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Sunday, February 28, 2010

In My Mailbox: February

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren.  Stop by and check it out, and share your own finds!

I do mine a little differently -- no shocker there.  I know I won't post about an IMM every week (and it's so much more impressive when I post them all together ;p) so I  make one grand IMM post at the end of the month, debuting on the last Sunday.

For the month of February, I fed my TBR beast with:

The Battle of the Labyrinth by Rick Riordan
The Titan's Curse by Rick Riordan
The Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan
Need by Carrie Jones
Bone Crossed by Patricia Briggs
Impossible by Nancy Werlin
The Morganville Vampires by Rachel Caine (includes Glass Houses and The Dead Girls' Dance)
I, Coriander by Sally Gardner
The Secret Books of Paradys by Tanith Lee (includes The Book of the Damned, The Book of the Beast, The Book of the Dead and The Book of the Mad)
Jennifer Government by Max Barry
Lamb: the Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal by Christopher Moore
The Lorax by Dr. Seuss + Lorax stuffed animal! (This is my favorite Seuss; apparently I was a mini-activist...)

If I Stay by Gayle Forman
I Heart You, You Haunt Me by Lisa Schroeder
 -- both from the awesome Angela!

Vampire Haiku by Ryan Mecum, as part of Vampire Week.  Thanks, Velvet!!!
The Archangel's Kiss by Nalini Singh, courtesy of That's QUEEN Bitch to You!.  Thanks!

and Falling, Fly by Skyler White
First Daughter by Eric van Lustbader
Last Snow by Eric van Lustbader
Titus and Atreus by Meridi Myers
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls by Steve Hockensmith

According to Jane by Marilyn Brant

Be My Guest, Elise of Behind the Cover!

 I gotta say, folks, I am loving you.   I wasn't sure how this was all going to work out, but Be My Guest is on a roll, and we have another great one this week.

My darling blogger buddy Elise, from Behind the Cover decided to get her creative on for her guest spot.  I think you'll be pleased with the result...

My lovelies, I give you Elise's short story, just for you:

Old trees with worn bark, the crisp rustling of their leaves blowing in the distance, fog, bittersweet and sulfur filled followed with its rancid aroma, surround me like an old familiar blanket.
In mere hours the sun will rise over the not so far away hills, and already I ache for the melancholy of Night. The friendly hand of darkness on my shoulder, easing my unsettling thoughts and urges, has become constant to me. Over the years Night is all I’ve known, my only companion.
The grass beneath me is dampened with moisture from dew, and the longer I stare at the field under me and beyond, my eyes focus on the patches where the grass failed to grow, as if for some unknown reason those patches weren’t meant to be beautiful as well.
I drag my fingers gently back and forth across the blades of grass, just enough so, that I was only grazing their tips. In this moment, painful memories of past come to surface, reminding me of what it was to feel. Not just the blades of grass, obviously harmless, but memories of real blades, blood drenched dripping scarlet, draining, until they lay lifeless. The way their skin looked when it was punctured by such an instrument, an instrument created to sever and cut, and do nothing else. To think of pain as a feeling and not just something I’ve inflicted, caused my eyes to burn with tears that would never reach their surface.
            The loud whistle from the only factory in town begins to sound. I look to the distant sky and watch as smoke begins to rise in huge puffs, eventually dissipating into night. I lay back, eyes still focused on the smoke, and my wish, now seeming so long ago, comes to mind. I wished for no more than to have Night forever. I had no use for the day. The burns it left on my skin when I basked in it’s warmth for too long, the brightness, on some days, caused my eyes to close so tightly, struggling, and almost hurting just to see. I rarely went outside, avoiding sunlight quite frequently. So, taking my loathsomeness towards the sun into account, I chose Night. Cold and intimidating, people seemed to fear the darkness that follows. To me that had meant power, but tonight, and the few nights before, I’m beginning to think I was wrong. Humanity, what little I have left, and some lingering memories, as of lately, are beginning to pain me, a pain I haven’t felt in a VERY long time.
            I often came to this park as a child, and more familiar memories are the years I spent here as a teen. I would dance in the night, under the twinkling blanket of stars that strewn the sky. The moon would give me just enough light to see my steps, and the old radio I had received as a hand me down from my brother, poured music from it’s worn speakers, providing me with a beat for my feet to move to. I felt free in the darkness, a freedom that words couldn’t express. As I danced my blood would warm, but my skin would still get goose bumps from the cold outside of my body. It was around seventeen I first experienced Night, and all that entailed. Seducing, and beautiful, scary and so foreign to me, but these observations only drew me in further. After spending many hours with Night, dancing in the darkness in absolute bliss, I knew I wanted this feeling forever.
            Now, years later I am back where it all began, and when the sun rises over the hills, this is where it will end as well. I have come to realize that all beginnings must have an end, or else what’s left to live for? Watching those close to me die as time progresses, and the precious few that had to die by my own hand. Like a manic disease, my hunger worsened so much so, that no one is safe near me. I seclude myself, and for a week now, I haven’t eaten, but aside from my hunger, my thoughts seem to be clearer now. I can almost taste the feelings in me, being brought to the surface of my mind, sour yet sweet, like an apple which isn’t quite ripe yet. I know this will hurt, but no more than that of which I’ve afflicted on others. The past torments me like a wicked lullaby, only sung to bring nightmares. I’m ready to rest.

