Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Emerald Atlas by John Stephens

Kate, Michael, and Emma have suffered through ten years of odious orphanage "care"; now they have slipped into the care of the eccentric, disturbingly mysterious Dr. Pym. While exploring their new home, the children discover a magical green book. With that discovery, a decade of tedium dissolves into cascades of dangerous time travel adventures and struggles with a beautiful witch and decidedly less attractive zombielike Screechers.
I had no idea what to expect with this story. At first, it sounded a little too similar to The Series of Unfortunate Events, but as the story unfolded, it was nothing like it. I really enjoyed this book.

The story is told in multiple points of view, which wasn’t my favorite. I would have preferred staying in Kate’s head, but it didn’t interfere with my overall enjoyment. The story is gripping and fast-paced, and lots of fun. The tension mounts higher and higher as the story progresses, and I couldn’t put it down toward the end.

Time travel books can be difficult to pull off, and it’s hard to avoid plot holes. But this story manages to keep the plot tight and interesting, and offers valid explanations for the changes in the timeline. Big plus, in my mind.

I really liked the relationships between the siblings. Each of them felt real, with their own beliefs, quirks, flaws, and growth. The impression I got is that each book is going to focus on each sibling, and I liked them so much that I’m really looking forward to finding out what’s in store for them next. Definitely recommended.

Monday, June 27, 2011

More Inspirational Quotes

I've been hunkered down and writing up a storm on my WIP, so I haven't written a blog post for today. Instead, I have more quotes for you. Enjoy!

The difference between fiction and reality? Fiction has to make sense.
- Tom Clancy

One has to be just a little crazy to write a great novel.
- John Gardner

I write for the same reason I breathe - because if I didn't, I would die.
- Isaac Asimov

You have to write whichever book it is that wants to be written. And then, if it's going to be too difficult for grown-ups, you write it for children.
- Madeleine L'Engle

If you stay true to your characters, the story will take care of itself.
- Eve Byron

Close the door. Write with *no one* looking over your shoulder. Don't try to figure out what other people want to hear from you; figure out what you have to say. It's the one and only thing you have to offer.
- Barbara Kingsolver

Writing is 1 percent inspiration, and 99 percent elimination.
- Louise Brooks

Writing is the only thing that, when I do it, I don’t feel I should be doing something else.
- Gloria Steinem

This manuscript of yours that has just come back from another editor is a precious package. Don't consider it rejected. Consider that you've addressed it 'to the editor who can appreciate my work' and it has simply come back stamped 'not at this address.' Just keep looking for the right address.
- Barbara Kingsolver

Everywhere I go I'm asked if I think the university stifles writers. My opinion is that they don't stifle enough of them. There's many a best-seller that could have been prevented by a good teacher.
- Flannery O'Conner

An original writer is not one who imitates nobody, but one whom nobody can imitate.
- de Chateaubriand

The shorter and plainer the better.
- Beatrix Potter

Get it down. Take chances. It may be bad, but it's the only way you can do anything really good.
- William Faulkner

Being creative is head-pounding, nail-biting, hard work no matter what your profession. So bottom line—ya gotta find the humor in it or you'll die like a rat on the road.
- Richard Krzemien

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Winner of the June Book Giveaway!

It's time to pick the winner of the giveaway this month!


According to Random.org, the winner is...

Mer Snow!!!!

Congratulations! I'll get your books out to you asap.As for everyone else, come back next saturday to see what I'm giving away next month.

There is still time to enter my other giveaway, hardbacks of Angel Burn and Demonglass. Stop by to enter!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

My Life, The Theater, And Other Tragedies by Allen Zadoff

High school sophomore Adam Zeigler, who lost his father to a sudden accident two years ago, thinks the best way to live life is behind the spotlight. As a member of the theater crew, he believes he's achieved it all when he wins the coveted job of spotlight operator. But that was before a young actress, Summer, appeared in his view. Instantly smitten, Adam is determined to win her over. But to do so, he'll have to defy his best friend and break the golden rule of his school: techies and actors don't mix.
I thought this was a cute book. Quiet, interesting, and a good coming of age story. Nothing really new here, though. And it wasn’t funny like Zadoff's first novel, which was a bit disappointing. I think I had really high expectations regarding the humor, though, so I felt the lack of it much more than if I’d read this book first. Newcomers to Zadoff’s work may not feel the same way.

