Friday, September 28, 2012

Fall Fierce Reads Recap + GIVEAWAY!



I was so fortunate to be able to attend the Fierce Reads stop at the Malaprops Bookstore/Cafe in Asheville, NC on September 23, 2012. I met Ann Aguirre, Elizabeth Fama, and Lish McBride at this event. WHAT?! I know. 


I had the chance to have an awesome sit-down and chill-out chat with Lish McBride, Ann Aguirre, and Elizabeth Fama before the event began. We talked of great and many things such as the wonders of audiobooks vs. print books and the awesomeness of public libraries. 

Lish McBride shared that she is an avid reader. She reads print and listens to audiobooks all the time. Ann Aguirre has never actually listened to an audiobook before. Elizabeth Fama really likes audio and wants to listen more because in doing so, she can actually read more. I was personally curious about whether or not authors have a preference about readers choosing to read their books in print or via audio; Lish mentioned that it truly did not matter to her because at least people are reading the stories – however, audiobooks remind her of cover songs - when musicians sing other musicians' songs - it is another artist (in this case, a narrator) interpreting their words in his or her own way. (This is something I had never thought about before!)

We also talked about libraries and how these authors love to see copies of their books in public libraries. It makes them so happy to know that their book is being checked out over and over and over. Elizabeth Fama made the comment about how cool it is to see that the copies are well-worn, which means that they have been checked out and used quite a bit. The others agreed with this. (Another something I had never thought about before...)

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Jessica Drake opened the event by singing the Fierce Reads theme song “Turn the Page” – which you can download for free HERE.
 
 




Then each author read a passage from her book:

Lish McBride reads from Necromancing the Stone. She read a funny passage and was hilarious as a reader. I’d listen to her read the entire book to me in a heartbeat.

Necromancing the Stone is the follow-up to McBride's award-winning Hold Me Closer, Necromancer.

Elizabeth Fama read the prologue from Monstrous Beauty. It was perfectly quiet while she was reading and I think she could have kept going and no one would have stopped her.




Ann Aguirre reads an action sequence from Outpost, complete with perfect voices for the characters. I was on the edge of my seat. 

Outpost is the follow-up to Aguirre's Enclave, from the Razorland Series. 

After the authors read from their books, there was time for a few audience questions. I loved this part of the event the most because it is when I was able to see the personalities of each author play off of one another. They kept me laughing. 

On their favorite and least favorite things about being on tour:
Lish McBride mentioned that she loved all of the awesome book stores she had been able to visit but she did not love the early wake-up calls to travel to the next city (I can’t say I blame her!). Ann Aguirre loved meeting readers and talking with them but she did not love the lack of sleep that was required for a tour like this one. Elizabeth Fama loved the professional development she gained while being on tour with the other talented authors – she says she learned so much! She said it was torturous to be in all of the wonderful, new places for short times, but not be able to explore them.

On what made these ladies want to be writers:
Lish McBride has known she wanted to write for as far back as she can remember. Well, first she wanted to be a vet – until she realized exactly what they do and sometimes their work involves unpleasant needles. Since that time, she’s always wanted to write. Ann Aguirre has always known. When she was a young girl, she won a school contest in which part of the prize was seeing Shel Silverstein read from his book Where the Sidewalk Ends. (NO. WAY.) Elizabeth Fama started and finished her schooling headed toward a career in biology/pre-med – but she secretly wrote a novel while she was also writing her dissertation. When she finished her novel and her dissertation, she decided that her heart was actually in being a writer, and that is where it lies today. (Interestingly, her stories have lots of science and biology in them. I love that.)

On what makes their writing dark fantasy vs. the regular high school romance-type stuff:
Lish McBride states that she writes what she knows – she grew up with brothers, so she wrote her male main character and his personality easily. She loves to read all types of books, though. Ann Aguirre says writing dark stories is a mental illness but it is much cheaper than therapy! Elizabeth Fama says that her book is a dark fantasy story because her children played a large role in designing it and putting the story together.

Beth Revis, Ann Aguirre, Elizabeth Fama, Lish McBride, ME!

As if meeting the awesome Fierce Reads authors wasn't enough, guess who else showed up to be in the audience during this event? Beth Revis. YOU GUYS. I can't even. The only thing better than sitting and talking to three authors for a little while is sitting down and talking with four. Y'all she is SO NICE and funny and WOW. 

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With Elizabeth Fama! 

I had the best time meeting these fabulous ladies and hearing them read from their books. They were so very welcoming to me as a reader and as a blogger. Thank you to Elizabeth Fama, Lish McBride, and Ann Aguirre for being so welcoming to me and for taking the time to talk to me before the event. You are all so awesome.

Thank you to Malaprops Bookstore in Asheville, NC for hosting such great events like this for the public.

Thank you Macmillan Kids PublishingFierce Reads for being awesome all the time, for publishing fantastic YA books, and for sending these authors on tour.

