Sunday, January 29, 2012

There are fallen angels, and then there is ANGELFALL

By: Susan Ee
Reported by: Julianna Helms

It's been six weeks since angels of the apocalypse descended to demolish the modern world. Street gangs rule the day while fear and superstition rule the night. When warrior angels fly away with a helpless little girl, her seventeen-year-old sister Penryn will do anything to get her back.

Anything, including making a deal with an enemy angel.

Raffe is a warrior who lies broken and wingless on the street. After eons of fighting his own battles, he finds himself being rescued from a desperate situation by a half-starved teenage girl.

Traveling through a dark and twisted Northern California, they have only each other to rely on for survival. Together, they journey toward the angels' stronghold in San Francisco where she'll risk everything to rescue her sister and he'll put himself at the mercy of his greatest enemies for the chance to be made whole again.

-Summary from Goodreads

Barnes & Noble||Amazon

Angelfall is a disturbingly gruesome, extravagantly visual, and terrifyingly bloody, addictive story.

This was one of those books that I read based on hype and endless recommendations alone. So you must sense, or perhaps even understand, my disappointment when I ended up disliking it.

I must admit that I'm a slightly squeamish person. In fact, I never watch horror movies. So if that's the complete opposite of you, I think you'd love this book. Alas, enamored and terrified do not synchronize in my case, and there's nothing I can do about that but embrace it. In truth, I greatly enjoyed the first three quarters of Angelfall. The action was thriller-paced, the characters realistically flawed, and such an ambitious story robbed my breath away.

But the book's also weird. Really, really weird. Weirder than fish-with-neon-purple-feet-and-wings weird. And though I was fine with the grotesqueness in the beginning, it reached a point where I just... felt like throwing up. (But I didn't. Thank goodness.)

If you can stand reading about a child tearing and eating angel flesh, well, this book is as available as they come. But if the very thought churns your stomach, maybe something else would be more suitable.

Overall, Angelfall is a horrific-in-content, terrific-in-writing (it actually resonates the prose of Suzanne Collins) novel that will definitely click with something in you.

Whether it's a good or bad feeling, though... well, as they always say: That, you'll have to see for yourself.

Monday, January 23, 2012

What is truly HALLOWED

By: Cynthia Hand
Reported by: Julianna Helms

For months part-angel Clara Gardner trained to face the raging forest fire from her visions and rescue the alluring and mysterious Christian Prescott from the blaze. But nothing could prepare her for the fateful decisions she would be forced to make that day, or the startling revelation that her purpose—the task she was put on earth to accomplish—is not as straightforward as she thought.

Now, torn between her increasingly complicated feelings for Christian and her love for her boyfriend, Tucker, Clara struggles to make sense of what she was supposed to do the day of the fire. And, as she is drawn further into the world of part angels and the growing conflict between White Wings and Black Wings, Clara learns of the terrifying new reality that she must face: Someone close to her will die in a matter of months. With her future uncertain, the only thing Clara knows for sure is that the fire was just the beginning. 

-Summary from Goodreads
Barnes&Noble||Amazon||The Book Depository

Hallowed is like volcanic ash. It's not at all what it appears to be at first glance. It's this giant, restless, horribly beautiful substance raining down and destroying everything in its path, and it doesn't stop. It just keeps rolling and rolling until finally, you are slammed to the ground in a sudden of impact and, BOOM! you're crushed, you're just this endless ache.

Saturday, January 21, 2012


By: Megan Miranda
Reported by: Julianna Helms
**This book is part of the 2012 DAC challenge**

Eleven minutes passed before Delaney Maxwell was pulled from the icy waters of a Maine lake by her best friend Decker Phillips. By then her heart had stopped beating. Her brain had stopped working. She was dead. And yet she somehow defied medical precedent to come back seemingly fine—despite the scans that showed significant brain damage. Everyone wants Delaney to be all right, but she knows she's far from normal. Pulled by strange sensations she can't control or explain, Delaney finds herself drawn to the dying. Is her altered brain now predicting death, or causing it?

Then Delaney meets Troy Varga, who recently emerged from a coma with similar abilities. At first she's reassured to find someone who understands the strangeness of her new existence, but Delaney soon discovers that Troy's motives aren't quite what she thought. Is their gift a miracle, a freak of nature-or something much more frightening?

For fans of best-sellers like Before I Fall and If I Stay, this is a fascinating and heart-rending story about love and friendship and the fine line between life and death.

-Summary from Goodreads  
Barnes&Noble||Amazon||The Book Depository

As I read this book, there was a particular stanza in Taylor Swift's If This Was A Movie that came to my mind...

Come back, come back, come back to me like 
you would, before you said it's not that easy. 
Before the fight, before I left you out.

