Friday, April 29, 2011

Hop, Hop, Hop !!


Book Blogger Hop

Every week Jennifer at Crazy-for-Books hosts a blog hop. Put your link in, post a comment and you can discover a lot of great blogs. The Hop lasts Friday-Monday every week. This week's question/task: Summer is coming quickly -- what 2011 summer release are you most looking forward to? I don't have to look forward to it anymore because I received a copy of it in the mail last week. What am I talking about....
Don't Breathe a Word: A Novel
I was browsing the HarperCollins catalog a couple of months ago and came across Don't Breathe a Word by Jennifer McMahon. I didn't even know what the book was about, those eyes just draw you in. You can't look away. An e-mail pitch went out about some upcoming books, and you just know I jumped at the chance to review it. I know it has to do with fairies. Hmmmmm?!?!? I wouldn't get fairies from that cover, but I'm intrigued.

Here are some blogs I came across:
The Talking Teacup
Moonlight Reader
Books and Other Creative Adventures

Notes: Some of my new layout features are still in flux. I had a photobucket issue today, and some things still need to be fixed. The tabs at the top aren't working, but they will soon. Also, I'm looking for takers for my What's Up Tweeps?! feature. May's question: This is for you YA readers out there. It seems so many YA books are part of a series. Do you get tired of all the series? Ever wish something could stand alone? Entries are open until May 26. E-mail entries to bookangel224@gmail.com

My take on: Heart of Deception

Heart of Deception: A NovelIt's time to find out what happened to Leo Hoffman. When we last heard from him in Heart of Lies by M.L. Malcolm, Leo was leaving his daughter Maddy behind in New York. Leo was set to embark on life as a spy. Why abandon his child? Does Maddy feel abandoned? It was all for a purpose. Maddy's safety would be ensured as long as she wasn't with Leo.

I was sad for them at the end of the first book. They went through the perils of war in Shanghai. Now at the height of World War II, Leo can't be with his daughter without completing a spy mission in North Africa. There is lots of action at this juncture, including a dangerous rescue mission at a Jewish work camp.

Back in New York, Maddy is dying inside to feel like she belongs. Reuniting with her mother's family isn't enough to fill the hole that her father left. By the time Leo returns, it's too late for them. This is where I got a little mad. What made me love the first book so much, was the close relationship between all the characters. The love between Leo and his wife Martha (read the first book if you want to know what happened to her!) oozed through the pages. Maddy was also close to both her parents. I didn't feel that connection with the characters this time around.

Maddy moves on, but lacks confidence in herself and her relationships. She has this belief that she's not good enough. She settles for what's available rather than going for what she's worth. In some cases that has deadly consequences. This lack of confidence in herself isn't resolved by the end, but there is hope for Maddy.

The book spans several continents and decades. Some major and minor characters are introduced, but then they disappear for long periods. It just felt like there was too much going on. Just when you wonder what happened to Leo, he pops up again. Leo was at the heart of the first book, but in this one I didn't think there was enough of him. Heart of Deception is more Maddy's story, but I wish Leo had a bigger role.

Rating: Give it a try

Notes: I received a copy from the publisher (HarperCollins) at the request of Authors On The Web. For more information on author M.L. Malcolm visit: http://mlmalcolm.com/

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Technical difficulties!!!.....Update

*****Everything should be back to normal. I still have some layout elements to input, but for the most part everything should be ok now!!*****

Obviously, I'm having some issues with my layout. Photobucket has decided to go haywire!! Pardon my appearance. This will be corrected.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

What's Up Tweeps?! No. 7


It's time for another edition of What's Up Tweeps?! This month's question was, "Do you post negative reviews?" I had to think on this one. What do you consider negative? Should it be negative just for the sake of being negative? How far do you go?

I don't want to post negative reviews. But I also don't want to look like I'm pandering to authors and publicists. I want to say what I like and don't like without ruining relationships with authors and publicists. I think publishers and authors want to see both sides of the coin. How else can they know what readers want? I don't think I post negative reviews, but I will say what I don't like about a book. I try not to be offensive. A book has to be really, really bad for me not to post a review.

