Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Blog Tour: Jessica by Laura DeLuca

Title: Jessica
Author: Laura DeLuca
Short Story
Format- e-book
Publisher- Pagan Writers Press
Published- October 16th 2012
Pages- 19
Source: Buy The Book Tours

Overview:
"Wilbur was used to going to his college formals alone. He thought the Halloween Ball would be no different. He's amazed when a beautiful girl in a Victorian costume displays an interest in him and even more amazed to find himself alone with her on one of the campus nature trails.

What Wilbur doesn't realize is that another woman has her eye on him too. The White Lady returns every Halloween to take revenge on the men of the campus for her brutal murder. She has chosen Wilbur as her next victim."

**This Blog Tour's purpose is to tell you about Jessica, a short story, which includes the first chapter of the author's new book Morrigan (Release Date) October 31st, 2012 and how it's free on Amazon today and tomorrow (November 1st) while bringing you some teasers.**


Excerpt

"Wilbur thought he was going to collapse when Jessica wrapped one arm around his waist. He could feel her fingers, soft as silk, touching the nape of his neck with her other hand, and it made his flesh tingle. She even went so far as to lay her head on his shoulder. Her hair brushed against his cheek and the fresh, flowery scent made his vision blur. At first he thought it was just his allergies, but then the whole room and all the people in it seemed to change. The woman all wore full lacy gowns with their hair piled up in fancy up dos, while the men waltzed beside them in tailored suits with long tails and top hats. Even the music had changed from the typical sappy love song to a classical ballad played by a string quartet. He swore he saw the musicians in the corner; their bows sliding effortlessly over the strings of their instruments while their fingers pulsated in perfect vibrato. Even the floor under their feet had changed from the faded gymnasium floor, marked with the lines and circles of the basketball court, to hand laid tile in intricate patterns reminiscent of a Victorian ballroom.

As they circled the dance floor in an oddly quickened pace, the faces of the dancers started to transform even more. The beautiful nineteenth century ballroom aged and decayed, as did the men and women that surrounded him. Grotesque monsters with bloated skin and empty eyes dragged their decaying limbs in slow motion. Wilbur watched them with growing horror, almost forgetting about the girl in his arms. The monsters noticed the stranger among them They reached with fingers green from rot. Catching his breath in fear, Wilbur pulled away from Jessica and very nearly stumbled to the ground."

About the Author


"Laura "Luna" DeLuca lives at the beautiful Jersey shore with her husband and four children. In addition to writing fiction, Laura is also the sole author of a popular review blog called New Age Mama. She is an active member of her local pagan community, and has been studying Wicca for close to eight years. She is the author of four young adult novels including: Destiny, Destiny Unveiled, Phantom, and Morrigan and has many other works in progress."


Haunted Week: Beware of Book Review

{This Girl Reads}

First of all Happy Halloween! It kind of snuck up on me there. This is the last of Haunted Week. I skipped one because I seriously couldn't find anything good to put for it (ending quotes for books). So for Haunted Week I will be leaving you with an albeit not terrifying book at all but it's still a rather amusing vampire book.

Title: Vamped
Author: Lucienne Diver
Series: Vamped Book #1
Format- Paperback
Published: May 8th, 2009
Publisher- Flux
Pages- 231
Source- Library

Overview:
Gina Covello, one of the most popular girls at school, is dead. That's what everyone thought except maybe her killer who happens to be a total geek. After a questionable and hazy memory lapse Gina realizes how she can wake up and be in a coffin with no heartbeat. She must be a vampire. Vampirism comes with a couple of perks, superhuman strength and eternal youth, but also a major pitfall. No reflection which means she can't see if she looks good. At least she can try to be a vampire with style while falling for her geek sire. Even if her geek of a sire has suddenly gotten some taste in clothes and some good looks she makes sure he works for her attention. 

Geek boy, Bobby, might not be as plain as he may appear to be. His heroics and good morals may be a drag but his extra powers have caught the eye of a power hungry vampire whose goal is to take out the council of vampires with his help. Gina gets dragged along with him. She may act like a total ditz but she uncovers some secrets even the big bad vampire doesn't know. With the enemy's right hand man coming to her with questions, being forced to live in a place just like high school (archnemesis and all) and the looming threat of war Gina Covello is up for the fight of her life while making sure she looks good doing it too.

Review:
I can't help liking this book cover. It maybe be totally vain like Gina could be sometimes but it's simple and pretty in its own twisted way. Now you may be thinking how this book sounds so... well vain. The popular girl becomes a vampire and her attitude comes with her. I know I know but it's not supposed to be taken seriously. It was supposed to be a fun, quick read which it was. I had to give you some Halloweenish book today. It's like required.

Gina is this itty bitty thing that already knows that Bobby is her sire which I don't remember getting an explanation of but it's basically the person who created you and apparently you are attracted to them even if you didn't like them before. She wakes up in her coffin and has to claw her way out of there. She seems less unfazed than I would ever be only because I would be screaming bloody murder and probably would wake the dead. She does the hand on hip and flippy hair thing whenever she is angry. She cares way more about her looks than about being one of the undead. She takes to the whole vampire thing fairly quickly even if she doesn't know what she's doing. She's everywhere; she's a mess.

She also becomes a central part of a new war being raged on in her midst with the soldiers being her high school classmates. Those classmates get a bad and suspicious first impression when she meets them which forces her to slightly change my view of her because she becomes more... I don't know... she just starts to learn some things and care about someone other than herself as well as becoming a bit of a fighter although she's a clumsy one compared to the other kids who've gotten more training in than her.

Bobby is less in this book than I would have thought he should be. He's the guy with crazy amounts of power that is being used in all of this. I don't know why he wanted Gina as his. They seem to be too complete opposites but I guess he likes bossy, tough girls. Again with the... not instalove... but the connection these two have for each other right away... I find it just plain weird. I just don't see it. Anyways he's deeply devoted to Gina and makes sure she's safe but not in that annoying macho way guys like to do in other books and most likely real life. I would have liked more of him and them together because I wanted to see more of a connection that I can fathom plus he's a nice guy with cool powers. How can you beat that?