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GIVEAWAY!
AND NOW...Thanks to the generosity
of Fierce Reads and Macmillan Publishing,
I am able to offer some SIGNED books to three lucky people!



These books deserve to be available to everyone, 
so I'm making this giveaway a little different.
This GIVEAWAY is open WORLDWIDE.

There will be three winners:
One person will win
Monstrous Beauty by Elizabeth Fama, SIGNED.
One person will win
Enclave & Outpost by Ann Aguirre, SIGNED.
One person will win
Hold Me Closer, Necromancer &
Necromancing the Stone
by Lish McBride, SIGNED. 

This GIVEAWAY is open WORLDWIDE 
and will run through midnight Saturday October 6, 2012. 
Winner #1 will get first choice. 
Winner #2 will get second choice. 
Winner #3 will get third choice. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

My Thoughts On: Lucid by P.T. Michelle + GIVEAWAY!


Today is my stop on the
Brightest Kind of Darkness
Official Blog Tour
!

I read and LOVED Brightest Kind of Darkness by P.T. Michelle back in March of this year. I loved the story of Nara and her special ability. I loved the characterization and the interesting and new mythology given to paranormal fans by P.T. Michelle. I loved Ethan. I loved the romance between Nara and Ethan - the slow progression of the relationship from friends to more than friends was perfection to me.

(You can read my thoughts on Brightest Kind of Darkness HERE.)

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Today, I want to share some of my thoughts on Lucid, which is the next installment in the Brightest Kind of Darkness series. 


Lucid by P.T. Michelle
Series: Brightest Kind of Darkness #2
Publish Date: July 9, 2012
Source:  Review copy from Author! Thank you!

Once Nara combines her prophetic ability with Ethan’s power to outsmart Fate at his own deadly cat-and-mouse game, she’s more determined than ever to help Ethan learn the meaning behind the raven sword tattoo that suddenly appeared on his back after their confrontation with Fate.

During her quest to uncover the tattoo’s secrets, Nara enlists the help of some new friends and discovers her own surprising connection to Ethan.
While Nara digs deeper into the mystery, her desire for answers leads her down a dangerous path full of powerful and ruthless enemies. Swept into an age-old battle, Nara quickly learns that keeping one’s enemies close can be a necessary evil, making an intangible enemy she can control far more preferable to the human enemies she can’t. -(summary from Goodreads)

Lucid by P.T. Michelle 

My Thoughts:  GOOD GRACIOUS, P.T. MICHELLE! YOU'VE DONE IT AGAIN. WELL PLAYED. I can't sing my praises for these books enough.

In Brightest Kind of Darkness, we met Nara Collins and were introduced to her super-neat abilities to see the events of her tomorrows through her dreams. She was fierce, flawed, and awesome and I really liked her. We were also introduced to Ethan Harris , who was the typical YA loner: the dark and mysterious guy that kept to himself and didn't have many friends. It turns out that Ethan had some abilities too, and when paired with Nara the two made an awesome pair. They initially formed a reluctant friendship that progressed slowly into a great romantic relationship, and I loved them as a couple as Brightest Kind of Darkness draws to a close. The book ended with me hanging on the words of the author and grasping for more until the story was finished.

I felt like I was ON HOLD until Lucid came out and was OVERJOYED when it finally did!!!

Lucid dives deeper into the world of Nara and her abilities to see the future. Right away, we find out that Ethan isn't present because he is on an extended trip visiting his parents - not to worry, though, the two are still very much a romantic couple. It was not surprising to me when new characters were introduced - namely Drystan - who tends to become a triangle-like focus for Nara in Ethan's absence.

I like newcomer Drystan. He is interesting and he has special abilities of his own, so it seems natural for him to gravitate towards Nara. Not surprisingly, he is written very well and is likable as a character. I liked his addition to this series and although I'm one of the big-time fans of Ethan, I can see Drystan's strong points.

As far as Ethan goes, I'm not sure I really know what is going on with him. I don't think we're supposed to know yet which is excruciating but also OH SO GOOD. He seems to be a little different than before we left, but I love how dark he is. I'll admit that I like really Nara and her background, but I'm more fascinated by Ethan's story and mythology. So I'm ONCE AGAIN hanging on to find out what happens next. 

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Just as in Brightest Kind of Darkness, P.T. Michelle has WOW'd me with another edge-of-my-seat book that I devoured. I fully expected this. I find myself in the same position as before: absolutely having a fit, breathless even, to get my hands on the next book and find out what is up with Ethan (and Nara and the rest of them. But mostly Ethan - I won't lie.).

P.T. Michelle has written a series that is different than other stuff that is out there - the mythology is different, and the story is new. The characters are developed well, and there is plenty of action. This is a series that you will want to read. I told you guys before that you needed to trust me on this one, and I'm saying it again. Lucid is just as great as Brightest Kind of Darkness - it is an excellent extension of the story. You better believe I will have my hands on a copy of the next book as soon as I can.