I haven't had any negative reaction from an author or publicist. I'm sure there are some people who don't agree with my opinion, but I must be doing something right.

Next month's question: This is for you YA readers out there. It seems so many YA books are part of a series. Do you get tired of all the series? Ever wish something could stand alone? Entries are open until May 26. E-mail entries to bookangel224@gmail.com

Monday, April 25, 2011

It's Monday, what's on the cover?

The Devil's Star: A Harry Hole Novel

It's time for a mystery read!! I have never heard of the character Detective Harry Hole, but he is the lead character in a series of books by Jo Nesbo. In The Devil's Star Detective Hole is on the hunt for a serial killer!! Several female victims have been found with a cutout of a red five-pointed star on them. Hmmm!! What's the star about? I'm intrigued!!

Notes: Some of the layout elements on my blog are in flux at the moment. Pardon my appearance. The rating system will return, as will my monthly feature What's Up Tweeps?!

Friday, April 22, 2011

New layout!!!

As Sheryl Crow said ....



After a year of blogging, it was time for a new layout. How do you like it? The wonderful Tawni at Forever Design Studio made a new layout for me. The tabs aren't working, yet but they will soon. I'm still working on adding some information, so pardon my appearance over the next few days.

It's Friday, it's time to hop !!

Book Blogger Hop

Every week Jennifer at Crazy-for-Books hosts a blog hop. Put your link in, post a comment and you can discover a lot of great blogs. The Hop lasts Friday-Monday every week. This week's question/task: If you find a book you love, do you hunt down other books by the same author? Absolutely !!! The first author that comes to mind is Barbara Kingsolver. I first heard of her on Oprah, and yes I admit Lady O has been a big influence on my reading. I read Kingsolver's The Poisonwood Bible because I heard about it on the show. I loved that book so much, I picked up other books by her (Prodigal Summer, The Bean Trees, Pigs in Heaven and Animal Dreams).

Then we have Jodi Picoult. My Sister's Keeper is the first book I ever read by her. I read a review in the newspaper, and I've been hooked since (Sing You Home, House Rules, Nineteen Minutes, Perfect Match, Plain Truth, Salem Falls, The Tenth Circle, and Mercy). Although, I have yet to read Sing You Home, The Tenth Circle or House Rules. I know I will get to them. Some people think her writing is too schmaltzy and in some cases controversial, but I don't care. I'm a fan all the way!! If you've held my attention with one book, I'm confident you can do it again with the next book.

Here are some blogs I came across:

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

My take on: There is no Year

There Is No Year: A NovelThis is the first time I can truly say a book has left me corn-fused! I read the pitch e-mail for There is No Year by Blake Butler and was intrigued. There is no clear plot. The characters have no names. The chapters are short, some even have just a few words. The color of the pages range from light to dark. In my opinion, the story isn't linear. It feels like a jumble of thoughts/vignettes cobbled together in a book, but not in a bad way.

We have a mother, a father, a son, and...their copies. Yes identical copies of themselves. The copy family doesn't speak, and eventually they are done away with in interesting ways. There is a room full of hair, holes in the walls that lead to other places, an obsession with ants and heads. An obsession with death, including a list of real-life people who died. Was there a reason for this? There are moments of normality when the family watches television. But then there are moments that are just weird. Eating hair, walking around the house naked, walking through puckers in the wall? Who does that?

Sometimes I thought I was witnessing an alternate reality. Some dystopian society.

"The eye had many sides. Each time the father blinked inside his own sight with the other's -- quick black -- when he looked again the eye would seize. The eye would spin among its sides and scrunch like aged skin, then come to settle centered on another side. Each new side held a new pupil to look into, and it looking back as well, again."

Are they watching some versions of themselves going through life? I wasn't sure right up until the end, and I'm still not sure. Did I miss the clues? Do the pages going from light to dark mean anything? Do the lighter pages mean life is brightening up for this family? Maybe there wasn't anything to miss. As I said, this book left me corn-fused!! This book was outside of comfort zone. Not every book has to have a clear beginning, middle, and end, which is why it's good for me to read books like this. It can get pretty boring if you limit yourself to certain genres and formats, and believe me this book is anything but boring.