Melli, the bad vampire, doesn't care who she has to hurt to get what she wants. She wants control of what the council has - power. She is incredibly annoying and I cannot stand her. She bugs me for some unknown reason. She's a pain but all she does is be mean. I don't know what it's about her because I don't usually just get bugged by my villains but there she is. She has power of her own to make people follow her. Her sidekick, Conner, always looks furious whenever she orders him around and Gina finds out fairly quickly that he wants out. He's always ignoring her and I have a bad feeling about those two. If she likes Conner over Bobby I'm going to kill her (all over again). He's the type of guy girls get all moony over and then they ignore the girls and the girls continue to act like fools. Hopefully nothing will happen with those two.

I would say that this was what I intended it to be, a fun, quick read. Gina was an amusing character to follow around and to see what she got herself into. I did end up liking her because I took her for who she was. I know how she was going to be and she entertained me and warmed me over to her side. This was a nice read. I might not be reading the rest of the series but for those who just want those adjectives that I keep repeating for this book then I would check this book out.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Haunted Week: Trick or Treated

{This Girl Reads}


I mention a lot that I was surprised by a book. It usually is positive but sometimes... book's can be too.

 I just got this book on a whim. I didn't even know what the summary was. I just got it based on the fact that it had a ghost on the cover which I needed for a challenge on Goodreads. I ended up being thrilled with my pick. I need to get books on a whim more often after this.
 I did not know what to expect for this book. I didn't have an inkling of how it really was going to end. I completely loved the guy main character who could have been a real jerk if the author wanted him to be.
I did not realize that this book was going to talk about God. It's not a major thing but it's a good part of the book. How the main character doesn't understand why God doesn't fix everything if he could. It all had to do with homeless shelters and him becoming a better person. It was a good surprise.
 I didn't realize how much I would cringe with this book. Not only that but the whole story and the characters just didn't do it for me. I knew it was about a kid who broke his bones on purpose but I just thought it wasn't so bad and I could handle it. It was too dark even for me!
A book that has a setting in such old times wouldn't usually get me up and thrilled to read it. I was alright with reading it but I wasn't as thrilled as I would be when I got into the book which kept my attention all the way through. This book was genius.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Haunted Week: Back From the Grave & It Came From the Web

{This Girl Reads}

For this portion of Haunted Week I get to show you some of my favorite books as a kid.

The Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket were a constant companion for me. I actually started with the 4th book: The Miserable Mill. I remember getting it too and what shelf it was on. It's weird that I do. The series got a bit too long when I got to the seventh book but I still loved the series. It ended mysteriously to me but nevertheless I was happy with the series.
Hatchet was one of the books that propelled me to love nature books. It also got me into survival books which might be why I like dystopian's so much. I saw Brian as a dedicated survivor who could do anything he wanted if he tried. He beat the odds. I remember the cereal box report I did on this book. Also, how I drew the cover of this book for that project. I have a bunch of the continued series but have only read the second one. It doesn't feel the same as the original great book.
This was the greatest book possible for me to read in fourth grade. It's hilarious and an amazing book! Oh what Fudge gets himself in. I always sympathized with the older brother even if I'm the youngest in my family. No one considered him and his feelings. He and Fudge were the perfect characters.
Another nature book that swept me up was My Side of the Mountain. I don't see everyone liking it because it's more informational if that makes sense... like he described ways of doing things mostly throughout the book. Like if you were to do it this is how you would do it. It's not your average read but I still admired the main character. I also remember getting this book and from a specific shelf. I don't know why books do that for me but they just do. This was a great adventure book/survival book. Making it on your own books seems to be something I like in books.
I was absolutely in love with The Zack Files when I was a kid. These sci-fi books were the world to me. One day I'm just going to buy them all and it's going to be the greatest day when they arrive. How is it that my library doesn't have these books? They are pure genius. Perfect for any kid and it should be loved by all.








{This Girl Reads}

I come across many great blogs and recently I've discovered:









Books for Kids is a book review blog including news for e-books and book apps. As you can tell by the name it's all about kid's books mainly picture books which when you are used to reading YA blog posts is a nice change. I adore picture books so this blog helps give me a nice dose of artful illustrations and simple, loving stories.

The Story Queen is a YA review blog I discovered a couple of weeks ago. I appreciate Sonia's blogger picture of Hufflepuff: No One Ever Suspects The Hufflepuff. I'm one of those people who have done a bunch of Harry Potter quizzes to see where I would be and it comes out Hufflepuff every time. I've grown to love being a Hufflepuff... Anyways there's always a great review up which tells me exactly what I need to know on whether to read a book or not. Always with a great cover and I love the crown ratings!


Vegan YA Nerds is another one of my indulgent YA review blogs that I recently discovered. Books are always featured with a cute cat next to it in a picture. Although they are Australian which mean most books aren't in the U.S. yet I do love to read about new YA Australian books coming out that are all seem to be very good by the way. As well as the entertaining way in which the reviews are written.





With a blog name like Recovering Potter Addict you know that this YA blog is going to be good. Always having insightful and sincere reviews this blog is always interesting. All three YA blogs that I've mentioned mirror each other in that they are fun to read and I look forward to all my new blogs posts.







I don't know how in the world Ruby Ham did this monster for her Feed Me Books Now!!! but I want it! Besides the great graphics I enjoy the reviews that can sometimes be as eclectic as mine with the different age groups she sometimes reads and reviews.






