Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Teaser Tuesdays

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

Grab your current read
Open to a random page
Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

From Advent by James Treadwell

"Everywhere else she'd shown him, there really hadn't been much to see, in the literal sense. The house long predated the Age of Stuff; it was spare, rich only in emptiness."

pg. 136

Monday, July 30, 2012

Last Kiss in Venice by Martin Chu Shui

Beside a bridge over a canal in Venice, Charlie is spellbound not only by Caitlin’s absolute beauty but also by what seems like a mythical bond between them. The more he knows about her, the more mysterious she becomes. As they finally admit their love to each other in Paris, then move to settle down in Australia together, it looks like the start of Happily Ever After. But neither of them realizes that this is just the start of a heart-wrenching journey.

After a lifetime of searching, Caitlin finally finds her true love, settles down in the beautiful rolling countryside of outback Australia, and starts to raise a family, but her enemy is never far away. She loves Charlie deeply and is certain he is her soul mate, but she knows she can never reveal her secret; he must never know who she really is, and that is her downfall. Information in the hands of her enemy brings her life crashing down around her. To save all she has worked for, she must fight for her love and the right to survive.

“Last Kiss in Venice” is a reinterpretation of one of China’s most famous love stories, ‘Legend of the White Snake’. It is a supernatural love epic that encompasses both eastern and western culture to tell a story of love and hate, loyalty and betrayal, revenge and justice. This cocktail of oriental magic, vampires, and sword fights is a legend not easily forgotten.

This is a fun, quirky retelling of a traditional Chinese tale that is a nice choice for fantasy and romance lovers alike.

The plot is really captivating. I wasn’t too familiar with the Chinese story before beginning this book, but there is a wonderful sense of mystery in these pages which invokes that oriental magic I’d imagined in their stories. The characters are well done and amusing, with Alice being the one I enjoyed most. There was a strength to her personality that I think would have worked well for the protagonist. In this case the heroine, Caitlin, is a bit too passive for my taste. She is not really the take-action kind of girl, which, for me, makes her a little less interesting.

The way the story was told, through different points of view, was quite effective and nicely handled. There was no confusion as to who was speaking at any given moment, which can sometimes be tricky. There were a few grammatical issues, but overall it’s in good shape.

If you enjoy reading books that are a bit out of the ordinary, a bit different, then this one could be for you.

Musing Mondays

This week’s musing asks…
What question(s) would you like to see asked in future Musing Mondays posts?

Hmm, maybe something like, do you have any hobbies outside of reading? Or do you collect anything?

Flight Of Blue Review and Guest Post, including a giveaway!

I am happy to welcome Ms. Howard to Carabosse's Library today as part of the Flight of Blue blog tour. I asked her about her inspiration for this fantasy-filled novel and this is what she had to say:

Traffic Lights and Possum Sorcerers: the Inspiration behind Flight of Blue

I was driving home one day, about to cross an intersection with a new traffic light close to my house. Fortunately, I wasn't in a hurry, and I didn't start up right away when the light turned green because just as I took my foot off the brake, a car blew through the light like it wasn't even there.

Shaken, I continued home, passing a possum on the side of the road that had been hit by a car. Angered by the carelessness of drivers, especially as I'd had my then infant son in the car with me, I got out to see if I could help the poor creature. He was beyond help, but with his dying breath, he told me of an Opossum sorcerer, a cursed traffic light, and a rip in the fabric of the world. Of course, after that I had to investigate and record the story I discovered.

And most of that is true. ;-)

I live in a semi-rural spot outside Nashville, and possums are most often the kind of animal I see lying on the sides of the road, and between the possum and the light, the story was born as I drove home thinking of all that I had seen.

I'm what some writers call a pantser, at least at this point in my writing career, so I started the story with Kai and Ellie, Sebastian and Reginald, and the idea that Kai and Ellie find an Opossum sorcerer and take him him home, discovering along the way that he cursed a light and they need to help him reverse the curse. (I'm also the queen of long sentences... half my editing is spent going back and breaking things up).

It was only as I followed the kids and Reginald through the woods on that last normal Friday, eavesdropping on their conversations, that I realized Reginald's desire for revenge had opened up something much darker than any of them ever dreamed possible. I found myself wandering through the three Realms, eyes wide, taking in a far bigger world than I realized had existed in the beginning. It was also around the same time that a small bird with brilliant blue wings, or perhaps it was just a bright blue finch, flew out of the grass, landing on a clothesline as a I drove by, and Serina landed in the story, bringing the title of the book with her.

