Saturday, July 30, 2011

Book Blogger Hop

Book Blogger Hop
Book Blogger Hop is hosted at Crazy For Books.

This week's question
“Highlight one book you have received this week (for review, from the library, purchased at the store, etc.) that you can’t wait to dig into!”

Alright, I have to admit that I'm kind of nervous to answer this one. But here goes nothing.

Yes. The Hunger Games. Now, before anyone tries to cyber punch me in the face, I can explain! Just let me plead my case. I have kind of been out of my regular reading scene for quite awhile due to a few different circumstances.
1. Had a baby. (goodbye, marathon reading sessions and staying current on amazing books)
2. Had another baby.
3. Had one more itsy bitsy baby.

Now, that doesn't mean I haven't been able to read at all. But my free time for reading has shrunken significantly. Also, I've been reading a ten book series that has taken me longer than normal to finish since I can normally only read in the evenings. I have since completed the last book, and I'm moving on!

As for The Hunger Games, I'm borrowing the series from my wonderful sister and I'm dying to read it. I have quite a few books lined up to review and I like to read them in the order they were received. Therefore, I can't get to it quite yet. Yes, I totally realize that I'm un-fashionably late to this party, but I promise I'm not only reading them because they are being made into a movie.

Please forgive me,
Jackie :-)

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Review: The Crippled God by Steven Erikson


The Bonehunters march for Kolanse, where waits an unknown fate. Tormented by questions, the army totters on the edge of mutiny, but Adjunct Tavore will not relent. One final act remains, if it is in her power, if she can hold her army together, if the shaky allegiances she has forged can survive all that is to come. A woman with no gifts of magic, deemed plain, unprepossessing, displaying nothing to instill loyalty or confidence, Tavore Paran of House Paran means to challenge the gods -- if her own troops don't kill her first...

...Elsewhere, the three Elder Gods, Kilmandaros, Errastas and Sechul Lath, work to shatter the chains binding Korabas, the Otataral Dragon, and release her from her eternal prison. Once freed, she will be a force of utter devastation, and against her no mortal can stand. At the Gates of Starvald Demelain, the Azath House sealing the portal is dying. Soon will come the Eleint, and once more, there will be dragons in the world. And so, in a far away land and beneath indifferent skies, the final cataclysmic chapter in the extraordinary 'Malazan Book of the Fallen' begins.

Well, here we are. At the very end. Obviously this is a very long series of books and it has taken a great investment of time to read them all. I’ve been reading about these characters for so long that I feel like I’m losing some members of my own family after finishing The Crippled God.

Steven Erikson did the impossible, he tied up all his loose ends. *grins* I was worried that he’d forget at least one character or story line. But they all came together to make up an ending that was satisfying and brilliant. As far as getting into actual events, I don’t want to ruin anything by giving it away.

From what I’ve heard, people either love Erikson or hate him. I am on the love side of that debate. These books are not a light read, for sure, but that being said, I feel like they really mean something. Erikson’s insight into human nature is mind-blowing. He seamlessly weaves his commentary into the voices, thoughts and actions of his characters. Dust of Dreams and The Crippled God have given me a window into the author’s head, into the things that he thinks are important, and he does it in a way that is not preachy or annoying.

Now let’s talk ‘dramatis personae’, as Erikson likes to call them. Rich. The people in these books are so real to me. I realized a few books into this series that I was never given a direct description of a lot of the characters, but I knew what they looked like just by how they were written, and I don’t think that is easy to do as a writer. When it comes to dialogue Steven Erikson is Boss. He can make you laugh, cry, get angry, whatever with one simple statement. The dialogue and banter amongst his characters is what really makes this series special. He doesn't just give you a 'good' or 'bad' guy, he gives you every piece of that person. They are flawed, and I love that.

I could go on and on, but I think you get the point. Great book. Amazing series. Genius author.

