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Thursday, June 28, 2012

REVIEW: Awakenings by Edward Lazellari

Cal MacDonnell is a happily married New York City cop with a loving family. Seth Raincrest is a washed-up photographer who has alienated even his closest friends. The two have nothing in common—except that they both suffer from retrograde amnesia. It’s as if they just appeared out of thin air thirteen years ago, and nothing has been able to restore their memories. Now their forgotten past has caught up to them with a vengeance.
Cal's and Seth’s lives are turned upside down as they are stalked by otherworldly beings who know about the men's past lives. But these creatures aren't here to help; they're intent on killing anyone who gets in their way. In the balance hangs the life of a child who might someday restore a broken empire to peace and prosperity. With no clue why they're being hunted, Cal and Seth must accept the aid of a strange and beautiful woman who has promised to unlock their secrets. The two must stay alive long enough to protect their loved ones, recover their true selves—and save two worlds from tyranny and destruction.
Awakenings launches a captivating fantasy saga by an amazing and talented new storyteller.

Book: Awakenings by Edward Lazellari
Release Date: August 30, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Genre:Urban Fantasy
Series: Awakenings, #1
Obtained: In exchange for an honest review
Rating:PhotobucketPhotobucketPhotobucket (3 Zombies)

I think that my biggest issue with Awakenings was that the mixture of traditional fantasy and urban fantasy was often quite jarring and only threw me out of the story rather than drawing me further in, which I can only assume was the goal.

The main characters, Cal and Seth, were very fundamentally different people, and while I preferred Cal to Seth at the beginning, over the course of the book, my opinion did a complete 180. Cal got increasingly boring and stuck up and Seth got more responsible and respectable.

I think that hardcore fantasy readers will love Awakenings and eagerly await the sequels, but those who prefer a more urban fantasy tone will be surprise at how traditional this book is despite the more urban setting for the majority of the book.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

REVIEW: Past Midnight by Mara Purnhagen

Let me set the record straight. My name is Charlotte Silver and I'm not one of those paranormal-obsessed freaks you see on TV…no, those would be my parents, who have their own ghost-hunting reality show. And while I'm usually roped into the behind-the-scenes work, it turns out that I haven't gone unnoticed. Something happened on my parents' research trip in Charleston—and now I'm being stalked by some truly frightening other beings. Trying to fit into a new school and keeping my parents' creepy occupation a secret from my friends—and potential boyfriends—is hard enough without having angry spirits whispering in my ear.

All I ever wanted was to be normal, but with ghosts of my past and present colliding, now I just want to make it out of high school alive….

Book: Past Midnight by Mara Purnhagen
Release Date: September 1, 2010
Format: Paperback
Genre:Urban Fantasy/Young Adult
Series: Past Midnight, #1
Obtained: In exchange for an honest review
Rating:PhotobucketPhotobucketPhotobucketPhotobucket (4 Zombies)

I think that a lot of really short books are sub-par, at least as far as the ones I've read, but Past Midnight really pulled it off and made its shortness work for it. I think that I would've hated the way the story was almost skimmed through, the almost short story-esque lack of detail, in any other book, but it really fit with the tone and story of Past Midnight, and even though it was kind of surprising at first, I quickly came to love the style.

Charlotte was a cute, quirky MC, and I really enjoyed her. Her relationship with her older sister was especially entertaining and very well written. I've always wanted an older sister, and it was really fun to read about Charlotte's relationship with her own sister.

The little tiny bit of romance was really breezed over, and I would have liked to see a little more, but I look forward to reading more about it later on in the series, hopefully.

I recommend that anyone who is a fan of ghost stories pick up this light, easy, fun summer read.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Reading Update

Book Clipart Images

Reading Update

Last week in books:
  • Read a little more Game of Thrones. So far, it's really good, but slow, which is pretty normal for fantasy, imo.
  • Still haven't finished Hyperspace, but I'm going at a pretty steady pace.
This week in books:
  • Finish Hyperspace.
  • Get at least halfway through A Game of Thrones.
Wishful thinking:
  • Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare

That's all for this week. What are you planning on reading? Any good books you've read lately?

