Archive for May, 2011

The Chosen Blog Tour: Guest Post

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Today we have with us Andrea Buginsky, author of The Chosen. For more posts on this blog tour, please visit this page.

Into the Past

I loved to read when I was a kid.  Now that I’m writing books for young adults, I have a much better idea of what it takes to produce books for children of all ages.  Though I haven’t published any books for younger children, I have tried my hand at writing stories for them, and I can tell you from first hand experience that it’s quite hard to come up with characters and plots that will keep a child interested, especially in this age of computer and video games.  It seems more kids today sit in front of a screen than a book.  Hopefully, with the amount of attention ebooks are getting, they’ll start sitting in front of an ereader screen too.

If I were to meet my past self today with the way things are now, I would definitely want to introduce her to books and the wonderful world of reading.  There were some wonderful books I loved to read growing up, as there still are today.  Here are some books I would recommend to myself at my past ages:

Age 5:

“Good Night Moon”
“Where the Wild Things Are”
“The Pokey Little Puppy”
The entire “Magic Tree House” series
Dr.Seuss books

Age 11:

The entire “Harry Potter” series
The “Ramona” books by Beverly Cleary
Rick Riordan’s books (“Percy Jackson,” “Heroes of Olympus,” “The Kane Chronicles”)
“Charlotte’s Web”
Judy Blume books
“The Popularity Papers”
“Priscilla the Great”

Age 16:

“Twilight” saga
“The Vampire Diaries”
“Eragon” series
“Sweet Valley High” series
“Little Women” series

Age 20

Danielle Steel books
Nicholas Sparks books
John Grisham books
Nora Roberts books

Some of these I did read, and would want to make sure I read again.  Some I didn’t read, and wish I had, like “Little Women.”  Some weren’t around when I was a kid, and I wish they had been, like the “Twilight” and “Harry Potter” series.
There are so many incredible books available, both new and old, that helping a child find one he or she will like shouldn’t be hard.  Just look for books based on their interests, and set up a specific time of day for them to read.  Shut off the electronics, find a comfortable chair with good light and watch their imaginations soar.

Thanks so much to Andrea for joining us today! If you would like to win a PDF copy of Andrea’s book to read for yourself, we are running a scavenger hunt May 25-31. Just answer any of the questions on THIS FORM. Any correct answers will count as entries, up to 8 entries total. The winner will be announced on July 3 at Lost For Words. Good Luck!

Media Monday: Thor

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Title: Thor (The Avengers collection #4)
Media Type: Feature Film
Director: Kenneth Branagh
Studio: Paramount Pictures/Marvel Studios
Genre: Superhero

My Review: Show of hands, how many of you look forward to summer because of the abundance of good movies that come out? I know I do! (That’s not to say that good books don’t come out in the summer. They do, they just also come out year ’round. The really awesome films, however, get saved for the summer.) Well it’s that time of year again folks and I am super excited about so many things that are coming out this summer!

Now, I’ll be honest, it’s a little early in the season for the really epic stuff – there’s a reason they’re waiting ’till July for Deathly Hallows Part II – and I am not really a comics fan, so I didn’t really know that much about Thor going into it. All I had was a friend’s recommendation that I “had to see it” and a vague knowledge of Norse Mythology. But I figured it would at least be a fun way to spend the afternoon.

Turns out, I am a superhero junkie! Thor was soooo GOOD! It followed the mythology of the Norse Gods, but at the same time they explained it in a way that could make sense, if I had to think about it too much. Thor’s powers were logically explained (for the most part) and realistically dealt with. The story dealt with big issues that are true of all humans, not just the ones with unusual powers and the characters were relatable despite their obvious differences.

But, let’s be honest, the real reason I loved the film? The eye candy! Both Thor and Loki are absolutely gorgeous! In this one case, I’m seriously Team Whoever-will-have-me! So much pretty!

Bottom line? Go see this movie! If you’re a guy there’s plenty of action scenes to keep you happy. Girls? Bring on the eye candy! It’s a win-win, for both!

The Chosen Blog Tour: Review

4 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Book Review, Tour Posts

Title: The Chosen
Author: Andrea Buginsky
Origins: This review is provided as part of a Teen Book Scene blog tour. The full schedule of reviews and guest posts can be found here.
Summary: [from GoodReads] A young dwarf leads a quiet life until she learns of her true calling and becomes a hero of her world.

