I've moved bookishwhimsy.com to tumblr! This blog is now an archive of my past posts.


Sunday, June 30, 2013

Suspense Sundays (51) Zero Hour

Posted by Charlene // Tags: ,
Suspense was a radio series from 1942 to 1962.  I have a fondness for "Old Time Radio" as we call it now, and Suspense is my favorite show.  It sets up weird, dark, scary, or intriguing stories with a plot twist in the end, and all in half an hour.  For Suspense Sundays I'll give a short review of an episode.   {My archive list of episodes}


"Zero Hour"
Air date: April 5, 1955
Starring Isa Ashdown and Paula Winslowe
>>Episodes here<<

Mrs. Morris isn't too concerned when her daughter Mink is so involved playing a game called Invasion.  She says she's helping Martians who want to invade Earth and are using the more imaginative and open-minded children to help them.  And when they take over they will get rid of all the adults.  Zero hour is at 5 p.m.  Mrs. Morris isn't too concerned until she gets a phone call from her friend from out of state who tells her the exact same game is being played by her children, and the children of another person she knows.  What's going to happen at 5 o'clock??

Holy flying Tardis!  What an awesome episode!  This episode is based on a short story by Ray Bradbury and apparently was quite controversial when it aired.  And no wonder, it's pretty disturbing.  I was wondering how far the story would go, and it went way farther than I thought it would.  For a story for the fifties.  This has an excellent plot, and great building of suspense.  It's so believable, and the performance by the child actress is chilling!  

Friday, June 28, 2013

Review: Nandana's Mark

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , ,
Nandana's Mark
The Queen of the Realm of Faerie #1
by Heidi Garrett

Plot Summary:

As a half-faerie and an outcast, Melia longs to fly--like her mother and the other fullblood faeries. However, her lack of wings becomes the least of her concerns when startling visions of destruction, linked to her father's ambitions, escalate. Desperate to stop them, Melia visits the Illustrator and receives a strange mark on her forehead. The mark will draw a green-eyed stranger--one who shares her obsessions--to the Realm of Faerie.

The Queen of the Realm of Faerie series is inspired by the 14th century French fairy tale, Melusine.

Review:

The book picks up very quickly, and the world-building is very complex which made the story a very absorbing read.  There are many rules and lands and characters in the Faerie Realm, which could make the story confusing at times, but there is a glossary in the back to help.  The conflict in the story centers around Melia's father's ambition to raise the evil consciousness Umbra, and the effects of his actions and the actions of others creates more and more complications.  All the plot threads work together to create tension, and the author moves from character to character to tell the story.  It's not as jarring as I've come to expect from other novels that do this, and I thought the twists and turns this story took were so unexpected that it definitely kept me reading.

The characters, especially Melia and her sisters, were very engaging and well written.  The author has created a very interesting family history for them with complex emotions behind their actions.  The take on the faerie realms and the world-building were all very intriguing and the characters interesting and complex.  I did have a problem with the ending which was pretty much a cliffhanger and left nothing resolved.  It's the first book in a series though, and while I think I would have enjoyed it more if it felt more like a complete story, it is a very entertaining first book.

I received this book from the publisher or author for a fair and honest review. I was not compensated for this review.
Thursday, June 27, 2013

Guest Post: Price of a Bounty

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , ,
Price of a Bounty
by S.L. Wallace

Thank you S.L. Wallace for sharing your thoughts and a excerpt from your new book with my blog!

Guest post:

Have you ever wondered what the world would be like if there were no middle class? What if the corporate elite were underhanded and ruthless? What... You're saying they already are? Well, what if it was even more extreme? And what if this led to a great divide between the haves and the have nots, with absolutely no middle class to help support society? What would that would look like? What would it feel like? These were my questions as I began to create Terene, a future dystopian society.

I decided to examine Terene on a very personal level by creating siblings who have taken different paths in life. Through their eyes, and from each point of view, readers catch a glimpse of a dark future world that seems eerily like our own.

The Maddock siblings became orphans at a young age, and were raised by their aunt. She cared for them only as long as necessary, and one at a time, she cast them out. Each had a difficult decision to make at age 16, the Age of Eligibility when citizens can leave school and join the military. This means food, clothing, and shelter will be provided for the rest of their life in exchange for their freedom. Scott Maddock takes that route in order to provide for himself and his sisters. Keira, reflects upon her brother's decision in Price of a Bounty. Scott tried to convince her to register as well, but she felt that freedom was too high a price. Instead, Keira ended up on the streets doing whatever was necessary to survive. As a result, she learned that it's best to rely on oneself and not to trust anyone. She also picked up skills that members of the Elite find valuable. In short, by the time we meet her, Keira has become a Freelancer: a hired killer, thief, and bounty hunter. April fares better, or so her siblings believe. When she turned 16, she moved in with Keira and finished high school. She now works as a maid at a wealthy estate. Each of the Maddock siblings have secrets that they keep even from each other. In a world like this, it's a challenge just to survive. Then we meet Guy. He is a member of the Elite, but he doesn't like the world that he sees. He's trying to make a difference, and he's smart enough to know that although one person can change the world, he can only do so with friends at his side.

Book excerpt:


The following excerpt is from the chapter “The Road Less Traveled” and is told from Guy's point of view.

I stood when I noticed Keira walking toward my table. I almost didn't recognize her. Short curly blond hair framed her face and dark blue jeans enhanced her curves. A lacy green shirt caused her emerald eyes to sparkle.

“Hello, I'm Guy Bensen, and you are?”

“Keira Maddock. It's a pleasure to meet you.” She held out her hand.

Instead of a handshake, I gently pressed my lips to the back of her hand. I looked up to see a genuine smile. I pulled out her chair, and Keira placed a black pack at her feet as she sat down.

The waiter arrived, and I ordered drinks, imported Chardonnay.

I leaned forward and spoke quietly. “Thank you for agreeing to see me.”

She nodded and responded just as quietly. “Thank you for inviting me to dinner. Elaine Ramsey, that was you?”

My smile disappeared. “Eberhardt. I wish he hadn't done that. It's not like him to take matters into his own hands. He usually follows orders. It does complicate things.”

She nodded. “I know. If she thought I was dead, she doesn't anymore. Even Scott thought the bomb was my doing. It's why I dyed my hair.” She reached up to toy with a few curls.

“You should change your name.”

She shook her head. “Not yet. I don't have a bank account anymore. My apartment is gone. Madeline Jones is gone. All my paperwork on her was in my apartment when... Anyway, as long as I continue to lay low, Ramsey shouldn't be able to track me.”

I nodded. I wouldn’t bring it up again, but I would get the process started, just in case.

The waiter returned with our drinks, and I placed identical orders: the house salad, tilapia and steamed vegetables. When he left, I noticed a question in Keira's eyes.

“Why did you want to see me?” she asked.

I picked up a thin book, opened it and began to recite:

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair...

Keira concluded the poem:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

“The Road Not Taken, by Robert Frost. Where did you get that?”

I handed her the book. “It was your father's. Scott wanted you to have it. That poem means a lot to me too. I've never been one to take the popular route.” I hesitated, but only for a moment. “I hope I haven't missed the right road,” I finished in a rush.

