Thursday, March 15, 2012

Feature and Follow Friday

The question of the week is:

What was the best and worst book you have read in the last month?

Best: Pure by Julianna Baggott

I loved it for the YA cross-over and the dystopian themes.

The worst book I have been trying to get through in the last month but probably won't be able to finish is  Among Others by Jo Walton.

 I had high hopes for this book. Usually anything with witchery and fairies will have me thrilled and reading like a fiend. The format of this book is done in lots of diary entries with not very much point to it all. There are many mentions of excellent sci fi books which is good, but I am feeling like this book is a never ending misery fest that is just not going anywhere. I was bored and I hate being bored with a book I was excited about. (sighs sadly)

Thanks for joining me on the hop! Stay tuned for some great giveaways coming your way!

Article 5: The Review

New York, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C., have been abandoned. 

The Bill of Rights has been revoked, and replaced with the Moral Statutes. 

There are no more police—instead, there are soldiers. There are no more fines for bad behavior—instead, there are arrests, trials, and maybe worse. People who get arrested usually don't come back. 

Seventeen-year-old Ember Miller is old enough to remember that things weren't always this way. Living with her rebellious single mother, it's hard for her to forget that people weren't always arrested for reading the wrong books or staying out after dark. It's hard to forget that life in the United States used to be different. 

Ember has perfected the art of keeping a low profile. She knows how to get the things she needs, like food stamps and hand-me-down clothes, and how to pass the random home inspections by the military. Her life is as close to peaceful as circumstances allow. 

That is, until her mother is arrested for noncompliance with Article 5 of the Moral Statutes. And one of the arresting officers is none other than Chase Jennings—the only boy Ember has ever loved.


Article 5 showed up in my mailbox one day and boy am I glad it did. Dystopian novels are fast becoming one of my favorite genres. The plot is steady and unpredictable and I couldn't wait to get to the next page. The main characters are flawed, which makes them all the more believable. The descriptions of some of the experiences were so real, I could hear the action in my head, just like a movie. In fact, I found myself yelling at the book when a character did something I thought was crazy, or breathing fast when they were running for their lives.

What I liked:

The fast paced action, plot, characters that were flawed enough to make them real.

What I didn't:

Not a thing. 


I think this book is up there with my favorite dystopian books that I have read recently. It would be a great candidate for a movie and if you like The Hunger Games you will love this book. The characters are interesting, the question of whether or not the government has the right to take over your life with extreme moral codes is super compelling and the harrowing adventures will keep you on the edge of your seat. Make sure you put this one on your to be read list.


Masque of the Red Death: Available In April

Everything is in ruins. 

A devastating plague has decimated the population. And those who are left live in fear of catching it as the city crumbles to pieces around them. 

So what does Araby Worth have to live for? 

Nights in the Debauchery Club, beautiful dresses, glittery make-up . . . and tantalizing ways to forget it all. 

But in the depths of the club—in the depths of her own despair—Araby will find more than oblivion. She will find Will, the terribly handsome proprietor of the club. And Elliott, the wickedly smart aristocrat. Neither boy is what he seems. Both have secrets. Everyone does. 

And Araby may find something not just to live for, but to fight for—no matter what it costs her.(less)


This book grabbed me the moment I laid eyes on the cover. Simple gorgeous and full of mystery. Who is the girl with the shadowy parasol? Why is her face hidden? Why are her arms bared? Interesting...

What I Liked:

This book takes a classic Poe tale and gives it a dystopian twist that I found very appealing. The ruins of society, a disease taking over what is left combined with a war between science and religion make this an exciting read. The characters are flawed by grief and struggle to exist in a world of political intrigue, disease and despair. The cover art alone got me interested enough to dive in head first and I was not disappointed. In fact, this book was a page turner and the ending has me ready for a second book. (I hope there is one.)

What I Didn't:

This book is for older teens-the drug abuse party life is for a mature group, but that being said, it is handled well.



