Friday, August 30, 2013

Seraphina

I'm going to admit something awful here. I did not expect to like this book at all. I read the description and thought "snore." But every time I went into a bookstore it was a staff favorite! I just didn't get it. And it had an outstanding rating on Goodreads, and so many sparkling reviews. Finally I thought, okay, I'll try it. If I don't like it, it's no big deal. Well, I am very glad I tried it out, because Seraphina is a beautiful book. But I'm getting ahead of myself.


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A peace treaty between humans and dragons has been in effect for almost 40 years. Right before the leader of the dragons folds himself into human form and comes to Goredd to celebrate the anniversary of the treaty, a prince of the royal family is discovered murdered in a very draconian fashion. There is still little trust between dragons and humans. Seraphina fears both sides. She is half dragon and hides her true heritage while she works as the assistant to the court composer. As Seraphina tries to unwrap the complexities and mystery surrounding the upcoming celebration and the prince's death, she tries to hide her secret from Prince Lucian Kiggs, her fellow investigator, and Princess Glisselda, her pupil and friend.

That description doesn't even come close to describing the intricacies of the plot. Dragons consider emotion to be weakness, and partition their minds so that they don't feel it. Seraphina is different, and partitions her mind so that she doesn't have seizures caused by memories her mother passed on to her. As someone who suffers from panic attacks, I understand the need to control emotions, while simultaneously struggling not to cease feeling them (because this causes more panic attacks because you repress emotion. horrible cycle). It was just so cool. I love dragons, I love court intrigue, and I love well developed characters. It would be so easy to hate Glisselda for being engaged to Kiggs, but you just can't. She can be naive, but she is so good to Seraphina, and would make a great queen. Seraphina is accustomed to thinking herself a monster, and lying is her second nature because it's what she's done all her life. But she wants to trust her friends, and it's hard to keep secrets when her own existence is tightly woven into the problems with keeping the peace. Words can't even describe how much I enjoyed this book. On a couple occasions the pace lagged, but I DON'T CARE. READ IT.

Ahem.

Goodreads Rating: 5 stars
Next Up: So Silver Bright

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The Son of Neptune

You'll never guess what I did yesterday. I sent off the last content edits of Balancing Act! That's right. After my editor (the awesome Emily Marquart) looks over my changes (including an entirely new scene, eek!) Balancing Act will go on to line edits. Isn't that crazy?! Okay, so that's what has had my attention this past week, so I got basically zero reading done. However, the internet at my house has been down for going on 2 days, and it's amazing how much reading you can get done when you aren't getting distracted by twitter. I know I said I was reading Tempest Unleashed, and I still am (just like I'm still reading Inkheart), but I decided to pick up The Son of Neptune by Rick Riordan because I just haven't read enough of his books this summer.


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Percy lost 8 months of his life, and now he's been inducted into Camp Jupiter, the Roman camp in California. He can't remember Camp Half-Blood, but he does remember the name Annabeth. Almost immediately he is elected to go on a quest with Frank, son of Mars, and Hazel, daughter of Pluto. But these demigods are not what they appear. Frank's godly heritage stretches back much further than Mars, and his entire life depends on something flammable. Hazel shouldn't be alive. The last time she lived, she did something terrible. But now is her chance to right her mistake, and maybe rid herself of her curse. These three demigods travel to the land beyond the gods (Alaska) to defeat the worst giant of them all. The only problem? All the monsters they kill have been coming back to life. And how do you kill something that can't die?

I love Rick Riordan. His grasp of mythology is really cool, and I love that he puts a new spin on it. For instance, Iris is a hippie. I loved Hazel and her curse, and how she was trying to make up for the bad thing she did back in the 1940s before she died. I also enjoyed learning about the Roman camp. However, I think my brain has always understood Greek mythology more, so the idea of cohorts and legions sorta confused me. But no matter. There is only one thing that bugs me about Riordan's books, and it's so insignificant that I keep reading them (because they're awesome). His way of delaying information being given to the reader is always the same. 1) the character isn't ready to speak about it, even if it's in their own narrative so the reader isn't clued in. 2) when the character is almost ready to talk about it, they get interrupted by a monster or another demigod. It's frustrating to me, because I like trying to guess what the big secrets are. That's not possible in Riordan's novels because the information is never thought of specifically in internal narrative. But seriously, I love the idea and world of the demigods so much that I can't get too peeved.

