Thursday, October 27, 2011

Bye, Bye Blogger!

Moving day is finally here so it's bye, bye Blogger! I'm moving over to

If you've been following in Blogger, you can now get my feed a few different ways:

1. Google Reader or add my feed to your favorites (
2. Direct - Check out my new site!
3. Sign up to receive all new posts via email on the new site.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Follow My Book Blog Friday

Q.If you could have characters from a particular book meet and form an epic storyline with characters from a particular TV series, which would you choose and why?

I really had to think about this one, but eventually, it came to me. For me, it's go to be Buffy (The Vampire Slayer) meets Evie (Paranormalcy). Why? Both of these chicks are smart, sarcastic, well accessorized, and completely able to kick butt. Between Buffy's right hook and Evie's Tasey, the creatures of the night wouldn't stand a chance! Just imagine the fun they could have bagging and tagging?


A fellow blogger/writer recently introduced me to NaNoWriMo and I’ve spent the last few days deciding whether I’m going to take the plunge. What is NaNoWriMo? NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month. But it’s so much more than a time to celebrate the creation of literary prose-- It’s a challenge!
Write your own novel (50,000 words or more) in just one month. Starting at 12:01 am on November 1st and ending at midnight on November 30th aspiring authors all over the country will begin penning what might turn out to be the next great American novel. Or not.
Either way, it’s a big commitment and a daunting endeavor. Call me a skeptic, maybe even a coward, but the following (which was borrowed from the NaNoWriMo site), almost scared me off. Not because I think the logic is flawed, but because it’s counter to everything I know, and frankly I just don’t know if I have it in me to let go of my perfectionist nature and just write, write, write without a backward glance.
Valuing enthusiasm and perseverance over painstaking craft, NaNoWriMo is a novel-writing program for everyone who has thought fleetingly about writing a novel but has been scared away by the time and effort involved.

Because of the limited writing window, the ONLY thing that matters in NaNoWriMo is output. It’s all about quantity, not quality. This approach forces you to lower your expectations, take risks, and write on the fly.

Make no mistake: You will be writing a lot of crap. And that’s a good thing. By forcing yourself to write so intensely, you are giving yourself permission to make mistakes. To forgo the endless tweaking and editing and just create. To build without tearing down.

I’d like to take a cavalier attitude and say, “How hard can it be?” But I know how hard it’s going to be, not just to write the words, but to find the time. Still, it sounds like fun. So, call me a Wrimo, I think I’m going to go for it.  Want to learn more? Check out
Any other Wrimos out there?

Monday, October 10, 2011

Bad Blogger (Who me?)

A few people have commented to me recently that my blog has been, well, less than active. (I'm pretty sure they mean absent, but friends have a way of putting things so nicely, don't they?). So what's been keeping me from posting? What could be so all consuming and important? Well, lots of things!

First and foremost, I'm excited to announce that my husband and I are expecting our first child! While the baby won't be here until March, it's been a little overwhelming and tiring. Silly me. I thought I could just do it all! However, I'm constantly reminded how much work blogging really is and I again commend the pros for their planning, dedication, and consistency. I'm working to be better and if I could just get a few more hours in a day, I'm sure I'd be successful, but I'm not giving up just yet. I still love to read and I still love to talk books.

I've also been working full steam ahead to finish my manuscript, Crossroads, the first book in the Crossroads Academy series, and prep it for publication. I've partnered with a wonderful designer and we are very close to not only introducing my blog makeover, but launching my website! I am so excited and can't wait to share her work with you all because it's awesome!

I hope to have my book published and the new site launched by Halloween. If you want to grab a sneak peak, check out my link on GoodReads!

In short, I know I've been a bad blogger, but I'll be working with renewed focus in the coming weeks to keep things fresh and up to date!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Review: Half-Blood

The Hematoi descend from the unions of gods and mortals, and the children of two Hematoi-pure-bloods-have godlike powers. Children of Hematoi and mortals -well, not so much. Half-bloods only have two options: become trained Sentinels who hunt and kill daimons or become servants in the homes of the pures. Seventeen-year-old Alexandria would rather risk her life fighting than waste it scrubbing toilets, but she may end up slumming it anyway. There are several rules that students at the Covenant must follow. Alex has problems with them all, but especially rule #1: Relationships between pures and halfs are forbidden. Unfortunately, she's crushing hard on the totally hot pure-blood Aiden. But falling for Aiden isn't her biggest problem--staying alive long enough to graduate the Covenant and become a Sentinel is. If she fails in her duty, she faces a future worse than death or slavery: being turned into a daimon, and being hunted by Aiden. And that would kind of suck.

Jennifer L. Armentrout has done it again! Half-Blood was as action packed and juicy as its prequel, Daimon. Daimon whet my appetite and I couldn’t wait to learn more about Alex’s fate or the Hematoi world. And Half-Blood delivered. While it wasn’t a one-sit read, it might have been if I didn’t have such a hectic schedule. Armentrout’s modern day mythology is vastly different than anything else I’ve read and I thoroughly enjoyed the change of pace. Half-Blood provided a much more thorough understanding of the Hematoi world, introduced the reader to some new mythology, and expanded on the political and social structure of the Covenant. Most importantly, we finally learn why Alex left the safety of this secret society in the first place.
What I loved:
Alex reads like a real teenage girl. She’s emotional, hot-tempered, passionate, and sassy. It’s easy to identify with Alex and understand how her personal experiences have shaped her views and ultimately the way she responds to her environment. While there were several times I wanted to scream at her to keep her mouth shut and follow the rules, that just wouldn’t have been Alex. Her defiant attitude was part of what made her so endearing and despite her propensity for trouble, she had a big heart and good intentions. We also get to see a softer, more vulnerable side of Alex in Half-Blood. Not only does she have to deal with the loss of her mother, there’s the ever tumultuous world of young love which breeds insecurity in the best of us.
Half-Blood is action packed and moves swiftly. There is literally never a dull moment and I found myself not wanting to put this book down. Not only do we get to know Alex better in Half-Blood, we get to meet an entirely new cast of well-developed (and swoon-worthy) characters which were missing from Daimon.
My only hang up? The story was a little too predictable. Maybe because it followed a common formula. Maybe because I’ve read a lot of similar plot lines. Either way, I hope for a bit more mystery in Pure, Covenant #2, which is scheduled for release in April 2012. Bottom line, a fantastic novel -definitely recommended!
(FTC Disclosure: After reading Daimon, I was anxious to get my hands on the first official book in the Covenant series and downloaded it on my Kindle at my own expense.)

