Tuesday, May 7, 2013

The ingenious Jacqueline Pytyck strikes again!

I have a lovely new header. Really lovely.

But I couldn't just stop there. I thought some business cards would round things out nicely, but when I saw the designs, my creativity juices just exploded!!

I wanted those designs for my background! 
I wanted those designs for fabric! 
I wanted those designs for Wallpaper!! 

And the Amazing Jacqueline did it all,
no matter how silly my requests seemed.

You can see one of the designs she created in the giveaway button ------------------->
(isn't it such a pretty orange? We called it 'sorbet orange').

<---------------------The background that you now see on my blog was done by her as well. Do you see the books? The mustaches? Isn't it awesome?!

I have plans for these patterns, my friends. Lots of plans. I will share those exciting plans with you as they come to fruition, but just for now, know that awesomeness such as these exists.

AND because I have no self control and I really really liked working with Jacqueline and what she came up with....I decided to re-vamp my rating system. Jacqueline took it and ran with it and it is amazing. Kind of like Newberry award stamps, don't you think?

These aren't just mustaches, these are mustaches!

I love them!! *insert squee of happiness*

Monday, May 6, 2013

The (probable) death of GFC and a (for certain) giveaway

So, it seems that the death of GFC (Google Friends Connect) will soon be upon us. (Parajunkee makes a very good case. She convinced me! And then, when I updated my blog lay out the GFC widget thing wasn't working, so I just got rid of it).

To somewhat avoid being caught with my proverbial pants down I am being preemptive and dropping GFC before it can officially drop me (so :p Google...although it's kind of already happened, but whatevs). I don't know about you, but I haven't seen anything official yet (I just googled it and didn't come up with anything recent) but then I could just be living in a hole (why is it so dark down here?).

Is the (for certain) giveaway that I mentioned above connected? Yes, yes it is. Because I'm a pussy. I haven't focused that much, at all, on having people sign up through email and so now I'm a little worried that the few people who care about reading my blog will be flushed down the toilet when whatever happens with the GFC thing actually happens.

Basically the message I am trying to send with the giveaway is "Hey! I try to provide good content and we both love books so if you want to follow me, follow me through email!"

I'm kind of slow to change, so this is a really big step for me. Once I've made a decision though, I want to act on it before I loose my nerve or over think it (kind of like pulling off a band-aid, or jumping off a bridge. How this turns out will determine which analogy is more appropriate).

No matter what happens, I'll keep reading!! THAT will never change. If I have to start from scratch in terms of readers, oh well, it's been nice knowing you! Maybe you'll come back, maybe you won't. I'll still haunt my favorite blogs (and follow them through email just in case my feed gets shut down as well). This is a really fun community and I am SO glad I got into it (you make it so that my TBR will never end!! This is a good thing...). I hope you'll stick with me and that we'll have many awesome book adventures together. Either way,

keep the book light burning bright 
and keep reading!

Giveaway specifics:
-your choice of either The 5th Wave or Siege and Storm
-must be over 13 to enter
-open international (wherever Book Depository goes)
-open from May 7th (12AM) - June 3rd (12AM)
-this giveaway is only to encourage you to follow me through email by drawing notice to the fact that I have deleted my GFC button. I don't do giveaways that often, but prefer to spend the time (and money) on feeding my book addiction. I'm not trying to buy your loyalty! Hopefully that will come naturally through our interactions together. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Review: Coronets and Steel (Dobrenica #1) by Sherwood Smith

Source: Library

Publication Date: Sep. 2010

Short Synopsis (Goodreads)California girl Kim Murray is unsatisfied with grad school and restless in life. Modern men disappoint her, and she studies ballet and fencing because they remind her of older, more romantic times. 

She lives with her parents and her beloved but secretive aristocratic grandmother, who speaks only French and refuses to share stories about the mysterious family she left behind in Europe, inspiring Kim to travel there and find her roots. 