This book was a page turner and the romance element continually had me guessing. Science vs. religion is a powerful subject. Combine that will flawed characters you grow to love and a world that is teetering on the brink of disaster and you have a fast paced read that will keep you enthralled. This book will be available in April, so make sure you put it on your Goodreads to be read list.

Fever: Chemical Garden Trilogy Book Two

Rhine and Gabriel have escaped the mansion, but danger is never far behind. 

Running away brings Rhine and Gabriel right into a trap, in the form of a twisted carnival whose ringmistress keeps watch over a menagerie of girls. Just as Rhine uncovers what plans await her, her fortune turns again. With Gabriel at her side, Rhine travels through an environment as grim as the one she left a year ago - surroundings that mirror her own feelings of fear and hopelessness. 

The two are determined to get to Manhattan, to relative safety with Rhine’s twin brother, Rowan. But the road there is long and perilous - and in a world where young women only live to age twenty and young men die at twenty-five, time is precious. Worse still, they can’t seem to elude Rhine’s father-in-law, Vaughn, who is determined to bring Rhine back to the any means necessary. 

In the sequel to Lauren DeStefano’s harrowing Wither, Rhine must decide if freedom is worth the price - now that she has more to lose than ever.


The Chemical Garden Trilogy is a great dystopian world with characters put into harrowing situations that not many of us would know what to do with. Imagine a genetic disorder that kills before you reach adulthood, forcing girls into marriage arrangements to keep the human race alive until the scientists can discover what is killing everyone off by the age of 25. Enslaved by her circumstances, Rhine, the main character takes her life in her hands when she tries to escape to find her twin brother. 

While the start to the book was a little slower than I would have liked, it quickly ramped up and was a roller coaster ride through the perils of a carnival devoted to prostitution and Rhine's search for her brother and the illness that takes her over. The end of the book (no spoilers here!) was a cliff hanger that had me letting out a howl and threatening to hold my breath for book three. 


What I liked:

The story development is good. You don't know which direction it is going and I like that. Rhine is a sympathetic character and you can't help but feel for her as she fights to maintain choices in a world where girls are only valued as property and for their body. The suspense building is stellar and by the end I was turning pages faster than my fingers could work. 

**Many thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy of this great book. I liked it so much I ended up buying it for my Nook and iPad e-book collection.

What I didn't:

The beginning was a little slow and it was a little frustrating to watch  the drug addiction portion of the book. Story wise, it makes sense to keep the characters subdued this way (with drugs) but I was chomping at the bit for them to move to another part of the story. Also having the hero half dead from addiction was not as romantic as I would have liked-but this is dystopian fiction. Things are rarely ever perfect, so it does fit. It just frustrated me at the time.


I think this book is a great continuation of The Chemical Garden Trilogy and well worth the read. Book three can't come quick enough.

Tooth and Nail: Interview with author Jennifer Safrey

Gemma Fae Cross, a tough-girl amateur boxer whose fiance is running for congress, has just made a startling discovery about herself. She is half faerie - and not just any faerie, but a tooth faerie A hybrid of fae and human, Gemma is destined to defend the Olde Way and protect the fae - who are incapable of committing violence - from threats to their peaceful and idyllic way of life, which must be maintained by distilling innocence collected from children''s baby teeth. But when a threat to the fae mission emerges, Gemma is called upon to protect her heritage, and become a legendary fae warrior... even if it means sacrificing everything she knows about being human. 


There are some books that grab you the second you see the cover. Yes, I know. It is shallow, but cover art matters. So does the story hidden under it. Happily, the wonderful publisher sent me a copy of this amazing book to review. Tooth fairies, boxing, kick butt fae politics and the hidden terrors masked behind the shining facade of your neighborhood dentist. (shudder) This book was one rocking great time and I was even more thrilled when author Jennifer Safrey took some time out of her busy life to answer a few questions.

What I liked:

The use of tooth fairies as fae is unique. Except for that memorable movie with the Roc, I don't remember another tooth fairy book or film. Gemma is a tough character with depth that you can't help but start to care about. Every piece of dialog and action is well written and the plot is original with exceptional orchestration. This book is a sleeper that I want to tell everyone about. This book is an adult title, but with moderate language and a few glossed over sex scenes it is a great YA crossover.