Soon after that, I discovered what had happened to Kai's parents, but of course, I couldn't tell Kai and Ellie in the middle of all they were doing, so I had to keep it to myself. But after investigating their disappearance as Kai and Ellie tried to get Reginald home safely, I discovered there was much more to the story, and the second and third books of the Keeper of the Keys Chronicles began to form in my mind.

Before that fateful day at the traffic light ever occurred, I already had an imagination steeped in fantasy tales from some of the best minds of the past century or so. I’ve been asked a number of times recently about who has influenced my writing, and I have to say, there have been a number. I like to credit Madeleine L’Engle, J.R.R. Tolkien, Susan Cooper, Lloyd Alexander, C.S. Lewis, J.K. Rowling, and Rick Riordan as all being amazing writers of children’s and young adult’s fantasy that I have read and re-read many times.

Purchase Flight of Blue: Paperback | Kindle

A.E. Howard’s Author Page | Blog Tour w/ Giveaway!

Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

Rafflecopter code:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

My review:

This was a fantastic middle grade book that captured my attention and held it until the very end. There was something so magical about it, doing what good books tend to do: putting the real world to the side.

There’s so much good stuff here. The characters are believable, which sometimes in middle grade fiction can be a challenge, since so many writers seem to forget exactly how pre-teens speak. But Ms. Howard does a wonderful job of creating engaging and fully developed characters. One of my favorites was the Opossum. And this is not only because I love opossums, but because he was such a fascinating, hilarious character. He steals every scene he’s in.

The pacing is well done as well. I can easily see a middle grade reader enjoying this without feeling bored at any point. The bit of world building that the author shares is a good amount, never overwhelming the reader with too many details.

If you love fantasy, I’d definitely recommend this one. It’s a fresh, new series that will engage you and keep you highly entertained.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Broken City by D. D. Chant

Deeta Richards has never seen the outside world. Before she was born a banking crisis brought civilization to an end and now no one leaves the safety of the compounds unless they need to, but Deeta still dreams of seeing more than the building she was born in.
Tom is in the guard, this group are the only people that the tribal elders allow to leave the compound and tom knows only too well that Deeta could never survive the harshness that exists outside. Then tragedy strikes and Deeta and her sister Jan find themselves captured by a hostile tribe. Why does Tom know so much about these people? And why do they know so much about him? As this mystery draws to a climax, they discover that their friend Tom is not quite what he seems...

This is a wonderfully original view of a post-apocalyptic world, which is sure to be a big hit with all lovers of that style of books.

The world building the author has done really makes all the difference. She’s written a carefully structured story in a type of military city that is fascinating to read about. There are just enough details to keep the reader interested but not overwhelming explanations of how this particular “world” works, so we don’t feel like we are bombarded with information. We are not distracted from the main story.

The characters are quite fun. Tom, in particular, was one of the ones I liked best. He is quiet and mysterious, complete opposite to Deeta, the protagonist. Their interactions were written well.  

The book did start off a bit slow, but as the story continued, the pace really picked up. There are many wonderful moments in the book that. The writer uses a bit of one of my favorite literary techniques, the unreliable narrator, which is very hard to use convincingly and she succeeded, so she deserved definite credit for that.

All in all, this one is a fun addition to the dystopian genre and I do recommend it.

Follow Friday

Q: Summer Reading. What was your favorite book that you were REQUIRED to read when you were in school?

Definitely Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky. I had to read it for my AP English class senior year and it's still my favorite book of all time.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Under the Drapes by David Gelber

"Under the Drapes: More Mystique of Surgery" takes the reader into the world of surgery and surgeons, exploring why they operate, while detailing the variety of medical conditions that lead patients to the operating suite. The interaction between surgeon and patient is also examined in humorous and poignant ways. Pitfalls of surgery, as well as miraculous recoveries are presented and discussed. “Under the Drapes" is an informative and moving follow-up to Dr. Gelber's previous book which delved into the surgeon's mind by looking "Behind the Mask."

This is the second book about surgery that Dr. Gelber has written, and this one was even better than the first one.

