Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Quick reviews: Resenting the Hero (Hero #1) and The Hero Strikes Back (hero #2) by Moira J. Moore

Quick reviews: usually this will be used as my kind of cop out when I've read a series really quickly and don't want to do long individual reviews (because it's all kind of blended together in my head), but also don't want to do one massive review (because I haven't finished the series yet).

Source: Bought

Publication Date: Feb. 2006

Short Synopsis (Goodreads)In a realm beset by natural disasters, only the magical abilities of the bonded Pairs—Source and Shield—make the land habitable and keep the citizenry safe. The ties that bind them are far beyond the relationships between lovers or kin—and last their entire lives… Whether they like it or not.

Since she was a child, Dunleavy Mallorough has been nurturing her talents as a Shield, preparing for her day of bonding. Unfortunately, fate decrees Lee’s partner to be the legendary, handsome, and unbearably self-assured Lord Shintaro Karish. Sure, he cuts a fine figure with his aristocratic airs and undeniable courage. But Karish’s popularity and notoriety—in bed and out—make him the last Source Lee ever wanted to be stuck with.
Overall Impression:

My review: How horrible is that cover? Very. This entire series has awful, awful covers. While the characters positions and poses make sense (more than the others do) it's the cartoonyness of it that throws you off. This book ended up being much more serious than I had expected, and while that wasn't a bad thing, expecting a romp in the park and not getting it does kind of deflate you a  little.

Lee (short for Dunleavy) was a nice enough character to follow. Her internal dialogue was witty and often times irreverent and very many times was exactly what I would have said or thought, so riding around in her head was fun.

Shintaro was a good character as well, not nearly as shallow as Lee, or we, are lead to believe. Not as much bonding happened in this one as I would have liked, but it was good.

The world building is interesting and fairly easy to follow. A pretty neat idea actually. The plot kept things going, but wasn't as much of a drive to finish it as a desire to know the characters was.

Overall, good enough to continue the series.

Source: Bought

Publication Date: August 2006

Shorty Synopsis (Goodreads)In a realm beset by natural disasters, only the magical abilities of the bonded Pairs—Source and Shield—make the land habitable and keep the citizenry safe. The ties that bind them are far beyond the relationships between lovers or kin—and last their entire lives…

Whether they like it or not.

The weather in the city of High Scape is off the charts. It’s snowing in the middle of summer, and the townsfolk are desperate for Shield Lee Mallorough and Source Shintaro Karish to fix it—which they can’t do. But try explaining that to an angry mob…

Meanwhile, there’s a crazed killer targeting aristocrats. Karish has forfeited the Dukedom of Westsea to continue working as a Source, but Lee fears that technicality won’t matter to the murderer. It certainly doesn’t matter to Karish’s mother, who’s bound and determined that he take the title.

Only by working together will Lee and Karish be able to figure out the weather, catch the killer before it’s too late, and most importantly…get rid of Karish’s mother.

Overall Impression:

My Review: Another awful awful cover! And the titles don't make much sense to me either. And who's the hero? Lee and Taro work together as a team, so I don't understand the singularity of that. The titles, and cover, would lead you to believe that Taro is the main character, or main focus, but that's not it at all.

And this is a good thing. I'm reading this series for the building relationship between Taro and Lee. They are both interesting characters, each having their own strengths and weaknesses, and they are loyal to each other. The shenanigans that just happen to follow them around everywhere are hardly their fault.

This was another quick read. I liked it, but didn't love it. I expected more from both of the mothers being in the area, drawing more out from or revealing more about their children. There is a lot of plot fodder possibility with them, but it didn't amount to as much as I was expecting. Enough, but not as much as the cover would lead you to believe.

Overall, don't believe these covers! The writing and storyline and characters are deeper than they portray, but they also don't do a good job of setting up expectations in other respects. *sigh* Not as much is resolved in terms of the weather either. Things are introduced, alluded to, somewhat worked on, but no really resolved. Good enough to continue with the series though, but mainly because I want there to be more progress made on the relationship between Lee and Taro.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

The Search for Middle-Grade/ Young Adult Science Fiction: Begins

I would most certainly describe myself as someone who likes science fiction. I grew up with Star Trek: The Next Generation, am a Whooligan at heart (bow ties are cool), and am still peeved that Firefly was cancelled. My reading tastes of late have tended more towards fantasy and historical fiction, as opposed to scifi, but there's always enough room in my TBR or on my bookshelf for intergalactic travel and aliens (and I really hope that personal jet packs are invented during my life time. I'd also like to, at some point, leave the Earth's atmosphere...preferably under controlled circumstances and of my own volition, but we won't get into that right now).