I got frustrated with Adam for letting everyone walk all over him, even though it was clear why he was withdrawing into himself. I think that, since this is a concept often used, and the way it’s used here isn’t really unique, I lost patience with it a little too soon. That’s not to say Adam isn’t an interesting character. He is. The reasoning in his head as he tries to figure out Derek was fantastic. I think that's exactly how a teenager thinks, and his reactions to the complexities of high school are wonderfully realistic.

The ending was a little over-the-top-tear-jerker for my taste, and the bow wrapping everything up was a bit too perfect. The story was still solid and enjoyable, but it didn't have that polished feel, where everything is connected from beginning to end. Again, I think I had such high expectations from his previous book that I didn't enjoy this as much as I could have. But I can see teens galore loving this story, boys and girls alike.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Authors Are Such Characters

I used to wonder if all authors had multiple personality disorder. I mean, we can’t write the same story with the same kind of character over and over again, so, where does it all come from? Are authors cracked? Do we lead secret lives that no one, even ourselves, knows about?
Probably not. :) Which still leaves us with the question of where all these characters come from. How can one person create so many different kinds of people?

Well…we don’t. It only looks like we do. :)

To write effective characters, you need to know people. I don’t mean knowing the different types of people—that’s too general. You need to know people on an individual level. It usually starts with your friends and family members, then it might include coworkers and friends of friends and such. Basically, you’re observing the little details in what they do and how they react to various things, and how that translates into who they are as a whole.

After you’ve done this with enough people (in sufficient detail) then you might find yourself making predictions about how someone might react or what choice he/she might make in a given situation. And you might even be right.

This is the groundwork for creating fully fleshed out, believable, and relatable characters. It’s not the type of character that’s important, it’s the person behind the character. People are individuals with independent thoughts and reactions, and observing others with a keen eye for detail will get you one piece of the character puzzle. That’s the good news. The bad news is that it’s only one piece. :)

You also have to know yourself. Really know yourself. Your strengths and weaknesses, neuroses, biases, quirks, likes and dislikes, emotional scars, etc. And, you need the ability to dig deep within and pull out experiences from various aspects of your life. That’s the other piece of the character puzzle, and often the hardest to assemble coherently. After all, this means we have to face every aspect of ourselves, even the parts we don’t like so much.

After you put those two pieces together, you have a formula for great characters. They consist of various aspects of the author, plus some enhancements based on experiences with other people. And the root personality of each character comes from the author, because that’s the best way to fully understand the characters. If we don’t understand our characters, then how can we expect the reader to? That’s kind of like explaining calculus when we don’t understand it ourselves. Not very helpful. :)

Just to be clear, this applies to ALL characters, main and minor. Minor characters are no less important than main characters, and don’t deserve to be typecast. The more realistic all the characters are, the better experience the reader will have. And then you’ll have a fan who will look for more of your books.

Disclaimer: in the vein of too much internal monologue, this does not necessarily apply to first drafts. First drafts need a certain amount of exploration, and character is often a big part of that. Some writers manage to know their characters inside and out before they begin writing, but most tend to discover them along the way. So, if you don’t get your characters perfect the first time around, don’t worry! That’s what revision is for. :)

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

Anna is looking forward to her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a great job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more. Which is why she is less than thrilled about being shipped off to boarding school in Paris—until she meets √Čtienne St. Claire: perfect, Parisian (and English and American, which makes for a swoon-worthy accent), and utterly irresistible. The only problem is that he's taken, and Anna might be, too, if anything comes of her almost-relationship back home. As winter melts into spring, will a year of romantic near-misses end with the French kiss Anna—and readers—have long awaited?

