Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Review: Mockingbird by Chuck Wendig (Miriam Black #2)



Thought I wouldn't get time to get in a review before the year ends but then I realized I'd written this two months back and forgot to post it!

TITLE: MOCKINGBIRD (Miriam Black #2)
AUTHOR: CHUCK WENDIG
PUBLISHER: ANGRY ROBOT
GOODREADS SUMMARY:
Miriam is trying. Really, she is.
But this whole "settling down thing" that Louis has going for her just isn't working out. She lives on Long Beach Island all year around. Her home is a run-down double-wide trailer. She works at a grocery store as a check-out girl. And her relationship with Louis--who's on the road half the time in his truck--is subject to the piss and vinegar Miriam brings to everything she does.
It just isn't going well. Still, she's keeping her psychic ability--to see when and how someone is going to die just by touching them--in check. But even that feels wrong somehow. Like she's keeping a tornado stoppered up in a tiny bottle.
Then comes one bad day that turns it all on her ear.

Chuck Wendig’s ‘Blackbirds’ disturbed me to no small extent. The purist in me rebelled against the language and profanity, the girlie-girl in me cowered from the extreme violence, and the responsible book-blogger in me put out a warning that this book was addictive, but not for those faint of heart. The reader in me also made it abundantly clear that I was going to pick up the next installment- I was hooked by Miriam Black in ‘Blackbirds’, and in ‘Mockingbird’ she appears with talons to reel me right back into her story.

And, what a story.

When you look at it from outside, ‘Mockingbird’ is a deceptively simple onion. A pretty one, yes, but kind of procedural. Psychic-girl, visions of a murder, character drama, resolution. But when you peel back the layers, it becomes much more. Miriam’s going to snark at me for going philosophical on her, but take a breather, Miss Black. Let me talk about you.

This time around, Miriam is trying to settle down. Be a happy checkout girl at a department store. Live with Louis in a trailer park. Keep her psychic ability under check. At least until bullets get involved, and a bit of scalp is lost, and the psychic drifter witch is out on the roads again.

It isn’t long before Miriam is neck-deep in it - this time the trouble starts at a school/prison for delinquent girls. The Caldecott School for Girls. There’s a murderer loose and he’s killing the schoolgirls. Of course, Miriam knows this by touching the victims and has to stop it from happening. 

But in Chuck Wendig’s world, killing them is equal to cutting off tongues, lopping off heads, singing a creepy song and lots and lots of barbed wire, so Miriam really is up against some major psychopath.

You’d see why Miriam would get involved. This time around she might have bitten off more than she can chew, because she’s up against a pretty formidable enemy. Maybe even more than one.

Louis Darling remains my favorite one-eyed trucker ever, although there’s a scene with bloody feathers and eye sockets and car wrecks and river water that will probably not let me sleep easily for a while at least.

I said in my review of ‘Blackbirds’ that what makes the book is the main protagonist. She’s back and she ain’t lost her charm. (Or extreme lack of it.) She’s still trash-talking her way through her dark little life, seeing hallucinations that creep me the hell out, and getting into so much trouble that you want to lock her up somewhere. Not that Miriam wouldn’t bust out. Just saying.

The real good thing about Mockingbird, however, is that it doesn’t simply draw Miriam as a dark, brooding, pot-mouthed, psychic young woman with a one-eyed trucker boyfriend. Her home-life appears in tiny Interludes between chapters, and we learn how Miriam became well…Miriam. Uncle Jack teaching her to hold a gun and shoot a bird, her over-religious mother (Carrie parallel?) destroying her stuff, the strange house that she grew up in- we get to visit each scene through the writer’s extremely cinematic prose.

The story moves fast and is paced so violently, with so much blood and fighting and crazy dialogue involved, and I loved that. It’s slightly less…well, French, than the book before but there’s still plenty of bombs for those who try to avoid stuff like that (or, alternately, enjoy stuff like that, whatever floats your boat).

I reiterate- THIS IS NOT YOUNG ADULT. But if you’re like me and enjoy bloody paper-and-ink conquests, kickass UF heroines, trucker lingo, awesome dialogues, razor-sharp prose, subtle shout-outs to Stephen King, and a good old-fashioned serial killer tale, you’ll dig Mockingbird.

And hee. I love the damn cover. Joey Hi-fi is rockin’ it. Do you see the detailing in it, with the stuff in her hair? There's an axe, a hand, a detailed bird beak. There's the school on her shirt. You could play "spot that" with the cover the whole day.