What I Didn't:

Why, oh why couldn't it have been another five or six hundred pages? (*sob*) I hope it becomes more than just one book. 


The plot, characters and voice are amazing and I can't wait to read more from Ms. Safrey. Gemma is a character that will stick in my mind for a long time. I can honestly say that I will be looking a little more closely at the samples I get from the dentist. Excellent book. Make sure you post it on your Goodreads page as a book to read this year. 


Now for the interview!

1. When did you find yourself interested in the fae?

 I am a longtime fan of paranormal romance and urban fantasy (even back when romance writers were told it's a small niche market!), and after a long period of time travel and vampires and shapeshifters, I began to see fae pop up here and there. I like fae as a catch-all term for the supernatural, and I suppose that's how I use it in my book.

2. What are some of your favorite faerie movies and books?

I loved, my whole life, the fairy tales that were as likely to turn out gruesome as happy, like Grimm stories. The crazier the story, the more real it seemed to me. I mean, the princess was so pissed at the frog for taking advantage of her that she picked him up and threw him against the wall as hard as she could, and that was when he became a prince. The best part is that the frog had been holding the princess accountable for broken promises, and she was beyond angry that he was right. Impetuous Gemma would totally do that, even though it was not the right thing to do, but she is a human caught in a fairy tale. That's great stuff.

3. Did you write with music playing while you were working, or did any particular music inspire you?

 I really can't write to music. Lyrics are something I memorize and listen to so if I hear words being sung I can't concentrate on creating my new words. Sometimes I listen to wordless yoga music, which is nice, but I listen to that so much at my studio now that it doesn't really translate well anymore in the writing part of my life.

4. Gemma is a fierce heroine and a character I have come to care about in only a few pages. How did she come about?

 When I created Gemma I really wanted to set her apart from other urban fantasy heroines. The problem is, I love urban fantasy heroines, so differentiating her but still keeping the kind of moxie I love was not easy. I wanted her to be more real, somehow. I wanted the reader to come away with feeling that she is always human first, fae second. And humans make a lot of mistakes. In some scenes, her timing really sucks. She is quick to emotionally react to things. But deep down, she is intrinsically good. She doesn't want to kill anyone, even the bad guy...and that was crucially important to me in building her character. In a lot of urban fantasy there is a lot of killing, and often killing with zero remorse because in those worlds, that is the expectation. But if Gemma is a human first, she's no more likely to kill someone as any normal human. Warrior or not, she thinks murder is not what you do. I worked very hard to make that come across as heroic and not righteous.

5. Tooth fairies are an original topic when you think of faerie tales and even current fiction or movies (except for that really interesting movie with The Roc in a tutu).  What made you decide to take faeries down this road? 

 I did a writing exercise some years ago with a freewriting group and the prompt was to write something from the point of view of the tooth fairy. I think I was the only one really interested in what came out of that. I thought about it for a long time. I saw that paranormal stories were beginning to feature fae and I wondered what angle of fae wasn't being covered, and wondered what I could really bring to the table in terms of unusual and unexpected. I ended up with an amateur boxer fae warrior. Go figure. :)

6. Outlining is something I am learning a greater appreciation for. Do you outline or write by the seat of your pants?

 If I don't have a contract I have a tendency to just meander around with writing, but if I am under contract I can't mess around. I have tried having extensive outlines and I think I don't do it because once the outlines are done, I am drained of energy to creatively fill in the blanks. At this point, I outline three chapters ahead. I know the beginning, the end, the general middle, and the general direction the story is going in, and so I'm always plotting the chapter I'm writing, and two chapters ahead. It's like a flashlight in the woods. My flashlight won't go to the edge of the woods and the way out, but if I illuminate enough of the space in front of me, I'll find my way.

7. What is your best advice to prospective writers out there? (Every scene is down pat and your dialog and movements are solid.  Wonderful!)