My Review: One of the main things I really appreciated about this book is it’s one of the very few YA/MG high fantasies out there anymore. Despite my strong love for the genre my biggest complaint is that it’s rather obsessed with Paranormal and Urban Fantasy right now. The closest we get to high fantasy is Steampunk, and that really counts more as historical fantasy than high fantasy. This book, though, is an all out questing high fantasy, meany for the YA/MG crowd, and I found it a refreshing change from everything else I’ve been reading.

I will say that this book is definitely not for everyone. The names are hard to pronounce, if you like to read out loud, there are lots of strange animals and places, and there’s lots of battles along the way. This is world-building writing and if you know you don’t like those things, then don’t read it. And I will admit it reads a little like an account of a Dungeons and Dragons game. I appreciated the references that I recognized (I’ve never played myself, but I had friends in high school who talked about it all the time). Those who don’t have that basic knowledge might be a little confused.

Overall, this was a refreshingly different read. It was fast and easy to read too – just what the doctor ordered after a long stretch of heavy dystopians!

If you would like to win a PDF copy of this book to read for yourself, we are running a scavenger hunt May 25-31. Just answer any of the questions on THIS FORM. Any correct answers will count as entries, up to 8 entries total. The winner will be announced on July 3 at Lost For Words. Good Luck!

Book Review: Darkest Mercy

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Darkest Mercy Darkest Mercy by
Series: Wicked Lovely #5
Published by in 2011
Genres: , ,
Pages: 327

The Summer King is missing; the Dark Court is bleeding; and a stranger walks the streets of Huntsdale, his presence signifying the deaths of powerful fey.
Aislinn tends to the Summer Court, searching for her absent king and yearning for Seth. Torn between his new queen and his old love, Keenan works from afar to strengthen his court against the coming war. Donia longs for fiery passion even as she coolly readies the Winter Court for battle. And Seth, sworn brother of the Dark King and heir to the High Queen, is about to make a mistake that could cost his life.
Love, despair, and betrayal ignite the Faery Courts, and in the final conflict, some will win . . . and some will lose everything.

My Review:

Finally, after far too long a wait, I have been able to read the final installment in the Wicked Lovely series. It was a long wait, but it was well worth it. I have loved this series since I opened the very first book last fall, and it continues to be one of my absolute favorite series’ of all time! That said, this will probably be a rather short review. It is unbelievably easy to spoil earlier books just by talking about this one, and I hate to spoil any book if I can avoid it.

The gang’s all here for one final adventure. It must have been some kind of juggling act keeping up with all the story lines she set up in the earlier books, and I’m well impressed with the result. By the end of the book I found that my curiosity about all the storylines was finally sated, and despite feeling sad that a good thing had ended, I felt that this was the perfect ending to a wonderful series.

If you haven’t read the rest of the series, don’t start here. You’ll be far too confused. Start at the beginning and work your way here, though, it is well worth it!

Book Review: The Girl in the Steel Corset

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The Girl in the Steel Corset The Girl in the Steel Corset by
Series: Steampunk Chronicles #1
Published by in 2011
Genres: ,
Pages: 473

In 1897 England, sixteen-year-old Finley Jayne has no one...except the "thing" inside her...
When a young lord tries to take advantage of Finley, she fights back. And wins. But no normal Victorian girl has a darker side that makes her capable of knocking out a fullgrown man with one punch....
Only Griffin King sees the magical darkness inside her that says she’s special, says she’s one of them. The orphaned duke takes her in from the gaslit streets against the wishes of his band of misfits: Emily, who has her own special abilities and an unrequited love for Sam, who is part robot; and Jasper, an American cowboy with a shadowy secret.
Griffin’s investigating a criminal called The Machinist, the mastermind behind several recent crimes by automatons. Finley thinks she can help—and finally be a part of something, finally fit in.
But The Machinist wants to tear Griff’s little company of strays apart, and it isn’t long before trust is tested on all sides. At least Finley knows whose side she’s on—even if it seems no one believes her.