What a hilarious, adorable story! I can't count how many times I laughed out loud. I’ve been hearing great things about this book for months now, and I waited half that time just to get a copy from my library. It was worth the wait.


This is a light and fun story about a girl named Anna who is uprooted from Georgia and sent to a school in Paris for her senior year. She leaves behind her best friend and her almost-boyfriend, broods about what her life could have been, and discovers a whole lot more.

I'm not a huge romance fan, but the plot of this book is basically all romance and I still loved it. The romance is light and fun, and keeps away from the whole love-at-first-nanosecond thing. Which I appreciated, especially since the setting is Paris, the city of love. Perkins deftly keeps the story moving at a good pace, with fantastic characters and typical teen situations. Yet she can keep an adult reader interested, too. I couldn't put it down.

What are you waiting for? Go pick up a copy!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Controversy in YA

Recently, Megan Cox Gurdon published a piece in the Wall Street Journal on whether today’s YA books dealt with issues that are too dark for public consumption. She says they are, and the result was a resounding response in the twitterverse with a hashtag of #YAsaves, supporting the YA industry. There have been several other responses online as well. Here, here, here, and I’m sure there’s more that I just haven’t seen yet.

Warning: this post is long. I tend to break up posts that get this long, but it kind of felt like dragging out the subject too long to do this. And there were too many things I wanted to address, so it's all in one hugely long post. Apologies in advance...

Gurdon's article was inspired by a mom book-shopping for her 13-year-old daughter. She picked up book after book about vampires, self-mutilation, and other dark stuff. In the article's comments section, she said this:
I want to add that a B&N employee noticed me leafing through 78 books, and offered to help. (Because she had not in fact read any of the books for sale, she kind of kept me company more than helped, but it was still something.) She told me I was far from the first to complain.

To me, this isn’t a failing of the YA industry. It’s a failing of the bookstore. If an employee is helping a customer pick out a book from a section she knows nothing about, that’s kind of like the blind leading the blind. It’s also disheartening that the mom gave up so easily. If she’d gone to a children’s librarian, she’d have heard about so many appropriate books for a 13-year-old girl. Books by Ally Carter, Heather Dixon, Allen Zadoff, Lisa Bergren, Jennifer Donnelly, Sarah Dessen, Stephanie Perkins, Kiersten White, Catherine Murdock, Alex Flinn, Sarah MacLean, Saundra Mitchell, E. Lockhart, Maureen Johnson, Simone Elkeles, John Green, Kay Cassidy, Michelle Rowan, Heather Brewer. I could go on and on, but I’ll stop there. I hope this girl’s mom kept searching and eventually found something from the plethora of great books available for a 13-year-old girl.

Regarding the article itself? She made some serious accusations. If you’re going to go there the way she did, that’s fine. I think it’s great when people step up and say the tough things that no one wants to say. However, they need to be solid. Unfortunately, Gurdon contradicts herself multiple times, so, to me, her accusations don’t carry much weight.

First, she says this:
If books show us the world, teen fiction can be like a hall of fun-house mirrors, constantly reflecting back hideously distorted portrayals of what life is.

In the very next sentence, she says this:
There are of course exceptions, but a careless young reader—or one who seeks out depravity—will find himself surrounded by images not of joy or beauty but of damage, brutality and losses of the most horrendous kinds.

A few paragraphs later, she says this:
Self-destructive adolescent behaviors are observably infectious and have periods of vogue. That is not to discount the real suffering that some young people endure; it is an argument for taking care.
(note: all emphasis is mine)

The last two statements contradict the first. YA books either show a gross distortion of real life or they don’t. It can’t be a gross distortion some of the time, and then be truth other times. It sounds like she’s saying that yes, some people have had it really bad, but we still shouldn't have books that reflect that kind of life because some kids might misunderstand. What does that mean? That we should only have books that reflect what most people experience? How is that fair to those living the horror? The ones who likely need these books the most?

Later on, she says this:
If young people are encountering ghastly things on the Internet, that's a failure of the adults around them.

Yes, that’s true. It’s also true that if a kid is reading a book that's completely inappropriate for him, that's the failing of the adults around him. It’s a symptom of the same problem, that the adults aren’t involved in this kid’s life. Whether the content comes from a book or the internet is irrelevant, because that’s not the problem. The problem is that no one is taking an active interest in this kid’s life. Therefore, it’s not exactly fair to use this as an argument to tone down the content of books, because the books aren't the real problem.

Finally, she says this:
No family is obliged to acquiesce when publishers use the vehicle of fundamental free-expression principles to try to bulldoze coarseness or misery into their children's lives.

Making material available is not pushing it down kids' throats. If parents object to what their child is reading, the publisher isn't going to pound on their door and tell them to let the kid read it anyway. The publisher is just saying ‘Hey, we’ve got this book, and we like it a lot.’ How is that bulldozing? If parents or libraries object to a book and get it taken off the shelves, the publisher isn’t the one who lobbies to put it back on. It’s other readers. And, even then, the readers aren’t bulldozing these books into kids’ lives. They just want it available to others who want to read it.

Still, even though I disagree with most of what’s in the article, everything up to this point could easily be accepted as opinion. Which is fine, because everyone is entitled to an opinion. But Gurdon said something else that just ruined her credibility for me:
…[There are] those who think it's appropriate to guide what young people read. In the book trade, this is known as "banning." In the parenting trade, however, we call this "judgment" or "taste." It is a dereliction of duty not to make distinctions in every other aspect of a young person's life between more and less desirable options. Yet let a gatekeeper object to a book and the industry pulls up its petticoats and shrieks "censorship!"
(note: all emphasis is mine)

Actually, that’s the textbook definition of censorship. To censor means to remove content that an ‘official’ deems inappropriate for others. For parents to censor what their child reads is called being responsible, because they know what the child can handle. But they wouldn’t necessarily know what another child down the street would be able to handle, so, therefore, are not qualified to censor him/her. I’d bet that if one parent started telling the neighborhood kids what they can and can’t read, the other parents would take offense to that. So, really, stating that good parenting is a reason to support censorship for the general public seems a bit of a stretch.

This is why so many people are up in arms over this article. We don’t need someone telling us what kinds of books should or should not be in existence, especially when that person doesn’t know us on a personal level. I understand the need for using caution with certain material in YA books. There is a need for caution for many things in life, and some parents are better at handling that than others. But it's neither fair nor right to say that darker content isn't appropriate for young adults. For some, it's very appropriate.

Minnesota Public Radio did an interview with Gurdon last week. In it, Gurdon says a few things I want to address here.
There is a real penalty to pay if you're a parent who objects out loud to these things...The book industry demands total conformity of opinion.

Some context: This was in response to a mother not allowing her ten year old daughter to read Twilight, and was given a hard time from other parents for this censorship. That is, until this mother told the other parents some of the content in the Twilight books, and then those parents were just as shocked as she had been. I don't see how this particular instance relates to the book industry demanding total conformity of opinion. This is simply another instance of the adults not being involved enough in their children's lives. Parents who haven't read Twilight, to me, don't represent the book industry.

Next, the interviewer stated that she thought Gurdon was concerned that parents are so eager for their kids to read that they won't censor or criticize what the kids are reading. Gurdon agreed with this. I'm concerned about this, too, for that matter. But, that's still not the failing of YA books. We can't eliminate certain kinds of books because of the lack of parenting happening today.

Gurdon also said that self-harm is almost trendy because YA books kind of endorse that behavior. Wow. It takes a whole lot more than a book to press a blade to your skin hard enough to draw blood. A teen might try this once to see what it feels like, but again and again? No way. Not without some additional, serious trauma, anyway, because the instinct for self-preservation is too strong. Those who do engage in repeated self-harm are, in fact, using it as self-preservation from other circumstances. Author Cheryl Rainfield has responded to this better than I have, so if you want to hear from someone who survived self-harm, go here.