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

REVIEW: Wild Ink by Victoria Hanley

What do you need to know to break in to the flourishing young adult (YA) market? With humor and a solid grounding in reality, author Victoria Hanley helps readers understand the ins and outs of the YA genre, how to stay inspired, and how to avoid common mistakes writers make in trying to reach teens. This book includes unique writing exercises to help readers find their own authentic teen voice and dozens of interviews with YA authors, blogging experts, editors, and agents to give inspiration and guidance for getting published. Chapters include writing exercises and self-editing techniques tailored to YA, along with encouraging words on dealing with self-doubt, rejection, and lack of time.

Book: Wild Ink by Victoria Hanley
Release Date: May 1, 2012
Format: Paperback
Genre: Educational
Series: N/A
Obtained: In exchange for an honest review
Rating:PhotobucketPhotobucketPhotobucket (3 Zombies)

I think that this book would be really helpful for older writers, but since I'm only going to be turning 18 next month, a lot of the advice didn't really help me because it was geared toward people who haven't been teens in a long time and want to reconnect with that age group. I still enjoyed reading it, though, and there are some more general tips that I will use in my writing, but I don't think a lot of it applied to me.

If you are an author having trouble writing a younger character, though, this would be a great book to pick up.

Friday, June 15, 2012


Today, I have a guest post from C. A. Lang!

When I wrote Blightcross, it was the culmination of an array of disjointed influences. Dieselpunk isn't a huge genre yet--obviously I'm not going to be able to say Tolkien made me do this and be able to give the standard fantasy author answer. While I could still write a list of fantasy novels that contributed to my novels, it would be more interesting to write about all the things that were distracting me from reality at the time.

The Elric Saga, by Michael Moorcock:

The story is thrilling but the technique he used fascinates me. I can't even describe it adequately. It has textures. In a musical sense, I mean. But as applied to a story. And these textures are so big and intricate that they reach into other stories. If it seems like I'm trying to avoid using the term "multidimensional," you're right. It would be too easy to just say "the Multiverse is really neat because there are a lot of stories with the same characters and plots." Let's scale back a bit and forget details--Moorcock's writing stretched the boundaries of fantasy while at the same time using the terribly clich├ęd idiom of heroic fantasy. He played outside with that idiom in such a huge way that that I was never able to look at fantasy, and even literature and art in general, the same. This was my first exposure to experimental ideas. Good thing too, because it's highly accessible.

Beautiful Losers, by Leonard Cohen:

After the above, I sought out books that offered a challenge. Every word of this novel is genius and has function. Sometimes we're not sure what that function may be, but the again this novel as a whole is an amazing example of pushing the boundaries.

Wings of Honneamise:

I'm not into anime and never was all that much. But this film was an art-nouveau/deco smack upside my 13-year-old head. I was up way too late one night smoking stolen cigarettes and this film was all I could find to watch on TV. The whole time I thought, why does everything look like this? Why is the music like this? Only a decade later did I get into modernism and realize that I loved that film because it was exactly what I'd been wanting to write. This film is intricate and aesthetically intense. I still haven't watched it since that night. That's because I have this thing about not ruining my first impression of things that hit me that hard. To me it doesn't get much better than a secondary world fantasy story set during a society's first attempts at space travel--especially when it's not bogged down by science and is more about vibe.

Ulysses, by James Joyce:

It's unfortunate that nowadays so many people roll their eyes and cry "pretentious and pointless" at the mention of Joyce. Nowhere is that more of a problem than among genre fiction writers. But this is a novel about which entire books have been written. To me the way this novel makes us uncomfortable with the symbolic order is its genius. Lacan says that the subconscious has structure, and that it is structured like a language. James Joyce gives us the perfect opportunity to study this concept. So maybe it's only interesting to people who are also interested in psychoanalysis and look at it through that lens? Who knows. At any rate, once again it pushed boundaries and that is why it affected my thoughts and writing. Not always in a good way either. For a while most of the cutting I did involved stupid Joyce imitations.