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Follow Friday

Q. Do you have a favorite series that you read over and over again? Tell us a bit about it and why you keep on revisiting it?

For me it has to be the Janet Evanovich Stephanie Plum series. Although book 17 left me sorely disappointed, the early books were a riot. If I'm having a bad week or just need something light and frivolous to read, Evanovich delivers. With crazy characters (some of which vaguely resemble my own family) and outlandish misadventures, it's hard not to appeciate the series.

Another reread for me (as I suspect it is for many bloggers) is Harry Potter. I enjoy reading the books again before seeing the movies to refresh my memory and give myself a better basis of comparison! And while the movies are generally pretty true to the books, they'll never be a replacement!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Calling It Quits

I can't remember the last time I didn't finish a book. Maybe that's because it's never happened. To be fair, I'm not sure either way. If there was a book I didn't finish (and there probably was), it was so lackluster that I don't even remember it. So this week was a first of sorts for me. A friend lent me a book by an author whose previous works I did enjoy, and while the premise of the books was interesting, I only got about 1/3 of the way through before putting it down and saying enough.

Why couldn't I finish the book? For starters, it was depressing. I knew it was going to tug at my heart strings a little, but I was still expecting a little levity-- or something to offset the negativity. Another thing that kept me from really connecting with the story was the lack of actual action (and interaction). The main character was retelling the story so everything was colored by her perspective and left me unable to connect with the other characters in the book. I won't say it was a bad book. It just wasn't for me.

Sure, there's a part of me that is curious about the ending, but not curious enough to forge ahead. With piles of good books out there, I just don't have the energy to force myself to read to the end.  It makes me wonder though, how many readers drop a book without finishing and more so, how many finish books they wish they hadn't? I'm the kind of person who never wants to quit and generally feels obligated to finish anything that I start so this is kind of a new experience for me. (The good news is that there isn't exactly a librarian breathing down my neck waiting to slap my hands with a ruler for being a quitter!)

Maybe if I were to stick it out, I'd be pleasantly surprised, but as a writer I'm not sure I'd want a reader to keep going if they weren't really interested in the story. I can't imagine anything worse than getting to the end and disliking the book even more. (Yes. I think this might be worse than getting a DNF rating). And frankly, I'd want my readers to be in love (or least engaged in) the story. I'm a realist. There may be a reader for every book, but not every book is for all readers.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Review: The First Days

The morning that the world ends, Katie is getting ready for court and housewife Jenni is taking care of her family. Less than two hours later, they are fleeing for their lives from a zombie horde.

Thrown together by circumstance, Jenni and Katie become a powerful zombie-killing partnership, mowing down zombies as they rescue Jenni's stepson, Jason, from an infected campground.

They find sanctuary in a tiny, roughly fortified Texas town.  There Jenni and Katie find they are both attracted to Travis, leader of the survivors; and the refugees must slaughter people they know, who have returned in zombie form. .

Here’s the thing…. I’m a zombie lover at heart. My favorite movie of all time is Resident Evil and one of the few movies I’ve actually purchased in the last couple of years was Zombieland. So I was probably predisposed to loving this book. It’s even possible that I am also so desensitized to the walking dead that the haunting opening didn’t exactly phase me. It actually made me sit up and say ‘YES!’ because it felt authentic.
Frater opens the tale with a heart-wrenching scene: little toddler zombie fingers clawing frantically under the door in an attempt to reach the intended prey. Imagine your own child a zombie monster, hungry to devour your flesh. Gruesome. Painful. Shocking. This is how Jenni’s day starts. As her world falls to pieces and she slips into shock, Jenni is rescued by Katie, another survivor of the zombie apocalypse. Like Jenni, in a few short hours Katie’s lost all she holds dear. The world around them is changing at a breakneck pace and the women quickly realize they have two options: adapt or die. Chance may have thrown these women together, but they make an amazing team and the bond between them quickly grows to be iron tight. It’s this relationship that made the book for me. Katie and Jenni complement one another and are a force to be reckoned with.
The First Days is an edge of your seat, action-packed thrill ride. I couldn’t wait to see what would happen next. At the same time, the characters were well developed and their stories were so compelling that putting this book down was not an option. I had expected an action junkies dream in The First Days, but was pleased to discover that the story was so much more. These characters had to deal not only with the end of the world, but with their own personal baggage which included everything from grief, guilt, and the social stigmas of a world left behind to killing without a moments’ hesitation.
Jenni and Katie’s toughness is balanced with compassion, although it is not always evident and there are more than a few times where it seems Jenni might have become completely unhinged. Still, it’s impossible not to want to see these women overcome and flourish in the new world, assuming they can survive. The First Days is wrought with heartache and pain, but there are also moments of great humanity. After all, life must go on.
My biggest disappointment? Book two, Fighting to Survive, won’t be released until November 5, 2011.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Follow Friday

Q. If you could change the ending of any book (or series), which book would you choose? Why and to what?

I would absolutely change the ending to The Hunger Games. I was disappointed that Katniss basically retired into obsolescence living back in the district with Peeta and raising children. In some ways, I got it, but overall, it just left me wanting more for her. She'd been through so much and inspired so many that it was difficult to accept such a quiet ending to the tale. It made me feel that her spirit really had been broken.

