Tuesday, May 31, 2011

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 A Kingdom's Cost by J.R. Tomlin

"Weeks in the saddle and never out of armor had accustomed James to the weight of mail, but the heat of summer made it a miserable, itching business. Sweat trickled down James's face and his ribs."
pg. 50

Monday, May 30, 2011

Musing Mondays

This week’s musing asks…

Describe the last time you were stumped for something to read, and you took measures to remedy that — either by going to the bookstore, the library, or shopping elsewhere. What book did you choose? Did it get you out of your slump?

I don't really get into too many reading slumps. I am always excited about one book or another, but I do recall one time that I was looking for something to really excite me and I found the The Beekeeper's Apprentice (Mary Russell #1) by Laurie R. King at a little used bookstore I used to go to. I was hooked to the series.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Just a Few Seconds by Nemo James

Derek dreamt of becoming a professional musician from the first time he picked up a guitar following a talent contest disaster. Thought of by his friends as being the person most likely to make the big time he turned professional but was continually side tracked from stardom by the need to earn a living from music.

His journey takes him all over the world from private gigs for the rich and famous to the roughest pubs. Starting in the late sixties when heavy rock was born, through to the 1980′s and 90′s when discos and electronics decimated live music in dance halls.

An amusing and heartrending story of perseverance showing how the road to success can lead us down the strangest of paths.

As a classical musician myself, I am always intrigued by the experiences of my musical peers, which is why this book appealed to me so much. It is an autobiography that is touching in its honesty and charmingly ironic in its language.

It must be a daunting task to put all the major experiences of one’s life into order, so that they make sense and is attractive to other people, especially when the life is not of someone that is universally famous. I feel this book succeeded immensely. I was entertained from the very first page up to the last sentence. The twists and turns of Derek’s (or Nemo’s) life are incredible, the near misses at stardom excruciating, the struggles he goes through heartbreaking in their honesty and reality. The reader can’t help but cheer Nemo on when things seem to go well, and sigh as turn after turn leads him away from his music. I found his perseverance throughout all the years of musical dissatisfaction inspiring, something that takes much more strength and faith in the future than is the usual.

The writing itself is well structured, and although there are a few grammatical mistakes here and there (missing commas, some syntax issues) it is nothing major and nothing that would be a deterrent from reading it.

I truly enjoyed this book, not only as a look into the unforgiving world of independent musicians, but as a window into an extraordinary man’s life.

Mailbox Monday

Cel and Anna: A 22nd Century Love Story by Lindsay Edmunds

Vestal Virgin by Suzanne Tyrpak

The Soldier's Wife by Margaret Leroy

Tenderfoot by Amy Tupper

A Kingdom's Cost by J.R. Tomlin

Saturday, May 28, 2011

A Bit of Me(me)

This Weeks Question: Because BEA is happening I’m breaking the “no book rule” and asking you to share your top 3 books you are looking forward to reading in the coming year.

Oh, this one is fun. I don't really have three, but here they are:

11/22/63 by Stephen King

The Hidden by Jessica Verday

Friday, May 27, 2011

Intoxication (As the Darkness Falls) by Tim Kizer

How do you force a confession out of a coworker trying to poison you? Do you kill those who dismiss your fears and believe you are paranoid? What do you do if you start questioning your own suspicions--and sanity--as you take the law into your hands?

In this disturbing tale of derangement, a young psychopathic woman is slipping into madness as she fights an enemy that may exist only in her imagination. She has to resort to desperate measures when she realizes that a gun, security cameras in her apartment, and constant vigilance will not be enough to survive.

Bonus: "Hitchhiker" by Tim Kizer, the first entry in the As the Darkness Falls series.
From description:
When a serial killer hitches a ride one sunny day in a beautiful California valley, he does not suspect that he may have met his match, who is dead set to take another life. The battle of wits begins and only the most devious mind will survive.