Goodreads Rating: 4 Stars
Up Next: Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

I Love My Job

No review in the offing. My brain's sort of sizzling under the drain of the summer. It's finally my weekend, so I can rest from this crazy week. In some ways, my day job went very quickly, in other ways it dragged on. One of these other ways was because something's wrong with a muscle at that base of my neck/where my shoulder starts, and it feels like someone's putting a cigarette out in it.

But I'm not here to talk about my day job.

I'm a sales clerk by day, and an editor by night. I don my sweatshirt of comfiness and take up the pen of truth to slash through incorrect punctuation and grammar.

I am a line editor. A copy editor. I see books when they are very near completion. And I love my job. I spent a couple hours this week reading through my old blog posts about trying to get published, and overcoming writer's block. There was a lot of naivety in those posts. I can honestly say I've changed drastically in the two years I've been running this blog. I've gotten into college, finished my sophomore year at said college, gotten an editorial internship, gotten a book deal, gotten a job in publishing.

It wasn't until college, and around my second book, that I realized I wanted to work in publishing. I really should have figured it out sooner. I spend my free time reading publishing news, adding to and organizing my Books to Get list. I follow editors, agents, and authors almost exclusively on twitter. I want to be in the world of making books. Helping them grow into amazing experiences for other people. Because reading has been a good chunk of my life. I wouldn't go so far as to say it saved my life, but it really made it. And I know there are those out there who are saved by reading. And how incredible is that? Something someone else wrote, not knowing who would read it, can effect someone else's life. Even if it's just by making them smile.

Books are words and pictures and memories. Love, pain, friendship, family, villains, superpowers, evil governments, beautiful worlds. They are everything. Hopes and dreams in print form.

Is it any wonder I love my job?

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Ashfall

Whoo boy am I tired. And it's only halfway through the weekend. It's been very busy at work, so last night I came home and collapsed into bed. I did pretty much nothing all evening. However, before I started my "nothing," I finished the last 60 pages of Ashfall by Mike Mullin. Then made sure to think happy thoughts for the rest of the evening.


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Alex was looking forward to spending a weekend alone while his family went to Warren, Illinois. That's when Yellowstone erupted, throwing the world into chaos. Now Alex wants to find his family, but the only way to get there is on foot. Animals are dying, food is scarce, and people are going crazy. In his trek to find his family, Alex meets Darla, a mechanic around his own age who is way more useful when it comes to finding ways to get food, water, and making the physical labor easier. He also meets some crazies.

Last quarter I took a class called Living with Volcanoes. We spent a full day talking about Yellowstone, and how the interval between eruptions would imply that we're due for one. But volcanoes aren't on a timer. It could be that Yellowstone will erupt tomorrow. Could be that it will never erupt again. I was pretty excited to read this book because of that class. An eruption from that volcano would ruin a lot of things, and that's a wild understatement. But on to the book. I liked the first fifty pages of Ashfall because the action was constant. Alex's house collapses, he finds refuge with neighbors, the volcano is erupting for several days, the craziness starts in the people. But after Alex heads out for Warren....the action tapers off until he meets Darla around 175 pages in. Darla certainly makes the book more interesting, but there were still stretches where I felt like it was just a guide on how to create grindstones, skin a rabbit, create skiis with twine and sticks etc. The writing was a bit mechanical in these places. I wanted more about the actual volcano erupting. Afterward, it's just referred to as the eruption. Maybe it's because of my class, but I wanted to know more about what happened at the summit. Anywho, it's still a good book, but it's no Insignia, making me jump up and down with happiness.

