactly.  I didn't get onto the site.
I did it again.  Still, no luck.  Finally, the third time, (approximately at 8:02 am) I got onto the site.

I was number 45,670!  As in there were 45,669 other people who logged on to buy their tickets ahead of me. 

UNBELIEVABLE.  So anyway, I stay on, waiting patiently for my turn.  The site seems to be able to process about 1000 people per minute which is pretty impressive.  Anyway, when I get to be #36,700 in line all the four day passes are sold out.  That is okay, I tell myself.  I'll buy a Friday and Saturday one day pass or something.

I wait some more.  I think I'm on line now an hour plus when the message flashes that All Friday and Saturday passes are sold.  I'm still #25,600 in line.  How did this little comic book convention become such a big dealio? 

I give up and quit the line.

Ah well, guess it wasn't meant to be. 

Friday, March 2, 2012

Sleeping Handsome by Jean Haus - New Cover


Oh my!  Isn't this cover gorgeous?  I reviewed this book earlier and commented that it needed a better cover.  Well, boy, oh boy, look at the new cover!    RUN and get a copy.  I just checked: still free.


Just so you know I'm not that shallow, I did love the book, even before the cover.

So now I'm reading "Snow, Blood, and Envy" by the same author.  It is Good!  I'll post a review when I'm done.





Thursday, March 1, 2012

Maggie Stiefvater's Critique Partner Connection

Maggie is having her critique partner connection again.  See right hand side - Blogs I follow religiously.  This is how I found my awesome CP#1.  We both like Maggie's writing, we both write YA. 

We initially exchanged 50 pages and decided we liked how the other writes.  We then decided what # of pages was do-able each month and off we went.

Check it out if you're looking.

Almost Almost

I'm at 93 followers!  If/When I hit a hundred there will be giveaways!  I'm very grateful for everyone who reads my ramblings.  Thank you very much!



Ninety-Three is full of pregnant and splendid sayings. It is equal to anything that Victor Hugo has ever written. (Robert Louis Stevenson)