Finally, Gurdon said this:
I am not saying that books oughtn't deal with difficult subjects...A lot of what young adult fiction does is it places it in the here and now, and holds up this image of what adolescence is, as this...tumultuous time for many children, though clearly not all...it's this emotional prison, everything is in flux, everything is upsetting, and these teens are presented in desperate, desperate straights.
(She sort of talked over herself, so I did my best to transcribe what she said. Any errors are mine.)

What she's described here is exactly what makes a great book. Adolescence is a tumultuous time for many kids, some more extreme than others. When an author acknowledges that in his/her book, it's paying the ultimate respect to the kids reading because the author makes it real. In essence, the author is saying 'Yes, I remember those days and sometimes they sucked. Saying they didn't, or simply ignoring how much they sucked, isn't doing anyone any favors.' Kids respond to that because it makes them feel understood, even the ones who aren't living in horror.

The act of reading a book is not going to turn kids to self-harm, or develop an eating disorder, or rape/kidnap/harm someone else. Not without some other pretty hefty circumstances happening outside of these books. Cutting them off from this content isn't going to solve that particular problem.

In School Library Journal’s news story on Gurdon’s article, Gurdon was asked her opinion on the response from the book world. This is what she said:
It's funny, though, how many people who I suspect would count themselves defenders of the right to freedom of expression seem to think I ought to shut up, or to be shut up.

Actually, we don’t want Gurdon to ‘shut up.’ She is perfectly entitled to express her opinion. What we want is for her to know the material, really know it, before speaking out. Based on what she said in her MPR interview, she doesn't understand this side of YA literature at all.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Awaken by Kate Kacvinsky

Maddie lives in a world where everything is done on the computer. Whether it’s to go to school or on a date, people don’t venture out of their home. There’s really no need. For the most part, Maddie’s okay with the solitary, digital life—until she meets Justin. Justin likes being with people. He enjoys the physical closeness of face-to-face interactions. People aren’t meant to be alone, he tells her.
Suddenly, Maddie feels something awakening inside her—a feeling that maybe there is a different, better way to live. But with society and her parents telling her otherwise, Maddie is going to have to learn to stand up for herself if she wants to change the path her life is taking.

In this not-so-brave new world, two young people struggle to carve out their own space.

I really liked some of the concepts in this story. With technology so prevalent in our society, and with so much interaction going on via texting, email, and social media, this story has addressed some very real problems.

For me, though, it was hard to get through, for many reasons. My computer science and programming background kept finding holes with how the technology was used. In some cases, the technology was improperly defined. I would have preferred if the author had invented all new forms of technology and then defined them for us. Then I wouldn’t have had this problem.

Also, it's yet another story where the sun rises and sets on the main character’s love interest, which is like fingernails on a chalkboard to me. I would have preferred more emphasis on the storyline and less on Justin, because it gave the impression that Maddie made all these life-altering decisions based on whether or not she’d be with him—not whether she thought it was the right thing to do. That’s very disconcerting for me, because it sends the wrong message to teen girls.

But the biggest issue I had was the world building. It didn't really make sense. Maddie’s dad created digital school, but he’s also a school principal, a lawyer, and as skilled with firearms as a police officer. On top of all that, he managed to invent and implement digital school in only a few short years, then take it nationwide (when Maddie was still in kindergarten, making him on the young side for all this). That’s a tough pill to swallow, but I guess it could be possible. There are incredibly driven individuals out there who can accomplish many things that would be impossible for the rest of us.

But this is what didn’t make any sense, and was never explained: somehow digital school was interwoven with the government, and it gave the impression that face-to-face interaction was borderline illegal (even though it isn’t). A connection like this is too huge not to explore fully. It left too many unanswered questions, and made the arrests and oppression a bit too convenient for the story. It also conflicted with other aspects, like Maddie’s soccer team.

If the government connection had been clear (as well as the connection to pre-packaged foods and general lack of cooking), then I think I would have enjoyed this story more. But the lack of connections made it sound heavy-handed and preachy.

Monday, June 06, 2011

Inspirational Quotes

Life has been insane for me these past six months. Regular life is always busy, but we've had some majorly huge things on top of that. Only one of which was my knee surgery in February. We've had at least one other life-altering thing on top of that, so it's been really hard to sit down and read or write effectively. There have been days when I sit in front of the computer and don't have the energy to get anything out.

The huge things are over now, and life should be getting back to normal. In the mean time, though, I need some major inspiration. I've been gathering great quotes for the past ten years or so, and these never fail to get me back on track. So, I thought I'd share some with you today. Maybe we'll all feel inspired and start off the week on the right foot. So, here you go:

The ability to quote is a serviceable substitute for wit.
- Somerset Maugham

I write when I'm inspired, and see to it that I'm inspired at nine o'clock every morning.
- Peter De Vries

Everybody walks past a thousand story ideas every day. The good writers are the ones who see five or six of them. Most people don't see any.
- Orson Scott Card

Poetry is a way of taking life by the throat.
- Robert Frost

You must write for children the same way you write for adults, only better.
- Maxim Gorky

You can't sit around and wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.
- Jack London

Writing is easy: All you do is stare at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead.
- Gene Fowler

Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfils the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things.
- Winston Churchill

There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.
- W. Somerset Maugham

Criticism, like rain, should be gentle enough to nourish a man's growth without destroying his roots.
- Frank A. Clark

Writer’s block is a fancy term made up by whiners so they can have an excuse to drink alcohol.
- Steve Martin

Like stones, words are laborious and unforgiving, and the fitting of them together, like the fitting of stones, demands great patience and strength of purpose and particular skill.
- Edmund Morrison

I don't wait for moods. You accomplish nothing if you do that. Your mind must know it has got to get down to earth.
- Pearl Buck

Easy reading is damned hard writing.
- Anonymous

The way you define yourself as a writer is that you write every time you have a free minute. If you didn't behave that way you would never do anything.
- John Irving

Saturday, June 04, 2011

June Book Giveaway!!

As per usual, I've got two more books to give away this month.

Possession by Elana Johnson (hardback)
Vi knows the Rule: Girls don't walk with boys, and they never even think about kissing them. But no one makes Vi want to break the Rules more than Zenn...and since the Thinkers have chosen him as Vi's future match, how much trouble can one kiss cause? The Thinkers may have brainwashed the rest of the population, but Vi is determined to think for herself.
But the Thinkers are unusually persuasive, and they're set on convincing Vi to become one of them...starting by brainwashing Zenn. Vi can't leave Zenn in the Thinkers' hands, but she's wary of joining the rebellion, especially since that means teaming up with Jag. Jag is egotistical, charismatic, and dangerous--everything Zenn's not. Vi can't quite trust Jag and can't quite resist him, but she also can't give up on Zenn.
This is a game of control or be controlled. And Vi has no choice but to play.


Beauty Queens by Libba Bray (ARC)
Teen beauty queens. A "Lost"-like island. Mysteries and dangers. No access to e-mail. And the spirit of fierce, feral competition that lives underground in girls, a savage brutality that can only be revealed by a journey into the heart of non-exfoliated darkness. Oh, the horror, the horror! Only funnier. With evening gowns. And a body count.

To enter, fill out the form below and then come back on Saturday, June 25th to see if you've won. Good luck!

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Blood Magic by Tessa Gratton

Everywhere Silla Kennicott turns she sees blood. She can't stop thinking about her parents alleged murder-suicide. She is consumed by a book filled with spells that arrives mysteriously in the mail. The spells share one common ingredient: blood, and Silla is more than willing to cast a few. What's a little spilled blood if she can uncover the truth? And then there's Nick—the new guy at school who makes her pulse race. He has a few secrets of his own and is all too familiar with the lure of blood magic. Drawn together by a combination of fate and chemistry, Silla and Nick must find out who else in their small Missouri town knows their secret and will do anything to take the book and magic from Silla.

