Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Review - Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

Title: Between Shades of Gray
Author: Ruta Sepetys
Publisher: Philomel Books
Release Date: 2011
Pages: 338
Genre: YA, Adult Fiction
Source: Library
Buy the book: Amazon

Lina is just like any other fifteen-year-old Lithuanian girl in 1941. She paints, she draws, she gets crushes on boys. Until one night when Soviet officers barge into her home, tearing her family from the comfortable life they've known. Separated from her father, forced onto a crowded and dirty train car, Lina, her mother, and her young brother slowly make their way north, crossing the Arctic Circle, to a work camp in the coldest reaches of Siberia. Here they are forced, under Stalin's orders, to dig for beets and fight for their lives under the cruelest of conditions.
Lina finds solace in her art, meticulously—and at great risk—documenting events by drawing, hoping these messages will make their way to her father's prison camp to let him know they are still alive. It is a long and harrowing journey, spanning years and covering 6,500 miles, but it is through incredible strength, love, and hope that Lina ultimately survives. Between Shades of Gray is a novel that will steal your breath and capture your heart. (Goodreads)

Kim’s take – Wow. This was a completely unforgettable novel.  I fell in love with all of the characters and my heart broke for them while reading of the horrible situations they were placed in.

Lina is a talented artist in Lithuania with a bright future ahead of her when her family is taken from their home by the Soviets. The location of her father, who has already been taken, is unknown to the family. Lina, her mother, and little brother are boarded on trains with no idea where they are going or what will happen to them. The conditions on the train are deplorable and are only the beginning of the inhumane conditions they will soon be trying to survive. It becomes a testament to a person’s will to live and situations they will suffer in order to stay alive and try to help others who are in the same situation.

The family is taken to work camps where they are treated as slaves whose lives are worth less than nothing. It was heart-breaking to read of the horrible living conditions, starvation, and untreated illnesses that these people suffered. And to know that Lina and her family always held on to hope made it that much worse since I knew what happened to so may in these concentration camps. But what happens at the camp is nothing compared to what happens to the family when they are taken across the Arctic Circle to Siberia.

The prisoners have no housing and are instructed to build their own with whatever they are able to find. They are supplied with no way to heat their shabbily built shelters and have no winter clothing. These skeletal characters are with very little food, and trying to survive freezing temperatures and blizzard conditions. I was surprised by some of the methods these people were able to keep alive.

Sepetys is an excellent author who does such a wonderful job of making the characters very relatable. I spent the entire book pulling for just about everyone, though there were a couple of characters who were less than pleasant. The author even managed to slip in a little bit of a love story despite the tragic events.
I would very highly recommend this book to everyone!

Kim’s Rating – 

Tune In Tuesday (16)



This meme is hosted by Ginger at GReads & showcases music. Each week you can post an old or new song so that it gains more interest! So head on over and link up.

 

So this week I am going WAY back to 1994-95 when I would of been in 6th or 7th grade, I think. I have a horrible memory! Anyway I fell in LOVE with this band and I still love them to this day. Their music still has constant rotation on my Ipod. Please ignore that the video is crazy creepy! :)

Live - I Alone

Monday, May 30, 2011

Review - A Need So Beautiful by Suzanne Young

Title: A Need So Beautiful
Author: Suzanne Young
Publisher: Balzer & Bray
Release Date: June 21st, 2011
Pages: 252
Genre: YA
Source: ARC from publisher

Summary via Goodreads:
Charlotte’s best friend thinks Charlotte might be psychic. Her boyfriend thinks she’s cheating on him. But Charlotte knows what’s really wrong: She is one of the Forgotten, a kind of angel on earth, who feels the Need—a powerful, uncontrollable draw to help someone, usually a stranger.

There have been others before who’ve felt the Need, but they’re gone—erased from the memories of everyone whose lives they had touched. It's as though they never existed. This is the fate that awaits Charlotte. But the last thing Charlotte wants to do is disappear, to be Forgotten. She wants to stay with her best friend, whose life is spiraling out of control. She wants to lie in her boyfriend’s arms forever. She wishes she could just ignore the Need, but she can’t. And as everyone important in her life begins to slowly forget her, she has to decide if she’ll fight the Need in order to remain herself—no matter how dark the consequences.


Missy's take -

Sometimes it is hard for me to find words for a book that I love. I have run across this several times this year because so many fabulous books have been coming out. A Need So Beautiful was no exception.

The book was so beautifully written. The story was fascinating, thrilling, sad and happy all at the same time. Charlotte is struggling with a condition her best friend and boyfriend really know nothing about. It's what she calls a Need, or a force that pulls her to a certain place to help someone. These Needs can come at anytime of the day no matter where she is or what she is doing. She has no idea where this came from and why it's happening to her. All she knows is that she HAS to help this people. With just the touch of her hand on their skin she can see their past, present and future to find out what she needs to tell them or what she has to help them with.  

She longs to be normal like everyone else. To spend a life with her boyfriend Harlin. To go to school and hang out with her best friend. After finding out that this Need will soon erase her from the memories of the people that she loves most it is almost more than she is able to bear. She tries to find anything she can do to stop the progression of this mysterious Need that is sure to make her disappear in time. It is also very painful for her to find out that someone close to her had known about what she was going through all along.