I recommend this series to fans of paranormal romance and guys with tattoos.

Lucid will appeal to fans of

Paranormal Romance
Great Characters
Swoonworthy Romance: Love Triangle?
Plenty of Action!
Tattoos (of course)

Lucid by P.T. Michelle 
is currently available for purchase.


**I received a review copy from the author in exchange for an honest opinion and review. I received no compensation for my thoughts. Thank you SO MUCH P.T. Michelle! 

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GIVEAWAY!
10 ebooks of BKoD/Lucid (INTL)
1 SIGNED paperback of Brightest Kind of Darkness (US ONLY)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*This giveaway was premade, but not by me! 

Good Luck!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

My Thoughts On: Send Me A Sign by Tiffany Schmidt


Send Me A Sign by  Tiffany Schmidt
Published by Walker Children’s
Publish Date: October 4, 2012
384 Pages
Source: Publisher via NetGalley

Mia is always looking for signs. A sign that she should get serious with her soccer-captain boyfriend. A sign that she’ll get the grades to make it into an Ivy-league school. One sign she didn’t expect to look for was: “Will I survive cancer?” It’s a question her friends would never understand, prompting Mia to keep her illness a secret. The only one who knows is her lifelong best friend, Gyver, who is poised to be so much more. Mia is determined to survive, but when you have so much going your way, there is so much more to lose.(summary excerpt from Goodreads)


Send Me A Sign by Tiffany Schmidt


My Thoughts
:  I told some of you that I was going to tackle three YA contemporary "issue" books this month. Send Me A Sign by Tiffany Schmidt is number three. Fact about #3: There is leukemia in this book. (This is not a spoiler.) I hate leukemia, probably more than anything ever in the history of the world. So I questioned my ability to get through this one. HAHA! I made it through! And I really liked it! I am pleased with this.

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Mia is an upcoming high school senior with a secret. A BIG secret. Cancer is not the kind of thing she wants people to think about when they look at her. She wants to keep things as they are now: perfect. She can't imagine life without her hair, cheerleading, and her best friends by her side, always goofing off and having a great time. She doesn't want pity, she doesn't want to feel bad, and she doesn't want to look bad. The only person Mia tells is her best friend/next door neighbor Gyver.

Since Mia is diagnosed at the beginning of the summer, it is relatively easy to fabricate a story about an extended visit with relatives in another state when - in reality - she spends more than a month as a hospital inpatient with chemotherapies and medications, being sick and having Gyver at her side constantly. Then, summer ends and she is released to go home. Then...back to school.

Mia's family mother has supported pushed her decision to keep everything secret so far, and they've even played along. Now that school is starting up again - will they continue with the secrets and lies? And will Mia's life ever be perfect and normal again?

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Send Me A Sign is a good book that houses some big issues in a great way. I enjoyed reading it from cover to cover, and I never once felt like I was reading just another "cancer book."  

The biggest thing about Mia is that she is a very superstitious girl. She looks for signs in everything: song lyrics, her Magic 8 ball, horoscopes, etc. She can't seem to make a decision on her own. This is one of the reasons she keeps delaying the big reveal of her physical condition to her friends: the signs never tell her that she should tell her secret. Nearly EVERYTHING she did was based off of a sign of some sort. I find it interesting that Mia's friend Gyver seems to be the only person in the book that takes notice of this and tries his best to talk Mia out of looking for signs all over the place. (It was just one of the many things I liked about him.)

(At times, Mia is also one of those characters that I wanted to reach through the book and grab by the shoulders and tell her to GET A GRIP. When your world is falling apart like hers is, you need people around you...)

...and speaking of people - I liked what the author did with the characterization in this book. Mia is written very well. Sick Mia is written well. Superstitious Mia is written well. Teenage, highschooler, cheerleader Mia is written well. I totally got her and felt her story. Gyver too - he was great. There was another guy character that played a romantic interest - Ryan - and I think he was written well, but he was less likable to me for several reasons. Mia's parents - not likable at all. Just, no. But I completely felt the way the author was going with each of them, even when they weren't necessarily characters that I liked.

The leukemia story line is not the most pleasant of stories, because it never is. But it is not awful either. I never cried. I NEVER CRIED. Somehow this author managed to tell a cancer story that didn't make me fall apart. I think it was because she included not only Mia, but all of the people around Mia. What I mean is that she included what Mia was dealing with - both physically and emotionally - and she did the same thing with Mia's friends and family. They were all exhausted and they were all trying to cope as well as they could. On the flip side, the author allowed us to understand how Mia's unknowing friends and classmates were coping with her "weird" behaviors - after all, they didn't know why she was looking different, missing so much school, and suddenly no longer able to keep up with the rest of the cheerleading team. Something must be going on, right? Could it be drugs? Anorexia? Or GASP something else? Her best friends were flat-out angry with her. Some acted out against her. Some refused to talk to her. They knew Mia was keeping secrets from them, but still she would not cave and share her problems and let them be a part of this change in her life. 