Friday, October 26, 2012

Haunted Week: Bats in Your Book Pages & Skeletons on My Bookshelf

{This Girl Reads}

There are a couple of things that drive me crazy or irritate me about books:

5) Overuse of the "Bad Boy" Image
I admit that I don't mind bad boys in books. Their mysterious, their hot. What's not to like? But in EVERY book!? There are way too many bad boys in YA. Not only that but some bad boys stay that way. They stay mean and the girls including the main character flocks to them. We need more good guys and for girls to actually pick the good guys.

4) Whiny Female Characters
It's no secret that I tend to like guys better in books even if they are "bad boys" because at least they don't whine and complain about their life. At least they don't yell at a guy for not being there when you know what type of person they are. Just stop it. I know I complain about things but in my head and not only that I don't complain about things constantly. I also don't pine over guys like these whiny girls. Get some self-esteem girls. You don't need a guy to be with you.

3) Rushed Endings
Why oh why is it that when I'm reading a great book that authors just decide to rush the ending? Maybe you are tired of writing. Maybe this story has gone long enough for you. Maybe you want to get writing on a different book. I don't know. All I know is that you ruin your books that you took months to create just because you didn't take the time to make sure the ending was just right. Take a walk. Take a break. Anything to not rush your endings!

2) Unwanted Sexual Images
Teenagers have sex. I get that. You may write about it but do you have to go in such great detail!? I don't want to know! I don't need to know about... *shudders* I don't need to know how it works. It's called basic knowledge. You just scar my mind when you do that. Why would I want to know the details of a how a character I've grown to like and bond with ways of having sex? No. Just no.

1) Instalove
Oh how I loathe you Instalove. This goes back to bad boys and whiny girls. Bad boys because they always attract whiny girls who can't wait to fall in love or what they deem love which must equal having sex. Almost everything I don't like about books connects with each other. Instantly falling in love or really crushing on a guy is another thing I can understand but before you throw yourself at that said guy get to know him first. I don't know how these girls could be so angry at a guy that they "love" after a couple of days of going out when they act like guys or that you aren't the center of their world. People in general can be not what you think. Be friends then at least 150 pages later you can go out on a date.


{This Girl Reads}

I actually really want to read some books on my bookshelf that I've had for at least two years plus (it's way more years than that). I need to take the time and read them as well as their predecessors. Here they are:

5) Fall of A Kingdom by Hilari Bell. Got this book on a whim years and years ago. The paperback looks like it's in perfect condition. I think I may have opened it once at the store to see what it's about. I still want to read it. I actually plan on reading all of the books that I haven't read in my book collection in January to celebrate the New Year. All I got it that it's about a kingdom most likely in some trouble with a journey/dangerous adventure (I guess).
4) The Angels' Command by Brian Jacques. From the famous author of Redwall comes this book. I read when I was in elementary some Red Wall books so I saw this and got it. I didn't come back to it for some years and when I was looking it up one day or something like that I realized it was a second book in a trilogy. So there goes that. I hope to find and read the first book so I can read this one finally.
3) The Queen of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner. I've had The Thief and this book since before it got famous on the web not to brag (I'm bragging). I completely forgot how the first book went. Well maybe not completely but I remember a waterfall and a room... Anyways as you can see from this old cover I've had the second book in the series for quite some time. I saw on Goodreads that it was published in 2001 or something like that so you can imagine. I want to get to read The Thief then this book again to see what all the hubbub is. I remember thinking that The Thief was alright so we'll just have to see.
2) By the Monkey's Tail by Kerrie O'Connor. I have and have read the first book in this trilogy - Through the Tiger's Eye. It was actually quite good. Something about a secret passage to another world and cages. The second book looks like it's in pristine condition which tells you how much I tried to read it. I do want to read this book and the first to remind myself. I expect great things. 
1) The Underwood See by Michael Lawrence. This is the third and last book in the Withern Rise Trilogy. It's about having two sides of your life. There's a 50/50 chance of survival for these two people, a girl and a boy's, parent. One survives and the other lives. It's basically like they live in different dimensions. I thoroughly enjoyed the series which got really dark in the second book. It actually freaked me out so maybe that's why I haven't finished this trilogy. I remember the guy's name being Alaric and I thought that was weird which is funny because of Alaric being a character in Vampire Diaries. It was a really different and interesting world and I want to read the first two again so I can finally see what happens at the end of this trilogy. I don't think it's going to end well for the main characters.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Haunted Week: Ghost of Books Half-Read

{This Girl Reads}

This is a tough one for me since I do finish most books I've read. I would finish slightly less if teachers wouldn't have forced me to read certain books that I didn't like.



I had to read this in freshmen year of high school. We stopped but what we did read (we read aloud) destroyed my sanity. How much I did not care about this book was incredible. The book might have been better if we read it on our own or maybe if I wanted to actually read it I would have tried to get past the flaws but I really don't know. I don't plan on reading this book again anytime soon even if it's a classic beloved by all. Beloved by all minus one.

I don't know if it was because I was sick or not (feverish, stomach killing me) but this book dragged on way too much which is too bad because this is one of the rare books that I bought. The cover is so inviting and the plot sounds so amazing but the places the Somerset Sisters go to... it's just too much. I will try this again probably next year because I did buy it so I might as well read it.

This is the first ever zombie book I attempted to read and boy did it give me a bad taste for zombie books. The beginning has such a slow buildup. It was like pulling teeth. Maybe I should have started with a YA zombie book because this book really made me not want to read any more books about zombies. Only now is when I really want to read one because of Alice in Zombieland which will hopefully change my view point especially since I should read zombie books because I love The Walking Dead so much.




I remember reading some pages of this book before. I don't know if I wasn't in the mood for it but it felt to me the book wasn't going to be any good. I also kind of feel like I finished it but don't remember which I highly doubt happened. If I did read it I must have not liked the book anyways. I remember not liking the main character on the cover. I don't know. My memory is foggy. I might have to give it another chance because of that.






I was really excited to read this book and it was doing well for me for a while until I found out the author had a nice amount of money. I know we can all improve but it just didn't sit right with me. I'll have to give it another chance because a) I bought it and b) I am getting over the fact that she has a lot of money. It doesn't seem right to me to base the book on whether or not the author is rich or not. It's her point of view and maybe she could give me a few pointers after all.





Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Blog Tour: The Unlikely Gift of Treasure Blume by Lisa Rumsey Harris

Title: The Unlikely Gift of Treasure Blume
Author: Lisa Rumsey Harris
Stand Alone
Format- PDF
Publisher- Sweetwater Books (Imprint of Cedar Fort Inc.)
Release Date: November 13th 2012
Pages- 304
Source- Cedar Fort Publishing

Overview:
Treasure Blume hasn't had the easiest life. She's disliked by all... at least when they first meet her. Her family cure or "Gift" as her Grammy likes to say causes everyone to dislike her. Only if they are really good people will they get over this initial dislike and see her for who she truly is.

Dennis is facing a whole new way of life. He used to be a great chef and still is only he's working at his daughter's school as Mr. Lunch Lady. It's nice to be close to his daughter and he would do anything for her unlike his ex-wife who cares only for self but it's been a struggle. He's coming from being this great chef to serving lunch to a bunch of kids who don't even like his food. He also cares for his mother who's slowly being taken away by cancer. But a whole new challenge faces him. His daughter's first grade teacher baffles him. He can't understand how she can irritate him so. Although getting along with her might not be such a huge challenge - falling in love with her might be the greatest challenge he's ever had to face.

Review:
Adorable cover. It describes Treasure so well. She dresses in obscure sweaters that I've come to love like I've come to absolutely, completely LOVE this story. When I look back on this book all I can think of is huge exclamation marks in my head and the giddiness I feel for this beautiful story about finding love in the right people and accepting yourself.

Treasure Blume (fantastic name) is a first grade teacher. She took after her mother that way in becoming a teacher but not in her mother's easy going way of having everyone like her. She is the complete opposite in that sense. After all her "gift" does make everyone dislike her. Her family gift can be traced back to many generations ago. It always occurs to the third girl. The person may have variations of the gift like her grandma who dislikes everyone immediately instead of people disliking her which is the case for Treasure Blume. Her grandma thought Treasure escaped the gift because it always happened when there were three girls but no such luck. Even if she has a brother she is stuck with her gift.

Treasure is a saint. Nobody knows that she's such an absolute good person accept the people she's close with. If you haven't gone through puberty or if your around 65 years old and older you are not affected by the gift. So her parents didn't even like her right away. Her sister, Patience, was too old for the deadline but I honestly believe she wouldn't like her anyways because she's all wrapped up in herself to care about any of her family members. So no harm, no foul there. I describe Treasure as a saint but don't think for one minute she's that obnoxious perfect type of person because she's not. She's quirky and sweet. She's beyond likable. This whole story had me thinking if I would get over her gift and see her for her true self. Would I be that petty as I have read others be to her? I really don't know. Maybe in the beginning but I would hope that I can see the obvious amazingness that is Treasure Blume.

This author is crazy good at introducing the love interest - Dennis. She's great at writing period but I am mainly so happy to see how she wrote the love they had for each other and how it naturally progressed that I felt like shaking my book (computer in this case) and saying THANK YOU! Thank you for making such a great love interest who's a generous and nice person. He may not have started out so nice to Treasure but even in those moments I could not get mad at him. He absolutely loves his daughter who's a sweetheart and he's taking care of his mother when she's sick. The only huge mistake he made was in ever being with his ex-wife who's a witch. Why would you do that to yourself!? It's criminal for such a great guy to be with a horror like her. Dennis is the type of guy you want to bring home to your mother but you want to bring home to you too. I cannot praise this relationship and both characters enough.

The grandma's a bit off her rocker but in a good way. She's very opinionated and very loud. She's loud in what she wears, what she does, and what she says. Her fire has some sweetness in it too because you know how much she cares about Treasure by just seeing them together and the advice she gives her. Did I mention how much she loves to dance too? That gave you some bad images, didn't it? A grandma in a leotard or skin tight clothes. That's what comes to mind for me but I just laugh it off because she's just so fun to read about. Here's this woman who dislikes everyone she meets and even though it took her a while to get past it she was able to so that her personality shines all throughout the book.

It was hard for Treasure to believe that she would ever get a teaching job but she did. She also got to meet someone who has the worst attitude ever towards her. She's used to being tough for herself and brushing comments off but this woman has her flustered. Bonnie, the senior secretary, is the villain in this story. She uses her brother's position as superintendent over everybody's head to get her way. There is no way I will ever be swayed to see her as anything other than a bully. Every good story needs a good villain and this one provides an excellent one. She frustrated me to my core but she was such a good villain that I ended up liking her role (notice I didn't say I liked her character) anyways. She portrayed the bad guy quite masterfully with her "I'm better than you" attitude and provided some obstacles for Treasure.

If you haven't noticed I completely loved this story. There was a love interest that wasn't a bad boy which is a nice change I'm seeing in my reading. I know this is not what you would call a YA book so there aren't usually bad boys (I think) in Adult books but still. This author did everything right. From the plot, to the characters, to the story, to everything! This is an uplifting story that makes you think. I even think, dare I say it?, this could go in my favorite pile. Now if I'm even considering adding an Adult book into my favorite pile you know this book was seriously awesome. I hope I was able to give this book the most glowing review possible because it's worth the read. Heck, it's worth the buy! I feel like I need to get this book when it comes out and share it with my mother who hardly ever likes anything I want her to read. So one last word to sum up this book - Beautiful.


About the Author:


"Lisa Rumsey Harris grew up writing stories and riding horses in Southeastern Idaho. She recieved a bachelor's and master's degree in English from Brigham Young University, ehere she now teaches writing classes. Lisa lives in Orem Utah, with her ancient Siamese cat, her husband (who cooks nearly as well as Dennis) and her two adorable daughters. Check out her world at http://www.treasureblume.com/ or on facebook at Lisa Rumsey Harris, author." -Summary provided by the author


Thanks so much to Cedar Fort for letting me review this book!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Haunted Week October 24th-31st 2012

{This Girl Reads}

I'm participating in a week of Halloween posts. I don't know if my post will be necessarily scary for everyone but mostly readers everywhere. This Haunted Week is hosted by This Girl Reads. Here's what I'll be blogging about:

October 24th
Ghosts of books Half-Read
Ever had the feeling someone was watching you? It just might be the spirit of a book you haven't put to rest. Today feature five books you began but never finished.

October 25th
Even the biggest book enthusiasts have some bats in their belfries about things in books that drive them insane. Today tell your readers about five things that drive you crazy in books. 

October 26th
Skeletons on My Bookshelf
Supposedly, everyone has a few skeletons in their closet - I think everyone has a few on their bookshelves, too. Today feature five books you've owned for a long time but never read.

October 27th
Back From The Grave
Get ready to dig up your past and bring some of your old friends back to life: Today feature five books you read and loved as a kid.

October 28th
It Came From the Web
You never know what's going to creep onto the web. Sometimes, however, you get a pleasant surprise. Today feature and link to five amazing book blogs you've found recently.

October 29th
Tricked or Treated
Some books aren't at all what you expected - which can be good or bad. Today feature five books you read that were either a pleasant surprise or nasty surprise.

October 30th
The epitigraph is the inscription on a tombstone - you could say it's a person's last words. Today, quote the last line of five books.

October 31st
Beware of Book Review
To finish off a week of spook-tastic fun, review a scary story of your choice!

I have to go start thinking of books!

Smile by Raina Telgemeier

Title- Smile
Author- Raina Telgemeier
Stand Alone
Format- Paperback
Publisher- Graphix (Imprint of Scholastic)
Published- February 1st 2010
Pages- 214
Source- Library

Overview: 
After running after her friend, tripping, and messing up her front two teeth Raina begins her journey as an inevitable awkward teen with a metal mouth. In the author's true story she recounts her Middle and High School years. Crushes, Friends, Band, and Braces describe the life of Raina and many teenagers in the past, present, and future. It's part of the stage in your life that you want to forget but you also don't because it helps to define you. The question is - will Raina survive it?

Review: 

After Raina runs after her friend, trips, and falls on her face she must go to the dentist. There she discovers that not only will she need braces but extensive work on one of her missing teeth while the other one is lodged up in her gums. To say her life sucked at this moment would be a huge understatement. I want to point out something that I will be pointing out all throughout this review - this girl is me. I too ran after a boy in a hide and seek game and had enough time to move from the impending wall right in front of my face but I am an air brain so I hit that and chipped my tooth. The dentist later filed down my two front teeth because they were large anyways which would have been nice to know before he brought this team of dentists to have surgery on my mouth years earlier. I could feel Raina's pain like I'm sure a whole bunch of metal mouths can. I actually like the term metal mouth which I've never been called before. It's sounds cool like your into metal or hard rock bands. Braces may be essential but they are evil. I also feel her pain in her messing up her teeth in a split second. Not only do you feel embarrassed afterwards, you have to deal with the dentists.



There were pictures littered everywhere with what they were doing to her teeth. At least my accident wasn't as bad as hers but she does talk about having braces and what you have to go through. The tightening of braces that feels like horrible things are happening to you and the pain that comes after it. How you can't eat solid foods right after you get your braces because of the slight problem of not being able to open your mouth for risk of horrendous pain! But it's something a lot of people go through and it's not like you are damaged afterwards. Once it's off it's over... well for most of us. Maybe not so much for Raina who had to get braces twice. The artwork itself is pretty bright and lively. Telegemeier has a distinct style that you can also see in her sequel to this book - Drama.


You know when you're a young girl and start crushing on boys (this goes for crushing for the same sex and boys crushing too)? Your head just filling up with possibilities? Should you say something, if so what? That tongue tied feeling? Your heart all a flutter? It's a bother but Raina describes it so well. I like how not everything in her life is perfect this way. You would think I would think that just because of the whole teeth debacle but with boys it's different. If everything went perfectly for her I just couldn't relate to her so well and I don't think many would relate to it her so well because it's even more universal than braces. The awkwardness of havin a crush must be just that. Awkward! She acts like a kid with the people she crushes on and how she crushed. She acts a little selfish too but it's all right because that's how you learn! Mistakes: troublesome but needed.

Band = Torture. For me at least it was. It didn't end very well... Raina doesn't really talk much about band but she does talk about the boy sitting next to her and her blushing ways. It was adorable. I am so glad for her that she was able to pull off her instrument and had no scarring moments dealing with band which is by the way the worst possible elective. Looking back now I should have asked to go into the wind instrument class or P.E. Raina seemed to have a good time from what I can decipher. I would have been exhausted afterwards if I had to sit next to a boy I liked trying not to smile like an idiot or say or do anything stupid. Such is the life of a teenage girl.

I could just hit Raina's so called friends. I too picked the wrong friends in Middle School. For Raina they would mock and laugh at her which can really bring a girl's self-esteem down. There are sometimes some friends that you choose to silently let go of because it's not working. You naturally grow apart or you do it on purpose. Then there are others where you have to stand up for yourself and say NO! I will not take your abuse any longer. Raina is based on the author so she of course has artistic talent. As a result she found some nice friends almost immediately. Unfortunately I had to wait till senior year to find the right group of people for me. It still ended well. It's always a process to find true friends.

I love how her story ends up with her building her confidence up and I love her words about growing out of her former friendships while gaining new healthier ones: "The more I focused on my interests, the more it brought out things I liked about myself. And that affected the way other people saw me!" (I didn't know the exact words from the book because I don't have it with me so I found this in an author interview here.) It's so true. Her words and her story are such an inspiration. I could relate to her so well and absolutely loved this graphic novel for coming into my life. It's like saying I'm not alone. We are not alone. Everybody's had their moments. Everybody's crushed on a boy or girl before. Lots of people have had to deal with friendships that weren't good for them even your parents. Lots of people have gone through the stage of awkwardness. It isn't just you. You aren't alone.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Blog Tour: Just Remember to Breathe

Title: Just Remember to Breathe
Author- Charles Sheehan-Miles
Stand Alone
Format- epub
Publisher- Cincinnatus Press
Release Date- November 12th 2012
Pages-364
Source- Enchanted Book Promotions

Overview: 
Alex never really got over her ex Dylan after he broke her heart so when he shows up out of the blue at her university she doesn't know whether to cry or scream. She had fallen head over heels for Dylan in another country, another world... another time. They struggled with a long distance relationship but nothing could have prepared her for Dylan's sudden removal from her life with no explanation.

After Dylan comes back from Afghanistan he must still face a war on his home ground - with himself. His guilt for surviving a roadside bombing while his friend was killed causes him to stray away from people he thinks he might hurt. After all it is his fault his friend died. So he suffers alone with only his crippled leg and messed up memory to keep him company. Then he sees her. Alex. The girl who made his heart come alive like never before but who also shattered it completely when she broke it off with him.

Now they are stuck in a work study while going to the same school. They try to resist their attraction to one another but can't seem to stop talking, going places together, or letting each other become closer together. Most of all they keep on breaking their own rules. Rules that would definitely advise against sneaking longing looks at each other and talking about the past, mostly about how they are still deeply in love with each other.

Review:
I haven't read any adult books lately so this book was a treat for me although you could consider it young adult for the older people of that category. Alex goes to an Ivy League which her overbearing parents are just thrilled about. Her parents are very uppity and stress manners. Their the highbrow type of people who look down at you because you don't make six figures. At least that's the impression I got of them. So how did Alex end up after a childhood and teenage life with them? She ended up always staying in the lines her parents set out for her. So falling in love with a poor boy with a messed up family life wouldn't settle right with the parents but you can't just choose the people you fall in love with.

Alex happened to be my one major problem with this book. Most of the time towards the beginning I couldn't stand her. She even knew she was acting like a witch. She would accuse Dylan of coming to her school because he wanted her back like she was all that. She really frustrated me to the point that I didn't think I would end up liking her at all BUT further into the book my opinion changed. When she became less irate about everything I saw her point of view. She actually works well with Dylan and has her own struggles she has to deal with in the book. By the end I have a completely different outlook on her personality. She is stronger than I could have ever realized.

I NEVER read books about the war or 9/11. I don't like to read about real life events. I prefer to be in my imagination world. Just Remember to Breathe provided a happy medium. I was able to get this soldier who I really cared for because of what his family like was before and his pain in the present. I usually like the guys better in stories. Girls are usually portrayed as too emotional so no wonder. Dylan is the type of guy you want to try to help but also admire. The war part of his life made me grow closer to him rather than farther away like I think it would have before which resulted in me really liking the story.

I couldn't help feeling sorry for Dylan because he blamed everything on himself. He always thought he wasn't good enough for Alex and I couldn't believe him. Just because you have less money means nothing! If you can build yourself up the way he did and get into a really good university while having the character he has, that's what I respect more. I'm not going to respect a person who has it all right there in their fingertips (Alex was actually hardworking and got to where she was on her own merit). I am going to respect a person more that struggled all throughout life and still came out okay. I would have been intimidated if I was like Alex and not the other way around because he was such a success in his own right.

There was such loyalty from both sides of their friends. Alex had a roommate who always talked like there was loud music on. I could understand Alex's frustration with her because I wouldn't be able to deal with that screechy cheery voice all the time but Kelly proved to be a great friend. She was always there for Alex and would hurt anyone who tried to hurt her. Dylan also had a friend later in the game. A person's who's personality you would think would be like a jock - arrogant and selfish. His friend actually just had a big personality and was always concerned for Dylan like he was his brother. I love that there are always friends around in books that you can't help but liking as much or maybe even more than the main characters. It's nice to know that there is somewhere where not everyone would stab you in the back. There are actual caring people in the world whether they be a screechy roommate or a massively tall soldier.

I must talk about the romance. It's a New Adult Romance book so it's a topic that must be addressed  It seemed plainly obvious that they wanted to get back together. Without realizing it they just slipped back into being a couple. It was pretty romantic how they met and came back together after all that time. So different than those teenagers from before. Dylan had dropped out of school, he had gone to the army, and he had lost some friends. Alex grew distant when it came to getting a relationship. They both changed so much and when they met again they had to discover new things about each other but they still had that spark that could never go away with time. There is one adult moment but other than that I thought all together the author did a good job in never overwhelming me with a bunch of make out sessions that I definitely don't want to read about which I'm grateful for. They both whether they liked it or not needed each other and wanted each other. They could be stubborn and they could be passionate about their love. Just Remember to Breathe ended up being a wonderful read that inadvertently gave me a new respect for our soldiers.

About the Author


"I’m a forty-ish writer of several novels including Republic, Insurgent, Prayer at Rumayla and Just Remember to Breathe.  I’ve got a few short stories and two non-fiction books out there as well.
My background: I spent some time traveling the Middle East on my own in the late nineteen eighties, then went back courtesy of the United States Army as a tank crewman during the 1991 Gulf War.  After that I spent most of the next two decades pursuing dual careers: nonprofit activist and information technology professional. Eventually the two combined: from 2003 until 2009 I was completely in the nonprofit sector, served as executive director of two nonprofits and director of IT of a third.
Unfortunately, when the 2008 economic crash hit, it took my career with it. For several years I had to retool, and managed restaurants in the Atlanta area. Recently I found my way back into my chosen career: I work in veterans outreach and public affairs for a law firm which represents disabled veterans. In my free time I write books, this blog, play with the kids, and generally try to make it through life doing as much good as possible."