This was the most personal book I have ever read. It was irrevocably broken. Tragically beautiful. Unexpectedly fascinating. Pleadingly hopeful. Heartbreakingly desperate.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Photobucket, you dipped my bucket!

Yay! If you saw my previous post, you know that I've apparently used up my Photobucket free storage, so my blog design was completely messed up due to direct links and such.

I am now using Imgur, and it ROCKS. ;)

Alright, alright, so maybe I'm a little biased. But anyway, I just wanted to let you all know that the blog fiasco has been contended with and that I am, in fact, still alive. I've just been really busy this week, but be on the look out for a few reviews coming up! :D

Thank you all for sticking with me! If you see any mishaps in design, please note that it's probably because of darn Photobucket. I didn't want to go back and change the signature on all of my posts (the majority of which have a SOMEONE'S POPULAR photobucket sign) because that would take far too long, so I'm sorry if this hinders your ability to enjoy my blog.

YOU ALL ROCK! \m/ Peace out.

Why my blog is being all weird..

So you might have noticed that my blog is suddenly all... weird, empty, so to speak. That's because, darn Photobucket, I apparently used up all of my 10MB of storage for pics, so it's going strike on me. I'm working on getting this fixed as soon as possible. In the mean time, I apologize for any inconvenience!



Monday, January 16, 2012

Book Blogger Confessions {2}

Karen over at For What It's Worth, along with Tiger from All Consuming Books, started this new meme called Book Blogger Confessions. Basically, it's where they ask a question on alternating Mondays, and bloggers can respond/confess the behind-the-scenes work on blogging and such.

This week's question is: Have you ever had reading/blogging slumps? How do you work through them or work around them?

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Silence and Stars

A Million Suns
By: Beth Revis
Reported by: Julianna Helms

Godspeed was fueled by lies. Now it is ruled by chaos. 

It's been three months since Amy was unplugged. The life she always knew is over. And everywhere she looks, she sees the walls of the spaceship Godspeed. But there may just be hope: Elder has assumed leadership of the ship. He's finally free to enact his vision - no more Phydus, no more lies.

But when Elder discovers shocking news about the ship, he and Amy race to discover the truth behind life on Godspeed. They must work together to unlock a puzzle that was set in motion hundreds of years earlier, unable to fight the romance that's growing between them and the chaos that threatens to tear them apart.

In book two of the Across the Universe trilogy, New York Times bestselling author Beth Revis mesmerizes us again with a brilliantly crafted mystery filled with action, suspense, romance, and deep philosophical questions. And this time it all builds to one mind-bending conclusion: They have to get off this ship.

-Summary from Goodreads

Reading A Million Suns was like hugging the entire universe in its aggregated starry glory. Like soaring into the sky, the wind whipping past your entire body, the land billowing beneath you in ripples of satiny cloth. Like the sound of tinkling glass ricocheting forever in your ears, of sunlight feeding your eyes, of elixirs revitalizing your body.

How do you write the review for a book like that?

I am lost, but perhaps a game of would-you-rather would fit our purposes.

Would you rather read an 1) amazing second-book-in-a-trilogy or 2) a terribly hideous one?

If you chose 1... This book is exactly it. Beth Revis rips apart the genre boundaries and blows it up with her own masterpiece. The phrases and plot twists and characters and themes in this book work in complete synchronization, advancing not too quickly nor too slowly. The pace forces you to turn page after page. It is unstoppable, unbelievable, unprecedented. It is the sequel you dream of.

If you chose 2... I would hate to make comparisons nor name names, so you may want to check out my Goodreads account for the 1 or 2 star reviews.

Would you rather 1) fall in love with a completely realistic and stunning boy or 2) a user/jerk/creeper?

If you chose 1... I liked Elder in Across the Universe. I loved Elder in A Million Suns. He is intelligent, frustrated... he's real. Elder cares for Amy--he yearns for her. There is so much wanting and needing in this book, so much please and just let it go, it tore my heart apart. Elder has so much expected of him, but he's so young, and without Phydus, the responsibilities he must take on, the things he must do and rise above to accomplish struck my heart like a knife. I was going through something similar--dissent among leadership, chaos among expectation--at the time I was reading this book, and it was Elder who kept me hopeful and strong. It was Elder who saved me. It was he who made me love again.

If you chose 2... You probably thought I'd name Twilight, and you are right. Not because I dislike Stephenie Meyer. Simply because I refuse to name any names, but that book is probably what 99% of the population would think of when reading the word "creeper", so I felt that it was not something particularly bashing.

Would you rather 1) die a little bit and love with all of your heart or 2) love a little bit and die with all of your brain and being?