Of course, there is romance too. It is interesting, if not a teensy bit predictable. I liked reading it and ultimately the comfort of that predictability helped with that could have been a tough story (but wasn't). 

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There are going to be be people that look at the summary of Send Me A Sign and see the word "cancer" and immediately put the book back down and walk away from it. Not too long ago, I would have been one of those people. Really, though, this book is much more than that - it is about an overly-superstitious girl that let her superstitious habits and her superstitious nature take control of her life, and it almost cost her lots of time with people that were important to her.

There is actually a lot of meat in this book. I am hoping that people do not pass this one up. There is a huge opportunity for discussion in this one, even if just between two or three readers, and when you think you are reading about one or two issues - after you think for awhile, you realize there is tons of stuff hidden in this one. Nice debut.

I recommend Send Me A Sign to people that love those YA contemporary issues books and those boys-next-door. You all know who you are!

Send Me A Sign will appeal to fans of:

YA Contemporary with Issues

Standalone
Romance: little bit of a triangle!

Send Me A Sign 
by Tiffany Schmidt
is available for purchase on October 2, 2012.

**I received a review copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest opinion and review. I received no compensation for my thoughts. Thank you Walker Childrens/Bloomsbury  and NetGalley!


Friday, September 21, 2012

Let’s Talk…on Some Favorite Book Covers!


Click here to see Let's Talk!

I'm so excited that Melissa at i swim for oceans likes discussion posts because sometimes I get chatty and have things to say. What's up, Melissa?? Let's Talk. 

This week's question:

What are your top five favorite book covers of all time?

I am such a cover person, I cannot even answer this question.
Seriously, I can't. There is NO WAY.
But what I CAN DO is show you a few of my favorites,

some that pop up in my head quickly.




The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
Railsea by China Mieville



Grave Mercy (His Fair Assassin #1) by Robin LaFevers
(this edition of) The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien



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Everybody knows that I judge books by their covers; I cannot help it. At least I'm honest about this. A few random and quirky things I like about book covers: 
  • I love to see a cover that is cohesive to the book's plot or theme. (Ex: If the girl is wearing the dress, is that scene in the book? Hope so! Otherwise, it's random.)
  • Sometimes minimal covers with titles in really great fonts work well too. Great fonts and good color choice catch my eye and stick out in my memory.  
  • I'm always drawn to the use of the color red in a cover/book spine and I find myself oftentimes gravitating towards those book spines in the library, bookstore, or on my own shelves at home. 
  • Designers, PLEASE display the title larger/more prominently than the author's name. Just do it.
(I am greatly peeved when the author's name is larger than the title on the cover. I see this a lot with adult fiction books, namely mass market paperback. Lots of times it may be those authors that are constantly churning out books, as if it is the author's name drawing the reading of the book rather than the title or the story. Ugh, RANT. I digress.)
Book covers, I love them!! I could never narrow my favorites down to five.
Never ever ever. 


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What are some of YOUR favorite book covers? 


Thursday, September 20, 2012

Highlander GIVEAWAY! Sound of the Heart by Genevieve Graham

Today I’m excited to be giving away a
SIGNED copy of Genevieve Graham’s
SOUND OF THE HEART!

Dougal MacDonnell, a fierce warrior from the Highlands of Scotland, is able to hear the thoughts of other men and dream how the future will unfold. Devastated by the loss of his family during the Battle of Culloden in 1746, he fosters a deep hatred for the English. But when Glenna, the love of his life and a Scottish outlaw, is captured and shipped overseas, Dougal is forced to join an English army made of vanquished Scots. Now fighting on the side of his sworn enemies, he embarks on a journey that will take him across the seas to the colonies. There he will risk everything for the chance to find his true love. –(summary from Goodreads)

I’ve read both of Genevieve Graham’s books and I am super excited to read the next book, which will be coming out in 2013. These were the first Highlander stories that I ever read and I became a fast fan of Graham's work. One of the things I love about these books is that even though they feature some of the same characters, you can read them in either order. The covers are beautiful (Hello there, Dougal!) and the stories are incredible. I adore these characters and I love the settings just as much. Did I mention that I’m excited about the next book?


"Listen to your heart"

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GIVEAWAY!
I am offering one SIGNED copy of
SOUND OF THE HEART courtesy of
Author Genevieve Graham!
(US/Canada Only) * (Contest Ends 9/27)
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Read my thoughts on Under the Same Sky HERE.
Read my thoughts on Sound of the Heart HERE.











