Monday, December 19, 2011

Book Review: Mastiff, Taomra Pierce

        Beka and her friends will face their greatest and most important challenge ever when the young heir to the kingdom vanishes. They will be sent out of Corus on a trail that appears and disappears, following a twisting road throughout Tortall. It will be her greatest Hunt—if she can survive the very powerful people who do not want her to succeed in her goal. (Goodreads)

              I try really hard not to go “crazy fan-girl” in my reviews, but sometimes I just can’t help it. Tamora Pierce is AMAZING. Mastiff is a perfect conclusion to the Beka Cooper trilogy, and the way it all ties into the bigger Tortall picture is GENIUS! Okay, I’m done now, on the review.

            Mastiff picks up several years after we last saw Beka, and she’s at her fiancé’s funeral. My first thought was, “Beka was engaged? Since when?” I did feel a little disoriented in the first chapter, but all of Beka’s friends from the first few books make an appearance, and since I never actually met her betrothed, I didn’t mourn him. The plot was fast-paced and flawless. I could barely put the book down. And when the traitor to the crown was revealed I was blown away! I totally did not see that coming. Apparently, Beka and I have different ideas in the love department, but that’s okay. I was always partial to Rosto, while she has different ideas. And even though I’ve never fallen in love with her man, it works for her. Honestly, it is refreshing to occasionally read about a female main character who doesn’t spend most of her time worrying about relationships. Beka is a busy girl, but if a cove can keep up, good for him!

The way the book ended was perfect and sad and made me want to re-read the Song of the Lioness quartet. That’s all I can say without giving it away. But I highly recommend this book to all readers, new to Tortall, or long-time residents.

Rating: 5/5 stars

YA notes: mild language and brief suggestive content.

Book provided by book divas.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Happy Dance Time!!

So when I got home today I had a box in the mail. Know what was inside? Come on, guess. Give up?

It was my advanced copy of UnCONventional. The anthology that contains my very first published work. UnConventional hits shelves on Jan. 15th, 2012. But I can give you a sample of my story now. So read away and let me know what you think!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Book Review: Forever, Maggie Stiefvater

In Maggie Stiefvater's Shiver, Grace and Sam found each other. In Linger, they fought to be together. Now, in Forever, the stakes are even higher than before. Wolves are being hunted. Lives are being threatened. And love is harder and harder to hold on to as death comes closing in.

            Forever is definitely my favorite book in the Wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy. It wraps everything up in a way that is unexpected, yet satisfying and believable. I loved seeing officer Koeing finally get involved. I knew he’d be important eventually! Anyway, moving on.
            The plot was awesome. It was fast paced and almost impossible to put down. I would have finished it in one setting if my husband didn’t think dinner was absolutely necessary. There were a few twists I didn’t see coming, but it was basically what I’ve come to expect from the characters, which is fine by me.
            Speaking of the characters, what can I say about Cole St. Clair? He’s like a wounded pit bull. You really want to help him, but you know it’s a bad idea. He and Isobel are like oil and water, but somehow that just makes them more perfect for each other. Normally I don’t like the overly cruel “poor me” side characters, but Cole and Isobel were actually my favorite characters in the book. I do have to say that the way things ended for them just wasn’t fair.
            Sam was loveable, as always, and has finally grown a backbone. Between having to be the one to take care of Grace, and dealing with his very mixed feelings toward his adoptive father, I’m starting to think he just might make it in the human world.
            Grace, honestly got on my nerves. I think it may be because I related to her so much in the beginning. The change in her character just doesn’t sit well with me. I think it has to do with her attitude toward her parents. No, they weren’t perfect, but treating them like they’ve treated her doesn’t really feel like something over achieving let’s-not-make-waves Grace would do. But that’s just my opinion.

Overall, this was a great way to end the Mercy Falls saga. 4 stars

YA notes
Brief sensuality, strong language.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Book Review: The Ghost of Greenwich Village, Lorna Graham

For Eve Weldon, moving to Greenwich Village is a dream come true. She’s following in the bohemian footsteps of her mother, who lived there during the early sixties among a lively community of Beat artists and writers. But when Eve arrives, the only scribe she meets is a grumpy ghost named Donald, and the only writing she manages to do is for chirpy segments on a morning news program, Smell the Coffee. The hypercompetitive network environment is a far cry from the genial camaraderie of her mother’s literary scene, and Eve begins to wonder if the world she sought has faded from existence. But as she struggles to balance her new job, demands from Donald to help him complete his life’s work, a budding friendship with a legendary fashion designer, and a search for clues to her mother’s past, Eve begins to realize that community comes in many forms—and that the true magic of the Village is very much alive, though it may reveal itself in surprising ways. -Goodreads summary.

The Ghost of Greenwich Village was not at all what I expected. It started off a bit slow for me, but once the story really got started, I was hooked. Lorna Graham, who formerly wrote for multiple news stations, sprinkled a lot of fun details throughout Eve’s experience that made the story very realistic. The characters were well developed and by books end, they felt like old friends. Eve really grows throughout the story, going from a girl desperately chasing her mother’s ghost to a confident young woman, making her own choices. I didn’t really expect to like Donald, but I ended up loving him!  He’s self-absorbed, rude, and his writing style is awful. But when his past is finally revealed, he’s the most sympathetic character in the book. The relationships built throughout the book are complex and believable. I felt like I was part of Eve’s group of friends. There were several fashion references that went over my head, but they weren’t vital to the story line, so don’t worry if you aren’t a fashionista!  This was a great debut, I will definitely add Ms. Graham to my “watch list.”

Rating: 4 stars

Book provided by bookdivas

Friday, October 21, 2011

Guest Blogging

Hi folks!

