Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness

Plot Summary: Todd Hewitt is the only boy in a town of men. Ever since the settlers were infected with the Noise germ, Todd can hear everything the men think, and they hear everything he thinks. Todd is just a month away from becoming a man, but in the midst of the cacophony, he knows that the town is hiding something from him -- something so awful Todd is forced to flee with only his dog, whose simple, loyal voice he hears too. With hostile men from the town in pursuit, the two stumble upon a strange and eerily silent creature: a girl. Who is she? Why wasn't she killed by the germ like all the females on New World? Propelled by Todd's gritty narration, readers are in for a white-knuckle journey in which a boy on the cusp of manhood must unlearn everything he knows in order to figure out who he truly is.

This story reminded me of the TV series Firefly. Not the storyline, just the mix of futuristic and old-fashioned cultures. It makes for such an interesting dynamic that I could not put this book down. Todd is an amazingly real character with a strong voice, and I love that we got to see right down into the corners of his mind. Especially when it came to his interactions with his dog. Hilarious!

The pacing is phenomenal, and once I passed the halfway mark I could not tear myself away. I finished the rest in one sitting. Todd’s journey, both physical and emotional, is riveting. The fact that we learn about his world along with him makes it that much more enticing. There were a few times when Todd learned information that he didn’t share with us, which I found irritating (because it felt like a contrived way to increase suspense). But I was so into the story that I overlooked it.

I sometimes had trouble with the way certain words were spelled. Instead of spelling them correctly, they were spelled the way they sounded. For example, words ending in –tion were spelled with –shun instead. That tripped me up a few times, and annoyed me when I was really into the story and didn’t want to have to stop and decipher an everyday word. But it was just a minor annoyance.

There was only one thing that I really did not like, and that was the last page. I can appreciate that this is a trilogy, and the overall story isn’t finished. I can also appreciate that, technically, the story arc in this first book was fulfilled. However, the ending still felt abrupt. Actually, it ended in the middle of a scene. That reminded me of a bad TV series that mercilessly tortured you with cliffhanger endings. But, with TV, you only have to wait a week to find out what happens next. With a book, we have to wait a year! To me, this felt over the top, like the author didn’t trust that the reader was hooked enough to pick up the next book. Um, I AM. But the massive cliffhanger really put me off.

The second book in the series came out in September, and I’m guessing the third will come out sometime this fall. If you can live with torturous cliffhangers, then I highly recommend this book. If not, then wait for the final book to come out before you pick this one up. :)

Monday, April 26, 2010

What Kind Of Reader Are You?

What kinds of books do you absolutely love? What books do you read over and over again because you can’t get enough of them? And, when you’re reading, are you always critiquing what’s on the page? Or can you just sit back and enjoy the story?

Generally, I’m an analytical reader. I’ve always been that way. Before I started writing novels, the only thing my brain picked apart was plot. I’d get annoyed if the plot contradicted itself, went in convoluted directions, or if it just plain didn’t make sense. After I started writing novels, though, I automatically started to analyze other aspects of the story, like character, setting, dialog, etc. Now, it’s almost impossible for me to sit down and read a book completely for enjoyment. My brain is constantly picking apart the craft that went into the story because I want to learn from it.

It’s rare that I can sit down and completely lose myself in a story these days, where the only thing I think about is ‘what’s going to happen next?’ It recently happened with Lisa Shearin’s series about an elf named Raine Benares. I checked out the first two books from the library and enjoyed them so much that I had to go out and buy the whole series. The fourth book is coming out tomorrow, and I am beyond excited. :)

It also got me thinking...what was it about these books that shut off my inner editor? Was it how much I loved the characters? The setting? The pacing?

No, no, and no. All these things are good, but there are still plenty of things that my inner editor could point out. So, it’s none of those things. It’s the fact that these books are fantasy. And, they’re also written for adults, not teens. I don’t write adult, and I don’t write fantasy. I love to read fantasy, and that’s pretty much all I read as a kid. But I don’t write it. Why? I have no idea. But I think my inner editor knows I’ll never write this kind of story, so it went on vacation. Much to everyone’s enjoyment. :)

That got me thinking some more (no, I never stop thinking). What do other writers read? Do you read the same kind of stories that you write? Do you read outside of your own personal interest in the interest of learning? Do you read for enjoyment, or is it impossible for you to turn off your inner editor? Please share!!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Winners of the April book giveaway!