I was so captivated by the story. Charlotte is torn between helping others or trying to fight it and save herself. I can't imagine being forced into a situation like that.  

Missy's take -
 

Sunday, May 29, 2011

In My Mailbox (18)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi over at The Story Siren that allows to showcase the books that we have received/purchased over the past week.
 
Review - 
 Lot's Return to Sodom by Sandra Brannan
 Fathers & Sons (Forts #1) by Steven Novak
Wolfsbane by Andrea Cremer

(Big thanks to Greenleaf Book Group,  Steven Novak & I Read Banned Book Tours!)

Also I just had to share the ridiculously awesome inscription Steven Novak drew inside my review copy of Fathers & Sons!

 Seriously, how awesome is that??? Totally made my day! :)


Won -
Purple Daze by Sherry Shahan
The Lipstick Laws by Amy Holder
Wrapped by Jennifer Bradbury
See What I See by Gloria Whelan
Jenna & Jonah's Fauxmance by Emily Franklin & Brendan Halpin
Abandon by Meg Cabot

(Thanks to Lena at Addicted 2 Books!)

The Forest of Adventures by Kate M John

(Thanks to SM Reine!)


Another successful no buying week! Yahoo! Glad that I won some amazing books :)
 
What did you get this week???

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Review - Asylum Lake by R. A. Evans

Title: Asylum Lake (Amazon)
Author: R.A. Evans
Publisher: Chapbook Press
Release Date: July 30, 2010
Pages: 208
Genre: Horror
Source: Author for review

After the sudden death of his wife, Brady Tanner moves to the small Michigan town where he spent summers as a youth. But he soon learns that small towns can be stained by memories...and secrets too. As Brady is drawn into unearthing the secrets of the town and of the abandoned psychiatric hospital on the shores of Asylum Lake, he discovers a new love in an old friend. But there is an evil presence lurking beneath the waters of the lake. What is the source of this evil--and what does it want with Brady Tanner? (Goodreads)

Kim’s Take – I am a horror book lover and this has got to be one of the best I have read in quite a while. It was amazingly suspenseful and kept you constantly on edge and wondering what would happen next. Once I started, I could NOT stop reading!

After the tragic death of his wife, Brady Tanner returns to the home his parents owned on Asylum Lake where he spent his summers as a boy. It seems as if the second he comes into the door, strange and unsettling things begin happening. He begins to remember a terrifying event which happened to him as a teen while swimming in the lake one evening with friends. He has never been able to explain what happened that evening or his uneasiness with it. 

The book starts in 1972 with the conviction of a minor child convicted of the slaughter of a family of 4 which was extremely cruel and heinous in execution, and the youngster’s attempt to murder responding officers. Two of those responding officers happened to be “Buck” Tanner and his son, Brady’s father. Brady’s father has never spoken of the event and Brady’s grandfather died before he was born in a mysterious suicide.

Though Brady’s father and grandfather were both policemen, Brady turned to reporting as opposed to following the family footsteps. After returning to the Up North house, as the family had called it, Brady finds unsettling evidence in his father’s office of a case he had continued working. With the help of a former partner of his father’s, Brady is cast into a sinister and baffling history of events involving the insane asylum, Lake View Asylum, across the lake from his home. The asylum was closed shortly after a massacre that occurred in the asylum in 1958.

After strange and supernaturally terrifying things occur during their investigation, they are eventually led to the asylum for answers. The author’s descriptive writing throughout the book makes it feel like you are watching a movie, making you feel you have also entered the many creepy places and events the characters are facing and can also feel their fear.

The ending leaves just enough mystery to possibly mean a sequel may be in the works but doesn’t leave you without a feeling of closure for the characters in the book, with the exception of one. I would be extremely excited to learn a second book was being written.

I have to admit that another exciting thing about this book were references to areas where and near I live since this was written by a local writer. My hometown was even mentioned at one point which I, the dork I am, was rather geeked about!

Words can’t describe how great the story was and I often found myself unable to believe this was the author’s first book. I would rate his story and writing right up there with Dean Kootz and feel he has an amazingly bright future as a writer. I will be excited to read anything he may write in the future and would expect it would be nothing less stellar than his first. I cannot recommend this book any more highly!

Kim’s Rating – 

Friday, May 27, 2011

Awesome Indie/Self Published Reads (4)


Yay to another week of awesome indie and self published reads. This week we have a mixture of some of my book pick and some of Kim's. Make sure you check them out!



An Apple For Zoe - The Forsaken by Thomas Amo
Missy's review: An Apple For Zoe 
Buy the book: Amazon / Barnes & Noble only $2.99!

The City of San Francisco is locked in a grip of fear. A series of occult murders has led, Inspector Thomas James, to a crime scene similar to a murder committed 90 years ago in the once grand Aleris Hotel. A place where power barons of the early 20th Century engaged in witchcraft. And silent film stars indulged in the most wicked of sins.
A place where no one questions the black smoke the rises from the hotel's incinerators in the middle of the night.



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



Released by Megan Duncan 
Missy's review: Released
Buy the book: Amazon / Barnes & Noble only $0.99!

