Saturday, October 18, 2014

This Semester in Loot

In the past couple months, I have won some cool prices. These were part of contests that I never would have heard of before I started blogging and I thought I would share what all I got with you (and tell you how you can some of your own coming here soon).


Last month, Jill Williamson had her Facebook release party for her new novel, Rebels. I had loved
this book and was excited to attend the party. While there, I won some awesome swag, including a Psych pin.
















For those of you who love Jill's dystopian series, I will be giving away a copy of Rebels the first week of November, so stay tuned!



The month before, Robert Treskillard's second promotional contest for Merlin's Spiral came to a close. I took second in that contest and won, among other things, a cast of Merlin's Spiral, straight from the cast used to make the sword on the cover.















Currently, Treskillard is running the third of the contests at kingarthur.org.uk. You can go there, check out the prizes, and enter for the final contest! Then, in November, I will be giving away a few Merlin bookmarks (like those above) along with the copy of Rebels. Hope to see you then!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Storm Siren- Mary Weber

My Rating: 3 Stars

Description: “I raise my chin as the buyers stare. Yes. Look. You don’t want me. Because, eventually, accidentally, I will destroy you.”

In a world at war, a slave girl’s lethal curse could become one kingdom’s weapon of salvation. If the curse—and the girl—can be controlled.

As a slave in the war-weary kingdom of Faelen, seventeen-year-old Nym isn’t merely devoid of rights, her Elemental kind are only born male and always killed at birth — meaning, she shouldn’t even exist.

Standing on the auction block beneath smoke-drenched mountains, Nym faces her fifteenth sell. But when her hood is removed and her storm-summoning killing curse revealed, Nym is snatched up by a court advisor and given a choice: be trained as the weapon Faelen needs to win the war, or be killed.

Choosing the former, Nym is unleashed into a world of politics, bizarre parties, and rumors of an evil more sinister than she’s being prepared to fight . . . not to mention the handsome trainer whose dark secrets lie behind a mysterious ability to calm every lightning strike she summons.

But what if she doesn’t want to be the weapon they’ve all been waiting for?


My Thoughts: Storm Siren deals heavily with self condemnation. Nym is a girl who believes that she is curse and destroys everyone around her. While her anger has killed people in the past, it was more do to having not been taught how to control her power, as well as not believing that she could. Because of this, Nym self harms and draws in on herself. This theme was well done in my opinion. Nym's self-hate is treated realistically and is understandable. There is a great message that we can all choose who we become, no matter who orchestrates the world around us.

Beyond Nym, however, none of the characters felt well rounded. Collin only ever had two things on his mind, flirting and fighting, and his sister had an sharp tongue. While Weber delved into Eogan's past, I still felt like I didn't know him. The villains also lacked depth, and I found it difficult to discover what exactly they were trying to do other than turn the world into a smoldering heap.

The creatures Weber created were interesting, such as the bolcranes, but not really explained. Neither was the reason my Elementals are only ever males. By the last part of the book, I was caught up in the action of the fight, but I was left wondering what the lessons of this book were supposed to be. While I love the theme of self condemnation, there was a lack of God's grace to the story. As a novel published by a Christian publishing house, I expected there to be a mention of God's redemption and that only he can ultimately save this fallen world. Perhaps that will come in the sequel.

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Thunder- Bonnie Calhoun

My Rating: 2 Stars

Description:In post-apocalyptic America, Selah Chavez is crouched in long grass on a shore littered with the rusted metal remnants of a once-great city. It is the day before her eighteenth Born Remembrance, and she is hunting, though many people refuse to eat animal flesh, tainted by radiation during the Time of Sorrows. What Selah’s really after are Landers, mysterious people from a land across the big water who survive the delirium-inducing passage in small boats that occasionally crash against the shoreline. She knows she should leave the capture to the men, but Landers bring a good price from the Company and are especially prized if they keep the markings they arrive with.
Everything falls to pieces when the Lander Selah catches is stolen by her brothers–and Selah wakes up the next morning to find the Lander’s distinctive mark has suddenly appeared on her own flesh. Once the hunter, Selah is now one of the hunted, and she knows only one person who can help her–Bohdi Locke, the Lander her brothers hope to sell.


My Thoughts: When I saw that Revell had a dystopian coming out, I was really excited. I love speculative fiction and thought that the premise sounded interesting. While I am still glad that Revell has branched out into this speculative genre, I am rather disappointed with Thunder.