If you chose 1... Read this book. I cannot reiterate this enough. Correction: If you haven't yet, read this entire series. A Million Suns was even better than Across the Universe. This book makes you laugh. It makes you smile, want to cry, it makes you this little kid surrounded by field after field of endless enigma, and watching all the lies rain down around you, you, too, will race to find the truth.

You, too, will race for silence and the stars. And that is it, really. Silence and stars.

If you chose 2... I hope for both your sake and mine that you did not choose this option, but a little curiosity goes a long way, does it not? So if you did, my Goodreads account is as accesible as they come. I hope you find something satisfactory.

I thought time wore away love. Wore away patience, skill, understanding, hope, humbleness. But I was wrong.

Time is a tool, and Beth Revis is its master. For her, it did not wear away any of the above.

It ignited them.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Giveaway of Giving!

Yup. You read that right. It's GIVEAWAY TIME! I know you might be thinking, but Juli, you already have a giveaway of NIGHTINGALE going on right now... Yup, you're right. (Pssst, there's still time to enter!).

So why am I having this giveaway, you ask? Well, because not only is today (1/13) my 6-month Blogoversary (It couldn't have been that long. No. Way.), but I've also past 50 followers* on the blog and 100 followers on Twitter (well, 99 now, but I had 102 in the morning...). Anyway, never mind my rambling. Let's get straight to the good stuff, 'cause this calls for a celebration!

As some of you may know, I went to the RT BookLovers Convention last April and met one of my favorite people of all time, Jeri Smith-Ready. The Convention was so amazing that I'll be going to it again this year. Lucky me, it lands right smack in the middle of Spring Break, so I can go to Chicago and not miss any classes! Yay!

Why am I telling you this, you ask? Because this giveaway is kind of weird. There's two possible things you could win.

Thing #1:

YOUR choice of ANY book under $20.00. It can be international, provided that The Book Depository ships to your country (also, if you have an e-reader, it has to be permitted by law).

Thing #2:

Go check out this list of authors on the RT BookLovers Convention Teen Day page. Do you see ONE author you particularly would love a signed (or personalized) book from? Do you? Well, if you do, and you don't mind waiting until APRIL, you can tell me the author and the book you'd like signed, and I'll buy you one there (must be under $20.00) and get it signed by the author (personalized, too, if you'd like). Now, if you choose this option, you have to live in the U.S. or Canada unless you are willing to pay for the international shipping yourself (sorry, peeps, but I'm broke). Also, if something happens and the author you chose can't make it, I can't take any responsibilities for that, though I will be very very sorry. So, if you do choose this option, do keep some back-up authors in mind! (I'm sure you'll find plenty. After all, the list comprises of people like Veronica Roth, Cynthia Hand, Beth Revis, etc. Come on now.)

Edited to add: Also, to compensate for the long wait, I'll be including some random SWAG. Signed bookmarks, CDs, postcards, posters, you name it! :D Luck of the draw, peeps, luck of the draw.

And that's it! I hope you like it! You only get one of these two things, so choose carefully! Just fill out the form below to enter. No following, tweeting, and all that necessary, but you'll have a skyrocket more of a chance if you do, so, ya know... if you really want to win...
(click continue reading if you're reading this from the home page to see the giveaway form.)

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday {22}

This week, I'm waiting for...

By: Megan Miranda

Eleven minutes passed before Delaney Maxwell was pulled from the icy waters of a Maine lake by her best friend Decker Phillips. By then her heart had stopped beating. Her brain had stopped working. She was dead. And yet she somehow defied medical precedent to come back seemingly fine  

Despite the scans that showed significant brain damage. Everyone wants Delaney to be all right, but she knows she's far from normal. Pulled by strange sensations she can't control or explain, Delaney finds herself drawn to the dying. Is her altered brain now predicting death, or causing it?

Then Delaney meets Troy Varga, who recently emerged from a coma with similar abilities. At first she's reassured to find someone who understands the strangeness of her new existence, but Delaney soon discovers that Troy's motives aren't quite what she thought. Is their gift a miracle, a freak of nature-or something much more frightening?

For fans of best-sellers like Before I Fall and If I Stay, this is a fascinating and heart-rending story about love and friendship and the fine line between life and death.
-Summary from Goodreads 
Release date: 1/17/2012 
Published by: Walker & Company/Bloomsbury 
Pre-order: Barnes&Noble||Amazon||The Book Depository

This book sounds awesome. I don't have much to say beyond that and its stunning synopsis, but you should totally check out the trailer. I got goosebumps...

Amazing, right?

What are YOU waiting on this week? (Leave your links in the comments! I'll try my best to reply, but if I don't, I apologize in advance--time constraints!)

Monday, January 9, 2012

The Fault in Our Hearts

The Fault in Our Stars
By: John Green
Reported by: Julianna Helms

Diagnosed with Stage IV thyroid cancer at 12, Hazel was prepared to die until, at 14, a medical miracle shrunk the tumors in her lungs... for now.