Lisa over at Ghost Talk is giving me a chance to work on my story-telling skills by telling a ghost story. Check it out and let me know what you think!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


I’M STILL ALIVE! (I know you were worried) Where have I been??? It’s a long story. My muse is holding my computer hostage. She (only a woman could be this moody) only lets me use it to work on my new(ish) book. Seriously. She sets behind me with a gun. It’s a bit scary. BUT, my manuscript is coming along faster than I’d hoped for. Fear is a good motivator.
“What about now?” You ask. Not to worry. I’m at a public computer so my muse won’t know I’m cheating. *Hopefully*  I am sorry to report that I have no new book recommendations for you. However, I’ve scoured the blogging world until my eyes bled, and I’ve found some pretty awesome sites for you to check out until my muse puts down the gun. They are: The Magic Attic, The YA Sisterhood, Confessions of a Bookaholic, Reading Angel, The Elliot Review, Books Complete Me, Quill Café, and Hands and Home. I hope you enjoy them. And if you never hear from me again… Well, you’ll know what happened.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Book Review: Almost Home, Pam Jenoff

Jordan Weiss hasn’t been back to England since grad school over a decade ago. Her successful career as an intelligence officer for the U.S. State Department has allowed her to travel all over the world, but she’s vowed never to return to the place where her college boyfriend drowned in a tragic accident. Then she receives a letter from a terminally ill friend, and she has no choice but to go back. Her plans to focus on her assignment and her friend are quickly disrupted when a former classmate appears with a shocking revelation: Jared’s death was no accident. As the connections between Jared’s death and her official assignment mount, Jordan knows she has to uncover a deadly secret before she is silenced forever.

Almost Home has a lot of potential as a murder mystery. A few of the “coincidences” in the novel are a little far fetched to be realistic, but over all, it has a great plot. I did suspect it would end as it did, but that was only one of the possible scenarios I came up with. The way Jordan switches from American to English terminology, depending on her location does give the reader the sense that she is well travelled. Unfortunately, I did not enjoy the book at all. Pam Jenoff writes everything in the present tense, even when the main character is having a flashback. This made it hard for me to read in several areas, but to be fair, it is just a personal preference. My biggest complaint is that I did not find Jordan to be a believable main character. The whole premise of the book surrounds her grief over the loss of Jared, “the one man she ever loved.” But she seems to wind up in bed with almost every straight male character at some point; the whole time searching for the truth about her one true love. Readers should be aware that there is a lot of “adult content” in the book, but for those who don’t mind that, it has a great ending that leads into her Jenoff’s next book, Hidden Things.

Book provided by

Friday, September 23, 2011

So Not Fair

You know those people that you hate without ever meeting?  Rebecca Serle just topped my list. Okay, maybe hate is too strong of a word. But I am extremely jealous. I just ran across an article talking about her debut novel, When You Were Mine. Apparently, some sources are worried that the movie based on the book, starring Keira Knightly, will hit theaters before the book is actually released in May of 2012. REALLY!!?!?! How does that happen? 

In other news, I just saw the galley copy of my upcoming short story, “Family Ties.” It is awesome to see my name on a title page. No word yet on who will be playing the main character on any upcoming movie deals… J  

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Book Review: The False Princess, Eilis O'Neal

The oracle prophesied that the princess would be murdered before her sixteenth birthday. After sixteen years have passed, the King and Queen inform Sinda, the girl who has been living in the palace, that she is not the princess. They pay her for her service to the crown and send her off to live with an unknown relative while they bring their own daughter home. But Sinda has been raised as a princess and isn’t suited to country life. When she discovers that she has inherited magic from her birth mother, she goes back to the capital in hopes of starting a life as a magician’s apprentice.  Instead, she uncovers a deadly plot against the crown. One that started with her own birth. With Kiernan, her best friend and the only noble who never turned his back on her, Sinda dives into political intrigue in order to save the throne.

For some reason, this book didn’t grab me at first. I felt like there was too much description of things that didn’t matter. But after the first few chapters, I was hooked. Everyone loves the story of the poor orphan who discovers she is a princess, but the question of what happens to the girl who thought she was the princess is not one I’ve ever considered. The plot had (at least for me) a major twist that kept me turning the page. The love story is very sweet, and a bit more realistic than some I’ve read recently. Sinda’s struggle between her feelings of betrayal, duty, and impossible hope are perfectly described. I hurt for her, and would have understood her actions, regardless of the choice she made. As an added bonus, Eilis O’Neal is a first time author from Oklahoma, and I have a particular fondness for those.  J

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Book Review: Middleworld J&P Voelkel

Fourteen-year-old Max Murphy is looking forward to summer vacation in Italy. But at the last minute his parents, the famous archaeologists Frank and Carla Murphy, cancel the trip in favor of a Mayan dig in Central America. Max, furious at being left behind, resigns himself to a summer of video games and boredom. Then he gets a message from his parents and a plane ticket to come join them. He thinks things are looking up, until he actually lands in San Xavier and realizes that his parents are missing. Through Lola, a modern Mayan girl, Max learns that his parents have been sucked into the Mayan underworld. And to make matters even worse, a crazed madman is collecting the Jaguar Stones, extremely powerful Mayan relics, in an attempt to take over the world. Now max and Lola have less than a week to trek through the jungle, rescue Max’s parents, and save the world.

I really wish this series had been around when I was in middle school. It is fast-paced and fun. The black and white illustrations throughout the book are a nice touch, and the Mayan culture glossary in the back of the book was helpful. There are a few spots I felt were over-written and too moralizing, but as a younger reader I doubt I’d notice. The fictional country of San Xavier is realistically described and Max is a believable, if overly dramatic, adolescent boy. I loved Lola. The mystery surrounding her character is a great set-up for future books. I also liked the fact that the “bad guys” have a few redeeming qualities and, in one case, a change of heart. The plot is full of unexpected twists, including an ancient warrior-king returning as a howler monkey, that keep readers guessing. In a series, a cliff-hanger ending is a must, and this one did not disappoint. Middle-schoolers everywhere will be waiting for the next installment.

