Saturday, March 31, 2012
#22 Book Read in 2012
This is the first in a young adult series.
Cassia is a teenage girl in a society where choices are made for citizens--what job they are picked for, who they are matched with and what food they eat are just some of the decisions made for them. Cassia is matched with Xander, her childhood friend. But then she sees a picture of Ky, a neighborhood boy as well, as a match for her too. This is unheard of and must be some sort of mistake. Cassia is told that it was an error by an Official but she finds herself more and more drawn to Ky. But to ignore the match made for her would bring problems done upon her family.
This was a good read. I was drawn to Cassia's desire to make her own path in life. There was a romantic triangle that worked and that had members that readers would care about. I will continue on to the second book, Crossed.
Friday, March 23, 2012
#21 Book Read in 2012
A Deadly Cliche
This is the second book in a great cozy mystery series. In this book, Olivia finds a dead body while walking on the beach with her dog. There are also a rash of robberies where the thieves leave behind a cliche as a calling card. Olivia and Laurel begin their own investigation into these crimes, in the hopes of helping out Chief Rawlings. At the same time, Olivia is also contacted that her father, presumed dead for decades, is alive and for a price, she will be given information on where to find him.
This book has good mystery story lines with good twists and turns. The characters are well-written and interesting. Olivia is a strong female lead who keeps her head in the heat of danger. I love her canine companion. He embodies canine courage and loyalty. The members of the writing club are great characters who are getting more fleshed out with each new book in the series.
I recommend this series highly. These are good cozy mystery reads. I cannot wait to begin the third book in the series, which is in my TBR pile already.
Monday, March 19, 2012
I am always amazed to hear that, in the year 2012, women are still talking about strong female characters. It’s funny that we’re always surprised when one comes along. Even in Hollywood, actresses still can’t find roles to sink their teeth into. As a reader, I look for characters that I can relate to in some way; a character who is more than a damsel in distress but less than an unfeeling, mean, witch. I’m putting it gently, but I’m looking for someone, who when facing a problem, doesn’t necessarily need a man to bail her out--a woman who can take care of herself in spite of her vulnerabilities. Because in reality, women are multi-layered and complex. We don’t fall to one end of an extreme or the other.
When I was younger, I started reading Danielle Steele, but I couldn't read her for long. Her female characters were far too needy and always put themselves in a position of requiring a savior. Even as a child, I couldn't help but wonder why these characters always needed a man to improve their lives. Why couldn’t they simply take care of themselves? It seemed as though female characters fell into two camps, and only two. They were either villains, witches, someone to be hated and despised, or they were weak, pathetic, your classic damsels in distress. Why is fiction lacking real women, women who can simply be human and celebrate all that they are?
As I got older, I found myself drawn to shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I saw in Buffy a strong character. Yes, she could kick ass, kill the vampires and fight the demons. She also had a brain, could plan, and could save the world each week. But she wasn't uni-dimensional. She also has a side that liked clothes, shoes and boys, a side that was feminine, a little vulnerable; a side that, okay, sometimes needed to be saved. She was a complex female character, real and human, a character with whom I could definitely relate.
The strong female character isn’t a caricature or stereotype. She’s not a total wimp like Snow White, and she’s not a total monster like the evil queen. She falls somewhere in the middle. She’s reactive, emotional, human, sexual, confident and sometimes unsure of herself.
When I originally wrote my character Annie Pearce in The Day of First Sun, I wrote her as a no-nonsense person, strong and smart, the girl who could survive on her own. But she didn’t feel genuine. As the story unfolded and changed, I rewrote her, gave her friends and family with whom she could interact. I gave her feelings, gave her stress. I let the other characters take charge once in awhile and offer some support. I melded two halves into one woman--a strong woman, who can take care of herself and ask for help when necessary. We’re not perfect, so why should our characters be? Instead, why can’t we make them simply authentic?
Charlize Theron made a really compelling comment regarding her character in the movie Young Adult. She said, "Women are usually either really good prostitutes or really good mothers. Maybe women are finally getting the chance to play more honest characters," Theron said. "We usually don't get to play bad hookers or bad mothers -- or anything in between."
Maybe it’s time to be a little more real and a little more honest.
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An excerpt from this book:
Please enjoy this excerpt from the urban fantasy novel, The Day of First Sun. Then read on to learn how you can win huge prizes as part of this blog tour, including $450 in Amazon gift cards, a Kindle Fire, and 5 autographed copies of the book.
Sturtagaard chose not to speak, though it was he who had called for the meeting. They both checked their watches and realized they had been sitting across from him for ten minutes, watching him sniff the air. If he wanted to play this, they would play along at least for a little while longer, though both were tired of the leering. As the vampire sniffed again, Cham finally figured out why.
"You know, you called us. We really don't have anything to say to you, so if you're just playing games, we're happy to leave. I've got other, more important things to do than watch you sniff and leer," Cham finally said, and stood up.
Sturtagaard smiled as he watched Cham open the door because he much preferred dealing with Annie, but when she stood up, too, he realized he'd overplayed his hand.