My Review:

As those of you who have been around here for a while may know, I’m kind of obsessed with steampunk anything right now. Something about this genre really speaks to me, for some reason. But Kady Cross’s Girl in the Steel Corset has outstripped many others for me. This book was truly Amazing with a capital “A”! There are so many wonderful things about this book that I hardly know where to start raving! (You’ll have to excuse me gushing all over myself. It really was that good.)

One of the many amazing things about this book was how wonderful all the characters were. I really, honestly had very strong pictures of them in my mind, and even started a dream cast, from very early on in the book. For example, especially towards the end, Sam and Emily reminded me very strongly of Marshall and Lily from How I Met Your Mother based on how they were described physically. But the best part was, even though I could picture them so vividly, was how original these characters were. They felt like real people to me, people that I desperately want to meet someday.

I also loved the way Cross brought in so many other works. There was the obvious Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde reference, but there were flavours throughout the book of other relevant stories. It is clear that Cross reads across many genres and knows how to incorporate elements she loves into the stories she writes.

There are so many more wonderful things I could say about the novel, but I’m starting to risk spoilers, and you wouldn’t want that. The book is so much more satisfying when you go into it knowing next to nothing! I am so excited about this book. I can guarantee I will treasure it for a very long time!

Book Review: Wither

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Wither Wither by
Series: Chemical Garden #1
Published by in 2011
Genres: ,
Pages: 358

What if you knew exactly when you would die?

Thanks to modern science, every human being has become a ticking genetic time bomb—males only live to age twenty-five, and females only live to age twenty. In this bleak landscape, young girls are kidnapped and forced into polygamous marriages to keep the population from dying out.

When sixteen-year-old Rhine Ellery is taken by the Gatherers to become a bride, she enters a world of wealth and privilege. Despite her husband Linden's genuine love for her, and a tenuous trust among her sister wives, Rhine has one purpose: to escape—to find her twin brother and go home.

But Rhine has more to contend with than losing her freedom. Linden's eccentric father is bent on finding an antidote to the genetic virus that is getting closer to taking his son, even if it means collecting corpses in order to test his experiments. With the help of Gabriel, a servant Rhine is growing dangerously attracted to, Rhine attempts to break free, in the limited time she has left.

My Review:

More than anything else, Wither reminds me of The Handmaid’s Tale. True, it’s less graphic and less frightening overall, but Wither seems like what Handmaid’s Tale would be if it were a YA novel.

Despite the strangeness of the future setting, Rhine is very normal-seeming. Of course, she’s mostly normal in comparison to other dystopian heroines like Katniss from The Hunger Games and Vera from The Water Wars, but these strong-but-reluctant heroines seem to have become the norm. Not that it’s a bad thing, though it does make me wonder at the cultural implications. Either way, Rhine reacts to the situation in the same way I’d like to think I would in such an awful setting.

But the thing I liked the most is the way Destefano treated Rhine’s husband, the House Master. Even though Rhine was being forced into an unwilling marriage, it was very clear that her husband was not the one to blame. He may have been clueless and guilty by association, but it was very obvious that he should not be considered “the bad guy.” The one to watch out for is the Governor. That man is not only evil, he’s downright creepy! Here is the real mastermind of all the troubles. Even if he personally didn’t create the virus, he is the one you want to blame for everything. He’s the perfect villain, keeping me scared and angry and defiant all at once.

Overall, this was a great read. It explored all the ways society would change if we began dying so young and through that it was a wonderful cautionary tale. Let us hope the right people take heed!

Book Review: Haven

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Haven Haven by
Series: Winterhaven #1
Published by in 2011
Genres: , ,
Pages: 401

One month into her junior year, sixteen-year-old Violet McKenna transfers to the Winterhaven School in New York’s Hudson Valley, inexplicably drawn to the boarding school with high hopes. Leaving Atlanta behind, she’s looking forward to a fresh start--a new school, and new classmates who will not know her deepest, darkest secret, the one she’s tried to hide all her life: strange, foreboding visions of the future.

But Winterhaven has secrets of its own, secrets that run far deeper than Violet’s. Everyone there--every student, every teacher--has psychic abilities, 'gifts and talents,' they like to call them. Once the initial shock of discovery wears off, Violet realizes that the school is a safe haven for people like her. Soon, Violet has a new circle of friends, a new life, and maybe even a boyfriend--Aidan Gray, perhaps the smartest, hottest guy at Winterhaven.