These three stories are little jewels. I read them all in one afternoon and I was so entertained! They don't go where you expect them to, something I always admire, creating a fresh idea out of common plots.
The first story, "Intoxication", has a fast-paced and tense atmosphere that works beautifully with the main characters obsessiveness. Her descent into full blown paranoia is nicely done, if a bit too superficial. I would have enjoyed seeing a bit more inner struggle, internal slips of reason.
The second story was quite fun, a great example of creativity and humor. It feels more relaxed than the first one, but still maintains the tension necessary for the plot to succeed. This one was my favorite of the buch.
The last one, a very short story is intersting because it was written in under 1,000 words. That is no easy feat. Yes, it feels a tad bit too hurried, but it gets the point across and it is amusing to read, so I can't complain too much.
The writing itself is correct, no grammatical errors or mispellings, which is nice. It allows the reader to relax and flow into the writers hands without having to take up your red pen every few pages.
Fun three stories, I can recommend it to all lovers of the quirky and just-a-bit-off, and even to the thriller fans out there.

Follow Friday

To join the fun and make now book blogger friends, just follow these simple rules:

1.(Required) Follow the Follow My Book Blog Friday Host { Parajunkee.com } and any one else you want to follow on the list
2.(Required) Follow our Featured Bloggers - http://ninjagirlreads.blogspot.com/
3.Put your Blog name & URL in the Linky thing.
4.Grab the button up there and place it in a post, this post is for people to find a place to say hi in your comments
5.Follow Follow Follow as many as you can, as many as you want, or just follow a few. The whole point is to make new friends and find new blogs. Also, don't just follow, comment and say hi. Another blogger might not know you are a new follower if you don't say "HI"
6.If someone comments and says they are following you, be a dear and follow back. Spread the Love...and the followers
7.If you're new to the follow friday hop, comment and let me know, so I can stop by and check out your blog!

Q. How many books do you read in a week? And in what format do you read them, or listen to them?

I read a LOT. I read about 4 or 5 books a week, usually two hard copies and two or three ebooks. I receive a lot og galleys so those need to be read and reviewed quickly, along with some review requests from self-published authors. They need all the help they can get marketing their books, so I try to read as fast as possible to help them out a bit if I can.

How about you?

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Friday Finds

What great books did you hear about/discover this past week? Share with us your FRIDAY FINDS!

Glimmerglass (Faeriewalker #1) by Jenna Black

It’s all she’s ever wanted to be, but it couldn’t be further from her grasp…

Dana Hathaway doesn’t know it yet, but she’s in big trouble. When her alcoholic mom shows up at her voice recital drunk, again, Dana decides she’s had enough and runs away to find her mysterious father in Avalon: the only place on Earth where the regular, everyday world and the captivating, magical world of Faerie intersect. But from the moment Dana sets foot in Avalon, everything goes wrong, for it turns out she isn't just an ordinary teenage girl—she's a Faeriewalker, a rare individual who can travel between both worlds, and the only person who can bring magic into the human world and technology into Faerie.

Soon, Dana finds herself tangled up in a cutthroat game of Fae politics. Someone's trying to kill her, and everyone seems to want something from her, from her newfound friends and family to Ethan, the hot Fae guy Dana figures she’ll never have a chance with… until she does. Caught between two worlds, Dana isn’t sure where she’ll ever fit in and who can be trusted, not to mention if her world will ever be normal again…

Trouble Down South and Other Stories by Katrina Parker Williams

Enslavement, murder, abuse, illness: there’s real trouble for the characters in Trouble Down South and Other Stories. The short stories take the reader on a journey to the past through a collection of interestingly crafted pieces of flawed humanness, social injustice, and redemption, and even humor. The collection of historical fiction chronicles events spanning more than 150 years and addresses a wide range of experiences from African-American perspectives. The stories are set in the South amid a changing landscape in which the characters are forced to wrestle with the social issues surrounding Native Americans, slavery, racism, Prohibition, World War I, the Korean War, Civil Rights, the Vietnam War, health, religion, mental illness, and education.

I received a copy of this book through the author herself.
This was a wonderfully, rich book. I loved the ambience, all the Southern mojo in its pages. It really brought the feeling of the deep South, wrapping it around me as I read.

The stories themselves are amusing. They are little snippets of people’s lives throughout many time periods, which makes it very interesting to see the changes in the treatment of African Americans through the years. The one that stuck with me the longest was the one called “Slave Auction”. The feeling of loneliness and abandonment when the little boy is separated, sold off, from his mother is incredible, to the point of making you want to put the book down. It’s very strong, and what makes it even worse is that these kinds of atrocities really happened.

The writing is smooth and easy, making it a breeze to read the stories in pretty quick fashion. The cast of characters is varied and original, the plots amusing and self-contained.

I can easily recommend this book to pretty much anyone. Loved it.

Theme Thursday

Theme Thursdays

Theme Thursdays is a fun weekly event that will be open from one thursday to the next. Anyone can participate in it. The rules are simple:

•A theme will be posted each week (on Thursday’s)
•Select a conversation/snippet/sentence from the current book you are reading
•Mention the author and the title of the book along with your post
•It is important that the theme is conveyed in the sentence (you don’t necessarily need to have the word)
Ex: If the theme is KISS; your sentence can have “They kissed so gently” or “Their lips touched each other” or “The smooch was so passionate”
This will give us a wonderful opportunity to explore and understand different writing styles and descriptive approaches adopted by authors.

This week’s theme is: Conversation

From Modern Women by Ruth Harris

"'You're a Phi Beta Kappa college graduate and you're doing Charlie Lamb's filing!' said Becky Reese, the assistant to the director of the test kitchen. 'It's disgusting. You do the work and Charlie goes to lunch. I'm amazed you haven't shot him yet.'
"I've thought of it," admitted Lincky. "More than once.'"

pg. 60

Booking Through Thursday

This week’s Booking Through Thursday question asks…

Do you ever feel like you’re in a reading rut? That you don’t read enough variety? That you need to branch out, spread your literary wings and explore other genres, flavors, styles?

No, I don't think I've ever felt that way about reading. My books are so varied, ranging from every possible style and genre, from horror to comedy to literary fiction, that I never find myself looking longingly at a sci-fi book and wandering "what-if". Usually, the sci-fi book is already in my library and next in the long, long queue leading up to my two hungry eyes.

How about you?

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

I'm George, mwm, 52 by George Everyman

I'm George and this is my story. It's not particularly exciting or significant, but it's all that I have, alas. Abby, my wife, is not very fond of my creative efforts including this book, I'm guessing, since she doesn't know that I have written it. However, she opened certain doors, so to speak, when she decided to sleep with her biking buddy. If she were to read it, she might be terribly upset with me for revealing certain aspects of our personal life.

I thought a long while of what I wanted to say about this book and have come up with the following statement: it is not what you’re used to. Not as a reader, at least. There is a vague sequence of events, but do not expect a linear storyline because you will not get it.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying this is a bad thing, just a different thing. The book is quite amusing, with many funny moments as well as pretty uncomfortable ones. All in all, they balance each other out. For me, it was a treat to read an honest, male view of a relationship, with all its ups and downs. It’s not that common and I appreciate the honesty in the writing.

There is nothing wrong with the writing itself except that it fits nowhere in the “genre” diagram. This is memoir/comedy/tragedy/self-help and it should be viewed as a mixture of all of them. I can easily say that if you are offended easily, if you do not have an open mind, then this book is probably not for you. But, if you do have those qualities and are willing to spend some time reading something far away from the usual, then this could be a very amusing book for you. It was for me.

WWW Wednesdays

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 am reading The Sisters Brothers: A Novel by Patrick deWitt

And Trouble Down South and Other Stories by Katrina Parker Williams

I just finished Shelter by Tara Shulter. You can read my review here.

And Dying Gasp (Chief Inspector Mario Silva #3) by Leighton Gage The review is here.

Next, I'll probably read A Kingdom's Cost by J.R. Tomlin

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. This feature was created because they are particularly fond of lists at The Broke and the Bookish.

Each week they will post a new Top Ten list that one of their bloggers at The Broke and the Bookish will answer. Everyone is welcome to join. All they ask is that you link back to The Broke and the Bookish on your own Top Ten Tuesday post AND add your name to the Linky widget so that everyone can check out other bloggers lists! If you don't have a blog, just post your answers as a comment. Have fun with it! It's a fun way to get to know your fellow bloggers.

This week's list: Books You've in Some Way Lied About
Ooh, this one is an evil one!

1. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy. Ok, I've said I've read this and I know I should read this, I know, and yet...I can't do it. I've read some of his other books and I don't enjoy his style. It's, dare I say it, dull. Gods of Literature, please don't throw lightning bolts!

2. Twilight by Stephanie Meyer. No, I haven't read it, and I don't plan to. I think watching the movie is more than enough.

3. Romance novels in general. I must admit, I have read some, which is something I should own up to, but for some reason always find it a bit embarassing.

4. The Odyssey by Homer. I've read parts but never the whole thing.

5. I said I liked Middlemarch by George Eliot, when in fact, I think I hated every minute of that book. Don't know why I didn't just set it aside.

That's all I can come up with. I'm usually pretty honest with my book choices.

Dying Gasp (Chief Inspector Mario Silva #3) by Leighton Gage

This is the second book in the series, a captivating look at the child-prostitution trafficking in Brazil. The author was kind enough to offer me both the first book and the second book and I am very thankful. I truly enjoyed it.

The writing was as concise as the first one, but the story was even more thought out, the complex plot lines merging and weaving together in an almost seamless fashion. It was fast paced without being manic, and I for one, never found myself bored or confused.

The characters are the best part of these two books. The main character Mario Silva, is a quirky mix of charisma, sarcasm and intelligence, and the supporting detectives, or agents, provide plenty of comic relief in a book that could easily have become too depressing for the common reader. The villain, whose identity I will not reveal because I don’t want to ruin it for anyone, is fantastic. I highly enjoyed following her/his (if I say the genre, it’s too easy) depraved plots.

What I enjoy most in these books is the clarity in the writing. There is no attempt to fool the reader, only to tell a story well. That to me, is refreshing.

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 The Sisters Brothers by Patrick DeWitt

"I remounted Tub and was halfway to camp when I saw Charlie stand and level his pistol in my direction. Turning back, I saw the weeping man riding quickly toward me; he did not seem to wish to hurt me and I motionef for Charlie to lower his gun."
pg. 13

Monday, May 23, 2011

Spotlight Review and Interview: Shelter (Blood Haze #1) by Tara Shuler

Two guys, one girl, and two dark secrets that threaten to tear her world apart.

Alice Wright is a young vampire going to high school for the first time at the age of seventeen at the behest of her eccentric mother. In many ways, she's more afraid of the human students than they would be of her.

She feels lost and awkward in human society, but she soon develops a strong bond with the cousin of one of her human classmates, nineteen year old Kai. He is beautiful, but somewhat of an enigma. She discovers a dark secret in Kai's life, and she instantly wants to shelter him from the pain that has tormented him all his life.

Then she meets Maksim Augustine, the incredibly gorgeous guy who seems more like he should be a model than a high school student. She is overwhelmingly attracted to him physically, but her love for Kai causes her to continually push him away. Eventually, she discovers a frightening secret about Max, too.

But Max's secret threatens to destroy everything...

There is something about vampires that is so thrilling, that it’s no coincidence that the majority of the newer paranormal books have embraced them to the degree they have. This book, the first in a series, is one of the many that provide an entertaining view into the vampire’s relationship with humans in an urban setting.

The story itself is interesting, with various aspects that are new to the vampire genre, changing things up a little from the usual solely-blood-drinkers and night-time-loving bunch. The plot was fast paced and amusing, never allowing the reader to grow bored. Some aspects of the story seem a tad forced, like the two main characters falling so irrevocably and quickly in love. But, it worked for Twilight, so who’s to say it doesn’t work here?