 I guess my best advice is to get physical with the writing. I read every single scene, every single dialogue exchange out loud, many times, until it sounded like I wasn't reading, but just saying casually. Only then did I know it wasn't stilted. For the final showdown fight, I took stuffed animals and made each one a character and moved them around my office to make sure their actions made sense. I pantomimed every kick, every punch, to feel if it was genuine and gauge what the character's effectiveness could be. Of course, if you'd opened the door to my office and saw me pretending to 360-degree roundhouse kick my teddy bear, you'd think I was nuts, but it worked for me. I'm not a spatial thinker so I need to see everything in front of me. I loved this part of the writing...getting phsyical with it. If you do it, and you feel it, your readers will feel it too.

8. Your descriptions of being in the ring at the gym are very visceral and real. It is not your typical meat market gym either, but the not so posh side that makes it interesting. Have you ever participated in sports in that setting? Did you find your experience was like Gemma's?

 I did some boxing for a few months. It was at a trendy gym but they did have an actual boxing ring and I loved it. My instructor was a black belt in taekwondo and encouraged me to give that a try because I must have done something to make him think that could be my thing. I moved to taekwondo, trained for years, and earned my black belt.I competed a little bit, but then I opened my yoga studio, and the new business left no time for martial arts training. Recently, though, I began to study muay thai. It's nice to be training again. I tried a little jiu-jitsu and I might pursue that as well. Gemma has had a much more hardcore, inner-city experience than I ever did, but I liked the idea that not only is she accepted at a tough boxing gym, but she is considered a real leader there because of her tenure. Competitive fighting is really opening up for women, expecially in mixed martial arts. Also, for the first time in the Olympics this year, there will be a women's division in boxing. I think even women who don't fight for sport are inspired by and respect other women who do use their bodies and their brains to fight competitively. And I know from experience that men will respect a female fighter. I certainly am not the best muay thai fighter in my class of all men but I am always treated equally. I like that Gemma is showing female readers this side of sport, this surprisingly fair dynamic between genders in a gym setting.

Many thanks to Jennifer Safrey for this 
great interview! Thanks also to Night Shade Books for
providing a review copy of Tooth and Nail.

We will be looking forward to your new writing
projects and hoping for another glimpse of Gemma
and the morning fae!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Pure by Julianna Baggott:

We know you are here, our brothers and sisters . . . 

Pressia barely remembers the Detonations or much about life during the Before. In her sleeping cabinet behind the rubble of an old barbershop where she lives with her grandfather, she thinks about what is lost-how the world went from amusement parks, movie theaters, birthday parties, fathers and mothers . . . to ash and dust, scars, permanent burns, and fused, damaged bodies. And now, at an age when everyone is required to turn themselves over to the militia to either be trained as a soldier or, if they are too damaged and weak, to be used as live targets, Pressia can no longer pretend to be small. Pressia is on the run. 

Burn a Pure and Breathe the Ash . . . \

There are those who escaped the apocalypse unmarked. Pures. They are tucked safely inside the Dome that protects their healthy, superior bodies. Yet Partridge, whose father is one of the most influential men in the Dome, feels isolated and lonely. Different. He thinks about loss-maybe just because his family is broken; his father is emotionally distant; his brother killed himself; and his mother never made it inside their shelter. Or maybe it's his claustrophobia: his feeling that this Dome has become a swaddling of intensely rigid order. So when a slipped phrase suggests his mother might still be alive, Partridge risks his life to leave the Dome to find her. 

When Pressia meets Partridge, their worlds shatter all over again.


This book had me sneaking off into corners every second I got. Optioned for a movie and a three book deal, it has every element of a page turner. If you loved The Hunger Games you have to read this book.

It is unique because it was marketing as an adult title but has a YA crossover. The three main characters are teens caught up in a world that has gone terribly awry and they struggle to find the answers they are looking for. An outstanding read! Characters you care about, dialog and movement that are flawless and a plot to keep you turning the pages long after you should be asleep. Double thumbs up!