She smiled. “But how can we know which is the right road?”

“I think I know.” I looked directly into her radiant eyes. She held my gaze.

Our food arrived then. I looked away and took a deep breath.


Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Awesome Adaptations (44) Cupid and Psyche

Posted by Charlene // Tags: ,
This meme celebrates an awesome adaptation related to a weekly category. Any format of adaptation (television series, film, web series, etc.) is acceptable as long as it is based in some form on a book. This meme is hosted by Alisa Selene at PictureMeReading. Check out her site and join in on the fun!

An Awesomely Mythological Adaptation
Title: Cupid and Psyche by Hartley and Kim
Adapted from: the Cupid and Psyche myth

I have traveled to you from Olympus
With all of my greatest speed
To bless you with beauty, grace and love
Which you clearly dearly need.

This is an off-Broadway musical that ran in 2008/2009 and featured a small cast with a focus on the characters of Cupid and Psyche with Venus as the villain.  And it also features such cute songs!  Although the show is set on Mount Olympus, they work in modern references and language to create an anachronistic setting but this also makes for some great funny lines.  It also gives this story a contemporary, accessible feel, especially given the relationship between Cupid and his overbearing mother Venus.  And Psyche's character is fleshed out to become someone who wants to see more of the world than what her small town will give her (almost Disney's Beauty and Beast there!)  The myth is given more heart and character development in this musical, even if the romance is still a little too "insta".

The best part of this musical is how much humor is added!  Mercury, Cupid's best friend, is especially fun because he doesn't understand what Cupid is doing but helps him anyways, while also doing his best to keep the rules of Olympus.  The humor is unexpected in a story that has a bit of darkness to it - especially with Cupid keeping Psyche in the dark about his nature, and Psyche's betrayal (which really, is it that bad? I mean Cupid won't let her see him and she should have been happy with that?!)  The humor keeps the dark at bay and the show very entertaining while the music highlights the sweet romance between the two leads.

This musical has humor, catchy tunes, and a great reimagining of the classic Greek myth. It's a really awesome adaptation!
Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Review: The Nine Fold Heaven

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , ,
The Nine Fold Heaven
by Mingmei Yip

Plot Summary:

In this mesmerizing new novel, Mingmei Yip draws readers deeper into the exotic world of 1930s Shanghai first explored in Skeleton Women, and into the lives of the unforgettable Camilla, Shadow, and Rainbow Chang.

When Shadow, a gifted, ambitious magician, competed with the beautiful Camilla for the affections of organized crime leader Master Lung, she almost lost everything. Hiding out in Hong Kong, performing in a run-down circus, Shadow has no idea that Camilla, too, is on the run with her lover, Jinying--Lung's son.

Yet while Camilla and Shadow were once enemies, now their only hope of freedom lies in joining forces to eliminate the ruthless Big Brother Wang. Despite the danger, Shadow, Camilla, and Jinying return to Shanghai. Camilla also has her own secret agenda--she has heard a rumor that her son is alive. And in a city teeming with spies and rivals--including the vengeful Rainbow Chang--each battles for a future in a country on the verge of monumental change.

Review:

I reviewed the first book in this two book series, Skeleton Women, last year and the savvy, deceptive and cynical main character, Camilla was definitely the reason I enjoyed the book so much.  With her ending from the previous book, there were a few things left unresolved, and I was so glad to read her continuing story in The Nine Fold Heaven.  While Camilla still has to practice the deceptions she was trained in as a skeleton woman, she has been changed by what happened in the previous book and is now trying to put her life back together.  As she plans things mostly on the fly, her cleverness and resourcefulness shines through and I continue to admire her as a character.

The prose and the description of the setting lends an authenticity to the story that made it feel like a real history to me.  I was intrigued by the comparisons between Chinese culture and American culture (although this was in the 30s) and there are both positives and negatives to both in my opinion.  The clashes between opposing viewpoints in politics and religion gave more dimension to the characters and created a thought-provoking larger conflict than just what Camilla was going through.  But the most important thing, especially in historical fiction, is for the setting to feel realistic and I felt like the streets of Thirties Hong Kong and Shanghai were brought to life in this book.

The romance between Camilla and Jinying continued to feel a little bland and stilted for me, though I admit Gao had me more in his corner!  The relationship between Camilla and Shadow is very intriguing, and I liked the way it played out in the story.  They are rivals and friends, and their relationship was necessarily complicated.  There were multiple plot threads in this story; some that didn't seem to fit, but ended up fitting in the end which made this a very interesting and immersive read.  

While I enjoyed reading Skeleton Women and The Nine Fold Heaven together, The Nine Fold Heaven does read very well on it's own.  Even if historical fiction or the time period is not for you, if you like wry and astute main characters you should really enjoy this novel!


I received this book from the publisher or author for a fair and honest review. I was not compensated for this review.
Monday, June 24, 2013

Review: Doctor Who: Players + a Giveaway

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , , , ,
Doctor Who: Players
by Terrance Dicks
#6 of The Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Collection

Plot Summary:

Arriving on the sun-baked veldt in the middle of the Boer War, the Sixth Doctor is soon involved in the adventures of a struggling politician and war correspondent Winston Churchill.  Of course, he knows Churchill is destined for great things, but unseen forces seem to be interfering with Winston's historic career...  The Doctor suspects the hidden hand of the Players, mysterious beings who regard human history as little more than a game.  With time running out, can the Doctor find the right moves to defeat them?

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who this year, BBC Books will be reissuing eleven classic Doctor Who novels – one for each Doctor – from across their fiction range. Repackaged with new introductions, bold new covers, and 50th anniversary branding, they are not only a collectable set for fans, but a brilliant introduction to the depth and range of the Doctor Who list.

Review:

This novel delves into some real history with the life of Churchill, the rise of the Third Reich, and some real facts behind Edward VIII's relationship with Wallis Simpson.  The novel also allows the Second Doctor to make an appearance when the Sixth Doctor shares a memory with Peri.  For fans who have seen the Second Doctor serial, The War Games, this book also provides some great continuity.  With the amount of ground this book covers, I was very impressed by how well it weaves in and out of time periods without letting the pace flag.  The Doctor and Peri moves through time, cleverly adapting to the challenges the mysterious target on Churchill and later the Doctor and Peri presents.  What I was also impressed with in this book was the subtle way the author made the Sixth and the Second Doctor so distinct in the storytelling.  And having more than one Doctor in one story felt like a great bonus!  For a Doctor Who fangirl like me, I was so thrilled to have some great characters from The War Games reappear and again help the Doctor.

I've always loved the playful antagonism between the Sixth Doctor and Peri, and their interactions in this book perfectly captured that.  Peri's quiet resignation as she plays along with Sixie's extravagant gestures was so funny!  There were some scenarios that I thought very interesting to put the Doctor and Peri in - one was the Doctor's efforts to become integrated in the social circles of 1930s London and the other is a rather hazardous situation Peri finds herself in.  There are twists and turns I didn't see coming in this book, that kept me eagerly turning pages.