Given the choice, I would have liked to see her take on a greater role in reshaping the Capitol. Katniss wasn't  quiter and returning to District 12 smacked of retreat. I also would have kept Gale in her life (as a friend) despite the obvious changes that severed their friendship. While Peeta was absolutely the right companion to balance her, Gale would have kept the spark alive!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Review: Jenny Pox by JL Bryan

Jenny's touch spreads a deadly supernatural plague. She can't control her power, so she devotes her life to avoiding contact with other people in her small Southern town. Her senior year of high school, she meets the one boy she can touch...but if she's going to be with him, Jenny must learn to use the horrific power inside her to survive his devious, manipulative girlfriend, who secretly wields the most dangerous power of all.

First, let me just say this book is not for the faint of heart, the weak stomached, or anyone under the age of eighteen. And I loved every page of it. I was a little hesitant about Jenny Pox initially, but decided to give it a try. And while the gory descriptions of the Jenny Pox tried my gag reflex, it was well worth the $2.99 price tag.
I thought I might have difficulty connecting to Jenny in the beginning (she’s just a little more country than I was prepared to handle with her perpetual use of the word aint’t) but it didn’t take long to fall under her spell. Maybe I didn’t quite feel Jenny’s pain (how could I possibly?), but I empathized. JL Bryan painted an image of a life so lonely and isolated that Jenny was unable to even pet her own dog without killing him. When I think of all the conscious and unconscious contact I go through in a single day, it’s inconceivable to go one day, let alone a lifetime, without a hug, a hand to hold, or a shoulder to lean on. And even though Jenny’s touch was lethal, she was the underdog. Always an outcast, always a loser, it was impossible not to want to see her triumph over a small town determined to see her beat down.
When Jenny meets Seth, the only person in the world she can safely touch, you just know they’re meant to be together, two parts of the same whole. Soul mates even. Too bad Seth’s girlfriend Ashleigh has different plans. And Ashleigh’s not exactly the kind of girl who’s used to hearing the word ‘no’. As Jenny struggles to find the courage to pursue a relationship with Seth and her own happiness, it quickly becomes apparent that Ashleigh will stop at nothing to get what she wants. (This is where the manipulation, gratuitous sex, and all out evil come into play. But I’ll let you find out about that for yourself!) While I loved the paranormal aspect of the book and the uniqueness of the story, what I enjoyed most was watching Jenny grow from sheltered and insecure to a strong and confident young woman willing to fight for what she wants.
This book has it all: teen angst, young love, insurmountable odds, sex, death, revenge. All set perfectly in the heart of small town America. You name it, JL Bryan’s worked it in. And work it does. I can’t wait to get my hands on book two, Tommy Nightmare! What can I say? I'm a sucker for indie writers. And underdogs.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Review: Daimon

 For three years, Alexandria has lived among mortals—pretending to be like them and trying to forget the duty she'd been trained to fulfill as a child of a mortal and a demigod. At seventeen, she's pretty much accepted that she's a freak by mortal standards... and that she'll never be prepared for that duty.

According to her mother, that’s a good thing.

But as every descendant of the gods knows, Fate has a way of rearing her ugly head. A horrifying attack forces Alex to flee Miami and try to find her way back to the very place her mother had warned her she should never return—the Covenant. Every step that brings her closer to safety is one more step toward death… because she's being hunted by the very creatures she'd once trained to kill.

The daimons have found her.

Daimon (pronounced demon) opens with Alex struggling to be a normal teenager. Ripped from the only world she knew growing up, the years haven’t healed old wounds and Alex isn’t exactly that interested in fitting in with mortals. Besides, she has way too much attitude and a kickass fighting style that’s hard to reign in. It’s hard not to like Alex from the start (even though she uses oddly masculine phrases like ‘It’s on like Donkey Kong) because although she’s tough, she’s got a hopeful spirit and suffers from the same insecurities of any teenager – mortal or otherwise. She’s got bad taste in boys, a hopeless crush, and chores she’ll never get around to doing. Alex also possesses the inherent spirit of a survivor that you just have to admire.
Daimon is the prequel to Half-Blood which is scheduled for release in October and my first novella. I picked it up on my Kindle for $0.99 and at 86 pages it’s a quick, action packed read. I got a taste, but it definitely left me wanting more. If the cover wasn’t enough to draw me in (how lovely is it???), the early reviews of Half-Blood posted by other bloggers did the trick. It’s fair to say that this isn’t my usual read and I don’t think I’ve been exposed to gods and mythology since my seventh grade lit class, but that was part of the attraction. Daimon was different. Mythology, mystery, action, a notable lack of vampires and werewolves. Seriously though, Daimon laid the groundwork for the Hematoi world and I can’t wait to learn more about the descendants of the gods or the Covenant.
The countdown is on for Half-Blood and October 18th can’t get here soon enough!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Follow Friday

Q. If you could write yourself a part in a book, what book would it be and what role would you play in that book?

Given the opportunity, I'd write myself into The Secret Circle. I read the series growing up and fell in love with the story and the main character, Cassie. L.J. Smith's tale of witchcraft was a different world for me and I have to be honest and admit that the love story between Cassie and Adam had me on the edge of my seat. I remember not being able to get through the books fast enough!

So aside from the obvious benefit of magical powers, I guess I'd like to see what choices I'd make when confronted with such terrifying power and choosing between good and evil. Not to mention choosing between friendship and true love.

I heard the CW is going to be launching a TV series soon. Maybe I'll watch, but then again, maybe not. Hollywood has a way of diminishing great stories sometimes.

Happy Friday!

Say It Ain't So...

I never really thought of myself as the 'slacker' type, but I've been having a little trouble finding my motivation lately. Actually, it reminds me of a Green Day song! Anyway, between work and remodeling my kitchen (Oh, yeah. DIY all the way), I haven't managed to write much or find the time to *gasp* read! Appalling, I know.

Maybe it's the end of summer blues? None of the available titles on my TBR list have really got me ready to curl up with my Kindle. However, I was lurking in the blogosphere today and I found two great reviews that got my attention and went straight to the top of my TBR list. (Isn't it amazing how contagious one blogger's enthusiasm can be? So much better than a sterile blurb on Amazon!)