Book provided by BookDivas

Monday, September 5, 2011

Happy Birthday to Me...

For all of you who didn't know, this was a very important weekend. College football is back (my team won), it's a national holiday (3 day weekend), and my Birthday. The best part? I got two matching bookcases. This more than doubles my book storing capacity, so OBVIOUSLY my husband wanted me to get more books. I mean, those half-filled shelves make me a little bit sad. Soooo I'm taking suggestions. What do you think I should add to my library?

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Book Review: Haunting Violet, Alyxandra Harvey

The Plot: Seventeen-year-old Violet knows all the tricks. She has spent years as her mother’s assistant, rigging fake séances to insure that paying customers are able to contact their loved ones. Violet hates tricking people who are already wracked with grief, but in 19th century London, a single woman with a child had very few options. And her mother thinks all of their worries are over when they are invited to a summer party to do readings for the peerage and a wealthy merchant hints that he wants to marry Violet. But then Violet starts seeing ghosts. Real ones. Now she has to solve a murder before someone else gets hurt.

As much as I’m thankful I wasn’t born then, I love novels set in the Victorian era. “Shocking displays” like addressing someone by their first name, and crime-solvers in corsets are a lot of fun. As for the whodunit of this particular book, to me, it was fairly obvious.  But that didn’t really take away from the enjoyment. Violet is a very relatable character and her feelings are easy to understand. The main ghost in this ghost story us a little over the top. I never understood why the one ghost who she tries to help constantly terrifies her, while others simply hang around until she notices them. Of course, the heroine of any Victorian novel has to fall in love with a man in the wrong class. But, in this case, instead of the wealthy landowner who would rescue her from poverty, Violet falls for one of the few people who have a worse situation than hers. Haunting Violet won’t make you sleep with the lights on or confound your inner Sherlock Holmes, but if you’re looking for a clean, fun read, I recommend this book.     

Wednesday, August 31, 2011


I just ran across a great article on plots/plotting. I've found that anything can be explained via Lord of the Rings. Check it out here and tell me what you think. How do you come up with story lines? How predictable should a plot be? Any tricks of the trade you're willing to share?

Friday, August 26, 2011

Book Review: Supernaturally, Kiersten White

The Plot: Evie finally has the normal life she’s always dreamed about. She’s applying for college, working at a diner, and hanging out with her boyfriend. And she’s really bored. So when Raquel begs her to start working for the IPCA again, she agrees. One mission leads to another, and soon Evie is spending a lot more time with Jack, her cute but unbalanced guide through the faerie paths, than with her friends. Evie finds herself keeping more and more secrets from Lend, and she starts doubting their relationship. Then Reth, her ex, shows up with answers to her questions about her past. But can Evie handle the truth?

Kiersten White is bleeping awesome. (You have to read the book to get that.) Supernaturally is a fun and fast-paced read, a great sequel to Paranormalacy. There are few authors who manage to blend so many paranormal elements without sounding absurd, but White pulls it off beautifully. I did see most of the plot twists coming, but they were still fun and full of interesting details. It’s the little things, like a taser with a nickname, that make me smile. Evie was more emotional, bordering on whiney, in this book. But she is a teenage girl, so it’s believable. Like Evie, I wish we got to spend more time with Lend in Supernaturally, I liked him much better than Jack. All of the main characters are well developed, and I like that we are able to see more than one character struggle with hard choices. I’m looking forward to many more books from Kiersten. And I highly recommend reading her acknowledgement section. It’s great.   

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

This is not a Review

I recently finished reading Stephen King’s On Writing. The main reason I’m not reviewing it is that I have no idea where to begin. It is a collection of anecdotes (usually funny) sprinkled with writing tips and creative exercises. And, honestly, how do you review one of our times most successful writers tips on writing?

But I will say that I’m encouraged by this book. Encouragement #1: I own the only writing manual King thinks is worth owning. Encouragement #2: I think like Stephen King. (Okay, maybe that shouldn’t be encouraging) His process of developing a story (just watch and write down what your characters do) is very similar to my own. And he states that the only way to be a successful author is to be an avid reader. (Insert huge checkmark here) So…. That means I’m going to be as successful as Stephen King one day, right?

And when I’m famous I fully intend to make use of his other tips: take walks (but not on winding roads), develop a group of honest beta readers, let all stories “incubate” before doing a second draft, and take no more than a few months on a first draft.  As for now, I just want to write in a room with a door. That way I can write without… oh look, a kitty.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Book Review: Tortall and Other Lands: A Collection of Tales, Tamora Pierce

 Fans of Tortall rejoice! If you’ve caught yourself wondering how Ali and Nawat are doing, what mischief the darkings are causing, or whatever happened to Kitten, Tortall and Other Lands: A Collection of Tales is for you. Six of the eleven stories in this collection are based in Tortall and feature old friends. The other five tales span from unnamed desert locations to modern-day New York City. Goddesses, talking dragons, warriors, and former trees all have their turn taking center stage.  And, as an added bonus, there is also a sneak peek of Mastiff, the final book in the Beka Cooper trilogy. Whether you are a die hard Tamora Pierce fan, or are new to her world, this is a must-read.

Tortall and Other Lands is a masterpiece, but I’ve come to expect nothing less from Tamora Pierce. Each of the stories from Tortall was like a visit from an old friend. My personal favorite was “Nawat.” The descriptions of what new parenthood is like are priceless. And any story with a darking in it makes me smile.  I loved catching up with some of my favorite characters. But the stories were written so that someone who hasn’t read all of the Tortall novels would still understand them.  The modern stories were a bit of a surprise to me. I didn’t expect the creator of Tortall to write about New York or Idaho, but she did it with the same skill and creativity that I’ve come to expect. Tortall also has a more personal feel since one of the stories (not even fantasy!) comes directly from Tamora’s experiences as a young woman. My only complaint about the collection is that I wish it would have been longer.   