I completely forgot that I had to pick the winners for this month's giveaway!  I'm so sorry, all.  This month has gotten away from me.  So, anyway, I'll just right to it...

For Bleeding Violet,
Debbie F!!!

For Blue Plate Special,

For Blood Ninja,
Jeanne Ryan!!!

For Before I Fall,

For The Clearing,
Natalie Aguirre!!!

Congratulations to the winners!!  And sorry it took me so long.  I'll get those books out to you as soon as I can, though I've been really busy so it won't be tomorrow.  :)

Stop by next saturday to see what I'm giving away next month!!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Clearing by Heather Davis

Plot Summary: Amy is drawn to the misty, mysterious clearing behind her Aunt Mae's place because it looks like the perfect place to hide from life. A place to block out the pain of her last relationship, to avoid the kids in her new town, to stop dwelling on what her future holds after high school. Then, she meets a boy lurking in the mist--Henry. Henry is different from any other guy Amy has ever known. And after several meetings in the clearing, she's starting to fall for him. But Amy is stunned when she finds out just how different Henry really is. Because on his side of the clearing, it's still 1944. By some miracle, Henry and his family are stuck in the past, staving off the tragedy that will strike them in the future. Amy's crossing over to Henry's side brings him more happiness than he's ever known--but her presence also threatens to destroy his safe existence.

I'm not a huge fan of romance, but this story sounded so unique that I really wanted to give it a try. And I wasn't disappointed. The writing is good, the characters are sympathetic and real, and the premise is interesting. I was fascinated to watch Amy and Henry's relationship unfold, and the choices they made were strong and believable.

I thought the author did a fabulous job of creating two settings: one in today's world, and one in the 1940's.  The characters felt like they'd come from those eras, and the interaction between them was intriguing.  I can see teens of all ages enjoying this book. The language is clean and the few scenes with sex or drinking are PG.

There were a few things that I felt could have been explored more. I wish there had been more with Amy's former best friend, and I felt really bad for Jackson by the end of the book (which interfered with my sympathy for Amy and Henry), so I wish the author had done a bit more with him.

The only thing I really didn't like was the last page. I don’t want to completely give away the ending (even by giving a spoiler warning), so I can't make a direct comparison to another story. But the technique used on the last page has been done before, and it has never made any sense to me (logistically speaking). It conflicts with itself and feels like the author is trying too hard to create a happy ending. For me, it doesn’t work.

But hey, most time travel stories have issues.  So, if you can forgive those, then you will probably like this book. :)

Monday, April 19, 2010

Guest Post: Angela Ackerman from The Bookshelf Muse

Today, we have a guest post from the fantastically awesome Angela Ackerman.  She writes the blog The Bookshelf Muse, which is chock full of useful information.  If you haven't visited her blog yet, you should.  You'll be glad you did. 

Anyway, I asked Angela to do a guest post here on Writer Musings, and I had a great topic for her...unfortunately, I didn't write it down and it got lost in the shuffle that is my brain (these days).  So I asked her to pick a topic, and she came up with something fabulous.  So, here's Angela!

Naked Dialogue: When (and When Not to) Go Tagless

Dialogue is one of the trickiest elements of writing to master. Not only do we have to juggle the flow and realism, we also need to make sure it creates tension and pushes the story forward. With novels containing as much as 40% dialogue, its a skill writers must hone at all costs.

There's also a technical side to writing dialogue. Tags help identify speakers. Beats of action interspersed throughout the dialogue can show both our character's emotions and the setting. Sometimes neither of these are utilized and instead the dialogue is tagless. This technique is something rarely talked about and often misused, so what better topic to tackle in a guest post?

Like anything else, Tagless Dialogue (TD) follows rules.