My interest was held throughout because I wanted to know what was going on. There are moments that will make you go, "huh?" I liken this book to the Matrix flicks and Inception. Those were movies that I need to see two or three times before I truly understood what was going on. This is a book I'm going to have read again.

Rating: Give it a try

Note: I received a copy of the book from the publisher (Harper Perennial) in exchange for an honest review.

One year later ...


Happy Birthday!!!

One year ago today I was searching for a creative outlet. I was bored to tears. While I still have those moments of boredom, I'm so glad I that I started my blog. I put up my first post really really early in the morning. I just wanted to get it up, that I tired myself out trying to figure out how to use Blogger. I'm not very tech-savvy. I only learned how to put hyperlinks in my posts a few weeks ago. I also didn't know what hyperlinks were until a few weeks ago!

I don't think there is any right or wrong way to start a blog. You just have to do what feels right to you. It will take time to find your voice. I've gone back and forth so many times on what to write and what not to write. How much to write? How do I keep people interested (I'm still working on this one)? What's my niche? What am I good at?

I chose not to settle on a specific genre because I like just about everything, except science fiction. I often wondered if that would hurt me in the long term. I don't think it has because I have had the opportunity to read all kinds of books.

When I got my first pitch e-mail I wanted to do a cartwheel. The feeling is sheer euphoria when someone wants you to review their book. Then the inevitable sets in, trying to find the right balance between blogging and your everyday life. I make it a point to read everyday, even if it's just for a few minutes.

This blogging journey is still a work in progress. In a few days there will be a big change with my blog design. The wonderful Tawni at Forever Design Studio is whipping up a new layout for me. Stay tuned, and happy reading!!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Guest post: Welcome Sean McCartney!


Making Characters Believable


I want to thank Jael for allowing me to guest post today. My name is Sean McCartney and I am the author of the new young adult action adventure novel, The Treasure Hunters Club: Secrets of the Magical Medallions. If you get a chance you can check out my web site at www.treasurehuntersclubbook.com for more about me and the series.

I have been at different writing conferences over the last year and one question always comes up and it is how to make characters believable in a fiction story?

It is actually easier than you might imagine. Before I start any story I want to have my characters in place so I create a character chart. This is basically the characters life up until the moment the story begins. I may not use all or any of the information for the story but it is important that I know about them inside and out.

How do I do this? By simply thinking of people I have known in the past and currently know and put their good points and bad points down on a sheet of paper and pick and choose the ones I want a certain character to have.

I teach Social Studies to sixth graders and I also am in charge of an advanced writing class that deals with writing novels. I always tell my students to think of their friends first and take what you like about them and that is how you start a character. What I think makes characters interesting, however, are their faults. They make a character unique and easier to connect with readers.

The background of a character is vitality important in showing their believability. What in the characters past allows them to overcome what is going to happen to them? What in their background allows them to persevere?

I think the easiest characters to write and sometimes the most fun are the bad guys. They get to break the rules and try and short cut their way to a goal. What is important to achieve is worthy adversaries among your characters. They have to be able to challenge one another to be better and sometimes worse as they strive for whatever goal they have.

I hope this gives many of you a basic idea of how characters are created and made believable.

I look forward to many of you reading The Treasure Hunters Club: Secrets of the Magical Medallions and let me know what you think of the story.

Sean Paul McCartney (he’s not related to the Beatle) was born in 1971. He graduated from Alfred University in upstate New York with a Bachelor’s in Communications in 1993. From there he played two exciting season traveling around the world with the Washington Generals playing against the world famous Harlem Globetrotters. In 1996 Sean earned his Masters in Education and embarked on a career as a teacher. He is employed by Plain Local Schools in Canton , OH. The first book in the series The Treasure Hunters Club: Secrets of the Magical Medallions introduces the four teens Tommy Reed, Jackson Miller, Shannon McDougal and Chris Henderson. The series is a cross between The Hardy Boys and Indiana Jones with a touch of National Treasure. You can visit Sean’s web site at www.treasurehuntersclubbook.com or e-mail him at seancoach@juno.com. Visit his The Treasure Hunters Club: Secrets of the Magic Medallions Facebook Fan Page by clicking here!