The characters are really what make the book different. Alice is fun and someone with a strong core, not a whimpering female, which is refreshing. Kai also breaks away from the typical male character. He is vulnerable and weak, yet oddly charming in his way. Max on the other hand, is what we expect, rugged, strong, possessive. A well balanced triangle. Some of their actions, however, are a bit jarring. One moment any two of them are fighting and the next everything is forgiven. I think their reactions sometimes are a bit exaggerated, but it doesn’t interfere much with the story itself, just with the believability of them as characters.

All in all, this is a fun beginning to what I’m sure will be an engrossing series. If you like paranormal romances, or just a good, easy read, then this book is perfect for you.

And now, a treat, a lovely conversation with the author of this intriguing series, Tara Shulter.

In the increasingly popular genre of paranormal romance, when many writers are attempting to create the next Twilight, how difficult was it for you to write something that was not a copy of previous books?

I didn’t find it particularly difficult. I knew some people would draw parallels between my book and others in the genre. I’ve seen reviews for other books in the niche, and it seems most of them have a handful of people who mention Twilight, even if the book has very little to do with Ms. Meyer’s work. It’s understandable that people automatically lump vampire romance books together, simply because of the popularity of her work.
I wanted to set mine apart from others I had read by creating a stronger heroine and weaker males. Later in the series, Alice becomes even stronger, and her male companions come to depend on her. I think this helps distinguish the series from many others in the genre.

Your characters are well developed. Did you base them on people you know, or are they a potpourri of personalities?

None of them are based on people I know. Alice is a bit like me in a way – she has a strong desire to care for the people she loves. Kai and Max are based on the two sides of the “typical” male – the stereotypical male – that many women dream of. Kai is the soft, gentle side that needs to be protected and sheltered. Max is the stronger, more dominant male. Rather than try to combine both sides in a single character, I chose to have to separate characters. This causes Alice’s conflict… trying to decide whether she wants the weak, sensitive guy, or the stronger, more protective guy.
Later in the series, Alice’s love life becomes even more complicated. In book two, a third suitor is introduced. It seems as though Alice is extremely fickle, but in reality, it’s a product of her life. She’s been sheltered from other people and vampires for so long, she easily confuses friendship, empathy, and physical attraction for love. In book three, she will really come into her own, and she will learn what true love really is.

As a debut novelist, did you find it difficult to find your voice, your own unique way of telling a story?

In honesty, this story told itself. I sat down one day to write it, and it all started playing like a movie in my head. I just had to write as quickly as my fingers would let me and try to keep up! This particular series has been a real pleasure to write, because it’s just been such a natural progression.

We all know how difficult it is in our economic times, with the publishing houses taking less and less manuscripts to support, for new writers to be “discovered”. What was your experience trying to get SHELTER to the public?

I actually never even bothered with traditional publishing houses. I knew my series was going to be very good, and I knew I had a strong chance at finding an agent and being published traditionally, but it wasn’t something I was interested in at the time. It can take 12-18 months (sometimes longer) for a book to be published after the writer finds an agent and a publisher, and that wasn’t something that I wanted to go through. I wanted to get it published immediately.
That’s why I chose to self-publish. I wanted the control and the speed. That’s not to say I wouldn’t consider a publishing contract in the future. It just wasn’t what I wanted at the time.

What is your writing routine, if you have one? Do you write everyday or just when inspiration comes calling? Do you have a favorite spot in your home where you find your ideas flowing easier?

I try to write a little every day, but I find it’s a bit difficult if I push myself when I’m not in the mood. If I don’t feel inspired, I won’t write on my most important projects. I’ll start a new one and write a little on that. Then I’ll put that aside when I’m inspired to get back to work on my original work.
To tell you the truth, I live in one room with six other people. I’ve learned to concentrate with intense distractions! I’ve had people tell me they “can’t” write a book because they “don’t have time” or “don’t ever get any peace and quiet.” When I learned to stop making excuses, I was shocked at how much I could accomplish! Believe me… if I can do this in my situation, anyone can!