And then there's the main villains, the Players.  While it is understandable that they are shrouded in mysteries as that is their nature, they aren't very convincing as bad guys because you really don't know anything about them.  I didn't think the Players were really evil but they just had no regard for life and justice and they felt because of their nature they felt entitled to that.  But because they are supposed to work indirectly I felt more antipathy for the misguided people who helped them.  The Players were a necessary device to make the story work, and in that I think I was disappointed because that was all they functioned as.

But that didn't dampen my enjoyment of this adventure because it moves so quickly and has some great comedic moments.  The Doctor and Peri were both realized so well, and this book also gave me a very interesting history lesson, especially with the life of Winston Churchill.



I received this book from the publisher or author for a fair and honest review.  I was not compensated for this review.



Who-ology Trivia!
REASONS FOR REGENERATION

  • 1st Regeneration: Old Age (The Tenth Planet)
  • 2nd Regeneration: Forcibly regenerated by the Time Lords prior to his exile on Earth (The War Games)
  • 3rd Regeneration: Exposure to Metebelis III crystal radiation in the cave of the Great One (Planet of the Spiders)
  • 4th Regeneration: Fall from a great height, specifically the Pharos Project radio telescope (Logopolis)
  • 5th Regeneration: Fatal contraction of Spectrox Toxaemia after handling raw spectrox (The Caves of Androzani)
  • 6th Regeneration: TARDIS show down by the Rani, who then tried to confuse and control the Doctor in his befuddled post-regenerative state (Time and the Rani)
  • 7th Regeneration: Shot by local gang and operated upon by Grace Holloway, who accidentally administered a lethal anaesthetic (Doctor Who)
  • 8th Regeneration: Unknown.  So far...
  • 9th Regeneration: Absorbing the Time Vortex to save Rose Tyler, and nobody's meant to do that (The Parting of the Ways)
  • 10th Regeneration: Radiation poisoning (The End of Time, Part Two)
(p 95-96)

~ Giveaway ~


With many thanks to the publisher, BBC Books and TLC Book Tours, I am offering a choice of ONE of FOUR of the Doctor Who books I'm reviewing for the Book Tour.  So with the Rafflecopter giveaway, the winner can pick EITHER

Beautiful Chaos by Gary Russell,
Festival of Death by Jonathan Morris,
Players by Terrance Dicks, or
Who-ology by Cavan Scott and Mark Wright (the official book of miscellany, celebrating 50 years of Doctor Who)

THIS GIVEAWAY IS INTERNATIONAL!

Please enter through the Rafflecopter form below.  The winner will be notified by email and will have 48 hours to respond with a mailing address before another winner is chosen.  The mailing address will be forwarded to the publisher who will send the winner their copy.  The contest runs until June 28th Midnight.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Sunday, June 23, 2013

Suspense Sundays (50) Beware the Quiet Man

Posted by Charlene // Tags: ,
Suspense was a radio series from 1942 to 1962.  I have a fondness for "Old Time Radio" as we call it now, and Suspense is my favorite show.  It sets up weird, dark, scary, or intriguing stories with a plot twist in the end, and all in half an hour.  For Suspense Sundays I'll give a short review of an episode.   {My archive list of episodes}


"Beware the Quiet Man"
Air date: August 12, 1948
Starring Ann Sothern
While waiting for her boyfriend at a bar, Margie calls her husband and tells him she'll be late home.  A man in the bar asks to buy Margie a drink and starts to tell her how he's a private detective and is waiting for a woman whose husband hired him to confirm he's cheating on him.  The more Margie hears, the more it sounds like the man is looking for her.  And then the man says how he thinks that quiet, subdued husband will definitely kill his wife if he finds out she is cheating. Panicked, Margie does damage control and tries to be a better wife.

While listening to this story, I kept wondering if it was a set-up by her husband or not.  Obviously there has to be a twist in the end, so what would it be?  Not what I was thinking, which was great.  And although I applaud Margie's resolution in the end to be a better wife, there is such a sense in her ending that she is finally doing what a woman should be doing - like she finally knows her place or something, that I had to shake my head.  Oh brother.  That's the forties for you.
Friday, June 21, 2013

Books to Music: Lucky Stiff "Times Like This"

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , ,
A friendly face, the kind of face
That melts you with a grin
The kind of eyes that welcome you
The minute you walk in
A tender glance you simply can't refuse

I am not familiar with this musical sadly, but it is being made into a movie (hopefully it will be released this year!) so I can soon fix that!  It's based on a 1983 book called The Man Who Broke the Bank at Monte Carlo by Michael Butterworth.  Quite a mouthful.  The musical is a farcical comedy and although I'm only really familiar with the song "Times Like This", I think I would enjoy the whole show and the music.

"Times Like This" isn't a comedy song, it's a most sincere and heartfelt love song with a wonderful twist.  Go back and read the quoted lyrics in the beginning.  Yes, now please.  I'll wait.

Okay.  The next line is "At times like this a girl could use a dog." Awww!  This song completely captured me with that one line!  And cleverly the song continues the comparison - typically romantic imagery linked to  the faithful and loyal dog.  It's so touching really, and this song illuminates a lot about the character singing it in this musical.  (She represents a dog home)  She loves simplicity and honesty and probably hasn't had too many great romantic relationships.  And the line "give me a quiet night, a stack of books, a tuna melt on rye" is just the greatest, I identify so much with this song it's ridiculous.  It's amazing the snapshot of life this song captures, to me at least, and one that I feel is often not represented.  I would highly recommend giving it a listen!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Book Excerpt: Caution: Witch in Progress

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , ,
Caution: Witch in Progress
by Lynne North


Plot Summary:

Gertie Grimthorpe is born into a society of witches and grows up in Vile Vale, but there is something very wrong with her... she is beautiful and couldn't be nasty if she tried. When she finds out that she is to attend a private academy for magical children, Gertie hopes to find her witchy way in the world. With a moat monster suffering from stomach ache, a short-sighted owl familiar and mishaps galore, Gertie's adventures are hilarious and heartwarming. Join Gertie as she struggles with growing up (and longing to grow her first wart), learning magic and working out how to deal with a grumpy enchanted umbrella, named Bat. "What a wonderful read this book is! Fun and laughter from beginning to end. Are we getting anymore 'Gertie' books? Can't wait!" - Amazon Review

Book Excerpt:

Gertie stared hard at the umbrella. ‘Right,’ she said, pondering, her finger in her mouth. After some time, she summoned up every ounce of her concentration. She pointed intently at the umbrella handle, and began her spell.

‘Come to life and be my friend,
Talk to me, so I don’t have to pretend.’

Well, she wasn’t used to making spells yet. This was her first try at thinking up a rhyme herself. Nevertheless, though Gertie tried very hard to believe, nothing happened. She concentrated even harder, and tried again. She had no reason to wonder why it shouldn’t work, so she believed with all her heart. This time, she felt sure she saw the bat’s little nose quiver. Encouraged by this, Gertie tried again. She wasn’t one to give up easily.