            Footsteps….about a mile away…..slow strides, I was so lost in the sounds of the park I almost didn’t hear them. I hopped to my feet, and in too fast steps, I was behind a tree in an instant. My hands pressed against the trunk so firmly that the bark beneath them began to splinter and pierce my skin. I looked in the direction of the footsteps, nearer now, they slowed, and soon I heard nothing. I inched away from the tree, still a little weary, and started back to where I sat before. I felt him before I heard him. His presence was one that could not be mistaken for anything else. It was as if briefly, everything was still, nothing moved, not even the wind which scientifically is constant.
I swiftly spun around, only to have my face smashed against his broad, firm chest, and in seconds I’m enveloped in his arms.
“Meum amor. I knew I’d find you here.” He said, brushing the hair from my eyes as I looked into his.
“Was I lost?” I replied, wondering if he could see into my thoughts like the stories claimed we could.
“I arrived at home and you were nowhere to be found, so for me, yes, I thought I’d lost you meum amor.” He expressed, as his finger slowly dragged along my bottom lip.
It trembled under his touch.
“You’ve lost nothing, for I am nothing. Night, if it wasn’t for you, no one would know I even existed. My presence is that of a ghost, easily forgotten.” I continue. “These memories of mine are slowly killing me, and where one disappears another comes in its place. This is not what I imagined forever to be.” I finished.
“Oh amor, did I interrupt yet another plot for your potential demise? You’ve got to stop this nonsense behavior; it will only make this gift harder on you. Many years have gone, and yet you still dwell in your past. This is your life now, with me, forever, how you wanted it.” He advised.
“I apologize, Nox but this isn’t what I wanted. To be with you forever…yes…my love… my Night, but at the cost of taking lives to live, I can’t possibly continue holding onto my sanity while other are dying because of me and my selfish request to be with you always.” I replied.
“This rush of humanity you are beginning to feel is completely normal. I refuse to lie and say it will go away completely, it won’t. You will learn to live with it, and still continue surviving as we must.” He continued, “I love you meum amor, since the first night I watched you dance, so free, so alive, I knew then I couldn’t continue eternity without you.”
I pushed away from Night’s embrace and walked the short distance to a nearby bench. I needed to just sit for a moment. I thought as the years passed, my empathy towards life would cease to exist. My face in my hands, unable to cry, I weighed the harsh decision I made for myself. An eternity of guilt, my soul tortured from the lives I’ve taken only to feed my selfish need to forever be with Night, or should I say Nox, Latin for Night.
I pulled my face from my hands and glanced up at his perfectly chiseled face.
He spoke. “meum amor… carpe mecum sempiterne noctern.” My love, seize the night forever with me. And held his hand out to me, palm up. These were the Latin words he spoke to me, under the stars time ago, when I put my fate in his hands, the fealty in his eyes, still present in his gaze even now. Of all the people in my town at the time, he chose me to spend forever with. I’ve been so foolish to think ending my forever is the answer. Nox has always been the answer, could I really die knowing it’s not in his arms? The thought churned my stomach.  I placed my hand in his and allowed him to bring me to my feet. His right hand remained on my lower back.
“I promised you forever. And I tend keep my promises.” He said, kissing me on my forehead, as he pressed my hand against his chest, where his heart should be beating. In that moment, lost in each other’s gaze, is when I heard them. Two sets of footsteps, low voices whispering sweet nothings, strolling at the other end of the park, they were alive and in love. My instincts wanted them to stay that way, so I threw my arms around Nox’s neck and tried to tighten my grasp, pulling him closer to my body, but it was no use. He heard them too. He pulled my entwined fingers from behind his neck without effort, and said,” It’s been too long meum amor, you need to feed.” And in moments Night was stalking.
I’ve learned a lot over the years, but two things were constant. One… life is short, the snap of a neck, or loss of too much blood and your life is gone almost instantly. And two…the inevitable….there’s no escaping Night.

 See?  Aren't you glad Elise got her creative on?  I think you should stop by her blog and give her some big squishy fuzzy-warm .  Go on, I'll wait.

Interested in guest blogging on Book Rat?  Fill out this form: it's quick, it's easy, and it has a sheep!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie (The BuckShaw Chronicles, #1)The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie (The BuckShaw Chronicles, #1)
by Alan Bradley

Flavia de Luce is not your average eleven year old. She lives in a decaying mansion. She has a passion for chemistry, especially poisons. And when she finds a man dying in her cucumber patch, it doesn't occur to her to be worried or scared. Instead, Flavia senses something delicious may come of it: adventure.
Thus Flavia sets out to find out just who the man is, and how he came to be dying in her cucumber patch. But what starts off as a fun, mysterious way to spend the summer of 1950 turns into something much more when Flavia's father is arrested for the crime -- and she must prove his innocence before it's too late.

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie is slightly out of the norm for me in that I tend to avoid mysteries. I figure them out too soon, so they bore me and come off as cheesy. But I'd heard good things about this one, I was completely caught by the title and, yes, the cover (you know me), and precocious Flavia sounded interesting. So not only did I decide to give it a try, but I even went ahead and bought it. I do not regret this impetuous decision.

Flavia is delightful in her little-genius antics, and though her precociousness is occasionally somewhat irritating (as with all precociousness), she remains consistently entertaining. She's bold and bright and adventurous, and like many a genius, slightly off. She occasionally reminded me of Merricat Blackwood from We Have Always Lived in the Castle, whom, if you remember, I found captivating, even if she was a loon. Flavia isn't a loon, but her obsession with poisons does make her narration slightly suspect on occasion, which adds an interesting element.

The tone throughout the book is fun and intriguing. It's like some weird love-child of We Have Always Lived in the Castle + nostalgic/atmospheric/eccentric/British coming of age lit (think I Capture the Castle) + a cozy mystery. That's some parentage, and it makes for interesting offspring. The characters are fun and quirky, and this extends beyond Flavia, though she certainly takes the cake in this regard.

And even for me, who always figures things out and then gets disgusted -- even for me the mystery was fun. It's the sort that, even if you figure it out, there's still enough suspense, still enough tension, still enough interest to keep me going. You want to know how it's going to work out; more specifically, you want to know how Flavia's going to wriggle out of this one and come out on top, because she's that type of character; you just know she will.

I think, whether you like mysteries or you typically avoid them like me, you'll like Sweetness, and you'll intend to continue on with the series, The Buckshaw Chronicles -- you just have to know what Flavia's going to get herself into next!

<--- Hey! That's a Rat Badge! This is the first time I've used one. It's for nail-biters, but I think I need to make one specifically for mysteries. If you want to know more about the badges, or use one yourself, click it; it will take you where you want to go.

Review part of:
Elie's Bottoms Up Challenge
Bart's Bookshelf's 2010 Challenge


Flavia has her own fan club. It has photos, discussions, reviews and a whole mess of stuff.

You can read an excerpt on Random House's tS@tBotπ page. <-- ha. I just amused myself.

After you've read tS@tBotπ, check out these discussion questions.

Alan Bradley won the Crime Writer's Association's Debut Dagger Award for tS@tBotπ.

This really doesn't tell you a damn thing about the book, but I think it's neato:

Friday, February 26, 2010

Firespell discussion questions (Blog with Bite)

Hey, all.  I made an update to my Firespell review, because I realized that it happened to be this month's book for Blog With Bite.  Basically, I answered the discussion questions, and because I am so nice, I am posting the questions here, on their own, to save you from tracking down the review (which would entail clicking the link above and scrolling a l l l l l  the way down to the bottom.  Poor dears).  Here they be:

1. Lily and Jason. Discuss. What do you think the next book holds for them?
I think it's pretty clear that they are going to end up together, but I am sure there will be trials. Someone's not going to trust the other, Jason's going to feel he's too dangerous, etc. Something will get in their way. But like all good (used loosely) ya, they have to have angst, and they have to get over it and come together.

