Last Day to Enter to Win a $15 Amazon Gift Card


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It's the last day to enter to win a $15 Amazon gift card!

Book Review: The Eternity Cure (Blood of Eden #2) by Julie Kagawa

Summary: 
Allison Sekemoto has vowed to rescue her creator, Kanin, who is being held hostage and tortured by the psychotic vampire Sarren. The call of blood leads her back to the beginning—New Covington and the Fringe, and a vampire prince who wants her dead yet may become her wary ally.

Even as Allie faces shocking revelations and heartbreak like she’s never known, a new strain of the Red Lung virus that decimated humanity is rising to threaten human and vampire alike.

 
Release Date: April 30, 2013
Age Group: YA
Source: NetGalley

Review:
Let me start this review by saying that I am a huge fan of Julie Kagawa.  I have read and really enjoyed all of her work, and was thrilled to be able to read The Eternity Cure early.  I adored The Immortal Rules (read my review here), and was enthralled at the terrifying world Kagawa created in the Blood of Eden series.  

The Eternity Cure fell a little flat for me.  Maybe my expectations were too high, having waited so long for more of Allison's story, but after reading the outstanding The Immortal Rules, I was ready for more of the same and found myself disappointed in The Eternity Cure.  I felt like the plot moved slowly and was predictable.  I was intrigued by the twist at the end of the book, and will definitely keep reading the series.  I am probably not being fair to Kagawa, having such high expectations from her, and compared to other YA dystopian novels, The Eternity Cure was a great read, just not as outstanding as her previous work.

What I liked about The Eternity Cure were the characters, the character growth, and the plot twists.  Kagawa's stories never fail to entertain and I'm looking forward to seeing where she takes this series.



Weekly Wrap-Up 4.28.12

Have you entered our Showers of Books Giveaway yet?  Anyone can enter to win a $15 Amazon gift card!  Click here to enter.  



Back to my week in books: I am on a contemporary kick in the best kind of way!  I'm just loving the new-adult genre and find myself tearing through books in one to two sittings.  I've stayed up late twice this week (a huge feat when you are sick and have a two-year-old), just to finish a book because I had to know how it ended.

Books I Read This Week:

Amity and Sorrow by Peggy Riley.  Interesting, melancholy read.  Review to come. 3/5 stars

The Truth About You and Me by Amanda Grace.  Loved it but would have preferred a different ending. 4/5 stars

A Shade of Blood (A Shade of Vampire #2) by Bella Forrest.  A solid installment in the Shade of Vampire series.  3.5/5 stars

But I Love Him by Amanda Grace.  I enjoyed The Truth About You and Me more but this was still a great read. 3.5/5 stars

Ten Tiny Breaths (Ten Tiny Breaths #1) by K.A. Tucker.  I enjoyed this book, but found it somewhat predictable.  Still a good read, though.  3/5 stars

The Indigo Spell (Bloodlines #3) by Richelle Mead.  Loved it!  Review to come.  5/5 stars 

How was your week? 

The Rules Blog Tour

Today we're honored to have YA author Stacey Kade posting about her playlist for her new book, The Rules.  Welcome to I'd So Rather Be Reading, Stacey!
Behind the Music for Project Paper Doll: The Rules

As you may have heard me say before, I love making playlists! There's nothing like the shiver of delight I get when I hear a song that has a phrase or just a sound that perfectly matches a scene I'm working on or an emotion I'm trying to convey.
Below are more songs from my playlist for writing The Rules. As with my previous list, some of them spoke to me because of the lyrics; others were added because of the general idea or emotion they evoked.
Often they make me think of a specific chapter or scene in the book. So, I'm going to try to share that with you, spoiler free! If you haven't read The Rules yet, you'll probably be a little like, "Huh?" But then when you read it, it'll all make sense! :D

Truth or Dare by Marianas Trench"1, 2, 3, do you see what I do
Truth or dare, yes I double dare you
You, you, me, now I think you got it
One last breath and just spin the bottle now

You know you don’t need to be so worried
Even though below I'm still thinking 'bout it

1, 2, 3, and I double dare me as well
Truth, dare

(dirty little secret, dirty little secret)
This will be our little
(dirty little secret, dirty little secret)"

Chapter: Chapter 10
Explanation: Ariane and Zane come to an agreement. :)


*Hologram by Katie Herzig
"I'm in a love affair without a love song
I'm in the habit of having what I don't want
I'm just a hologram
You can see but don't touch me, baby."

Chapter: Chapters 12 and 13
Explanation: Ariane has to navigate the very narrow space between the Rules she's followed her life and the plan she's now involved in.
*Was not originally on my playlist, but once I heard it, I had to add it!

Take Me Out by Atomic Tom
"If I was bold enough, I would follow you forever. But darling please, rescue me, take me out."

AND

"I don't want to live half my life and disappear
So if you want to chances, take a chance on me.
And take me out."

Chapter: Chapter 15
Explanation: I love, love, love the lyrics for this song. I think the hardest part for Ariane is wanting something she knows she can't have, something she knows she shouldn't want at all.