I'm not a big fan of multiple points of view, but I thought this was a perfect example of how it can be essential to telling a story. Each viewpoint, even the journal entries, moved the story forward with necessary information. The voices could have been a little more distinctive, but still, very well done. Also, the author did a good job regarding Lilith and Ms. Tripp.

The romance felt genuine with none of the weepy love stuff. Their strong attraction is clear from the start, and it grows in a realistic way. I also loved the interaction between Reese and Nick, and Nick's reactions to Silla's tears. Very authentic.

That said, I didn't buy the harshness that the other kids showed Silla after the Wendy fiasco. If anything, people would be telling Wendy that she's catching Silla's crazy virus. I also got really irritated with the convenient withholding of information. That makes the tension feel contrived. Though, I am glad that most of it got resolved in a few pages as opposed to half the book. :)

The Reese at the end was over the top for me. Not only was it way too harsh on Silla, it also felt like a contrived way to get Reese where the author wants him to be. I think that could have been handled better.

I really liked the Philip/Josephine thing, though, and what Philip did in order to escape her. It made the plot extra complicated, which I love. Even though we knew there was a connection, it was practically impossible to guess.

Regarding Josephine, though, her motivations weren't clear regarding a number of things. Why did she want the spell book so badly? Why wouldn't she just commit murder right off the bat in order to get what she wants (especially since that seems to be her character)? And, why would she wait so long to retrieve the main ingredient in her precious carmot? It felt like a contrived way to create conflict, because she's clearly smart enough and powerful enough to get what she wants in an easier fashion.

I really enjoyed the beginning of this book, but then all the plot holes (and the weird, zombie animals) brought it down a notch. I still like the characters, so I'll read the next book. But I do hope the plot is tighter. :)

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

100 Book Reading Challenge: June

Another month, more reviews, and more books to give away!

I hope you're all doing better at your reading than I am. I'm about twenty books behind where I want to be. I may or may not be able to make it up by the end of the year, so we'll see. :)

Anyway, for those of you who want to share your thoughts on books, I'm giving away two hardcovers:

Angel Burn by L.A. Weatherly
Willow knows she’s different from other girls, and not just because she loves tinkering with cars. Willow has a gift. She can look into the future and know people’s dreams and hopes, their sorrows and regrets, just by touching them. She has no idea where this power comes from. But the assassin, Alex, does. Gorgeous, mysterious Alex knows more about Willow than Willow herself. He knows that her powers link to dark and dangerous forces, and that he’s one of the few humans left who can fight them. When Alex finds himself falling in love with his sworn enemy, he discovers that nothing is as it seems, least of all good and evil. In the first book in an action-packed, romantic trilogy, L..A. Weatherly sends readers on a thrill-ride of a road trip - and depicts the human race at the brink of a future as catastrophic as it is deceptively beautiful.
They’re out for your soul . . . and they don’t have heaven in mind.

Demonglass by Rachel Hawkins
Sophie Mercer thought she was a witch. That was the whole reason she was sent to Hex Hall, a reform school for delinquent Prodigium (aka witches, shapeshifters, and fairies). But that was before she discovered the family secret, and that her hot crush, Archer Cross, is an agent for The Eye, a group bent on wiping Prodigium off the face of the earth.
Turns out, Sophie’s a demon, one of only two in the world—the other being her father. What’s worse, she has powers that threaten the lives of everyone she loves. Which is precisely why Sophie decides she must go to London for the Removal, a dangerous procedure that will destroy her powers.
But once Sophie arrives she makes a shocking discovery. Her new friends? They’re demons too. Meaning someone is raising them in secret with creepy plans to use their powers, and probably not for good. Meanwhile, The Eye is set on hunting Sophie down, and they’re using Archer to do it. But it’s not like she has feelings for him anymore. Does she?

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