Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Review: ANOTHER JEKYLL, ANOTHER HYDE by Dina and Daniel Nayeri(to be released on March 27, 2011)


Courtesy of Net Galley(Candlewick Press)

Thomas Goodman-Brown is having a new mother, and she is Governess Nicola Vileroy, the care-taker of his ex-girlfriend. Well, not that he care much, since he’s wrecked after his ex, Bella Faust and her four siblings went to Geneva. The night of his father’s wedding with Vileroy, he got busted for possession of drugs that wasn’t his, and got bailed by his friend, Connor. After he was bailed, Conner and he go to Club Elixir, where he receives a bottle of W. Thomas takes W and finds himself very high and even black out later. He then wakes up few days later, with only  vague recollection of what has happened. Soon, he finds himself having untimely blackouts with absolutely no idea what he was doing when Vileroy says he does.

Dina and Daniel Nayeri bring us a reimagined tale of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde with demons and Upper East Side family troubles.

In short, the characters are enjoyable, the ones to love are lovable and the baddies just make you hate them enough. Thomas is so sweet, trying to cheer his sort-of girlfriend and just attempting to make up for lost time. He is also smart, being able to piece everything together, and hey, you don’t always get to read about a guy who wants to become a lawyer. Nicola Vileroy is just mean, you’ll clench your teeth as much as I do if you read the story-I don’t want to give anything out. Even when Hyde appears only after half of the novel, his presence and effects are clear and strong enough to make you pity the victim and hate Hyde.

The story itself is entertaining. You get to watch Thomas investigate and slowly learn the truth. Everything is reasonable and well paced. It reminds me a little of Sherlock Holmes.

Another thing worthy of mention is the relationship between Thomas and his father. They were sometimes like friend, and I appreciate a father who actually listens to his child and is not swept by his new wife.

The writing is neat and compact, successfully arousing tension and create atmosphere. The only thing though, is that I don’t like the abundance of references to social websites. Five years later and people may forget what Facebook looks like.

Another Jekyll, Another Hyde is a fun and extremely entertaining adventure novel with little paranormal thrown in, a shorter read compared to the usual 400 pages.  However, I do not recommend it to those who like their novel with a lot of paranormal and romance. And of course, it's a series, but if you don't mind having to piece some stuff together and wanting to know what has happened in the previous novels, enjoy.

The guy on the cover is cute and innocent,but I don;t remember seeing him in the novel. Mmm, may be my bad. It's a nice change to see a guy on a cover though the cover is still not interesting enough for me. It also reminds me of Fractured Light's cover(my review here).

Ratings: 4 stars

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Interview: James Hutchings


I'm honored to have microfiction author, James Hutchings for an interview today. He published  Two-Fisted Tweets and The New Death, which you'll soon read a review of. Without further ado, let's hear what Hutchings have to say: 

___________________________________________________________

1. Tell us about your new book
 

It's a collection of stories and poems, 63 pieces in all. It's only a bit over 41,000 words in total, so most of them are quite short. Most of the stories are fantasy, but there's some 'general fiction' in there as well. The style ranges from funny to very grim. I'm much more influenced by older writers like Tolkien and Robert E Howard. In fact I've never read any of the Harry Potter, Twilight or Game of Thrones series, or most other popular modern fantasy authors.

2. Why short stories and poems? You seem to have a career in science fiction already.
 

Fantasy novels nowadays tend to be very long books in long series, but the writers I read, with the obvious exception of Tolkien, mostly wrote short stories. Even when they put out novels they were often 'fix-ups': several previously-published short stories with the same setting that were then turned into parts of a novel, perhaps with some rewriting and new material. So I guess I've followed that.

The poetry I write isn't as obviously influenced by my reading though. Perhaps Tolkien's poetry in Lord of the Rings is the clearest link.

I've had a few things published, but I certainly wouldn't call it a career.

3. Can you share your journey of writing and publishing with us?
 

I did a Bachelor of Arts majoring in creative writing and media, but I didn't do anything with it after graduating. Years later I created a fantasy city called Teleleli or Telelee as a background for role-playing games like Dungeons & Dragons. Once I finished I realised there wasn't any demand for it. My ex suggested I write stories instead, and that's how I got started.
 
4. Tell us how was a day in James Hutcherson's shoe.

 

Probably pretty relaxed, since I usually go barefoot (or just wear socks in the house).

5. Is there any thing you need when you're writing?
 

Not really. I've heard some writers say they can only write in a particular room, or only on an old typewriter or something, but I've never had anything like that. I do a lot of writing on bus or train trips.