Book Excerpt


While we waited for the wagon train to pull up with his breakfast, I asked him, “So, um… I know this is weird, but other than Doctor Forrester’s work, I don’t really know much about what you’re doing these days.”
He leaned back and looked me in the eyes, an odd smile on his face. “That’s a pretty open-ended question,” he replied.
Oh, wow. That was exactly what I’d said to him on an airplane a lifetime ago. “You remember that?”
“I’d answer that, but I don’t want to break the rules.”
“Very funny,” I said, wrinkling my nose at him.
He grinned, and said, “All right, fair enough. You go first.”
“What?”
“I won’t say if I remember it or not. But you get to ask the first question.”
I laughed and shook my head. “All right. I guess I let myself in for that one. Why exactly did you pick Columbia University of all places?”
He shrugged. “Believe it or not, Columbia has really active outreach to vets. One of the recruitment guys found me in a hospital room at Walter Reed back in March. The rest is history.”
At this point he was leaning back in his chair, one arm resting on the empty seat next to him. I leaned back in mine as well, stretching my feet across underneath the table and letting them sit on the empty chair.
“Your turn,” I said.
He looked at me, and I blushed a little, looked down at the table.
“So, last winter you were trying to decide what to write for your final paper. What did you end up settling on?”
I took a deep breath, and looked up at him. “I can’t believe you remember that. I mean… you were in the middle of a war, and getting shot at and blown up and hospitalized, and you remember me agonizing over my paper?”
A sideways smile, and he replied, “I’m the one asking the question right now.”
I rolled my eyes. “Okay. I ended up doing a paper on the legal defenses for rape in the nineteenth century in the United States.”
“Wow,” he said. “That’s fantastic. I’d love to read it sometime. I probably wouldn’t understand word one of the legal stuff, but I’m interested anyway.”
“Don’t knock yourself, Dylan. You may come from a different background than me, but you’re a smart guy.”
“Not anymore,” he said, grimacing and tapping on his forehead.
I grimaced, thinking with regret that I wished he’d stop beating up on himself, and said, “My turn?”
He nodded.
I thought. There was so much I wanted to know. And most of it skirted too close to the topics we avoided, too much of it broke the rules, too much of it simply led to heartache. Finally, I said, “What was the best thing you saw in Afghanistan? I know there was horror, and war. But were there moments of … I don’t know… grace?”
He swallowed, and nodded once. I was astonished to see his eyes start to water.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to —“
He held up a hand, saying stop. “It’s okay.” He took a deep breath, then said, “Okay. So, we’re out there in the boonies. And I mean… way out there. Little village in the middle of nowhere called Dega Payan. It’s way up in the mountains, and until a couple years ago, there wasn’t even much of a road to connect them to anything. It was like a five hour drive to get anywhere.”
“So, one day we’re there. Helping distribute food, there’s UN workers, and we’re trying to make a nice impression and all that. And there’s this little girl, standing there watching us. I guess she was … about twelve maybe? I could picture her in middle school, if they allowed her to go to school, which they probably don’t. Anyway, she was smiling, and joking around. Kowalski… he was from Nevada. Also from the middle of nowhere, go figure. Kowalski gives her a candy bar, and she hugs him. And then he turns to come back to us, and we hear a clink sound. Everybody panics, and I look down, and see the grenade. Someone threw it from the crowd, and it landed right at the little girl’s feet.”
Oh, my God. All I could think was, this was his moment of grace? His good thing that happened?
His eyes were really red now, and his face twisted a little as he said, “So, anyway, Kowalski… he threw himself on the grenade. He hugged it, with his back to the little girl. And it went off, and … he was just … shredded. Killed instantly. And you know… that little girl… she didn’t get touched. Not even a drop of blood. He saw that little girl, and just … threw his life away to save her.”
I shook my head, and even though he couldn’t cry, I started to. I couldn’t help myself. Because when he was telling that story, it was like I could see into his soul, and oh, God, did that hurt.
“I’m so sorry,” I said. “I’m sorry I asked. I’m so sorry that happened.”
“No,” he said, shaking his head. “Don’t be. Don’t you get it? Can you imagine the … the heroism? That’s what grace is all about. He didn’t even think for one second about himself. All he thought about was that little girl, and saving her life.”
I sniffled. “Okay, new rule. If I’m about to ask you something that will make me start crying when I hear the answer, um, can you veto the question?”
He smiled, gently, and said, “If you want.”
“Your turn then.”
The waitress showed up then, and brought us our food. And … let me tell you. I had actually underestimated how much he ordered. She had to bring two trays. Seriously. He tried to reorganize the plates a little, and ended up taking three quarters of the table. Pulling the pancakes toward him, he poured about ten thousand calories worth of syrup and butter on them, then started eating.
After swallowing he said, “Okay. What’s your favorite thing to do now that you’re in New York?”
I took a small bite of toast while I thought. Then I frowned. What was my favorite thing? I had things I liked to do, for sure. Kelly and I going out together. Going to the Butler Library. Picnicking in Riverside Park. What else? It’s not that I hadn’t enjoyed my freshman year in college, I really did. It’s just that… nothing stuck out that I could tag as a favorite thing. Except one. And that was … sitting in Doctor Forrester’s office. With Dylan.
I frowned, then said, “I can’t answer that one.”
He widened his eyes and grinned. “You’re kidding me. That’s not in the rules.”
“Screw the rules,” I said. “The only answer I can give is a lie.”
“Why?”
“Pick some other question, soldier boy.”
“I’ll get an answer one way or another. You can’t tell me you’ve been in New York for a year and you still haven’t come up with anything you love doing.”
“I can tell you anything I want.”