My Thoughts On: Butter by Erin Jade Lange


Butter by Erin Jade Lange
Published by Bloomsbury USA Children’s
Publish Date: September 4, 2012
316 Pages
Source: Publisher via NetGalley

A lonely obese boy everyone calls "Butter" is about to make history. He is going to eat himself to death-live on the Internet-and everyone is invited to watch. When he first makes the announcement online to his classmates, Butter expects pity, insults, and possibly sheer indifference. What he gets are morbid cheerleaders rallying around his deadly plan. Yet as their dark encouragement grows, it begins to feel a lot like popularity. And that feels good. But what happens when Butter reaches his suicide deadline? Can he live with the fallout if he doesn't go through with his plans? –(summary from Goodreads)


Butter by Erin Jade Lange


My Thoughts:  It took me forever to decide whether or not I wanted to read this book. I read one other blog post about it and even just reading that post, I was all clinchy and uncomfortable - but that is because I'm all weird about these issue books. With 2012 being my own personal year of contemporary, and more recently with my effort of reading more issue books, I decided that I was going to tackle this one.

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Butter is a neat sixteen year old kid. He's smart and he can play the hell out of a saxophone. His problem is that he weighs over 400 pounds. Why is this a problem? Besides the obvious health risk, Butter kind of hides behind his weight. He is sure that his size is what everyone notices first. So much so that he hides away from everyone, preferring not to stand out rather than to make friends and enjoy his life.

Butter is insecure about most everything. When something bothers him, he eats. Occasionally, he'll gather up some gumption and decide to lose weight, but this usually only last a short while before he's back at the big meals and snacks again. When Butter notices that his only friend - who is also overweight - has started dropping pounds and getting healthy, Butter starts eating. A lot. He gets a little angry. He can't help it. He feels betrayed. Then, to top everything off, he finds out that he is being bullied online. This is when he sets up a website and decides to eat himself to death and broadcast it for everyone to watch - if they can stand to watch it. He makes his announcement.

While he isn't really sure what he was expecting the outcome of his announcement to actually be, Butter cannot believe what happens after he posts his declaration: Butter becomes an overnight sensation, a sudden popular guy. For the first time, Butter is accepted. He is talked to in the hallways and invited to hang out after school and during lunch. First, he feels anger. Why isn't someone helping me if they know I'm going to kill myself? Why are they excited? Then he feels kind of cocky about it. Heck yeah, I'm awesome. Nobody else has the guts to do what I'm about to do! Then he feels fear. Oh no! What if I can't go through with it? Will everyone still think I'm cool? 

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Butter by Erin Jade Lange had me in absolute knots all the way through. KNOTS. There was so much tension throughout the book, but the tension was for different reasons at different parts of the story. I was sad for Butter at times, and then I would get so angry at him, and then I would actually pity him, and then I would cringe at the things he would do or what he would eat. I cannot imagine what I must have looked like while I was reading this one. Thank goodness there was no hidden camera documenting my reading experiences with Butter, because the world would certainly be entertained. To me, it was that gripping. I was on the edge of my seat and holding onto my Kindle with white knuckles like it would fly away from me if I loosened my grip. 

Erin Jade Lange takes on topics like obesity and gives both the perspective of the obese person and the people around the obese person, which is awesome and kind of brave, really. She takes on bullying in the same way: We get Butter's perspective and we get the perspective of the bulliesWhy is this notable to me? Because Butter is the one telling the story. He tells us his own story so well that we can see it from his eyes as well as the eyes of those around him. That's pretty good stuff right there.

It's really interesting, too, that I liked this book so much without being able to connect with Butter. I mean, I am not like him at all. No, I am not stick-skinny, but I am not emotionally like him either. So I really could not get into his head and feel what he was feeling. But this author still made me feel for him and concerned for him and interested in him and what was going on in his world. I wanted him to STOP his plans and rethink things and reconsider his thoughts and get active and join some social clubs at school or DO ANYTHING to be healthy - normally if I cannot connect with a character at all in a contemporary setting, I am not really invested in them. I was invested in Butter to the point that I could feel it in my chest at times.

I'm not sure if my rambles are doing Butter by Erin Jade Lange appropriate justice. For an issue-heavy contemporary book, it is incredibly interesting and gripping. The tension I felt while I read it was just the right amount. I liked Butter as a character, which is amazing given that he is a person that I could not connect to at all - and he shows growth, which is always good. I loved seeing the varying perspectives this author put in the book even though I cringed at some of it.

Butter is a fantastic book for reading and thinking outside of the box. It gives a voice to a certain group of people, and it does it well. I recommend Butter for people that enjoy reading issue-heavy contemporary YA and people who like male leading characters.

Butter will appeal to fans of:

YA Contemporary with Issues
Male Protagonist

Standalone

Butter 
by Erin Jade Lange
is currently available for purchase.

