Archive for August, 2012

Book Review: Blackwood

Aug
30
2 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Book Review

Blackwood Book CoverTitle: Blackwood

Author: Gwenda Bond

Summary: [from NetGalley]

On Roanoke Island, the legend of the 114 people who mysteriously vanished from the Lost Colony hundreds of years ago is just an outdoor drama for the tourists, a story people tell. But when the island faces the sudden disappearance of 114 people now, an unlikely pair of 17-year-olds may be the only hope of bringing them back.

Miranda, a misfit girl from the island’s most infamous family, and Phillips, an exiled teen criminal who hears the voices of the dead, must dodge everyone from federal agents to long-dead alchemists as they work to uncover the secrets of the new Lost Colony. The one thing they can’t dodge is each other.

Review:

I love it when history leaves us a mystery! There are so many great ones: What happened to Amelia Earhart? Who was Jack the Ripper? What happened to all those Mars Rovers? And, the one Blackwood deals with, where did the people of Roanoke go? These mysteries make great starting places for stories, and in fact, there’s been a resurgence of those types of historical fantasies in recent years. I had yet to see on that tackled Roanoke though so I jumped at the chance to read it when it came up on NetGalley.

I don’t know what I was expecting when I started the book, but Blackwood turned out to be something else entirely. I twas surprisingly short – maybe a day’s worth reading, even if you’ve got other things to do. I also found it to be much more of a thriller than I expected – though why, I don’t know, since 100+ people disappearing into thin air has all the trappings of a major horror story!

Once I got used to the aspects I wasn’t expecting, the story itself was alright. Miranda was refreshingly different than most heroines – self-sufficient, clear-headed and a tiny bit stubborn. While there was a romantic interest, he often took backseat or even the sidekick role, allowing Miranda’s personality to really shine and grow as a character.

Because the book is so much of a suspense/thriller I’m hesitant to say andy more. the cause of the disappearances, both in the original Roanoke legend used and in the modern equivalent, is so unexpected and so, so creepy that it’s worth the read, just for the payoff – I’m pretty glad I didn’t finish this one late at night!

 

Disclaimer: I received a copy of Blackwood from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.





Bout of Books Goals and Updates

Aug
11
11 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Community Events
Bout of Books Read-a-Thon

It’s that time again! Time to get our read on with Bout of Books! According to the website:

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal.  It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, August 13th and runs through Sunday, August 19th in whatever time zone you are in.  Bout of Books is low-pressure, and the only reading competition is between you and your usual number of books read in a week.  There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional.  For all Bout of Books 5.0 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. -From the Bout of Books 5.0 team

You were going to be reading anyway, right? So why don’t you join in?

Time Devoted to Reading

I will be reading all week. Since the internet won’t get fixed till next Tuesday (*rends hair and gnashes teeth!*) I’ll be putting in most of my reading time in at the beginning of the week, I hope!

 

My Goals

  • Beat my totals from the last Bout of Books: 6 books, 1,500ish pages (I apparently didn’t do a final update. Shame on me!)
  • End the week without any outstanding reviews. (A tall order, since I already have about 12 reviews backed up.)
  • Make new friends and have fun!

Books to Read

I’m not good at following a list if I make one, so I’m just going to do a list of possible choices:

  • For review: The Assassin’s Curse by Cassandra Rose Clarke
  • From the Library: First Grave on the Right by Darynda Jones, Obsidian by Jennifer L. Armentrout, One Good Knight, The Sleeping Beauty, and Beauty and the Werewolf by Mercedes Lackey, Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson, Neuromancer by William Gibson, The Floating Islands by Rachel Neumeier, Steel by Carrie Vaughn. (Plus a few more to be added later.)
  • Off the TBR pile: Red-Headed Stepchild by Jaye Wells, The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness, the Inside series by Maria V. Snyder, The Magnolia League by Katie Crouch.

Check back later in the week for more updates!

Updates

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Tuesday

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Wanted: Non-Western settings!

Aug
10
5 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Wanted
Uncle Sam wants YOU!

I want YOU to write my next read!

Have you ever noticed how frickin’ many of the books that are out or coming out are set in a Western culture? I don’t mean like cowboy boots and spurs, I mean a Western belief system and Western cultural rules. I can understand why – a lot of authors are from a Western culture, and most of their audiences are from a Western culture too. But that doesn’t mean it wouldn’t be interesting to read about somewhere else!

This trend has been slowly changing. There are several recent books that use less Western cultural elements – I just finished Shadow and Bone which is set in a Russia-like fantasy world, Eon and Eona use an Oriental calendar year and belief system (apologies if I’ve offended anyone, I don’t know enough about those belief systems to be able to tell which one it is) and The Immortal Rules references the occasional Japanese (I think) cultural element.

I really appreciate these books, because I’m lazy. I know, awful of me to say. I love learning about other cultures, but I don’t want to do it out of a textbook. I either want to GO THERE and find out for myself, or I want to read an interesting story about it. Funnily enough, you learn quite a bit about other cultures by reading fictional stories about them, even if some of the stuff isn’t quite true.

Some settings I want to see, for any writers who get to it before I do:

  • Retell some non-Western fairy tales! There are tons of great ones, but some of my favorites that I rarely see are Baba Yaga (Eastern European) and the Firebird (Russian).
  • Set a story in India – I would LOVE to learn more about India and see something set there. I, personally, would probably write a steampunk set there – the exotic culture clashing with the English industrial revolution seems like the perfect playground for a writer’s mind (See Scott Westerfeld’s  Behemoth for ideas)
  • A modern contemporary in an oriental culture – when I think of China or Japan, I think of Geishas and dragons and Mulan. I’m pretty sure the culture is WAY different now, and I’d love to read about it.
  • Technically it’s still Western, sort of, but wouldn’t it be interesting to read about the ancient cultures in South America? Or maybe even modern cultures there. I’m not picky!