4 on 5 stars, and bring on more Miriam! 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Guest Post: Prophecy Girl

I'm taking a minute to breathe here, and announce before we go into the guest post that I'm so very very sorry for all the erratic posting that's been happening on the blog. There's just too much going on in my life! Add to that finals-related stress, and I'm like a zombie with a polka-dotted headband, shuffling around the house in pajamas the whole day.
(Plus Jeremy Carver is killing me with Supernatural Season 8, dammit)
This is the last post for the year, guys and girls. I'll be back new year with a new design and other stuff.
But wait!
Today we have Faith McKay, author of Prophecy Girl, doing a guest post for us!
Welcome, Faith!
On to the guest post!





Ten Facts You Didn't Know About Prophecy Girl


+ Every character in this novel has at least one nickname, though only some of them are mentioned in Prophecy Girl.

+ The working title for many years was NEXT SERVICES, because of a sign in the valley that reads Next Services: 74 Miles. The scene including the sign happened to be one of the first things I wrote, so it just stuck.

+ My husband actually came up with the title Prophecy Girl, and he only did so once I was already completely done with the novel.

+ The next time Sam goes on a date, she's supposed to be dumping a body. Uhh, book two, anyone?

+ The main character, Sam, is a vegetarian.
+ I compiled playlists to the next books in Lacuna Valley to organize my plots.

+ Lacuna Valley is a fictional place, but it was based on a real place where I actually once lived. It was an isolated valley, it was an hour long drive to the nearest stoplight, and it was a western themed town. There just wasn't anything supernatural living there, that I know about at least.
+ There is a bullying sub-plot. It was based on my own horrifying high school experiences.

+ I wrote four completely different versions of both the beginning and ending.

+ Nick's sunglasses are one of my favorite things in Prophecy Girl and helped make Nick real to me. I have a thing for sunglasses myself, and have a few pairs mentioned in the book.






Here's a synopsis of Prophecy Girl. It looks terrific!

Ever since Samantha Winthrop's mother moved them to Lacuna Valley, supposedly in search of better weather, the list of strange questions she has no answers for has been growing out of control.

Does her little sister, Violet, have the ability to make things happen just by "praying" for them? Are Sam's dreams really predicting the future? Is she destined to marry the boy she just met, and what is the mysterious orb that he's guarding? Why does she get the impression that there are dangerous creatures watching from the woods?
While Sam should be focusing on answering those questions, there is one other that makes them seem almost irrelevant: Is her mother planning on killing her and Violet?

AUTHOR BIO




Faith McKay writes stories about characters with real world struggles in otherworldly settings. She is the author of PROPHECY GIRL, a story where characters struggle with the idea of having a destiny. In comparison, she feels really lucky that her destiny was to struggle with comma placement and be that awkward lady who points out puns at parties.


Other things to know about Faith… She wears two different colored shoes. She is a survivor of child abuse. She has lived with chronic illness for over a decade. A lot of people don't like her because she laughs too much. It's also the reason a lot of other people do like her, so go figure. She listens to more music than people are probably supposed to. She's a nomad. The word sounds really cool, so a lot of people say it, but she actually lives in an RV with her husband and their pet bunny rabbit, Dorian Gray.



Monday, November 19, 2012

Review: Black City by Elizabeth Richards (and an SPN tangent)


Publisher: Penguin
My Copy: e-book purchased for iBooks


Goodreads Synopsis


A dark and tender post-apocalyptic love story set in the aftermath of a bloody war.


In a city where humans and Darklings are now separated by a high wall and tensions between the two races still simmer after a terrible war, sixteen-year-olds Ash Fisher, a half-blood Darkling, and Natalie Buchanan, a human and the daughter of the Emissary, meet and do the unthinkable—they fall in love. Bonded by a mysterious connection that causes Ash’s long-dormant heart to beat, Ash and Natalie first deny and then struggle to fight their forbidden feelings for each other, knowing if they’re caught, they’ll be executed—but their feelings are too strong.


When Ash and Natalie then find themselves at the center of a deadly conspiracy that threatens to pull the humans and Darklings back into war, they must make hard choices that could result in both their deaths.


RATING: 2.5 STARS

To say I had high hopes for this book is an understatement.
BLACK CITY by Elizabeth Richards has been on my TBR pile forever. It just resonated with what I’m writing right now- I’m working on a full-length novel with a creepy city too- and I wanted to see how she pulls it off (because I’m having enough trouble making up a city). I wanted to see if the world building could actually be done right, or if the love-triangle could actually be non-cliché and entertaining.
Sadly, Black City just doesn’t work for me.

WRITING
I’ve read rave reviews for Black City, some praising Richards’ writing. The thing about a book like Black City, which focuses on romance as well as rebellion, beauty as well as callous cruelty, is that it needs to be written…well, a little less like R. L. Stine. I love R.L. Stine and his writing suits the plots he creates, but in Black City the writing was just too clean and simple and non-lyrical. I’m not the kind of reader that gets swept off simply by a great plot. To me, writing matters. If it’s choppy that will suit your book, go for it. If it’s something like Daughter of Smoke and Bone, go lyrical. This was what I was expecting with Black City, the kind of tugging at hearts writing. I did not get it.