After a demon apocalypse kills their parents and everyone they know, 17-year old Abby Phillips, her brother, Carter, and friend, Max flee their home to travel through what has become the wastelands of America. When radio transmissions of a resistance offering shelter and safety cease, Abby is tempted to give up. Struggling to overcome life-threatening obstacles in their dangerous journey, Abby and her companions quickly discover there are much worse things lurking in the dark than they could have ever imagined.


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


Asylum Lake by R.A. Evans
Kim's review: Asylum Lake
Buy the book: Amazon / Barnes & Noble only $3.49!
Website: asylumlake.com

The State’s second largest Psychopathic Hospital opened in 1917 on 600 wooded acres overlooking a small lake near Bedlam Falls, Michigan. Through its doors came the weak and the weary, the disabled and the discarded, the frail and the forgotten. But an open door is an invitation, and some visitors, once invited, are loath to leave. The hospital abruptly closed in 1958 under a cloud of mystery. It has remained empty and silent, save for the memories trapped both within its walls and far below the surface of the nearby lake that bears its name. At the bottom of Asylum Lake, the unremembered are growing restless.

Brady Tanner is trying to outrun memories of his own. After the sudden death of his wife, Brady retreats to the small town where he spent the summers of his youth. But he soon learns small towns can be stained by memories…and secrets, too. As Brady is drawn into unearthing these secrets, as he discovers a new love in an old friend, he is also drawn into the mystery of Asylum Lake and the evil that lies submerged beneath its sparkling surface. What is the source of this evil – and what does it want with Brady Tanner?


So there are this weeks picks! We hope that you check out a couple of these and enjoy them like we did!


Blogger Hop & Follow Friday (15)

Book Blogger Hop
Book Blogger Hop is hosted by  Crazy for Books make sure you head over there and link up!

This weeks question is: 
What book to movie adaptation have you most liked? Which have you disliked?
 
I definitely LOVE the Harry Potter movies! I feel like they follow pretty closely with the books and I think that the actors that portray the characters do so very well. If I had to pick one that I didn't like I would probably say the Twilight ones. I am not a big fan of some of the actors that were picked. I really don't care for Kristen Stewart as Bella at all. She is not at all how I envisioned her.
 


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

Follow Friday is hosted by Parajunkee so make sure you head over and link up!

This weeks question is:
How many books do you read a week? And in what format do you read or listen to them?

This is a really tough question for me because it really depends on the week. On a good week I can read 4 or 5 books, but other times I barely get through 1! Generally I have a physical book that I am reading and a Kindle book. Sometimes I also have one going on the computer if it's not compatible with my Kindle.

Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Review - Divergent by Veronica Roth

Title: Divergent
Author: Veronica Roth
Publisher:  Katherine Tegen Books
Release date: May 3, 2011
Pages: 487
Genre: YA
Source: ARC via publisher for review
Buy the book: Amazon / B&N

Summary via Goodreads:
In Beatrice Prior's dystopian Chicago, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is—she can't have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles to determine who her friends really are—and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes infuriating boy fits into the life she's chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she's kept hidden from everyone because she's been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers a growing conflict that threatens to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her. 

 

Missy's take - 

I am generally really nervous about reviewing a book when it has been so hyped up. I am always so afraid of being disappointed, let down or wondering, what the heck is wrong with me? If I don't end up liking it. All around the blogosphere for the last couple of months all I have been hearing about is the amazingness that is Divergent. Cue me and my nervousness. When I started the book I tried to keep my expectations for it low. I am so glad to say that there was no need for any of that. This book FAR exceeded the hype and any expectations I had ever had for it.

This world that author created was crazy. We are sent into the future in Chicago. There are four factions that make up the population.When you turn 16 you choose the faction that you believe best fits you. You are tested prior to choosing, however to see where you might best fit in. It is during this test that Beatrice finds out she might just be different than everyone else.

Beatrice, the lead character, is caught up in the turmoil of having to choose which faction she should go to. She wants to stay in the faction her parents and brother are in because she doesn't want to leave them, but she is also not sure if that is the right place for her. I am happy to say that I totally connected with her. I completely felt that I was along with her on the ride the entire time.

I loved Four. He was one of the instructors for the Dauntless. He was so amazing and complex. I kept feeling like I wasn't quite sure about him. You know the feeling? Like you are sort of in the middle because you expect some bombshell to be dropped involving the character that will make you love or hate them. That's exactly how I felt most of the time. In the end I just ended up being completely and totally in love with him myself.

I got completely lost in this novel. I wish I would have been able to read it and just not move until I was finished. When I had to put it down my mind was still on it wondering what would happen next. The suspense of it all kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time. I think there were times my stomach actually hurt from nerves. You fall in love with these characters. It's almost impossible not to.

This will going high up on my favorites list. I cannot say enough good things about it. It blows my mind that this is Veronica Roth's debut. Even after finishing it I still can't stop thinking about it. If you are avoiding reading this because of the hype I suggest that you listen to all that hype. It is well well deserved hype!

Missy's rating - 

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Review - Released by Megan Duncan

Title: Released
Author: Megan Duncan
Publisher: Self published
Release date: March 19, 2011
Pages: 260
Genre: YA
Source: Purchased 
Buy the book: Amazon

Summary via Goodreads:
After a demon apocalypse kills their parents and everyone they know, 17-year old Abby Phillips, her brother, Carter, and friend, Max flee their home to travel through what has become the wastelands of America. When radio transmissions of a resistance offering shelter and safety cease, Abby is tempted to give up. Struggling to overcome life-threatening obstacles in their dangerous journey, Abby and her companions quickly discover there are much worse things lurking in the dark than they could have ever imagined  


Missy's take - 

I have been so in love with dystopian novels lately. It all started with The Hunger Games last year. Released just made my love for dystopians continue to grow!

Released takes place in a world where demon animals roam the Earth. There are several different types and we learn about them as the story moves along. The most common are the demon hounds. These demon creatures hide everywhere and survive off of eating humans.

Our MC, Abby, is one of the few living humans left. She along with her brother Carter and his best friend Max, decide they are going to leave the safety of the home that they have been staying in and head to New Mexico where radio transmissions have promised safety and help by the military. Abby is a fantastic lead. She was both strong and weak. She kept the weakness inside though and only let her strength show. Although I have obviously never been in the situation she is in, I can totally see myself feeling and reacting in similar ways. I felt like I was really able to connect with her as a character.

The world the author created was both intriguing and incredibly frightening. All of the people they manage to find make them suspicious of their motives. In a world with so few people there is still an issue of trust.  You have to be extremely smart and prepared for any situation in order to survive.You never really know who or what is out to get you at any one time.

The story moved very along smoothly. Nothing seemed forced. There was action at all the right times and it had me on the edge of my seat just about the entire time. The action scenes were fantastic and there was such great detail that you almost feel like you are right there fighting off the demons with them.

Overall, I thought this was a fantastic read. If you are looking for a the kind of book you can read in one sitting then this would be the one! I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. We are also left with a nice cliffhanger too. The next book in the series is due out this fall!

Missy's rating -

Waiting on Wednesday (17)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill over at Breaking the Spine. It lets us spotlight what upcoming books we can't wait for!

This week I am waiting on -

The Pledge by Kimberly Derting
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry
Release Date: November 15, 2011
 
Summary via Goodreads:
 
Words are the most dangerous weapon of all...

In the violent country of Ludania, the classes are strictly divided by the language they speak. The smallest transgression, like looking a member of a higher class in the eye while they are speaking their native tongue, results in immediate execution. Seventeen-year-old Charlaina has always been able to understand the languages of all classes, and she’s spent her life trying to hide her secret. The only place she can really be free is the drug-fueled underground clubs where people go to shake off the oppressive rules of the world they live in. It's there that she meets a beautiful and mysterious boy named Max who speaks a language she's never heard before . . . and her secret is almost exposed.

Charlie is intensely attracted to Max, even though she can’t be sure where his real loyalties lie. As the emergency drills give way to real crisis and the violence escalates, it becomes clear that Charlie is the key to something much bigger: her country’s only chance for freedom from the terrible power of a deadly regime.
 
Is is just me or does this sound all kinds of awesome? I love Kimberly Derting so I have no doubt that this is going to be amazing!
 
What are you waiting on??? 

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Tune In Tuesday (15)



This meme is hosted by Ginger at GReads & showcases music. Each week you can post an old or new song so that it gains more interest! So head on over and link up.




I am not generally a fan of too many slow songs. I really like this one though. I think it came out a couple of years ago, but I still listen to it all the time. Also, her name is Missy! YAY! I can't post the official video so if you want to see that you can go HERE. Otherwise you can just like to the song on this one!

Missy Higgins - Where I Stood

Monday, May 23, 2011

Review - An Apple For Zoe by Thomas Amo

Title:  An Apple For Zoe (The Forsaken)
Author: Thomas Amo
Publisher: Self published
Release Date: February 10, 2011
Pages: 320
Genre: Adult fiction
Source: Author for review 
Buy the book: Amazon

Summary via Goodreads:
Some Murders Shouldn't Be Investigated

The City of San Francisco is locked in a grip of fear. A series of occult murders has led, Inspector Thomas James, to a crime scene similar to a murder committed 90 years ago in the once grand Aleris Hotel. A place where power barons of the early 20th Century engaged in witchcraft. And silent film stars indulged in the most wicked of sins.

A place where no one questions the black smoke that rises from the hotel's incinerators in the middle of the night.


Missy's take - 

This book is unlike anything that I have read before. I am not even sure where to start with my review of it. It was such a suspenseful, mind blowing read I will do my best to explain my thoughts on it. 

The story starts with Inspector Thomas James from the San Francisco PD, entering a murder scene at, of all places, a funeral home. While gathering evidence, he comes upon a clue that is specifically meant for him. This totally freaks him out. Along with all the evidence found from this murder were are thrown into a hunt for murderer who is being a copycat. All of these murders that are taking place have things to do with The Zodiac killer and Charles Manson. There are so many references to past murders. It was quite fascinating how the author intertwined them together.

The storyline takes us all over the place. There is a lot happening with every single chapter. There were times that I got slightly confused because of everything that was going on at one time. While at the time it seemed overwhelming, all of it was necessary to the story. There was a lot of information to gather, but at the end it all comes together nicely and you begin to understand how everything fits together.