Rule#1: Back Off Buddy--Three's a Crowd
Dating two different people at once never ends well. The same can be said for tagless dialogue, because unless the reader understands who's speaking and when, the conversation can quickly become meaningless. TD only works if it's easy to follow, and that means there should be no more than two speakers involved in the exchange.

Rule #2: Kissing with Grandma in the Room
When Granny’s plunked down on the sofa, it doesn’t matter how old you are—when it’s time to say goodbye to your beau, there’s no long matches of tongue hockey involved. You give him a quick peck on the lips and say "See you later." Tagless dialogue should be the same way--a rapid exchange with short, light sentences, not paragraphs.

“Want to hit Boston Pizza after the game?”
“Depends. You buying?”
“Of course. Unless you decide to eat two larges like last time. Then you’re on your own.”

Rule #3: The Song That Never Ends Must Die
You know those long car trips when one of your kids starts singing 99 Bottles of Beer On The Wall and you want to jam a nail file into your temple? Apply that to TD. One of the biggest usage mistakes is when a tagless exchange goes on...and on. No, no and no. If tagless dialogue runs unchecked, it will exhaust the reader and the breakneck pace prevents them from absorbing information. Too, you risk hurting the scene by not showing the character's reaction to key points in the conversation. Tagless exchanges must always be BRIEF, like the above example.

Tagless Techniques to Make Your Writing More Savvy

Tagless Dialogue can be used for more than just creating a quick pace and adding variety to tags. Here are a few examples of ways to create a strong impact by getting naked.

Punch Line Knock Out
When you set up a great joke, impart knowledge or spin out a story, you create suspense not only by what you say, but by what you do. In writing dialogue, these bits of action (beats) work to provide ‘emotional tells’ which show the reader exactly what your MC is feeling. Tension builds and when they finally get to the crux of the matter, tagless dialogue can help deliver a punch line knock out for extra impact.

Alex cleared his throat. “So, you know how I was late for work this morning, right?”
“Terry told me about it.” I reached over and squeezed his hand. “Something about you running over an animal on the road. I’m sorry. That must have been terrible for you.”
Alex nodded, his throat bobbing.
“The thing is…well, it was your cat.”

Lie, Lie and Lie Some More
Sometimes the best dialogue isn’t what is said, it’s what isn’t. There are times when the scene is dependent on a character telling lie or deliberately misdirecting another character. Often if you use tagless dialogue to state something that the reader knows not to be true, you can pull the lie off more effectively than if you have to explain the lie through thoughts or a dialogue tag. The strongest lies are ones that need no explanation.

Mary hurried down to meet me, each stair groaning with the effort of holding her large frame. This was the same curvy blond from the matchmaking site?
“Rick, it’s great to finally meet you!” She gave me a quick smile and then crossed her arms over her stomach, self conscious. “I’ve...gained a bit of weight since I posted my picture online at Two Hearts. I hope you’re not too disappointed."
“You did? I hadn’t noticed.”

Nakedness is Next to Godliness...or Something
TD can also be used to characterize or to provide a much needed release. For instance, tagless banter between characters can shed light on their relationship (playful, light sarcasm, biting hate) or create levity at the tail end of a difficult exchange or tense situation. This offers a breathing point to not only the characters involved, but the reader as well.

"Wow, dodged that one."
"No kidding. I can't believe Dad went for it."
"Hey, his Playboy was in the pile. I could have accidentally taken it when grabbing my issues of Soccer Maniac, right?"
"Plus you're the good son."
"That's why if Dad sees the centerfold is missing, he'll think you did it."
(This is about as long as you should ever go tagless. Shorter is better.)

So, that's my take on Naked Dialogue. Can you think of other ways to incorporate tagless dialogue to achieve a specific effect?