Monday, April 18, 2011

What's on the cover?


The Civilized World: A Novel in Stories

I didn't even have to read the full e-mail pitch before knowing I wanted to read The Civilized World by Susi Wyss. Like a lot of books, that cover pulled me in right away. The bright colors and that braid have to mean something right? I thought the cover was gorgeous. The book is set in Africa and told from the perspective of five women. I don't know what their bond is. But they have to bonded right? I interpret that braid to mean they are bonded by friendship. Or perhaps bonded by circumstances? Whatever the reason I wanted to know why. I haven't started reading it yet, but I will soon. Can't wait to dive in!!

Note: I'm looking for takers for my What's Up Tweeps?! feature. Here is April's question: Do you post negative book reviews? Why or why not? E-mail responses to bookangel224@gmail.com. Entries are open until April 21. If you have a question or topic that you would like to see discussed here, feel free to e-mail me. Who knows what we can come up with. Happy reading everyone !!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Coming soon to a blog near you!


Sean McCartney will be touring in April with his middle grade/YA novel, The Treasure Hunters Club: The Secrets of the Magical Medallions. A Treasure Hunting Legend… Four Ordinary Kids… Two Magical Medallions… Pursued By An Ancient Evil… In One Extraordinary Adventure. Join the Treasure Hunters Club as they look to unlock the Secrets of the Magical Medallions. …Some Secrets Are Better Left Alone. When Tommy Reed received a medallion from his famous treasure hunting uncle “Diamond” Jack Reed he didn’t think much of it. Now an ancient evil is pursuing his every move and his treasure hunting club friends, Shannon McDougal, Jackson Miller and Chris Henderson are on the run. They must unlock the secret to the medallion before evil can hunt them down.

Come back Tuesday for a guest post by Sean McCartney on how to make characters believable!! In the meantime enjoy the trailer below...

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Mini read-a-thon progress...


Sometimes plans are made with the best intentions. You set a goal and you try to reach it, but sometimes the plans can go awry. On Thursday I intended to read from 8p.m.-3a.m. Wishful thinking on my part. I figured I would be done with dinner by then and could make a dent in my review. Just one problem....I should have decided what I wanted for dinner before attempting a read-a-thon.

At 7:15 I was staring inside the refrigerator, wondering what I wanted to eat. I settled on grilled lamb and salad, but this meal required a trip to the grocery store, which I had just been in 20 MINUTES BEFORE. Sometimes I just can't make up my mind. I didn't start cooking until 7:44, so there goes trying to start reading at 8. I made the mistake of eating my dinner and catching up on some shows on the DVR. I intended to watch just one episode of Law & Order: LA, but ended up watching both. My rationale, "I can start reading at 10 and I'm also off Friday." That's still time to read a good chunk right?

Only 10 p.m. comes around, and my mouth is craving this....

I bought some at the grocery store. I can't read and eat chocolate chocolate chip because the ice cream demands my attention! So when does the reading begin? I opened the pages of There is No Year by Blake Butler at 10:27 p.m. Only two hours and 27 minutes late!! Thirty minutes later my mind starts to wander. Do I need to turn the heat on? It was getting a little chilly in my room. At some point my eyelids flutter, and I'm down for the count until 11:25. I don't know how some of you do it. In hindsight, you really need to rest up for a read-a-thon.

I was certainly refreshed by my little cat nap. So refreshed I took the time to check my e-mail, blog, Facebook and Twitter accounts. Boy, I can get easily distracted. Fast forward to Friday and into the early hours of today, and I got more reading done from more than one book.

The Good: I read a 100+ pages of There is No Year. I'm more than halfway through, and should have a review up by the end of next week. I read 60+ pages of Girls Like Us by Rachel Lloyd, finally cracking page 100. Some of the descriptions in that book are truly sad. I'm thankful I grew up differently than the girls in this book.