I really liked the characters. All of them were written with very realistic qualities and dialogue. There is a paranormal touch to the story and our lead, Thomas James, doubts all of the paranormal aspects. This makes him very real to me because a lot of people wouldn't believe the case has anything to do with the paranormal.

Overall, I was really surprised where the story went. It was all so unexpected. This book was not at all what I thought that it was going to be. Quite honestly a lot of the book totally creeped me out, but I really like that in a book! It is a lot of fun for a story to take you in a place to never expect it to go! This is also the year of cliffhangers because, oh my goodness, this one leaves us with quite the cliffhanger! I can't wait to read the next one in the series!

Missy's rating -  
 

Sunday, May 22, 2011

In My Mailbox (17)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi over at The Story Siren that allows to showcase the books that we have received/purchased over the past week.

Review -


Applewood by Brendan P. Myers
Hotwire by Alex Kava

I did get a couple from the Galley Grab, but I am feeling slightly lazy so I am not going to post pictures of those. Here is what I got

Love Story by Jennifer Echols (SO excited!!)
Sometimes It Happens by Lauren Barnholdt
The Day Before by Lisa Scroeder

Not very much this week! My book buying ban is going strong thank goodness. I am pretty proud of myself considering I am a very weak person when it comes to buying books. :)

What did you get this week???

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Review & Author Interview - The Fire Inside (Sidekicks) by Raymond Rose

Title: The Fire Inside (Sidekicks) (Amazon)
Author: Raymond Rose
Publisher: Christopher Williams Books
Release Date: 2010
Pages: ebook, 480
Genre: YA, Adult Fiction
Source: Ebook

Summary:
Ten years ago, Jack and Bruce barely survived a battle royale between good and evil that left half of their city destroyed. Over the years, they’ve drifted apart – their lives going separate paths. Now Bruce is back in town looking for Jack’s help. Because what’s about to happen is worse than anything they could imagine!



Kim’s take:

I have to admit that this is the first ebook that I have read. And it was really, really good. The story focuses on Jack who was once a member of a group called Teen Protectors. Each member of the group has a different and original super power. But there are also those with powers who become villains. After an epic battle one night between the powers of good and evil which affects the entire city, the group disbands and Jack decides that he does not want to be a part of the agency anymore and only wants a life of normalcy. This lasts for 10 years until his life is forever changed by a visit from his old friend Bruce who came to him for help with a special project. After Bruce turns up dead that evening, Jack feels he must find out who killed his friend, why, and what Bruce had been working on. Bruce has only left him with few cryptic clues to go on. The story is often taken back to the night of the tragic battle 10 years before when Jack and Bruce were young, their roles in the battle, and the loss of so many people who were important to them.

There are so many different characters with such very different superpowers such as copying themselves, digitizing, and even “leeching” by taking someone else's powers. It is a very well thought out and intriguing story with non-stop action. The author has a very good ability of making you feel as if you really know the characters and what makes them tick. There are many surprises! Definitely a recommended read!

Kim’s Rating - 


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

Interview with Raymond Rose 



1.    Please tell us a little about yourself....

I’m 35 years old (going to be 36 in a month or so), married to a wonderful woman, and I have two little boys with a third on its way.  So, as you can imagine, my house is crazy.  I’m a mostly stay-at-home dad (I work a part time job at night) who, when he isn’t shuffling his boys from playgroup to playgroup, is trying to get his writing career rolling.  I’m a novelist but I also have an interest in comic books and films.  I’d like to get to a point where I’m working in various different mediums to keep it all interesting.

2.    Where do you generally come up with your ideas?

All over.  The Fire Inside came about from wanting to work with superhero-style characters but in a dramatic/thriller setting.  Better Together came out of reading the title of a book and instantly a story popping in my head.  My ideas come to me while I go about my day (like overhearing someone say something or reading a line in a book incorrectly, etc) and, some of them, team up to make bigger, grander ideas.

3.    Who is your favorite author and how has he/she inspired your work?

Stephen King.  Through his books, King taught me how to tell a story and how not to worry if the idea is too strange.  Sometimes I’m amazed at Stephen King’s audacity to tell the tales that he tells.  It’s inspiring.

4.    Which of your books is your favorite?

That’s hard.  I like both of them for different reasons.  I love Better Together for Paul’s sweetness and his interactions with Max.  I love The Fire Inside because of Jack’s drive and I know where the story is going to go.

5.    Describe yourself in 5 words.....

Doesn’t play well with others. Ha ha ha!

6.    How long have you been writing?

A long time.  The first time I remember writing a story was in fifth grade and I had to do a literacy project.  I chose to write my version of the back story of what happened before the first Star Wars movie (A New Hope, Vol 4).  They were massive, ell –encompassing stories that really stretched my imagination.  When I saw the Star Wars Prequels many years later, I was a little let down.  Sometimes I think my stories were better.

I seriously started writing in ’95.  In ’97, I went to Chicago and studied a year at the Columbia College of Chicago in their fiction writing department.  It’s an amazing place and I learned so much.  Since then, I have been writing earnestly with the intention of getting published.  Last year, after years of being told that agents didn’t know how to market my books, I decided to take matters into my own hands.

7.    If someone wrote a biography about you, what would the title be?

The Indignant Penguin and the Curse of the Golden Doubloon.  It would have nothing to do with the story but I think the title is catchy...