2. Lily & Scout's friendship had a lot of secrets, so in the end who did you relate to more, Lily or Scout? How about Lesley or Veronica? Would you hang with the brat pack or be a loner?
Alright, don't get me wrong. I like Lily. She's the protagonist, and I'm supposed to. But I looove Scout. And I am completely biased, and I'll tell you why (in fact, I already have): she organizes her books by color. Hello? Sound familiar anyone? (if not, where have you been? Take a look at the green shelf, the purple shelf and stay tuned for future pics of the shelves, once I get around to making them presentable and picture worthy). Also, Scout's just fun. We have similar senses of humor, and I wanted to see how she got sucked into all this. And I know she's got Lily's back, even on the slight acquaintance they have.
Definitely not a brat packer. Though I suspect there's more to Veronica.

3. What do think of the overwhelming trend in YA literature where the parents of the protagonists are either- dead, strung out or shipping their children off to boarding schools? Do you think this is a real look at parents today and what teens are dealing with?
We talk about this in my book club all the time. A few of the members are YA librarians, so they read a lot of it, and certainly it is prevalent. We came to the conclusion that it is a mostly necessary devise. Think about it. If your characters are teens, and many of your readers are teens, the idea of being alone and going through things is going to be a familiar one. Even if you're not alone in the world, it sometimes feels that way. It's a great way to jump-start the whole "coming of age" thing. Also, as a writer, you need to be able to put your characters in situations that they may not be able to get into with watchful parents, so it's necessary from that aspect, too. And there is an added element of suspense and tension, and a little bit of danger, to know that these kids are basically on their own, about to do something heroic/crazy/drastic, and then a big pay-off when they come through it.

4. Follow up to parental question. Authors employ the missing parents to mature their teenage protagonist. The protagonist doesn't have the option to act as an irresponsible teen, because they do not have any parental supervision. Did you find Lily's behaviour normal for a teenager, or more mature than most?
She is a bit more mature, but:
1) I don't think we give teens enough credit, for mature thinking if not mature actions. They are, after all, the ones reading these, and if the protagonists were too mature, it would feel off to them and fail.
2) Lily's at the right age to start wising up and being mature, and there's no indication that she was ever all that immature.
3) Her maturity isn't out of the realm of reality by any means. She still does some reckless immature things, all told. She never would have got herself snared in all of this drama if she hadn't...

If you've read the book, I'd love to hear your answers to the questions above, or any burning questions of your own you may have.

Check out the Blog With Bite site for more awesome greatness like these questions, each and every month.

Friday Face Off (7)

Alright, you know how it works by now. This week's head-to-head may not look too similar, other than the fact that it's two young chicks with old-chick hair* (ha!), but allow me to tell you why I chose them. I read these books around the same time; both feature ladies who have gone prematurely -- not even gray; prematurely white, which helps disguise them. Both are retellings of fairy tales. Both covers have a soft-focus effect. I couldn't help but be struck by the similarities when I read them. There is a clear winner for me, in both cover and story, but I don't want to poison the well, so the answer to that will be in next week's post so you can vote first. Well...
who did it better?


Singer published 2005
Deerskin published 1993

*My women's lit teacher would be rolling over in her grave, if she were dead. Instead, she's probably just rolling her eyes. 'Chick' was strictly verboten.

Last Week on F.F.O.: Impossible faced down itself, with the Red-Dress-in-a-Wheat-Field cover taking the win by a hair. Or a whole head of them, rather. People loved the hair in the face thing. [Sidenote: there's more hair-in-face coming on FFO. Interesting trend, that] I personally love both covers, and if it turns out to be a good book, I might own both. That being said, I own the winning cover. Though I left it up to fate (it was the first version I came across in a store), I really couldn't decide for myself, but I am pleased how things turned out. It is so beautiful in person, and I adore the juxtaposition of a beautifully dressed girl in a country wheat field. Oh, and the hair in the face. That's a winner.

[ps. Does anyone read what the boxers are saying? It's different for every book, and usually they are fighting over their favorites, but this week, I think they think I'm weird.]

Have you seen any cover-twins? Comment with the titles!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Review: Topless Prophet by Alan Markovitz

The Topless Prophet: The True Story of America's Most Successful Gentleman's Club EntrepreneurThe Topless Prophet: The True Story of America's Most Successful Gentleman's Club Entrepreneur
by Alan Markovitz

Topless Prophet is a hodge-podge of memoir, tell-all and business guidebook. Alan Markovitz, with the assistance of journalist Thomas Stevens, tells his story as one of the strip-club businesses top dogs, with all of the smarts, braggadocio and occasional lewdness that goes along with it. His story is as sensational and risque as you could want or expect, but it's grounded in business-savvy and Midwestern living.

Topless Prophet isn't something you'd normally find on my to-read shelf. That's not due to any squeamishness about strippers and adult entertainment, but more about the fact that I don't care all that much about business. (I know, not what people are expecting in the way of complaints about this type of book.) But what caught my eye and made me decide to read this was the old adage: location, location, location. The events in this book -- as sensational and surreal as they sometimes are -- took place practically in my own backyard. Okay, not really. But Alan Markovitz built his topless empire on Detriot's Eminem-famous Eight Mile, expanding to Dearborn and then the rest of the country, and as a fellow Southern Michigander, I find his story fascinating.

But let's just get it out of the way, shall we? If you are offended by strippers/strip clubs/braggarts/the club scene, etc., this book is not for you. And you already know that. So don't bother.
That being said, this book is not what you may expect. Sure, there are occasional buts of the scandalous and lascivious, and frankly, in a book about strip clubs, I would have been disappointed if it were otherwise; I want to hear about insane stripper antics. And they are there. But they are not the focal point of this book by any means. Alan Markovitz is a business man, and this is a business man's book. It's full of tips, tricks and advice for aspiring business-people, albeit filtered through a rather adult lens.
More than anything, though, Topless Prophet reads like a memoir. Markovitz has certainly led an interesting life, and his business side is just the tip of the iceberg. Topless Prophet is a mash-up of vignettes from his life, from opening his first club (The Booby Trap*), to having his Holocaust-survivor father face down a vicious motorcycle gang, to being shot on not one by two occasions, as well as having his business partner put a hit out on him and having to face down the mob. Long story short, the man's been through a lot, and he has a lot to say. There's a good bit of funny, interesting and odd in his story, and his particular spin even makes the business stuff interesting. And there are times when it's down-right riveting; the man was shot twice within the first fifty pages!