And though I didn't really excel at the maths or sciences in school, I appreciate how necessary they are, admire those who are good at them, and understand enough to be impressed with the advances and strides that we are making today in those areas.

But apparently there is not enough emphasis in schools, or interest in younger children, in things such as Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. The government, as well as many private companies, realize that if they want to hire people capable in these fields they need to support the schools and students to make that happen. Billions of dollars have been donated throughout the years helping to fund scholarships and training for these fields.

And these are good things, but what else needs to happen? Part of what has set fire to this search of mine was reading a few articles about Ray Canterbury, a Republican delegate for West Virginia who is trying to pass a bill to amend the Code of West Virginia so that science fiction books are incorporated into the curriculum for middle and high school students. How awesome is that?! He says "one of the things about science fiction is that it gives you this perspective that as long as you have an imagination and it's grounded in some sort of practical knowledge, you can do anything you want to" (The Guardian).

For some reason, I hadn't made that connection before. OF COURSE amazing books about robots, and space travel, discovery and innovation are going to help inspire people to actually study those things in real life! Books have always inspired me! It hasn't gotten to the point yet where I have built a teleportation device (that I'm admitting to the government) but it could for someone else!

What it comes down to is this: if I want my jet pack I'm either going to have to brush up on my maths and physics (*cough* not likely), or I'm going to have to help and hope that the younger generation get inspired and make it for me.

How am I going to do that? By reading all of the MG/YA science fiction I can get my hands on. My reasoning is: I need to know what's out there to be able to recommend it. Right?

I've already started some preliminary searching and have found that, surprisingly, it's not as clear cut as you would think it would be. This is going to be a journey, and I invite you to join me! Nothing too literary or great is going to happen (at least on purpose), but my interest has been piqued.

What MG/YA Sci-fi do you remember reading or have read recently?  

Let's inspire the younger generation!
Let's allow ourselves to be inspired!

Come on people, 
Star Fleet isn't going to build itself!!

Friday, April 26, 2013

Review: Ill-fated by Evelyn Ink

Overall Impression

Source: Author for honest review

Publication Date: August 2012 (Amazon Link)

Short Synopsis (Goodreads)“The stars have aligned to make my life grim and loathsome,” fourteen year old Leila Edgewick stands on the brink of disaster; balancing the fate of Bainland and her father’s legacy against a vague, ill-fated prophecy. A meaningless number, a luckless red moon, and worst of all– a star that falls south– send Leila on a quest she does not expect to survive.
Simultaneously, an unknown boy wakes up in the sunken hull of a decrepit cargo ship. Captured and mind-locked, the boy– dubbed “Sam” by the ship’s crew– must escape the infamous Bonesplitter and the dark schemes of one Captain Erastacus Oren. 
All the while, Leila journeys out of Bainland. Crossing the wall for the first time in her life, she finds a world where magic meets machine. Aeroskiffs, daguerreotypes, and automatons merge with the ‘earthdolven’ magic of the South, leaving her to question, “What is sorcery and what is science?”  
When Leila and Sam's paths cross, fate ties them together, sending them deep into the Ramble in search of the Wasteland Witches. Plagued by Sam's erratic memory and Leila's dubious rational, they must outwit the Southland drudge hunters, and take on the dangers of the Ramble: sandwolves, bloodswamps, and the Kartivause – terrifying night creatures from the Shadowland.
Their friendship develops quickly, but as Leila’s quest unravels, Sam’s past is pieced together– and when Sam’s identity is finally revealed, Leila must face up to a bloody family history that could rip their friendship apart...

My Review: I was approached by Ms. Ink to do a review for her recently published book and was immediately captured by the synopsis. It sounded like just my type of adventure book and I was eager to try it. (side note: don't you just love this cover! The first one I was not a fan of, but regardless liked the synopsis as stated before, but this cover I think grabs the idea of the book and portrays it beautifully!)

In terms of strengths, in descending order, I would go: world building, characters, plot. 