‘A…a…Atishooooooooo!’ sneezed the bat’s head. ‘Gor Blimey,’ he continued, ‘I’ve got a blinking cold. No wonder mind, being out in all weathers. How would you like it? Being upside down with cold water pouring down your ears? Never think of me do you? Oh no, you don’t take me out on nice sunny days do you?’

Gertie tried to reply, but didn’t get a chance.

‘No,’ the umbrella continued. ‘I only see light of day when it’s pouring rain. What a life. Don’t interrupt,’ he added, as Gertie tried to speak. ‘At last, I can have my say, and no one is going to stop me. I HATE rain, do you hear me? I hate it. Why I was put on this Earth to be an umbrella I don’t know. I must have done something really evil in a past life to deserve this, that’s all I can say.’

Unfortunately, it wasn’t all he could say. Because he continued.

‘Not only rain either. You take me out when it’s snowing too, and blowing a gale. My ears get blooming freezing. And what do I get when we arrive home for all my hard work? Cocoa? Hot chocolate? Kind words and a nice warm fire? No, a blooming good shake. That’s what I get.’

‘I’m sorry, I never thought,’ said Gertie in a small, ashamed, voice.

‘No. No one ever does. After all, I’m only a blooming umbrella. ONLY an umbrella! But what would you do without me, eh? YOU’D get soaked. See if you would like that. And do you hear me complain? No, you don’t. Why? Because we umbrellas blooming well can’t, that’s why! Well, believe me, things are going to be very different from now on. Mark my words. Hey, what are you doing? Put me down. Hey. Where are we going?’

Gertie had reached the wardrobe by now, and carefully stood the umbrella in the corner.

‘HEY!’ the umbrella’s head exclaimed more loudly. ‘IT’S DARK IN HERE YOU KNOW. THAT’S SOMETHING ELSE I DON’T …like.’

The last word came out muffled, as the wardrobe door was closed firmly. Gertie went off to tell her mother she didn’t think she would be using the animation spell again.

The umbrella bat continued to bemoan the fate of umbrella-kind from the back of the wardrobe.


Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Awesome Adaptations (43) The Three Musketeers

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , ,
This meme celebrates an awesome adaptation related to a weekly category. Any format of adaptation (television series, film, web series, etc.) is acceptable as long as it is based in some form on a book. This meme is hosted by Alisa Selene at PictureMeReading. Check out her site and join in on the fun!

An Awesomely Swashbuckling Adventure
Title: The Three Musketeers
Adapted from: The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas

This 1948 film adatpation has a heck of a cast.  Gene Kelly, Lana Turner, Angela Lansbury Vincent Price, and some great character actors.  The movie simplifies the story of the original novel, but the movie is still about d'Artagnan becoming a Musketeer.

The sword fights in this movie inspired the way films have done fight scenes ever since (according to Wikipedia) and what's even more impressive is that Gene Kelly did all of his own fight scenes.  His dancing prowess lent itself to the dance of the fight and the acrobatics apparently (and even in "Singing in the Rain", there is a scene with fight choreography and staging taken from this movie)  I'm a big Gene Kelly fan, so forgive the focus on Gene! The action in this film is very impressive, especially for the technology of the time.  And while the focus of this awesome adaptation post in on the swashbuckling nature of the film, the romance and the chivalry of the story comes through very well.

This movie shows the action/adventure life of the Musketeers in such an fun way, with all the twists and turns and betrayals, and because this film is so entertaining I think despite the liberties taken with the script, this is definitely an awesome adaptation.
Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Review: Locked in Time

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , ,
Locked in Time
by Lois Duncan

Plot Summary:

Nore Roberts didn't ask for a new life, but now that her mom is gone and her dad is newly married, she has to settle in at Shadow Grove, the old Civil War mansion her stepfamily calls home. When she meets her stepmother, Lisette, Nore is shocked by her youth and beauty that gives her chills- and a hint of something sinister. There's hope of becoming friends with her stepbrother and sister, until Nore realizes they're hiding something. When she begins to feel like the target of a deadly plan, Nore starts digging into her stepfamily's past. The skeletons in their closet are more real than she ever imagined. Can Nore expose her stepmother's dark secret before an old and evil magic swallows her up?

Review:

Lois Duncan is an author I loved to read when I was a teenager.  Her suspense stories always captured my imagination and kept me turning pages.  The premise of this story has a supernatural element that is pretty easy to guess way before Nore suspects anything, but the suspense lies in how Nore will discover her stepfamily's secret and how will she be able to stop them.  Although the mystery is a little predictable, I think the character building and the writing makes this a very engaging read.

Nore is an intelligent, observant main character, not too snarky or witty, but very kind and relatable and in the beginning, although she is a little bitter about her father's remarriage, she makes an effort to bond with her new family.  Her step siblings, Gabe and Josie, are both likable and fiery, emotional and kind and through them, you see the toll their secret has taken on their family.  Gradually things unravel, and it is interesting to see how Gabe and Josie are changed by Nore's personality.  Nore's father is perhaps the least defined character in this book because he is often out of the picture while he is so focused on writing his novel and ignoring Nore's suspicions.  Which is necessary to the plot, but boy, did I want to knock some sense into Nore's dad!

The writing builds up the atmosphere and the tension masterfully in this captivating and suspenseful read.  I think the ending perfectly tied up all the loose ends and was true to the character arcs.  I was nervous about being disappointed by the ending of this story because it seemed like it would be difficult to create a satisfying ending when so much was at stake and things looked so hopeless for Nore, but the ending is pretty much perfect.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Review: Die For Me

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , ,
I'm going to be in England for the next two weeks!  I have posts scheduled on all my regular posting days, and look forward to commenting and catching up when I get back.  I might tweet occasionally some pictures from England, so look for me on twitter!  Thank you for visiting as always!

Die For Me (Revenants #1)
by Amy Plum

Plot Summary:

In the City of Lights, two star-crossed lovers battle a fate that is destined to tear them apart again and again for eternity.

When Kate Mercier's parents die in a tragic car accident, she leaves her life--and memories--behind to live with her grandparents in Paris. For Kate, the only way to survive her pain is escaping into the world of books and Parisian art. Until she meets Vincent.

Mysterious, charming, and devastatingly handsome, Vincent threatens to melt the ice around Kate's guarded heart with just his smile. As she begins to fall in love with Vincent, Kate discovers that he's a revenant--an undead being whose fate forces him to sacrifice himself over and over again to save the lives of others. Vincent and those like him are bound in a centuries-old war against a group of evil revenants who exist only to murder and betray. Kate soon realizes that if she follows her heart, she may never be safe again.

Review:

Initially I wasn't bowled over by this book.  It's hard to put my finger on exactly why, but I suppose the progression of the plot seemed very typical of paranormal YA, especially with the romance between Kate and Vincent and how difficult it is for them to overcome their issues... or for Kate to overcome her issues.  It all felt really familiar, though the new paranormals, the revenants, are definitely very unique and the rules detailing their existence are complex and detailed.  It's a rather odd sort of paranormal and I hope there will be more explanation later in the series for why they exist.  Because it was hard to find them believable. But there is the sense of the macabre about them, and that made the black humor jokes between Vincent and Kate really fun actually.