Book provided by

Monday, August 15, 2011

Language Rant

I will not argue that the English language is the most expressive or poetic of languages. But I would love to know how we have been reduced to a few 4-5 letter words to express anger, fear, excitement, surprise, pain, excitement, and nearly every other human emotion. This is a book blog, and I've put down numerous books that had wonderful potential because they had ridiculous amounts of useless foul language. But this post is also about facebook, twitter, text messages, and everyday conversations.

I am not against a well aimed insult, (see my previous post for examples) and under the right circumstance (dropping a sledge hammer on your foot) I understand how a thoughtless explicative could slip. But under normal conditions, I'm begging you, put a little thought into your words. Can we really think of no better insult than to condemn a person's parentage? And does it really need to be said that a December day is colder than a lake of fire? Don't get me wrong, I don't want to carry a thesaurus with me so I can understand you. But a little variety would be nice.

In the words of a good friend: "If you can't say something nice, use rhetoric I can't understand."

Friday, August 12, 2011

Book Review: Half-Blood, Jennifer Armentrout

The Plot: Seventeen-year-old Alex has been on the run with her mother for three years. But now her mom is dead, murdered by Daimons, and Alex gets shipped back the Covenant. At first, Alex is terrified that she will be forced into servitude. That’s the only option for Half-bloods who can’t make it as Sentinels who protect the Pures. And since she’s missed three years of training, it doesn’t look good for Alex. But then she gets help from an unexpected quarter. Aiden, a totally hot, totally untouchable Pure offers to train her through the summer so she’ll be ready to attend class in the fall. Alex progresses better than expected, until a disaster rocks Deity Island. Everything they think they know about Pures, Halfs, and Diamons changes, and Alex is faced with a terrible choice. Can she kill the one she loves?

Wow. Just…Wow. Half-Blood is the most exciting start to a series that I have read in a long time. And, on a random side note: the cover is gorgeous. I simply couldn’t put this book down. I love Greek mythology, so the “descendants of the gods” plot had me hooked from the beginning. There may be other new books out there like this, but I haven’t read them. The world Armentrout has created is refreshingly different and oddly believable. I love that Alex is so strong, and has such faith in herself, despite all the crap she goes through. Minor down points: Although it was realistic, I’m not a huge fan of the language, and Aiden’s dialogue seemed a little fake at times. Of course, if he acted like a real twenty-year-old male, I probably wouldn’t be in love with him. J Major down point: Pure, the next book in the series, isn’t scheduled to come out until some point next year. (Insert minor temper tantrum here) But never fear! There are plenty of books on my to-read list to keep me occupied until then.   

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Book Review: The Iron King, Julie Kagawa

The Plot: Sixteen-year-old Meghan Chase just wants to be normal. Her dreams consist of dating the quarterback, owning her own car, and getting as far away from her tiny hometown as possible. And then Faeries kidnap her half brother. Now Meghan learns that she is half fey, and in the middle of a battle between the courts. And if that isn’t complicated enough, she’s falling in love with Ash, prince of the Unseelie court. And Ash has sworn to kill her and her best friend, Robbie. Meghan has to learn quickly how to navigate fey politics and the Nevernever in order to find Ethan and escape without losing her head, heart, or other valuable parts.

Honestly, I was bored through the first half of The Iron King. It felt like an awkward combination of all the fantasy books I’ve read, with nothing new added. But Meghan was a likable character, so I stuck with it, and I’m glad I did. The second half of the book flips everything I thought I knew on its head. A third court? Unseelie that are actually helpful? Faeries that like iron? Without giving too much away, I’m still not a fan of the technology-is-evil theme. I mean, without technology kindles, book trailers, and book blogs would not exist, right? But I love that Kagawa really shook the fey world up and did something new. Also, I’m not a fan of the Alice in Wonderland cat, simply because he’s creepy. But I’m a huge fan of the ending. So much is left unanswered that I have no choice but to come back for more!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Dreams Come True

When you wish upon a star…. Okay, that was corny. First off, I want to apologize for slacking in the book reviewer department. I am reading something right now, and I’m not sure what to think about it yet, but more on that at a later date. J

These past weeks have been a little crazy for me, but I have some exciting news! I’m the newest copy editor at Spencer Hill Press. In case you haven’t heard of them, SHP is an awesome small publishing company that specializes in YA fantasy books and “growing careers.” Basically, that means they are willing to help me get one step closer to my goal of surrounding myself with great books! (lots of excited jumping up and down.) I would promise to keep my nose in a book all weekend and have another review early next week, but my baby just started crawling, so probably not. But I’ll try! Have a great weekend.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Book Review: The Why Chromosome: Unraveling the Mystery of the Modern Menigma, Emily White

The plot: How is it possible that two members of the same species can be so different on so many levels? Whether it is God’s sense of humor, or a twisted joke of nature, it is no secret that men and women simply do not understand each other. If you have ever wondered why a guy got your number and never called, why he started acting like a jerk instead of just dumping you, or what is up with the “man crush,” The Why Chromosome: Unraveling the Mystery of the Modern Menigma is for you. This book is made up of forty questions over five categories: Meeting, Dating, Relationships, Break-Ups, and Sex. Each question is answered by a “Good Guy” and a “Bad Boy.”