“You set the rules of this game, Alex. Not allowed to lie.”
“Nothing says I have to answer, though.”
He shook his head, then laughed. “I’m going to be obsessed with this.”
“Why?”
“Because in all the time I’ve known you, I have never seen you change the rules of anything mid-game. This is just… mind-blowing.”
I wanted to growl at him. Instead I ate a bite of my eggs, then said, “If I answer, you have to promise to just forget I said it.”
He was thoroughly enjoying this. God. “All right,” he said. “My short term memory sucks anyway.”
I stifled a laugh, then said, “Okay. Then the truth is, the time we’ve been working together in Doctor Forrester’s … that’s the answer.”
He blinked, the smile slipping for a fraction. I couldn’t figure out what his expression meant, because if I’d seen a picture of it, I would have guessed abject terror. But that only lasted a moment, and then he said, “I don’t remember any question or answer, so I get another one, right?”
“Dylan! That’s not fair!”
Now he was really grinning.
“Fine,” I said, trying not to break out laughing. He looked so happy.
“Okay,” he said. “Now I’m finally getting somewhere.”
I chuckled. I couldn’t help it.
“Let’s see…. Kelly’s still your roommate here, I’m thinking. Tell me all about the last time you two went out. I want to know about your life here. What did you guys do?”
Jesus. He had a knack for asking heavy questions, didn’t he? But, I found myself telling him the story. Of our night out, and how Randy had grabbed my arm, and she pepper sprayed him. I left out all discussion of Dylan, of course. I also left out the background between me and Randy, including the fact that I’d known him since middle school, and especially the fact that he’d tried to rape me.
“Okay, wait a minute, I don’t understand. I get it that the guy was coming on too strong, but why did she pepper spray him?”
Suddenly I was blinking back tears again.
“Oh, shit,” he said. “I’m sorry. Whatever it is, you don’t have to talk about it if you don’t want to.”
I bit my lower lip, then whispered, “He tried to rape me last spring.”
Everything about Dylan’s demeanor changed in an instant. He went from relaxed, enjoying himself, then concerned, but after the word “rape” came out of my mouth, he was sitting up straight in his chair, alert. His face had gone cold, rage in his eyes like I’d never seen before. He was shaking.
“What did you say his name was?” he asked, his voice very low.
“It doesn’t matter,” I said.
“Yes. It does.”
“Why?”
“Because if I ever see him, I’m going to put him in a fucking hospital. For a long time.”
He was serious. Really serious. I had no doubt that if Randy Brewer was in front of us right now, Randy would end up in the hospital. And Dylan… would end up in jail.
“You really have changed a lot,” I whispered.
“What?” he asked.
“I’ve known you … in a lot of different ways. But the one thing I’ve never thought about you was that you might be dangerous. Except to me.”
He blinked. “Alex. Listen… whatever our history is, doesn’t change the way I feel about you. The way I’ve always felt about you. I’d do anything to …”
He stopped. Was he struggling over a word again? Or holding back? Or was there a difference? And he didn’t even say a word about me telling him he was dangerous for me. Because really, he knew that, didn’t he? That we were dangerous to each other. Where was the big surprise in me saying that? I turned back to his stall.
“You’d do anything to what?”
He almost growled in frustration. “To … go back… go back and prevent that from happening to you. To protect you.”
Was he about to say, to go back and change things? To go back and not hang up on me that night? To not disappear like he did?
“Listen to me, Dylan. This is important.”
He was still staring at me, his eyes crazy intense. He nodded. “Okay.”
“Forget about it. It’s past. Okay? We don’t need that. We don’t need… this. Eat your breakfast. All right? Time for a change of subject.”
He looked at me, calm, his gaze cool. Concentrating. I felt a bead of sweat in my hair, and took a deep breath.
“All right,” he said. His voice had fallen back into that low growl that used to drive me insane. “It’s your turn.”
“My turn for what?”
“Your game.”
I closed my eyes. This was a playful game four years ago. Now it was … frightening. Time to turn to something more cheerful.
“I’m not sure I want to play any more.”
He practically collapsed in his seat, no longer intense, no longer staring. He closed his eyes, and took a deep breath, and said, “I’m sorry. Christ, I’m sorry. Alex, I’ve got some… let’s just say, anger issues.”
“I can see that,” I said, desperately trying to regain the light tone we’d had before.
“So ask me a question,” he said. “But try to pick something not so intense, and I’ll do the same.”
I shook my head, then said, “All right. Your favorite memory, ever.”
He smiled bitterly. “I can’t answer that. It’s against the rules.”
“Oh, screw the rules. Tell me.”
He took a deep, shuddering breath. “My favorite memory, was sleeping with you in my arms in the Tel Aviv hostel the night before we left. It was … bittersweet, but wonderful. I didn’t actually sleep that night. I just watched you. All that night, and then again, all the way home on the plane. We only had a few hours left, and I didn’t want to lose a second of it sleeping. I was up about forty eight hours I think, finally crashed hard on the plane back to Atlanta from New York.”
I gave him a small, tentative smile. “Mine is the night we first kissed.”
“Near the Dead Sea,” he replied.
“It was dark, and the wind was blowing,” I said, “and it was cool, and we were alone.”
“You said, ‘This could get complicated.’”
I suddenly laughed out loud, trying to hold back tears at the same time. I remembered saying that. I’d never been more right in my life. “It sure did.”
“Yeah,” he said. “It did.”
“Where did we go wrong?”
He shrugged. “I don’t know if it’s because we couldn’t let go, or because we let go too much.”
I shook my head. “I don’t either.”
He looked at the table, and didn’t reply.
Finally, I said in a near whisper, “Dylan… do you ever think…” I couldn’t finish the question.
He kept looking at the table, and then replied, so quietly I almost couldn’t hear him. “Always,” he said.
I swallowed. “We should go.”
“Yeah,” he replied.


Giveaway!

The author has kindly provided an ebook copy of Just Remember to Breathe to give away.

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