What I've Done by Marie Digby
Chapter: Chapters 24 and 25
Explanation: I love the idea of these tense action scenes being accompanied by this slow, almost mournful version of Linkin Park's song.
About the author:
As a former award-winning corporate copywriter, Stacey Kade has written about everything from backhoe loaders to breast pumps. But she prefers to make things up instead. She lives in the Chicago suburbs with her husband, Greg, and their two retired racing greyhounds, Tall Walker (Walker) and SheWearsThePants (Pansy). More information about The Rules and Stacey can be found online at StaceyKade.com. She is also on Twitter @StaceyKade and on Facebook.



Showers of Books Giveaway Hop



As part of the Showers of Books Giveaway Hop, we're giving away...

A $15 Amazon gift card!

Giveaway Rules:
Anyone can enter this giveaway.  You do not have to follow our blog to enter.  
This giveaway is open internationally.
The winner will be emailed when the hop ends, and the winner has 72 hours to reply to our email and claim their prize.  If there is no reply after 72 hours, another winner will be chosen.
The gift card will be sent electronically to the winner.
Thank you for entering and good luck!  


Thank you to Books a la Mode and I Am A Reader, Not A Writer for hosting this hop!


Book Review: Blameless (Parasol Protectorate #3) by Gail Carriger

Summary:
Quitting her husband's house and moving back in with her horrible family, Lady Maccon becomes the scandal of the London season.

Queen Victoria dismisses her from the Shadow Council, and the only person who can explain anything, Lord Akeldama, unexpectedly leaves town. To top it all off, Alexia is attacked by homicidal mechanical ladybugs, indicating, as only ladybugs can, the fact that all of London's vampires are now very much interested in seeing Alexia quite thoroughly dead.

While Lord Maccon elects to get progressively more inebriated and Professor Lyall desperately tries to hold the Woolsey werewolf pack together, Alexia flees England for Italy in search of the mysterious Templars. Only they know enough about the preternatural to explain her increasingly inconvenient condition, but they may be worse than the vampires -- and they're armed with pesto.

Release Date: September 1, 2010
Age Group: Adult
Publisher: Orbit
Source: Purchased

Review:
This is such a fun series!  It is light-hearted, funny, satirical, and interesting.  I love the historical aspect to The Parasol Protectorate.  Most of all, I like Alexia.  She is so pragmatic, there are no emotional hissy fits from her, no matter what happens.

I did feel like there was something missing in Blameless.  It almost felt like half of a story to me.  I got to the last page, and thought, "that's it?"  I just wanted more.  More to the plot, more action, more of Alexia and Conall, and more Lord Akeldama (who is my favorite character).

Blameless was a fun read, but not my favorite in the series.  It kind of felt like a middle-of-the-series-slump book to me.  I'll definitely keep reading the series, but I expected more out of a book I bought for myself.  I hate that I do that--expect more out of books I've purchased--but I do. I want them all to be five-star books, and feel disappointed when they are not.  Furthermore, it irks me that my library had the first two Parasol Protectorate books but not any of the others.  It doesn't make any sense!

I would recommend Blameless, along with the rest of Carriger's series, but I better be in love with book four, or I'm going to be upset!

 

Weekly Wrap-Up 4.21.13

Books I Read This Week:

With All My Soul (Soul Screamers #6) by Rachel Vincent.  4/5 stars.

The Sweet Side of Suffering: Recognizing God's Best when Facing Life's Worst by M. Esther Lovejoy5/5 stars. 

How was your week?

 

Guest Post: Mia Hoddell


Today we are happy to host author Mia Hoddell as part of her Deadly to Love blog tour.  Welcome to I'd So Rather Be Reading, Mia!

Top Ten Favourite Books
1. Ringmaster – Julia Golding.  
It's full of action and even though Darcie is a teen spy it’s realistic as Golding doesn’t use fancy gadgets that will get her out of any situation. I loved the S.A.S soldiers in the book as well, their sense of humour was great.

2. Dragonfly – Julia GoldingI loved Julia Golding’s use of the senses in this book, everything was so vivid when I imagined it and the relationships in the book were great. I’ve lost count on how many times I have re-read this novel. 

3. Skulduggery Pleasant Series– Derek Landy
I just love Derek Landy’s writing, even his acknowledgements are filled with witty, humourous comments that make me laugh. I love his characters, the storylines are great but my favourite part is definitely his style of writing, I can’t help but laugh while reading it.

4. Blood Bound – Rachel Vincent
I enjoyed the action in this book, I could visualise it clearly and the strong female lead, Liv, was easy to relate to. As well as this I liked the fact that different paranormal skills were used rather than vampires/werewolves.

5.  Hush Hush – Becca Fitzpatrick
This was the first angel book I ever read and now I am hooked on them.

6. Blood Ransom – Sophie McKenzie
This book was filled with action and tugs on your emotions. The characters were easy to relate to and I liked that McKenzie kept the science to a minimum so the book was easy to understand.

7. Diamond of Dury Lane (Cat Royal series) – Julia Golding
This was the first book I ever read without being forced to. I loved it and because it is what got me hooked on books I have to put it on the list. The main character is quick witted and humourous and the storylines are original and interesting.

8. The Host – Stephanie Meyer
I read this after Twilight and loved it much more. I prefer the characters and the storyline in my opinion is considerably better.