Co-authors Emily White, Miles Eriksen, and Ryan Vaughn should turn their creative energies to writing sit-coms. Some of the anecdotes and descriptions in The Why Chromosome are so funny I had to catch my breath before continuing to read. And when I confronted the “menigma” in my own life with some of the most bizarre answers, he confirmed that, for the most part, they were true. Since this book focused mainly on the dating scene, many of my own questions, like “Why is the bathroom the best spot in the house for reading?” remained unanswered. In fact, very little of the book revealed previously unknown information. To sum it up; Women are more likely to find serious relationship material in the grocery store than in a bar at happy hour, men like sex, and men do most bone-headed things simply because they can. As the book wore on, the questions and explanations started to feel redundant, and the explicative-filled responses lowered the quality of the writing. I wish that the book was a bit shorter, or that it covered more than dating. But The Why Chromosome was, over all, a fun read, with moments of sheer descriptive brilliance.

Book provided by

Monday, July 25, 2011

Bank Etiquette

This has nothing to do with reading, writing, or books in any way. But I feel that it needs to be said. As some of you know, I work in a bank. I thought that there were a few ground rules about banks that everyone understood, but lately I have been proven wrong. So I want to take this opportunity to clear up a few misunderstandings.

  1. If you arrive at a bank before/after business hours, under NO CIRCUMSTANCE should you pull on the doors, bang on windows, or try to look under security blinds. If you are lucky we will ignore you. If you’re unlucky we will assume you are robbing us and take appropriate action.
  2. If you are making a large after-hours deposit for your company and you suspect the deposit bag has become stuck in the night drop, do not try to un-stick it by shoving three more bags in after it.
  3. If there are red X’s or road cones blocking a drive-thru lane, or an “out of order” sign on any equipment, you do not need to tell us it is broken.  We know, and will have the problem corrected as soon as reasonably possible.
  4. When there are obviously only three employees in the bank, and twelve customers, please do not tell us about your day, talk about the weather, or, even worse, glare at us because it is not your turn.
  5. If you know your account information and deposit and withdrawal slips are provided, please take the liberty of filling one out. It will save both of us time.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Book Review: The Falconer's Knot, Mary Hoffman

The Plot: Silvano has it all. He’s young, rich, and handsome. He’s also suspected of a murder he didn’t commit. His father sends him to a friary to seek sanctuary until the real murderer can be caught and his name cleared. But what Silvano thinks of as a boring exile quickly becomes complicated. He finds himself falling I love with Chiara, the beautiful novice from a neighboring convent. Chiara, however, will soon become a Bride of Christ, and be out of reach for mortal men. And that isn’t his only problem. Shortly after his arrival in the friary, the Brothers experience a string of murders. Naturally, they are suspicious of the newcomer who has taken sanctuary with them. Can Silvano discover the real killer before he becomes the next victim?

I love a good historical fiction, and Mary Hoffman has done her homework. The culture of medieval Italy really comes alive in The Falconer’s Knot. The historical notes in the back of the book are a nice touch for those who don’t study medieval Europe for fun. J I do wish that Hoffman spent a little more time developing the murder mystery theme. At times, it seems like the mystery fades into the background while a series of love stories take center stage. The plot does have a few interesting twists, but I figured out the whodunit early on, and spent the rest of the book waiting to find out that I was wrong. However, it was quite fun to read, and I was attached to several of the characters. And, referring back to my post about titles, the subtitle of this book is A Story of Friars, Flirtation, and Foul Play. How can you not read a title like that?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Title Troubles

Help! I am about 2/3 the way through a novel manuscript, and I have NO IDEA what to call it. It was fairly easy to name my first child, but my book? Not possible.  I know that if it is ever published there's a good chance the title will be changed anyway, but this is really bothering me. When I'm at the bookstore or library, if the title doesn't catch my attention, I don't even read the back cover, so working on my own book, "Untitled" has me a little stressed out. So tell me, what kinds of titles catch your attention? How would you come up with a title? Any tricks of the trade I don't know about?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Austenland-THE MOVIE!!!!

For anyone who doesn't already know this, I'm a huge fan of all things Jane Austen. She's pretty much my hero. A few years ago I ran across a great little book called Austenland by Shannon Hale. (I highly recommend all her stuff, she's hilarious) Its about a resort in England for fanatics like me to live out their English fantasies. Well, if you haven't guessed from the title, they're now making it into a movie!!! (Dances around happily) My husband desperately tries to limit the amount of chick flicks in our home, but this one is definitely going on the shelf!!!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Best Anthology EVER!

I may be slightly biased about this (I'm in it!!) but I don't think so.  UnConventional will be unlike any other fantasy collection you've read. check out the details here

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Book Review: Efrain's Secret

The Plot: Seventeen-year-old Efrain may have grown up in the poorest part of New York City, but he has his heart set on attending Harvard. He’s on track to be the valedictorian of his class, and willing to study like crazy to bring up his SAT score. But none of this seems to matter when he looks at the cost of tuition, not to mention books or room and board. Efrain’s mother works herself to death just to keep food on the table for him and his sister. And his loser father has a new family to support now. So Efrain lets is friend talk him into slinging. He has always fought against the stereotype of becoming just another teenage drug dealer, but now he sees it as his chance at a better life. Honor student by day, drug dealer by night, Sofia Quintero’s Efrain’s Secret depicts one boy’s desperate struggle for a better life.

Efrain’s Secret started out a little slow for me, but by the end I couldn’t wait to see what happened next. I loved the way the book was formatted, and the vocab. words as chapter titles was a nice touch. The dialogue seemed slightly forced, but most of the characters were believable and easy to connect with.  Oddly enough, the character I had the most difficulty understanding was Efrain. It was never really clear to me why he was so set on an Ivy League school. I understand his drive to get out, but there are several colleges far from New York that don’t come with an Ivy League price tag. The book focuses on how smart Efrain is, but he made some really dumb choices. But I do appreciate that this is not a fairy-tale story where everything works out despite the bad choices made by the main character. The ending is full of possibilities, but everyone still has to pay for their choices.