Edited To Add: There is another great post on dialog at the Fiction Groupie blog.  Check it out!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Dark Divine by Bree Despain

Plot Summary: Grace Divine, daughter of the local pastor, always knew something terrible happened the night Daniel Kalbi disappeared--the night she found her brother Jude collapsed on the porch, covered in his own blood--but she has no idea what a truly monstrous secret that night held. The memories her family has tried to bury resurface when Daniel returns, three years later, and enrolls in Grace and Jude's high school. Despite promising Jude she'll stay away, Grace cannot deny her attraction to Daniel's shocking artistic abilities, his way of getting her to look at the world from new angles, and the strange, hungry glint in his eyes. The closer Grace gets to Daniel, the more she jeopardizes her life, as her actions stir resentment in Jude and drive him to embrace the ancient evil Daniel unleashed that horrific night. Grace must discover the truth behind the boy's dark secret...and the cure that can save the ones she loves. But she may have to lay down the ultimate sacrifice to do it--her soul.

I loved that Grace’s family has good values and morals, and they go out of their way to help others. I really liked Grace. She’s a great character, and she’s really what made the story so enjoyable for me. I got a little worried when she started in on her 'fixing' streak, but was reassured when she realized a key thing about helping others: they have to want to be helped. Many people don’t get that, so it was good to see here.

I had a few minor complaints. I think that Grace was too quick to believe Daniel’s explanation, even though I figured it out before she did. :) But the explanation is so abnormal that she should have freaked out and questioned everything. At the very least, she shouldn’t have believed it right off the bat. I also thought the ending was a bit too neat. That said, I also kind of expected it, given who Grace is.

My one big issue was with Pete. I didn’t like him at all, and felt the story would have been stronger without him. He seemed like an extra, even with the role he plays at the end. I realize what he was supposed to be, and Despain handled it well, but I would have much preferred it if he wasn’t there.

Overall, I liked the book. I wouldn't call it my favorite, but I still liked it. I’m really looking forward to the sequel, because I'd like to read more about Grace and how she deals with her new predicament. That’s going to make for some interesting reading! :)

Monday, April 12, 2010

The Muse, The Daemon, and The Artist

This post is a continuation from last week’s. Sort of. :)

TED speech by Elizabeth Gilbert

I know many who love what Gilbert had to say. I think she has some valid points, like the high mortality rate of creative geniuses. I agree about the lack of support for creative artists, helping them manage “the inherent emotional risks of creativity.” The creative mind can walk a fine line between genius and crazy.  :)  I also agree that there must be a way to deal with this, so we don’t lose so many artists to tragic and unnecessary deaths.

But how that’s done? Well...I have to say that I completely disagree with her.

I need to take a moment to say this, because it's very important to me.  The kidlit world of writing is an amazingly supportive one.  Just look at places like Verla Kay's Blueboards or SCBWI.  These places are treasure troves of information, as well as filled with people who are willing and happy to share their experiences, cheer you on, or comiserate.  Sure, there's still jealousy and competition, but it's rare that it turns vicious (if ever).  So if you write for kids and you're having trouble dealing with something, you have places to go.  For the adult world of writing?  I've heard rumors that it's nothing like the kidlit world.  The opposite, in fact.  So I can see much of Gilbert's talk applying more to that world.

Anyway, Gilbert had some interesting things to say about the daemon or genius, which has basically been translated into today's muse. The big difference is that society as a whole doesn’t believe the talent comes from the muse anymore, the way the ancient Greeks and Romans believed that talent came from a divine spirit (called the daemon or genius). Gilbert believes that we should go back to that philosophy, putting the talent back into the muse. That way the artist doesn’t bear the entire burden of success or failure. And if one artist is better than another, then that means one artist got a better muse than another – thereby, it’s not his fault.

That might be helpful for some people, but that philosophy doesn't apply to everyone. It's too specific. I’ve said this before, but I don’t have a muse. I don’t like them. If others want to have one, hey, that’s fine with me. But they don’t work for me. At all. Plus, I don’t buy that artists will accept that one person got a great muse but another didn’t. There would be much whining about ‘why did I get stuck with this idiot when he got the greatest muse in the world?’ :) Petty jealousy is still part of human nature.

I think that the real problem comes down to one's own self-confidence. What I mean by this is that you truly believe in yourself, not that you think you’re better than everyone else. If you believe in yourself, that you can do what you set out to do, then you will be able to let the fear roll off of you. If you don't, then the fear will find places to grab hold and hang on.