Only there’s more to Aidan than meets the eye--much, much more. And once she learns the horrible truth, there’s no turning back from her destiny. Their destiny. Together, Violet and Aidan must face a common enemy--if only they can do so without destroying each other first.

My review:

OK, so I know I’m a little behind on this but I simply must add to the Haven love going around the blogoverse right now. Short version: Haven is AMAZING!

First of all, I’m sure we all know by now I have a weakness for boarding school stories. But a boarding school for the psychically gifted? Uh, yes please! I am so there! I want to know all about it, from how it was started to what classes are offered and all the different “Gifts” over the years. Heck, forget wanting to know all about it, I want to live there!

I also found the cast of characters really enjoyable. I don’t think I loved any one character so much as loving their interactions with each other. They remind me of my group of friends in high school, and even more of the group of friends I wished I had. These girls seem just like normal girls, just with some unusual quirks.

My only complaint, and it’s not really one at all, is that the romance happened just a tiny bit too fast. That said, when I finished the book, I was not upset about it at all. Cook gave us a very reasonable explanation for the sudden initial attraction and the progression of the relationship from there seemed natural. So, like I say, not really a complaint at all.

I’m so looking forward to the next book that I went hunting for release date of book 2 to mark on my calendar (couldn’t find it though – anybody know?) Where will you be?

Book Review: Delirium

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Delirium Delirium by
Series: Delirium #1
Published by in 2012
Genres: ,
Pages: 441

Before scientists found the cure, people thought love was a good thing. They didn’t understand that once love -- the deliria -- blooms in your blood, there is no escaping its hold. Things are different now. Scientists are able to eradicate love, and the governments demands that all citizens receive the cure upon turning eighteen. Lena Holoway has always looked forward to the day when she’ll be cured. A life without love is a life without pain: safe, measured, predictable, and happy.

But with ninety-five days left until her treatment, Lena does the unthinkable: She falls in love.

My Review:

I’m having a hard time pulling my thoughts together on this one, so I apologize if I seem less than coherent (or less than normal anyways). Delirium was definitely not what I was expecting. Somehow I’d forgotten everything I’d read in the reviews because all I knew was it was a society without love, going into it. What makes the book so intriguing is how centered on the theme of love the book actually is. Sure we have other love-less societies in dystopia; all the adults take pills to cure it in The Giver and in Ayn Rand’s Anthem, they’re brainwashed out of it. But in Delirium, love as a disease is so prominent it’s almost a character.

The scariest thing about this book for me is how logical the whole thing sounds. I doubt we could really connect love as the cause of all those diseases directly, but love causes stress which does cause a lot of diseases. When the crazy theories of the “bad guy” governments start making sense to me, I get real scared, because there are lots of people out there it would be even easier to convince! On the other hand, could we really convince all of society to give up love? For all we’re a “post-modern, disillusioned” society, we really are quite obsessed with the idea of “true love.”

Overall, though, an amazing read that makes you think! I would definitely recommend it to a friend.

Book Review(ish): Howl’s Moving Castle

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Howl's Moving Castle Howl's Moving Castle by
Series: Castle #1
Published by in 2001
Genres: ,
Pages: 336

In the land of Ingary, such things as spells, invisible cloaks, and seven-league boots were everyday things. The Witch of the Waste was another matter.
After fifty years of quiet, it was rumored that the Witch was about to terrorize the country again. So when a moving black castle, blowing dark smoke from its four thin turrets, appeared on the horizon, everyone thought it was the Witch. The castle, however, belonged to Wizard Howl, who, it was said, liked to suck the souls of young girls.
The Hatter sisters--Sophie, Lettie, and Martha--and all the other girls were warned not to venture into the streets alone. But that was only the beginning.
In this giant jigsaw puzzle of a fantasy, people and things are never quite what they seem. Destinies are intertwined, identities exchanged, lovers confused. The Witch has placed a spell on Howl. Does the clue to breaking it lie in a famous poem? And what will happen to Sophie Hatter when she enters Howl's castle?

