Sunday, November 28, 2010

My Soul to Steal by Rachel Vincent

Now that I a m finally home from all the Thanksgiving festivities I have reliable internet and can finally post some reviews that I have been meaning to put up. Me and my kids traveled all over the place for Thanksgiving going to Dallas and then to Mississippi. Then I fought the Black Friday crowd and finished all my Christmas shopping so it has been a busy break and while I love the holidays I am glad to be home for a bit. While traveling I read the latest Soul Screamer novel by Rachel Vincent, My Soul to Steal. I got my hands on an early copy and was really excited to get to read it early. Here’s the description from

“Trying to work things out with Nash—her maybe boyfriend—is hard enough for Kaylee Cavanaugh. She can't just pretend nothing happened. But "complicated" doesn't even begin to describe their relationship when his ex-girlfriend transfers to their school, determined to take Nash back.

See, Sabine isn't just an ordinary girl. She's a mara, the living personification of a nightmare. She can read people's fears—and craft them into nightmares while her victims sleep. Feeding from human fear is how she survives.

And Sabine isn't above scaring Kaylee and the entire school to death to get whatever—and whoever—she wants.”

Rachel Vincent happens to be one of my favorite authors as I mentioned in my post about Alpha. I really enjoy her writing and the way she portrays her relationships. I feel that this book was probably tricky for her to write and will have a mixed reception since a lot of people would just want Kaylee and Nash to get back together. However, I am a big fan of the fact that she did break up with Nash and take some time.

With that said I really liked this book as it spoke to me through some personal situations I have gone through in my own life. I believe that it is important when you are in a relationship to take a stand on something and that is what, to me, this book is about. However, it isn’t just a switch you can turn off and stop loving someone. I think this part of the book was really well done.

As far as the plot goes I loved the addition of Sabine. She is a really fun character and she really keeps the novel interesting. A book about rehabilitation can get old fast but Sabine keeps it interesting. The mini-cat fights between her and Kaylee cracked me up. I do want to go track down the short story in one of the anthologies where her story is told. I think that may even enhance the novel more as you would see more of a back story.

I also enjoyed seeing more of Todd. He is in a good bit of this book and acts in a very protective manner with Kaylee. However, I sometimes wonder if there isn’t something there on the part of Todd in their relationship.

Alec is also in this novel and I would be interested to see what happens with him in the future. He takes on a very interesting advice giving position. I’m not sure if he made a clean exit in this book or if he will be back later. I really hope we at least see a little more of him in the future books so we know how he continues to acclimate to the world after living 20 some odd years in the Netherworld.

Overall this book was definitely a 5/5. I read it all in one sitting because it was hard to put down as the plot line moves quickly and I was trying to figure out if Nash and Kaylee would make it together.  This book would make a great Christmas gift. The release is schedules for January but you can now buy kindle books as gifts which is pretty neat. Click the link below to pre-order.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday

Since I'm off the whole week for Thanksgiving due to the wonderful job that is being a teacher, I have had a lot of time to play on Amazon. I was hoping to get in some nice reading time of some extraneous new things but it seems that most of the books I want to read are releasing either right around Jan or in the early spring. There are quite a few books that I am "Waiting On" as I started looking for sequels to the series that I am reading or new series that I have heard about through the grapevine. I think the top book that I am waiting on is Wildcat Fireflies which is the sequel to Meridian by Amber Kizer. I have read Meridian several times since I got it last year and am really excited to see how the rest of the story is playing out.

If you haven't already checked out my review of Meridian you should check it out and if you haven't read the book there is a link to purchase it on Amazon.

Also Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Torn by Amanda Hocking

Torn is the second book in the Trylle trilogy by Amanda Hocking. If you didn’t read my review of switched here

In Torn Wendy is still trying to make sense of what becoming a princess means and dealing with her relationship or lack thereof with Finn. She is continuing to develop her powers and learning what her limitations are. The interesting part of the story is when a new player is introduced Loki. Personally, he quickly became one of my favorite characters as he seems to be very frank and forward but at the same time you are never really sure what his motivation is or if he is really telling the truth. To keep any other spoilers out I don’t want to give away too much so I will get on with my thoughts on the story.
You can also watch the trailer to get an idea of what is going on in the story:

Amanda Hocking is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors for several reasons. One I love that I don’t have to wait forever for her next book to come out. Two because I get to the end of the book and keep flipping looking for the rest of the story. I don’t realize how far I am in the book because I am so absorbed in the story. I got an early copy from Amanda to read and review and my husband kept trying to talk to me all night but I was reading the story and was so absorbed that I didn’t even hear him asking questions. Which does not make for a happy hubby :)

I really loved the introduction of Loki to the story and the twist with the Vittra. I can’t give it away but it really brought a whole new facet to the story. Sometimes a series can get old if it has the same conflict and the same love triangle in it. Instead Hocking brings out new personality traits and new characters to keep the story fresh. We also find out a lot of new information about what being Trylle means for Wendy and we see her mature so much as a character.