8.    If you could be any fictional character who would you choose and why?

Not Ron Weasely, can I just say that.  Seriously, Ron’s family is always like, “Harry saved our lives!”  If Ron hadn’t been friends with Harry, he’d have less dead family members, no brother who likes his meat rare, and a father who has a massive fear of snakes now.

If I could be a fictional character, I would like to be Simon Morley of Jack Finney’s novel, Time and Again.  In the book, Simon goes back in time to New York, 1882.  I’m kind of a nut for that time period and I think it would be fun to time travel there time.  Also he’s an artist, so he draws what he sees while he’s there.  As a closet artist myself, it would be great to have that chance to draw what others can’t see anymore.

9.    If you were a superhero, what would your super power be?

Colossus.  He’s from the X-Men and he can turn into metal.  Think of how many people you could help if you could be impervious to cold, heat, and bullets.

10.  What are your best and worst habits?

All my habits are bad.  I know my worst habit is procrastination.  I’m really, really bad at it.  My best habit is trusting my instincts when I write.  I don’t think I would be able to get anything done if I didn’t trust that what I am working on is good enough to continue.

Thank you so much for this interview!  It was so much fun.  If you like what you’ve read, check out my books.  I know you’ll like them.

We want to thank Raymond for the opportunity to review his awesome books and for taking the time to answer some questions for us! We highly recommend you check out both his books!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Awesome Indie/Self Published Reads (3)



Welcome back to another week of Indie/Self Published Recommendations! This week we are posting some of Kim's favorite's that she has reviewed her on the blog.



Ghellow Road by T.H. Waters 
Kim's Review: Ghellow Road
Buy the book: Amazon / Barnes & Noble only $2.99!

Ghellow Road is a literary diary of a young girl's journey through the tangled labyrinth that is her life. Theresa's story begins in a large midwestern city where she is born to loving parents in 1965. For a brief moment in time, her life is full, as is her heart, and the world is hers to receive without consequence. As time passes and Theresa grows, supernatural forces begin to shape her existence, no matter how carefully her father colors the empty spaces of her world. After a series of tragic events, Theresa and her family seek refuge in a small Minnesota town nestled near the shores of Rainy Lake. She creates a new life for herself there, sharing adventures with friends and riding the ups and downs of adolescence. Yet through it all, her mother remains forever lost in the prison of her own mind and forever lost to Theresa. The young girl feels as though she is leading a double life, one that no one else could possibly understand. She begins to peer at the world as if looking through a thick, black veil, never certain which pieces are illusion and which are not. Through the kindness and support of the townspeople, she eventually summons the strength to survive. This is a story of tragedy and triumph. This is the story of my life.

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33 Days: Touring In A Van. Sleeping On Floors. Chasing A Dream by Bill See
Kim's review: 33 Days
Buy the book: Amazon / Barnes & Noble only $2.99!

For 33 days in the summer of 1987, Divine Weeks toured in a beat up old Ford Econoline van, sleeping on strangers’ floors, never sure they’d make enough gas money to get them to the next town. This deeply personal, coming of age, on the road memoir follows critically acclaimed 80s indie alt rock band Divine Weeks’ first tour. Liberated from alcoholic upbringings and rigid cultural constraints, all they have is their music and each other’s friendship. The road is filled with yuppies, brothels, riots, sleeping on floors, spiked drinks, DJs with no pants, and battles with racism. They set out on the road to discovery to drink in all they could and maybe sell a few records. They grew up instead.


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Better Together by Raymond Rose
Kim's review:  Better Together
Buy the book: Amazon / Barnes & Noble only $2.99!

Paul Rhoads, a successful horror novelist, has moved back to his hometown in Pennsylvania. Moving back home turns out to be more than just returning to his roots but starting up a relationship with his high school sweetheart, Annie. Annie, recently divorced, is the mother of a precious eight month old, Max. However, when Annie dies in a freak car accident, Paul finds himself catapulted into the role of father and decides to do something he would never have imagined himself doing: raise Max as his own.
 
We hope that you check out these books and enjoy them as much as we did!

Review - Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott

Title: Living Dead Girl            
Author: Elizabeth Scott
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release Date: 2008
Pages: 170
Genre: YA
Source: Library

Once upon a time, I was a little girl who disappeared.
Once upon a time, my name was not Alice.
Once upon a time, I didn’t know how lucky I was.

When Alice was ten, Ray took her away from her family, her friends her life. She learned to give up all power, to endure all pain. She waited for the nightmare to be over.
Now Alice is fifteen and Ray still has her, but he speaks more and more of her death. He does not know it is what she longs for. She does not know he has something more terrifying than death in mind for her.
This is Alice’s story. It is one you have never heard, and one you will never, ever forget. (Goodreads)




Kim’s Take –

This had to be one of the most disturbing books I have read in a long time. At the same time, it was excellent and I read it within a few hours. It just pulled me in and I couldn’t stop reading because I had to know what was going to happen next.

Alice is abducted by Ray, a pedophile, when she is 10 years old. She has been under his control for 5 years now. Alice is not her real name but that is the name Ray has chosen for her.