What other places would you like to read about? What do you think the next trend in literature should be?

Have you ever read something and thought “Gee, I wish there were more books like that!”? Or maybe you’ve had an idea and thought “Why aren’t there more books about that out there?” Wanted is a new semi-regular feature at Creativity’s Corner to discuss all those books that don’t exist, but we wish they did!




What makes a good comment?

Aug
08
19 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Discussion Day

Commenting We’ve all been there. You get to the end of an amazing post and you think “Wow! That was great!” You want to let the blogger know, so you click the space to make a comment and… nothing. If you just say “great post” you feel like you’re not doing it justice. If you go on and on for paragraph after paragraph, then you’re filling up comment space, and is that all really necessary after all? (Okay, maybe that one’s just me.) Either way, you end up typing and deleting response after response, because they aren’t exactly right. No wonder so few people comment! It’s hard! (No offense to those of you who do comment, and have no trouble with it, you know who you are. Clearly you have figured this all out, and I should be taking lessons from you!)

We, as blog authors, all say we want comments. It’s the lifeblood of our work – the comments are what creates the discussion, they’re what let us see that we are not blogging islands (to borrow a really cool phrase from Amanda). But we also say we wantgood comments. I know, now we’re being picky. And you know what? We shouldn’t be. I know I personally am grateful for EVERY SINGLE COMMENT I get, no matter what it says.

Lately, though, I’ve tried to improve my commenting skills, and it’s left me wondering, what I can do to write better comments. I don’t want to write “great review” or “thanks for the post” every time, even if it is true. On the other hand, I feel like if I yammer on for forever everybody is going to be rolling their eyes before they even read to the end, wishing I’d get to the point and stop rambling about things that are irrelevant. So, I thought, why not start with what I like about comments, and then go from there? I made a list.

Things I like in comments:

  • Not spam! No problems for me there, I hope. Last I checked I was human, and didn’t try to leave tons of links to irrelevant stuff. *phew* Passed the first one!
  • The comment makes it clear that they read the post. Length doesn’t matter, as long as it’s clear you read the post.

And that’s it! When I realized that, suddenly I felt so much better about commenting. But I’m still wondering, does everyone else feel the same way? And so, here I am, putting the question to you – What are the components of your favorite comments? What do you find easiest to comment on? Are you afraid of commenting too?





Book Review: Throne of Glass

Aug
07
4 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Book Review

Throne of Glass coverTitle: Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass #1)

Author: Sarah J. Maas

Summary: [from GoodReads]

After serving out a year of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes, 18-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien is dragged before the Crown Prince. Prince Dorian offers her her freedom on one condition: she must act as his champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin.

Her opponents are men—thieves and assassins and warriors from across the empire, each sponsored by a member of the kings council. If she beats her opponents in a series of eliminations, she’ll serve the kingdom for three years and then be granted her freedom.

Celaena finds her training sessions with the captain of the guard, Westfall, challenging and exhilirating. But she’s bored stiff by court life. Things get a little more interesting when the prince starts to show interest in her… but it’s the gruff Captain Westfall who seems to understand her best.

Then one of the other contestants turns up dead… quickly followed by another. Can Celaena figure out who the killer is before she becomes a victim? As the young assassin investigates, her search leads her to discover a greater destiny than she could possibly have imagined.

My Review:

This book has left me speechless. I’m still not sure what to say beyond “amazing” but I’m willing to try!

Firstly, Celaena. I love that even though she’s tough from her assassin training she’s still very human and vulnerable. In fact, I often forgot her background until she or someone else started worrying about it. Plus, then we had the mystery. What exactly was her past, who were her parents and why were they killed? I haven’t the first clue (well okay, I have my guesses, but I have no solid evidence for any of it). I want to know what her life was like before Arobynn found her, and what the EFF is going on! I guess that’s what the prequels are for.

Both Dorian and Chaol were fantastic male leads. I felt Celaena’s confusion right along with her – when Dorian was there a relationship with him seemed not only inevitable but desirable! But then he would leave and Chaol would be there with his quiet steadiness and I would wonder what she (and I) sees in Dorian. I honestly think I am ‘shipping non-cannon for the first time in my entire life (I prefer Chaol), but I refuse to “jump” until I get 100% canonic proof I’m wrong.

I honestly could go on forever and ever about this book. It made me feel ALL the feelings. It had me literally jumping up and down in frustration more than once. I never even saw the words, only pictures as I raced through (case in point, I’m still not sure how to spell Celaena, I keep having to look it up, and she is the main character!) I have all the men cast in my head, and I can’t think of any women to play Celaena because I want to so bad!

Basically this book is bad news bears for my composure and professionalism, but only because it was that dang GOOD! Now please excuse me so I can throw a temper tantrum over no release date (heck, no INFO!) on book 2 in private!

Disclaimer: I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.





Media Monday: Vlogging edition!

Aug
06
4 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Media Monday

As of today, I am officially back from hiatus! Look for plenty of new reviews and discussions, and even a new feature coming soon!

Today’s vlog brings you more proof of my complete geekiness, and I will totally not be offended if you tell me so (nicely, please). Sherlock, Batman Begins, Doctor Who and even Glee make appearances. Apologies for the abrupt ending – the original ending I filmed was just creepy, and I didn’t realize it until I was editing much later. Trust me, abrupt is better than… well… me sounding like what I’d imagine a telephone hooker sounds like. Seriously, I’m embarrassed!





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