Kim soon finds herself swept up in an adventure of fantastic deceptions and passionate intrigue-and a shocking realization about her own bloodline that leaves her reeling.

My Review: This is NOT my most favorite of Sherwood Smith's books. I don't think it's a good representation of what she is capable of as an author. Before I start my review, let me just say that if you are going to read a Sherwood Smith book, start off with Crown Duel (which is one of my most favorite books of all time) or the Inda series if you are really into complex worlds and multiple characters...just don't start with this one.

I will admit that it has been a while since I read this book, so all of the details are not as present. However, that can also be the more telling aspect of how I ultimately felt about the book and what has stuck with me.

I first found out about this book from Lisa over at Read.Breathe.Relax. I had seen amazing things from Sherwood Smith (as stated above) and so wanted to give this one a try.

It was engaging, enough for me to read it fairly quickly, and to want to read the follow up....but there was something missing. It didn't feel alive enough for me.

The story had potential, Kim is a likable enough character. She's no pansy, that's for sure! This girl jumps form a moving train! The other characters were ok, but didn't have enough depth and being to them.

Overall, I just wanted MORE from this book. Ms. Smith did such a FANTASTIC job with the romantic tension in Crown Duel (it makes me smile just to think of it) that this one felt to be sorely lacking. The story was interesting, but didn't have the same feeling as her others books in terms of depth and caring for the characters, or even complexity for that matter!

If you want to, give it a try, it is interesting. I just wouldn't recommend buying it. 

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Book Buddy Review: Maisie Dobbs (Maisie Dobbs #1) by Jacqueline Winspear

Book Buddy Review: This is where myself and a friend review a book that we both read, a la The Books Smugglers Joint Reviews. My friend Annie will most often be joining me as we have a monthly book club with just the two of us.

Let us know if you've read the book as well and what you thought of it!

I told you we were doing a book a month, right? This one just so happens to have been February's book. It's taken us a bit to get this going, but we'll catch up soon enough! Annie and I take turns choosing the books. This one was mine. I had seen it on a list somewhere...and am so glad I did!

Source: Library

Publication Date: May 2004

Short Synopsis (Goodreads)Maisie Dobbs, junior housemaid, is found reading in the library, assigned tutor Maurice Blanche who trains her in psychological investigative techniques and prepares her for Cambridge. After spending World War I nursing in France, she sets up as a private investigator. But her very first assignment, seemingly an ordinary infidelity case, soon reveals a much deeper, darker web of secrets, which will force Maisie to revisit the horrors of the Great War and the love she left behind.

My Review: I am usually very strictly a fantasy, sci-fi, paranormal reader (either YA or MG, sometimes adult levels as well), but in recent years I have been branching out into the historical fiction and mystery novels. Some have been good, others fantastic, and some I know I will read every single one of them in the series. Maisie Dobbs falls into the latter category. 

I forget precisely where I heard about Maisie, but I am glad it happened. Out of all of the historical fiction mystery novels that I have read, she has been my favorite. She is reserved, to others, but even somewhat to us as the reader, but she is loyal, hard-working, and very very smart. She notices things and is great with working with people. She is, what she calls, a psychological investigator, and honestly, I can't imagine investigating being done in any better way.

When Ms. Dobbs takes on a case, she is responsible for all parties. She doesn't just find information and pass it on to be used willy nilly, but she cares for what happens and she really does her digging. As a skill, she sometimes imitates the posture of those she talks to and she can then feel what they are feeling, giving her greater empathy, but also an understanding of why they are doing what they are doing, etc. This adds an almost paranormal aspect to things, so it's not just a plain mystery, but that isn't the focus on the story but a means to an end, which is nice.

Maisie is truly an amazing character. She has an insatiable desire for knowledge and this gives her many unique opportunities, but it is a hard path because she was a maid but is now above the position, but not quite to the top yet and so has a lonely line to walk. Her father, her friends, her employers, and everyone are very lifelike. I felt as if I was in 1920's London, or wherever the location, which just shows how Ms. Winspear, the author, has done a fantastic job.