Book provided by

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Book Review: Linger, Maggie Steifvater

The Plot: Sam, free of his curse, is struggling to fit into a "normal" life. With little hope that Beck will have another summer, he takes over responsibility for the pack. Unfortunately, the newest members are a bit more than he planned on. And to top it off, Grace's parents have decided that he is not good enough for their daughter.

             Cole: The newest member of the pack, Cole chose this life to escape from his old life. When spring comes, he wants nothing more than to return to his fur pelt. But he can't outrun his past, or the darkness within him. Then he meets Isabel, the one person possibly more damaged than himself.

             Isabel: Trapped by the guilt of her brother's death, and surrounded by a family that doesn't notice her, Isabel wants nonthing more than to escape. But something inside her refuses to let her throw her life away. So she turns to the wolves. Her friendship with Sam and Grace help, but she still feels empty. Until she meets Cole. He doesn't want her help. So maybe just for the challenge, she won't give up.

            Grace: Life was perfect for Grace. Then her parents decided to be part of her life, by forbidding her to see Sam. And she needs him now more than ever.  A sickness is growing inside her that is somehow tied to the wolves. The doctors can't find the problem, but if she doesn't figure it out soon, she will die

I was not disappointed by Linger. The characters and relationships, especially between Grace and her parents, felt more real to me than they were in Shiver. It still bothers me that all of the main characters have terrible relationships with their parents.  I know I was blessed to have parents I have always (even as a teenager) liked. But I wish there was at least one good parental figure. Surprisingly, Isabel was my favorite character this time.  I felt like her personality came out much better than in Shiver. Cole, I just didn't get. Maybe I'll understand him better in the third book. As with the first book, the ending is what really made the book. Unfortunately, Forever isn't out yet, so we just have to wait to find out what happens in Mercy Falls.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

To Make You Smile

So, I was scanning the Spencer Hill Press announcement page and found this. Check out the last date. Someone is having too much fun over there.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Book Review: Bloodroot, Amy Greene

The Plot: Myra Lamb is as wild and beautiful as the mountain she calls home.  Everyone admires her from afar, but none can come too close; until John Odom.  But when John tries to tame Myra’s spirit, the consequences are disastrous.  The curse laid on Myra’s family seems to be holding on strong.  Years before Myra was born, her great-aunt said the family would be cursed until a child with haint blue eyes was born.  When Myra was born with beautiful blue eyes, her grandmother was certain that the curse would be lifted.  But Myra is destined for a life of pain and heartache, just like the many generations before her.  Amy Greene’s Bloodroot is a heartbreaking tale of bad decisions, broken families, and the will to move on.

I simply could not put this book down.  It is a dark story, but so beautifully written that I didn’t want it to end.  Set in the mountains of Tennessee, the descriptions and dialog brought me to a place I’ve never been.  The characters and emotions were so real I felt as if the people of Bloodroot Mountain were my neighbors.  The storyline is very believable, with just enough curses and potions mixed in to allow the reader to decide if mountain magic really exists, or if some people are simply born unlucky.  The most unique part of the book, however, is the way the story is told.  Greene uses six different narrators, spanning three generations, to tell the tale.  And she does it in such a way that the reader doesn’t feel lost, but rather more involved in the story.  Fans of Wuthering Heights will love Bloodroot.  It has the same theme of all-consuming love for the wrong person.  But, without giving it away, I do have to say that I like the ending of Bloodroot better.  I give this book five stars. 

Book provided by

Friday, June 17, 2011

Book Review: Accused, Kate Kaynak

The Plot:  Isaiah is finally dead, but the people of Ganzfield still aren’t safe.  Someone in the government knows about G-positives, and wants to use them as military weapons.  Maddie is detained for questioning in a series of mysterious murders, and when she doesn’t talk, she is tortured.  After she is finally released, Maddie has to tell the rest of the Ganzfield group that they are no longer safe, and they prepare to be attacked, again.  Meanwhile, Maddie still has to deal with her relationships with Trevor and her overly protective mother, help her friend Rachel deal with the birth of her baby and the death of her boyfriend, and try to regain her speech.

Like the rest of the Ganzfield books, Accused is a fun, light-hearted read.  I really like that we get to see the major drawbacks to having “superpowers.”  I’m sure most people have wished that they had an extra sense at some point; I know I have.  But the Ganzfield teens really struggle with their abilities.  It doesn’t make their lives easier at all. It is proof of Kaynak’s talent as an author that the characters in her books seem like normal people, despite their special abilities.  My biggest complaint is the sexual tension throughout the books.  I really don’t remember being quite that hormonal at seventeen, (perhaps because I didn’t know Trevor) and it detracts from the drama and danger surrounding Ganzfield.  I do, however, appreciate the fact that sex is not a casual thing in the series, and the problems of premarital sex are openly discussed.  My favorite part of Accused *minor spoiler* is Maddie and Trevor’s wedding.  It is one of the absolute sweetest things I’ve read in a long time.  Of course, the way the book ends makes it impossible not to read the next one in the series.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t come out for quite a while, so I guess I’ll just have to wait.  J

Friday, June 10, 2011

My Opinion Counts!