The downside: It certainly needed some proof-reading. Maybe it's just a product of having been a writing tutor for 5+ years, or maybe it's the result of being *slightly* anal, but all the little mistakes jumped out at me and kinda got on my nerves. I mean, they weren't so overwhelming that they outweighed the story, but they were the types of obvious mistakes that should have been caught.
The only other thing that bothered me was some of the set-up and tone. With this type of story and this type of narrator, some bragging is expected, maybe even called for. But sometimes it just seemed silly. Also, there was a lot of hint-hint/nudge-nudge going on, mentioning some big event and then saying "but more on that later." Once or twice is okay, but frankly, this kind of obvious hit you over the head foreshadowing is a pet peeve of mine.**

All in all, it's an interesting business book cum tell-all, and if you're into that sort of thing, you'll like it. And if you read it and like it, you can always do a little in-person sleuthing; like a good businessman, Markovitz concludes his book with an open-invitation to his clubs.

* The Booby Trap. I really don't know how to feel about a cheesy pun for a strip club name. Part of me thinks 'ha!' and part of me thinks 'really?' Pretty typical pun reaction, I guess.
**I can't watch Access Hollywood or any of those types of shows because of all of the teasers that are always 'coming up next.' Drives. Me. Nuts. I can't even watch the local news because of it.


Read the NY Post's 60 seconds with Alan Markovitz article.

Or read about Markovitz's successful Penthouse Club in Philly.

Check out the Book Connection's author spotlight on Markovitz.

Amazon allows you to look inside...

disclosure: I received this book for review

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Teaser Tuesday: Topless Prophet and The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie

This meme hosted by Should Be Reading, so stop by and check out her blog!

To participate:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) "teaser" sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers
But of course, I do things a little differently. Because I don't like giving you something random, but want instead something to actually tease you, I am going to give you a teaser from a book I have just read (with the full review to follow later in the week). So let's begin, shall we?

The Topless Prophet: The True... 

"How do you do, Mr Markovitz," the desk sergeant intoned.  "Can I help you?"
"Yeah, I hope so," I replied..."I just heard on the television two guys were arrested today by the FBI for conspiracy to have me killed!"
"Ah, yes," the officer replied,"I believe we have heard something about that.  Have a seat and someone will be with you shortly."

The Sweetness at the Bottom of... 

The body in the cucumbers sucked in a shuddering breadth...then, bubbling at the nose, exhaled it in a single word, slowly and a little sadly, directly into my face.
"Vale," it said....
I wish I could say my heart was stricken, but it wasn't.  I wish I could say my instinct was to run away, but that would not be true.  Instead, I watched in awe, savoring every detail: the fluttering fingers, the almost imperceptible bronze metallic cloudiness that appeared on the skin, as if, before my very eyes, it were being breathed upon by death.
And then the utter stillness.
I wish I could say I was afraid, but I wasn't.  Quite the contrary.  This was by far the most interesting thing that had ever happened to me in my entire life. 

Intriguing this week, no?

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Be My Guest, Laura from Tattooed Books!

Whoo! This week marks the historic third post of Be My Guest!. Who knew it would be so long running, become such an institution? ;p
Anywho, today we welcome the fabtastic Laura of Tattooed Books. I think you should go check her out, but first you should read what she has to say here on the subject of a great book she read lately, Leaving Paradise Leaving Paradise by Simon Ekeles.
Take it away, Laura~

Accidents happen all the time. The consequences of those accidents vary based on the severity of the accident. In this case, many relationships were destroyed and someone almost died when Caleb got behind the wheel drunk and hit his twin sister's best friend Maggie.

After a year of painful physical therapy and home schooling, Maggie is heading back to high school. Unable to play varsity tennis, or anything anymore, she isn't sure where she fits in with the other students. The one thing she is sure about is that Caleb is in jail for what he did to her.

Unfortunately even school isn't safe because after serving a year in juvenile detention and being on his best behavior, Caleb has been released and is also returning to school. All he has to do is complete 150 hours of community service and he will be home free.

Apparently though, fate has decided that these two need a second chance. Both of them end of working for a no nonsense older lady named Mrs. Reynolds. Maggie is to be her companion, helping her around the house; while Caleb is building a gazebo. The story is told from both points of view so that we gain a fuller understanding of just how easily appearances can deceive us. The biggest deception though has yet to be revealed.

Simone Elkeles has done a fantastic job conveying the reality of this kind of situation. The emotions are raw, powerful, and revealing. It read quickly, like her other novel Perfect Chemistry, and it had the same feel to it. There is an energy that you get form reading it and knowing that the ending isn't really the end. The characters are extremely likable and diverse. I really enjoyed the fact that the author made sure that the accident, that the whole story revolves around, didn't just affect the key players. Everyone was affected differently and there are varying degrees of that affect present in them. A terrific read if you like straight up fiction and a different take on high school drama.

So there you have it, folks. Laura's book push. Make you wanna go out and get it?
Until next week (the historic fourth post!).

Interested in guest blogging on Book Rat? Fill out this form: it's quick, it's easy, and it has a sheep!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Open call for Ideas!

Okay, my lovelies, I'm bringing this to you.  It looks like I'm going to be hosting a challenge for the Wild Things group on Goodreads.  The challenge will last three months, and will comprise mostly YA books (exceptions being adult books that teens could/should/do read).

I would like to make the theme of this one to be reading outside of your box.  Getting beyond your comfort level and picking up books you normally wouldn't.  Discovering new authors, new genres, etc.

How these challenges normally work is we have a few different categories (for example, one could be genre roulette) and then different point levels within those categories.  So for 5 points, you may have to pick a random book off of a library bookshelf, and for 25 points, you may have to read 2-3 books following certain guidelines, or write a detailed review of a book, etc.  The more points, the more difficult the task.

What I want from you is ideas.  They can be easy or hard, but keep in mind the theme of stretching your readers' wings.  I'll take as many ideas as I can get, so if you have lots, I'll take 'em.

When the challenge is all worked out, I think I'll put it up on here, too.  Who knows, maybe there will be a prize pack involved, with bonus points going to those who contributed their brain matter?

Friday, February 19, 2010

Friday Face Off (6)

Keeping with the recent theme here on BR of 'I am a chump' with the beautiful covers, I thought I would share with you today one that's been tormenting me lately.  For the longest time, I have wanted to get the book Impossible by Nancy Werlin.  The dilemma?  There are two beautiful covers for it, and I wanted them both.  However, I'm not a total chump, and refuse to buy the same book twice*.  So a choice had to be made (and has been, though it was left entirely to fate).  So now I ask you, which one would you choose?
which one did it better?

Blue cover = harcover, published September 2008
Red dress cover = paperback published August 2009

Last week on FFO: the same model stared at herself (typical) from the covers of North of Beautiful and Evermore, with Evermore just  b a r e l y  squeaking out a win.  I personally like 'em both quite a lot, as did a few of you who couldn't choose.

*Alright, I won't buy the same book twice if it's not a favorite, so don't ask how many are favorites.