**I received a review copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest opinion and review. I received no compensation for my thoughts. Thank you Bloomsbury and NetGalley!



Wednesday, September 19, 2012

My Thoughts On: Freaks Like Us by Susan Vaught


Freaks Like Us by Susan Vaught
Published by Bloomsbury USA Children’s
Publish Date: September 4, 2012
240 Pages
Source: Publisher

When Jason Milwaukee’s best friend, Sunshine, disappears from the face of the earth, the whole town, including Jason, starts searching for her. But the insistent voices in Jason’s head won’t let him get to the heart of the mystery—he’s schizophrenic, and the voices make it hard to know what is real and what is not. As the chase becomes more panicked, Jason’s meds start wearing off, and he is looking more and more guilty. But of what, exactly? –(summary excerpt from Goodreads)

Freaks Like Us by Susan Vaught 

My Thoughts:  Jason, Drip, and Sunshine are alphabets. They ride the short bus at school and are in a self-contained classroom that is labeled SED. That's Severely Emotionally Disturbed.

Jason is SCZI. That means he is schizophrenic. Drip is ADHD and Sunshine is SM, or selectively mute. Together they have this friendship that is a bit wonky-looking to other people, but it completely works. They are tight - a great support system for each other. Because they are alphabets, nobody takes them seriously or listens to them. They are also a target for bullies.

When Sunshine suddenly goes missing, it throws their trio out of sorts. See, they work well when things go as normal...but with Sunshine missing, Drip is starting to spazz a little and freak out and Jason's voices are speaking to him more than ever. The won't stop. Before too long, Jason is having a harder and harder time telling what is reality and what isn't. He is completely focused on getting his best friend back and will cooperate in any way to help, but he is looking more and more like he might be responsible for her disappearance. But did he cause her to disappear? And where did she go? Is she coming back? Why can't he remember? He is trying so hard to be helpful but all of the stress is making him look more and more suspicious...

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This book completely turned my reading world upside down, and I mean that in a good way. I usually don't gravitate towards books that are completely issue-heavy, and I surprised even myself when I wanted to read this one.

When I started reading Freaks Like Us, I was interested in Jason right away.
His voice was different than anything I had ever read before and I wanted to know more about him. I had no idea how compelling it would be, even without considering Sunshine's disappearance.

The story is told in first person, but it is Jason's first person - which means it is a schizophrenic point-of-view. You have to know this going into it because it takes a little bit of adjustment to switching back and forth between Jason and Jason's voices. The author makes this easy for us, of course, with italics - but it is still an initial shock with run-on sentences and stream-of-consciousness here and there. By the time I was finished with the prologue, I was comfortable with Jason and his voices and completely into the story...which is good because it gets started right away and doesn't really let up until it is over.

It is clear that Susan Vaught has written Jason's POV with a skilled knowledge about this type of issue. Even though I mention that there are run-ons and back-and-forth between Jason and his voices, Jason tells his story in a way that flows really well to be coming from him. By that, I mean it sounds complicated but it works perfectly and it so awesome to read. There is a rhythm to the reading, I thought, and I was so enthralled with Jason's thoughts and the voices that I felt like I was almost having his thoughts myself. I felt like I was at the scene of the investigation, like I was being questioned about Sunshine's disappearance. I felt like I was present in all of the scenes.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that I had no idea what to expect with Freaks Like Us, but I think it is wonderful. I completely appreciate reading this POV because it is totally new to me and I actually know people that experience issues like Jason's. Isn't it awesome to have a peak into the world of other people sometimes?

Freaks Like Us
is a quick read and a great story. It is very entertaining and insightful. After having read it, I want to go back and seek out more of Susan Vaught's work. I recommend Freaks Like Us to contemporary YA readers that tend to like books with issues and male protagonists.

Freaks Like Us will appeal to fans of:

YA Contemporary with Issues
Male Protagonist with a great POV

Some Mystery
Standalone

Freaks Like Us 
by Susan Vaught
is currently available for purchase.

**I received a review copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest opinion and review. I received no compensation for my thoughts. Thank you Bloomsbury!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Ten(ish) Bookish People I Want To Meet!


Click HERE to check out Top Ten Tuesday
at The Broke and the Bookish

Ten(ish) Bookish People I Want To Meet
(I want to meet tons of bookish people! Hard topic!)

1. The person that started Goodreads
Hey, person that started Goodreads!! 
What a great idea! I use Goodreads all the time. 
I love your PHONE APP - it helps TONS at the library.
HOWEVER, I have a few ideas I'd love to run by you...
For example: HOW ABOUT A RE-READ OPTION??? HUH??? 
So, Goodreads inventor person, let's meet for coffee, shall we? 

2. The person that invented the Kindle.
All e-readers, really. 
I just want to shake your hand. Or hug your neck. Or buy you dinner. 
Cause you're kind of awesome and you changed my life. 