6. Was writing what you'd always wanted to do?
 

I think I've wanted to do something creative since I was a teenager. But I've tried several different things, such as music and filmmaking, before I finally settled on writing. To be honest, if it turned out that I was actually better at, say, painting than writing, I think I'd be happy to change. So in a sense I still haven't decided.

7. Books and writing aside - what is you favorite:
- novel (okay, just one book related question) 
I mostly read short stories rather than novels, so these are individual stories rather than books:

HP Lovecraft, The Doom That Came to Sarnath
Robert E Howard, The Tower of the Elephant
Clark Ashton Smith, The Garden of Adompha
Franz Kafka, Jackals and Arabs
Ursula Le Guin, The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas 
- movie     Titanic.
- drink       tea.
- past time 
My main hobby after writing is coding online games. I spent several years writing an online game called Age of Fable (www.ageoffable.net). I don't have any plans to do more on it, but it's still online, and you can play it for free. I'm currently working on an online 'card' game, like Yu-Gi-Oh or Pokemon. I've also done a few smaller projects. For example I did an online version of the computer game Oregon Trail.

8. What is the one thing you can't live without?
 

My computer. Or my internet connection, if I'm allowed to count that as a 'thing'.

9. Describe the following in one word:
- your collection                  Sparse.
- you             Freshly-shaved (this is actually true: I shaved my head just before writing this).
- your favorite past time    writing.
- your daily routine             Slovenly.
- your writing routine          Persistent.
- your journey of publishing  Quick (since I self-published).

10. Since you made it - what is your advice to inspiring authors? 


I really haven't made it. But since you asked:

Nowadays anyone can self-publish. If you can make a Word document, you can have an ebook on Smashwords or Amazon. However that means that if your work is no good, no one's going to stop you. I'd recommend that people get onto Critique Circle(www.critiquecircle.com) and/or Scribophile (www.scribophile.com), put their work up, and listen to what people tell you. Don't 'defend' your work against people's 'attacks'. They aren't attacks, they're helping you. I've found that the people who defend their work have a strong tendency to have the worst writing, I suppose because they're not making the changes they need to make.

My next point doesn't matter if you're going to self-publish, but it is important if you want to be published by a regular publisher, or if you want to submit stories to magazines. Most places won't publish work that's already been published. And most places count putting a story on the internet as publishing it. In my opinion that's silly, but that's what they do. Scribophile and Critique Circle are exceptions, because google doesn't index them and you can't see any stories without logging on. However there are writing group websites out there where, if you put a story on the site, that counts as the story being published. That seems like a really terrible way to set things up, but they're out there.

I'd also say that getting a book out isn't the final step. It's just the start of the work of self-promotion. This is true even if you're not self-publishing: I'm told that authors are expected to pretty much arrange their own book signings and so on (if you just want to have a book out to show family and friends then this doesn't matter, of course).

There are a lot of sharks out there, who make their money from authors and not from readers. They will make all sorts of promises about how they're going to promote you and help you, but these are lies. Authors do not pay publishers, ever, and if they're asking you to pay then it's a scam. Of course if you're self-publishing you might end up paying someone to design a cover for you, or you might pay for internet advertising, but those are different things. You might also pay a printer to print your books if you want to get physical books rather than ebooks - but in this age of the kindle and print-on-demand I don't know why you'd want to. Preditors and Editors (www.pred-ed.com) is a good website to look at, and you can get good advice at the forums of Critique Circle.

Finally, I'd suggest learning to touch-type if you can't already. You're going to be doing a lot of typing, and every hour you spend getting faster at typing will save you ten in the long run.

___________________________________________________________

That's it from James for now. Remeber to check back for review, guest post and giveaway!

Find The New Death on:

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Winner of Dragon's Oath Audiobook Giveaway!

Congratulations to:

SAMANTHA!

I'd sent  you an email, please confirm that you would like to accept the prize with me within 48 hours. Thanks!

And for those who didn't win, don't worry, there will be giveaways next time!

Jez
XOXO

Review: NEW GIRL by Paige Harbison(to be published January 31, 2012)


Courtesy of NetGalley(Harlequin Teen)

Rebecca "Becca" Normandy has been missing since last year, and left her spot at the prestigious private school, Manderly empty. So, New Girl(NG for short), unnamed, got Becca's spot, only to find that the real Manderly is far different from the one in her imagination. Becca, being the golden girl-popular, beautiful and whom everyone loves, seems to dominate Manderly still even when she's disappeard. NG is accused of trying to steal Becca's place by her roomie, Dana, and is warned not to go for Becca's ex-boyfriend and ex-fling. Everyone seems to despise her, except for Max and Johnny. The only problem is, the two guys who are not repulsed by NG are Becca's ex. Ah well, NG might just have to suck it up and stick to her senior year, no matter how hard it is, because, she is not a coward, and she will never live in Becca's shadow.