To expound: Ms. Ink deftly introduced us to a whole new world without having to do too much explaining. It wasn't anything overly complex (those can sometimes get tiresome to keep straight) but it was just different enough that I had the fantasy vibe that I so love when I read it. There were different words for things that we have in every day life (woolies, which I assumed were sheep, and popina for kitchen) that were surprisingly frequent throughout the book and could even be made into a dictionary, but here again was the strength, a dictionary wasn't needed! Being able to balance that was very well done and I enjoyed the world that was created.

The characters in this book were quite likable. Leila was brave and quite often reckless. She had her redeeming qualities and was an easy enough protagonist to follow, though sometimes she acted her age of just 14 years. Sam was an easier person to like and the narration jumps between their two points of view. This was deftly done as well and only once or twice did it take me a moment to realize who it was that was thinking something (the changes aren't necessarily by chapter or divided by icons, but happen all throughout the story). There is a bit of a romance brewing, but it felt forced sometimes, and other times there was the tension that makes me go squee inside, but it kind of got skimmed over, so not as much fulfillment there as I would have liked. 

There were other characters throughout that, even though they were only present for a short time, made an impression. Some had too short of a time, however, and I wish more could have been done with them.

For plot, I was really grabbed at the beginning of the story and quickly read through almost the entire first half in a matter of days. The pacing was well done, new characters were introduced, and atmosphere was present, which was much appreciated. However, and this is why my review is for a 3 star rating, the end just wasn't as strong as the beginning lead me to expect. Things became a little too easy to guess what would happen and fell a little too easily into place. Even if there were other books after this one, and the ending, though it concludes, leaves that opening, I wanted more from this first book. It didn't fall flat, per se, but the ending didn't live up to its potential. Good, but not great.

Overall, I would recommend this book. I was very impressed with the skill of Ms. Ink's writing and enjoyed the time I spent with her characters. As she continues to refine her craft she is one to watch!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Author guest post: Evelyn Ink

I was approached by author Evelyn Ink a while back to read her book Ill-Fated, which I was quite impressed with and will be reviewing tomorrow. First, however, I wanted to introduce you to Mrs. Ink with an author guest post. Without further ado:

Dear Readers,

Much like the heroine of my novel, the stars may have aligned to make your life grim and loathsome if you are thinking of reading Ill-fated. I, Evelyn Ink, the sad conveyor of this dark and terrifying story feel obligated to write down the events as they were told to me. However, you as a young and attractive reader, have no such obligation to read these events. I’ve heard there are several fantastic vampire romances out at the moment depicting thoughtless and weak girls trapped in a paranormal love triangle. Perhaps one of those books is the book for you.

I myself am considering a book about vampire space gnomes trapped in a paranormal love triangle, or a book about a steampunk zombie who is both remarkably inventive and trapped in a paranormal love triangle. I will report back on the excellent writing and philosophical depth of these books after I have read them.

Sadly, Ill-fated is not one of those sorts of books. Not only is there no love triangle (can this even be classified as YA?), but the protagonist, Leila Edgewick, is a sassy and resourceful girl, if not a bit on the cynical side, and placed in a very unfortunate, if not–– dare I say … ill-fated position. If you are one of those peculiar readers who don’t mind darkness and danger over fluff and pillow talk, knives over nail polish, and monsters that bite rather than sparkle, perhaps this is the book for you. 

Read at your own risk, and don’t swim for at least a half hour after reading.

Evelyn Ink

If this pricked your curiosity, you can skulk about on my blog: 

Ill-fated is available on amazon: 

Author Bio

The plaque on my lawn reads the Edgington Mansion, it was once thought to be lovely I suppose, though now rather decrepit and quite full of secrets. I live here with my husband. He is a philosopher, and quite mad. Our house is full of books. Stacked, piled, and always advancing out and away from the shelves that ought to keep them in. I paint and draw, write and read, and occasionally go down into the dark, dismal, cobweb-creepy dungeon, to do laundry.

If interested, you may choose to follow me on my blog or check in with me on facebook. However, due to my absolute terror of electronics and a crippling phobia of the social media (technical term: Socmephobia), my blog posts tend to be infrequent and erratic. Also, due to several post exile investigations I am generally prevented from giving any specific information regarding my whereabouts...

Thanks to Evelyn Ink (I just love that name!) for stopping by. 
Be sure to come back tomorrow for my review of Ill-Fated!

Cha-cha-changes! New blog header and my own domain name!!