Gilbert said the general solution to this problem is this:
“I have to create some sort of protective psychological construct...find some way to have a safe distance between me...and what the reaction to that writing is going to be.”

I think that’s somewhat true, but I don’t think it needs to be a huge, elaborate process. The real solution is to search within yourself for ways to let that fear go, and chances are you will be left holding on to the love you have for your work.  Which is the most important thing of all.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

In My Mailbox...

In My Mailbox is an exploration of what books I brought home this week, and is organized by The Story Siren.

I brought a few home from the library, and the pile of books on my nightstand is now dangerous, because it's teetering so high...and yet I'm not seeing any time opening up for reading!  :( 

Ghost Medicine by Andrew Smith:

Troy and his friends don’t want trouble. They want this to be the summer of what Troy calls “ghost medicine,” when time seems to stop, so they won’t have to face the past or the future. But before the summer is over, their paths will cross in dangerous and fateful ways with people who will change their lives: Rose, a damaged derelict who lives with a flock of wild horses and goats; and Chase Rutledge, the arrogant sheriff’s son.  Troy and his friends want to disappear. Instead, they will become what they least expect —brothers, lovers, heroes, and ghosts.

In The Path of Falling Objects by Andrew Smith:
Jonah and his younger brother, Simon, are on their own. They set out to find what’s left of their family, carrying between them ten dollars, a backpack full of dirty clothes, a notebook, and a stack of letters from their brother, who is serving a tour in Vietnam. And soon into their journey, they have a ride. With a man and a beautiful girl who may be in love with Jonah. Or Simon. Or both of them.

The man is crazy. The girl is desperate. This violent ride is only just beginning. And it will leave the brothers taking cover from hard truths about loyalty, love, and survival that crash into their lives.
One more thing: The brothers have a gun. They’re going to need it.

The Awakening by Kelley Armstrong:
Chloe Saunders is a living science experiment—not only can she see ghosts, but she was genetically altered by a sinister organization called the Edison Group. She's a teenage necromancer whose powers are out of control, which means she can raise the dead without even trying. Now Chloe's running for her life with three of her supernatural friends—a charming sorcerer, a cynical werewolf, and a disgruntled witch—and they have to find someone who can help them before the Edison Group catches them.

I have really been looking forward to Andrew Smith's books, so I'll be making time to crack them open very soon.  I have doubts about Armstrong's book (as in, not my taste), but we shall see...

What did you bring home this week?

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick

Plot Summary: For Nora Grey, romance was not part of the plan. She's never been particularly attracted to the boys at her school, no matter how much her best friend, Vee, pushes them at her. Not until Patch came along. With his easy smile and eyes that seem to see inside her, Nora is drawn to him against her better judgment. But after a series of terrifying encounters, Nora's not sure who to trust. Patch seems to be everywhere she is, and to know more about her than her closest friends. She can't decide whether she should fall into his arms or run and hide. And when she tries to seek some answers, she finds herself near a truth that is way more unsettling than anything Patch makes her feel. For Nora is right in the middle of an ancient battle between the immortal and those that have fallen - and, when it comes to choosing sides, the wrong choice will cost her life.

I find fallen angel stories intriguing. There's so much that can be done with a premise like that, and I've read a few that I loved.  Unfortunately, Hush, Hush wasn't one of them.

It's really a shame, too, because it started out so well. Nora has a strong voice, and seems like a strong character right off the bat. Her initial reaction to Patch is spot on, and I wanted to keep reading to see how the interaction between them would progress...but that progression was a huge disappointment.

Patch starts out as horribly rude and creepy, and Nora is afraid of him. As the story moves along, Patch's behavior doesn't change, but Nora's perception does - she finds herself attracted to him, even though she knows there's something off about him, that he's hiding things, and he still scares her. That irritated me to no end. It sends a subtle message to teen girls that even if a hot guy is rude or scary, it's okay to pursue him because things will work out fine. That's a recipe for disaster, and enables impressionable teens to get caught up in abusive, unhealthy relationships.

*deep breath* Moving on...