Okay, I know this is already on my blog, but its always cool to see your words on another page.  Click here to see a cooler version of my "Diary of a Part-Time Ghost review.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Book Review: Voices in the Dark, Catherine Banner

The Plot: Fifteen years after Cassius returns from England and reclaims his throne, Malonia is at war again.  Aldebaran has been murdered, magic is dying, and the country is unraveling from the inside out.  Anselm, now sixteen, struggles to hold his family together while the world falls down around them.  When his step-father is called up for service in the war, Anselm, now the man of the house, is left facing a mountain of debt, a sister who doesn’t understand why her Papa left, and a very pregnant mother.  Anselm is determined to hold as much of his old life together as possible. But his mother, Maria, and step-father, Leo, are each harboring dark secrets about the year of his birth.  When Anselm puts the pieces together and learns the truth about his father, it is more than he can handle.  Meanwhile, Juliette and Ashley, two teenagers in modern England, set out to find the truth about their own families, and why they don’t seem to fit in anywhere.
I enjoyed Voices in the Dark, the second book in Catherine Banner’s The Last Descendants trilogy much more than the first book.  It is more plot-driven, and Banner has definitely matured as a writer.  I love the way the book is set up as a series of stories on a long journey.  It works wonderfully to tie the multiple storylines together, without giving away the reason for the journey until the end of the book.  There were a few spots where the narrative seemed to drag a bit, and I felt that Banner spent too much time on details that ended up being completely irrelevant.  That being said, the characters were very believable in this book.  I especially enjoyed Anselm’s little sister, Jasmine.  She was the bright spot in a book about war and betrayal.  Anyone who liked Banner’s debut novel, The Eyes of a King, will love this book.  I’m torn on whether or not to finish the trilogy.  On one hand, I’d hate to never know how it ends.  On the other, Banner does a good job at creating a war-torn and bleak world.  As for right now, I need a break from Malonia.  On to something lighter!
Book Provided by  


Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Book Review: The Eyes of a King, Catherine Banner

The Plot:  Fifteen-year-old Leo lives in Malonia, a rigid, military state ruled by a usurper who murdered the king.  But there is a prophecy that the prince escaped to mythical England, and will one day return to rule the country.  Leo doesn’t care about prophecies or politics.  He cares about his parents, who were exiled during the revolution, the sergeant at military school who seems to have it in for him, and his little brother, Stirling. Then Stirling dies, and Leo has to overcome his sorrow and guilt.

Catherine Banner started writing The Eyes of a King at age fourteen, and was published at sixteen.  Since she accomplished this before graduating high-school, and I have yet to finish a manuscript, I probably shouldn’t critique her at all.  But this is my blog and I’ll do what I want.  Eyes gets an A for character development, and a D for plot.  The characters are all very realistic, (if a little dramatic and moody) but the plot takes place in the background.  I probably wouldn’t be friends with any of the main characters, but they all feel like people I could easily meet on the street.  Violent takeovers, prophecies, and communication with other worlds are all generally a big deal, but here they seem like an afterthought.  The plot seems like it just something to fill the void between Leo’s bouts with rage or grief.  I love the fact that England is a “mythical place.” The book format, a book being written to a mysterious person, is very unique.  And the plot has potential to be great.  I’ve been told that the plot is much stronger in her second (yes, she already has a second) book, so we shall see.  J 

Monday, May 23, 2011

Book Review: The Devil and Sherlock Holmes, David Grann

           What do Sherlock Holmes, giant squid, and over-the-hill bank robbers have in common?  They are all featured in David Grann’s The Devil and Sherlock Holmes.  Beginning with the tale of the mysterious death of the world’s foremost Sherlock Holmes expert, and ending with “The Devil” (a Haitian terrorist) selling real estate in New York City, this collection of articles from The NewYorker runs the gamut of bizarre stories. Some are heartbreaking, others are fascinating, and all are true; thus proving Sherlock’s belief that “Life is infinitely stranger than anything which the mind of man could invent.”

            I honestly had a hard time finishing this book. To be fair, journalism is not my favorite genre, and several times I felt bogged down with details that didn’t seem to further the plot.  A few articles, like “Stealing Time,” simply did not hold my attention.  But the bigger problem was that the disturbing tales of capital punishment gone wrong, prison gangs, and entire cities controlled by the mob are all true.  Grann is an extremely talented journalist, and all of his articles are well written, but not all are for the faint of heart.  Several of Grann’s interviews contain graphic language, so I can’t recommend this book for younger audiences.  I did enjoy the pieces with a lighter tone, especially “The Old Man and the Gun,” which is about a “gentleman bank robber” who pulled off his last heist at the age of 79. I also appreciated the afterward in most of the pieces, which updated the reader of any developments in the story since the article was originally written.  Even though many of the articles were hard for me to read, they were even more difficult to put down.  I would recommend this book to anyone with an interest in the more unusual side of life.

*Book provided by BookDivas   

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Book Review: Shiver, Maggie Stiefvater

The Plot: Grace loves wolves.  One wolf in particular, the one who saved her from an attack six years ago.  But now a local high-school boy has been found mauled to death, and the whole community is bent on ridding the area of its wolf population.  As Grace struggles to save her beloved wolves she discovers a shocking secret.  “Her wolf,” and his entire pack, are werewolves.  Grace’s wolf, Sam, knows that this will be his last year to be able to change.  When he shifts into his four-legged form for the winter, there will be no return.  Now Grace is in a race against time to find a cure, before Sam loses his humanity forever.

I loved Maggie Stiefvater’s other books, and Shiver did not disappoint!  It is always fun to see an author step away from convention when writing about a standard fantasy character.  In Stiefvater’s world it is the weather, not the moon, that causes werewolves to change.  And the wolves reaching a point of no return in their shifting adds a sense of urgency to the story.  Werewolves aside, the plot and the characters are very believable.  My only complaint is that Stiefvater’s protagonists always fall in love too quickly.  A more developed relationship would Grace and Sam’s fear of separation and loss feel more real.  My favorite part of the whole novel has to be the ending.  It is one of the best, and most heartbreaking, that I have read in a while.  It makes me glad that the next book in this series, Linger, is already out, so I won’t have to wait long to read it!   

Friday, May 13, 2011

Something worth sharing

*When Insults Had Class, when one spoke the king’s English!