Source: My own bookshelf

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Review: The Sleepwalkers by J. Gabriel Gates

Privileged and popular Caleb Mason is celebrating his high school graduation when he receives a mysterious, disturbing letter from his long-lost childhood playmate, Christine. Caleb and his jokester friend Bean decide to travel to his tiny hometown of Hudsonville, Florida, to find her. Upon arrival, they discover the town has taken a horrifying turn for the worse. Caleb's childhood home is abandoned and his father has disappeared. Children are going missing. The old insane asylum has reopened, and Christine is locked inside. Her mother, a witch, is consumed with madness, and Christine's long-dead twin sister whispers clues to Caleb through the static of an A.M. radio.

The terrifying prophesies of the spirits are coming to pass. Sixteen clocks are ticking; sixty-six murdered souls will bring about the end of the world. As Caleb peels back layer after layer of mystery, he uncovers a truth more horrible than anything he had imagined, a truth that could only be uttered by the lips of the dead.

Before even opening The Sleepwalkers I was mildly unsettled just from the art on the cover. It's very dreamlike and creepy. I think it's a good indicator of what you will be getting once you actually start reading it.

Definitely read this book at night when everyone else is asleep if you really like being scared. If you are slightly more chicken, like me, you may want to make it a daytime read. That being said, my prime reading time is late at night and I was jumping at every little noise.

I was drawn into the story from the very first page. Caleb drags his friend Bean with him as a reluctant detective to help him discover the answer to a few questions from his past. As they go further into the mystery behind the Dream Center, Bean gives voice to what I'm thinking the whole time. Basically for them to get the heck outta there, but of course they don't. There was one scene in particular that had me reading faster and faster as if that would help Caleb and Bean out of their situation any quicker. I had to close the cover of my Nook, turn on some extra lights and the TV just to break the tension.

Even though I am a big baby about being scared I really enjoyed reading this book. I like that the author puts Sleepwalkers firmly in the horror genre, which I haven't seen alot of in YA fiction. He's an author I'll definitely be reading more of.

You can visit the author's website here:

Publication Date: October 3, 2011
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Horror
I received this book from Netgalley.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Review: Forever by Maggie Stiefvater


The thrilling conclusion to #1 bestselling Shiver trilogy from Maggie Stievater.

In Maggie Stiefvater's SHIVER, Grace and Sam found each other. In LINGER, they fought to be together. Now, in FOREVER, the stakes are even higher than before. Wolves are being hunted. Lives are being threatened. And love is harder and harder to hold on to as death comes closing in.

This is the third and final book in this beautiful series. I really can't describe it any other way than that. Beautiful. Maggie Stiefvater really gets into the heads of her characters and lets you see what all is in there too. I could feel what they were feeling. The emotions are so real and relatable that it made me want to cry sometimes.

Maggie's writing style is very unique. Her descriptions are casual yet insightful and thought provoking. Reading her book is like listening to a song that resonates for reasons you're not even sure of. It's a love story that sets itself apart from others because it is so deep and honest. I think we all want to have a love like this story.

It had been awhile since I'd read the first two books and I was worried I wouldn't remember everything, but the reader is seamlessly reminded of any details they might have forgotten. I'm not going to give any details away, but if you liked the first two books you won't be disappointed by Forever.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Author Interview with Kate Fuentes

I had originally planned on having this interview up yesterday...but my teething baby had other plans for me the last few days! Better late than never, right? Enjoy!

1. At what point did you realize that this story you were writing was something you wanted to pursue more seriously?
By the time I had passed the 10,000 word mark, I realized this may be more than just a "bedtime story" and quickly grew into a "project". I had always felt at ease and rejuvenated after writing short stories or the occasional poem, but I only dreamed about writing a novel and did not pursue the dream until my children inspired me to do so. I owe my husband and children endless gratitude for starting the flame once again and encouraging me to continue.