3 & 4. The people that started Audible and Overdrive for audiobooks.
I love you, I love you, I love you. 
I LOVE YOU. 

5. My favorite audiobook readers. 
Jim Dale, Nick Podehl, Kristine Hvam. 
Dear wonderful reader-people, 
I would like for you to read me a story. 
In person. Where I can watch you. 
Sincerely, ME. 

6. Patrick Rothfuss
Don't even get me started on WHY. 
Just because, people. Just because.
(see one of his books HERE)

7. Erin Morgenstern
Erin, Your book is beautiful. 
Celia and Marco are amazing. 
I just want to say THANK YOU for an incredible story. 
In person, perhaps. One day. That'd be SO COOL.
(see her book HERE)

8. David Levithan
I'm not sure if I want to meet you because of your books
or because of @LoversDiction
Either way, I will be seeing you in November. 
I nearly pass out every time I think about it
For example, I'm about to pass out as I write this. 
*deep breaths*
(see one of his books HERE)

9. The people that started NetGalley
It may be shallow to say this, 
but y'all, I love NetGalley. 
It makes book blogging fun for me. 
To do things the way that I choose to do them 
(which isn't the route everyone goes and THAT IS OKAY)
everyone has to start somewhere.
They made it possible once 
I got to the place where they could help me. 
Thank you, NetGalley.

10. MY BLOGGING/READER FRIENDS
It's those of you that interact with me daily or almost daily,
that talk with me somehow about books, music, movies, superheroes -
you go a little extra, above and beyond,
you take the extra step to get to know me, the person
 - y'all are the ones that are my top ten.
But there are more than ten of you. So I just can't list you out. I'm sorry!
YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE. YOU DO!

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Who do YOU want to meet?? 

Monday, September 17, 2012

...on The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller


The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
Published by HarperCollins/Ecco
Publish Date: August 28, 2012
(first published March 6, 2011)
416 Pages
Source:  Publisher for Review

Achilles, "the best of all the Greeks," son of the cruel sea goddess Thetis and the legendary king Peleus, is strong, swift, and beautiful-- irresistible to all who meet him. Patroclus is an awkward young prince, exiled from his homeland after an act of shocking violence. Brought together by chance, they forge an inseparable bond, despite risking the gods' wrath.

They are trained by the centaur Chiron in the arts of war and medicine, but when word comes that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped, all the heroes of Greece are called upon to lay siege to Troy in her name. Seduced by the promise of a glorious destiny, Achilles joins their cause, and torn between love and fear for his friend, Patroclus follows. Little do they know that the cruel Fates will test them both as never before and demand a terrible sacrifice.
–(summary from Goodreads)


The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller


My Thoughts
:  I absolutely adore anything mythological or mythology-based so it seemed like a good idea to dive right into The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller. I'd seen great things about it on other blogs plus it is an award-winning book so that was basically all the reason I needed when the pitch was given. I didn't realize how much I would fall in love with this story and how much it would move me. Yes, move me


The first thing you need to know is this:
Hello, Mythology! 
  
Like you've heard me say a bazillion times, I love mythology. All things mythology! I took a lot of mythology classes in high school and college, and I read a lot of mythology-based books of my choosing now.

The Song of Achilles is a nice story of the Trojan War and the life of Achilles, but it is told from the perspective of a man named Patroclus. Tons of us have heard of the Trojan War before, and certainly of Achilles, but are you familar with the man Patroclus? 

Patroclus was a young prince that was exiled from his father's home after he killed another boy. Patroclus was sent to live with King Peleus, father of Achilles, to be fostered there. While there, he lived among other foster boys and learned things such as how to fight as a warrior, how to be a musician, etc. It wasn't long before Achilles and Patroclus form a close friendship and Patroclus is named Achilles' Therapon, or brother-in-arms - sworn to the prince by blood oaths. Patroclus would act as Achilles honor guard in war and his close advisor in times of peace. This was an esteemed title and it was surprising for Patroclus to be chosen for such a position

But why? While Achilles was known as "the best of all of the Greeks" - son of a sea goddess and a mortal human - Patroclus was a regular, unimportant human. He was not impressive to look at, not an impressive warrior, and not impressive at anything else. He was plain. Achilles was stunning in all ways and complete opposite of Patroclus. Still, he saw something in Patroclus that others did not and their friendship grew; the two became inseparable. It is because of this close and intimate relationship that we are able to get such a remarkable and up-close glimpse into Achilles' life.

The second thing you need to know is this:
How about a different perspective on Achilles? 
  
I have always loved reading about the warrior Achilles and his amazing feats in battle. Madeline Miller has given us something to think about, something to consider, something to enjoy with a different side of Achilles in this story. Achilles the warrior was indeed fearsome and made grown men weep and run away as cowards. But in The Song of Achilles, he didn't necessarily always want to fight and kill - sometimes he just wanted to chill out at home with his friend and the love of his life. He wasn't always looking out for cold blood. Achilles had actual vulnerabilities and weaknesses like everyone else. I loved reading this about him because it is so different than anything than I have ever read before.