CHARACTERS
While Ash was interesting enough, not even that exceptionally, I just fell asleep when Natalie was talking. Maybe I’m just getting tired of emo.
This book switches POV’s every chapter, and while I find that absolutely fine- look at This is Shyness or Incarceron, which does this perfectly- again, in Black City I wasn’t…invested.
Yes, that’s the word. Invested. I couldn’t get invested in the plot or the characters, no one ripped my heart out and chewed it up and spat it out in little pieces (boo) and I. Just. Didn’t. Care.
Then there’s instalove. I swear we should petition for some rule to ban this, like, forever. I DID NOT expect instalove in Black City, that was possibly the problem. I WANTED a developing love story. I WANTED two characters from two entirely different backgrounds to meet and understand each other and slowly move into a dance-phase (the do-I-love-him/her, how-do-I-let-him/her-know plot that I adore)

PLOT
This was okay, and I won’t give much away. At least it held me interested. Although towards the end, the villain was looking more and more like a ghost of President Snow. And Ash was the “Boy Who Rose From the Ashes”, which is uncomfortably similar to “The Girl on Fire”. The near-end scene is just too much like Katniss being threatened by Snow.

THE GOOD STUFF (bullet-pointed, because I’m out of time)
-        Pretty decent world-building
-        CRUCIFIXION. There’s a good, scary image.
-        “And so begins my heart.” I could sing that line.
-        The unbelievable, gorgeous cover.
-        The different types of Darklings.

OVERALL
Black City didn’t work for me. I was put off by Instalove, and by a mediocre plot, plus unspectacular writing in a book where I thought spectacular could do WONDERS. Part of this disappointment was probably due to my own high expectations, so give Black City a try.
You might love it.

UNRELATED TANGENT


Guys, voting for People’s Choice Awards is now open. I will be voting like CRAZY for Supernatural in every category it has been nominated. That is Favorite Sci-fi/Fantasy show, two nominations for Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles in Favorite Dramatic Actor (I’ll throw an even amount of votes for both; I can’t choose between the Winchesters!) and Favorite Fan Following, which I hope we win regardless of all the ill sentiments from last year, because we’re a very tight, very wonderfully crazy fandom. (We’re still a little bummed that People’s Choice didn’t put SPN on the Favorite TV Drama list- come on, it WON last year. There should at least be a nomination this year!)
I’m also voting for Castle’s Stana Katic (Kate Beckett) in Favorite Dramatic Actress, and Revolution in Favorite New Show.
Plus, Potter fans, do vote for Potterheads in the Favorite Film Franchise Fan Following J
Go to www.peopleschoice.com to vote, and if you’re a die-hard SPNFamily member, what the hell are you still reading this for? Go Vote!    

Monday, November 12, 2012

Review: Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor


Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love and dared to imagine a world free of bloodshed and war. This is not that world.

Art student and monster's apprentice Karou finally has the answers she has always sought. She knows who she is--and what she is. But with this knowledge comes another truth she would give anything to undo: She loved the enemy and he betrayed her, and a world suffered for it.

In this stunning sequel to the highly acclaimed Daughter of Smoke & Bone, Karou must decide how far she'll go to avenge her people. Filled with heartbreak and beauty, secrets and impossible choices, Days of Blood & Starlight finds Karou and Akiva on opposing sides as an age-old war stirs back to life.

While Karou and her allies build a monstrous army in a land of dust and starlight, Akiva wages a different sort of battle: a battle for redemption. For hope.

But can any hope be salvaged from the ashes of their broken dream?


Oh, Laini Taylor, you wonderful woman. I am so in love with your epic awesomeness that I’m sort of jealous of your two-year-old daughter (who I will never match in amazing cuteness).

When the Daughter of Smoke and Bone came out and took several months more to come out in India, I defied all cosmic odds by finding an online bookstore that would ship it to me for free. And I DEVOURED it. I composed entire poems in my head while reading the book. I wrote, “You will be rewarded with cosmic goodwill and hard cash” on the front of my notebooks. I even bought a glossy, hardback copy of Lips Touch: Three Times because I knew Laini and Jim wouldn’t disappoint.

This time, though, I just couldn’t find a bookstore with no shipping costs, and I had to get the e-book. To my surprise, the e-book version was gorgeous too! Sigh, bliss…

On with the review, already!

Days of Blood and Starlight, is as incredible as its predecessor. In South India we get this little snack called a “bonda” It has crispy deep-fried dough on the outside, and as you crunch your way through the high-calorie goodness, you suddenly reach a spicy filling. And as you continue chewing, you get to the bittersweet coconut chutney. Then to an explosion of spices again.