There are more, but you get the idea. I like to entertain and that's why I still let story rule my writing. But at the same time, I can't write without trying to push either myself or some boundary. It's . . . complicated.

C. A. Lang is a product of Nelson, British Columbia, and it shows. Growing up around Victorian architecture likely had something to do with his appreciation of steampunk, although we’re not quite sure why he felt the need to ditch the steam engines and go all internal-combustion on the genre. He has settled in Kelowna, B.C., where sometimes he can be found abusing a gigantic jazz guitar in public, hanging around certain wineries, and running obscene distances. (http://petropunk.wordpress.com)

Thanks for the awesome guest post! It was great having you on the blog :)

Thursday, June 14, 2012

REVIEW: Chimera by Rob Thurman

A sci-fi thriller that asks the questions...

What makes us human...
What makes us unique...
And what makes us kill?

Ten years ago, Stefan Korsak's younger brother was kidnapped. Not a day has passed that Stefan hasn't thought about him. As a rising figure in the Russian mafia, he has finally found him. But when he rescues Lukas, he must confront a terrible truth-his brother is no longer his brother. He is a trained, genetically-altered killer. Now, those who created him will do anything to reclaim him. And the closer Stefan grows to his brother, the more he realizes that saving Lukas may be easier than surviving him
. . .

Book: Chimera by Rob Thurman
Release Date: June 1, 2010
Format: Mass market paperback
Genre: Sci-fi
Series: Chimera, #1
Obtained: Bought
Rating:PhotobucketPhotobucketPhotobucketPhotobucketPhotobucket (5 Zombies)

I've loved Rob Thurman's writing ever since I first picked up Nightlife all those years ago, and I was really excited to get in on another series by her. It's been a little while since I read Chimera, and I don't remember if I read it before or after Trick of the Light, the first book in Thurman's other series, but I do remember that Chimera has a very different tone than the other books, but the same writing style.

As always the characterization and plot were so perfectly balanced that it's impossible to choose a favorite, but, even more so than in her previous novels, Thurman's brilliant world building skills really got a chance to shine in the science fiction universe of Chimera.

Like the Cal Leandros books, Chimera is very much a brother act. Stefan and Lukas are a kickass pair, and awesome to read about! I've already read the second book, and I can say that it only gets better, not to mention more twisted and crazy. Definitely pick up a copy, and support one of the most amazing authors ever.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Waiting On Wednesday (61)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by the amazing Jill at Breaking the Spine. Each week, participating bloggers will make a post about a book whose publication they're eagerly awaiting.

This week, I'm featuring Soulbound by Heather Brewer.
What's worse than being blackmailed to attend a hidden school where you're treated like a second-class citizen? How about nearly getting eaten by a monster when you arrive? Or learning that your soulmate was killed in a centuries-old secret war? And then there's the evil king who's determined to rule the world unless you can stop him...

Meet Kaya, a young woman with the power to heal and the determination to fight. But struggle as she will, she remains tied to three very different men: a hero who has forsaken glory, a tyrannical ruler who wants to use Kaya, and a warrior who's stolen her heart. Kaya learns the hard way that some ties can't be broken...and blood is the strongest bond of all.

What are you waiting on this Wednesday? 

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

REVIEW: All These Things I've Done by Gabrielle Zevin

In 2083, chocolate and coffee are illegal, paper is hard to find, water is carefully rationed, and New York City is rife with crime and poverty. And yet, for Anya Balanchine, the sixteen-year-old daughter of the city's most notorious (and dead) crime boss, life is fairly routine. It consists of going to school, taking care of her siblings and her dying grandmother, trying to avoid falling in love with the new assistant D.A.'s son, and avoiding her loser ex-boyfriend. That is until her ex is accidently poisoned by the chocolate her family manufactures and the police think she's to blame. Suddenly, Anya finds herself thrust unwillingly into the spotlight--at school, in the news, and most importantly, within her mafia family.
Engrossing and suspenseful, All These Things I've Done is an utterly unique, unputdownable read that blends both the familiar and the fantastic.

Book: All These Things I've Done by Gabrielle Zevin
Release Date: September 6, 2011
Format: Paperback
Genre: Dystopian
Series: Birthright, #1
Obtained: From the publisher in exchange for an honest review
Rating:PhotobucketPhotobucketPhotobucketPhotobucket (4 Zombies)

I really loved reading All These Things I've Done and I think that a huge part of what made me enjoy it so much was the style of the writing. It was slow and haunting, but not boring or too dense and detail-packed like some fantasy books I've read. It kind of reminded of me of the way Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater was written, very lyrical and always building up toward something amazing.

The main character, Anya, could get kind of annoying sometimes, but overall she was an enjoyable character, and very mature for her age, in my opinion. One of my biggest problems with the book was that every time I read the love interest's name, Win, I giggled because that is the dumbest name ever.

Another interesting thing was that Anya's elderly grandmother is actually a year younger than me. She was born in 1995, I was born in '94. That gave me chills every time I thought about it because this is a dystopian set much nearer to our time than most others I've read.

All These Things I've Done was a really stunning book, and I'd recommend it to anyone who's not afraid of a good dystopian.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Reading Update

Book Clipart Images

Reading Update

Last week in books:
  • I only managed to read the prologue for A Game of Thrones so far because I've been super busy studying for finals and getting ready for my commencement ceremony next Saturday, but I've been sufficiently hooked.
  • I've also been reading Hpyerspace by Michio Kaku, which is a popular science book about dimensions above the three we can experience. It's kind of awesome. I'm about halfway through right now. I don't think I'll be reviewing it on the blog, though, because it isn't fiction.
This week in books:
  • I won't kid myself and say that I hope to finish the books I've already started, but I'd like to get at least a few hundred pages into A Game of Thrones and maybe if I'm lucky finish Hyperspace.
Wishful thinking:
  • Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare

That's all for this week. What are you planning on reading? Any good books you've read lately?

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday (60)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by the amazing Jill at Breaking the Spine. Each week, participating bloggers will make a post about a book whose publication they're eagerly awaiting.

This week, I'm featuring Level 2 by Lenore Appelhans.

Since her untimely death the day before her eighteenth birthday, Felicia Ward has been trapped in Level 2, a stark white afterlife located between our world and the next. Along with her fellow prisoners, Felicia passes the endless hours downloading memories and mourning what she’s lost—family, friends, and the boy she loved, Neil.

Then a girl in a neighboring chamber disappears, and nobody but Felicia seems to recall she existed in the first place. Something is obviously very wrong. When Julian—a dangerously charming guy Felicia knew in life—comes to offer Felicia a way out, she learns the truth: a rebellion is brewing to overthrow the Morati, the guardians of Level 2.

Felicia is reluctant to trust Julian, but then he promises what she wants the most—to be with Neil again—if only she’ll join the rebels. Suspended between Heaven and Earth, Felicia finds herself in the center of an age-old struggle between good and evil. As memories from her life come back to haunt her, and as the Morati hunt her down, Felicia will discover it’s not just her own redemption at stake… but the salvation of all mankind.

What are you waiting on this Wednesday?

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

REVIEW: Balkan Magic by Emigh Cannaday

Free-spirited Annika Brisby has just turned down a proposal that promises a lifetime of security but no adventure. Seeking some distance between herself and her ex-boyfriend, Annika travels to the Balkan Mountains. A day hike gone to havoc sends her through a broken portal to another world. She is discovered by wood nymphs who seem convinced that Annika's presence is more than just chance, and they vow to get her back home with the help of a slightly debauched elf named Talvi. Unnerved at his advances, Annika makes the best of her situation by learning all she can about this dream-like new world. But the more she gets to know the genuine Talvi, the more she wonders if there's a path leading them toward each other. Together they sail over a monster-filled sea, navigate through a forest of flesh eating trees, and encounter a family of trolls, but the greatest obstacle will be Annika's ability to trust her new friends and confront her deepest fears.

Book: Balkan Magic by Emigh Cannaday
Release Date: November 25, 2008
Format: Paperback
Genre: Fantasy
Series: Balkan Magic, #1
Obtained: From the author in exchange for an honest review
Rating:PhotobucketPhotobucketPhotobucketPhotobucket (4 Zombies)

For the first half or so of Balkan Magic, I wasn't entirely sure that I would even finish the book because of how slow it was, but once I reached somewhere near the halfway point, I couldn't put the book down! It got so good, so fast, I could hardly believe that I was reading the same book that had been so slow and quite frankly boring at the beginning, but the characters were all the same, so I figured that I must have been.

I think that my biggest problem with the beginning of Balkan Magic was that I couldn't have cared less about Annika, and since she's the main character, it's kind of important to like her. Once she started coming into her own as a character and I started to like her more, the book got a lot more interesting and good.

The side characters, mainly Finn, were what kept me reading at first, and they continued to be hilarious and interesting throughout the book. Even though I did end up liking Annika, Finn was definitely my favorite character.

If you're interested in fantasy and can handle a book with a slow start (The Iron King by Julie Kagawa comes to mind), then I would definitely recommend that you check out Balkan Magic, but it might be a good idea to borrow it from a library before purchasing a copy, because I don't think that this is a book for everyone, even though I certainly ended up loving it.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Armchair BEA Day 1: Introductions First!

Unlike in previous years when participants of Armchair BEA have exchanged interviews, this year we're all just posting our own answers to five questions. So, without further ado, here are mine:
  1. Please tell us a little bit about yourself: Who are you? How long have you been blogging? Why did you get into blogging? My name is Cade, and I'm a college student from Southern California. I recent completed my AA in Language Arts, which I hated, and now I'm working on my BS in Physics, if everything goes according to plan. Hm . . . What else? Well, I'll be turning 18 on July 4th. I'm the biggest nerd I know, and I love every minute of it. I've been blogging for just over two years now, and I got into it because I love books, but none of my friends or family would talk about them with me, so I started talking about them with the internet and I never stopped.
  2. What are you currently reading, or what is your favorite book you have read so far in 2012? I'm currently reading A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin, but I'm only like thirty pages in, so I don't really know if I like it or not at this point. Especially since it's about 700 pages long. I'm also reading Hyperspace by Michio Kaku, which is a physics book, but it's for entertainment, not a textbook. My favorite book I've read in 2012 has to be Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion. It's the perfect mixture of literary fiction and horror, and I loved every second of it.
  3. Tell us one non-book-related thing that everyone reading your blog may not know about you. I'm the biggest comic book nut around, and I can easily spend $30 in ten minutes at the comic book store, and still leave behind a few comics that I would have liked to have picked up but didn't have enough money for.
  4. What is your favorite part about the book blogging community? Is there anything that you would like to see change in the coming years? My favorite part of the book blogging community is the dialogue that goes on in the comments of a really good post. One thing I'd like to see change in the coming years is how many people only leave comments to promote their own blogs. I'd rather see actual conversation. It's fine to leave a link to your blog at the bottom of your comment, but don't post about how great your blog is without contributing to the conversation.
  5. Have your reading tastes changed since you started blogging? How? My reading tastes have definitely changed since I started blogging! I used to love Paranormal Romance and all the Dystopian YA I could get my hands on, but now I lean more towards Urban Fantasy and Sci-Fi, and if a book has one too many sex scenes, I may die of boredom. I'm also really into smaller genres now, like steampunk, cyberpunk, ecopunk, dieselpunk, and pretty much anything else you can add punk to the end of.
If you have any questions or comments, It'd be awesome if you would join the conversation in the comments box below ↓↓↓