9.  Girl Missing – Sophie McKenzie
This book kept me hooked all the way through as it was action packed and unpredictable.

10. Kissed by an Angel –  Elizabeth Chandler
I liked the mystery in this novel, it keeps you guessing all the way to the end. Likewise, all of Elizabeth Chandler’s books do the same and her murder mysteries kept me awake at night.

Thanks to Kelli for hosting me on her amazing blog and remember to check out Deadly to Love and the rest of the tour stops here!

About Deadly to Love:
There is a love that is so dangerous, so powerful, so intoxicating that it embraces your heart and smothers your mind until it leaves you defenseless.

Serena knew that but still, it didn't stop her. His name was Kai. He was the most beautiful, irresistible man she had ever encountered. Their attraction was too compelling to fight and she knew she would go to the end of the world beside him. That is love.

However behind the allure was hidden a deadly secret – a secret that threatened her fragile life... But secrets best left unsaid never remain hidden forever. When Kai reveals his true identity, she is exposed to a frightening world she had no idea existed. Controlled by powerful Elemental forces her life is placed in mortal danger.

Unbeknown to them, their lives have been entwined from the beginning and it leads her to discover an even greater secret about who she really is. As the pieces begin to unravel and death becomes a reality, Serena is forced to decide what is more important...her love or life.



Buy Links:  Amazon.com
Amazon.co.uk
Paperback (Lulu) and will be available on Amazon soon


About the AuthorMia Hoddell lives in the UK with her family and two cats. She spends most of her time writing or reading and her preferred genre is Young Adult, Paranormal Romance. Before 2009, Mia wouldn't even pick up a book and was more interested in sports. However she finally found some novels that captured her interest and developed a love of both reading and writing. Mia began with poems and after getting two published in separate anthologies she moved on to short stories. Although she enjoyed this, Mia found she had too much to tell with too little space, so later on she created her first series The Wanderer Trilogy and from there other ideas have emerged which she hopes to turn into novels as well. Elemental Killers is her second series and book two will be out soon.
 




Book Review: Emilie and the Hollow World (Emilie #1) by Martha Wells

Summary: 
While running away from home for reasons that are eminently defensible, Emilie’s plans to stow away on the steamship Merry Bell and reach her cousin in the big city go awry, landing her on the wrong ship and at the beginning of a fantastic adventure.

Taken under the protection of Lady Marlende, Emilie learns that the crew hopes to use the aether currents and an experimental engine, and with the assistance of Lord Engal, journey to the interior of the planet in search of Marlende’s missing father.

With the ship damaged on arrival, they attempt to traverse the strange lands on their quest. But when evidence points to sabotage and they encounter the treacherous Lord Ivers, along with the strange race of the sea-lands, Emilie has to make some challenging decisions and take daring action if they are ever to reach the surface world again.

Release Date:  April 2, 2013
Age Group: YA
Source: Review copy from publisher

Review:
What a neat book!  Emilie and the Hollow World was a fun, unique read.  It felt like a mix of steampunk and fantasy to me.  After reading the summary, I thought it sounded interesting, but I didn't expect to like it nearly as much as I did.

I loved the action---boy, the action was non-stop, which made the book really exciting---and the world Wells created.  Everything from the characters to the setting was so well-described.  I felt like I was right there along with Emilie.

My favorite thing about this book was Emilie's voice. She was smart, sassy and full of spunk.  I love that in a lead character!  Wells' sharp writing style was the perfect embodiment of Emilie's character.  The minor characters were so interesting and added a lot of depth to the story as well.

I really enjoyed Emilie and the Hollow World.  I'm looking forward to the next book in the series!


Book Review: Daughter of Jerusalem by Joan Wolf

Summary: 
In Daughter of Jerusalem, readers will quickly identify with Mary Magdalene – a woman of deep faith who used her wealth and influence to serve Jesus.

This fictionalized story of Mary Magdalene is, in the truest sense of the word, an inspirational novel for modern people who are looking to renew in themselves the message of Christ. It’s the greatest story ever lived, told by one of the most famous women who ever lived, and it’s a page-turner. Joan Wolf’s years of success as a novelist enable her to combine storytelling and a faith plot in this beautifully written biblical fiction.

Release Date: April 16, 2013
Age Group: Adult
Source: NetGalley

Review:
I loved Joan Wolf's historical Christian fiction novel about Rahab, This Scarlet Cord (read my review here), so I was thrilled to see Daughter of Jerusalem on NetGalley.  I have always wanted to know more about Mary Magdalene, and while I do understand that this is a fiction novel, I loved getting a glimpse of Mary's life.   

Daughter of Jerusalem was even better than This Scarlet Cord for me because I absolutely loved reading about Jesus' ministry.  I cried several times while reading this book, out of sheer awe and emotion.  Daughter of Jerusalem was definitely an inspirational work.  I finished the book with a desire to live a better life and be a better Christian.  Isn't it wonderful when a fiction novel can do that for you?  Inspire you to be a better person?  Not many books move me like this one did.