Beautiful and haunting, Harbison brings us a retelling of the well-known gothic novel, Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier, set in the technology-filled 21st century.

I like strong, independent leads, and the NG is one of them. Even when she's come to Manderly with hopes, only to be crushed by the people there, she stays strong despite the constant emotional abuse from her peers. It's beautiful that she doesn't realize how exceptional and capable she is. Becca, the new girl before NG, albeit pretty, is mean, selfish, and manipulative. She loses her virginity to a guy and threatens him to be with her, even when he doesn't love her, all the while lusting for the guy's best friend, and throwing herself all around. She's just that popular girl you love to hate, and in this case, compelled to hate. And the two guys, Max and Johnny, are just redundant and conflicting, though they tend to fall flat. Some of their actions-and fights- made no sense, though their loyalty towards each other as best friends is kinda sweet. And crazy roomie Dana is just too crazy for me to start with.

The voice of the narrator, a.k.a. NG, is clear and relatable, while Becca's chapters are demanding equal attention as well. The story is another like of mine. I like the how NG is dumped into a new school, with shoes too big for her to fill. I like the twisted way Becca manipulates people into doing what she wants. I like the mystery in between the romance.  Plus the fact that we didn't know what's the NG's name until the last page. Really, it's on the the last page.

However, there are still some flaws in this novel. Harbison's attempt to explain Becca's irrational actions are well thought but not thorough enough. Romance: not convincing enough. And Max and Johnny are annoying, even if they're hot. The ghost scenes(yes, ghost scenes) are a little out of place, and unnecessary.

The other thing that's not contributing is the sex and party the kids indulge in. I just don't think dorm kids could, or would party that hard. There's one scene near the ending, where Becca's talking to NG about the truth, is preachy, and again, unnecessary, as it's just a retelling of the events earlier. Maybe the author didn't think us readers could figure out the truth.

Flaws aside, New Girl actually made me think about bullying, partying and sexual harassment. New Girl deals with those, and a few more. It explores how peer pressure and the need for attention could affect someone's life. In this novel, you see how one tiny action changes a person's life into a road down hill. Harbison is sending heavy messages to readers by her novel.

New Girl is a special kind of story, though not without flaws, it will grab you with it's intense atmosphere, startling romance and nutsy teen hormones.

The cover is at the same time suiting and unsuiting. I get the water idea, but the girl is not the NG, or Becca, so...

Ratings: 4 stars

For more info about the book or author, please click here

Monday, January 23, 2012

Last Day to Enter giveaway of Dragon's Oath Audiobook





Today is the last day for my giveaway of Dragon's Oath Audiobook! Up until now there's 88 entries.Be sure to enter for this novella of the well known series.  Enjoy your day!


Don't forget to enter my giveaway of Dragon's Oath Audiobook!
The original post is here


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Mailbox Monday: 23 Jan

Mailbox Monday is on tour here at At Home With Book's  blog for the month of January. To find out more about the history of Mailbox Monday and a list of future hosts visit the Mailbox Monday site.
Mailbox Monday is a gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their house last week and explore great book blogs. Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles and humongous wish lists.


Fallen in Love by Lauren Kate
ARC received from NetGalley
Lucinda and Daniel, Shelby, Miles... Need any more info to get cozy with the novel?


 





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Review: FRACTURED LIGHT by Rachel McClellan(to be released on 7 Feb, 2012)

 Courtesy of NetGalley( Cedar Fort)

Llona Reese is a loner in Highland High, but in truth, as an Aura, she harnesses the secret powers of Light. She has been laying low for years, not making any close friends. She is the only Aura who's living in human society, powers not honed and orphaned, since her parents had been killed years ago. When a new boy arrives in school, he seems to take an interest in Llona, and sparks seems to fly between them. What Llona doesn't know is, the same person who murdered her parents is set on killing her too.

A new idea in the YA scene, Rachel McClellan brings us a tale of magic, murder and forbidden love.

Okay, first up, the characters. The characters are likable and believable in general, but there are a few characteristics or actions I didn't like on them, especially Llona. She is weak at first and unable to embrace her identity, but she starts to fight halfway through the novel, plus she's not as naive and sheltered as the other Auras. Lovable, right? Wrong. She is rude to her uncle and aunt, and is anti-social to extreme at the beginning. Still, she is likable even though I find her actions a little predictable and anti-social sometimes. And the lover, Christian, is also predictable until the end, even the name is the usual angel/protector kind of name. May, Llona's sort of best friend, is my favorite character, first time ever. Mary is sweet, strong and dependable, and not to mention she can manipulate fire. Gosh, this novel might be the record breaking one of all those I'd read. 