Goodreads Rating: 3 stars

Friday, August 16, 2013

Somebody to Love

I just received some news. Apparently this weekend is the busiest of the summer at work. I shall probably not be reading too much. More like collapsing from exhaustion. But all in the line of duty! Yesterday, instead of going to see Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters, I stayed in and read a quarter of Ashfall and the rest of Somebody to Love by Kristan Higgins.


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Parker has just received some horrible news. Due to her father's jaunt into insider trading, her home, trust fund, and that of her five-year-old son are gone. All she has is a little house up in Gideon's Cove, Maine that was left to her by an aunt. Her plan is to go up there, flip it, and sell it for a nice profit so she has some money. And if she could think of another series idea for her publisher, that would be great too. The only downsides to this? The house is more like a shack, her aunt was a hoarder, and her father's personal lawyer has been assigned to help her flip it. And since James Cahill is the last person she wants to see, and sadly the last person she slept with, this is not good news. If they steer clear of each other, it should be all right though.

I love Higgins' books. They generally aren't heavy on the hanky panky, but that's not why I read them. If I want hanky panky I'll read a Nora Roberts book. No, what I love about Higgins' books are the characters. Every single one of them has unique features, they all intertwine, and their interactions in Gideon's Cove are fantastic. And there's always a rich back story, and ya'll know how much I love a good back story. Of course, this lovely book won't take the place of Fools Rush In or Too Good to Be True (the book that made me rediscover my love of history and was a partial reason in deciding me to major in it). But it was really fun to see the cast from Catch of the Day again (Maggie and Malone). Parker is so wounded from her childhood, but such a trooper for trying to make the best of things. And it was interesting to see the guy be the one mooning after someone. Honestly, it was refreshing. James is a good guy, but he's not perfect. And that's why I loved him.

Goodreads Rating: 4 Stars
Up Next: Ashfall by Mike Mullin and Tempest Unleashed by Tracy Deebs

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Perchance to Dream

It's my weekend! Yaaaaay!! Call up the troops, set up the pinata, and pour the root beer (as I am not yet 21). It was a long week, guys. I had a project to finish for work, plus my day job which is exhausting, plus feeling burned out from four days at home trying to do as much as possible with my friends. So yesterday, day 1 of my weekend, I did nothing. My body woke me up around 8:30 because it's stupid, and I read most of the day. What did I read? Well, the sequel to Eyes Like Stars by Lisa Mantchev--Perchance to Dream.


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Beatrice Shakespeare Smith and Co. are taking their act on the road. Bertie, the four fairies, and the air elemental Ariel, have left the Theatre Illuminata and are on a quest to find Nate, the pirate who was stolen by the seawitch Sedna. Along the way Bertie encounters a beguiling sneak thief, and a bird who might just be her father. She also must hone her power as the Mistress of Revels, meaning whatever she writes comes to fruition, though perhaps not in the way she would have hoped. And her poor heart is stretched between Nate and Ariel.

I had a hard time getting into Eyes Like Stars way back when. It had an unusual writing style that took a lot of focus for me to appreciate. In all honesty, I bought it because the cover was so gorgeous. But in the end, I loved the book and resolved to read the rest of the series. Perchance to Dream is not a hefty book, at 333 pages. I read most of it in one day. It would have been one sitting, but my fugged up mind decided to take a two hour nap in the middle there. I like Bertie, who has always lived in a world where everything is a play, and now must deal with an unscripted life. And the fairies are very fun, particularly a scene where they reenact the hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil, and then the last fairy covers his butt. I had two problems with this book. 1) I had no clue what a Scrimshander was. It was probably described in Eyes Like Stars, but it's been a year since I read that book and I've completely forgotten. It would have been nice to have a small description, for those of us who don't read the books one right after the other. 2) The magic is confusing and goes unexplained. The thing with her writing things and then they happen is pretty self explanatory. But then there's a whole slew of other things that happen in the last third of the book that, while enjoyable, I had no idea *why* they happened or worked within the world. But, I will still read So Silver Bright. Bertie is so enjoyable, and I want to see who she chooses between Nate and Ariel.