Isn't it beautiful?  I am a very happy person. I don't want to do anything but look at my blog right now. *sighs*

Inspired by The Book Smugglers amazing new header, I decided to be gutsy and ask the same person who did theirs if they would be willing to do mine. And she was!! The fantastically talented

worked with me tirelessly to come up with a header that was uniquely mine and fit the theme of my blog. Don't you just love the book that they are using as a blanket?! And the fact that it kind of seems like the lights are out but the words are glowing with their own inner light? (note: the text of the book actually comes from a poem I wrote for this blog that is on my about page) And can you find the mustaches?! I am just so incandescently happy right now. Good things are a comin'!

And because I couldn't just stop there, my blog is no longer http://booksbeforebed.blogspot.com but just the simple and amazing and I'm-still-not-used-to-it
How cool is that? I may have shot myself in the foot and not known it, but from what I understand things should be pretty seamless. My .blogspot.com will forward things to the regular website, and I hope nothing has changed in terms of behind the scenes, but hey, live and learn, right?

In the line up is a new rating system that I am working with Jacqueline on (I've told you she's amazing right?) and some possible business cards. I'm becoming legit yo! Next thing you know I'll be heading to BEA or something crazy like that!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

I FINALLY have social media icons...and you can too!

For quite a while now I have seen, and I will admit, coveted, the cute social media icons that EVERYONE and their mom seems to have on their blog. I had No Idea how they were doing it and so I just kind of fumbled along.

What I have accomplished (points proudly to top right corner) turned about better than I could have hoped I am very happy ^__^

Thanks go to the following websites that helped me accomplish it! It wasn't quite as painful as I had expected, but hey, you learn as you go along!

My most adorable Mail, Goodreads, and RSS feed came from Dindin Does. Plus, she says how to add them to your blog and her code has a size adjuster written into it which was Exactly what I needed. Perfect!!

I got my amazon icon from HERE. This one has TONS of free icons and is searchable, so I really recommend it

I learned how add the icons to the internet and then to my blog HERE

of note: some fun book social media icons HERE

And basically if you just search 'Social Media Icons' you will come up with TONS of stuff. I guess my problem had been I didn't know the right key words. I was calling them buttons. Go figure.

Good Luck!

Friday, April 19, 2013

Review: Angelfall (Penryn and the End of Days #1) by Susan Ee

Overall Impression 1/2

Source: Library

Publication Date: May 2011

Short Synopsis (Goodreads)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.
My Review: I had avoided this book for a very long time, just because the hype was so great, but finally a glowing review from Small Review convinced me to try. And it was worth all of the hype...until the last 1/4 of the book.

Let me explain: I would give about a 4.5 stars to the beginning of this book. Penryn was a great character. I appreciated her efforts, she tries to protect her family, she has to put up with a lot (end of the world, gangs, really crazy mom, handicapped sister, starving, etc) but she remains positive and is realistic.

Enter Raffe. We are inclined not to trust him becuase he is an angel, but I grew to like him, quite a lot, along with Penryn. They make a really good team and I was happy that they had each other to rely on.

And then about 3/4 of the way through the book, things just didn't make as much sense. I could follow along with what was happening, but it just didn't have as much foundation as the rest of the book felt like. The Angel society didn't feel complete to me and didn't feel very strong. Yes, enemies need to have weaknesses, but these guys just seemed like posers. It seemed like they only had power because the humans gave them power.

And then some other things happen and I won't go into it, but it just felt too random. Yes, I can be thrown curveballs in books, and I actually like when I am surprised, but what happens just didn't feel natural to me. Maybe more background will be revealed in the next ones (and I will continue this series, I do want to see what happens) that will shed light on some of the actions of the last part. Just frustrating.

Overall, I'd recommend it, but honestly break it down to: first 3/4 of the book= 4.5 stars, last 1/4 of the book= 2.5 stars. Now, the rest of the series could redeem that, and help everything make more sense, but it just felt rushed and not founded like the rest of the book did.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Author Event: Robin LaFevers

I had the esteemed pleasure of meeting Ms. LaFevers this past weekend while she was in DC for a signing at Politics and Prose.

She talked about how a theme in her books is empowerment and how in her YA books she wanted to have romance and a love story, but on equal footing with the guy, not where the girl gives everything up and that is her whole world. She spoke about her writing process and how she keeps character journals. Although, she admitted, some characters are fully formed, and Sybella was one of those.

Here is a picture of my signed Grave Mercy. I also was able to get Dark Triumph and my copy of Theodosia (her MG series) signed as well. A very pleasant and very informative event!


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