I'm also about halfway through the outline for my second manuscript, but I seem to be stuck on that one little pivotal point that requires me to rethink my logic. I wouldn't exactly call it writers block, but it's a definitely a puzzle I haven't solved yet. And it's giving me even more appreciation for the perseverance of the many wonderful authors I love as they frequently comment on the fact that writing the second book is more challenging than the first. For me, I'm taking it as a sign of personal growth which I hope will be reflected in my writing!

Just a few mores hours until the weekend so I think I'll go download Daimon and delve into Jennifer Armentrout's world of the Covenant.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Follow Friday

Q. How have your reading habits changed since you were a teen? or If you are still a teen what new genres are you in love with currently?

My reading habits have changed a lot over the years and I think it's fair to say I've come full circle! In my early teens I read a lot of Christopher Pike, R.L. Stine, Dean Koontz and Stephen King. Pretty much anything with a murderous or paranormal twist (although I never would have used the word paranormal at the time).

By the time I graduated,  I'd moved on to thrillers and mysteries. I absolutely fell in love with Iris Johansen, Stuart Woods, and Tami Hoag. If they wrote it, I bought it. These books had it all: romance, mystery, suspense. I stuck with these authors loyally for years until my sister introduced me to the world of Stephanie Plum (my first foray into chick-lit) which had me cracking up and catching up since I was late to discover the series.

Eventually though I came full circle and found my way back to paranormal with Kay Hooper's Bishop Special Crimes Unit series. When I ran out of my own favorite authors to read, I started raiding my younger sister's book shelf where I came across Twilight and a myriad of other YA novels. I was hooked from the start and haven't looked back since! In fact, I've got three of her books sitting in my book pile right now!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Follow Friday

Q. Talk about the book that most changed or influenced your life (was it a book that turned you from an average to avid reader, did it help you deal with a particularly difficult situation, does it bring you comfort every time you read it?).

I'm marginally embarrassed to admit this, but the series that most recently and most heavily impacted my life is Twilight. Not because I'm 'Team Edward' or 'Team Jacob' or even because I think they're the most amazing books I've ever read. For me, being handed a copy of Twilight brought me back to the world of YA literature and to a love of writing that I'd put on a shelf. Not only had I shifted away from YA literature to read more 'adult' books, I was spending more time attending to practical pursuits like paying the bills.

Twilight brought me back to the genre I enjoy most and has been a refreshing change which has also given me the courage to pursue my own writing further.

Review: Supernaturally

 Evie finally has the normal life she’s always longed for. But she’s shocked to discover that being ordinary can be . . . kind of boring. Just when Evie starts to long for her days at the International Paranormal Containment Agency, she’s given a chance to work for them again. Desperate for a break from all the normalcy, she agrees.

But as one disastrous mission leads to another, Evie starts to wonder if she made the right choice. And when Evie’s faerie ex-boyfriend Reth appears with devastating revelations about her past, she discovers that there’s a battle brewing between the faerie courts that could throw the whole supernatural world into chaos. The prize in question? Evie herself.
So much for normal.
Oh, bleep! I don’t even know where to start. At the beginning perhaps? Kiersten White has done it again! Supernaturally was a good read—fast paced, action packed, and filled with plenty of teen angst. Supernaturally picked up right where Paranormalcy left off (although, much to my disappointment, there wasn’t nearly enough of Tasey in book two!).  
One of the things I really enjoyed about Paranormalcy was Evie’s quirky and authentic teen voice which continued to shine through in Supernaturally.  And even thought it tugged at my heartstrings a little bit, it felt right that Evie struggled with the normalcy she so badly craved growing up and with the morality of exercising her rather unique gift. Because that’s the real world and part of growing up is discovering that the things we want most rarely turn out to be what we’d imagined. Besides, it’s impossible not to relate to Evie as she struggles to balance a semi-long distance relationship, the gym teacher from hell, faerie mischief, and college applications. All while trying to find her place in the world.
While Supernaturally delivered on the promise of a light and endearing story, there were a few things that left me wanting. First, there were some points where I felt like the story (and Evie’s emotional roller coaster) were being pushed forward at a break neck pace in order to bring the story to a close. Secondly, there was suspicion thrown on the staff at David’s diner that was left unresolved. It probably wasn’t anything heinous, but closure would have been nice as those loose ends keeps tickling at my brain. What were they up to??? Maybe it’s a sign of things to come in book three, but I hate to be left hanging!
All in all, a must read for fans of Paranormalcy. Up next? Endlessly. Which, by the way is an awesome title. I’d count the days, but alas, no release date yet.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Follow Friday

Q. Let's step away from books for a second and get personal. What T-Shirt slogan best describes you?

So many t-shirts so little time! If I have to play by the rules (for once) and choose just one, this is the one that describes me best! When I'm not working or reading, I'm blissfully lost in my writing. Of course, if this were really my t-shirt, I'd spice up that cover with some glitter or some other sort of eye candy!

Writers Do It Literally

So much for playing by the rules. I had to include this one too because I'm not much of a cook and in my house the word 'cereal' is synonymous with breakfast, lunch and dinner!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Review: Dead Rules

Till death

Jana Webster and Michael Haynes were in love. They were destined to be together forever.

But Jana's destiny was fatally flawed. And now she's in Dead School, where Mars Dreamcote lurks in the back of the classroom, with his beguiling blue eyes, mysterious smile, and irresistibly warm touch.


Michael and Jana were incomplete without each other. There was no room for Mars in Jana's life—or death—story. Jana was sure Michael would rush to her side soon.


But things aren't going according to Jana's plan. So Jana decides to do whatever it takes to make her dreams come true—no matter what rules she has to break.