The plot itself is just like the characters, predictable. You think you get a decent novel with fresh plot and voice. Wrong again. It's the usual parents die-I'm so alone-I avoid people-fall for new guy-villain appears-start to fight-happy ending novel. And there are just a lot of cliches in this, not to mention a lot of illogical moments, such as leaving the school in the middle of class without informing anyone, and the angel and demon on your shoulder thingy.

And the writing. It's not bad, but not good either. McClellan's writing keep turning from bad to good to bad over and over again. When you think it couldn't get worse, with a lot of typos and grammar mistakes(of course it's just an ARC), it become flawless engaging writing in the next second.

In short, Fractured Light is a promising idea with failed execution. I enjoy most of the writing and story, but I expect the sequel to be more fluid with the language. If you like paranormal, suspense and romance, and fresh ideas, be sure to read this novel.

The cover is what made me request it on NetGalley. Too bad the content is inconsistent with the cover.

Ratings: 3.5 stars



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Sunday, January 22, 2012

In My Mailbox: 23 Jan


In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren



Fallen in Love by Lauren Kate
ARC received from NetGalley
Lucinda and Daniel, Shelby, Miles... Need any more info to get cozy with the novel?







Don't forget to enter my giveaway of Dragon's Oath Audiobook!
The original post is here


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Friday, January 20, 2012

Plead to Enter Giveaway of Dragon's Oath

I know I probably sound pathetic here, but PLEASE enter my first ever giveaway! There's only 48 entries/3 entrants right now and I need to get more. Just put in your name, just as long as you're in the US, it doesn't matter whether you have an e-reader-Macmillan could make it work on PC. Come on people, does Dragon's Oath not lure you?





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Thursday, January 19, 2012

Feature & Follow Friday: 20 Jan

We have a new button, so update your blogs if you are used to doing this meme!
FF 2012 Feature & Follow #80

Feature & Follow Friday is a blog hop that expands your blog following by a joint effort between bloggers. First you leave your name here, then you create a post on your own blog that links back here and then you visit as many blogs as you can and tell them hi in their comments (on the post that has the #FF image). You follow them, they follow you. Win. Win. Just make sure to follow back if someone follows you!

Now to make this #FF interesting we do a FEATURE blogger. The Feature bloggers are chosen randomly from participants in the Follow Friday or through twitter and blog introductions. If you are interested in becoming a Feature let me know! It is also required to follow the host blog (parajunkee.com) and the Feature blog to participate in the #FF.
Today's Feature : Pretty in Fiction

Q: What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done to get your hands on any particular book?

     Craziest? I don't think so. Does asking your uncle's girlfriend to get the book for you from a city that's a four hour drive away counts? The craziest moment I have is when I get my hands on a book and I scream. Or squeal.


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Saturday, January 14, 2012

Review: SHIVER by Maggie Stiefvater


Grace has been watching the wolf with yellow eyes in her backyard in the winter for years. She knows that he was protecting her, watching her. One chilling winter night, an injured boy, Sam, appears naked on her back porch, bleeding his life out. She helps him inside the house and called the police. Coincidentally, Sam has the same peculiar yellow eyes as her wolf. Instantly, Grace knows that Sam is the wolf that has been watching her all these years, and she knows that her fate is a future with him, even when it meant losing him to the cold every winter.

Long story short, Shiver is a beautiful novel with lovable characters and hypnotizing plot. You'll be swept away by Stiefvater's story almost immediately.

Of course, the characters are to love. Grace, a serious, independent and logical girl is paired with romantic, musically-talented Sam. Their relationship is surprisingly realistic and both of them are highly contrasted. And, I think Sam is just so sweet, he might be my newest book boyfriend(he's the sweetest I'd ever chanced upon!).

Last year I'd read a novel-series actually- with alternating point of view(read my review of The Dark by Marianne Curley here) I felt confused when the point of view was changed. Okay, the narrator was stated at the beginning of the chapter, but I just couldn't feel the voice. With Shiver, I just know when Grace or Sam is talking. No confusion at all.

And the story, oh the story! It was so enchanting and real. Stiefvater created a new world of werewolves and the weather at Mercy Falls just suited the novel perfectly. It was completely different from the regular novels about werewolves, in a good way.