I can't find the words to tell you how good this book was. Reading about Mary's life from childhood on, and her faith, was so powerful.  Wolf wrote Mary's character so that she was really easy to identify with.  Mary goes through things that all women go through in life (no matter what year it is): falling in love, growing into her own as a woman, finding faith, and finding her life's purpose.  The way Mary handles her life's disappointments was so easy for me to empathize with.  I felt so badly for Mary, and ached for her to find happiness.  She thinks that she will find happiness with a man, but ends up learning to find peace and joy where she can.  Mary's greatest joy comes from being a blessing to others.  And, in the end, by being forgiven for her sins by the Savior himself.  

Parts of Daughter of Jerusalem reminded me of the movie The Passion of the Christ.  Those parts of the book were the most emotional for me.  I'm glad Wolf included so much of Jesus' life and ministry, as well as his crucifixion, because it showed me Mary's faith and strength.  The respect she eventually earns from the disciples, men who hid while Jesus was crucified, was so well-deserved.  There is so much more to Mary Magdalene than I ever realized.  

Joan Wolf is a new auto-buy author for me, and I'll definitely be giving this book as a gift once it's published.  I highly recommend it for all fans of Christian fiction!

Book Review: Love Water Memory by Jennie Shortridge

Summary: 
A bittersweet masterpiece filled with longing and hope, Jennie Shortridge’s emotional novel explores the raw, tender complexities of relationships and personal identity.

Who is Lucie Walker? Even Lucie herself can’t answer that question after she comes to, confused and up to her knees in the chilly San Francisco Bay. Back home in Seattle, she adjusts to life with amnesia, growing unsettled by the clues she finds to the selfish, carefully guarded person she used to be. Will she ever fall in love with her handsome, kindhearted fiancĂ©, Grady? Can he devote himself to the vulnerable, easygoing Lucie 2.0, who is so unlike her controlling former self? When Lucie learns that Grady has been hiding some very painful secrets that could change the course of their relationship, she musters the courage to search for the shocking, long-repressed childhood memories that will finally set her free.

Release Date: April 2, 2013
Age Group: Adult
Source: NetGalley


Review:
I really liked the premise of Love Water Memory, and even though I don't read much adult fiction I decided to give it a try.  And I'm glad I did, as it was a good read.  

Love Water Memory was different from other books about amnesia that I've read, in that the main character has no "AH-HA" moment where she fully recovers her memories.  Instead, Lucie reconciles her two selves: her past self and her present self.  I loved that about this book.  I liked that Lucie does the hard work of putting her life back together and things don't magically fall into place just because she falls in love (I really hate it when love is used as a plot device like that).  

What really made Love Water Memory stand out for me were the secondary characters.  Grady's family was so well-characterized.  I loved them!  I loved Lucie's new, honest life, and the way she handles her hardships.  

I did feel like the book moved slowly at times.  It was more of an emotional thriller than an action-packed novel.  I would have preferred it to be told from Lucie's perspective, in a first-person narrative.  I felt like the third person point of view made it a little impersonal.  

Other than those complaints, I did really enjoy this book and would recommend it to fans of contemporary and women's fiction.  I would definitely read Jennie Shortridge again. 


Blog Tour: Assured Destruction by Michael F. Stewart

Today we're happy to be a part of Tribute Books' blog tour for Assured Destruction by Michael Stewart. 
 

Assured Destruction Book Summary: Sixteen-year-old Jan Rose knows that nothing is ever truly deleted. At least, not from the hard drives she scours to create the online identities she calls the Shadownet.
Hobby? Art form? Sad, pathetic plea to garner friendship, even virtually? Sure, Jan is guilty on all counts. Maybe she’s even addicted to it. It’s an exploration. Everyone has something to hide. The Shadownet’s hard drives are Jan’s secrets. They're stolen from her family’s computer recycling business Assured Destruction. If the police found out, Jan’s family would lose their livelihood.

When the real people behind Shadownet’s hard drives endure vicious cyber attacks, Jan realizes she is responsible. She doesn’t know who is targeting these people or why but as her life collapses Jan must use all her tech savvy to bring the perpetrators to justice before she becomes the next victim.

Excerpt from Assured Destruction:
CHAPTER ONE

If you ever have to get  a  job,  don’t  do  sales.  I  hate  sales.   And  this  woman  is  an  example  of  why.

“I   am   Mrs.   Roz   Shaftsbury   and   this   hard   drive   will   be  destroyed,”  Mrs.  Roz  Shaftsbury  says.

It’s  weird  how  she  announces  her  name,  but  it  does  mean  something  to  me.  I  sit  next  to  her  son  in  half  my  classes.  I’ve   never  seen  her  before,  though,  and  she’s  dressed  in  what  looks   like   twenty   foxes   sewn   together   and   is   wearing   red   heels—I   would’ve  remembered—that  fox  is  snarling  at  me.

I   guess   because   she   walked   into   a   dingy   warehouse   with   concrete   floors   and   bare   beams   and   the   worst   Feng   Shui   in   the  world,  she  assumes  we’re  after  her  credit  card  information   rather  than  to  earn  enough  money  to  buy  pizza.  But  come  on,   I’m  a  sixteen-­‐year-­‐old  girl,  not  a  ...  well  ...  not  a  crook.