Despite the freedom Ray has given her over time, he has brainwashed her so badly that she will never try to escape. He knows where her family lives and will kill them if she leaves. She believes him whole-heartedly. She is not the first child Ray has kept captive. There was a previous girl who was found dead in a river after Ray no longer had use for her once she lost her childlike appearance.

Alice knows she will ultimately be killed when she also does not fit his child fantasy. And she welcomes it. She even thinks of it daily. It will be her only escape and finally freedom from he abuse she suffers from Ray on a daily basis. Food is kept from her to keep her small childlike figure and she is raped daily and is often beaten.

When Ray speaks of kidnapping another child, Alice is all for it and agrees to help him find a little girl. I found this very disturbing. But until you are in Alice’s place, and feel dead inside, it is hard to understand her willingness. It is the only way she can guarantee her death and freedom from her torturous life.

The book comes to a dramatic and tragic ending during the process of executing the plan to kidnap this newly chosen innocent child.

It is narrated by Alice herself and is so sad to her the way she thinks of her life and her feeling that she is dead already. Any emotion has been erased from her after 5 years of daily abuse.

Though it was a sad, disturbing story, I highly recommend it. It is definitely a story that will stick with you for a long, long time.

Kim’s Rating – 5/5

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Sarah Dessen Giveaway Winner!


We have a winner for our Sarah Dessen week giveaway  of This Lullaby and The Truth About Forever!


The Winner Is -

Heidi @ Heaven is a Bookstore!

Congrats Heidi!
An email has been sent to the winner and she has 48 hrs to claim her prize.

Thanks to everyone who entered and a BIG thank you to YA Bibliophile and The Reading Housewives for hosting Sarah Dessen week!

Review - Zombies Don't Cry by Rusty Fischer

Title: Zombies Don't Cry
Author: Rusty Fischer
Publisher: Medallion Press
Release date: May 1, 2011
Pages: 371
Genre: YA
Source: Author
Buy the book: Amazon

Summary via Goodreads:
In the sleepy small town of Barracuda Bay, Maddy Swift leads the life of a fairly typical teenager, but while attending a party one night, Maddy is struck by lightning and awakens to realize she has been reanimated and turned into a zombie. While becoming acquainted with her new "lifestyle," Maddy stumbles upon two unexpected undead chaperones, fellow students Dane and Chloe, who begin to teach her the ways of zombie life, including defending the populace from Zerkers—the bad zombies. Together, on prom night, the three teens must ultimately defend Barracuda Bay High from an all-out zombie Armageddon.

Missy's take - 

Wow people! Rusty Fischer has officially become one of my favorite authors! Zombies Don't Cry was such a fun, hilarious take on a zombie world. If I had been able, I would have totally read this in one sitting. I carried it with me everywhere and read it every single second I got even if it was only a page!

A few chapters into the book we find out that zombies are "created" after some sort of electrical shock. Such is the case for Maddy when she is struck by lightning. The thing is that they are pretty much just like you and me except, of course, they are the undead and they need to eat brains. When a zombie is turned by another zombie though, they are know as "Zerkers". These are the crazy zombies that want to run around eating people and giving those good zombies a bad name!

After being turned Maddy finds out that there are all sorts of rules to being a zombie. For example, she can't date a Normal even though she has being eying the new kicker for the football team, Stamp. There is even a book on how to be a zombie, appropriately titled, The Guide to the Proper Care and Feeding of Zombies, 24th Edition

Maddy has to be one of the most hilarious main characters I have ever read in a book. She was funny and witty and completely sarcastic. Who doesn't love a hilariously sarcastic character? She also had an awesome comeback to anything that was thrown at her and she was a tough girl to boot. She is someone that I would totally want as a best friend! 

This was a total laugh out loud read for me. I absolutely love those kind. I know you know what I mean. Like when you are sitting in the waiting room at your doctors office and totally laughing, then you notice everyone is staring at you like you are a crazy person because you didn't realize you were really laughing out loud? Yeah, that kind. That was totally me the other day.
 
Rusty Fischer is one heck of an amazing author and I will be grabbing up any books that he puts out in the future. This one will definitely be sitting my "favorites" section of my bookshelf and I will also be leaving a spot open for his next book, Vamplayers, which comes February 2012.

Overall this was a brilliant book. It was full of amazingness! Zombies, comedy, action and a dash of romance! I can't ask for a whole lot more!


Missy's rating - 

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (16)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill over at Breaking the Spine. It lets us spotlight what upcoming books we can't wait for!

This week I am waiting on -

Dead Rules by Randy Russell
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: June 21, 2011

Summary:

Sometimes falling in love means you have to kill somebody.

Jana Webster and Michael Haynes were destined to be together forever. Of that, Jana was sure.

But Jana just died—in a bowling accident. And now she’s trapped in Dead School. Jana is certain that it won’t be long before Michael kills himself in order to spend eternity with her—but the days are passing and Michael is, inexplicably, still alive. So Jana decides to take matters into her own hands. And nothing—not even Dead School bad boy Mars Dreamcote’s enticingly warm touch or the devastating secret he holds about her death—will stop her from making her dreams come true.


Romeo and Juliet meets Heathers in this hilariously macabre take on paranormal romance, packed with heart-stopping suspense and sizzling star-crossed love.
 
This one sounds SO good! I LOVE the movie Heathers so any book that is anything like it is probably right up my alley! 
 
What are you waiting on??? 

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Tune In Tuesday (14)



This meme is hosted by Ginger at GReads & showcases music. Each week you can post an old or new song so that it gains more interest! So head on over and link up.




I absolutely love Chris Daughtry. I think he has a ridiculously amazing voice and have loved him since his American Idol days. With that said, this is my favorite song by him.


Tennessee Line - Daughtry 


Monday, May 16, 2011

Review - Ghellow Road by T.H. Waters

Title: Ghellow Road (Amazon)
Author: T.H. Waters
Publisher: Verefor Publishing Companies
Release Date: 2010
Pages: 290
Genre: Autobiography
Source: Author

Ghellow Road is a literary diary of a young girl's journey through the tangled labyrinth that is her life. Theresa's story begins in a large midwestern city where she is born to loving parents in 1965. For a brief moment in time, her life is full, as is her heart, and the world is hers to receive without consequence. As time passes and Theresa grows, supernatural forces begin to shape her existence, no matter how carefully her father colors the empty spaces of her world. After a series of tragic events, Theresa and her family seek refuge in a small Minnesota town nestled near the shores of Rainy Lake. She creates a new life for herself there, sharing adventures with friends and riding the ups and downs of adolescence. Yet through it all, her mother remains forever lost in the prison of her own mind and forever lost to Theresa. The young girl feels as though she is leading a double life, one that no one else could possibly understand. She begins to peer at the world as if looking through a thick, black veil, never certain which pieces are illusion and which are not. Through the kindness and support of the townspeople, she eventually summons the strength to survive. This is a story of tragedy and triumph. This is the story of my life. (Goodreads)

Kim’s take:

This book is a sad and compelling look into the dysfunctional life Theresa lived growing up with a mother who is a schizophrenic. Her loving and active mother, Rainy, becomes someone Theresa no longer recognizes. As a child, Theresa does not understand mental illness and is often terrified of her mother’s actions. Theresa’s mother is hospitalized several times for schizophrenic episodes. The first few times, her grandmother was able to stay at their house to care for Theresa and her brother, Mikie. For unknown reasons, the children are sent to a foster home during one of their mother’s hospital stays.

Theresa’s father has always been a rock for the kids and tries to keep their lives as normal as possible, despite their mother’s mental illness. Unfortunately, after losing his job, he becomes unable to cope and becomes very depressed. Though she is very young, Theresa is able to notice the changes in her father. One tragic evening, her father commits suicide, and Theresa loses any chance of living a normal childhood.

Her mother moves them to her hometown to stay with her parents until they can get on their feet. Theresa has never met her maternal grandparents and is devastated to leave her beloved grandmother behind along with the only life she has ever known. Everything in her life has changed which is very traumatic to a small child.

It was interesting and sad to read about the stages her mother went through trying to deal with her illness. She would seem to do fine for a short while and then everything would crash down and life would become too hard for her to deal with and she would shut down. Not long after moving into the first place of their own since her father’s death, Theresa’s brother runs away to live with another family and never returns. Their connection to each other is forever broken.

As the book progressed, Rainy’s delusions and ability to rationalize seem to become worse with each episode. For example, she purchases an ant farm as a gift for a graduating family member without the understanding that it is an inappropriate gift, despite Theresa trying to intercede.

Through all of this, Theresa seems to understandably be untrusting. She has been constantly sent to live with others when her mother did not feel like dealing with her or was unable to. In the end, she comes to live at her beloved Aunt Mae’s house where she is provided a place of love and stability. My heart truly broke for this little girl who was robbed of her childhood.

T.H. Waters did an excellent job of detailing the experiences through the eyes of a child. And going through your teen years is hard enough without having to try to hide your mother’s mental illness. Theresa seems to persevere despite having the deck stacked against her and I found myself rooting for her throughout the book.

I thought the book was excellent with an easy to read style of writing. It should be considered necessary reading for anyone with the need to understand what it is like to live with someone suffering a mental illness.

I’d highly recommend!

Kim’s Rating

Sunday, May 15, 2011

In My Mailbox (16)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi over at The Story Siren that allows to showcase the books that we have received/purchased over the past week.

Book Tour -
Epic Fail by Claire Lebznik (thanks to Ginger at GReads!) 


Review-
A Need So Beautiful by Suzanne Young
The Beginning of After by Jennifer Castle
Deadly Cool by Gemma Halliday
The Carrier of the Mark by Leigh Fallon
Something Deadly This Way Comes by Kim Harrison

(Big thanks to HarperTeen!!)

Considering I am still on my book  buying ban I had a fantastic week. I am not sure how long the ban will last though.... I have been having quite a difficult time with it already!

What did you get this week??

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Sarah Dessen Giveaway

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Hey guys! Since I am way lame and have been ridiculously busy over the last couple of weeks, I haven't had a chance to put together a review for Sarah Dessen week. I didn't want to completely suck and not do anything though so I decided to do the giveaway I had planned for when I posted the review. Here's what one lucky winner will receive!


The Truth About Forever 
and 
This Lullaby

This giveaway is US only 
Following is NOT required
You must be 13 or older to enter
One entry per person
Giveaway ends 11:59pm EST Wed 5/18
Fill out the form below to enter