There is a wealth of information in here, and I don’t just mean for people in the medical field, but for anyone who reads it. It’s an intimate look at what goes on “behind the scenes” during surgery, with plenty of examples drawn from the author’s own practice or that of his colleagues. It can be a bit jarring at first to jump right in, because there are many, many medical terms, but, with a glossary in the back, it quickly becomes fascinating to see what each of those words means.

I particularly enjoyed the chapter called “Disasters”, mainly because of the honesty in the writing. The entire chapter is about medical cases that, for one reason or another, went wrong. The way that Dr. Gelber tells us about them, the sincerity in the way he describes what would have been a better procedure or better choice in hindsight, is worth the whole book.

That chapter is followed by some lighter ones, in which the author contemplates what it’d be like to treat superheroes like Superman or Spiderman, which is hilarious, and then another chapter on the surgical devices he’d like to create if reality and money wasn’t an issue. Very amusing as well.

This is a fascinating book, and I highly recommend it.

Booking Through Thursday

Do you have a favorite season of the year that you read more? (Example: during snow storms, rainy weather, or sunny and warm weather)

Where is your favorite place to read? On the beach? Inside/outside?

Since I have a form of seasonal depression that affects me in the spring and summer, it can sometimes be more challenging to get lots of reading done when the weather is warmer. I usually have to choose what I read very carefully, opting for lighter reads or ones that capture my attention so much that they distract me. Some summers are better than others, though, so it varies.

I like to read inside, either in the kitchen or right before going to bed, but I really do read pretty much everywhere and anywhere.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Heaven by Alexandra Adornetto

Only sixteen when she started the series, Ally Adornetto knows how teen hearts beat, and this long-awaited conclusion is certain to be her most popular book yet.

Bethany, an angel sent to Earth, and her mortal boyfriend, Xavier, have been to Hell and back. But now their love will be put to its highest test yet, as they defy Heavenly law and marry. They don’t tell Beth’s archangel siblings, Gabriel and Ivy, but the angels know soon enough, and punishment comes in a terrifying form: the Sevens, who are rogue angels bent on keeping Beth and Xavier apart, destroying Gabriel and Ivy, and darkening angelic power in the heavens.

The only way Bethany and Xavier can elude the Sevens is to hide in the open, and blend in with other mortals their own age. Gabriel and Ivy set them up at college, where they can’t reveal their relationship, and where there is still danger around each corner. Will Bethany be called back to Heaven – forever – and face leaving the love of her life?

This is the final book in the Halo trilogy. I wasn’t too impressed with the other ones, but since I got an ARC, I decided to give it a try.

Okay, it was better than the previous one. I have to say that. The writing didn’t give me nightmares where I woke up screaming about the potpourri of adverbs or the vomitable use of passive voice. So that’s a plus. Although, Hades was such an awful, awful book that it doesn’t take much to improve on it.

The problem that I saw with this one was the plot. It made little, if any sense. The characters did random things without too much thought, and, what seemed to me to be complete overreactions to events, paranormal though they may be. It seemed like the author just strung a bunch of scenes together, just to put Bethany and Xavier in awkward situations. For example, MINOR SPOILER, in one scene, Gabriel, her angelic brother, tells them they really shouldn’t have sex. About a chapter later, he changes his mind and tells them they can. Not sure what the point of that was except to put a bit of mindless tension that wasn’t particularly needed. And all of that’s ignoring all the preaching that goes on in the book. Look, I get it, it’s a book about angels, so Christianity is bound to come into play, but it doesn’t need to be preachy, and it is. Terribly so.

Towards the end, the book does improve, though not enough to give this book, this series, really, more than one star. I can’t, in all honesty, recommend it, although I know many of you enjoy the series. It just wasn’t for me.

WWW Wenesday

To play along, just answer the following three (3) questions…

• What are you currently reading?
• What did you recently finish reading?
• What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently, I'm reading Under the Drapes by David Gelber MD

And Those We Love Most by

I just finished Kindling by Stephen Livingston. You can read my review here.


Next, I'll probably read Advent by

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Kindling by Stephen Livingston

A collection of twelve tales by award winning short story author Stephen Livingston. Written in a wide range of styles and covering a variety of themes.