I became so invested in the world and in the characters that at the end something happens, and I had thought for the whole book that something different was the case, but somehow this was worse and I sobbed huge ugly tears. It was a great release, but I couldn't stop crying for a while. Truly, truly amazing storytelling and characters. I recommend whole-heartedly!

Overall Impression:

Annie's ReviewI have been a long time reader of mysteries and historical mysteries.  My first love is fantasy but I do love a good mystery and always come back to the genre. And this story ione of the better ones.   

Although Maise Dobbs is a bit different from other detectives I am familar with, she has become one of my favorite heroines.  She is quite simply a fabulous character.  She is hardworking, intelligent, and kind and I find her sluething style unquie and interesting.  I really like her method to discover important information.  I also loved how the author showed the choices the girl, and later woman, had to make during this period of time and how they affected her.  Thus making Maise a more believable character and a character I really want to spend time with.  The other characters also contained that depth and personality to make them believable and enjoyable (in the appropriate case).  For example, one of these other characters describes a trait or an action of people very similar to the character.  His description has stuck with me even months after reading the book.

Overall, the book is so well paced and written that I didn't want to put the book down and I was very much invested and rooting for Maise.  I eagerly look forward to the next book.  

I would give it 4 stars and highly recommend it to anyone, though I think my lady friends would enjoy it more then most of my male friends.

Overall Impression

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Author Guest Post: Christian Schoon, author of Zenn Scarlett

I am very pleased to have have Christian Schoon on the blog today. His book Zenn Scarlett comes out May 7th from Strange Chemistry (and is right up my ally, it's about a exoveterinarian specializing in exotic, alien life forms! How cool is that?!).

Without further ado:

I’ll start off with a starship-sized THANKS to Scarlett for being part of the Zenn Scarlett blog tour. Immensely, sincerely appreciated and well done and good on ya and kudos by the kudo-truck-full.

Now, since our blogmistress has graciously left the topic of this post up to me, I decided to take a page from her book, so to speak, and answer the same questions that she posed for herself on her About Me page.

Drink of choice: Actually, I’m also a ginger ale enthusiast, but it has to be Vernor’s. Probably due to my living in a suburb of Detroit when I was about 8 or 9 (it's a Michigan thing). This brand’s appeal might also lie in its somewhat greater-than-average ginger-zinginess. Highly recommended (if you can find it).  However, a cold Stella Artois on a steamin’ hot Iowa afternoon will also not be fended off… And I’d love to try kipfruit cider.  According to Zenn, a hot cup of kippa is just the thing to warm up a frosty Martian morning at the cloister. 

Guilty Pleasure: Candy corn! It’s not just for Halloween any more… Also a childhood thing. My mom always had a dish of this pure-sugar confection on the coffee table. Bless her heart.

This or that: Real parmesan? But of course, mio bella! (is that actual Italian? Beats me, but if you put words in italics… heh… get it?) Also: real coconut fresh outa the shell, not the card-boardy dry shreds. 

If I could have a superpower: Marine-mammal lungs, blowhole, skin, webbing, musculature and metabolism. Swim with dolphins? I’m gonna LIVE with them. Plus, I could keep up with roving packs of giant whalehounds coursing through the warm, shallow, planet-wide seas of their homeworld on Mu Arae.

When do I read?:  Anytime and much of the time; but, as opposed to a book before bed, I do most of my reading in bed. If I can’t make it into the sack in time to prop myself up on pillows for a good, solid hour-plus of reading before zonking out, I feel guilty the next day.

Well, that was fun. Thanks again from Zenn and I for playing host. Now, I’m off for a quick Vernor’s and then straight to bed and a book.

 Inline image 1
Zenn Scarlett author Christian Schoon

Christian Schoon Bio
Born in the American Midwest, Christian started his writing career in earnest as an in-house writer at the Walt Disney Company in Burbank, California. He then became a freelance writer working for various film, home video and animation studios in Los Angeles. After moving from LA to a farmstead in Iowa several years ago, he continues to freelance and also now helps re-hab wildlife and foster abused/neglected horses.  He acquired his amateur-vet knowledge, and much of his inspiration for the Zenn Scarlett series of novels, as he learned about - and received an education from - these remarkable animals. 

Pre-Order Zenn Scarlett on Amazon:
Find Christian at:
Author blog:
Publisher’s website:

Quick Reviews: Heroes Adrift (Hero #3) and Heroes at Risk (Hero #4) 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. 2008

Short Synopsis (Goodreads)The Empress wants to locate the descendants of her exiled sister. No magically-bonded Pair is more ill-suited for the job than long-suffering Shield Lee Mallorough and her all-too-charming Source Shintaro Karish. Yet it's a mission they can't refuse.

Overall Impression

My review: I've just given up on these covers. I really have. Finally they have realistic looking drawings that do more to go along with the feel of the books. The title makes sense when you read the book and look at it from a psychological, social stand point (they're sent to an island and have to adapt). HOWEVER, Taro and Lee are on a ship for about a grand total of 2 pages in the book and so WHY is the cover mainly focused on a ship? WAY wrong impression here.

Ridiculousness of the cover aside, I liked this book the best so far. Still 3 stars but it's pushing 4. The reasons I liked this one the most are Taro and Lee are pushed WAY outside of their comfort zones and need to adapt and *gasp* work with their hands to earn their keep. It's nice to see them having to adjust and learn and grow. 

There are some character aspects of both Taro and Lee that are brought to light by an old wise woman and I thought 'perfect, now they are going to be able to overcome those and work together'. Yeah, didn't really  happen in this book. But, Lee and Taro FINALLY get together, and I have been waiting for that for a long long time, so that was happy for me. 

Source: Bought

Publication Date: Aug. 2009

Short Synopsis (Goodreads)Shield Lee Mallorough and her Source Shintaro Karish have returned to High Scape. It?s bad enough the townspeople are robbing tombs for ashes to use in ritualistic magic. It gets worse when they start to murder the living for their remains.

Overall Impression:

My Review: Another bloody ridiculous cover. I swear! Not a fan of how Lee and Taro are portrayed, but my biggest grip is that this implies that stuff is going to happen with magic...and it does, but not to the extent that Lee and Taro actually learn about how to do it. I think that they may as the series continues...or maybe not...but it could have played a much bigger role than it did.

So, Lee and Taro got together in the third book and that was awesome. I expected a lot more from this book because of that. Didn't really happen. Lee was being particularly dense in terms of relationships and also in terms of catching on with what was going on in High Scape. I liked this series becsuse of how observant she is, but not at ALL in this book.

The plot wasn't as engaging as I wanted it to be and there wasn't even enough relationship tension to balance that out. This one is definitely on the low end of the 3 spectrum for that reason. There was so much potential!! I felt that not enough was done with it. I could understand Lee thinking that Taro is going to want to go back to the way things were before they went to the island, but with the social messages he is sending her she should have caught on. And their final talking about it, it was pretty anti-climactic. 

There was potential for a quite a few characters to gain depth, and a few almost did, but it was still pretty surface stuff. 

And the ending? That just frustrated me. I could guess that things were headed in that direction, but the actions of other characters were too agravating and others weren't doing enough about it. 

Will I continue this series. *sigh* yeah, I guess. I want to see what happens and I'm still holding out for there to be more between Lee and Taro and for them to resolve the issues that were brought to light in the 3rd book with their character and holding things in. I'm still also holding out for other characters to gain depth. I'm already past the halfway point so might as well, but I'll be reading some other books for a while.

I also am a little frustrated that this series doesn't seem to be available in any library, so I have to buy the books. Thank goodness for second hand!


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