"If I talk, my employer will have me staked. I'd like some assurance that you won't do the same," he said rather quickly, before they left.
They turned and looked at him, both rolling their eyes.
"I'll have you staked if you don't talk," replied Cham, as he stood by the door.
"You're out of options if you ever hope to get out of here again," Annie said calmly, focusing on his face.
Sturtagaard squirmed a little in his seat, as Annie's expression was somewhat disquieting and unemotional. He looked at Cham, whose face was expressionless, and then back to Annie, who hadn't moved a muscle. The vampire sighed.
"You heard right. I was hired to create a zombie army to overthrow the Wizard Council," Sturtagaard said. His voice remained steady and calm with resignation.
"Who wants to overthrow the Council?" asked Cham, his hand still clutching the door.
"My employer. I've told you, I don't know who he is. I always dealt with his associate. He'd show up, leave notes, or send others with messages. I've never contacted him." He looked from one to the other, but they both remained stony and detached. "Come on, now. I can't give you information I don't have." Sturtagaard was charming.
Annie rolled her eyes again. "You really don't have any idea who the employer is?" she asked with sarcasm.
"Really, I don't," he said.
"So you're building an army of the dead. How long did you have to get this done?" Annie took out her phone and pulled out her calendar.
"He wanted it ready for September first."
Annie looked up with a grimace, and Cham looked surprised. She didn't need to mark the date on her calendar or research its significance, though neither could figure out why a zombie army had to be created for that day, the Day of First Sun. It was a very powerful and ancient day for good magic.
"So, your employer wants an army of the dead on that day? Why?" Cham asked in a flat, emotionless voice.
"He's a black wizard. What do you think he wants? He wants to overthrow the Council, take over the world, practice magic in the open. You know, the typical magical fantasy." Sturtagaard grinned because he believed that would benefit the entire supernatural world.
"Wipe the smirk off your face, Sturtagaard. Having free reign won't be as good as you think, with all the angry mobs, torches, and stakes through the heart."
Annie smirked at Cham, who shook his head and laughed. He waited to compose himself before looking back at the vampire.
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About the book: A vampire, a rogue wizard and an army of soulless zombies are par for the course for Annie Pearce and Bobby “Cham” Chamsky of the Wizard’s Guard. But when the non-magical princess, Amelie of Amborix, is murdered by magical means, a deeper plot unfolds. Get it on Amazon.
Friday, March 16, 2012
#20 Book Read in 2012
Showstoppers is the second in a mystery series. Emily receives a letter that belongs to her neighbor Victoria. Victoria tells Emily that she has been receiving threatening letters in the mail. Victoria believes that the letters have to do with a video she made in drama school; she believes this video brings bad luck to all who watches it. Victoria's ex, who was in the video with her, is coming to check out a dance school Victoria runs and she hires Emily to work at the dance school and keep an eye on her ex. While at the end of the year show, Victoria's nasty landlord is found dead and she believes he has watched the video and this is his bad luck. . . but was it.
This book was a good, quick read. Emily is an interesting character. She has spunk and a good sense of humor. The secondary characters are decent, especially Dr. Muriel. The book seems rushed a bit though, which probably has to do with its short length--I think Emily can handle keeping a full length book interesting for readers.
I received this book from the author for review.
Monday, March 5, 2012
#19 Book read in 2012
The Berlin Boxing Club (YA)
This book is set in Nazi Germany but that is sort of in the background of Karl Stern's learning to box and coming of age. Karl is given boxing lessons from a premier German boxer. He does well once he trains for a while and begins to win in tournaments. But the others in the boxing club do not know Karl is a Jew and he makes sure to keep that a secret.
This book details the discrimination faced by Jews, the condemnation they faced by others and the horrors they endured. But it is not strictly a holocaust novel. Karl is a complex and interesting character and this book details his progression from boy to man. He becomes a strong figure in his family dynamic and he stands up for what he believes in.
This book was a good YA historical fiction read.
Thursday, March 1, 2012
#18 Book Read in 2012
One Crazy Summer (YA)
Delphine and her two sisters have grown up without their mother; she left them and moved cross country. When Delphine is 11 she and her sisters are flown out to CA to spend a month with their mother. Their mother has cahnged her name and is involved with the Black Panthers. She is distant from the girls. Delphine begins to learn about the organization and what they are fighting for and also learns about her mother.
This was a good, quick read. I did not know much about the Black Panthers and this book does not go into overwhelming detail about the organization but gives some background on it. The sisters are well written and I was curious to see what sort of relationship they would have with their mother by the end of the book.
I borrowed this book from the public library.
#17 Book Read in 2012
This was good historical, young adult fiction.
Aggie is about to make her debut into society. She has seemingly caught the eye of a rich, eligible bachelor. Aggie is more drawn to a young man she meets at a museum and the two are drawn into a mystery together. This mystery could help save England from the French invasion. While the two are trying to solve the mystery, they begin to make an emotional connection as well.
This book was a decent mystery. There was good action in it. I loved how Aggie kept referring to Jane Austen's books. The characters in this book were well written and interesting. I enjoyed it.