Days of Blood and Starlight is that. It starts off crisp and well-paced with hints of humor and wonder. It gets to the spicy part with the Revenants and the Dominion and the bastard army (Legion, I guess). It has the bittersweet moments with Karou and Akiva (I am all praise for this relationship- but I promise, more on that later) and even some of the minor characters. And then it has that incredible ending.

(For the record, I love bondas. Sometimes I think I subsist on the awesomeness of the bondas we get in the college canteen)

KAROU, our hither-and-thither girl:

Oh, Karou. Karou, Karou. You’re no longer a blue-haired fairy skipping through the streets of Prague. No, you’ve become sharper, leaner, harder. You’ve had to make difficult choices and ally with difficult people. You’ve had to battle your own conflicted emotions, and deal with the loss of the only family you know, and deal with the bloody world of Eretz and the chimaera rebellion that is so new, yet so old to you.

My heart broke for Karou at several points in the story. I swear, when she went from loneliness to having wonderful people around her again, I cried for joy. Karou deserves happiness. She isn’t a whiny YA heroine. She has her self-doubts, yes, who doesn’t? But with Karou, that character of hers shines. She isn’t weak, no. Lonely and conflicted, yet headstrong and wonderful, she is my favorite YA heroine.

And she remains to be so with this second book.

AKIVA, Beast’s Bane and Prince of Bastards:

Well, he isn’t really. A bastard, I mean. Literally, yes, but…never mind.
I loved Akiva again in Days. His pain, the hard reality of his life and his purpose in his bloody world- everything we knew about him from Daughter­- is magnified tenfold in Days. The stalwart love he has for Karou shines brighter than the inferno of his wings. And Akiva is not simply a love-interest fluttering around doing nothing. He has his own story-arc, his own
“choices” (an important word in the book), and two secondary characters attached to him who make the story incredibly richer. He is well fleshed-out and written with beauty, solemnity and the right amount of brokenness. He is a consummate and powerful soldier, but one with a heart, and also a wonderful brother and man. (Notice I say ‘man’.)

The secondary characters in this book are also incredibly well-written. Take Zuzana and Mik, who I love to pieces. They are great comic relief and wonderfully placed as well. Take Hazael and Liraz, who we didn’t know much about in Daughter but come to brilliant life in Days. Take Thiago with his games and Joram with his brutality. Take even Ziri (he’s new). Everyone is important and no one is cardboard.

The plot itself is amazing. It came together so incredibly in the end, all the little threads and the big snowballs, all the big-bads and magic and blood and pain and love and beauty, to build to an incredible climax. When Madrigal and Akiva dreamed of a new world, I wondered how they’d ever get anywhere near that dream. With the end of Days, they seem one step closer but oh, still so far.

Days does not bring the lovers close in one epic apology but explores both of them- their motivations, their mindsets, their surroundings- and brings them together in one genius move that leaves them in each other’s presence but still unsure. I applaud Laini Taylor for this. Karou and Akiva are both so clear. Why they do what they do, why they then regret or accept it, how difficult it is to make tough choices when you’re on opposite sides of an endless war- everything is laid out for the reader to understand and interpret.

The setting itself is vastly different from Daughter. While Daughter had a fairy-tale charm to it, Days is so much more. It is bloodier, nastier, with monstrous armies that carve smiles on their enemies and villains with a penchant for hands. It is about the choices we make and the true meaning of being a hero or a soldier. It is about a world torn by war, which can be remade only by love and coexistence and infinite tolerance. It is about friendship and loyalty and trust and the ability to protect rather than avenge or destroy.
(It also occasionally has passages as fluffy and delicate as lace, and language that sparked off the page in typical Laini style)

I loved the Days of Blood and Starlight. I loved it for matching my high expectations, I loved it for not being just a filler-book, and I loved it for its epic ending. I loved it for Zuzana and Karou and Akiva and Mik and Ziri.

5 stars, and an excited-Zuzana-hop.        

ALSO

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Trifecta Writing Challenge: Cut Out Ones Will Suffice

For Trifecta Writing Challenge: Prompt is Year (as in usually represented by a number)
NOTE:
How this one came to be, I have absolutely no idea. At first it was about sisters. Then it was about basements. Then I watched too much Supernatural. 
Suffice to say, this one is the most scary 333 words I've ever written.
Hear me?
Morbid! Very! Apologies in advance for any nightmares.


source: http://vvola.deviantart.com

I'm calling this....CUT OUT ONES WILL SUFFICE. Here we go!