1. Choose Your Future - Winner of the Canongate Prize for New Writing, first published in the anthology "Scotland into the New Era".

2. Recycling - First published in the anthology "Scores 4" by the University of St. Andrews, Department of English.

3. The Waster's Tale - Winner of the EndPapers Tales Series Prize, first published in the anthology "Glasgow Tales".

4. The Wheel of Justice - Hilarious dark humour set on a near future TV game show in the U.S.

5. She Won't Call - A snapshot of student life.

6. A Cataract of Breaking Glass - A sad tale of love and loss.

7. Come Dancing - One page sketch combining sex and music.

8. The Farmer's Right Arm - Modern technology meets faith on the farm.

9. Jaipur Gems - A tourist meets the gangsters of the gemstone business in India.

10. The Adventures of Freddie the Moth - A tale of metamorphosis.

11. Work Abroad - Hopes of a new future aren't always what they seem.

12. The Tell-Tale Trunk - Contemporary reworking of Edgar Allan Poe's classic "The Tell-Tale Heart".

Short story collections are always tricky to read, and therefore to review, since many times the reader doesn’t get a feeling for the author’s writing. This one, however, surprised me.

The writing is effortless. Even one of the stories, “Choose Your Future”, which is written in second person, flows really well. Anyone who’s ever tried writing in that tense can understand why this is such a feat. But it’s not just this story. They all have different styles; none of them sound quite the same as the ones before, which is fantastic, and refreshing.

One of the more interesting stories is “The Waster’s Tale.” It is written so that we know the main character has a strong accent, so it can be a little challenging to read, but the story itself is so great, once you get started you can’t put it down. Another good one is “Work Abroad”, about young women who are promised jobs in Europe, only to be sold into slavery. Tough to read, but well written.

This is definitely a good collection for all lovers of short stories and I do recommend it.

Teaser Tuesday

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

Grab your current read
Open to a random page
Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

From Heaven by Alexandra Ardonetto

"The loose-limbed figure of an adolescent boy with an effeminate face and a cowlick stood in the entrance. He wore a hooded black robe and three sets of black wings fanned out behind him."

pg. 11

Monday, July 23, 2012

Musing Mondays

This week’s musing asks…

Do you read magazines? If so, which ones? If not, why not?

I do read a few. My mom loves Victoria, which is an English magazine published every two months, and I've become a fan myself. It has lovely images and wonderful recipes

I also read Opera News, since I'm training to sing opera. It keeps me informed on what's going on in the classical music world.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Never Knowing by Chevy Stevens

From the acclaimed author of STILL MISSING comes a psychological thriller about one woman’s search into her past and the deadly truth she uncovers.

All her life, Sara Gallagher has wondered about her birth parents. As an adopted child with two sisters who were born naturally to her parents, Sara’s home life was not ideal. The question of why she was given up for adoption has always haunted her. Finally, she is ready to take steps and find closure.

But some questions are better left unanswered.

After months of research, Sara locates her birth mother—only to be met with horror and rejection. Then she discovers the devastating truth: her mother was the only victim ever to escape a killer who has been hunting women every summer for decades. But Sara soon realizes the only thing worse than finding out about her father is him finding out about her.

What if murder is in your blood?

What a thriller! This is one fast-paced, terrifying book that will satisfy any lover of psychological thrillers.

From the moment the book starts, it doesn’t let go. I read it in three days, having to drag myself away from it to tend to my work. The writing is taut, as is the plot line, so that every page adds a bit of tension to the novel. Although I have seen better writing styles, the author does such a wonderful job at the story that the reader puts aside any flaws.

The characters are well done, with Sara portraying a vulnerable woman in search of who she really is. We see her progress throughout the book, changing from a neurotic woman who needs help for every decision, to someone who can take care of herself. John is also a wonderful character. She did have some whiny moments that got on my nerves just a bit, but that’s part of the character as well, I suppose. As the antagonist in the book, he creates a mixture of fear and pity in the reader, so that we have as hard a time trusting him as the protagonist does.

If you haven’t read this book yet and you love fast-paced books, then I highly recommend this one for you.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Follow Friday

Q: Christmas in July! Someone gives you a gift card for two books (whatever that costs). What two books will you buy?

Ooh, I wish this were true.

I would get The Taker by Alma Katsu

And Sister by