Despite my love of the voice and the plot, I didn't love Stiefvater's writing. It wasn't that her writing was bad, it's just that it wasn't beautiful enough for me. Yes, her writing bordered on lyrical but it just wasn't enough.

Shiver is a mesmerizing novel of werewolves and forbidden love, lithe and clean, impossible to resist.

Ratings: 4 stars


Don't forget to enter my giveaway of Dragon's Oath(the post)





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Friday, January 13, 2012

Feature & Follow Friday: 13 Jan

Feature & Follow Friday is a blog hop that expands your blog following by a joint effort between bloggers. First you leave your name here, then you create a post on your own blog that links back here and then you visit as many blogs as you can and tell them hi in their comments (on the post that has the #FF image). You follow them, they follow you. Win. Win. Just make sure to follow back if someone follows you!

Now to make this #FF interesting we do a FEATURE blogger. The Feature bloggers are chosen randomly from participants in the Follow Friday or through twitter and blog introductions. If you are interested in becoming a Feature let me know! It is also required to follow the host blog (parajunkee.com) and the Feature blog to participate in the #FF.
Today's feature : Bad Ass Review

Q: Many readers/bloggers are also big music fans. Tell us about a few of your favorite bands/singers that we should listen to in 2012.

Er, if I have to put some names...
Bon Iver
Fleet Foxes
Lana Del Ray
The Band Perry
Jeremy Messersmith
Jon Schmidt (Try hearing his Love Song meet Viva la Vida)
Christina Perri
Bruno Mars
Adele
Aqualung & Lucy Schwartz (Cold is amazing! And my fave!)
Skylar Grey
Lady Antebellum
Taylor Swift (of course she's my favorite country singer!)

Don't for get to check my post of Dragon's Oath Giveaway!
Dragon's Oath: Review


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Dragon's Oath (Audiobook) Sample & Giveaway!



Happy new year, everybody! And with the beginning of 2012, I have great news to share.Just now I'd listened to a five minute sample of Dragon's Oath. The woman reading the novel was great, the voice soothing and successfully rousing emotions. It's a lot like the voice in my head when I'm reading the printed words. So, this is a treat for you: Dragon's Oath Audiobook  on Soundcloud.

Now the other great news: I'm having a giveaway! Yes, a giveaway! On January 13,12 a.m. EST, the entries of the Dragon's Oath (Audiobook) Giveaway will be opened. The giveaway will end on January 22, 12a.m. EST. The winner will be anoounced in a few days. Be sure to check back on the blog fn a couple of days for news of the winner. So now spread the joy and news around so everyone could participate!
Enjoy!
P.S A million thanks to Ms Ester Bochner, Senior Publicist of Macmillan Audio for offering me this wonderful opportunity.


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My review of Dragon's Oath here

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Feature and Follow Friday: 6 Jan

Feature & Follow Friday is a blog hop that expands your blog following by a joint effort between bloggers. First you leave your name here, then you create a post on your own blog that links back here and then you visit as many blogs as you can and tell them hi in their comments (on the post that has the #FF image). You follow them, they follow you. Win. Win. Just make sure to follow back if someone follows you!

Now to make this #FF interesting we do a FEATURE blogger. The Feature bloggers are chosen randomly from participants in the Follow Friday or through twitter and blog introductions. If you are interested in becoming a Feature let me know! It is also required to follow the host blog (parajunkee.com) and the Feature blog to participate in the #FF.

 Q: Go count the number of unread books sitting on your shelf. How many?


50! Such a terrifying number! Gosh, when am I gonna read them? 

Just a peek of my pile: Jane Austen, Inheritance, Brisingr, How to Kill a Mocking Bird, The Life and Times of Albert Einstein, The Codex, The Spinx...

What's your number?

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Waiting On Wednesday: 4 Jan


"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted here, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

Ain't that cover gorgeous? And the summary? I know I need to read that when it comes out. Hey, there's no such thing as too much of vampires! The only thing is, I don't know if it's a standalone. Can anyone tell me?
 
DARKNESS BEFORE DAWN by J.A. London 
Out: May 29

The war is over. The humans lost. And in the shattered world that arises, the vampires are king. They rule over the remaining walled cities with an iron fist, none more terrifying than Lord Valentine. His concern is with blood and blood alone, and seeing that it is ‘donated’ on time.
 
It’s Dawn Montgomery’s duty to ensure the safety of her fellow humans within the city, but also to serve as Delegate to Lord Valentine. She is the conduit between the two worlds, the human and vampire, and the youngest to ever do so.
 
But when Lord Valentine’s son, Victor, steps into her life, everything changes. She assumes he wants her blood, like all vampires. But he’s after more: her heart.
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