The Bad: I read about 15 pages of Heart of Deception by M.L. Malcolm. I say bad because I hoped to be further along. But I have until April 28 to finish. I'll make it. More of the bad, I didn't crack the pages of Night Road by Kristin Hannah. That one has kind of taken a backseat because it's from my personal and not my review reading pile. Sorry Kristin, I will finish eventually but review books take priority.

In the future, I'm going to plan plan plan plan. I think that's the only way a read-a-thon can work. So many things can get in the way.

How about everyone else? Any good read-a-thon stories out there?

Friday, April 15, 2011

Hop, hop, hop !!!

Book Blogger Hop

Every week Jennifer at Crazy-for-Books hosts a blog hop. Put your link in, post a comment and you can discover a lot of great blogs. The Hop lasts Friday-Monday every week. This week's question/task: Pick a character from a book you are currently reading or have just finished and tell us about him/her. I'm going to have to think...I'm reading several books, it's hard to pick just one. I have to pick the mother in There is no Year by Blake Butler. I say, "the mother" because none of the characters in the book have names. Well, I'm not finished but I assume no one will have a name by the end. In the beginning, the mother seems very typical. She's caring for her family. But then she becomes very weird. She starts seeing an exact copy of herself and the rest of the family. She kills them, even burying one in the forest. So far, reading about the characters in the book is like trying to solve a big puzzle. I only have a few pieces of the puzzle, despite being 200+ pages in.

Here are some blogs I came across:

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Mini read-a-thon (attempt) !!


I'm off today, so I thought I would try a mini read-a-thon. I won't be reading the whole day. I'm a Mets fan and I'm currently engrossed in the doubleheader today. Which right now is making me want to pull my hair out!! Once that's over and I've eaten dinner, those books will be calling my name. Obviously, I'm not going to read all 11 books. What I really want to do is make a big dent in the bottom five books. I want to finish at least two because that's just half of my review pile. My trusty iPhone is keeping me on schedule. I have some more books from Algonquin that I want to get to by next month.

The aim is to see how much I can read from 8p.m.-3a.m. I've never done this before. I'm guessing I need to keep snacks handy. How many distractions will there be? The TV will be on, but only so I can hear the music on one of the Jazz stations. Most of the time I need some music while I read. At some point I will be tempted to check Twitter, Facebook and my blog. What about the blog hop??? Have to take time out for that right? I tend to get sleepy around 9:30, which is why I can never watch CSI live (DVR really comes in handy on Thursdays)! I will be taking notes on my progress. Should be fun!!
Note: I'm looking for takers for my What's Up Tweeps?! feature. Here is April's question: Do you post negative book reviews? Why or why not? E-mail responses to bookangel224@gmail.com. Entries are open until April 21. If you have a question or topic that you would like to see discussed here, feel free to e-mail me. Who knows what we can come up with. Happy reading everyone !!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

My take on: The Bonus

The BonusGeorgia Lowe grew up hearing stories about the Bonus March of 1932. As a child, sometimes she listened and sometimes she didn't. Decades later, as an adult those stories served as the framework for her debut novel The Bonus.

What was the Bonus March? I have to tell you, I didn't know until a few weeks ago. World War I veteran were promised service bonuses in 1924, but the government wanted them deferred until 1945. Veterans across the U.S. had different ideas, like marching to Washington, D.C. to demand their bonuses. Until recent events (like a near government shutdown), I can't really imagine that happening. You work hard serving your country, and then you're denied compensation.

It was a fool's mission to some, but for the fictional character Will Hardy it's a chance to report on history for his newspaper. Will is a veteran himself, but tries to forget his experiences. The march will take him away from girlfriend Bonnie. Is it love? Will isn't sure what he feels. It's like he's afraid to love someone.

Through Will's eyes you can see the organizers of the march had good intentions, but some of the logistics weren't well thought out. Cars start breaking down. Towns across the U.S. reject the veterans. Food, water, and money are scarce. Personal hygiene takes a backseat. People start dying, and it becomes known as the death march rather than the bonus march. Most people would give up and go back home. Bonnie eventually joins Will, and even she can see that this is more than just a march. The devastation becomes too much for her. Why fight for something you might not get? Lowe's writing helps you see the desperation in their eyes. Some people were barely holding it together before the march, and this could be their only shot to rebound financially.