There were a few other aspects of the plot that confused me. The biggest one being the chain of events leading to Patch's goal. It was never explained exactly how Nora would help Patch attain his goal. It was only briefly mentioned, and, as far as I can remember, never fully explained to Nora (though she miraculously knew all the details at the end). It also brings up questions about her father's death, and I have a good guess as to who killed him (which, I believe, will come up in the next book). But to ignore such a big detail makes much of this story feel contrived. I honestly believe it would have been stronger if the reader had not been kept in the dark.

Finally, I was disappointed in the story's assumption that just because an angel has fallen, that means he must be wholly bad. The world isn't so black and white - people make mistakes, but that doesn't make them bad. It makes them flawed. Assuming that a fallen angel is evil is what made Patch so unlikeable and unredeemable. Merely making him flawed would have endeared him to us, made him understandable and relatable.

I honestly can’t tell if the unhealthy relationship aspect of the story colored my views of everything else. That’s a big issue for me, so it’s entirely possible. But this was not a book I enjoyed, nor is it one I’d want to give to my teenage girls (if I had any).

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Monday, April 05, 2010

Pantophobia: The Fear of Everything

There have been several posts about fear in the blogosphere, which I always find interesting. The two that have resonated with me lately are these:
Fear of success and fear of failure
Fear of revision

These two posts got the gears in my mind cranking, and I looked into myself. How do I deal with fear? Believe it or not, that was a really hard question to answer, because, generally, I’m not a fearful person (as you may have guessed after reading this post). But why doesn’t fear take a stronger hold of me? I puzzled and puzzled over this til my puzzler was sore.  :)

Part of the answer is that I’m an analytical thinker. Before doing anything, I ponder the consequences of my actions (or lack of action). If I can live with the consequences, then I’ll do it. If I can’t, I won’t. That right there eliminates a huge contribution to fear: the unknown. Sure, there might be some things I can’t anticipate, but I’ve still reduced the unknown to a manageable chunk, which starves the fear and changes it from a hulking monster to something the size of a squirrel.

But I think the real answer is this: I know what I do well, I know what I can learn, and I know where I need to seek help. With this, the power of control is in my hands, not Fear’s. More on this in a moment...

As both Beth and Andrew have said, there is a lot of fear in writing. Not being able to finish your book, afraid of changing what you have because you might make it worse, not being able to sell your book and see it on the shelves, etc. But there are still ways of getting beyond this fear so you can do what you really want to do. The best thing you can do is to know your strengths and weaknesses. A friend of mine has a great post on the subject.

If you don’t know what you’re good at (or not good at), then you need to get up and try it because that’s the best way to find out. It’s also where the fear kicks in, because we always fear what we don’t know. For example, I first started writing at age sixteen, and the only reason I did it is because an English teacher made me. She gave our class an assignment to write a poem, and then graded us on it. The whole idea of writing was too daunting and I didn’t think I’d be able to do it, but I had to either try or get an F. So I tried.  Look where I am now. :)

That said, it doesn’t mean I was gifted at writing. There was a lot I didn’t know, but overcoming that first hurdle gave me the gumption to keep trying, keep learning, and keep attempting more hurdles. Sometimes I succeeded, and sometimes I landed on my face. That’s the way of life, I suppose. :) But this journey helped me to learn more about myself. And I truly believe that if you know your skills, meaning, you’ve tried certain things and discovered what you do well and what you don’t, then you’ve just taken away much of the power that Fear draws on.

But, what about the things you don’t do well? Doesn’t that bring out the fear again?

Well, yes and no. Yes, because we’re back to the unknown: ‘I can't do anything about the things I’m terrible at.’ Wrong. I think that knowing what you’re not good at is just as powerful as knowing what you’re good at, because you can find ways to compensate. If you’re not good at characterization, then find a writer who is and ask her to point out where yours is weak. If you’re not good at plot, then find a writer who is and ask her to point out the holes in yours. And so on.

This compensation is huge, because it will give you confidence in yourself and your abilities (I mean real confidence here, not an I’m-awesome-and-I-must-tell-the-world ego), and confidence is a natural fear repellent. Better than deet. :)  The more you believe in yourself, the more you can focus on your work.  And the more you will love your work.  But if you doubt yourself, then Fear will find little nooks and crannies to hang on to, which will interfere with your ability to write well and eventually come between you and your project.