Have you seen any cover-twins? Comment with the titles!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Review: The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, #1)
by Rick Riordan

 Percy Jackson has problems.  He has dyslexia and ADHD.  He has a stepfather from Hell.  He's been kicked out of more boarding schools than he can count on one hand.  And one of his teachers just sprouted wings and tried to kill him.
Now, kicked out of yet another boarding school and on his way home to New York, Percy realizes that he can add "might be going crazy" to the list.  But when he gets to his mother's NYC apartment only to see her rattled and ready to send him to some strange summer camp where all the campers claim to be fathered by Gods, Percy realizes there's more going on than he could have imagined.  And he's about to find himself in the middle of a war between three of the most powerful Gods around.

Like many people, I'd had this on my to read list for quite awhile, but could never seem to make myself get around to it.  I'm not sure why; I love mythology, and was a bit obsessed with it as a kid.  Maybe I was afraid I'd be disappointed.  Then a good friend of mine, NL* Jenn read the series and started pushing it hard.  Something to know about Jenn:  she is a hardcore, card-carrying Harry Potter fanatic.  When she compared the Percy Jackson series to HP, I knew I had to read it; Jenn does not toss Harry around lightly.

She was right.  There's a definite Harry Potter feel about the book, but not at all in a bad, rip-off way.  Percy definitely stands on his own two feet, but some of the magic that was captured by Rowling has been captured by Riordan as well.  Percy is thoroughly engaging, and his story is full of humor and tension and the fantastic, while still feeling believable and root-forable at its core.
Here's why:

The Characters:  I think Riordan made an excellent choice in creating Percy and his other characters.  The idea of a hero who's on the surface just a kid with problems is a great move for two reasons.  1) Having Percy have common issues like ADHD, dyslexia, and anger issues, and who is estranged from his parents makes him relatable.  There are going to be kids reading these books that have these same issues, or know someone who does.  This is going to make readers root for Percy, and feel a connection to him that is deeper and more immediate than it maybe would have been otherwise.  2) It creates balance.  As anyone who's heard about the books or seen the trailer for the movie knows, Percy is the son of a god.  This could have potentially made Percy to 'Other' -- too powerful and distant to be relatable.  Giving him issues to deal with inspite of his lineage grounds him in reality and makes him more likeable.  This extends to the other characters as well.  They may all be descended from the Gods, but that doesn't mean they lead perfect, care-free lives.  Quite the opposite, in fact, and this means great tension and relatability.
To go along with this, I also thoroughly enjoyed Percy's voice.  The narration is light and engaging, and Percy is a nice mix of wise-ass and scared kid.

The Quest:  Percy's journey is also a good choice by Riordan.  He started high, with a potential war between the gods looming, its weight pretty squarely on Percy's shoulders.  At the same time, he left himself room to grow over the series.  There's a clear idea of where it's going, and there's room for the tension to increase as the story arc progresses.  There's also a great wealth of mythology to mine, which the reader will learn alongside Percy (*gasp* kids learning while they read for fun?  Score!)  The mythology is fun and interesting, and Riordan uses it well.

All in all, I don't really have anything negative to say about this.  I think it's age appropriate, but still able to keep older audiences engaged.  The tone is good, the story's good, and it's a great follow-up for Harry Potter fans, while being able to stand on its own.  When I finished this one, I immediately bought the rest of the series.  Get it, read it, and enjoy it.

*NL = naughty librarian


Short and sweet today:

The Percy Jackson website has super cool stuff for fans of the books and for those who haven't yet read them.

The movie has its own site too, with its own super cool stuff. 

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

W.O.W: The Unwritten Rule

Everyone knows the unwritten rule: You don't like you best friend's boyfriend.

Sarah has had a crush on Ryan for years. He's easy to talk to, supersmart, and totally gets her. Lately it even seems like he's paying extra attention to her. Everything would be perfect except for two things: Ryan is Brianna's boyfriend, and Brianna is Sarah's best friend.
Sarah forces herself to avoid Ryan and tries to convince herself not to like him. She feels so guilty for wanting him, and the last thing she wants is to hurt her best friend. But when she's thrown together with Ryan one night, something happens. It's wonderful...and awful.
Sarah is torn apart by guilt, but what she feels is nothing short of addiction, and she can't stop herself from wanting more...

In stores March 16th!

I want to get my hands on this. I'm really hoping to win it from Elizabeth Scott (awesome) in her big contest (fabtastic). How about you?

A peek at...

...my purple shelf!

I certainly have less in the way of purple books, which is a shame.  Still, it's not bad.  And purple seems to be becoming a trend; with books like The Devouring, The Dark Divine, Bleeding Violet and others, who knows?  My purple shelf may soon be bursting...
The book on its side at the bottom right is The Vampire's Assistant, the first three books in the Cirque du Freak series.  Bottom left = a purple ribbon headband.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Teaser Tuesday: The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

This meme hosted by Should Be Reading, so stop by and check out her blog!

To participate:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) "teaser" sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers

But of course, I do things a little differently.  Because I don't like giving you something random, but want instead something to actually tease you, I am going to give you a teaser from a book I have just read (with the full review to follow later in the week).  So let's begin, shall we?

"Your father," Annabeth murmured.  "This is really not good."
"It is determined," Chiron announced.
All around me, campers started kneeling, even the Ares cabin, though they didn't look happy about it.
"My father?" I asked, completely bewildered.
"Poseidon," said Chiron.  "Earthsaker, Stormbringer, Father of Horses.  Hail, Perseus Jackson, Son of the Sea God,"

Monday, February 15, 2010

Hush, Hush part II: the spoiler-filled discussion (aka rant)

Alright, last thursday you read my review of Hush, Hush in which I promised a spoilery continuation. This is that. =D

If you haven't read Hush, Hush and intend to, or if you don't want me dissing the melodrama that is Patch and Nora, look away....NOW!