The third thing you need to know is this:
This story is for the action-drive plot-lover 
AND the character-driven plot-lover.    
What I mean is that there is something for everyone in this book. There is plenty of wartime and action and battle-scenes for the action-driven lovers out there. There are spears and shields and arrows, and there is some blood shed on the battlefield. But the time spend on each character - meaning primary and secondary - is perfect. 

There is a large cast in this story - lots of kings and some deities and some humans and even a centaur. Every single character was three-dimensional and fleshed-out and perfectly proportioned to the story, even to the point that they all almost seemed central to the story even when they were not. There were quite a few well-known names within the realm of classical mythology, but even if you are not very familiar to the classics it is quite okay because not only is it made clear within the story but Ms. Miller has included the information you need at the end of the book to help should you need it. 

I love action-driven plots. I love good battle scenes and holding my breath and turning the pages fast. Believe me when I tell you that there was plenty of that in the appropriate war-parts of this book. But I am a sucker for well-developed characters, the characters that make me feel like I know them personally. I want to feel their feelings and grieve for them, cry with them, laugh with them, and rejoice in their successes - and I did in this book. I cannot stress to my character-driven-loving friends how fantastic these parts of the book are. You'll just have to trust me. This author has made the classical mythology come to life without turning it into a contemporary fictional story and I stand and applaud her. 

**************************************************************

I completely understand why Madeline Miller won the 2012 Orange Prize for Fiction with The Song of Achilles. This book takes a beloved classical mythology tale and re-tells it in an excellent way. I began the book by devouring it, but quickly realized that it would be one that I wanted to read slowly so I could savor all of its parts. I loved it; I loved it so much. There were times I smiled and times that I was so overcome with what I was reading that I had to put the book down for a few minutes and just think on it. This, to me, is when I know I have found a book that I will read and love again and again.

Told from the point of view of Patroclus, beginning when he is a very young boy in his own father's care, the story tells of his own exile and how he came to live in the courts of King Peleus and Prince Achilles. From there, the story details the close friendship between the two boys, which only grew to more over the years. Patroclus tells of their education by the centaur Chiron and their eventual call to fight in the Trojan War for Helen's honor after she was abducted. It is at this point that the story becomes particularly interesting and emotional and action-filled. It was at this point that I began to read slower and slower, to savor every second.

If you are a fan of classical mythology or mythology re-tellings or award-winning books, you must add The Song of Achilles to your to-read list. It is undoubtedly one of my favorites and one that I will read again. I am amazed at the craft of this writer, at her immense knowledge of mythology, and the fact that The Song of Achilles is her debut novel. This book is absolutely incredible. 

The Song of Achilles will appeal to fans of:

Classical Mythology/Mythological Re-Tellings
War Stories: the Trojan War
*Absolutely incredible, stunning character development*
Action & Character Driven Plots
Romance: slowly-developing, no triangle
Award-Winning Books: 2012 Orange Prize for Fiction
 
The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
is currently available for purchase.

*************************************************************

Have you read this book yet?
Do you love reading about mythology?

Is it on your wishlist or to-read pile?




Wednesday, September 12, 2012

THIS IS HOW I SHOW MY LOVE!

Hey! You Guys! 

Lisa the Nerd is having a celebration.
That girl has been blogging for five years! 

FIVE YEARS. 
(Yeah, I know. That's awesome.) 

Anyway, she is doing this awesome thing.
She is featuring five bloggers. 
Each of these bloggers are giving away a favorite book to a lucky winner.
Five years, five bloggers, five(ish) books. 
Pretty genius, right?
That Lisa is a smart one! 

WELL TODAY IS MY DAY! 
I totally got to choose the book I'm giving away and everything!

So y'all head on over there to see what book I'm giving away.
And why!
While you're there, check out Lisa's blog

Lisa is Busy Nerding

because it was one of the first I started following
and remains one of my absolute favorites. 

Lisa is the best. She really is. 
Click HERE to check out her celebration giveaway
and see what I have for everyone!

The catch: The giveaway only runs for a few hours! 
So hurry! 

****************************************

Lisa,
Congratulations! 
You're one of my favorites and bests. 
Many, many more. 
Also, THANK YOU for coming back. 
And I can't wait to nerd out over some Daryl Dixon in T-32 days. 
THE WALKING DEAD WHAT WHAT!
AIR NATION for-evah. 

I will rap for you in my emails until the end of time. 
And give M. Night a break, m'kay? It's really not THAT BAD. 

xoxo -Ash
ps) I will refrain from rapping for you today on this here blog post.



Find Lisa:

 
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