The setting of Paris definitely adds color to the story, and evokes a gorgeous sense of Gothic drama that occasionally felt overwrought, but I loved being able to glimpse the Parisian lifestyle.  Yes, I would love to live there!  Kate's family and her relationship with her sister also added some life to this story, especially because you don't see much of family relationships in YA.  I think it was very realistic and touching.

The romance of Kate and Vincent seemed very all consuming very fast, which usually turns me off, but towards the end somehow it was so super romantic, it completely won me over.  So Kate X Vincent OTP!!  In particular Vincent writes a letter that is too perfect!  And while the story moves quickly, my feeling that it was too repetitive left when it came to the exciting conclusion and battle! I was very much invested in the story about thirty pages to the end, so I guess better late than never?  I think the romantic gestures, the Parisian setting, and the exciting conclusion makes this a book I would recommend, especially to people who are not overly saturated with the YA genre.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Suspense Sundays (49) Backseat Driver

Posted by Charlene // Tags: ,
Suspense was a radio series from 1942 to 1962.  I have a fondness for "Old Time Radio" as we call it now, and Suspense is my favorite show.  It sets up weird, dark, scary, or intriguing stories with a plot twist in the end, and all in half an hour.  For Suspense Sundays I'll give a short review of an episode.   {My archive list of episodes}


"Backseat Driver"
Air date: February 3, 1949
Starring Fibber McGee and Molly
Fibber McGee and Molly had a very popular comedy radio show at the time, so this episode has them playing against type.  The couple has just been to Beverly Hills to see a movie, and are returning home, and they start talking about the murderer who escaped police clutches that day.  As they are talking, of course, the murderer pops up from the backseat with a gun to the wife's head and demands to be taken to open country where he'll let them go safely home, not a scratch on them.  Not.  Unfortunately for the murderer, this couple knows a few tricks.

Well.  This was a great episode to listen to while driving to work.  I love surreptitiously checking my backseat every few minutes. No, but really, this was a great episode, because of how the couple tricks that dastardly murderer.  I knew that sometimes what the couple was saying wasn't actually what they were saying, if you know what I mean, but it was great how it all came together in the end.  And isn't the idea of someone hiding in your backseat chilling!?
Friday, June 14, 2013

Review: Doctor Who: Festival of Death + Giveaway

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , , ,
Doctor Who: Festival of Death
by Jonathan Morris
#4 of The Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Collection

Plot Summary:

The Beautiful Death is the ultimate theme-park ride: a sightseeing tour of the afterlife.  But something has gone wrong, and when the Fourth Doctor arrives in the aftermath of the disaster, he is congratulated for saving the population from destruction - something he hasn't actually done yet.  He has no choice but to travel back in time and discover how he became a hero. And then he finds out.

He did it by sacrificing his life.

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who this year, BBC Books will be reissuing eleven classic Doctor Who novels – one for each Doctor – from across their fiction range. Repackaged with new introductions, bold new covers, and 50th anniversary branding, they are not only a collectable set for fans, but a brilliant introduction to the depth and range of the Doctor Who list.

Review:

As it says in the Introduction of the book, this story was written before Doctor Who got so complex, with multiple timelines and explorations of what it means to be a time traveler.  And I thought that since I'm used to the shenanigans of Steven Moffat, this book would probably be pretty tame.  Wrong.  While it seems old hat now to have the Doctor realize he is going to die doing something, this story takes that chilling realization and spins out a very complex sequence of events.  The plot moves back and forth between characters and incidents that build on each other as the pieces of the puzzle are gradually revealed.  The pure technical skill in an author having to piece such a complex story together is admirable, and having the story come together so perfectly in the end is kind of awe-inspiring.  There were so many little scenes that were dropped, seemingly tangentially, and later brought into the story and explained completely.  Reading this book was pure enjoyment.

Aside from the technical crafting of the story, the characters that make up G-lock are varied, eccentric, and humorous.  It seemed like a melting pot of all the kinds of characters the Doctor is used to coming up against, from pompous, self-important leaders to dutiful, not very bright policemen, selfish, arrogant villians, and kindly, innocent humans and aliens who are very brave.  The characters make up a huge part of the charm of this story and the realistic way in which they are all thrown together gives a great backdrop for the Doctor and Romana to interact with.  The author also captured the dry, sardonic humor of the Doctor, and the patient, efficient voice of Romana so well, that it felt like this story should have been filmed.

The novel also has a tongue-in-cheek humor about it, in the vein of Douglas Adams that made it delightful to read, and there are some great laugh-out-loud moments.  While the many shifts between characters and incidents can make this story somewhat difficult to keep up with at times, I found the whole reading experience to be so much fun, and absolutely worth it!



I received this book from the publisher or author for a fair and honest review.  I was not compensated for this review.



Who-ology Trivia!
OTHER TIME LORD ABILITIES (besides regeneration)

        • Susan shows evidence of telepathy in The Sensorites.
        • The Time Lords in The War Games are able to inflict extreme pain with just the power of their minds.
        • The Master shares the Doctor's mimicry talents.  He is able to perfectly impersonate the Brigadier in The Time Monster.
        • Morbius shields his mind from the psychic probing of the Sisterhood of Karn (Pyramids of Mars)
        • Romana feigns death by stopping both her hearts. (Destiny of the Daleks)
        • Professor Chronotis manipulates the beating of his twin hearts in time to Gallifreyan Morse. (Shada)
        • The Master merges his decaying Time Lord body with that of another life form. (The Keeper of Traken).
(p. 81)

~ Giveaway ~


With many thanks to the publisher, BBC Books and TLC Book Tours, I am offering a choice of ONE of FOUR of the Doctor Who books I'm reviewing for the Book Tour.  So with the Rafflecopter giveaway, the winner can pick EITHER

Beautiful Chaos by Gary Russell,
Festival of Death by Jonathan Morris,
Players by Terrance Dicks, or
Who-ology by Cavan Scott and Mark Wright (the official book of miscellany, celebrating 50 years of Doctor Who)

THIS GIVEAWAY IS INTERNATIONAL!

Please enter through the Rafflecopter form below.  The winner will be notified by email and will have 48 hours to respond with a mailing address before another winner is chosen.  The mailing address will be forwarded to the publisher who will send the winner their copy.  The contest runs until June 28th Midnight.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Thursday, June 13, 2013

Guest Post: On World-building

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , ,
Many thanks to Adam Ortyl, author of Leah and the Jackhammer, for writing this wonderful guest post on world-building!  If you would like to check out his book here's the plot summary:

Leah lives in a harsh world. The golden age passed a thousand years ago, the magic of the world has almost dried up, and kids her age can really be jerks. She tries to make friends, but she's different, and the other kids know it. She has magic. They call her a demon.

Ostracized, Leah does what anyone else in her shoes would do: bring her stuffed bear to life. Despite having fun with her new (and only) friend, she knows something is still missing. After a traumatic run-in with some bullies, she finds something totally unexpected--a relic from the ancients called a Jackhammer.