I liked this book in particular because it is truly a coming of age story for Wendy and because we see her mature and grow into the role of becoming the princess. The story of Wendy and Finn continues to be difficult but it does not become the whiny love story that too many YA paranormals become. Wendy remains a strong character and is very determined despite how she feels.

I highly recommend Torn and give it a 5/5. It is truly a diamond in the rough. Follow the link below to get your copy from amazon!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Interview with Jennifer Laurens

As I mentioned in my review of Heavenly (see previous post), the author, Jennifer Laurens agreed to an interview. I was really excited that some of the kids from the school that I teach at participated and came up with some of the questions. I absolutely loved the series and look forward to seeing what else Jennifer comes up with. Here is the interview:

     What was your journey to publishing like?
       I could write pages about this process. J I started submitting to agents at the suggestion of a writing teacher. Immediately, I got a response from a top NYC agent at Writer’s House requesting a full manuscript. I sent it—excited, of course. Author note: I figured I must be pretty good if a) my writing teacher thought I was ready to submit b) I got a request for a full right out the starting gate.

I learned a lot from this experience. The agent didn’t request the material, her intern—a girl out of college—did. Interns go through the slush pile looking for projects outlined by the agent that might fit into the agent’s wish list. Anyway, this girl read the book ( a women’s romance, which is what I was writing at the time ) and told me: 1) it was over-written by about 250 pages. 2) I had two strong protagonists instead of the usual one—and that concerned her.

I asked her: If I cut and make some changes will you look at it again? She said yes. I made the changes, mercilessly chopping redundancies, ( but I didn’t lose one of the two protagonists as they were integral to the story ) and sent it back to her.

In the end, she still declined representation.

Since then, ( 10 years ago ) I’ve had two NYC agents at big houses. Each has been different, but neither was able to sell the project they signed me with.

Like you, I go to the bookstore. I see what’s on the shelf. I knew my stuff was as good as what was out there, and I started getting annoyed. J I have six kids, so, I’m not easily annoyed. But, the idea that a tiny percent of the population chooses what the rest of the world reads really ate at me. Reminded me of high school, popularity and cliques. Stuff that shouldn’t exist outside of high school.

My husband has always wanted to publish NF books. So, we started a publishing company. He has published nothing. I’ve published 17 books.

Long story made short : make your way. Don’t let anything or anyone stop you.

What inspired you to write Heavenly?

      I have six children, one has autism. Her diagnosis was devastating at first. Her handicap has forever changed our family. We can’t go places together, simple things other families take for granted are huge endeavors for us and I could go on and on. Each of my children dealt with her handicap differently. These things and so much more are the backbone of the book. It’s my family story—our coming-full-circle to accepting her, her handicap and the changes it has brought into our lives with open arms and gratitude.

     Did you have to do any research for the series? 

     Well, not really :)

     The characters in the story seem so real and flawed. Was there anyone in real life they were based on? 

      My two teenage daughters are ( in combination ) Zoe.  My son had severe issues with drug abuse, and is completely Luke.  Abria is based on our daughter with autism as she was at 5. She’s now 16.  I guess you get the message here?

      Abria is such a beautiful innocent character. Do you have experience with autistic kids? 

     I honestly thought I could change my daughter—heal her through therapies, food changes, whatnot. I spent years of energy in this pursuit only to come to the final conclusion that she was who she was for a reason and, after seeing my teenagers go through difficulties, making choices that changed their lives or brought them harm, I was glad she wasn’t ever going to have to go through the kinds of challenges they were experiencing.

      Was there any underlying message you were trying to send in the books when you were writing them? 

      Definitely to have hope. Personally, I believe with God’s help we can make it through anything. I didn’t think I could ever accept my child’s condition. I wanted her to marry, to love, to have a career and family – how could she be happy without these life-enriching experiences?  I hoped other people would lose their fears of the handicapped and see them as choice individuals whose presence we are lucky to be in. We’ve learned so much from our daughter with autism. We’re so much more tolerant, forgiving, understanding and compassionate. Those are all qualities the world needs more of.

      How long do you see the series being and can you give any hints about Zoe and Matthias’ future? 

      Originally, I wanted to show the idea that there might be the possibility of love after this life for those who don’t find it here – like my daughter. I loved the idea that, in the next life, people from all eras of the world’s history might interact and, might even fall in love.