“Rose.”
Three times, like a charm. Whispered so soft that I can pretend not to have heard it; pretend that the sound of my name has gotten lost in the space between us; has become entangled in the clouds of hair that spans a golden bridge between us.
“It’s time, Rose. It’s almost here, the new year.”
“I wish it weren’t.”
“I’m sorry, Rose.”
I open my eyes. Marie’s eyes are open and violently blue. Ships are wrecked in the maelstrom of those irises. Cornflower fields bloom in mine.
I hurt inside, a raw and terrible hurt. It colors my voice pale. “This year hurts more than any, Marie.”
“I know, sister.”
“Why should we do it every year? Dying is not so bad. Birds do it. Plants do it. Butterflies, they don’t even live a week…”
Marie smoothes the curve of my cheek with her soft, young hand. “But you and me, Rose. You and me, here forever. You wanted it too.”
“A hundred years ago, maybe I did…”
“We’ll stop, Rosie. We’ll stop, just not this year.”
Our feet are silent against the stairs, silent all the way to the table. My shoulders shake. She gives me the scissors and picks up her knife, but then the scissors fall from my fingers.
Crash, the sound of my heart breaking.
“Will you do it alone?”
Marie goes to the basement. I sit at the table and think of him. His eyes are blue too, blue as the deep ocean. He likes to dance. He smokes too much. Paints. Falls for girls who will be the death of him.
Now he also probably hates basements.
Marie is back. One bloody Ziploc in her arms. Marked Year 2013.
“Too quick?”
“He was a quiet one.”
I cut a lock of her hair, one lock of mine. We put it in the Ziploc. The spell is too short for something so significant.
Some sell immortality in return for broken hearts.
Cut out ones will suffice.
      

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Trifextra: Halloween, Zombies and 33 Words



Hullo, Halloween.
You mean nothing to me except pumpkins and scary movies on English TV channels, and I find that a little sad, since you seem kind of fun. 

I first heard about you from R.L Stine's Goosebumps books when I was a kid. I thought of you as a mega costume-party. My favorite version of you is, of course, from Harry Potter- that isn't going to change- at least until I see you for real if I ever visit a Western country on Oct 31st.

That said, you inspire a lot of creativity, especially among writers, and there's nothing wrong with a good dose of creepy on a sleepy Saturday.

So here's the Trifextra Writing Challenge, this week in the spirit of Halloween: 


In 1937, a naked woman was found limping through the streets of Haiti. Upon interrogation, she was unable to give any details as to her identity. The woman was eventually identified in hospital as Felicia Felix-Mentor. The only issue is that Felicia Felix-Mentor had been dead for nearly twenty years. Felicia was, therefore, a zombie.

It so happens that well-known author and anthropologist Zora Neale Hurston was in Haiti researching a book at that time. Hurston met and photographed the woman/zombie, and pop culture took the story from there. Not surprisingly, there are a ton of internet articles discussing the authenticity of the claim of zombification, the chemical mix needed to create such a phenomenon, and then, of course, instruction on how we should all behave in the event of a zombie apocalypse. There is even a video on Youtube of Hurston describing the encounter.

Here is the photo that Zora Neale Hurston took of the supposed zombie.





Credit: Zora Neale Hurston 


We want thirty three words that are somehow related to Hurston's zombie sighting. How you structure your response is entirely up to you.

And my response to the prompt:


COME.

Where?

TO ETERNAL REST. PERPETUAL PEACE.

I don’t know the way.

FOLLOW THE LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL.

They took that away.

I am lost.

Will you help?

Hullo? 

God?



Friday, October 26, 2012

(Review) Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan leaves me...very VOCAL!



Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan


Goodreads Summary:



Kami Glass loves someone she’s never met . . . a boy she’s talked to in her head ever since she was born. She wasn’t silent about her imaginary friend during her childhood, and is thus a bit of an outsider in her sleepy English town of Sorry-in-the-Vale. Still, Kami hasn’t suffered too much from not fitting in. She has a best friend, runs the school newspaper, and is only occasionally caught talking to herself. Her life is in order, just the way she likes it, despite the voice in her head.

But all that changes when the Lynburns return. 


The Lynburn family has owned the spectacular and sinister manor that overlooks Sorry-in-the-Vale for centuries. The mysterious twin sisters who abandoned their ancestral home a generation ago are back, along with their teenage sons, Jared and Ash, one of whom is eerily familiar to Kami. Kami is not one to shy away from the unknown—in fact, she’s determined to find answers for all the questions Sorry-in-the-Vale is suddenly posing. Who is responsible for the bloody deeds in the depths of the woods? What is her own mother hiding? And now that her imaginary friend has become a real boy, does she still love him? Does she hate him? Can she trust him?




I am hysterical. This is a gush fest. You should probably go find a boat now so you can survive the ocean of adoration this review might possibly become.
Before reading this book:
ME:  Oh, look. Nice cover. Wonder, wonder…
REST OF THE BOOK-BLOGGERS: Read Unspoken! Read Unspoken!
ME: Meh, it’s just going to be typical YA.
REST OF THE BOOK BLOGGERS: Jared is hot! We love Jared! Kami is awesome! We love Kami!
ME: Meh. See what I mean?
REST OF THE BOOK-BLOGGERS: Unspoken is funny! Hilarious! Imaginary friends!
ME: Funny? Did you say funny? And imaginary friends? Ok- I love imaginary friends. Did you guys ever watch this cartoon show called Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends? I love that show. I’ll show you a screenshot. The little blue thing is imaginary, and his name is Blue. 