These glorious insults are from an era before the English language got boiled down to 4-letter words.
*The exchange between Churchill & Lady Astor:
She said, "If you were my husband I'd give you poison."
He said, "If you were my wife, I'd drink it."
A member of Parliament to Disraeli: "Sir, you will either die on the gallows or of some unspeakable disease."
"That depends, Sir," said Disraeli, "whether I embrace your policies or your mistress."
"He had delusions of adequacy." - Walter Kerr
"He has all the virtues I dislike and none of the vices I admire." -
Winston Churchill
"I have never killed a man, but I have read many obituaries with great pleasure."  Clarence Darrow
"He has never been known to use a word that might send a reader to the dictionary." - William Faulkner (about Ernest Hemingway).
"Thank you for sending me a copy of your book; I'll waste no time reading it." - Moses Hadas
"I didn't attend the funeral, but I sent a nice letter saying I
approved of it." - Mark Twain
"He has no enemies, but is intensely disliked by his friends.." -
Oscar Wilde
"I am enclosing two tickets to the first night of my new play; bring a friend.... if you have one." - George Bernard Shaw to Winston Churchill
"Cannot possibly attend first night, will attend second.... if there
is one." -  Winston Churchill, in response.
"I feel so miserable without you; it's almost like having you here." - Stephen Bishop
"He is a self-made man and worships his creator." - John Bright
"I've just learned about his illness. Let's hope it's nothing
trivial." - Irvin S. Cobb
"He is not only dull himself; he is the cause of dullness in others." - Samuel Johnson
"He is simply a shiver looking for a spine to run up." - Paul Keating
"In order to avoid being called a flirt, she always yielded easily." - Charles, Count Talleyrand
"He loves nature in spite of what it did to him." - Forrest Tucker
"Why do you sit there looking like an envelope without any address on it?" - Mark Twain
"His mother should have thrown him away and kept the stork." - Mae West
"Some cause happiness wherever they go; others, whenever they go.." - Oscar Wilde
"He uses statistics as a drunken man uses lamp-posts... for support rather than illumination." - Andrew Lang (1844-1912)
"He has Van Gogh's ear for music." - Billy Wilder
"I've had a perfectly wonderful evening. But this wasn't it." - Groucho Marx

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Book review: Diary of a Part-Time Ghost, Vered Ehsani

In Diary of a Part-Time Ghost, Vered Ehsani creates a world where the biggest dangers can’t be seen. Fifteen-year-old Ash wants nothing more than to blend in with the crowd. But he has the unusual problem of being hunted by shadows.  Not to mention the too-real dreams about his murder.  Then his long-lost aunt shows up and promises to explain everything.  Instead, she leaves him with a warning to avoid the shadows and a mysterious history book that allows him to travel back in time.  On his first trip to the past, Ash discovers a few things.  The most obvious is that he’s a ghost.  And even more disturbing, the same evil that is hunting him on this side of the veil is stalking his ancestors in the past.  Now Ash has a choice to make:  He can hover in the background unseen, or he can take action and protect his family. 

I love the cover art for Diary of a Part-Time Ghost.  The ominous shadows blocking the face on the cover give the impression of mysterious danger, a theme carried throughout the book.  My favorite part of the story is the unusual spin on ghosts.  Ash does not have to die to become a ghost, he just leaves his body on one side of time, while traveling in another.  My biggest complaint about the book deals with the formatting.  Ash relays his experiences through a series of diary entries, but the book is divided into chapters.  I found this disorienting at times.  The story would flow better if the book was divided into separate journal entries, instead of chapters.  There were also a few holes in the plot.  But the end of the book lends itself to a sequel, so the plot could easily be expanded in a second book.  Overall, I wish that the plotline was a little more in-depth, but if you’re looking for an easy read with a unique take on ghosts and history, this book may be for you.       

* book provided by 

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Breaking News!

I have accomplished my life goal. No, I have not finished raising a Christian family. And I still have a mortgage. And I'm not going to Ireland an time soon.  Okay, my other life goal.  I'm going to be published. In a real book.  My short story "Family Ties" will be in Unconventional, an anthology, due in stores January 2012!!!  Woot Woot!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Book Review: The Da Vinci Code, Dan Brown

The Plot: American symbologist Robert Langdon and French cryptologist Sophie Neveu are thrown together in a bizarre murder, and find themselves targeted as the prime suspects.  Now they have to elude the French police while trying to decipher clues left at the murder scene, in hopes of uncovering the real killer.

What the clues reveal, however, is far more shocking.  The murder victim, Sophie’s grandfather, was the head of the Priory of Sion, a secret society dating back to the time of Christ.  According to legend, the Priory of Sion’s membership included prominent figures, such as Leonardo Da Vinci and Sir. Isaac Newton.  And they protected a secret powerful enough to topple the Christian faith.  Langdon and Neveu must discover the secret, the Holy Grail, before the killer catches them.

Okay, I know I’m a little behind the times on reading this one.  But it is a really fascinating read, as long as you are not too easily offended.  Without doing your own research on the history of the Church, Brown’s (not very positive) views on Christianity, especially Catholicism, can be easy to believe.  He does twist or leave out huge portions of history in order for his story to flow, but this is a work of fiction, he’s allowed to do that.  I was impressed by the amount of codes and double meanings throughout the book, whether the original authors intended them to be there or not.  I also loved the switching viewpoints throughout the book.  It kept m interest without causing confusion between the storylines.  My only complaint is that I occasionally felt like I was back in a college lecture hall.  Brown definitely did his research while writing this book, and to prove that, he filled pages with lists and facts that did not end up being important to the text.  To me, it was like trying to remember a huge amount of material that was not actually on the test.  But, since one of the main characters is a Harvard professor, perhaps that is on purpose.