Roz  leans  in  and  stares  at  me  so  I  know  she  isn’t  even  asking   a  question;  this  is  a  threat.  Erase  the  hard  drive,  or  else.

I   want   to   salute   and   say,   “Yes,   ma’am,   your   son’s   secret, torrent   downloading   will   be   deleted   forever.   His   Ivy   League   future  is  back  on  track.”  But  then  she’d  realize  I  actually  know   her  son,  Jonny  Shaftsbury,  and  I  see  no  point  in  tipping  her  off.

“Oh  yes,  assured  destruction,”  I  say.  It’s  what’s  written  on   the   sign   above   her   head   and   it   helps   me   keep   snide   remarks   to  myself.

“Some  computer  recyclers  just  wipe  hard  drives,”  Roz  adds;   her  fingernails  scrape  the  laptop  casing,  sending  shrill  echoes   through  the  warehouse.  “I  want  this  shredded.”

With   a   hint   of   a   European   accent,   she   says   it   like   she   researched  the  subject  on  Google.  If  she  had,  she  would  also   know  wiping  a  hard  drive  works  perfectly  well  and  then  it  can   be  reused.  But  this  is  a  woman  wearing  foxes,  and  in  retail,  the   customer  is  king  or  ...  er  ...  dark,  evil,  dead-­fox  queen.

I   point   to   the   shredder,   which   squats   in   the   corner;   it   works  like  a  paper  shredder  but  instead  of  chewing  up  paper  it   munches  metal.  Chop-­‐chop  is  spray  painted  across  its  lip.

“Good,”  she  replies,  but  her  hand  lingers.

I  slide  the  computer  off  the  counter  with  a  smile  and  carry   it  over  to  the  shredder  for  show.  Shaftsbury  forks  over  cash— this   woman   really   doesn’t   want   to   leave   a   trace—it   all   feels   ridiculously  covert.  I  narrow  my  eyes  and  hunch  my  shoulders   as  if  I’m  doing  something  shady.

She   huffs   and   stomps   out,   twirling   her   foxes   and   leaving   the   smell   of   her   sugary   perfume   behind.   I   stand   nonplussed.   I   would   have   thought   she’d   want   to   see   the   shredder   do   its   work.  At  least  take  the  certificate  of  destruction.

I  hate  sales.

If   she   wasn’t   such   a   bitch,   I   probably   would   have   popped   the   hard   drive   in   the   shredder,   hit   the   big   green   button,   and   assured   the   destruction   of   the   last   few   years   of   Jonny’s   life.   But  since  I  know  Jonny  doesn’t  have  a  chance  of  making  it  into   an   Ivy   League   school,   I   don’t   feel   too   guilty   about   checking  under  the  hood  to  see  if  it  is  indeed  the  Jonny  Shaftsbury  from   my  high  school.

In   every   kid’s   hard   drive   are   pieces   of   themselves,   which,   if  someone  is  prepared  to  take  the  time,  can  be  puzzled  back   together   to   live   again   on   what   I   call   the   Shadownet.   That   someone  happens  to  be  me.

Hobby?  Art  form?  Sad,  pathetic  plea  to  garner  friendship,   even  virtually?  Sure,  I  am  guilty  on  all  counts.  Maybe  I’m  even   addicted  to  it.  I  can  pick  apart  the  private  lives  of  others  and   don’t  need  to  worry  about  what  they  think  about  me,  or  whether   the  profiles  I  create  for  them  are  going  to  walk  out  one  day  and   never  come  back  like  my  dad  did.  Shadownet  is  my  permanent   family.  The  only  thing  I  can  be  sure  will  stick  around.

“Janus,  why  aren’t  you  working?”  The  voice  of  my  mother   rings   with   the   sing-­‐song   tone   she   uses   when   she   senses   I’m   about   to   do   something   wrong.   She’s   in   the   back   playing   with  money.

“I  am  working.  Don’t  harass  your  unpaid  labor,”  I  return  in   my  own  sing-­‐song.  She  has  a  beautiful  voice,  though,  and  mine   is  like  that  woman’s  fingernails  on  the  casing.

“Room  and  board  qualifies  as  paid,  deary,”  she  continues  in   a  fun,  easygoing  lilt.  I  love  my  mom.

Luckily  a  doctor  came  in  an  hour  before  Jonny’s  mom,  so  I   pop  the  shells  off  his  computers,  pull  the  hard  drives,  and  run   the  shredder.  It  makes  a  series  of  clunks  until  the  hard  drives   catch  in  the  teeth,  then  it’s  like  listening  to  a  car  crash  in  slow   motion,  metal  sheering  and  plastic  splintering.  I  cover  my  nose   at  the  reek  of  lubricant  and  acrid  metal.  My  mom  will  hear  it   and  never  know  that  one  more  hard  drive  didn’t  quite  make  it   into  Chop‐chop.  For  now,  I  tell  myself,  choking  down  the  guilt.

Poking   about   the   new   laptop,   I   can   see   it   isn’t   old—three   or   four   years—but   then   I’m   not   hoping   for   baby   pics.   I   want   secrets.  Secrets  are  power.  I  first  realized  how  powerful  when my   mom   wouldn’t   tell   me   why   my   dad   walked   out   on   us.   I   wonder  about  it  every  day.  And  about  what  he’s  doing  right  now   and  whether  he  thinks  of  me.  The  hard  drives  I  fail  to  destroy   are  my  secrets,  and  no  one  knows  about  them,  especially  not   my  mom.