Commence rant:

You already know I had issues with this book. I think a lot of people are going to take offense to the idea of Patch as the hero, as teen girls' fantasy, just as they did with Edward in Twilight. Patch goes beyond the simple term "bad boy" in that yes, he does actually mean Nora harm. Consistently.
I'm not going to go into that, because frankly, I don't care. He can be an anti-hero all he wants, whatever. If that's where the story's going, fine. Most of my issues -- but not all -- lie with Nora.
Here's the thing:
Nora is that girl you yell at in the horror movie, the idiot that goes up the stairs instead of out the door, or reaches to turn over the downed bad guy just to make sure. We all know that's frustrating, but we've come to expect it in movies, and that dumb big-breasted, scantily clad girl normally gets killed off.
Nora is so much more frustrating than that.
The many sides of Nora: She continually suspects Patch (and Elliot, and just about everyone else in this story) and with good reason. However, she then continually ignores her instincts and puts herself in danger. In fact, she can't seem to agree with herself. She will think to herself that Patch is stalking her and trying to kill her, and then within pages think 'Oh, but he could never hurt me.' This just cycles and cycles throughout the story.
Also throughout the story, Nora makes insane jumps in logic -- whether they turn out to be true or not, it's not believable when she immediately jumps to the most bizarre conclusions and then acts on them. At the same time, she will be directly confronted with some piece of real evidence, something that would make a normal, non-fictional person take notice and say something's not right here -- and she will completely ignore it. It's like she's being willfully obtuse.
  • Early(ish) in the story, Nora hears a voice in her head and thinks Patch has "breached normal communication methods and could, at will, speak to me without ever opening his mouth." Naturally, she thinks she's delusional. Hearing your name and a few inane comments would make one think they are imagining things, and this I could buy. Even Nora not be exactly sure what happened and being creeped out I could buy. But she proceeds to ask Patch how he's able to speak directly to her mind, making her look like a loon. I wouldn't be even all that bothered by this, if it was consistent throughout the story; if Nora either consistently thought that she was going crazy because of all the implausible things that are happening, I could buy it; if she wanted to prove she wasn't crazy and kept confronting Patch and sleuthing, I could buy it. It would be 1 solid choice on Becca Fitzpatrick's part. She could be the ultra-paranoid girl who thinks she's going crazy and jumps to conclusions about everything. Annoying, but doable.
  • Conversely, near the near the end of the story when the shit's really beginning to go down and nearly everyone has become a villain, Nora and Patch walk out of a movie theater to find that "...both the tires on the driver's side were flat. "I can't believe it!" I said. "I drove over two nails?"' She thinks she's being stalked, she thinks her best friend has been kidnapped by a teenaged murdered named Elliot, and by this point she thinks she's the target of not one but two angels, and yet she thinks she ran over two nails? Come on! If Nora will jump to conclusions on the barest of evidence, how in hell does she not comprehend the obvious?
  • Throughout the story, Nora thinks everyone's out to get her (she's right, but I'll get to that), especially Patch. Patch is Ominous, capital 'O', and yet...And yet, no matter how much Nora thinks he's badbadbad, she trusts him. Why? Weirdest of all, when Nora confronts Patch about his intentions, he admits he wanted to kill her; her reaction? I know Patch could never hurt me -- and she trusts him implicitly from that point on. Really? The whole story you've suspected him and been insistent that you should stay away on the barest of evidence, but once he's confessed his (albeit previous) intentions of murder, you trust him. Really. Her sudden bizarre trust of Patch comes too late for any real belief in their romance.
There is no consistency in Nora's thinking. I just can't understand why Becca Fitzpatrick couldn't pick one Nora to write and stick with her. She could have just always thought she was losing her mind; self-doubt would have been interesting, and made her root-forable. If she had just been reckless and always convinced that yes, maybe something is a little off about Patch, but she still found herself attracted to him, it would have been interesting, and could have been used to slowly reveal the truth and up Nora's anxiety. If Nora had just been naive and always convinced that everything was fine despite any indicators, it would have built tension. But combining it all made Nora seem confused and a little off herself, and made the writing seem schizophrenic.

Too many villains: Fitzpatrick makes the rookie mistake of lack of restraint. Nora suspects everyone, and everyone does in fact seem to be a villain. This makes the book seem unfocused and sort of cheesy. When everyone is under suspicion, and everyone seems to be a bad guy, it makes it seem like no one really is. It's like if you use a really great word once or twice it's going to stand out. But if every word you use is some great, unusual word, none are going to stand out. There's no negative space, no background to make the focal point pop. Everywhere Nora turns, someone's trying to kill her. It just gets silly after awhile. Also, it has the added negative effect of making it hard for Fitzpatrick to "top" as it were. Where does she go from here? If there are 4 different people trying to kill Nora in book 1, how many people will there be out for blood in book 2? She didn't leave any room to grow the suspense.
Another bad thing about the amount of villains and Nora's instant suspicion (and the overall over-the-top nature of the book) was that there was precious little suspense. By giving everything away rather freely, Fitzpatrick deprived the reader of the slow build-up and the privilege of the mystery; we never got to have any suspicions of our own, or choose sides. There was too much in the way of ominous overtones, and not enough restraint.
On a side note, not that I'm calling Vee a villain, but even she became a little weird as the story went on. It's one thing to be the wild and crazy girl in the best friends dynamic, but constantly trying to get your best friend alone with a guy who she says makes her uncomfortable, who she believes broke into her house and may be stalking her, and who she knows was a murder suspect is reckless beyond the pale, and shitty, shitty friendship.

The writing overall: I saw glimpses in Fitzpatrick's writing that demonstrated how this could have been a good book. She does sexual tension and confrontation scenes fairly well, and there is some good humor. Vee -- in the beginning, at least, before she becomes a really reckless, really bad friend -- was pretty amusing as the traditional sidekick. Patch had great one-liners, both funny and smoldering. But for all the occasional good, there was quite a bit in the way of bad. The dialogue was often stilted and weird. The analogies were completely out of left field. They were those turns of phrase that you can tell were used because they sounded cool, or because one was needed, but they don't mean anything, or they leave you thinking wtf? "His eyes looked like they didn't play by the rules." What does that even mean? What rules do eyes usually play by? This is a mild example, but I got sick of making note of them. I got this really hit-and-miss feel about the writing and the language in the book. Pieces of literary crap mixed in with the really good bits blended to form a "throw it all in and something's bound to work" style. A total lack of finesse made it hard to want to keep reading -- and made me feel like if I kept rolling my eyeballs, they were going to roll right out of my head.

Rant complete.

A chance to get your hands on Linger (you know you wanna...)

Linger Cover Large
Here's a nice little opportunity for you, my lovelies:

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

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

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

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

Now, when you head over there, don't just head down to the bottom where the contest is.  Read the post.  Seriously.  It's darling -- and coming from a cynic like me on Vday, that's saying something.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Sharing the Love + goodies! (ie contest)

My buddy JG over at The Introverted Reader has a fun hubba hubba post today that has inspired me to do the same.  JG shares with us her favorite literary crushes (which has added to my tbr nicely; Monster got his Vday treat for today).  Normally we tend to think of romantic/hot characters in pairs, as the romances they are in the book.  But we all know 1 can stand alone in our minds and pop up in our dreams.  This got me thinking; who have I been crushing on?