Goodreads Rating: 4 stars
Up Next: Somebody to Love by Kristan Higgins and Ashfall by Mike Mullin

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Storm Front


Yeah, I know it's been a long time since I posted a review. But I have an excuse! I went home for four days to celebrate my birthday! And, while this did mean spending quite a lot of time in the car, I didn't get a whole lot of reading done. Before I get to today's review of Storm Front by Jim Butcher, I have to brag a little bit about what I did on my birthday. I went skydiving with one of my best friends! If you ever want to do something completely nuts but totally awesome, I highly recommend it. Anywho, back to books. This week's pick was a detective fantasy novel.
Harry Dresden is a wizard living in Chicago, and working as a consultant for the police department on cases that can't be explained by normal human logic. And this one's a doozy. Two people, one a prostitute and another in the mob, have been killed by magic, which is against the Laws. Dresden comes to the case, determined to find the killer. He's also got another case, finding the missing husband of Monica Sells, who she says likes to dabble in magic. There's a deadline hanging over it all, because Morgan, Harry's wizard guardian, hates him and calls a Council meeting to get him killed.
There were several things I enjoyed about this book. Harry's old fashioned ideas, his banter with that spirit Bob in a skull, and the wittiness of the narrative. It was a nice, easy read. There were a couple things that bothered me, however. One: we know nothing of Harry's backstory until about 50 pages from the end, and then it's a small glimpse. Two: the wrap-up. In the last few pages of the story every loose end is tied up neatly so that every good guy gets what they want, and all the bad guys do not. Those were the big things that bothered me. There were some smaller ones as well, but they were nitpicky and really didn't affect my reading experience. Overall, I enjoyed this book and laughed out loud several times, but I don't think I'll be one of the people to follow Dresden through his tens of books.
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Goodreads Rating: 4 Stars
Up Next: Perchance to Dream by Lisa Mantchev

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Awakenings Blog Tour

Today I have with me JE Shannon, author of Awakenings, a YA paranormal romance released on July 29th through my employer (and publisher) Entranced Publishing. Before I get to the interview, here's some stuff you should know about this lovely lady and her novel.

Evie Shepard awakens to a nightmare. She's been buried alive and has no idea how or why. As she struggles to remember what happened, she begins to notice changes -- heightened senses, as well as increased speed, agility, and strength. And her heart no longer beats. She soon makes a disturbing discovery: she wasn't buried alive; she was murdered. Somehow, she has come back... and she wants revenge.

About the Author:

J. E. Shannon currently lives in Florida, but is a Missouri native. She spends most of her time reading, writing, and taking care of her small child and two crazy dogs. Visit her at www.jeshannonbooks.com


  1. If you could tell anyone in the world five things about yourself that really define "you," what would they be?
    Hmmm...that's a tough one. First I would have to explain my laughter theory. I firmly believe that you can laugh your way through almost any situation. Case in point, I have to have a biopsy done nearly every year. The first time I had it done, I had the doctors and ultrasound tech laughing so hard the nurse stuck her head into see what was going on. Mainly, I wanted to bring a stress ball, but didn't have one. So I brought one of my daughters rubber ducks. I have the honor of being the first (and so far the only) patient to bring in a duck. It's been a running joke ever since. Laughter is the key to a happy life.

    Other than that I would say that I believe in fair play, in taking chances, being kind to one another, and loving to your fullest. Does that sound Oprah'ish? Maybe more Ellen. Either way it's a good way to live.
  2. What was your inspiration for Awakenings?