I  slip  the  hard  drive  into  the  front  pocket  of  my  overalls  and   smile  at  the  next  person,  who  lugs  a  behemoth  of  a  television   he   probably   paid   ten   grand   for   a   decade   ago.   He   now   has   to   pay  us  to  take  it  off  his  hands.

Finally,  it  is  eight  o’clock,  and  I  can  quit.  My  mom’s  still  in   the   back   office   with   her   head   in   a   spreadsheet.   I   know   we’re   not   making   much   money,   but   Assured   Destruction   is   all   that   keeps  us  from  the  food  bank.  Still,  we  manage.  I  work  a  lot  of   hours  and  have  ever  since  my  dad  abandoned  us.

I   pat   the   hard   drive   in   my   pocket   and   dream   about   what   secrets   I   will   find   within   its   folders.   It   being   the   end   of   the   month,   I’ve   got   a   couple   more   hours   before   my   mom   rolls   away   from   her   computer   and   comes   looking   for   me.   She’s   in   a   wheelchair   due   to   her   Multiple   Sclerosis,   otherwise   known   as  MS.
I   lock   the   doors   to   the   warehouse   store   and   wheel   the   television   and   shells   of   computers   to   the   staging   area   at   the   back.   Fenwick,   our   forklift   driver   and   all   around   handy   dude,   will  skid  them  and  add  them  to  the  next  shipment  out.  Fenwick   looks  like  a  pro  wrestler  ten  years  after  retirement—built  like  a   truck  but  starting  to  fall  apart.  I  haul  some  of  the  lighter  items   off  the  cart  to  make  his  life  easier  but  balk  at  the  television.

The   whole   place   is   filled   with   racks   of   old   computers,   televisions,  and  electronics.  But  we  don’t  actually  recycle,  not   anymore;   we   do   better   just   collecting   a   fee   for   the   drop   off   and   letting   the   larger   companies   do   the   hard   work.   The   only   business   where   we   still   actually   do   anything   is   destruction.   People  don’t  like  to  think  you’re  shipping  their  data  anywhere and  all  it  takes  is  a  shredder.  I  know  when  a  doctor,  lawyer,  or   accountant  walks  through  the  door,  they’re  carrying  the  next   pizza  I  can  order.

As  I  take  the  stairs  to  the  basement,  cool  air  slides  up  my   thighs.  It’s  like  descending  to  a  lake  bottom  on  a  hot  summer’s   day.  Goosebumps  bubble  over  my  arms  and  I  slip  on  the  sweater   I  leave  across  my  chair.  To  me  the  hum  of  the  computers  and   server  is  a  Buddhist’s  meditation.  Knots  at  my  neck  unravel.  I   sigh  and  sit  in  my  rolly  chair,  feeling  a  little  closer  to  the  Internet,   which  to  me  is  the  same  as  enlightenment.  My  chair  needs  to   be  rolly  because  I  have  seven  terminals  in  a  ring  network.  I  am   like   a   starship   captain:   I   kick   out,   the   chair   rattling   over   the   floor  to  the  first  terminal.

From  the  screen,  a  cartoon  version  of  me  stares  back.  Black   straight  hair,  overlarge  dark  brown  eyes,  pale  complexion,  and   a  pointy  chin.  It  looks  like  me,  but  without  the  zits,  and  in  real   life  my  neck  isn’t  only  an  inch  wide.

As   I   shift   the   mouse,   it   takes   me   to   my   home   blog:   JanusFlyTrap.  When  I  built  the  site,  I  was  trying  to  think  of  a   cool  name  and  spotted  all  the  wires  tangled  at  the  hub  of  my   network  like  a  web.  Six  other  computers  all  link  to  mine  and  to   each  other.  One  dysfunctional  family.  And  like  any  family,  each   part  has  its  own  personality.

On   my   right   is   Gumps.   Gumps   is   my   conscience,   my   grandfather,  my  confidante,  my  Magic  8-­‐ball,  all  on  the  oldest   motherboard  I’ve  ever  seen.  The  computer  is  pre–Internet  and   so  Gumps  isn’t  connected  to  the  others,  but  I  still  see  him  as   the  closest  thing  I’ve  got  to  flesh  and  blood,  the  only  person  I   can  really  trust.  His  display  is  green,  and  rather  than  sporting   an  avatar,  he’s  just  a  blinking  dash.  Don’t  let  appearances  fool   you,  though.  He’s  with  it.

I   type:   Gumps,   8‐ball   question:   should   I   search   around   in   Jonny’s  files?

I  programmed  it  to  recognize  key  terms  I  enter.  The  response   is  immediate.

Answer:  Janus,  the  ball  is  in  your  court.

He  speaks  in  idioms,  which  is  nice  because  it  leaves  me  to   interpret  his  answers  however  I  want.  Exactly  what  I  imagine   grandparents  are  for.