Let me start by saying that Dead Rules had such amazing potential. I read a pre-launch interview with Russell and put this on my TBR list immediately. Between the blurb and the author interview, I was sure this was a book for me. I logged on to Amazon and downloaded it on my Kindle (at my own expense) within days of the release. My expectations? Fresh, witty, imaginative. And it was most of those things, but there were still some things that really irked me.
But let me start with the good stuff. The concept was original and well thought out. Although Dead School was a little confusing initially (by design), it all came together in the first couple of chapters. I loved the idea that it was located right here on planet Earth, but could only really be seen and experienced by the dead. I also liked the idea that the students had to figure things out for themselves and that the rules were cryptic. That’s what real life is like, so why should death be any different? And for the romantic in me, the budding relationship between Jana and Mars was the one thing that really hooked me and kept me reading. I felt more connected to Mars than any other character in the book and wanted to see if he would manage to change his status at Dead School and move from Slider (read: bad boy) to Riser. Of all the characters in the book, I felt Mars had the most depth, was the most likeable, and had the greatest sincere desire to change his circumstances. Ultimately, many of the characters felt flat to me. I honestly didn’t really care what happened to any of them, except for Mars.
Which leads me to my biggest issue with this book: I didn’t really like the protagonist, Jana. She was selfish in the extreme and to be honest, although Russell laid the groundwork for Michael, her boyfriend, to be the only support system in her life, I struggled to believe that she really thought killing him was the right thing to do. I know, I know. There are loves that twisted out there, but I just wasn’t buying it. In addition, she had some very annoying and repetitious sayings that just didn’t feel genuine. Seriously. How many teenage girls skip profanity in favor of phrases like ‘farts, fudge, and popcorn’? Also, I’ve never met a teenage girl (and I know plenty of them) who would introduce themself as ‘Webster, of Webster and Haynes’. Sounds like a law firm, right? I hate to say it, but I couldn’t help but think this was a middle aged males’ perception of teenage girls and it just didn’t resonate with me.
Other things that irked me (spoiler alert): There were apparently very few virgins among the teen population. Believe me, I understand that teens have sex, but the numbers felt extremely skewed. Lastly, when Michael finally showed up at Dead School (after killing his girlfriend – even if it was an accident – and after dying while attempting to kill her again) he was a Riser. I’m no expert, but it seemed like he should have been a Slider and the lame excuse that attempting to shoot Jana and her friends was self-defense didn’t make it any more plausible. The logic here just felt fundamentally flawed.
I know my review of this book is in the minority, but it just didn’t work for me. While it had some good points, I just didn’t connect with the storyline or the characters in the way I had hoped to. For those of you who have it on your TBR list, don’t let my review discourage you. I’ll be interested to see what you think!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Follow My Book Blog Friday

Q. Name 3 authors that you would love to sit down and spend an hour or a meal with just talking about either their books or get advice on writing from?

I would love to meet (in no particular order):

1. Veronica Roth (Divergent) because I'm so impressed by her success at such a young age and because I"m dying to know what happens to Tris in book two, Insurgent. (Yes. I know she wouldn't really tell me.)

2. Kiersten White (Paranormalcy) because she just seems like a really fun and creative person based not only on her published works but on her blog.

3. Cassandra Clare (The Immortal Instruments) because while I'm a fan of her work and she's got plenty of them, she's also got a lot of critics. I'd love to know how she deals with the negativity and how she maintains her focus.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Better Luck Next Time

Well, it was bound to happen eventually. I knew everything couldn’t be sunshine and bunnies forever. After all, I do live in the real world, not some deliciously amazing paranormal otherworld. (I should be so lucky!)
I had a little setback this week that was (truth be told) heartbreaking. I may L-O-V-E to read, but I’ve never had an eye for art. So when I fell for the portfolio of a certain photographer, I fell hard. Head over heels hard. We were this close *holds fingers just a smidge apart* to agreeing on terms for an image to be used on my cover. It would have been divine. Beautiful. Artistic. Moving. I felt connected to the image. In my head it was a done deal.
Alas, certain photographer flaked on me at the last minute and now it’s back to square one. I’m disappointed, but I guess those are the chances you take when you’re brokering a deal via an international web connection. C'est la vie.
When it’s all said and done, I’ll find something new that’s just as dark and lovely because I won’t settle for anything less. Oh, and I’ll still be a fan of certain photographer-- a fan with different cover art.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Follow Friday

Q. What do I do when I am not reading?

For me reading is a the big escape so when I'm not reading I'm usually working. And trust me, it's not nearly as fun as it sounds! ;) However, I do find my fair share of time to read, so I'm not complaining. I also have another guilty pleasure which is writing. Ask my husband.... I spend most of my waking hours in front of a computer! The only way he can tell if I'm working or writing is by which PC I'm plugged into!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Mademoiselle Français: éditeur extraordinaire

Not too long ago I wrote a blog bemoaning the challenges of find a good (and reasonably priced) copy editor. Several of you came through and messaged me with recommendations for which I am extremely grateful. As a result, I’m happy to say that I not only found a wonderful editor to take on my project, I actually have a finished project! I can’t say enough about the extraordinary Ms. French and would recommend her services to anyone in the market for editing services.
I’ll be honest, I was a little nervous at first. Editors aren’t cheap and testimonials are a dime a dozen. I scoured the web for hours looking for reputable and reasonable services, and the more I saw the more concerned I became about getting a good value for my money. I’m a firm believer that you get what you pay for and if something seems too good to be true, well, you get the idea.
Still, I didn’t want to shell out thousands of dollars because:
1) I don’t have that kind of money for editing services
2) I was concerned that I might be overpaying for the quality of work.
Ultimately, I ended up selecting an editor that came to me through a personal referral and I couldn’t be happier with the results! Ms. French was extremely professional and invested a considerable amount of time explaining both her background and her process to me so that I’d be comfortable with the arrangement before proceeding. She also delivered the project on time and on budget which was almost as important to me as getting quality work.
I’m really excited about the results and can’t wait to share with everyone! I’ve still got one step to go before I can officially call myself a published author: cover art.
Wish me luck!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

To Read or Not to Read?