Leah's Jackhammer is a powerful meckanical powered by a crystal that should not exist. When she's attacked by a creature that kidnaps her bear she has no choice but use the Jackhammer to follow the monster deep into the mines, or risk losing her one and only friend.

There is an ongoing Goodreads giveaway for this book here!

Guest Post:

If writing a story is like painting a picture, then world-building is the fine details; the highlights, and the glitter, the pipe-cleaners and the googly eyes. I don’t mean to say that world-building is the equivalent of a grade schoolers art project. No, world-building is what makes a story unique and tangible, it’s the glue.

Don’t use it enough and you can still have a pretty picture, but it might be somewhat bland.
Use it too much and you might have a glue covered glitter monster on your hands.

With world-building you need to find a healthy medium and add in those details where it really counts. If I had to give an arbitrary number of rules for world-building, they would be:


  1. Be precise. Be detailed. When world-building, you want to contrast the story so, like the googly eyes, your details pop out. Don’t use a general description where a more specific one exists.
  2. Use sparingly. If your world-building is full of rich details, you need to make sure it doesn’t wash out your story. Despite this post being about world-building, you always need to remember: Story comes first.
  3. Building off of rule 2: The reader isn’t dumb. your world-building details are used sparingly because the reader can fill in the rest of the details.
  4. Don’t info-dump. You all know what it is. Don’t do it. Every one of your sentences should be advancing the story or revealing character. Don’t give us a page describing all the delicious food at some fancy feast and where it all came from.
  5. Don’t eat the glue. It isn’t good for you.


To round this post out, let me give an illustration. First we have just a simple paragraph of narrative. This is our painting; unadorned, simple, watercolor.

Harold strolled down the center of the rutted road, while dusty stone buildings passed by slowly to either side. The Duke’s men would be expecting him, so there was no use in trying to sneak in. Folks walked around him, farmers, merchants, and artisans, but Harold kept his head held high. His eyes locked on the gates to the Duke’s manor, and he wouldn’t look away until he stared the Duke in his eyes and told him his rule was through.

It got the job done, right? But it wasn’t anything special. It wasn’t devoid of detail either; you can see the dusty stone, you can see the flood of people in the road, you can imagine Harold’s stare. But you didn’t get a sense of the world, of something happening outside of Harold’s story.

Now lets look at updating this narrative with some pipe-cleaner world-building.

Harold strolled down the center of the rutted road. In between the stonecutters, and refineries he counted four blacksmiths on the short walk, each larger and louder than the last as they tried to attract the most customers. Harold liked the Grocian smithy the best. Not because it was the largest, but because it was the brightest by far, decorated with a rainbow of different colored brightsteel. A stone cutter shouldered his way past, leaving a dust impression on Harold’s shirt. Harold normally would have given that man a good wallop, but not now. He ignored him, and he ignored the flood of little miners and their annoying headlamps, and stared straight ahead at the Duke’s manor. Its sun-yellow Lourwich limestone walls were pulled from the earth right under his feet. It was from Lourwich. The man that lived there though, he was not one of them. He was something else and his rule was through.

What did you think? The story is still pretty much the same, but now it’s glittered all up. So what did we do here? We named the town. We hinted at it’s geographical location: In the mountains. We hinted at their prime source of commerce: mining, and that they possibly have a bustling economy. We hinted at the town’s diversity by signaling out the Grocian smithy, and hinted at Grocian culture by detailing their eccentric decorations, which contrasted with the culture in Lourwich. We learned a little bit about the people that live there: they are possibly rude, or too busy to step out of the way. But they are also prideful about their town and don’t like that the duke isn’t one of them.

What I did not do is info dump. The story kept moving the whole time, revealing either plot or character. I thought about giving you guys a info-dump example, but I didn’t want to put you to sleep!

So - that’s my take on world-building. It is the googly-eyed craft project of the writing world. Please note: I  didn’t eat any of the glue, despite how tasty it smelled.

Check out the Goodreads Giveaway!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Awesome Adaptations (42) Much Ado About Nothing

Posted by Charlene // Tags: ,
This meme celebrates an awesome adaptation related to a weekly category. Any format of adaptation (television series, film, web series, etc.) is acceptable as long as it is based in some form on a book. This meme is hosted by Alisa Selene at PictureMeReading. Check out her site and join in on the fun!

An Awesomely Magical Adaptation
Title: Much Ado About Nothing
Adapted from: Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare

Well I'm taking kind of big liberty with this week's AA theme as there isn't any magic of the literal kind in Joss Whedon's film Much Ado About Nothing, but magic of the figurative kind in the acting, directing and vision behind this film.  Joss Whedon filmed it at his house, in a little over a week with his friends, and although it is a stripped down affair, that allows for a wonderful focus on the story and the words and the emotions.  The actors are so amazing in their roles and although Shakespeare's words didn't seem to run trippingly off every actor's tongue, the emotion behind them ran true, and the humor was very apparent as well.

The scenes with Benedick and Beatrice were the best part of course; witty banter executed brilliantly with a hard edge of disappointment or misunderstanding behind it.  And love.  Their journey in the play is the heart of the story and a beautiful romance, and Amy Acker and Alexis Denisof pulled it off so well.  Another performance that captured me was Sean Maher as the almost over-the-top villan Don John (the line is tread so carefully through the acting and directing), but he is wonderfully dark and dastardly and just plain fascinating.  I've never been so intrigued by Don John before!

This is a wonderful film - unpretentious and emotional and even more riveting when you think of how it was made.  Without the trappings of effects, the filmmaking and the acting are highlighted and it brings so much magic to Shakespeare's story.

Now I'm going to go back to listening to the sleek, musicalized version of "Sigh No More" from the film!  I love it!
Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Books to Music: Shrek "Who I'd Be"

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , ,
An ogre always hides.
An ogre's fate is known.
An ogre always stays
in the dark and all alone.

Shrek the Musical is based on the animated movie which is based on the children's book by William Stieg, so I think it fits the whole books to music thing!  But I'm just song spotlighting "Who I'd Be" from the Broadway cast recording for my post today because I love the song a ridiculous amount of course, and then it's a lovely "I want" song which illustrates a lot of character.

For me, the songs in musicals that have a lot of longing, appeal to me the most and in "Who I'd Be", Shrek puts aside his cynicism a little to sing what he would like out of life instead of what he has. Our Shrek has a romantic heart underneath his gruff exterior, and his song is really very poignant because he's trapped by his exterior and other people's perception of him.  One of my favorite moments in this song is when he's singing of how he would hypothetically rescue a princess:

But standing guard
would be a beast.
I’d somehow overwhelm it.
I’d get the girl.
I’d take a breath,
and I’d remove my helmet.

We’d stand and stare.
We’d speak of love.
We’d feel the stars ascending.
We’d share a kiss.
I’d find my destiny.
I’d have a hero’s ending.

There's a dramatic pause between the first and second stanza where the music completely cuts out.  He removed his helmet - what is the princess's reaction??  Completely perfect because Shrek is accepted. It's so moving and then immediately poignantly sad because Shrek follows up by saying "it's not for me."