This is all completely unrelated to the book, of course, but hey.
Anyways. You win, big bad book-blogging world. I’ll take my chances with Unspoken, though I’ve never read a Sarah Rees Brennan book before (except her short story, “Let’s Get This Undead Show on The Road” which was really, really strange) and I loathe love triangles so much that I want to kill them all dead. Die, love triangles! DIE!

 “One of the lambs fixed its attention on Jared. “Baa,” it flirted.
“Boo,” said Jared.“Oh my God, Jared. Don’t tough talk the lambs.”“It was giving me a funny look.”

MIDWAY THROUGH ‘UNSPOKEN’:
ME: Hee, I love Jared. That’s new in a YA book, me actually loving a leather jacket-wearing delinquent hero. Now let me call BEST FRIEND and gush.
ME: It’s funny! The world is brighter because Unspoken is so funny! Kami is a fun heroine. Ten and Tomo, her brothers, are adorable. Angela and Holly, her best friends, aren’t cardboard. So maybe the plot is a bit silly and kind of whatever…still. You have to read this!
BEST FRIEND: Why the hell are you texting me at midnight about some random book? But I’ll run along and get the iBook right now since you’re always so awesome…
ME: I know, I know.
(Okay, that didn’t actually happen- no proof- but we’re in each others’ heads all the time…)
BEST FRIEND promptly becomes silent, withdrawing into reading-mode.

“Why are you putting on lip gloss, my daughter?” Dad asked. “Trip to the library? Trip to the nunnery? I hear the nunneries are nice this time of the year.”

SEVERAL HOURS AND WAY TOO MUCH GIGGLING LATER
BEST FRIEND:  WHaaaaaaa.
ME: What?
BEST FRIEND (sobs uncontrollably): WHAT’s WITH THE ENDING? I HATE YOU FOR MAKING ME READ THIS BOOK! NOW I HAVE TO WAIT TILL…TILL…oh, forever, since the next book isn’t even titled yet…
(BEST FRIEND has serious problems waiting on sequels to arrive)
ME: Yeah, I know, what’s with the ending?
BEST FRIEND: WHaaaaaaa.
ME: It was funny, though. You have to admit that.
BEST FRIEND: Sob. Sob. Go away. Sob. Call me when the sequel comes out.

“Looks like an octopus made of smoke,” she said, and gave him a shiver of a smile.“I was feeling like a pretty badass sorcerer until you said that,” Jared told her.

So Unspoken is funny. That’s what you probably gathered from all the crazy-talk above. Kami is fun, Jared is fun, and the secondary characters are all amazing. You’ve probably gathered that too. My best friend does not like waiting for sequels, and if you haven’t gathered that, that’s okay. That’s lateral. We can still be friends.
Unspoken basically takes place in an invented town named Sorry-in-the-Vale somewhere in “Oxfordshire. Gloucestershire. Some place ending in ‘shire.’” The Lynburns have lorded over Sorry-in-the-Vale for centuries, but before intrepid journalist Kami Glass was born, they left town. Now they’re back.
Kami Glass has been talking to an imaginary friend inside her head for years. The boy, Jared, is her closest companion. They’re like two halves of a whole, and although she pretends he’s real, she kind of knows he isn’t.
Until he appears in flesh. He’s Jared Lynburn, the delinquent son of Rosalind Lynburn, twin sister to the mistress of Sorry-in-the-Vale, Lillian Lynburn.
And suddenly, Kami’s world is tipped upside down.
Because, imagine yourself in her shoes. Your every secret, every joy, every sadness, every triumph has been shared with a boy you never thought would be real. He knows you as well as you do. He sees inside you. He’s a safe presence, like a diary, because he could never hurt her in any way. He’s imaginary. But then, suddenly, he’s not.
I loved that Jared and Kami both react to this situation in different ways. Jared is desperate and lonely, and losing Kami is unthinkable to him. He wants her to be happy that he is real. To both of them, they are each other’s most important person, but for Jared, Kami is the only thing that matters- unlike Kami, who does have other people to love her. He immediately cottons on to the idea of them being “soulmates,” a tried and tested YA cliché that Brennan gleefully leaves in the dust, but Kami is not a TSTL heroine who’d gush and follow Jared in whatever he does. She wants to get to the bottom of it all. She’s not ready to easily accept Jared’s corporeality and his individuality. It’s complicated for her.
I loved how difficult it was for Kami and Jared when they actually meet; I loved that they kept contrasting the ease of being imaginary to each other and being two different people.
Unspoken never veered too much into the territory of romance. There are hints, yes, but the romance didn’t kill the plot.