As far as Zoe and Matthias’ future goes, it’s pretty well outlined in Penitence and Absolution.

Do you have any “rituals” you have to do to write? As in sitting in a certain place or having the TV on  ?

      I always write to a soundtrack I create just for the project I’m working on and I listen to it 24/7 until the novel is complete. That, and I ADORE Rockstar energy drinks!!

      Several students are interested in pursuing a career in writing, can you give any advice on how to begin the process of turning an idea or story into a novel? 

      When I started Heavenly ( for instance ) I knew: 1) A teenage girl would fall in love with her autistic sister’s guardian angel. 2) she would die and be with him at the end. 

I’m an organic writer, leaving much of the story up to my characters and where they drive the plot. That works for me. It doesn’t work for everyone and, you CAN hit blocks along the way. Knowing as much as you can about the direction of your story, even if it ends up going another direction, is the best way to start. That, and the number one rule of good fiction writing is to start your story on the day life changed for your main character. For Zoe, it changed the day she lost Abria at the park.

Do you anticipate writing any other series in the near future? 

      I’ve got one simmering in my head, but ideas usually need to simmer for a while before I can write them out. So, maybe?

Fun Facts about Jennifer Laurens:

1.     If you could use one word to describe yourself what would it be? 

2.     If you could eat anything in the world what would it be?
 Cake donuts

3.     What is your favorite book? 
Did you have to ask that? Fighting Ruben Wolfe by Markus Zusak ties with Endless Love by Scott Spencer; both beautifully written.

4.     What is your favorite movie? 
ATM; The Social Network is amazing.

5.     What is your favorite book turned into a movie? 
The Devil Wears Prada

6.     If you could sit anywhere in the world and read a book where would it be? 
Isla Mujeras North Beach….powdered sugar sand beach, glorious turquoise water….

7.     If you could choose any other profession what would it be? 

8.     What’s your favorite NFL/College football team? (being from New Orleans, Louisiana this is a must ask question)
 (( I ADORE NEW ORLEANS!!!!)) My fav?? Don’t watch much football, I’m always writing…I cheer for BYU because we live so close to the college and I went there.

A special thank-you to Jennifer Laurens for doing my first interview on my blog and to some students for helping with the questions!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Heavenly by Jennifer Laurens

So I have been feeling a bit uninspired lately in the books area. I think this is a result of how busy things have become at home. My five year old is now taking acting classes and doing auditions and that is keeping me very busy on top of year round swimming. So I kept going through all the amazon recommendations and then the books that people purchased if they were looking at one of my recommendations. I stumbled across Heavenly by Jennifer Laurens. Here’s the synopsis from Amazon:

I met someone who changed everything. Matthias. My autistic sister's guardian angel. Honest. Inspiring. Funny. Hot. And immortal. That was the problem. What could I do? I did what any other girl would do-I fell in love with him. Zoe's sister darts in front of cars. Her brother's a pothead. Her parents are so overwhelmed; they don't see Zoe lost in her broken life. Zoe escapes the only way she knows how: partying. Matthias, a guardian sent from Heaven, watches over Zoe's autistic sister. After Zoe is convinced he's legit, angel and lost girl come together in a love that changes destiny. But Heaven on Earth can't last forever.”

I really enjoyed the first book in this series. I think the best part of this series is the characters. They are very real and very flawed. I like the way that nothing is presented with rosy glasses. Zoe, the main character, sees guardian angels. She also struggles with alcohol when the story begins and as a result of seeing the guardian angels seems to want to be a better person through her relationship with the handsome Matthias. However, it isn’t an overnight transformation for her. It is a daily struggle that she sometimes looses. I really enjoyed the struggles the characters endure in this story. Every now and then you want to read something real that isn’t a fairy tail where everything is easy.

Zoe also struggles with her love for Matthias and what it means to love a guardian angel. As far as romance goes this isn’t the best book for those seeking a really juicy romance in a paranormal book. Laurens takes the idea of love to a new pure level which I personally enjoyed seeing in YA literature. While Zoe is the typical teenager with all the typical hormones she differentiates what she feels for Matthias from the lust that her friends feel and that she feels at times. She begins to understand what love really means.

Overall I give this book a 4.5/5. It is a great read and is long enough with enough action to really keep you involved in the story. I am hoping to start the next book in the series soon and will have an upcoming interview with the author so stay tuned!

Saturday, November 6, 2010


So this week I have been floundering a bit for what to read. Nothing really looks good from my amazon recommendations (which is how I pick what I want to read typically). And I don't have any new galleys to be reviewed. Thus, I am taking recommendations. Anyone read anything really good recently in the YA paranormal genre?? Or maybe something from a few years ago that was really good prior to the big boom in that genre of literature?