What are some of your influences, literary or otherwise?

Stephenie Meyer is definitely a major influence, of course. I read her series, and I was immediately hooked. It’s not so much her writing style that drew me in, but her character building. I felt I really connected with her characters on an emotional level. That’s what I knew I wanted from my own writing.
Michael Moorcock is another major inspiration. His writing is so descriptive and engaging. I still have the first paragraph of his Elric Saga in my head, because it was just so powerful.
I also have to say Gandhi and Mother Theresa, because their tireless devotion to caring for other people is overwhelming. I’m hoping my books will eventually allow me to devote more of my own time to helping others.

And of course, what readers are probably wondering, what are you working on now?

I’m currently working on the third book in my Blood Haze series. The third book is due out late in May, but it may be delayed until early to mid-June.
I also have a few other series in the work, including a vampire series for adults, a science fiction series for adults, and a werewolf series for adults.

Tara Shuler is an American author. Her first book, Shelter - Blood Haze: Book One, was released on April 26, 2011. Book two in the Blood Haze series - Storm - was released May 01, 2011.
Tara enjoys reading books and watching movies in the genres of paranormal romance, action, martial arts, fantasy, and science fiction, and her writing is indicative of those tastes.

Her next book, Betrayal - Blood Haze: Book Three, is due to be released Summer 2011."

You can find her books here: Shelter (Amazon), Storm (Amazon)
Shelter (B&N), Storm (B&N)

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Love.com by RW Bennett

What in the name of flowers and candy is going on?!?! People are falling in love and getting married in unheard-of numbers after meeting on the new internet dating site, Love.com. Marsha Underwood, Director of Marketing believes something fishy is going on; the crazy success can’t be just good marketing. Marsha suspects her boss, Paul Latimer, may have something to do with it. She knows Paul will do anything to earn the respect of his own powerful, rich but remote father. And Paul flunked ethics in business school.

The trouble is, Paul is in love with Marsha, but for good reason she doesn’t consider Paul to be marriage material. When Marsha, her father and best friend begin to investigate the goings-on behind the pretty web pages, her allies are destroyed in mysterious fashion. Afraid for her own life from the man who claims to love her, Marsha nonetheless chooses to pursue the truth about the company that has made her rich. But Love.com is now a worldwide phenomenon, and won’t give up its secrets easily. All her courage and smarts may not be enough to unravel the Love.com mystery and save her own life. And while she’s at it, she wouldn’t mind finding the love she was created for.

Love.com is smart, original, fun and funny. It’s for everyone who has been in love, or wants to be, or just enjoys a suspenseful whodunit.

A mystery about an online matchmaking service with too much success, a promising premise for an interesting book. One, that fortunately, did not disappoint.

This is a fun book. The plot is fast paced, yet carefully constructed to tie in a number of seemingly unrelated storylines that provide a good background to the main character, Marsha. She is a dynamic business woman suffering under Paul Latimer’s unrequited love, a love that is as violent as it is obsessive. I do wish we’d seen a few more dimensions to Marsha’s personality, but I can’t complain too much, she was fun to read.

Paul is represented better, elevating him from just a “bad guy” to a “complicated guy”. It’s hard to cheer for him, but we can at least feel his twinges of romantic dissatisfaction.

What I enjoyed the most were the chapters of Love.com’s creation, all the minutia that is so cleverly introduced into the story. You’d think that the steps to putting a business together, the marketing tricks, etc. would be boring to read about, but on the contrary, they make for some really entertaining sections.

There is an aura of tension throughout the whole book, that makes the reader pay attention, waiting for the violence to start. And it does.
The only real issue I have with the book is the ending. In my opinion, it felt a bit rushed. Everything gets resolved in the space of two pages, so suddenly that I had to reread them to catch what happens. A bit more suspense would have fit the careful story better.

Other than that, this is a very entertaining book. I spent a good bunch of hours reading it and I can recommend it to everyone who enjoys a good mystery.