Selah is a girl who demands to be treated like an adult. However, she doesn't act like one. What might have been a great character development just made her unlikeable when she never even tried to behave as an adult and take responsibility for her childish behavior. I'll give her that her mother hardly prepared her for adulthood. I would say that her mother downright made Selah a spoiled and out of touch person. It is the only way one can explain that Selah describes her brother as looking at her with hate and then saying that he loves her... because he's her brother.

I can see where plans for future books would give a better character arc to Brodhi, however he is a jerk who cares for no one but himself. He very nearly leaves a kid to drown, would have left another to die if not for Selah, and only stays with Selah because he "needs her for information". Which he never gets. But by the time he figures out that she is useless in that regard, he learns he is destined to protect her and suddenly starts caring about what happens to her.

A lot of the secondary characters seemed unnecessary and likely could have been combined to make a far more coherent story line. As it was, they all had different agendas, some of which I am not sure I even figured out because they kept making veiled references to their "plans". One guy is certainly never going to be able to clue anyone in on his plans now.

Some scenes felt like they were only there to make the book longer, not because we needed to read them. One stands out where she is surrounded by boars, which she is afraid of because she heard a story of pigs eating a farmer (did I mention the graphic way in which many people die?). She escapes by jumping in a stream and then the boars do not appear again.

I give Calhoun props for trying her hand at dystopian. I looked at her goodreads profile and noticed that her other books were mystery and romance. Hopefully she is able to do better in the next book of the series.

I received this book from Revell Publishers in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Why Stitch Should be the Next OUAT Villian

So, I know this is not my usual type of post, but please bear with me.




On Tuesday night, my brother and I got in a discussion about the Season Premiere of OUAT. We have our opinions about it, mostly that we were disappointed because Elsa and Anna's stories picks up were it left off after Fozen, rather than changing the story of Frozen as they did with every other story to have appeared in OUAT. It lacked the originality that we love about the show.

At one point, our discussion turned to *mild spoiler*  The moment where Belle and Gold dance on their honeymoon. *End spoiler* I had not thought about it, but my brother said that he was waiting for this to happen:



The idea sparked a rather excited brainstorm session about how Stitch could take part in OUAT. This is what we came up with.

In Lilo and Stitch, Stitch is an alien created by Jumba Jokibba. He is created to set the world into chaos and thus destroy it. But when he comes to Earth, he is adopted as a pet by Lilo. She loves him and gives him Ohana, family.

So what if Stitch were actually a monster from the Enchanted Forest, or else some other world. He could have been a creation of Dr. Frankenstein (Dr. Whale), perhaps as a first attempt at reanimation of the dead. But then Frankenstein abandoned Stitch and he began to create chaos so that he would be noticed, as did the monster in Mary Shelley's original Frankenstein. With Frankenstein's disappearance to our world, Stitch feels once again abandoned and finds a way to come here, seeking revenge.

In comes Lilo. In Lilo and Stitch, she is an orphan being raised by her sister, Nani. It is assumed that her parents are both dead, perhaps in a car accident, but I don't believe it actually ever says how they died.

In OUAT, Lilo and Nani's parents could have been from the Enchanted Forest. Terrorized by Stitch, maybe because the father worked for Frankenstein, they fled to our world with their daughters. They settled in Hawaii with Lilo being none the wiser and Nani only having a faint memory of anywhere else.

With Stitch in Storybrooke, there is only one thing left to do... Operation Cobra (you will see why in a moment). Frankenstein admits to having created Stitch, but is unable to stop him without Lilo's father. He knows that Lilo's father had fled to a world without magic and other clues lead him to believe that he is here. Emma and Henry must set out to find him.

At this point, Emma and Henry have taken on the part of Cobra Bubbles (now Operation Cobra) from. When they find the family, Nani is at her wits end. Lilo is a rebellious preteen who likes loud music and loud clothes. She skips school and has a hard time keeping friends, all because she knows that she doesn't belong.


Nani and Lilo follow with Emma and Henry to Storybrooke in order to learn more about their parents. Everyone freaks a little bit because their father is dead and unable to help, and now they must try to cobble together a plan from what little Nani remembers.

But Lilo will not be relegated to the side lines. She begins to feel for Stitch, as they both have never found where they belong. Together, they find Ohana (not the romantic kind, because she's a kid), a true love that overcomes all evil and black magic.

Such a story would leave plenty of room for our other characters to learn and grow as well. Imagine the many ways Regina and Gold might try to stop Stitch, and then the friend (who is his own age) Henry could make with Lilo. Maybe Emma would find out a little bit more about her own Ohana. And for sure Hook and Lilo could get into snarky fights over clothing choices.