I  set  the  hard  drive  into  a  casing  I  have  for  this  purpose  and   turn   on   the   unit.   This   could   be   interesting.   A   year   ago   Jonny   asked  me  out  and  I  turned  him  down,  mostly  because  life  was   crazy  with  my  mom’s  illness  and  with  taking  care  of  the  business   while   scraping   by   at   school.   Then,   just   a   few   months   ago,   Fenwick  caught  Jonny  snooping  around  Assured  Destruction— it   was   a   bit   too   close   to   stalking   for   me.   Jonny   could   barely   look  at  me  in  class  afterward.  If  he  ever  came  around  again,  I   joked  that  Fenwick  should  feed  him  to  Chop‐chop.

On   the   computer   screen,   a   series   of   folders   appear   in   the   file  tree.

I  was  right.  It’s  Jonny.

Let  the  fun  begin.

Links:

Buy Assured Destruction:

Book Review: Furious by Jill Wolfson

Summary: 
Three high school girls become the avenging Furies of Greek legend.

We were only three angry girls, to begin with. Alix, the hot-tempered surfer chick; Stephanie, the tree-hugging activist; and me, Meg, the quiet foster kid, the one who never quite fit in. We hardly knew each other, but each of us nurtured a burning anger: at the jerks in our class, at our disappointing parents, at the whole flawed, unjust world.

We were only three angry girls, simmering uselessly in our ocean-side California town, until one day a mysterious, beautiful classmate named Ambrosia taught us what else we could be: Powerful. Deadly. Furious.

Release Date: April 16, 2013
Age Group: YA
Source: Review copy from publisher

Review:
I was pleasantly surprised by Furious. I thought it was a great read, and loved that it is a stand-alone novel.  

What you read in the summary is exactly what you get in the story: three high school girls who becoming the Furies of Greek legend. The girls aren't friends, instead they know of each other but each one is sort of a loner, except for Meg, who has a best friend. They are brought together by Ambrosia, a classmate, who nurtures their power and leads them into their roles.  

What starts as a testing of the Furies' power turns into a social experiment gone wrong. Because, when you think about it, where do you draw the line at exacting revenge? Everyone has something they've done wrong at some point in their lives, and the Furies take it upon themselves to punish everyone as they see fit. But all of the justice wrought on others takes it toll on the girls. Like they say, forgiveness is a gift you give to yourself. And once the Furies figure that out, the game changes. 


What really stood out for me in Furious was the imagery and emotions. I loved the way Wolfson wrote, and the basis in Greek legend was a neat twist. Ambrosia's personal journal entries at the start of each chapter added a lot of depth and intrigue to the story.

Overall, I really enjoyed Furious and would recommend it to fans of YA. I was very happy with the conclusion of the book and would definitely read Jill Wolfson again.


 

Guest Post: Jill Wolfson

Today we're honored to have author Jill Wolfson guest posting about how she uses real places as inspiration for the settings in her writing.  Welcome to I'd So Rather Be Reading, Jill!


  When you read a book in which the locale figures prominently, do you wonder how much is based on an actual place, how much the author totally made up, and how much is something in between? I know I do. I sometimes want to call up the author and ask for a personal tour of all the points of inspiration. So that’s what I’m going to do for you in this post – share my thoughts and photos of how I came up with some of the settings in Furious.
When I started the novel, I knew that I wanted the place – a California beach town with echoes to Greece – to be almost as much a character as the humans (and goddesses). You’ll see that the land, the ocean and the weather directly reflect what’s going on inside of the characters’ hearts and mind.
I’m lucky that I just happen to live in a California beach town, so I had a lot to work with within walking distance of my house. Before I even got started with writing, I walked around town taking photos, and continued doing that whenever I needed a writing break. For inspiration, I kept the pictures on my computer and turned to them whenever I was trying to come up with the background for a particularly crucial scene.
Sometimes, I wound up describing the landmarks exactly as they are. But more often, I started with the reality of the place and then let my imagination run wild to suit the needs of the story.

Here are some of the places where important Furious scenes take place – and the words that they inspired.

The Ocean (This photo was taken when the Pacific Coast was getting the aftermath of a tsunami. You can see the surfers on the big waves.)

I bet that just like me, in weather just like this, he stood at this spot, the edge of an entire continent, the point where the land ends and there’s nothing left, nowhere to go that’s solid. I wonder if he, too, imagined how these waves started far away. Something big and dangerous – an earthquake or a hurricane – set them in motion, and they traveled through space and time, gathering strength and shape, and eventually meeting their end here.
A crash on the rocks below my feet.

The Surfer Statue

Ahead of me, I spot the town’s famous surfer statue that stands on a pedestal on a spit of land that protrudes above the water. The statue’s a little corny – a thick-haired stereotypical surfer dude, his chest broad and expansive as he grips his board behind his back, his chiseled profile contemplating the ocean for the next wave to catch…Up close, you see a tension in the surfer’s jaw, and this makes me certain that he’s more than a fantasy stereotype…Who was this Prince of the Waves?

The Boardwalk


A deserted boardwalk on a dreary, gray day like this can be kind of eerie. Most people think it’s too lonely to hang out with games and rides that sit there doing nothing… Overhead, the bright red and blue cars of the gondola sit still in the sky. I pass the motionless Pirate Ship ride and then the mechanical gypsy fortune-teller machine, whose eyes seem to follow me…Is the gypsy looking at me with pity or with a laughing, mocking expression? Does she know something that I don’t?