    I always cringe when I get this question. Not because it's a bad question, but because the answer is so cliche. I had a dream about a girl who dug herself out of her grave. The dream completely terrified me, but it also stuck with me. Eventually I put a story to that one scene.
  3. How long did it take you to write the first draft of this book?
    About a year. I have a young child, so finding time to write is sometimes difficult. I've made a vow to carve our more time our for writing from now on though.
  4. What is your writing/editing process? Pantser? Outliner?
    Total Pantser. I have the plot all mapped out in my head, though. I have specific scenes that I know I want in the book and everything else just falls into place. I tried making notes and an outline, but afterwards I never went back to look at them. So there really wasn't a point to it. *shrugs* To each their own.
  5. How did you decide to go the indie/small press route?
    I actually won a Twitter contest. There was this contest called Pitch Wars. Contestants submitted their books and mentors to choose their favorites. Mine was chosen by the awesome Fiona McLaren. We worked on the book for a month to get it in the best shape possible, then put it up for agents and publishers to view. The day after that contest was another called PitMad, which was twitter pitches to agents and publishers. In the end my book was requested in full by four agents and two publishers. Ultimately I decided to go with small publishing because I thought it was a good fit for me. The staff at Entranced Publishing have been fantastic about working with me closely. I've learned a lot from them and I think that is really important for a new author.
  6. What are your favorite YA books overall? Recently?
    My favorite YA books was the Hunger Games trilogy. I absolutely tore through those books. They're fantastic. Recently I had The Uglies series by Scott Westerfield recommended to me. I'm on the second one now and am completely hooked.
  7. Favorite type of ice cream?
    I'm so weird when it comes to some things. I love chocolate in my ice cream but can't stand chocolate ice cream. I have no idea why. My current favorite is chocolate chip cookie dough. But my husband recently discovered this sea salt caramel stuff that is amazing. It rocked my chocolate loving world. Now I'm confused. It's like I'm in a love triangle, but with ice cream. I guess there are worse things that happen


Buy Links: Amazon | Kobo | Smashwords | B&N


Giveaway:

To celebrate her new release, JE Shannon is giving away a Kindle with an ecopy of Awakenings (US only). One runner-up will win an ecopy of Awakenings (open internationally). You can enter here: http://bit.ly/13v1u59

Author Social Media Links:

And now an excerpt!:

Lightning strikes the ground, leaving behind a thick, black scorch mark. Within seconds, it strikes a second time, pausing briefly before giving a third earth-shattering blow. I don't see the actual bolts -- all I see is a flash of light, followed by my sister and me running, out of breath and terrified. Another flash, and we are huddled together in a rusted, abandoned car. Another burst of light, and the car door screeches open and we are being ripped away from each other by unfamiliar hands. It's with that final memory that I open my eyes. As soon as I do, something grainy flows into them, so I shut them again.

I can't see, I can't hear; but I can feel that I'm lying on cold earth. The longer I'm awake, the more I become aware of an unbelievable pressure on my chest. Slowly, I realize that it's not just my chest -- my face and body also feel as if I'm being crushed. Oily nausea roils through me, but I clench my teeth to stop myself from panicking. Where am I? I try to move my hands and find they're pinned to my side. I try to open my eyes again and instantly get something in them. I flex my fingers, and the grittiness that slips through them makes me aware of the awful truth -- I have been buried alive.

I let out a shriek, but have to close my mouth as dirt begins to slip past my lips. Struggling frantically, I feel the earth move under my hands. I realize I can't be buried very deep, or the pressure of the dirt would surely have suffocated me by now. I'm astounded it hasn't already, though I have no way of knowing how long I've been underground. I force myself to be still, to stop and think about what I have to do. I need to be very careful getting out, making sure not to cause a cave-in and possibly crush myself. I need to remember to breathe shallowly or I will run out of oxy -- And that's when I realize that I'm not breathing. Not at all.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Where I've Gone

It's been a while since I posted, and it was going to be a few more days till I can get back here with a review. Why? Excellent question. I have so much going on right now I have had almost zero chance to read. I am home for my birthday for four days, and they are jam-packed with seeing friends, spending time with family, baking, editing for work, editing Balancing Act, and I'm going skydiving on my birthday.

It's been a rather tiring week. It's an unfortunate coincidence that a book for work and Balancing Act are overlapping. Hence the not being able to read. But I've been working slowly through Storm Front by Jim Butcher when I can, and I really like it.

Which brings me to what I wanted to say in this post. Overloading ones self. Now, I have not yet found my limit. I've never had so much to do that I broke down and I didn't finish it all. Were there times when I was very stressed and stayed up late to finish an assignment or edit those last few pages? Of course. But in the main, I haven't found my limit.

When do you think it's wise not to take on more work? Just curious.