Two years post-miracle, sixteen-year-old Hazel is post-everything else, too. Post-high school, post-friends and post-normalcy. And even though she could live for a long time (whatever that means), Hazel lives tethered to an oxygen tank, the tumors tenuously kept at bay with a constant chemical assault.

Enter Augustus Waters. A match made at cancer kid support group, Augustus is gorgeous, in remission, and shockingly to her, interested in Hazel. Being with Augustus is both an unexpected destination and a long-needed journey, pushing Hazel to re-examine how sickness and health, life and death, will define her and the legacy that everyone leaves behind.

-Summary from Goodreads 
Barnes&Noble||Amazon||The Book Depository

I am one of those few who accidentally received this book early. 12/23/2011, to be exact.

Being the curious person I am, I read it. I finished this book at 3:48AM on Christmas Eve.

I did not cry.

I should have cried.

And so I wondered why I didn't cry, when such tragedy could ever invade into my mind. I wondered, and then I realized... it was because of a premonition.

I knew how the book was going to end. I did not invest in the characters, because I knew how the book was going to end, and so I did not cry, not because I didn't care, but because I didn't allow myself to care enough

I didn't cry, because I was afraid.

You should know this, so that you understand what point of view I am constructing this review from. In fact, if you were expecting a complete fangirling session, you probably should not continue.

Here's the thing: I. Love. John. Green. He creates the most amazing, multi-dimensional characters that shatter the boundaries of a simple paper page. He is this incredibly intelligent man who writes incredibly intelligent things that makes you really think and wonder. And he has the ability to break hearts and mend them back together, in the most crooked way possible, so every time you remember, you only remember your crooked heart and crooked love. (Looking for Alaska reference, yeah?)

I knew all of that, so I was too afraid to let myself try and face the truth. I hid away from it and acknowledged it and then completely ignored it. So I didn't cry, even though I probably should've, and I wonder what that says about me.

My point is this: Do not be afraid when charging into this book. It is a story of finding love in the nooks and shadows of places long neglected, of discovering that happiness really does exist, and knowing that life must recede into oblivion one way or another. You cannot be afraid when reading this book, because otherwise it will ruin your reading experience--and no matter how many times you re-read it, it will not ever suffice again.

John Green is one of those authors who bring out everything in me and forces me to fight. He will not let you be lazy and ignorant. He will shed blinding light on anything and everything, and you must listen. Not because he is supremely powerful or that you are hideously weak, but because it is through these crucibles of sudden eureka and realization that you can really change your viewpoint on the world, and what it truly means to be one of the species that will not survive forever.

Fight. Believe. Do not be afraid. Fear is not a fault--but it is a level of necessity that you cannot bypass once you are imprisoned in it. 

There are faults in everything; especially our hearts.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Aura puts the SALVA in SALVAMOORLEY!

 *Edited to add: I uploaded all of the GIFs onto Photobucket, but then Photobucket bailed out on me, so this post is no longer in its awesome GIF glory. I'm sorry! D: *

Jeri Smith-Ready is a RIOT. Respectful Ink-slinger Oh-so-awesome Too-crazily-amazing-to-put-into-words. (What did you think I was going to say?)

Yeah, in case you haven't figured it out yet, I L-o-v-e Jeri Smith-Ready with a capital L. So when some of my favorite people (Amy & Jen, Brooke, and Karen) opened up a new fan site for Jeri's Shade trilogy, I was like, HECK yeah!

And today, I will tell YOU why I love--and why YOU should love--Aura Salvatore, the protagonist of Shade, Shift, and Shine.

(...just kidding. I can't write a post that will properly display my feelings. So I suppose I'll just have to resort to GIFs.)









(sorry if the GIFs don't work. They don't really like me too much. Something about me kidnapping too many of them...)

(Also: Disclaimer: I do not own any of the GIFs. Just found them while digging through the internet.)

So, I know I may have kind of cheated with this, but hey, I love Aura, and I can't really find a way to express my love for her. And why should you love her? BECAUSE I SAID SO she's brave, she's smart, she's awesome, she's basically someone you want to be your best friend. And because Zach and Logan say so.

So. If you wrote a post about how much you love Aura, (which, of course you did!), share it in the comments below! (But don't get mad if I don't get around to checking it out. I've been... well... stuck in the rabbit hole lately.)

Rational and awesome

And now... I- hey, where's my chocolate?

We are all DUFFs

The Duff
By: Kody Keplinger
Reported by: Julianna Helms

Seventeen-year-old Bianca Piper is cynical and loyal, and she doesn’t think she’s the prettiest of her friends by a long shot. She’s also way too smart to fall for the charms of man-slut and slimy school hottie Wesley Rush. In fact, Bianca hates him. And when he nicknames her “the Duff,” she throws her Coke in his face.