There is something else that appeals to me the most in musicals - when two or more characters (usually singing about different but complimentary things) are singing together in harmony.  And in this song Fiona and Donkey start singing towards the end.  Donkey seemed like he was added on kinda last minute, but I love Fiona's lyrics because the audience knows she's an ogre too, and both Shrek and Fiona want the same thing, but their attitude towards it is completely different.  Fiona believes she can have her happy ending, but Shrek doesn't.  It's so brilliant to juxtapose their thoughts that way in this song!  

The lyrics are witty, the melody is ... melodious, and the emotions of the characters comes through very strongly in this song.  It captures so much about the story all in 4 minutes!  Brilliant!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Review: Siege and Storm

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , ,
Siege and Storm (Grisha #2)
by Leigh Bardugo

Plot Summary:

Darkness never dies.

Hunted across the True Sea, haunted by the lives she took on the Fold, Alina must try to make a life with Mal in an unfamiliar land. She finds starting new is not easy while keeping her identity as the Sun Summoner a secret. She can’t outrun her past or her destiny for long.

The Darkling has emerged from the Shadow Fold with a terrifying new power and a dangerous plan that will test the very boundaries of the natural world. With the help of a notorious privateer, Alina returns to the country she abandoned, determined to fight the forces gathering against Ravka. But as her power grows, Alina slips deeper into the Darkling’s game of forbidden magic, and farther away from Mal. Somehow, she will have to choose between her country, her power, and the love she always thought would guide her–or risk losing everything to the oncoming storm.

Review:

I read Shadow and Bone a few months ago, so I thankfully didn't have to wait too long for the awesome sequel to that awesome book.  With the great characters introduced in the first book - well-rounded, idiosyncratic, and believable - there are even more stand out characters in this book!  Sturmhond, Tolya and Tamar are especially near and dear to my heart and introducing such unique personalities gave so much dimension to the story.  And even more dimension was added through the expanded world-building.  More was revealed of Ravka, through the land, the people, the religion, and their politics.  The political jockeying especially plays an important role in the decisions of the main characters making the story much more complex.  Because everyone has hard decisions to make and good and bad is never clear-cut or easy to judge.

Alina and Mal's story was just as touching and romantic as in Shadow and Bone but of course not easy, and the way the author develops their relationship - with such realistic reactions to the issues and problems they are facing - I thought the author's take on their evolving relationship was so astute and believable.  And there was certainly a lot of fodder for the Darkling fans (raises hand) - he is just as mysterious and ambiguous in his motivations.  And he's more dangerous, more seductive, and yet understanding, capable and intelligent.  Is he really so bad?  (I hope not!)  It definitely seems much more complex than that.

What I think is the best part of this second book is that it is so unpredictable.  There are so many unexpected twists and turns and more importantly the author is not afraid to give her characters some very difficult experiences.  No one is safe or completely trustworthy and it makes this novel that much more meaningful and engaging and just a rapturous delight of storytelling.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Suspense Sundays (48) Banquo's Chair

Posted by Charlene // Tags: ,
Suspense was a radio series from 1942 to 1962.  I have a fondness for "Old Time Radio" as we call it now, and Suspense is my favorite show.  It sets up weird, dark, scary, or intriguing stories with a plot twist in the end, and all in half an hour.  For Suspense Sundays I'll give a short review of an episode.   {My archive list of episodes}


"Banquo's Chair"
Air date: June 1, 1943
Starring Hans Conreid, John Loder and Ian Wolfe
This is such a great episode, it's like a perfect ghost story!  Sir William Brent of the Yard is a brilliant detective who has never failed to catch his man.  Except in the case of the murder of Mrs. Ferguson.  Brent knows that the nephew murdered her for her money, but he has an airtight alibi.  He was in jail. But Brent is determined to get a confession out of him, so after two years, (two!) he comes up with a cunning plan.  He rented the manor home Mrs. Ferguson lived in and invited the nephew and a few friends for dinner on the anniversary of Mrs. Ferguson's death.  Brent tells his friends that he's hired an actress to play the ghost of Mrs. Ferguson and during dinner, the lights will go out and they will have to light candles.  And then "Mrs. Ferguson" is going to come out and everyone must pretend they don't see or hear her.  Guess how long it takes for the nephew to confess.

So if I was invited to a dinner party, and the host says - "Make sure you're armed." I'd say, "No thanks, I'll have dinner at home."  That's just me though.  While I've certainly been spoiled when it comes to how many ghost stories I've read and watched in my life and I saw the twist of this episode coming a mile away, I think the set-up and execution of the episode is so well done that I can forgive that, and appreciate the craftmanship of the story.  Just as much backstory as is necessary, the perfect amount of dialogue to show the nephew is a heartless, arrogant criminal, and the friend narrating the story, so Sir William Brent doesn't have to toot his own horn too much and we can appreciate what a fine detective he is.  I just don't know the explanation for the nephew's airtight alibi?  Presumably he had someone lie for him.  I guess.  Overall, a really great suspense story!
Friday, June 7, 2013

Review: Struck

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , ,
Struck
by Jennifer Bosworth

Plot Summary:

Mia Price is a lightning addict. She’s survived countless strikes, but her craving to connect to the energy in storms endangers her life and the lives of those around her.

Los Angeles, where lightning rarely strikes, is one of the few places Mia feels safe from her addiction. But when an earthquake devastates the city, her haven is transformed into a minefield of chaos and danger. The beaches become massive tent cities. Downtown is a crumbling wasteland, where a traveling party moves to a different empty building each night, the revelers drawn to the destruction by a force they cannot deny. Two warring cults rise to power, and both see Mia as the key to their opposing doomsday prophecies. They believe she has a connection to the freak electrical storm that caused the quake, and to the far more devastating storm that is yet to come.

Mia wants to trust the enigmatic and alluring Jeremy when he promises to protect her, but she fears he isn’t who he claims to be. In the end, the passion and power that brought them together could be their downfall. When the final disaster strikes, Mia must risk unleashing the full horror of her strength to save the people she loves, or lose everything.

Review:

The story starts just after a major, catastrophic earthquake struck Los Angeles and for someone who lives in L.A. that was a real downer.  I have to say - with no negative reflection on the quality of the book - it was a little difficult starting this read because it all hit too close to home.  Thankfully, because it takes place after the quake, the book largely deals with the recovery.  And this rehabilitating city that the author creates is very well-thought out and realistic.  The idea of religious fanaticism taking such a stronghold on weak, scared individuals makes sense.  And very smartly there is a counter to that sensibility - wild partying and living in the moment.  I feel like the world-building is so vivid and real that it made the dangers for the main characters equally so.

Mia Price is a great strong protagonist - she must take on all the responsibility in her family after the devastation, and in addition to feeling like a freak because of her attraction to lightning, she has a rather large chip on her shoulder and doesn't find it easy to trust or be compassionate.  Her romantic feelings for Jeremy (which is disappointingly immediate) is a little jarring because she so quickly rearranges her priorities to be with him, and although Jeremy is a great, mysterious character, I didn't really feel invested in their romance.  It was a little too superficial for me.  There is a great twist to Jeremy's character however that I really enjoyed.