Thanks so much to Kelli and Natalie for hosting this part of my blog tour. I hope you enjoy Furious



Weekly Wrap-Up & Mini-Reviews 4.7.13

I missed last week's wrap-up due to Easter---how was your Easter, by the way?---so this week I'm listing all the books I've read for the past two weeks.

Books Read:

Lover At Last (Black Dagger Brotherhood #11) by JR Ward.  Ahhhhh.....I've been waiting for Blay and Qhuinn's HEA for the entire series and this book was every bit as good as I'd hoped for!  Rating: 5/5 stars.

Love Water Memory by Jennie Shortridge.  I enjoyed this contemporary women's fiction mixed with a little mystery.  Review to come.

Raven (Delirium #2.5) by Lauren Oliver.  It was very short, but a good read and just what I needed to refresh my memory before reading Requiem.  Rating: 3/5 stars.

Requiem (Delirium #3) by Lauren Oliver I love this series and was very happy with the conclusion.  I thought Requiem lacked the intensity of the first two books, but am happy with the way Oliver wrapped the story up.  Rating: 4/5 stars. 

How was your week?



 

 

Second Opinion on Mockingjay (The Hunger Games #3) by Suzanne Collins

I wrote this second opinion a few days after reading Mockingjay (back in 2010).  I was so disappointed in the ending to one of my all-time favorite series that I didn't have the heart to publish this review.  But, it's been almost three years, and I feel like it's time to let you know how I really felt (and still feel) about Mockingjay.  

I can't stop thinking about Mockingjay.  I can't stop talking about it either---I am so disappointed with the book as a whole that my husband has decided not to read it.  

I have read The Hunger Games and Catching Fire three times each.  My last read through of the two was this past weekend, in preparation for Mockingjay.  Every time I read those books, I feel like I could read them again immediately.  I did not feel that way about Mockingjay.  Frankly, I don't know if I'll ever read it again---I am that disappointed.  I know I am in the minority here, but this is how I feel.

Things I liked about Mockingjay:
  • The world building 
  • There were a couple of surprises
  • I liked the parts about Buttercup
  • We got to know some of the characters better---namely Finnick, Haymitch, Gale, and Prim 
  • I like Gale's ending---he rises above his Seam upbringing and coal miner history
Things I didn't like about Mockingjay:  
  • A lack of character growth for Katniss
  • The pacing was slow for the entire book, yet the ending felt rushed
  • I feel like Collins wrote this book half-halfheartedly.  Was she juggling the demands of Mockingjay and the screenplay to The Hunger Games?  It almost feels like she had a ghost writer helping her out here.
  • The tone of the book is dark and depressing---I get that Collins is trying to make a point about there being no winners in war but I don't like a book to preach to me.  It didn't have the same feel as the first two books.
 More things I didn't like---SPOILER ALERT---STOP HERE IF YOU HAVEN'T READ Mockingjay!
  • I felt like I was reading about a mental patient the entire book: the way Katniss cries, hides, and gets medicated every time something happened along with her willful disobedience and paranoia.
  • Katniss was in the hospital too much---it was an overused plot device: something upsets Katniss, she gets drugged into submission and ends up in the hospital OR Katniss gets hurt, ends up in the hospital, rides a morphling wave which covers her feelings, and recovers slowly while napping in closets all the time.
  • The entire book, Katniss is reacting to situations beyond her control instead of making her own decisions.
  • Katniss is supposed to love Peeta, but when he comes back from the Capitol damaged, she gives up on him and ignores him.
  • The ending felt out of character---I would have rather she died a hero then end up a shell of a person, just existing---like Haymitch.  Basically, Katniss turns into Haymitch.  Where's the fighter we all loved in the first two books?
  • Will someone please tell me how Peeta magically gets cured of his brain hijacking?  Oh wait, he must have been cured by Katniss' love.  No, that's not right, because she doesn't decide that she loves him until the very last page and it is very casual.  So, Peeta gets cured by icing Finnick's wedding cake?  The failed mission to kill President Snow?  Or, is it when Gale leaves for his job in District Two?  We'll never know...it's magical, like Edward's diamond skin.  
  • Katniss knows that Gale had a hand in making the bomb that killed Prim.  She gives up on five years of friendship just like that---it felt so flat, the way she just gives up on Gale.  One second he's there, one second he's gone.  Her best friend---vanished. 
  • There were characters from the first two books that are dropped without a thought---like Madge and her family.  I felt like Collins could have included their stories to flesh out the plot.
  • The casual treatment of the MANY deaths in this book.  Why did so many people have to die?  And so casually?  
  • The book is very violent and gory.  I don't think it's appropriate for younger teens.
I urge you to put aside your "team affiliation" feelings and objectively consider this book on its own---not in the context of being part of a series.  When I think of the series as a whole, Mockingjay gets more stars.  When I think of Mockingjay on its own, it is just not that great for me.  I feel like Collins could have done so much more with this book.


Original Score:






Second Opinion Score:






What are your thoughts on Mockingjay?