But things aren’t so great at home right now, and Bianca is desperate for a distraction. She ends up kissing Wesley. Worse, she likes it. Eager for escape, Bianca throws herself into a closeted enemies-with-benefits relationship with him.

Until it all goes horribly awry. It turns out Wesley isn’t such a bad listener, and his life is pretty screwed up, too. Suddenly Bianca realizes with absolute horror that she’s falling for the guy she thought she hated more than anyone.

-Summary from Goodreads
Barnes&Noble||Amazon||The Book Depository

There is something deeply refreshing and horrifying about The Duff. It's about a girl. About sex, about insecurity, but mostly, about the word how. I was addicted to this book. The Duff will shock you out of your numb membrane of a shell and introduce you to the ugly world of ours that has a way of aggravatingly, thankfully, impossibly remedying itself.

Bianca is sarcastic, perpetually annoyed, and always, always intelligent in both the philosophical and physical sense of knowing to never go near Mr. Wesley I-will-sleep-with-you-next Rush. But she's also the DUFF, according to Wesley--the Designated Ugly Fat Friend. And I want to clap Kody on the back and hug her and fist bump her, because she's right--every. body. feels. like. the. freakin'. DUFF. And though throughout the novel we see from Bianca's sole viewpoint, Kody incorporates the other characters' own personal struggle to accept themselves as they are subtly, realistically--brilliantly.

This book contains a lot of lascivious scenes, and quite the number of profanity. But they are not fancy, pointless scenes used to illustrate how teenage-like the protagonist is, a technique used so often nowadays. They are, in fact, a vital part to the story that makes you realize that some things just aren't what they seem. I was put off by some of the scenes at first--especially when I felt like they weren't necessary at the time. Considering some grotesque mood swings and sudden twists, I questioned the authenticity of Bianca's actions. But I found that after I finished the book, Bianca's actions didn't disgust the heck out of me. They didn't encourage anything. They didn't destroy anything. But they taught, they revealed something. And that something is this: You can be as insecure or as pretentious you are. You can pretend to be insecure or not pretend at all. You can pretend anything. But there are some things you can't pretend, and only insecurity can bring those things out from all of us--not because we need to be insecure, but because insecurity is necessary for us to correct the things we can't pretend.

Sometimes we don't see what's right in front of us. Sometimes we let the truth be swept up in a storm of lies. But if you join in on this journey with Bianca, you just might be able to change the weather forecast to something other than a facade of a storm.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Am I Stuck in the Rabbit Hole?

Hey peeps. I know I've been MIA lately, and if you wanna know why... Winter Break's over. School is on a roll again, and I'm staring right into the eyes of Finals.

I've got a couple good posts coming up, but please forgive me if I don't update this blog as much as I used to. I promise I'll get up at least one or two posts a week, but anymore than that I can't guarantee.

Thank you all SO MUCH for sticking with me! Happy Life!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday {21}

This week, I'm waiting for...

I am an Egalitarian

Things have changed quite rapidly around the internet. You may have heard about a certain fiasco on Goodreads, where an author-who-shall-not-be-named attacked a reviewer for doing her job: reciting her honest opinions.

I was part of that discussion, and I have to say this: We have our rights and freedoms that we hold dear, and you have your rights and freedoms that you hold dear. Let us not interfere with each other's rights, and let us not interfere with each other's freedoms. If you must do so, you must take responsibility, and not ask for commiseration from your friends by means of further violation.

I won't be giving out a direct link to the discussion, as things are already simmering down (thank goodness, and let's hope everyone learned something from this!), but it's about feminism and misandry--and the confusion often involving these two completely different practices. It's also about netiquette. Here is a link that sums up what happened pretty well, in case you are curious.*Edited to add: And of course, don't miss out on this understanding and hopeful post by Hannah Moskowitz!*

Another thing I wanted to bring your attention to is this fantastic post by the wonderful Rae Carson, whose book The Girl of Fire and Thorns I really enjoyed (you can see my review of it here. This was one of my earliest reviews, though, so it's neither perfect nor up-to-date on the formatting). Basically, Rae talks about the misogynist POV our society revolves around, and her own personal experience with it that affected and influenced her debut novel as well. I encourage you to read that post. It will open your eyes to an insider's perspective on the stereotype-centric world we occupy today.

Both of these links, however, have one common thread. Stereotypes. They both address ideas many members of our generation possess and seemingly believe to be ultimately accurate, and those ideas irk me. I understand if you judge someone based on first sight--it's hard not to. But to keep judging someone based on that first sight even after getting to know them and/or seeing them is not only a detrimental move on your part, but also insulting to the person judged as well. Who are they to be defined by their beliefs and physique? Who are we to define them by their beliefs and physique? Let us all just operate and carry on as fairly and egalitarian-like as possible. Not everyone will act this way, but for every person that does, the world lights up a bit more everyday. Let's make this Earth a better place, for both you and me and everyone to come.