City of Fallen Angels (The Mortal Instruments #4)
It's a little cliché, but we’ve all faced this question at least once before, right? Here’s my dilemma. I recently finished City of Glass (Mortal Instruments #3) by Cassandra Clare. I enjoyed the first 3 books in the series, despite the fact that Clare’s books have been the subject of a ton of controversy. I know, I know -- Clare has been accused of everything from ripping off concepts from other authors to extending the Mortal Instruments in an attempt to further line her pocket.  Now, I don’t want to say I don’t care about either of these things, because personal integrity is important, especially when readers are paying good money to read your work. As readers, we deserve an author’s best effort. But, there’s still that one little niggling voice in my head that wants to move forward with the series.
City of Fallen Angels, book #4, has received some glowing reviews and some, well, downright hateful ones. All things being subjective, I can’t decide if I should shell out the money to read the fourth book. On one hand, reviews of disappointed fans that felt the series took a turn for the snore-worthy (and many of whom felt cheated by a thin/disorganized plot) carry a lot of sway with me.
Why read a book if it’s going to take a series I enjoy and wreck that warm, fuzzy view? City of Glass ended in a good place and the story felt complete to me. Do I dare continue to City of Fallen Angels and risk hating it like oh so many other fans?
On the other hand, knowing what I know, I still feel like I need to see it through to the end. Despite the terrible reviews and the likely chance of disappointment, I want to see where the story goes.  Call me a glutton for punishment, but I have this need to just know.
So I ask, to read or not to read the City of Fallen Angels?

Monday, July 4, 2011

Review: Enclave



In Deuce's world, people earn the right to a name only if they survive their first fifteen years. By that point, each unnamed 'brat' has trained into one of three groups-Breeders, Builders, or Hunters, identifiable by the number of scars they bear on their arms. Deuce has wanted to be a Huntress for as long as she can remember.

As a Huntress, her purpose is clear--to brave the dangerous tunnels outside the enclave and bring back meat to feed the group while evading ferocious monsters known as Freaks. She's worked toward this goal her whole life, and nothing's going to stop her, not even a beautiful, brooding Hunter named Fade. When the mysterious boy becomes her partner, Deuce's troubles are just beginning.

Down below, deviation from the rules is punished swiftly and harshly, and Fade doesn't like following orders. At first she thinks he's crazy, but as death stalks their sanctuary, and it becomes clear the elders don't always know best, Deuce wonders if Fade might be telling the truth. Her partner confuses her; she's never known a boy like him before, as prone to touching her gently as using his knives with feral grace.

As Deuce's perception shifts, so does the balance in the constant battle for survival. The mindless Freaks, once considered a threat only due to their sheer numbers, show signs of cunning and strategy... but the elders refuse to heed any warnings. Despite imminent disaster, the enclave puts their faith in strictures and sacrifice instead. No matter how she tries, Deuce cannot stem the dark tide that carries her far from the only world she's ever known.
Talk about a diamond in the rough. I never would have picked up this book if another blogger hadn’t recommended it. Why? Mostly, I think, because the cover didn’t really catch my eye and the title didn’t mean much to me either. Truth be told, without reading the book jacket, it put me in mind of the sci-fi/fantasy books my husband reads. I was sooo wrong. This book was amazing! I don’t give 5 stars often, but Aguirre definitely got my blood pumping. I didn’t have high expectations going in, and maybe that’s one reason I rated it so highly. There’s nothing worse than having a book built up in your mind so much before reading it that it’s impossible for said book to live up to your expectations.
Either way, I couldn’t put this book down. I downloaded it on my kindle the morning I was leaving Mexico and when I didn’t stop reading until it was done. (My family probably thought I was being anti-social in the extreme!) I read on the bench out front the resort, in the shuttle to the airport, on the plane, in baggage claim… You get the idea. The only place I didn’t read was in Customs because they frown on the use of electronic devices.
This was my first read by Aguirre and it won’t be my last. The word building was amazing, there was plenty of action, and I could easily relate to the heroine, Deuce. I was literally sucked into Deuce’s world from page one. I found myself wanting her to challenge the status quo and question the Elders despite the obvious conclusion that she would be exiled for independent thought. I felt her pain when she truly saw the corruption on which her society was built and felt the sting of betrayal when even her closest friends turned against her. I was even hopeful as she and Fade stepped above ground and went Topside in search of a land free of Freaks.
Deuce was a strong character and, despite the compassionate streak she kept hidden within the Enclave, it was clear how deeply her Huntress training had affected her. Forced to question everything she’d ever been taught, I found myself anxious to see her grow a person. I knew who she was, but I wanted to see who she’d become. Life underground was a little two dimensional and it felt like (as with any adolescent), Deuce had a lot more living to do before she’d be whole. Although she’d been raised to live by the sword and had little formal education, she was a thoughtful character who proved that she could shift her initial perceptions and change.
Now, to be fair, there were some things I didn’t exactly like, although I understood them. (Spoiler alert!) It drove me crazy that Deuce didn’t really understand Fade’s attraction to her or the thinly veiled meaning in his words at times. Yes, I understand that she came from a world where breeding was simply a means of species proliferation and she didn’t have any experience with emotional ties and loving relationships. But it still drove me crazy in the ‘How-oblivious-can-you-be-?-You-two-need-to-get-together-already-!’ kind of way. (Apparently I’m a romantic at heart.)
Also, I really hated that Stalker (former gang leader / probable rapist) was folded into their little band of survivors. While I understood Deuce’s reluctance to leave him behind and the practicality of having another skilled fighter to face the Freaks, it still burned. I tried to remind myself that, like Deuce, he only knew one way to survive in the world and that he needed to be shown a different way, but it didn’t really help.
I probably wouldn’t have enjoyed this book half as much if I weren’t so emotionally invested in the characters and the outcome, so I guess that even though they drove me a little crazy, I can’t wait for book two of the Razorland series, Outpost, which is projected for release in Fall 2012.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Follow Friday

Q. ACK! Your favorite book/movie character (example Hermione Granger played by the Emma chick) just walked into the room! Who is it and what would be your first reaction? You get extra points if you include visual stimulation.

As usual, I'm probably overcomplicating FF, but all of the characters I feel most passionately about right now haven't moved onto the big screen... yet! And maybe that's a good thing so that they can live on in my mind exactly how I picture them. Because let's face it, Hollywood has a way of failing to deliver the goods sometimes.