It is the plot that I have to frown at, a bit.

 It’s not a, “I’m blown away” kind of plot. Its more “all the characters are running around doing strange things and I’m laughing at the jokes” kind of thing. I saw the twists coming. I didn’t truly get what kind of magic the Lynburns can use. I got confused by the Henry Thornton character. The villains weren’t creepy enough, and the occurrences in Sorry-in-the-Vale wasn’t scary enough. It was simple, fun, the kind of plot you can shrug at and say “Okay, interesting.”
<spoiler> Why the hell did it take Jared’s group so long to get to Kami in the end when it took him only seconds to find her in the well? It was much annoying. I no like. I also got confused by who was doing what at the end. Where did Rosalind come from? Where was she in the first place? And I don’t get Lillian. Or Ash. And I don’t like them either</end of spoiler>
Only the end was kind of like kicking a sad, sweet puppy. My heart hurt a little. So did best friend’s.
All in all, for making me laugh, and for being so adorably quirky, 4 gold glowing stars. Seriously.     
One last funny quote? Awesome. All right, here we go:

“Is this true, Kami? Are you going out on a date?” Dad asked tragically. “Wearing that? Wouldn’t you fancy a shapeless cardigan instead? You rock a shapeless cardigan, honey.”

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday- Waves and Devils!

Here we are, post-hiatus! And what better way to be back in the blogosphere than with two awesome pre-publication can't-wait titles! Happy WoW guys!

(There will be more on the hiatus, and pictures, later. For now----here we go!)

This week both my picks have something in common: beaches. I'm in that phase where I'm finding books set by the seaside and devouring them.


Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea
by
April Genevieve Tucholke (Goodreads Author)
You stop fearing the devil when you’re holding his hand…

Nothing much exciting rolls through Violet White’s sleepy, seaside town…until River West comes along. River rents the guesthouse behind Violet’s crumbling estate, and as eerie, grim things start to happen, Violet begins to wonder about the boy living in her backyard. Is River just a crooked-smiling liar with pretty eyes and a mysterious past? Or could he be something more? Violet’s grandmother always warned her about the Devil, but she never said he could be a dark-haired boy who takes naps in the sun, who likes coffee, who kisses you in a cemetery...who makes you want to kiss back. Violet’s already so knee-deep in love, she can’t see straight. And that’s just how River likes it.

Blending faded decadence and the thrilling dread of gothic horror, April Genevieve Tucholke weaves a dreamy, twisting contemporary romance, as gorgeously told as it is terrifying—a debut to watch

And this second one, guys, is an Annabelle Lee retelling. Love Poe retellings, so this one is definitely going to be on my shelves. Hope it's better than Masque of Red Death.



Ashes on the Waves
by
Mary Lindsey (Goodreads Author)
Liam MacGregor is cursed. Haunted by the wails of fantastical Bean Sidhes and labeled a demon by the villagers of Dòchas, Liam has accepted that things will never get better for him—until a wealthy heiress named Annabel Leighton arrives on the island and Liam’s fate is changed forever.

With Anna, Liam finally finds the happiness he has always been denied; but, the violent, mythical Otherworlders, who inhabit the island and the sea around it, have other plans. They make a wager on the couple’s love, testing its strength through a series of cruel obstacles. But the tragedies draw Liam and Anna even closer. Frustrated, the creatures put the couple through one last trial—and this time it’s not only their love that’s in danger of being destroyed.

Based on Edgar Allan Poe’s chilling poem Annabel Lee, Mary Lindsey creates a frighteningly beautiful gothic novel that glorifies the power of true love.

What are your picks this week? Leave your WoW links so I can check them out!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Sunday Scribblings: Existing and Living

For Sunday Scribblings, and the prompt is "Revolution".

Sunday Scribblings


I took the earth-goes-around-sun definition of "revolution", and here's a little fantasy nugget:

image by 2753productions on deviantart


The other world revolved around the sun in exactly 12 hours, and we looked at the people there and pitied them.

There were six hours for sleep and six hours for work, and no time for leisure. There were no dogs on leashes being walked by its owners and no galleries full of art connoisseurs blabbering about symmetry and surrealism. There were no parties that went on till the morning and no time to learn the names of the constellations. Once they had beautiful names and shone with the majesty of their mythology, but now they were just stars in an unordered cosmos. There were no beautiful ponds of koi fish as there was no time to admire them, and birthday cakes were simple things with no butter-cream or chocolate. Weddings were quick affairs and dreams often had to be cut short for the sake of life. Books were short and had to be read at the workplace or in quick snatches just before sleep. Dads had no time to play ball with their sons and Moms had no time to knit. Girls never learned how to slow waltz and boys knew only to peck, not kiss. Library books caught dust and the librarian didn’t have enough time to dust them. There were no serenades and no gondolas under the moon, no opera or acid-tossing rock concerts. There was no time to dance with gypsies or run through the waves, no circus elephants dressed in red or festivals that celebrated only mangoes. There were no long walks through foggy parks or stolen moments under gas lamps. Friends didn’t meet for pizza and old men didn’t meet to discuss the affairs of the world.