  • The obvious ones, I've gotta give it up to all of my Jane Austen boys EXCEPT for Edmund.  (I even kinda like Wickham and Willoughby, the rogues!)  I won'd go into my anti-Edmund-ness here, but suffice it to say that EVERY OTHER hero in JA has been the object of my schoolgirl *ahem, yes...just school girl...you buy that? fancies.
  • I really like the way Mercy and Adam are from the Mercedes Thompson books, so he gets points; he's a great Alpha mail without the jerk qualities.  You can tell he just really cares, but also he's a werewolf, so he's certainly not going to cave. ♥
  • Lord Maccon (do I need to say more, J?) from Soulless.  Oh, Lord Maccon.
  • William AND Hakim from Emma by Kaoru Mori; I love both of these characters, and even though it's clear who she'll end up with, a piece of me was secretly rooting for a little Victorian side-action with Hakim.  Having illustrations of what they look like certainly helped (mmm, Hakim).
  • Kvothe from The Name of the Wind; I can't help it, I love the cocky little bastard.
  • Gogu from Wildwood Dancing; I don't care if he was a frog most of the time, I adored him.  Still do.
  • Peeta and Gale; I'm not choosing sides here, people.  Polygamy gets my vote, I like them both (but I do have to give ever the slightest edge to Peeta for his open devotion).
  • Henry from The Time Traveler's Wife.  My type.  'nough said.
  • Valek from Poison Study (and the other Study books).  Mmm, Valek.  So what if he's an assassin and he has a past.
  • Jacob Jankowski from Water for Elephants; I loved his voice, I loved being inside his head.  He may have been elderly when the story takes place, but he's still crush-worthy, as his past reveals.
  • Zane from Pretties.  :(
  • Constantine from Sunshine.  There is just something about him, aside from the obvious.  He really stuck in my head.
  • James from A Certain Slant of Light; maybe it's just that he was from a different time, when there were manners, but I just really like how he is
  • George from the Song of the Lioness series.  George may have been my first ever literary crush, and as the king of the Rogue Court (but with an honest to goodness heart and brain), I think he set the tone for things to come.
  •  Gilbert Blythe from Anne of Green Gables; If George wasn't the first crush, Gilbert was.  Aided by the miniseries Gilbert.  ♥

There you have it, folks.  My lit crushes.  JG had the right idea, I think.

contest over!!!

Alright, now for the goodies.  You may have noticed a certain fabtastic post earlier in the day?  Well, Charlotte did such a good job on that, and JGs post has put me in the loving spirit, so I am going to send some mystery love someone's way.  You want some mystery love?  I promise the mystery isn't something you'll have to make a surreptitious doctor's visit for... ;)
Any♥s, if you would like a chance to get your mystery love on, it's simple:
  • leave some love for Charlotte on the fabtastic post
  • tell me and JG your biggest literary crush, either here in the comments or make your own post and give me the link
  • leave me a way to contact you.
That's it.  Those easy, peasy things and a Mystery Box O' Love may be winging its way to you.
Open internationally.
It will end when it ends.
EDIT: Winner will be announced 3/1


Be My Guest, Charlotte of The Book on the Hill!

I can't even begin to tell you how fabtastic today's BE MY GUEST segment is going to be. I have something so gloriously fun, frivolous and fabtastic for you, it could only have come from Charlotte of The Book on the Hill.  And it did! I give you:
Take it away, Charlotte!

I would like to start this post by thanking Misty of having me on this oh-so-romantic or oh-so-enraging day. Ah, Valentine’s Day. To love it or to hate it, that is the question.

To entertain you on this special day, I decided to use the Create A Cover game that has been around the blogosphere for a while. I love it. If Create A Cover were a guy, I would send him a Valentine card. And if I knew who invented this game, I would send him flowers.

The idea is to create a possible debut novel cover thanks to the infinite powers of the internet :
1. Get a fake author name on Fake Name Generator.
2. Get a title by picking the first verb that comes out at Random Word Generator.
3. Go to FlickrCC, type in the title, and the first picture that shows a person becomes the cover.
4. Put all the elements together.

I changed the game a little in order to get in the Valentine mood : I typed ‘love’ to get the book cover. Otherwise the title and author were chosen like the rules say. I played a little with PaintShop, and here is the result.

I give you :

Promise, written by debut author Bettany J. Burke.

I shall now tell you what the story is, share my review of the book and its trailer.
Warning : Any ressemblance with any person who really existed or is still alive would be fortuitous.

The Author : Bettany J. Burke lives in Billings, Montana, with her husband Brandon and their two cute rattlesnakes : Squigy and Floppy. She was born on Valentine’s Day, which inspired her to write about it. Her debut novel, Promise, is weird.

The story : If you could have a look at Polly Jimerson’s wardrobe, here is what you would see : checked shirts. Everywhere. You wouldn’t catch Polly wearing a T-shirt or a jersey. May it be summer or winter, Polly wears checked shirts only. Although this simple fact could intrigue you, it does not impress her classmates at all. Polly is a loner. One day, after class, Polly meditates on a bench, asking herself why she doesn’t have any friends, when someone sits next next to her.
Someone wearing a checked shirt.
As soon as Polly’s eyes fall on Theodore Paddington’s torso and the pink balloon he’s holding, she knows her life will never be the same again. Polly has never felt this comfortable with anyone (except maybe her little checked kitten, which in an inspired moment she had called Kitty).
That day, Polly and Theodore made a promise : to always be there for one another.
But as always, things are not easy as they look. Quite quickly, Polly starts to notice some of Theodore’s weird habits : he sends her roses and chocolates everyday, comes to school wearing angel wings (on top of his checked shirts), and his voice is strange most of the time because of his tendency to inhale helium. Polly is a rational girl, and considers that Theodore is just an eccentric guy. But when he invites her to join a secret society of which he is the only member, things get tricky. Polly would do anything for Theodore, so when she has to sing ‘Rudoph The Red-Nosed Reindeer’ with helium as a rite of passage, she kindly obliges. Polly finally unravels the mystery of Theodore’s weirdness : he has the Valentine Syndrome. Always has, always will. His life revolves around love, kisses, hearts, bubbles, lollipops, balloons – and of course, checked shirts. By involving Polly in his personal secret society, Theodore has cursed her to : Polly is now drawn to pink things, fluffly things, chocolate hearts and cupids – and as always, checked shirts. Will Polly embrace her new life, or will she fight it ? Will she keep her promise, or run away like a coward ? Will she have her happy-ever-after with Theodore ? At least one thing is certain : Valentine’s Day will never be the same again.

Review : Such an emotional read ! I couldn’t put it down, and I have to admit that quite a few tears were shed.

The descriptions of Polly’s checked shirts were fascinating : I learnt about color shades, textures, buttons and more. Since reading this book, I can’t stop buying every checked shirt I see ! And I loved Polly’s little kitten, for a secondary character Kitty was really well described and I couldn’t get enough of her.