My Review:

I love Diana Wynne Jones. Why? Because every single book or series is different. Sure, there are some I can’t stand but that s because she’s done everything and I don’t like everything. Howl’s Moving Castle is a favorite of mine second only to the Chrestomanci series, and I decided to re-read it in honor of her passing away recently. But go read them both, like yesterday, if you haven’t. SERIOUSLY!

Since I almost always have trouble with reviewing re-reads without gushing all over myself, I thought I’d do something fun and different today. Though there has been an animated movie made, this book is so good it deserves to be made into a Live Action film, so I decided to share my dream cast. (Keep in mind that the story is set in an alternate UK so I tried to keep it an all British cast)

Howl: This is the first read-through that I’ve actually been able to cast Howl, he’s so difficult and quirky. But, finally, I think I have the perfect choice (at least for me).

Quirky and lovable as the 11th Doctor, I could actually hear Matt Smith saying Howl’s lines in my head.

Sophie Hatter:

Emma Thompson is a wonderful actress and I think she could really pull off both young and old versions of Sophie.

Calcifer: (no picture for this one, because it’s just about the voice) Either Andy-Lee Potts, known for his roles in Primeval and Syfy’s Alice, or David Tennant, known for the title role of Doctor Who (though I prefer his scottish accent for this particular role).

The Witch of the Waste:

For those who have never seen Emilia Fox in anything, she does an AMAZING beautiful bad lady. Look her up in Merlin as Morgause. Pretty, yeah, but so evil!

Lettie Hatter:

I actually haven’t seen Holliday Grainger in that much, but I think she’s perfect for the gorgeous younger sister Lettie.

Martha Hatter:

And finally, for Sophie’s youngest sister Martha, Talulah Riley, known for her roles in Pride and Prejudice and St. Trinian’s. It is only too bad that Martha wouldn’t show up as much, because Talulah is an amazing actress.

I could go on (Maggie Smith as Mrs. Pentstemmon, don’t you think?) but that’s the main characters. What are your thoughts on casting?

Book Review: Timeless

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Timeless Timeless by
Series: Timeless #1
Published by in 2011
Genres: ,
Pages: 290

When tragedy strikes Michele Windsor’s world, she is forced to uproot her life and move across the country to New York City, to live with the wealthy, aristocratic grandparents she’s never met. In their old Fifth Avenue mansion filled with a century’s worth of family secrets, Michele discovers a diary that hurtles her back in time to the year 1910. There, in the midst of the glamorous Gilded Age, Michele meets the young man with striking blue eyes who has haunted her dreams all her life – a man she always wished was real, but never imagined could actually exist. And she finds herself falling for him, into an otherworldly, time-crossed romance.

Michele is soon leading a double life, struggling to balance her contemporary high school world with her escapes into the past. But when she stumbles upon a terrible discovery, she is propelled on a race through history to save the boy she loves – a quest that will determine the fate of both of their lives.

My Review:

I have always loved out-of-time love stories. I was rather obsessed with Kate and Leopold and The Lake House when they came out, and I love the Doctor Who episodes like “The Girl in the Fireplace.” So when I heard about Timeless I got really excited!

The story itself was fairly interesting. I loved Philip! I always feel like I should have been born in another time because I cannot stand modern boys (for the most part). I want gentlemanly behavior and chivalrous treatment, and frankly boys look better in suits. (This is probably why I love steampunk as a genre – I’m too attached to my modern appliances to truly live back then, but I want to live before chivalry died.) I also thought she solved most of the convoluted-ness of the situation fairly well, but in some ways she explained everything, while in others nothing. 

This brings me to my second point. While I wanted to love the book, it felt like a prequel. It didn’t grab me and suck me in the way I wanted it to, because I spent the whole time waiting for something big to happen. Then, the last few pages finally felt like the start of the real story, but it ended! I think this is a result of what she chose to explain. In my mind, a prequel explains all of the little details in the backstory that weren’t absolutely essential to the original story, while the true “first book” explains all the really big important stuff. I wanted to know how Irving/Henry figured out how to time travel, and why he chose Michele’s mom and more of that story, but instead I got the side story of Michele’s romance.

That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy the book, and I will definitely be looking for the second in the series. It’s a great book, especially for a debut! If you think you’ll like it, try it. If not, maybe wait until the rest of the series comes out and then try it.

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