So what do you think? Let my brother and I know in the comments and feel free to mention your own ideas. Also, if you like the idea, please share it. Maybe Stitch could make it OUAT.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Rebel- Jill Williamson

My Rating: 5 Stars

Description: In this final novel of the Safe Lands series by Jill Williamson, Mason and Omar discover the true meaning of Liberation-a secret the Safe Lands have long kept from their people-but find they are trapped in the low lands with this crucial information. Meanwhile, Levi is forced to turn his attention elsewhere when his new wife, Jemma, is captured and becomes the Safe Land's new queen. His only choice to save her may be to take up the role of undercover vigilante that Omar began, leading the rebels in their quest to overthrow the government. But will that be enough to expose the Safe Land's lies and bring freedom to the people? And will they even want it if it comes?

My Thoughts: This was a fantastic end to the Safe Lands Trilogy. Unlike with most YA trilogies, where the third book crushes most everything we loved about the series, Rebels was actually my favorite of the three. Maybe it was because I actually like all three brothers now?

In Rebels, we seen all the brothers grow up a little bit. Levi relinquishes some control, Mason stands up for himself, and Omar takes responsibility for his life. The brothers are more mature, more likeable, and far more well rounded. They have also learned about respect, family, forgiveness, and mostly love.

I wish there was more to the story. A novella if not a full novel. I would like to see what Omar and Mason do for the safe lands, as well as how the three brother's families grow. I would really like to see how they pass down their life lessons to their children.

I received this book through CSFF in exchange for an honest review.


Also, some how I ended up receiving two copies in the mail (Cool, right?). So if you check back on the first of November, I will be giving away my second copy as part of the Books I am Grateful I Read blog HOP.


Purchase Rebels here.
Visit the author's website.


Tour Links:


Friday, September 26, 2014

A Time to Die- Nadine Brandes

My Rating: 4 Stars

Description: How would you live if you knew the day you'd die?

Parvin Blackwater has wasted her life. At only seventeen, she has one year left according to the Clock by her bedside.

In a last-ditch effort to make a difference, she tries to rescue Radicals from the crooked justice system. But when the authorities find out about her illegal activity, they cast her through the Wall -- her people's death sentence.

What she finds on the other side about the world, about eternity, and about herself changes Parvin forever and might just save her people. But her Clock is running out.


My Thoughts: It has been a while since a book has made me this angry... or had me this interested. Angry because I wanted to step in and fix everything wrong in this dystopian world. The world Brandes has created is amazing. Every moment had me wondering what else I could learn about this place and the people who live there. I couldn't wait to find out what happened to Parvin, and so I read it in two days when I should have been writing my essays (oops).

The reason for 4 stars rather than 5 is that there were somethings that I felt were not explained enough for me to believe. The Albinos' culture, and even existence as a tribe, is one example. The tightropes are another (those these I liked so much that I am not sure that I care that they were not explained).

Many of these things I believe Brandes will expand upon in the next novel. I hope so, as they were mostly awesome (the arena!). I cannot wait to read the next book in the series and to see where Parvin goes from here and where Brandes takes the rest of her characters.

I received this book in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Love's Fortune- Laura Frantz

My Rating: 5 Stars

Description: Sheltered since birth at her Kentucky home, Rowena Ballantyne has heard only whispered rumors of her grandfather Silas's vast fortune and grand manor in Pennsylvania. When her father receives a rare letter summoning him to New Hope, Rowena makes the journey with him and quickly finds herself in a whole new world--filled with family members she's never met, dances she's never learned, and a new side to the father she thought she knew. As she struggles to fit in during their extended stay, she finds a friend in James Sackett, the most valued steamship pilot of the Ballantynes' shipping line. Even with his help, Rowena feels she may never be comfortable in high society. Will she go her own way . . . to her peril?

With her signature attention to historical detail, Laura Frantz brings 1850s Pennsylvania alive with a tender story of loss, love, and loyalty. Fans will cheer for this final installment of the Ballatyne saga.


My Thoughts: Laura Frantz has a great talent for making her readers feel the same melancholy and sadness as her characters, and yet still hunger to finish the story rather than set it aside in depression. Perhaps it is because I have always felt like I knew the characters. That they were my close friends, and sometimes even myself.

Love's Fortune is the third in the series. It is bittersweet, as now, in the third generation, we can see all the paths the people of the Ballantyne legacy have taken. Some are beautiful and others are dark. Just like with most families.

I can not imagine loosing my home like Wren did, with little warning and no chance to give voice to my opinion. I know that I would never have taken Aunt Andra's orders with so much grace. I hardly would have taken anything she suffered with any grace at all.

I hope that Frantz continues with the series. I am not quiet ready to turn loose this family yet.

I received this book from Revell in exchange for an honest review.