Let's show everyone what true wisdom and understanding is all about.

Monday, January 2, 2012

The Truth to Start With

Ugly to Start With
By: John Michael Cummings
Source: Author
Released on: Oct. 1st, 2011
Reported by: Julianna Helms

Jason Stevens is growing up in picturesque, historic Harpers Ferry, West Virginia in the 1970s. Back when the roads are smaller, the cars slower, the people more colorful, and Washington, D.C. is way across the mountains—a winding sixty-five miles away.

Jason dreams of going to art school in the city, but he must first survive his teenage years. He witnesses a street artist from Italy charm his mother from the backseat of the family car. He stands up to an abusive husband—and then feels sorry for the jerk. He puts up with his father’s hard-skulled backwoods ways, his grandfather’s showy younger wife, and the fist-throwing schoolmates and eccentric mountain characters that make up Harpers Ferry—all topped off by a basement art project with a girl from the poor side of town.

Ugly to Start With punctuates the exuberant highs, bewildering midpoints, and painful lows of growing up, and affirms that adolescent dreams and desires are often fulfilled in surprising ways.

-Summary from Goodreads

Ugly to Start With is a book about sexuality, racism, and abuse, among other things. It is not a light read--and it's not for everyone. What I can say about it is this: your perspective on several taboo subjects will change, and this book is just as thought-provoking as it is heart-wrenching.

Jason is this boy I never really could relate to, though that may be because of the things he goes through so early in life. He's a dreamer, but he's also afraid, and though that made me sympathize for him, it didn't make me entirely feel for him. I surmise I just never really recognized his voice. That's one of the reasons why this book didn't blow my mind away, but still, I was shocked and timorous about quite a number of the situations Jason faces in this book, and I feared for him as well as with him.

It's not easy being a teenager, Jason very well proves that. John is very bold in approaching several topics the way he did. But the thing is, the teenage voice is difficult to nail, and I felt like the lasciviousness and obscenity was superfluous and overwhelming. It distracted me for a while, and I can't say the excess content minimized as the story progressed.

Overall, though, this novel is sure to wreck your brain for answers you don't have, and astonish you with questions you never thought of. Despite its flaws, it offers you something you don't normally get--the truth. Brace yourself, because you're in for a whirlwind of emotions you won't be forgetting about very soon.

Book Blogger Confessions {1}

Karen over at For What It's Worth, along with Tiger from All Consuming Books, started this new meme called Book Blogger Confessions. Basically, it's where they ask a question on alternating Mondays, and bloggers can respond/confess the behind-the-scenes work on blogging and such.

This week's question is: How has the "job" of book blogging changed your reading habits? Both pro and con.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

No-Kiss Blogfest

Yesterday, on Twitter, the fantabulous Jeri Smith-Ready tweeted about this "No-Kiss Blogfest." Sounded pretty cool to me, so I clicked on the link, and found this post by Frankie Diane Mallis. Basically, it's an annual blogfest where you post a scene of the "no-kiss" between characters... AKA the "OMG, JUST KISS ALREADY" moment that ends with no kiss.

I've chosen to post a "no-kiss" from the project I'm currently* querying, called OPPOSITION. Hope y'all enjoy! ;D

(A little background: This takes place while the two main characters, Ata and Zakai**, are on a journey to restore the Earth's balance--long story. They left their families behind on this quest, so... ya know, reminiscence and all that. And they have special powers... that's all I'm going to say. Which, by the way, is why Zakai says "runs don't tire me.")


"It's ten," I murmur.
“How do you know?” Ata asks.
I point at the Big Dipper in the sky, driving that knife in my heart deeper. “Father taught me how to tell time by the stars.”
Ata doesn't answer.
“Is there something wrong?” I sound offended. Good.
Her footsteps echo behind me.
I sigh. "Whatever it is, I don't want to talk about it."
The distance between us stretches thinner than a second. I can feel the puffs of her breath against the back of my neck. My hair rises on end. I need to turn around and walk away and edge that knife deeper, leave it forever pierced between the atriums of my heart, so that the pain can finally swallow me and I can forget it.
My breaths come ruggedly, like I'm panting, but I don't pant. Runs don't tire me. And I see her then, mentally tracing every curve of her face, trying to remember how they felt against my fingertips. She's in front of me.
But I don't want to remember. I want to feel it.
Her breaths turn into short, winded shrieks and mine become heavier, denser, until our breaths are the other beat of each other, the air blowing out in a perfect rhythm. My hands swing harder and my pinky hooks on to hers. She doesn't let go. I blink and we're closer, an inch or so apart. I hear her heart drumming, thud thud thud, or maybe it's my own. She closes her eyes and leans in closer, and I want nothing more in the world than to meet her, my broken heart lights on fire just thinking about it.
But my heart is broken. This is only temporary. What we do now will ruin our chances forever, and one last time isn't worth it to give up our only hope of remaining together.
Gently, I take her shoulders and reel her away.

SOOooooo, whaddya think? C'est pas terrible? Let me know in the comments, and be sure to check out Jeri's post here! :D 'cause it's AWESOME. (Well, it's written by Jeri Smith-Ready. What did you expect?)

*Um, not really "currently", I guess, since I'm working on my sucky query again. Seriously, you guys, I can't write a query to save my life.
**Ata's full name is Atalanta, after the Greek namesake--this story is part Greek mythology, after all. Zakai, well... it was just a cool name. LOL! But it also sounds very mythological, IMO, so that's why I chose it.

Guest Post & Giveaway with David Farland

You guys might remember back in December when I reviewed Nightingale, a book I really enjoyed. If you read all the way to the bottom (which, kudos to you), you might have saw my little postscript stating that I have a guest post and giveaway with bestselling author David Farland, author of Nightingale, coming up. Well, here it is:

*A little background: David offered to do a post on the future of publishing, but I've been contemplating trends in the YA market and overall literature world for a while, so I asked if he could write a post on trends, and he agreed. That's what this post is about.*

Trends in Publishing
By: David Farland

Every few years, a tale will break out and get enormous international attention.  Sometimes these books or movies become so popular that you feel uncomfortable if you haven't read them.  You feel uncultured, left out.  So you pick up the book and read it to be part of the herd, to find out what all of the excitement is about.

If a tale is worthy, readers might like it so much that they'll go out looking for similar books and movies.   Suddenly a whole niche market explodes into popularity, a “sub-genre.”  We’ve seen it happen again and again.  Let me give you an example. 

Robinson Crusoe was one of the first novels to be mass produced in 1719, a tale of a castaway on a desert island with cannibals and mutineers.  By the end of the 1800s, more than 700 spinoffs had been created by imitators. 

One of those imitators, Swiss Family Robinson, written in 1812, gained a huge following of its own.  It played upon resonance with the name “Robinson,” which of course was absurd.  As a child I loved the book, but even at the age of 12 I knew that Robinson wasn’t a Swiss name.  Just as silly was the menagerie of animals that resided upon the island that the Robinson’s were trapped on.  But it was a strapping adventure.

In 1883, another huge hit came out in these adventure novels, one with a twist: Treasure Island.  Suddenly people began writing pirate adventures in droves, and creating a whole new cottage industry.  These continued into the 1940s, aided by Errol Flynn movies.

In the 1960s, Walt Disney built a theme park ride that resonated with those old films, Pirates of the Caribbean.  But by the 1990s the rides were losing popularity.  In order to boost interest in them, the Disney Corporation decided to create its own film.  With the astonishing visuals of one of my old business associates, Crash McReery, and the acting skills of Johnny Depp, aided by some of the ideas of one of my own friends and teachers, Tim Powers, the franchise has grown huge.

But why?  In part, it grew huge because of those early stories.  For three hundred years now, children around the world have thrilled to pirate stories.  As those children grow, new stories are told for the next generation, and the “genre” spreads. 

The same has happened with various fantasy tales.  Fairy tales have been around for centuries, and they influenced the work of the Brothers Grimm in the 1800s, and Disney later in the early 1900s.  Tolkien drew heavily from them when he wrote Lord of the Rings, and all of those had an effect upon the creation of Harry Potter.  In short, Harry Potter became popular because it resonated so well with stories that children have loved for centuries.

If you train yourself, you can learn to spot a story that will be a “genre builder.”  Back in 1998, I was asked by a large publisher to help select a book to get a “big sales push” for the coming year.  The publisher sent me a pile of books, about 40 in all, and asked that I sort through them.  I picked out a book that I liked, but left it in the pile.  I asked my wife to then pick one out.  She picked the book that interested me.  She then began to read it, and my young daughter stole it and began reading.

“Ah,” I thought, “here’s a book that attracts men and women, old and young.  It should have a wide appeal.”  So I studied it, and determined that it should be a hit.  I called the publisher and told them to promote the book Harry Potter.  But the publisher informed me that his marketing department thought that the book was too long for its intended audience.  I agreed, and pointed out that it was also written at a grade level “too high for middle graders.”  I advised them to push it anyway.  A few months later, they began pushing the book, and within a couple of years it became the bestseller in history.

Why?  In part because it resonated with stories that we loved as children.  In part it was because it appealed to such a vast audience. 

More importantly, it satisfied the emotional needs of its readers.  While green-lighting films in Hollywood, we used to study which “emotional triggers” would excite an audience.  For children, the most powerful emotional triggers are: wonder, humor, horror, adventure, and mystery—in precisely that order.  Rowling did an excellent job of drawing upon those emotions to satisfy her readers.

Stephenie Meyer was able to do much the same thing.  As a writing student, she came to me in 2002 and we talked about the future of publishing, and how she might move ahead.  She had already been playing with the idea of writing a novel about vampires and werewolves from her hometown of Forks, Washington.  I suggested for various reasons that it should be a romance.  She wanted a young adult novel, and the truth is that for teenage girls, romance and wonder are two of the strongest draws.

Of course, vampires had been popular for well over a hundred years.  Anne Rice’s novels, along with the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer had helped to prepare the markets for Stephenie’s tale.  It was a great fit.  She loved vampire stories already, and she wanted to write to the teen market.  The only problem was that the market at the time didn’t seem ready for her.  A contemporary fantasy vampire romance—who would publish such a thing?  In 2002, no one was publishing contemporary fantasy for teens.

“Don’t worry,” I told her.  “Write the novel anyway.”  The first Harry Potter movie had been released a couple of months earlier, and was a big hit.  “Within a few years,” I assured Stephenie, “the young adult publishers in the US will realize that there is a huge audience for fantasy, a far bigger audience than they know.  With luck, you’ll find the right agent and the right publisher for this book, and it could be huge.”

Trends come, and you can make a lot of money if you follow them.  But it’s better to be on the leading edge. 

There are of course other huge sub-genres that could be created or revived.  All that a writer has to do is recognize what resonances to draw from, figure out what audience to target, and then devise stories that pull the proper emotional triggers—and you too could become a genre builder.


David Farland’s latest novel tells the story of a young man named Bron Jones, who is abandoned at birth.  Raised in foster care, he’s shuffled from home to home.  At age 16, he’s the ultimate loner, until he’s sent to a new foster home and meets Olivia, a marvelous teacher.  She recognizes that Bron is something special, something that her people call a “Nightingale,” a creature that is not quite human. 

Suddenly epic forces combine to claim Bron, he’s ripped away from the only home, family, and girlfriend that he has ever known.  He must risk his life to learn the answers to the mystery of his birth: “What am I?  Where did I come from?”

Nightinale is an “enhanced novel” with illustrations and animations from half a dozen talented illustrators.  It has a sound track by a head of the Composer's Guild of America, James Guymon, with many professional musicians and vocalists.  He’s also releasing the novel as an e-book, audiobook, and as a hardcover.

But Dave and his partners did one last cool thing.  The enhanced book was designed for the iPad, though you will also be able to read it on any other pad or smartphone.  In addition, they had their programmers create a web app so that you can enjoy the book on your computer.  In other words, you can sample a few chapters, look over the trailer on YouTube, and simply buy it for reading on your own computer. 

Look for it at  If you like it, remember to “Like” it on Facebook.  Better yet, re-post the site info and tell your friends on Facebook. Oh, and while you’re at the site, check out their short-story contest where you can win $1000.
 Buy the Book:

Sounds exciting, right? It is. And East India Press has been kind enough to offer you guys ONE complimentary e-book of Nightingale! And it's not just any e-book. It's an "enhanced novel", which, by the way, is totally awesome. (It has pictures, music, and all of those cool stuff integrated into one storyline.) The enhanced novel is only available on Google Chrome, Apple Safari v5+, iPad, and Firefox v6+.  If you want to enter, just fill out the form below. The only thing you must do is watch the Nightingale trailer--trust me, it's worth it. A wonderful, theatrical tantalizer, if I may say so myself. It's not necessary to follow, but I'd love it if you do--I have lots of giveaways coming up! :) This giveaway is international where it is allowed by law :), and it ends on 1/31/2012, the last day of January. May the odds be ever in your favor!

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Fireworks Free PhotoHappy New Year, everyone! I hope you all have an amazing year and many more, and that this will be your best year yet
2011 was a wonderful, wonderful year for me. I met so many amazing friends via the blogging platform, I accomplished some things I'm quite proud of and, of course, I started The Reviews News! It's been amazing, and I have to thank you all for sticking with me. YOU ROCK! \m/
I've got AWESOME (at least, I hope so) stuff coming up in 2012, and kicking that off will be a guest post and giveaway with bestselling author David Farland! WOOT! And I've got BOATLOADS, literally, of swag to give out.... because guess what?


:D *throws confetti* On Jan. 13th, I'll have blogged for exactly 6 months! Exciting, isn't it? Time rushes past so quickly!

Have you got any New Year's Resolutions? Share them below!
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