The other world revolved around the sun in exactly 12 hours and the people there were adapted to it. They didn’t miss what we had because they never had them, but still we looked at them and pitied them because their lives had no magic.


The other world revolved around the sun in exactly 12 hours, and those 12 hours were the gap between “existing” and “living”.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Trifextra Writing Challenge: 66 word story


The Trifextra Writing Challenge is a writing challenge that happens every weekend- and it's a lightning fast one at that! This week, the challenge is to add 33 words to this 33-word story:

The last strains of sunlight lingered in the corners, grasping every available point of refraction.  She slid her fingertips along the glass wondering if this was all there ever was. Or could be.
Here's my take on the challenge:


thanks to wb-skinner on DeviantArt for this image

The last strains of sunlight lingered in the corners, grasping every available point of refraction.  She slid her fingertips along the glass wondering if this was all there ever was. Or could be.
She had spent hundred years collecting as much as possible, and there was never enough happiness in the world to fill a bottle.
But sorrow was black as tar and filled entire rooms.

(I just couldn't help but go all fantasy on this as well)
Happy Weekend! Be back tomorrow with Sunday Scribblings :)

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Sunday Scribblings: Gypsies or Dragons?

Note: I want to tell you so many stories. They're just bouncing around in my head, and I don't know which to write. I don't know how to start because the images and characters are so strong in my mind I'm afraid they won't translate as well to paper. I could cry, but instead I'll write till I get it right, or until a particular little story sits up and says "Just publish me on the blog, already!"
This one is kind of weird. It got stuck in my head and spun round and round and wouldn't let go, although I kept telling it that it was too fantastical for such a tiny, insignificant, dreamy little thing. The unedited version had a paragraph about 700 sheep and another one about The Sound of Music, but somehow I couldn't put that in the final version.

This one is for Sunday Scribblings, and the prompt is Soothe.


Her soul was restless- twisting and turning, trying to break out of its shell, fluttering wildly as a butterfly caught in chewing gum.
She reached for the sleeping pills but she was supposed to be off them. A doctor had said so. She was already at the threshold of dreaded narcotic dependency. Addiction, habituation, substance abuse, white plague. The man had had a vocabulary.  
“Call this number if you can’t sleep,” he’d said, pressing a yellow sticky note to her arm. She’d pushed it into the pocket of her jacket, and she could see it on the floor now, peeking out of the jacket like a sunshine yellow beacon.
WE SOOTHE, she read, picking it up. We Soothe. What kind of a name was that?
It was two a.m. by the clock; two a.m. with the moonlight streaming through the window and the apple-tree outside rustling in the wind; rustling and rustling and raising its branches to the sky like something that wanted wings- any kind of wings- dragonfly wings or angel wings or the wings of a tattered devil; it didn’t matter as long as flight was achievable.
(It was two a.m. by the clock and her soul was restless, imagining apple trees flying.)
The hotline rang thrice when she dialed it. And then a boy said, “Hullo?”
“Hullo? I was supposed to call this number. If I couldn’t sleep…”
“Of course.” The boy said. “Gypsies or dragons?”
She sat on the bed and stared at the receiver. “What?”
“Which one do you like? Gypsies or dragons? Don’t say wizards, I’m sick of wizards. And we don’t even offer vampires anymore.”
“Gypsies, I suppose. Dragons sound frightful.”
“Okay.” Said the boy, and then the phone was dead.
She swore and lay back, but already something seemed to be short-circuiting in her brain. There were shifting sand dunes and a drowsy, golden afternoon sun in her mind. There were a long line of camels and a scent of soporific spices. A fire crackled purple and orange and whispered soft, strange whispers in the way only fires in fantasy books can. There were swirling, twirling skirts around her in a profusion of colors- purple and coral and grenadine and crimson- and gold jewelry flashed in sleepy blinks from brown, lithe limbs. A voice smooth and cool as the deepest, quietest cave sang a lullaby, and she felt her eyes close.
           We soothe, indeed.

*note*: I couldn't find the original artist to credit this image to, it's been used in the internet for so long that the original source is quite untraceable. So if anyone knows, please tell!

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Images used in this blog are either digital art created by the author or free photographs. Reviews and views expressed on this site are strictly personal. Text by Varsha Dinesh is copyrighted under Creative Commons.