So, I guess it all boils down to this: if you're afraid of something, then you're probably doubting something regarding yourself.  Figure out exactly what that is, and then look for ways to compensate.  That might be learning more about craft, or finding an objective ear.  Whatever you do, don't let the fear take over.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

In My Mailbox...

In My Mailbox is an exploration of what books I brought home this week, and is organized by The Story Siren. A couple books for review arrived this week, and here they are. 

ARC of The Gardener:
Mason has never known his father, but longs to. All he has of him is a DVD of a man whose face is never seen, reading a children’s book. One day, on a whim, he plays the DVD for a group of comatose teens at the nursing home where his mother works. One of them, a beautiful girl, responds. Mason learns she is part of a horrible experiment intended to render teenagers into autotrophs—genetically engineered, self-sustaining life-forms who don’t need food or water to survive. And before he knows it, Mason is on the run with the girl, and wanted, dead or alive, by the mysterious mastermind of this gruesome plan, who is simply called the Gardener. Will Mason be forced to destroy the thing he’s longed for most?

ARC of Thief Eyes:
After her mother mysteriously disappears, sixteen-year-old Haley convinces her father to take her to Iceland, where her mother was last seen. There, amidst the ancient fissures and crevices of that volcanic island, Haley meets gorgeous Ari, a boy with a dangerous side who appoints himself her protector.

When Haley picks up a silver coin that entangles her in a spell cast by her ancestor Hallgerd, she discovers that Hallgerd's spell and her mother's disappearance are connected to a chain of events that could unleash terrifying powers and consume the world. Haley must find a way to contain the growing fires of the spell—and her growing attraction to Ari.
What books did you bring home this week?

Saturday, April 03, 2010

April Book Giveaway!

It's time to give away some books again.  I've got a lot to give away this month:

Bleeding Violet by Dia Reeves
ARC of Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver
Blue Plate Special by Michelle Kwasney
Blood Ninja by Nick Lake
ARC of The Clearing by Heather Davis

To enter, fill out the form below, and then come back here on April 24th to see if you've won.  Good luck!

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Heist Society by Ally Carter

Plot Summary: When Katarina Bishop was three, her parents took her on a trip to the case it. For her seventh birthday, Katarina and her Uncle Eddie traveled to steal the crown jewels. When Kat turned fifteen, she planned a con of her own--scamming her way into the best boarding school in the country, determined to leave the family business behind. Unfortunately, leaving "the life" for a normal life proves harder than she'd expected. Soon, Kat's friend and former co-conspirator, Hale, appears out of nowhere to bring her back into the world she tried so hard to escape. But he has good reason: a powerful mobster has been robbed of his priceless art collection and wants to retrieve it. Only a master thief could have pulled this job, and Kat's father isn't just on the suspect list, he is the list. Caught between Interpol and a far more deadly enemy, Kat's dad needs her help. For Kat there is only one solution: track down the paintings and steal them back. So what if it's a spectacularly impossible job? She's got two weeks, a teenage crew, and hopefully just enough talent to pull off the biggest heist in history--or at least her family's (very crooked) history.

I’m already a fan of Ally Carter’s Gallagher Girl series, so I settled into this book with a heavy bias. When I sit down to read a book by Ally Carter, I’m expecting pure, light fun. I wasn’t disappointed.

Ally Carter’s books make me smile. They are fun and light, and I’m not bothered by the plot elements that aren’t quite believable. Heist Society has a few of those elements, and I didn’t feel as close to the characters as I usually prefer, but I didn’t care. The premise was so...well...Ocean’s 11, that I just sat back to enjoy the ride. I also like that she can introduce tension between girls without taking the cattiness too far.  I'm not a fan of mean-girl books, and Carter always strikes a good balance.

Carter’s style in Heist Society is very much the same as her style in the Gallagher Girl books, so fans of that series will most likely enjoy this book.  Definitely recommended.