Now, for my real answer. I'm going to stretch a little and say that I'd love to meet Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games (soon to be played by Jennifer Lawrence). Although I'm not sure that Lawrence is an exact match to the amazing Katniss I've created in my mind and although I'm not sure she'll be able to convey Katniss's depth or toughness, I'll give her the benefit of the doubt. My first reaction? To give the girl a hug because let's face it, if anyone needs one, she does!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Forever Young Adult: for YA readers who are a little less Y and bit more A

Snapple Real Fact #769: If a sheep and a goat mate the offspring is called a geep.
(I swear I may never get tired of Snapple facts. Who even needs to know this stuff? But seriously, if I ever make it on to Jeopardy, my first answer (regardless of the category) will definitely be 'What is a geep?'. My backup plan: work a geep into my next novel. Look for it people!)
OMG! I am in love. I couldn’t post this week without mentioning the awesomeness that is Forever Young Adult. I don’t want to go all fangirl here, but this website completely rocked my, well, maybe not my world, but definitely my mood, this weekend. *Ahem*. I mean, today’s post is about spreading a little YA love (because this sounds so much more credible, obviously).
There are a lot of sites that I ‘heart’ (some of my fav’s are listed on the right), but I’m always looking for new and interesting blogs, perspectives, reviews, and stuff. Another blogger put me onto FYA and I’ve gotta tell you, I laughed out loud. And snorted. And there might have been a few tears (but only the good kind).
The ladies who run FYA are fan-frickin-tastic in my book! Why? Oh, let me count the reasons (because I haven’t done a list for a while and it seems I’m due!):
1.       The Cast: These ladies may love YA, but as the name suggests, it’s a mindset and not an age.
2.       Drinking Games: ‘Nuff said!
3.       Relevance: All YA, all the time!
4.       Wit: Not only is the writing wildly funny, the lexicons are brilliant!
5.       No Holds Barred: If you’re looking for a bunch of PC twi-hards... This isn’t the site for you.
If you’re a YA lover, I encourage you to check out the site! Now.
Oh, yeah, and for The Hunger Games fans among us…. I can also thank FYA for my officially unofficial THG name: Inless M. Screamlily. It does have a lovely ring to it, doesn’t it?

Friday, June 24, 2011

Q. In light of the Summer Solstice. Also known as Midsummer...let's talk about fairies. What is your favorite fairy tale or story that revolves around the fae?

I love questions that make me dig deep! I haven't thought about fairy tales in a while and I don't have a favorite per se, but after thinking about it for a while, I'd have to say my top three are: The Emperor's New Clothes, The Princess and the Pea, and Rumpelstiltskin.

I've read a lot of books that have fairies in them, but only one series that had a fairy as the central character: The Dulce O'Neil series by H.P. Mallory. While I loved the first two books in the series and would absolutely recommend them for a light summer read, it would probably be premature to call them my favorite since I have no good basis for comparison. It seems I'll have to get some good fae books on my TBR list!

Happy Friday!


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Review: Bloodspell by Amalie Howard


The spell was simple …

Cruentus Protectum. Defend the Blood.
But what do you do if your blood is your enemy?
Victoria Warrick has always known she was different. An outcast at school, she is no stranger to adversity. But when she receives an old journal for her seventeenth birthday, nothing prepares her for the dark secrets it holds—much less one that reveals she’s a witch with unimaginable power.
What’s more, when she meets the dazzling but enigmatic Christian Devereux, she has no idea how much her life is about to change. Enemies will hunt her. Friends will turn on her. The terrible curse that makes her blood run black will stop at nothing to control her. And Christian has a sinister secret of his own …
Without knowing whom to trust, can Victoria survive her blood’s deadly desires? Or will she lose everything, including herself?

So, I was on vacation last week and found myself sitting by the pool with nothing to read and an appetite for something deliciously paranormal. Based on another blogger’s recommendation, I downloaded Bloodspell by Amalie Howard on my Kindle. I needed a good book and all the ones I really wanted (read: hopelessly lusting after for months) hadn’t been released yet.
I was a goner when I saw the cover for Bloodspell. It totally sucked me in. Isn’t it lovely? Mysterious? Unique, even? I thought so. And I’m happy to say that this book delivers. Maybe I was a little stingy with my stars when I rated this one (I gave it 4/5 on GoodReads), but Amalie Howard’s world of witches and vampires was not only unique, it was enthralling. I loved that this story played on what we already know about these paranormal beings (without reinventing the genre), but that it also had a unique spin.
Victoria’s transformation from start to finish was real—and it wasn’t just her magic that changed her. She made a choice, a conscious decision, to change from the weak, cowardly girl we meet in chapter one into someone more. She chooses to take control of her life and reshape the way the world views her the old fashioned way—with a new haircut, better clothes, and a more outgoing personality. So maybe she doesn’t have a good firm grasp of her magic from the start, but that’s what makes it a great story; there’s continual growth on both a personal and a paranormal level.
Victoria’s cursed blood was refreshingly original and chilling. Her struggle to overcome the dark desires of her legacy had me on the edge of my seat… wanting more. Her relationship with Christian was heartfelt and though often troubled, I was beside myself to find a heroine who acted her age (yes, she occasionally did things to just spite him) and who stood her ground (thankfully she didn’t spend all of her time pining over him either).
Bloodspell was full of action from start to finish and while some of the plot twists were bordering on predictable, the likeable characters and fast past made it forgivable. If you like paranormal romance, insurmountable odds, betrayal, and ferocious fight scenes, this book’s for you. As for me, I can’t wait to see what Howard writes next!

Snapple Real Fact #   : 
(I know what you're thinking: Why is my Snapple Real Fact at the end of the post today? And more importantly, where the heck is it? This Real Fact is brought to you courtesy of Mexico. That's right folks. You'll pay $3.72 USD for a 16oz bottle of Snapple south of the border, but don't expect to find anything under the lid because you'll be deeply disappointed!)

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Follow My Book Blog Friday

You know the drill.... Follow My Book Blog Friday hosted by the very awesome Parajunkee!

Q. Genre Wars! What's your favorite genre and which book in that genre made it your favorite?

Hmmm.... This is a tough one for me. I love all things YA, especially those with a paranormal slant, but I think my current favorite has to be dystopian. The Hunger Games opened up this genre for me and while I find there are often a few heart-wrenching moments (yes, I actually cry over the plights of fictional characters), I enjoy the stories and the fact that they make me think a little more than say, my favorite paranormal romances.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Q. The magic book fairy pops out of your cereal box and says "you and your favorite character (from a book of course) can switch places!" Who are you going to switch with?

A. Okay, so this feels like cheating a little because while this character is in books, she debuted on the silver screen. Still, given the chance I'd swap with Buffy in a heartbeat. Grocery buyer and avid reader (me) or kick ass vampire slayer with a quick wit and super strength (Buffy)? Yep. I'll take leather pants and a stake any day. Saving the world doesn't sound half bad either.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Snapple Real Fact #741: Plants, like humans, can run a fever if they are sick.
(I wonder if they’re also prone to migraines? And where you take the temperature? And if I can just stick my thermometer in a potted plant the next time I want to call in sick!)

On serious note (or as serious as I get), this is kind of a big week for me. What constitutes a big week? Let’s see:
1.       I am going to get a first look at my cover art tomorrow. (Yikes! However will I sleep tonight? I hope it is AWESOME!)

2.       I received the first round of edits on my manuscript. I’ll be honest, I might’ve been expecting more red. Guess I picked up a thing or two (not about commas) in 10th grade English. I was always a fan of reading, writing, and spelling. I loved spelling.  And writing. And reading. Grammar? Not so much.

3.       I got some positive reinforcement on my manuscript. (Hey, it’s the little things). It was just nice to hear someone (outside my circle of guiding critics) say that they really enjoyed reading my work.

4.       I may be in high gear, no sleep, bags-under-my-eyes mode at my day job, but come 5 o’clock Friday I will officially be on vacation. I've got a date with sun, sand, and margaritas!  Viva la Mexico!
5.       Last but not least, I’m volunteering at the food bank tomorrow night. It’s just a couple of hours, but it always leaves me feeling good. Really good. And makes me wish I’d find more time to volunteer. Working at the food bank somehow makes all of the little things seem, well, little. I can’t think of a better way to put life in perspective than to give back to the community and get a gracious reminder of how lucky I truly am.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Follow My Book Blog Friday

Q. What are you doing to prepare for an upcoming zombie apocalypse and/or the return of Mel Gibson to the silver screen? (Both of which could be terrifying.)

A. OMG! I love this question! Lucky for me, I'm married to a hardcore video gamer/retired soldier/self proclaimed zombie defense expert (he's read all the books so who am I to argue?) so we are well prepared for the zombie apocalypse. I know, you're jealous. Don't be. I'll share tips! I even wrote a blog about it recently. Anyway, my husband has a plan. It involves machetes, shotguns, a lot of nonperishable food, and ripping out the stairs to our home, which by the way, makes me cringe every time he says it, but I suppose in hard times you have to make hard decisions. I on the other hand do not spend my time fantasizing about how to defend our home (clearly he does this enough for both of us). I do my zombie prep via Netflix and Xbox although I suspect killing a zombie in real life is much more terrifying and much slimier than it looks on tv.

As for Mel Gibson, well, let's just say, I'm not doing anything to prepare. I can accept the possibility of the paranormal, but even I have limits. There are just some things too outrageous to be true, so why worry about them? I'll spend my time preparing the inevitable... like zombies!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Impatience Is a Virtue Too

Snapple Real Fact #926: George Washington was the only unanimously elected President.
(I don’t want to brag, but I’m pretty sure I could accomplish this amazing feat too. If only I had the time.)

Okay, so back to patience, or my lack thereof. All my life I’ve been told that patience is a virtue, to be more patient, that good things come to those who wait, blah, blah, blah. Yep. That’s right. It went in one ear and out the other. I meant to listen (I really did!), but it didn’t seem like particularly good advice at the time. Still doesn’t.
I’m more of a ‘take the bull by the horns’ kind of girl. If you want something, go get it. Make it happen. NOW. Because really, what’s the point of waiting? Sometimes you’ve just got to step up and take the initiative.
Take Sean Combs (a.k.a. P. Diddy) for example. (Yes. I realize there are numerous examples of self-starters throughout history who’ve had an amazing impact on our lives and the world at large, but I’m going to cave to the MTV generation for a moment. Not because I’m especially enamored with P. Diddy, but because he makes a great point. Stick with me for a minute.) Maybe you didn’t know this, but Combs is credited with dragging himself out of the Harlem projects with hard work, perseverance, and what my dad calls intestinal fortitude (yes, I mean guts).
When asked about his success, Combs said:
“I’ve never been surprised about what happened to me. I’ve put in hard work to get to this point. It’s like when you become a lawyer – if you’re bustin’ your ass, you’re not surprised when you get your degree. I came in to win, you know. This is why I stay up late while other people are sleeping; this is why I don’t go out to the Hamptons.”

I’m not going to be the next princess of hip hop (ask anyone who’s had the misfortune of hearing me sing), but that doesn’t mean I won’t be a published author. I know what you’re thinking. If it were that easy, everyone would do it. And what happens if I can’t find an agent who believes in my work as much as I do. Will I give up? Will I query myself into a coma? Will I just keep waiting for something to happen?
Unlikely. As I said, I prefer action. Swift and efficient. I may be new to publishing, but I’m not new to hard work, brand management, or marketing.  I’ve got a whole arsenal of tools and talented folks in my back pocket, not to mention a plan. As I sit here today I am fortunate to have a very creative graphic designer working on cover art for my book and a well-trained and experienced editor reviewing my manuscript. Why? Because I haven’t ruled out self-publishing.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not done querying (I didn’t get where I am today without a reasonable amount of patience!). I would L-O-V-E being traditionally published. Not only would my words be available for millions of readers to enjoy, it would free up my time to do what I love most: write. Instead of being a jack of all trades, I would have a team of professionals to ease the burden. But I’m also a realist; a realist who is determined to make my dream a reality.
J.J. Bonds