With the second big storm coming, the story is framed by a countdown to this storm that works excellently to keep a fast pace, and a great sense of foreboding.  Because Jeremy has visions of the future and we are continually told what is going to happen, I loved how things were turned around in the end, and how expectations were twisted around with context.  Mia's family also goes through a great arc of emotions that I felt was very touching.  Overall, I think this is a great read, for the strong protagonist and the new interesting world-building of the lighting struck, that isn't wholly explained in my mind but leaves room for more in the series.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Guest Post: Heart Versus Head

Posted by Charlene // Tags: ,
Thank you Author of The Jelly Bean Crisis, Jolene Stockman for sharing this guest post with my blog!

Heart versus Head


Do you know what you want to be when you grow up? Do you have a perfect plan? Some people know exactly what they want to do with their life. They pinpoint their passion and follow it with a laser-focus. Other people jump from path to path, finding their way and having adventures as they go. However you choose to carve out your life, one thing’s for sure: Whether you’re sixteen or sixty, you have the power to decide exactly what you want. And to change your mind anytime!

In my book The Jelly Bean Crisis, high-achieving teen Poppy suddenly realizes that her perfectly planned life may not be the life that will make her happy. She shocks her friends, family, and school by turning down a college scholarship and taking thirty days out to try everything. She’s determined to find her passion – wherever it might lead her!

I wrote The Jelly Bean Crisis as a fun coming of age story, a way to explore what happens when a perfect plan stops feeling quite so perfect. Imagine being able to take thirty days to find out what will really make you happy. What would you do? What could you try? It’s heart versus head – deciding whether to make your heart sing, or using your skills and talents to make smart choices (or can you have both?).

We live in a world where anything is possible: singers are discovered online, basement businesses make millions. Your dream life can be a blend of what you love, and what you’re good at. Be ready to jump in and try new things, and be okay with swapping an old dream for a brand new one. Like Poppy, finding ways to keep both your heart and head happy can be the best way to create a dream life!

Check out Jolene's site for cool 3D author tools! Resource Goodies

Amazon  Goodreads  Author's Website  Facebook  Twitter
Request a Review Copy of The Jelly Bean Crisis from the author here
Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Awesome Adaptations (41) Unspoken

Posted by Charlene // Tags: ,
This meme celebrates an awesome adaptation related to a weekly category. Any format of adaptation (television series, film, web series, etc.) is acceptable as long as it is based in some form on a book. This meme is hosted by Alisa Selene at PictureMeReading. Check out her site and join in on the fun!

Another Awesome Novel That Needs to be Adapted
Title: Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan

I reviewed this book last year, and absolutely adored the combination of wit, Gothic romance and mystery.  I think this would make a fabulous film, especially with all the laugh out loud lines!  Casting-wise, I'm not very hip to all the young up and coming actors out there (now where did I put my false teeth) so I had to do a little search around for some actors that fit the descriptions of the characters - both in the book and in my head.  And I'm going to be a bit lazy and just cast the two main ones.  I usually advocate unknowns in the roles of movie adaptations though because it can showcase some exciting new talent.

It would be interesting to see how they pull off the inner dialogue between the mind-linked characters - though with how "The Host" did it, it will probably be pretty similar to that.

For the main character, Kami Glass, I came across a picture of Janel Parrish and I think she is so pretty!  She has done a bunch of contemporary young adult type TV shows, so I think she can play high school.  And I hope she can play smart and sassy and inquisitive, because that's pretty much Kami in a nutshell!   She could use a few more curves though, but hey, it's easy to gain weight! :D







Logan Lerman as Jared.  I haven't seen any of the Percy Jackson films, so I wasn't very familiar with Logan, until I saw a picture of him in a fancasting for another book, and thought he would make a great Jared!  Since he's Percy Jackson, I doubt he'd do another lead for a YA series, but it would be nice to see someone similar to him in the role: good-looking of course, but not un-approach-ably so, with boyish charm and someone who fits the age of the character!
Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Siege and Storm launch party!

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , ,
Last night (or really this night as I am typing) was the launch party for Siege and Storm (Grisha #2) by Leigh Bardugo!  Out now folks, OUT NOW!  I had a blast at the party with fellow book enthusiasts and Ms. Leigh A. Bardugo (the A stands for awesome.  That may or may not be her real middle name.)  I've only been to a launch party for Legend by Marie Lu, and that was at a bookstore, so I was not sure what to expect from a launch party at the Hemingway Bar and Lounge, but it was an ingenious idea!  Especially because the bar is so gorgeous!  Literally wall to wall with books!  And lots of comfy chairs.

The entrance of the bar had a great photo set-up where we could take a picture in front of a backdrop similar to the book -and with props!  Then inside the bar proper, there were drinks to be had, books to be bought, and seats around the main little stage area.  My friend and I went to get drinks first (as you will) and they had lovely raspberry champagne on the house with cute little Siege and Storm flags.

David Peterson, the man who invented the language for the Game of Thrones TV series introduced Leigh and mentioned she had words named after her in the language.  Which I didn't know and apparently Leigh didn't either because she seemed really surprised and touched.  Of course the highlight was Leigh's speech which started with her reading from a diary she kept when she was a teenager.  She read an entry where she had written down the superpowers she wanted to have.  Flying, Invisibility, Mind Reading (with the ability to switch on and off of course, no one wants that all the time), Immortality ("with an escape clause") and the last: "The ability to write a book and get it published."

Leigh's speech after that was very inspiring.  How so many things seem attainable when you are young, but your optimism shrinks as you get older.  But with readers we can still feel that hope and experience those dreams that we so believed in when we were young.  I've never thought of it that way, but it is so true.  With all the terrible things that happens in the world today, books aren't just an escape but a way to connect with a part of ourselves that loved to imagine.  Which came so easily to us when we were young.  I couldn't be happier to be a book lover at that moment.  (Although holding "Siege and Storm" felt like a close second!)

Afterwards Leigh read a bit from Siege and Storm and there was also a short Q&A, in which Margaret Stohl asked if we would like to hear Leigh Bardugo sing (Answer: Yes) and Leigh sang the theme song to Charles in Charge.  Awesomely.  And then a giveaway of books and swag.  One prize was at least forty books, and they all went to one person!  So lucky!  There were some awesome books there!  And some of the authors were at the party and could have signed them!  Although I think I might have been hard pressed to choose between those books and another prize - that included Hebel designed Grisha jewelry!

The book signing was at the end, and there were lots of mingling (I suppose, I'm not very good at mingling) so my friend and I went and took a picture at the photo booth as our commemoration of the event.  With swords and cool hats!

It was a wonderful event, so full of enthusiasm for books, and for the Grisha series and for Leigh, and I was so glad to have been a part of it.  I hope for Ruin and Rising there will be a similar event!  And now that I know Hemingway Bar exists, I really must go and visit it again!

I posted more pictures and Vine videos on my twitter account: bookishwhimsy.  I'm a bit taken with Vine - the app where you create and share 6 second videos and I put three of them up.  Here's one of Leigh reading as the Darkling (with Margaret Stohl acting as her Sun Summoner).  Since it's 6 seconds, it's just one line really: