Thursday, October 28, 2010

Pierce in Portland + NaNo Notes

Last week, on the 18th, I had the opportunity to meet one of my author idols, Tamora Pierce.

The event was held downtown, at The Old Church, and was attended by (I'm guessing) upwards of 200 teens, parents, and avid fans of an older variety (such as myself).

There were even a couple cosplayers dressed as Beka Cooper and Barzha Razorwing (Stormwing Queen).

Tamora PierceTamora PierceTamora Pierce

After a short reading from Bloodhound and introduction of her experience as a writer, she then opened the floor up for questions.

Time was short, as it was a school night, so not all the questions were gotten to. Luckily, she was quite talkative afterward during the signing. I had wanted to ask her, "Is there a good rule of thumb for deciding whether or not to kill off a character?" ...But I chickened out and merely asked her, "If you could go to a book signing by any author, alive or dead, who would it be?"

She replied without hesitation:
Neil Gaiman or Stephen King

Tamora PierceTamora PierceTamora Pierce

Of course, as you can see, my picture taking skills leave a bit to be desired. This is partly the fault of the location—lighting was horrible—and partly my own fault for not coming out and asking for a picture.

Oh well, just something to shoot for the next time!

Tamora PierceTamora PierceTamora Pierce

You can listen to (and download) a podcast of the event here.

Keep in mind that she wandered around the stage (and away from the microphones), so you might need to adjust the volume throughout.

And here are my spoils for the evening:

Signed Alanna
♀ rule!
Alright, technically I got this one signed 2 years ago in Chicago...
But here's what I got that night!
Signed Wild Magic
Good luck at NaNoWriMo!
Signed First Test
♀ rule!
Signed Trickster's Choice
May you always get
the right idea
at the right time-
Which leads me to my next point...

I'm participating in this year's NaNoWriMo!

Or, at least I'm going to try.

I know I still have work I need to be doing, and I hate to just up and abandon the blog for a month (again)...

Well, there I go, already making excuses for myself.

Alright, bottom line.
I'm going to try to have fun with it.
I'm going to try for the 50,000 word mark.
I'm going to try and continue reading and reviewing.

And I would love for your support.
If you're participating, go ahead and look me up,
Add me as a Writing Buddy!

And wish me luck!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Dig Your Teeth In And Don't Let Go!

I've been a long-time fan of Tamora Pierce's books. In fact, she was one of the first (if not the first) authors who introduced me to the realm of fantasy and strong heroines. Before now, I would say my favorite heroine was Tris from the Circle of Magic series: she's stubborn, bookish, a bit plump, and easily riled, but her loyalty and friendship are true.

However, even with Tris as my favorite character, the Tortall books have always been my preference. Alanna's bravery captured my heart, Daine's abilities won my adoration, Kel's determination earned my respect, and Ali's cunning stole my imagination. But even more, the world was one of medieval grandeur. It was rich and detailed, but at the same time open to imagination and interpretation. It was both historically realistic and fantastical with magic and mythology woven in.

Not only that, but with each series, characters we had already grown to love would make reappearances. It was always a joy to see a familiar face even as you're reading along with another heroine's journey.

This time, however, we're given a series set about 150 years before Alanna's journey began. That security blanket is gone, and we're forging ahead alone once again...

Provost's Dog Trilogy
Book 1
By Tamora Pierce
Amazon ~ Powell's ~ Jan's Paperbacks

(After 2 hours of trying to craft my own summary, I've decided that the original book copy is probably the best starting point...)

In 246 H.E., the Provost's Dogs guard Tortall's capital city. Beka Cooper is one of their newest trainees—a Puppy wet behind the ears but eager to learn. But Beka will have to learn faster than she bargained for because she's assigned to the Lower City, Corus's toughest district. It's filled with pickpockets who are fast as lightning, rogues who will knock your teeth out with a smile, and murderers with hidden plans.

Luckily, Beka's got a few tricks up her sleeve. Gifted with the ability to hear murdered spirits, she's already discovered two separate killing sprees. Unfortunately, the dead aren't very detailed, and going on half the facts can get a Dog killed. It'll take all of Beka's smarts and skills if she's going to track down these murderers. If she doesn't get killed in the meantime....

I must admit, Terrier was a wonderful break from the slough of paranormal YA I've been reading recently. Nothing against any of those books, mind you, but this book was a welcome breath of fresh air. It has action, mystery, investigation, and just that tiny hint of magic that lets you know anything's possible. The magic is there, but it's more of a whisper than a major player, leaving the characters to rely on more 'conventional' methods.

Even though, as I said earlier, Tris was probably my favorite character, Beka and I instantly clicked. She's smart, headstrong, loyal, but at the same time unbearably shy around her superiors to the point that she can barely get out a full sentence. Yet, because we're in her head, we know she's not an idiot and she doesn't mean to waste anyone's time, and she's kicking herself for not being stronger. Now, who can't relate to that?

Oh, you caught that? That's right, this book is written in 1st person—the first of the Tortall books to be done so. Though some might see it as merely a conformity to the fad that is running rampant through current YA fiction, I cannot stress enough how wrong they would be.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Beware the Wrath of a Patient Adversary

I received this book for a fair and honest review from the author, Kate Kaynak. For more information about Kate and her books, check out her Website, Facebook, and Blog.

Being the second book in a series, this review does contain spoilers for the first book, Minder. I'd suggest you read the book, or at the very least my previous review before reading this.

Ganzfield Novels
Book 2
By Kate Kaynak
Amazon ~ Powell's

For Maddie, life probably couldn't be any stranger.

As a minder (mind-reader), she hears the thoughts and feels the emotions of everyone around her. Her boyfriend, (well, more accurately, her soulmate) Trevor, can lift things in the air and stop bullets without even moving a muscle. Her other friends can start, stop, and control fires, locate people or objects just by thinking about them, heal others in seconds, and force people to do anything they ask.

But that's Ganzfield for you. If something isn't strange, it just wouldn't be normal.

It's been a couple months since Maddie and her friends broke into Eden Imaging, simultaneously rescuing Trevor and discovering a powerful enemy. Since then, they've formed a team dedicated to protecting each other and the other students at Ganzfield. Though training has been going well, team dynamics are still off where charms are concerned. And it doesn't help matters that the newest charm recruit, Zack, seems to have extra abilities, abilities that put even Maddie on edge.

But when Ganzfield suffers a massive attack, Maddie and the others will have to put their concerns aside and work together in order to track down some answers. Unfortunately, there's a good chance those answers could lead them straight to Isaiah Lerner, a minder with the ability to kill with a thought, and who would do anything to see them all dead.

It will take everything Maddie has to keep her friends alive. But is that enough?

First off, no offense to Kate or her people, but the back cover copy needs some work. I understand not wanting to give anything away, but you need more description than just five sentences:

"Second Sight."

The break-in at Eden Imaging
put everyone at Ganzfield in the
crosshairs of a killer.

Do they have what it takes to stop Isaiah?

Who will survive—and who won't?

Find out what happens next
in the sequel to Minder.

I'm sorry, but if I'm looking into the series and Adversary is first on the shelf (because bookstores often go alphabetically instead of chronologically [easier/faster]) that description doesn't have enough hook to get me to look at Minder. It assumes you know too much about this world, mentioning nothing of the paranormal aspect (besides 'second sight'), and instead of inviting you into the world, it bluntly tells you to "Find out what happens".

Luckily, fans of Minder will already be jumping at the bit to do just that. And they won't be disappointed.

Friday, October 15, 2010

100th Post & Book Blogger Hop (6)

~~~POST 100!!!~~~
I want to thank all of my followers:
Thanks for sticking with me
through good times and bad,
I couldn't have made it this far without you.

Book Blogger Hop

When you read a book that you just can't get into, do you stick it out and keep reading or move to your next title?

Wow, that's a great question, one that I haven't yet come up against as a reviewer.

In fact, the only reason I've 'given up' on books in the past was due to time constraints: the book was due back at the library or I had another requirement for school. Now that I'm running on my own schedule and truly reading for the fun of it... I don't know what I'd do.

However, here's what I think I'd do.

I give every book at least 50 pages to hook me.

After that...

If it's a book I own (either have bought myself, or won in a giveaway) and I can't get into it, I might put it down for a while. Maybe I'll pick it up again later, when I'm in a different mood. Maybe I'll try to power through it. Or, maybe I'll give up and give it away/sell it. It will probably depend on what 'the problem' is.

If I pick up a book from the library and just can't get into it, I'll probably return it without much guilt and simply not review it. I might revisit it if I have it recommended to me, or read a stellar review, but I'm not completely committed to completing or reviewing it.

If I was given a book specifically for review (from author, publisher, or an ARC) and I didn't like it, I think I'd push through anyway and finish it. The only reason I can see not finishing a book is if there's something in it that made me physically ill (detailed or extreme gore or sickness has made me nauseous in the past) and had nothing else that drew me in. I've never had an experience where I've hated a book, so I can't say how I'd react. But if it's a matter of boredom, not clicking, or slight discomfort with a book, I can and will most likely still finish it.

What about you?

Feel free to post a link to your own blog in the comments,
and be sure to check out other blog-hoppers at Crazy-for-Books' blog!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Mind Your Minders

Almost a month ago, I received notification that I had won a signed copy this book from Christina's Confessions of a Book Addict giveaway. After confirming my entry, she passed along my information to the author so she could mail me a copy directly.

The next day, I had a Facebook Friend confirmation from none other than the author, Kate Kaynak. Upon learning that I have a book-review blog, she was curious if I'd be interested in receiving and reviewing the 2nd book as well. How could I say no?

Of course, while I'm grateful for receiving signed copies of both books, my excitement at receiving them has passed, leaving me with a level mind. Both reviews will be impartial and honest.

And, as always, this review contains no spoilers.

Ganzfield Novels
Book 1
By Kate Kaynak
Amazon ~ Powell's

Maddie doesn't know how she did it. She didn't use a gun, a knife, or any weapon at all. All she knows is that one moment the three boys were stripping her clothes off, and the next they were all dead.

After the trauma of her abduction and her attackers' inexplicable deaths, no criminal system could punish her as much as she does herself. However, much to her surprise, instead of facing criminal charges Maddie is recruited into the Ganzfield Training Program.

Located on a remote campus in New Hampshire, Ganzfield is a school for children with very special abilities. There are the charms, those gifted with verbally induced mind-control, who pretty much rule the school; sparks, or pyrokinetics, can control, summon, and extinguish fires; RV's, remote viewers, can find anyone or anything no matter the distance; healers speed up the body's own restoration processes; and minders, or telepaths, can hear people's thoughts and feelings.

Maddie is a minder, one of only four in the school, and she's definitely making a strong first-impression. It's only been a few hours and she's already started to topple the charm-imposed social order. But mixing things up doesn't win many friendships, especially when everyone knows she can hear their thoughts. In a high-school populated by super-powered teens, can Maddie survive alone? Or will she have to?

I know what you're thinking—or, rather Maddie does. You think this is all crazy. There aren't such things as telepathy or fire-starters or mind-control. Well, maybe that's just what they want you to think.

Let me first say that I absolutely loved this story. It took a little while to warm into, but once Maddie found her voice, I couldn't get enough. Read the whole thing in one sitting.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Design Updates

I'm thinking of changing some things.

You see, I've noticed a wee bit of scroll-lag,
and I'm none too happy about it.

You may have already noticed some small tweaks here and there:
Changing some headers,
Condensing some links,
Removing a badge,

But the lag is still here.

About the only thing left is the template design.

So, since I'm going to be changing things anyway,
I'd like a little input from You, the reader.

How's the color-scheme?
Is there enough space?
Is the title-image too large?
Do you want boxes in the sidebar?
Corners or round-offs?

Now's your chance to leave your two cents.
Just leave me a comment below
and a week from today I'll officially start the renovations (big or small).

P.S. For more feedback fun, check out my polls at the bottom of the page!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

In My Mailbox (6)

In My Mailbox
In My Mailbox is a meme hosted by The Story Siren

In the past month I've...

A Wizard of Mars (Book & Audiobook) ~ Diane Duane
Artemis Fowl 4 & 6 (Audiobooks) ~ Eoin Colfer
From My Library

Magic Bites ~ Ilona Andrews
Brisingr ~ Christopher Paolini
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows ~ J.K. Rowling
From Jan's Paperbacks

Earth (The Book): A Visitor's Guide to the Human Race ~ Jon Stewart & The Daily Show
From My Dad

And Won

Signed & Personalized Copies of Minder & Adversary ~ Kate Kaynak
From Christina of Confessions of a Book Addict
And Kate Kaynak of Disgruntled Bear

Monday, October 4, 2010

It's Not Paranoia If They Really Are Out To Get You...


Two posts?!

In the same day?!

After 3 weeks of nothing?!


Well, I'm thinking that in addition to my latest book review, I'd probably best explain my absence. It's only fair, right?

Besides the obvious burn-out that occurred following my 26 days of posts, I didn't really have a reason not to post. Sure, my ideas weren't amazing/spectacular/awe-inspiring, but they were passable. And my fingers hadn't been gnawed off in the interim.

But, I was a little under the weather. Not health-wise (except for 2 days), but mental-wise.

I'm still a little afraid to say it...but I was...depressed.

But, because I'm looking for a job, I couldn't tell anyone, I couldn't show anyone, and God forbid I come off as a little unenthusiastic one day.

With employers scanning the internet for 'background checks' and anything else that can be used against you, I've got to be extra careful in crafting my status updates, tweets, and yes, even blog posts.

So, in short, I apologize for my recent absence, but I only had our best interests in mind. You probably didn't need to hear whining or mopey sentiments, and I couldn't risk potential bosses thinking I'm not upbeat and enthusiastic.

Still, the job search continues, but I'll try to crank out book reviews a little more regularly.

The Good, The Bad, And...Frannie?!

I first received this book from a GoodReads ARC giveaway about a month ago. Being the procrastinator I am, I planned to review it before the release date, but other commitments were edging it out. So, after putting it off for a few weeks, I was finally about to crack down and read it...when I spied it on the shelves at my local Borders! Apparently the bookstores weren't quite clear on the official release date. So, of course I bought it immediately.

Now that the book was out in the world, I knew I needed to crack down and get the book read. Still, since the deadline had passed, it wasn't pressing on my mind as much as it had been...which I knew was a mistake. Finally, this weekend I cleared my schedule and faced these Personal Demons...

As always, this review contains no spoilers.

~Personal Demons~
Personal Demons
Book 1
By Lisa Desrochers
Amazon ~ Powell's ~ Jan's Paperbacks

When Luc Cain transfers to Haden High, he has a little more on his mind than just finding his classes and making new friends. He's on a mission. There's one soul here which has special properties, and it's his job to find and tag that soul for Hell.

No, he's not some D&D nut. He's a genuine demon—horns, tail, brimstone heart, the works—and he's the best at what he does. Which means it's no surprise to him when he thinks he's found his target within five minutes on the job.

Frannie Cavanaugh is more than a little surprised when the new guy, who happens to be drop-dead gorgeous, starts showing her some interest. She's never been much of a magnet for those types—that's more her friend, Taylor's, department. And, even though she really starts to enjoy it, she's gotta keep herself in check. After all, he feels a bit dangerous—what would her parents think?—and she doesn't want anyone to get hurt. Besides, she doesn't deserve a guy like him...

So imagine her shock when a second gorgeous guy, Gabe, shows up and gives her the same amount of attention. But Gabe's not just gorgeous, he makes her feel peaceful, safe, and— Woah! Back up a minute! Two drool-worthy guys fighting over her?! Has the universe lost its senses?

Luc needs her to pick him. Not only because it's his job, and he'll have Hell to pay if she doesn't, but he's beginning to develop some feelings he's never felt before. For her. There's something special about her...and perhaps that's why his boss wants her so much. Too bad Gabe is running so much interference. Stupid angels and their charm...

So now Frannie's faced with a choice: should she pick the safer bet who makes her feel things she's not sure she deserves to feel, or does she want someone a bit more dangerous who has awakened her carnal desires? Or will she decide she's safer not feeling anything for either one of them?