Once arriving in D.C., the bonus marchers are welcomed by some, like General Glassford, and rejected by others, like General MacArthur. Congress, President Hoover, and others have no intention of paying up. The marchers are peaceful, but removing them becomes anything but. At times this book can be emotionally draining. The U.S. government really turned their backs on people who fought for this country?

For historical novels, this is a very good. Rather than just spitting out the facts, you see it through someone else eyes.

Rating: Superb

Note: I received a copy of the book from the author's publicist (Planned Television Arts) in exchange for an honest review. For more on Georgia Lowe, visit http://luckydimepress.com/

Monday, April 11, 2011

It's not Friday, but let's hop!!

Book Blogger Hop

Every week Jennifer at Crazy-for-Books hosts a blog hop. Put your link in, post a comment and you can discover a lot of great blogs. The Hop lasts (usually) Friday-Monday every week. This week's question/task: Outside of books, what is your guilty pleasure? Reality TV, especially the 16 & Pregnant and Teen Mom shows. At least I can say, "My life didn't turn out like that." But some of those girls on the shows, I just have to roll my eyes at. If you watch Teen Mom 2, Jenelle can make you want to reach through the TV and smack the &^^*&^$%$ out of her. I don't know how a person can treat their mother like that.

Here are a few blogs I came across:

Notes: A review of The Bonus by Georgia Lowe will be posted tomorrow. Also, I'm looking for takers for my What's Up Tweeps?! feature. Here is April's question: Do you post negative book reviews? Why or why not? E-mail responses to bookangel224@gmail.com. Entries are open until April 21. If you have a question or topic that you would like to see discussed here, feel free to e-mail me. Who knows what we can come up with. Happy reading everyone !!

It's Monday, what's on the cover?


Heart of Deception: A Novel

It's time to find out what happened to Leo Hoffman. We met Leo in my review of Heart of Lies last year. Now it's time to see what author M.L. Malcolm has in store for our flawed hero in Heart of Deception. In the first book, Leo constantly told lies of the heart. Lying was his way of protecting his family, but eventually the consequences were deadly. In Heart of Deception, Leo has now become a spy, in hopes of seeing his daughter Maddy again. The cover on this one is a little different from the first. On this cover, we can see the face of woman on the cover. Is she longing for something? Is she waiting for someone? Can't wait to find out.

Notes: A review of The Bonus by Georgia Lowe will be posted tomorrow. Also, I'm looking for takers for my What's Up Tweeps?! feature. Here is April's question: Do you post negative book reviews? Why or why not? E-mail responses to bookangel224@gmail.com. Entries are open until April 21. If you have a question or topic that you would like to see discussed here, feel free to e-mail me. Who knows what we can come up with. Happy reading everyone !!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Reading progress...so far

My One and Only (Hqn)Enough About Love The Tapestry of Love Nickel Plated Pictures of You Home to Woefield: A Novel Passport through Darkness: A True Story of Danger and Second Chances Fallen Grace Mad Love Girl, Stolen (Christy Ottaviano Books) Blue Delirious Sukkwan Island: A Novella from Legend of a Suicide  The Secret Life of Sandrina M.Before I Fall     

Sometimes I wish I could read faster. Like a lot of book lovers, I am easily distracted by a shiny new cover. Wait until BookExpo America next month. BEA is at the Javits Center, which is the size of a football field. A football field filled with books of every genre. It will be like being a kid in a candy store. Can't wait!!

So how has my reading progress been? According to GoodReads, I've read 15 books towards my goal of 75. At this pace, I will probably only read 60 books. But it's always good to have goals. Seventy-five books is a lofty goal. I did this because I want to outdo myself. I locked myself into two reading challenges. With the outdo yourself challenge, I'm going for the I'm on fire level. Translation, I have to read 16 plus more books than last year. I read 49 books last year, and I know I can read more than that. I also signed up for the 2011 YA Reading challenge. I'm aiming to read 20 YA novels.

So far, I've read 6 YA books and 9 adult books. I'm certain I can hit 20 YA books. But my overall reading goal will take some time. What about everyone else? What are some of your reading goals?
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...