Theodore is the perfect guy, and I fell in love with him right from the very beginning. From the way he chooses chocolates to the way he flaps his wings, we girls can only fall for him. So cute and so romantic.

The rite passage was a very strong moment. I totally understood Polly’s doubts, but at the same time just wanted to scream at her : ‘come on, it’s just helium and a Christmas song !’. I mean, I woud’ve done it right away if it were for a guy as awesome as Theodore. This scene was therefore quite deep, philophical and emotional.

When Polly is cursed and has to follow Theodore on his duties as a Valentine, things get a little bit out of hand though. We could say it’s action-packed, but that’s what I didn’t like : I prefered reading about their love story than their missions. At one point, Polly has to deliver a Valentine card and a fluffy kitten to the school librarian, and the woman overreacts because she knows nobody loves her. So she throws a pile of books at Polly, who gets hurt and then before you know it there’s blood everywhere. I wasn’t prepared for that.

All in all, I really liked this book. I would recommend it to anyone, because I think we can all relate to the characters. On top of being a romantic book, it’s also very educational and profound, although being a little too gore sometimes. Don’t miss it !

Book trailer for Promise, the surprising smash hit!

That's it for today, my lovelies!  I was right, right?  Only word to describe Charlotte and what she just unleashed on the world = fabtastic.
I hope you enjoyed the special themed BMG  hoopla. 
Enjoy your ♥-shaped boxes of chocolate or your Pretty In Pink marathons.
Big ♥ and smooches!

Interested in being a guest on Book Rat?  Fill out this form; it's quick, it's easy, and it has a sheep!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Friday Face Off (5)

Occasionally, you'll come across two books with rather similar covers. Whether it's completely coincidental, a sign of trends, or a blatant case of biteritus, the question remains:
who did it better?This time it seems the same model (perhaps the same picture, reversed) was used for two books.  Which is more effective to you?  Which draws you in more?


North of Beautiful published February 2009
Evermore published February 2009
popular month for this girl, apparently...

Last week on FFO: Ice and East went polar bear to polar bear, with Ice freezing the paws off the competition (god, how cheesy am I?)

Have you seen any cover-twins? Comment with the titles!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Hunger Games #3 Cover Released!

Lovers of Suzanne Collins fabtastic dystopian books, The Hunger Games trilogy, gave a collective squee today when the cover and title of the US and Canadian version of the eagerly awaited 3rd and final book was released.  I present to you, The Mockingjay --->

On Our Minds @ Scholastic revealed the loveliness, adding that David Levithan, VP Editorial Director of Scholastic, had this to say:

I am not, under any circumstances, allowed to divulge the contents of the third Hunger Games book. Nada. Nothing. Not a peep. I can, however, share with you five things that will not be appearing in the new book:
  • Panem is not shaken up when District 9 is nominated for a best picture Oscar.
  • At no point does President Snow utter the line, “This is Snowmageddon, baby.”
  • Despite internet rumors to the contrary, it is not revealed that Cinna has been secretly designing outfits for a Capitol operative known as “Lady GaGa.”
  • All rumors of a crossover appearance by Geronimo Stilton are false.
  • In a tough editorial call, we decided not to have Katniss win the Hunger Games…only to be interrupted by Kanye West.

Thanks, David.  That clears things up.

Alright, you can stop squeeing now.  That's all the news I've got.  Covet it well, my pretties.

Review: Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick (part one, spoiler-free)

Hush, Hush
by Becca Fitzpatrick

Part One

I am doing my Hush, Hush review in two parts because I have a lot to say, but I don't want to spoil it for everyone. This is the unspoilery, straight-forward and brief(ish) review; if you want to read the spoiler-filled discussion, go here. Now, to it:

Hush, Hush is the story of Nora Grey, an average high school student going about her business as usual -- until her Biology teacher rearranges her classes seats and places her next to the dangerous-looking new kid, Patch Cipriano. Nora gets a weird feeling from Patch, and things just keep going from bad to worse as Nora becomes convinced that she is being stalked, and may even be the target of murderous intentions. Add to the list Nora's strange feelings about the Archangel ride at the amusement park, her mixed feelings about -- and unwholesome attraction to -- Patch, and her constant near death experiences, and well, Nora's life is becoming anything but average.

When I finished reading Hush, Hush, I had to mull it over for awhile. I really wasn't sure what to say. I am absolutely enthralled by the cover (athletic looking, dark mysterious fallen angel, contorted in mid-air in grayscale? What's not to like?). I had to have it because of that cover*. But I had a sneaking suspicion that a cover that good had to be masking something. Yep. It's a bright light to dazzle the eyes and make you *ahem* overlook any faults.
It didn't work.

It was the most confused, schizophrenic piece of writing I've read in some time. Becca Fitzpatrick didn't seem to know quite what she wanted, only that it had to be ominous and scary and dangerous -- and titillating, of course, and mysterious and sexy. So with those buzz words in mind, she threw a bunch of things together and let her narrator, Nora, sort them out. Nora, understandably, had some trouble with this, and the result is a thoroughly frustrating heroine who jumps to insane conclusions based on inane evidence one moment, and the next goes blithely along into obvious danger.

Patch is intriguing, and perhaps the most consistent character**, and I was fully prepared for an 'anti-hero as the hero' story. I wanted a little boundary-pushing and a not entirely likeable or trustworthy male lead who may or may not redeem himself, but who gives you the dangerous and alluring in spades. For the most part, Patch wasn't a let-down in this regard, and as screwed up as it is to like him, he was the stand-out character for me. (This is not to say I didn't have issues with Patch, too.)

But it wasn't enough. Patch's bad boy antics couldn't save this book from itself. It was self-indulgent, cheesy, melodramatic in the worst sense, and confusing. I wanted to like it; I loved the fallen angel premise, the idea of an anti-hero, and bits and pieces of the writing through out. But Hush, Hush suffered from too many villains and too much shock and awe, and not enough thought and follow-through. Maybe Fitzpatrick can pull it together for round two, and with some strong convincing by trusted, like-minded people, I may be willing to give her another chance. But this was a monstrous let-down for me. You've been warned.***

*We all know how that whole so-pretty-I-just-had-to think works out. See my guest post on Jo's blog about this.
**Vee was pretty consistent too, and was a lot of fun, but she started to get annoying and a little strange...
***You're still going to read it, aren't you? Damn you, James Porto and you're beautiful, beautiful cover!


A lot of people like this book, and I want to give you both sides, so here are some pro-HH reviews:
Hush, Hush won the Urban Fantasy Cover of the Year award for 2009; it truly is a fantastic cover.

The Hush, Hush fan site, Fallen Archangel.

Book trailer:

Alright, that's it for part one. Part two is coming this weekend, so there's some space to keep people from stumbling across the spoiler-filler version by accident.


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