2. As a mother, what challenges did you face while writing this book?
I work a full time 8-5 job during the week and as most moms know the work doesn't stop at 5:00 p.m. I found that most of my writing took place after the kids went to bed and before I could no longer keep my eyes open. My family was quite supportive of my late night scribblings and keyboard clicking throughout the entire process, thank goodness we have a downstairs office! I began to carry a notebook everywhere I went to write down any ideas or paragraphs I brewed up at the most inopportune times (soccer practice, church, baseball games, etc), so that I would be able to transfer those ideas to my computer once I got home. I also kept the writing a secret from our extended family until I knew this was something concrete and wasn't just a phase I was going through. My husband and kids were sworn to secrecy until the day before the book was released. What a relief to finally tell everyone! In the end, I am grateful I began this journey and look forward to where the road might take me.

3. Are any of the characters in Elements fashioned after people in your own life?
The two main characters are almost identical to my children with the exception that they are not twins. The way I described their features, their character, likes, dislikes, down to their favorite foods. I did so because originally this was supposed to be "their" bedtime story, not a novel. My youngest gets a kick out of seeing his name in a book, but the oldest is mad I didn't use his given name. I have vowed to rectify that situation in one of the other series! I did dedicate the book to them and used their given names, at least that eased some of the tension! Whew!

4. What would you tell others that are wanting to pursue a writing career?
I have come across a couple of people that have expressed their desire to become a writer and/or author. I wholeheartedly support their willingness to put themselves on the line and out in the open. It is a wonderful thing to be able to curl up on a couch and get lost inside a good book. If you are the writer it doubles as therepy! For me personally, I love to broaden the scope of imagination and see how far my mind can stretch the realm of fantasy. The unfortunate, but small side effect of writing is making yourself so vulnerable to criticism and negative responses. My advise to aspiring authors would be to take the negative comments with a grain of salt and pat themselves on the back for the courage to write what is in their heart and stand behind your work proudly. Think about all the great authors we can benefit from and who inspire future authors to continue the legacy. What if they decided against pursuing their dreams? What a tragedy! Behind every critic is two die hard fans who will no doubt be looking forward to your next book, even if those fans are family or friends, you can hold your head high and proclaim yourself an author!

5. Writing aside, what are some of your other interests or hobbies?
I enjoy spending any spare time I can with my family doing the things we love to do such as taking a road trip, playing sports, going camping or taking in a movie. I also like to bake and dabble a bit with photography from time to time.

Thanks again to Kate for doing this interview! I love to see how moms, dads and really anyone can fit writing into their lives. If you love doing it you will make time for it!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Review: Elements - The Beginning by Kate Fuentes

Destiny brought them into this world to save mankind and malevolent forces will stop at nothing in order to annihilate them. Born with extraordinary powers, fraternal twins Gage and Talon Thorn learn how to control their mystical abilities. Tragedy strikes the family and their ordinary father Gable is forced to raise them on his own. Pain and loss encompass the Thorns as they persevere to live a normal life in a place determined to destroy their happiness.

Soon their incredible gifts need proper nurturing and Gable recruits a special group of people to help in their upbringing. A sassy, tenacious nanny named Leia and an eccentric unorthodox warrior named Maui complete the dream team of mentors to aid in the complexity of their lives. The brothers are determined to protect the family that has sacrificed so much for their sake.

Evil, wicked forces lurk in the shadows and the boys are in danger if they don't learn how to control their unique talents. Humanity rests in the hands of the young brothers as they embark on an epic adventure to save mankind from the dark Emperor.

This is the first installment of the Elements series and the first book for author Kate Fuentes. It follows a family's journey through loss and heartache, and how they can ultimately overcome it with love.

I think this would be a good introduction to fantasy for young readers. It has light-hearted and fantastical elements without glossing over the hardships we all face sometimes. The classic 'good versus evil' theme is plainly seen throughout the book. It could easily be read together as a family and it presents opportunities to talk about some of those 'what would you do' or 'how would you react' situations.

At the end of the book, the reader is left guessing what will happen in the next one. I look forward to seeing how Kate's characters evolve as this series progresses.

Stay tuned for my next post, in which I'll be featuring an interview with the author of 'Elements: The Beginning', Kate Fuentes.

Source: Thank you to Kate for furnishing me with a review copy of her book. You can visit her at her website: