A Note:

6/2/13

I once told myself: IF I am accepted into grad school, this blog would no longer be updated. As it turns out, in April, I received news of my acceptance for the Fall 2013 semester, where I will attain a Master's degree of Science in Nutrition.

Running a blog, as many of you may already know, is a demanding side job once the excitement wears off. And once I fell out of the blogging community's loop (have you SEEN how many blogs there are now? Wow!), it was like the kiss of death. Despite my best efforts, I couldn't get into a blogging routine once this happened due to the disconnect I felt from the community.

So I took a break. I struggled with the loss and with missing my blog. And then I realized I didn't have to run Book Faery to still be a book reviewer; I could read my books and post reviews online. I'm still a book review blogger, just not in the traditional sense.

I'll still be online. You can chat with me on Twitter, where I'll be posting links to my reviews and talking books. I'll also be posting links to nutrition articles.

https://twitter.com/Book_Faery

And if you'd like to connect with me where I guarantee I will post reviews, just add me as a friend on Goodreads.

http://www.goodreads.com/user/show/3322973-tori-book-faery

So that's all, folks! It's been a fun and amazing journey, and I thank you all for listening to my thoughts about books. I hope we all can keep in touch elsewhere :)

xoxo
Tori

Friday, December 31, 2010

Get your free copy of Hunted by the Others by Jess Haines!

December 31st to January 2nd

Are you interested in reading this series?  Well now's your chance!  Go to this link (Amazon), or any other e-book seller to download your free e-book copy of HUNTED BY THE OTHERS by Jess Haines!

And if you're unsure of whether or not to check the H&W Investigations series out, then read my reviews of book 1 and 2.

Book 1: Hunted by the Others
Anthology: Nocturnal - Spark of Temptation
Book 2: Taken by the Others


Happy New Years Eve everyone!  Please have a fun and safe night tonight! 

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Author Interview with Jonathan Maberry and Janice Gable Bashman

Hey everyone!  Today we've got two special guests stopping by to answer a few questions about their new release.  Please give a warm welcome to Janice and Jonathan (and enjoy the excerpt at the end!)


Connect with Janice:
Website | Goodreads | Twitter

Connect with Jonathan:
Website | Goodreads | Twitter




Could you please describe WANTED UNDEAD OR ALIVE: VAMPIRE HUNTERS AND OTHER KICK-ASS ENEMIES OF EVIL in one to two sentences?
 
JANICE GABLE BASHMAN: WANTED UNDEAD OR ALIVE deals with the struggle of good vs evil in film, comics, pop culture, world myth, literature, and the real world. Everything from vampire slayers to paranormal investigators to FBI serial-killer profilers. It includes interviews with folks like Charlaine Harris, Rachel Caine, Laurell K. Hamilton, L.A. Banks, Stan Lee, Mike Mignola, Jason Aaron, Fred Van Lente, Peter Straub, and many more; and the book is fully illustrated by top horror, comics & fantasy artists.

What inspired you to write this particular book?

JONATHAN MABERRY: I’ve been researching this topic in one way or another for many years. My grandmother introduced me to a great deal of folklore, and almost all of folklore is tied to some aspect of the struggle of good vs evil. Over the last ten years I’ve written several books on the subject of the supernatural and paranormal. WANTED UNDEAD OR ALIVE was part of a package of five I sold to Citadel Press in 2005. The four previous books are: VAMPIRE UNIVERSE (2006), THE CRYPTOPEDIA (2007; winner of the Bram Stoker Award for Best Nonfiction; co-authored by David F. Kramer); ZOMBIE CSU (2008; winner of the Hinzman Science Award and the Black Quill Award); and THEY BITE (2009; co-authored by David F. Kramer). WANTED UNDEAD OR ALIVE is the natural conclusion to the series: after delving so deeply into the monsters and things that go bump in the night, I wanted to focus on those creatures (human or otherwise) who stand between us and evil.

And this book allowed Janice and I the opportunity to write about the complex struggle of good and evil from so many different points of view, from biblical conflicts to super-hero battles.

From what I’ve heard, WANTED UNDEAD OR ALIVE sounds more like an encyclopedia than anything else. Is this true?

MABERRY: It has essays at the beginning of each chapter and then some encyclopedia-like sections. There are also plenty of sidebars. This book gives a lot of meaty info on a lot of fun (yet bizarre) topics.

BASHMAN: In WANTED UNDEAD OR ALIVE, we tackle the whole good and evil idea in a fun and exciting way—through its presence in movies, books, comics, pop culture, and real life. There’s a ton of facts in the book, but it’s a exciting read. What’s not fun about talking about good and evil? Darth Vader vs Luke Skywalker. Buffy the Vampire Slayer vs vampires. Batman vs The Joker. Dracula vs Van Helsing. FBI profilers vs serial killers. Ghosts vs ghost hunters. It’s the ultimate showdown between opposing forces. We take a look at this concept from all angles and put it together in a manner that’s easy to read with lots of interviews, sidebars, and interesting facts. There’s something for everyone in WANTED UNDEAD OR ALIVE

MABERRY: Having a Big Picture sensibility in the writing helps us to present the info in a way that is neither offense nor off-putting. Sometimes that means using a bit of snarky humor, and sometimes it’s taking off the disguise and allowing the reader to glimpse our own inner geeks. Once they know that we’re part of their crowd, the book becomes more of an act of sharing cool stuff with our peers than authors writing to a demographic. Much more fun.

How long did it take to write WANTED UNDEAD OR ALIVE? How much research was required?

BASHMAN: As Jonathan stated earlier, he’s been researching the this topic for years. The actual researching and writing process was quite intensive and took a lot of time. WANTED UNDEAD OR ALIVE is full of facts yet they’re presented in a fun way which makes for an easy read. In addition to the research, we interviewed tons of people, including Stan Lee, John Carpenter, Charlaine Harris, Peter Straub, Rachel Caine, Amber Benson, Lucienne Diver, and Christopher Golden. Between the two of us, it took us about a year to research, conduct interviews, and write the book.

MABERRY: Luckily we live in the age of emails, Facebook and Skype, all of which make the process of interviewing extremely easy and efficient. These days you can find virtually anyone through social media, websites, blogs or emails, and reaching out is a snap. Most of our interviews were conducted via email, which allowed us to reach experts all over the world.

Which is your favorite chapter?

BASHMAN: It was definitely a lot of fun writing this book; and I learned so much during the process, including the many ways to kill a vampire, how to fight various mythic monsters, the tools and methods ghost hunters use to investigate paranormal activity, and what FBI profilers do in addition to profiling serial killers. I’d be hard pressed to pick a favorite chapter, because I love so much of the book and how it examines good and evil. That said, I’d have to go with the chapter titled “Legendary Heroes” because it covers so many of the good guys from ancient myth, folk lore, fiction, pop culture and the real world, including Geronimo, Tomoe Gozen, James Bond, Indiana Jones, Mother Teresa, and Doctors Without Borders. The chapter also covers dozens of mythic monsters and how to fight them. Everything from the Ahuizotl to the Whowie.

MABERRY: I don’t really have a favorite in terms of the finished product, however I had the most fun researching the chapter on comics. I write for Marvel and I’m a lifelong comics fan. So that was a blast…especially interviewing Stan Lee!

Vampire or Werewolf?

BASHMAN: I’m a big werewolf fan. I know a lot dig vampires, especially since they’re immortal. But there’s something about werewolves; they have a long history in the mythology and lore of many cultures throughout the world. They are strong and powerful creatures with the ability to shapeshift. The Benandanti were a race of good werewolves. Instead of slaughtering they descended into hell to fight witches and the Devil.

MABERRY: For storytelling, I prefer vampires in that there’s a bit more elbow room in the kinds of stories you can tell. Folklorically speaking, there are many more vampire species than werewolf. However, from a fan point of view, I love a good werewolf flick. My favorite is DOG SOLDIERS. Riveting even when watched again and again.

Good guy or Bad guy?

BASHMAN: Bad guys are appealing because they intrigue us—we want to know what makes them tick. But, for me, the good guys are always winners. They are the men, women or beings, real life or fictional, who fight against all odds to overcome evil. And that is satisfying.

I think we want to believe that all beings, human or otherwise, are somehow good, that no matter how evil or monstrous they’ve acted there’s something in them that can be salvaged. Of course, that’s often not the case, but we still search for that glimmer of goodness, that piece of humanity that makes these monsters seem like us. Through fiction, movies, comics, etc., we experience the ultimate battles of good versus evil where the heroes typically triumph, unlike real life where evil can and does win.

MABERRY: I definitely like the good guys. That’s where my sympathies lie. In fact, a lot of people ask me why I write novels about monsters, and what I tell them is that I don’t: I write novels about people who fight monsters, who oppose darkness.

Coffee or tea?

BASHMAN: I’m a tea person. I hate the taste of coffee but love the smell. Go figure.

MABERRY: Oh, God…coffee. The stronger the better. I write in coffeeshops for the most part, and I love a nice big cup of extra bold (heart-attack brew).

Paper or Microsoft Word (for writing)?

BASHMAN: I can write on paper or on the computer, but I prefer the computer for several reasons. First, I type faster than I write. Second, typing has become a process that requires no conscious thought—it’s almost automatic. Therefore, I can type without focusing on the actually process of putting the words down, which is something that I can’t do when writing on paper. Writing on the computer allows me to focus completely on what I’m writing and not divide my attention between the creative aspect and the physical demands of putting the pencil or pen to paper.

MABERRY: I write too fast to bother with paper. I do three to four thousand words a day…doing that by hand would give me cramps. However, if I’m at a diner or in a waiting room or on an airplane, I tend to write short scenes by hand. For that I use a retractable pencil and a hardcover notebook.

Could you provide readers with a brief passage of WANTED UNDEAD OR ALIVE so they can see what the writing is like?

An excerpt from WANTED UNDEAD OR ALIVE: Vampire Hunters and other Kick-
Ass Enemies of Evil by Jonathan Maberry and Janice Gable Bashman (Citadel Press,
August 31).

© Jonathan Maberry and Janice Gable Bashman

VILLAINS—NATURAL AND UNNATURAL

Villains are the bad guy. Whether human, monstrous, alien, spiritual or other, the villain is the person or being whose aim is to do some kind of harm. Real world villains range from vicious dictators like President Robert Mugabe who has been accused of a laundry list of human rights violations to a snatch-and-grab thief who robs a convenience store.
 

Some villains are reluctant, and many are villains only from the perspective of political or ethical ideology. This is the case in every war ever fought.

Some villains fill that role briefly—perhaps a momentary lapse in which they succumb to greed or lust or one of those other pesky Seven Sins. Some are opportunists who see something and grab at it. The 2008 financial collapse was filled with bad guys of that kind.
 

Some villains, on the other hand, revel in it. Villainy is their choice. They groove on the negative energy released from their actions. This, sadly, is a pretty large category that includes child molesters, rapists, mass murderers, corrupters of youth, and many others.
 

Movies –perhaps more so than novels-- are often structured to present the villain as the most interesting characters. Filmmaker John Carpenter (Halloween, The Thing, The Fog) agrees and shared his views with us: “The villains always have the best parts. Darth Vader had the best part in Star Wars, The Wicked Witch had the best part in The Wizard of Oz, everybody loves villains. And these guys are just actors in makeup, but we all love them. They have a power to them. They’re strong. Everybody knows about them. So they become incredibly familiar. It’s hard to get people riled up and scared by them anymore because they’re so familiar to us. For Halloween we dress up as scary characters, but we love them, we enjoy them and celebrate them. That’s what movie storytelling’s all about.”
 

So…why the great love affair with the bad guys? “The reason we bond so much with the movie villain,” says Carpenter, “is that we secretly want that kind of freedom, to be able to break all the rules. especially when we’re young. That’s what we long to do, we want to break the rules. That’s the appeal of horror films in general. Especially when they’re on the edge. We go in there and we want a thrill. We want to get out of normal society. But as you get older, and become more responsible it becomes less fun.”
 

Robert Gregory Browne, an AMPAS Nicholl Award-winning screenwriter and the author of Down Among the Dead Men, shares this insight into bad guys. “I think the key to any villain in fiction is to make him human. He may do evil things, but he’s still a human being and he reacts to the world in a very human way, although with a complete lack of impulse control. My character of Vincent, in Whisper in the Dark, for example, feels that he has been wronged. That after he has worked so hard to make a name for himself, creating his ‘art,’ some impostor has come along and stolen his thunder by, more or less, taking credit for his work. At least that’s the way Vincent sees it. He sees the impostor as a plagiarist—and a bad one at that. So he’s very human in his reaction, although he goes about getting revenge for this insult in ways that most of us wouldn’t think of. Or maybe we’d think of, but wouldn’t act on.”
 

It’s interesting to note, however, that very few people ever regard themselves as evil. Wiretaps of conversations between members of organized crime families bear this out. You rarely get statements like, “Hey, let’s go out and do some evil stuff.” Though that would really make court cases a lot easier.
 

However, in myth and storytelling there are plenty of villains who delight in simply being evil. That’s a club that has Satan as its chairman emeritus and includes Baba Yaga, quite a few dragons, the occasional ogre and troll, vampires, child-eating forest hags, and others. When it comes to child-eating hags there’s no moral gray area and heroic slayage is both acceptable and encouraged.
 

These days it’s all about the gray area. Even a monster like Hannibal Lecter—a mass murdering cannibal who was voted the second greatest villain of all time (after Darth Vader)—was a character people actually liked. In Thomas Harris’ chilling novel, Silence of the Lambs and Jonathan Demme’s nail-biter of a film, Lecter was charming, likeable, even admirable in certain ways. We rooted for him to escape from his captivity and the warden was made to look like the villain. The character’s charisma blinded us to the bare facts that the warden was justified in maintaining the harshest security standards
because the prisoner was an incredibly dangerous monster. But gray areas are at the heart of modern storytelling.
 

NY Times bestselling author Rachel Caine shared her view on crafting these ‘gray area’ characters: “I can’t really warm up to characters who are just one thing or another. Black or white. Real people don't fall into those categories, and for me, the characters I create have to be realistic, if not real. My characters make mistakes. Bad choices. Sometimes, they compromise their ideals for short-term gains. I have a hard time making stock heroes or stock villains without mussing them up a little bit -- most of my villains have redeeming qualities, and most of my heroes have less admirable ones. It just makes them more interesting to me.”
 

A lot of modern horror and fantasy fiction explores those gray areas of evil and villainy, and that makes for some fascinating reading. It also allows the writers to throw some curves at the reader. Few things are more boring than a completely predictable villain. When it’s hard to make a clear distinction as to whether someone (or something) is a villain, it infuses the encounter with paranoia, tension, and real scares.



Jonathan Maberry is a NY Times bestseller, multiple Bram Stoker Award-winner and a writer for Marvel Comics. He has written a number of award-winning nonfiction books and novels on the paranormal and supernatural, including THE CRYPTOPEDIA, VAMPIRE UNIVERSE, THEY BITE, ZOMBIE CSU and PATIENT ZERO. His latest novel is ROT & RUIN. Visit Jonathan’s website at:

Janice Gable Bashman has written for THE BIG THRILL, NOVEL & SHORT STORY WRITER’S MARKET, THE WRITER, WILD RIVER REVIEW, and many others. Visit Janice’s website at:
www.janicegablebashman.com.

Tori's Review: Taken by the Others by Jess Haines


Paperback
- 352 pages
Price: $6.99
ISBN 10: 1420111884
ISBN 13: 978-1420111880
Released: January 4, 2011

Jess's Website
Buy it via the Publisher
Buy it via Amazon

Obtained: Author
Genre: Urban Fantasy 
Series: H&W Investigations 
1. Hunted by the Others (book review)
Anthology: Spark of Temptation (book review)
2. Taken by the Others







Once, New York P.I. Shiarra Waynest’s most pressing problem was keeping her agency afloat. Now she’s dealing with two dangerous, seductive vampires who have been enemies for centuries. The only thing Max Carlyle and Alec Royce agree on is that they both want Shia–for very different reasons.

Max is determined to destroy Shia for killing his progeny, while Royce’s interest is a lot more personal. That’s not sitting well with Shia’s werewolf boyfriend, Chaz. As the feud between Max and Royce gets ever more deadly, a powerful vampire-hunting faction is urging Shia to join their side. Shia has always believed vamps were the bad guys, but she’s discovering unexpected shades of grey that are about to redefine her friends, her loyalties–and even her desires…


My Rating:

My Opinion:
Phew, so some time has passed since I finished reading TBTO and I must say that, while my fangirl squealing over the epic fight in this book has somewhat lessened, my adoration for this book has not.

While I'm going to avoid going into details regarding what happens in this book, I will say this: the plot started out somewhat slow. Naive little me thought blasphemous thoughts at the start, such as: "oh no, what if I don't like TBTO as much as HBTO?!" Rest assured all, the beginning may be slow, but it's only to lull you into a false sense of security so that, when you least expect it, the plot can reach out of the book and slap you in the face with it's pure awesome-ness.

Okay so maybe not literally, but TBTO is the type of book that needs to build up some steam in order to truly get interesting. Once it does, one practically forgets just how slow the start might have been. I felt like I was standing right beside Shia once all shit went to hell. I swear I think my pulse was pounding at one point. I definitely groaned at some points when I wanted to squeal my frustrations. Suffice to say, once things picked up, I was 110% invested with what happened.

And okay, I know that Royce is a smarmy bastard. I knew not to grow fond of him... especially because he was a vampire and totally manipulative. Plus I was a pure Chaz shipper at the start of this series, but now that I've been introduced to Royce's character in a more "intimate" fashion... I'm torn. This is one love triangle that I don't know who to side with, and I LOVE IT!

But I shake my fist at you Jess for making me sad panda about Chaz.

So we've got two hunky men representing the werewolves and the vampires in a love triangle that will probably make me start foaming at the mouth by the end of this series, we've got one of the best fight scenes I've read in ages, and then we have Mouse.

Who the hell is Mouse? Brace yourselves folks.

Mouse is a vampire and she is so freakin' amazing I'm just awestruck by her awesomeness. She is my favorite character in this series. She's tiny, she's tough, and she can use a sword like it's nobody's business. I loved how sweet she was despite the fact that she was a vampire. I want to read more of her in future releases. Words cannot give her justice... you just have to read about her yourself in order to fully appreciate her character.

I think my only complaint about this book was Shia, and it's not much of a complaint because the fight totally blew my mind (how many times can I turn this all back to the fight in one review?). Too much thinking on Shia's part contributed to a somewhat slower start, though I did appreciate the attention to detail in the thought processes. Thankfully, Shia's fear for vampires, while still prominent in TBTO, is not so in-your-face like in HBTO. I could at least understand her fear this time around, even if I wished she was tougher.... but she's human, so I'll let it slide.

I think that's all I can cover in a review without getting spoiler-y, so I'll end it by saying that Max is a psycho bastard.

And I love him for it. That is all.

Okay but really, while the cover for TBTO might not be as stellar as the HUNTED BY THE OTHERS cover, the writing and the storyline more than make up for the hooker Shia cover. If you love urban fantasy, if you love awesome, fully developed characters, if you love love triangles done right, you will love TAKEN BY THE OTHERS. I cannot stress how much readers should start investing in this series ASAP. Trust me on this one, folks.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Happy Holidays!


Sorry, I couldn't resist... >:D

Here's to wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and happy holidays!! 

This time tomorrow I will have eaten wonderful ravioli con vodka sauce, the best creme brulee ever, and will still be drinking lots of wine, wooo!!

Tori's Review: Incarceron by Catherine Fisher


Hardcover
- 448 pages
Price: $17.99
ISBN 10: 0803733968
ISBN 13: 978-0803733961
Released: January 26, 2010

Catherine's Website
Buy it via the Publisher
Buy it via Amazon

Obtained: Prize 
Genre: YA Dystopian 
Series: Incarceron 
1. Incarceron
2. Sapphique






Incarceron is a prison unlike any other: Its inmates live not only in cells, but also in metal forests, dilapidated cities, and unbounded wilderness. The prison has been sealed for centuries, and only one man, legend says, has ever escaped.
           
Finn, a seventeen-year-old prisoner, can’t remember his childhood and believes he came from Outside Incarceron. He’s going to escape, even though most inmates don’t believe that Outside even exists. And then Finn finds a crystal key and through it, a girl named Claudia. 
           
Claudia claims to live Outside—her father is the Warden of Incarceron and she’s doomed to an arranged marriage. If she helps Finn escape, she will need his help in return. But they don’t realize that there is more to Incarceron than meets the eye. Escape will take their greatest courage and cost far more than they know. 
           
Because Incarceron is alive.



My Rating: DNF

My Opinion:
It's been about two weeks now since I started INCARCERON. I had a few issues while reading the first 200 pages with world building and the characters. Regarding the world building: the start was extremely scattered and I was left wondering a little too much about the worlds both inside Incarceron and outside. Regarding the characters: our hero and heroine were entirely too difficult to connect with. They felt somewhat flat because of my lack of feeling... well, anything for them. I feel like such an ass saying I felt nothing for the world and characters because I wanted to.

Due to the amount of time that has passed and my lack of excitement with continuing this story, I will not be continuing it. That is not to say that others will not enjoy this novel. Had I read INCARCERON at another point in time (where I was not so burnt out between reading for the blog and college finals both looming in the distance and finally leaving me the hell alone), I might have enjoyed this.

I think those who generally enjoy dystopians mixed with fantasy will adore this story. If, however, you do not enjoy the slow pacing of fantasies then I suggest mentally preparing yourself before reading.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Giveaway winners

Whew!  So I've officially finished classes and finals!  Many apologies for such a long wait.  Like I said in yesterday's post, I'll do a big giveaway soon to make up for it ;)  Instead of babbling about whatever, here's the winners for the blog giveaways:


Day of the Dragon by Rebecca York
Linda Henderson 
(seriousreader@...)

The Dark Divine ARC (plus super-cool nail polish) by Bree Despain
Steph
(papercutreviewer@...)


And finally, I wanted to post the results of the GirlUP charity event Eleni (from La Femme Readers) and I hosted last month!  Thank you so much everyone for your comments.

I also wanted to give a special shout out/thank you to the wonderful participants who personally made a money donation to this organization.  Your generosity was touching and inspiring.  Thank you so much!

In addition, I want to send my warmest gratitude to Bloomsbury, Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing and HarperCollins for your generous book donations for the giveaways.

The amount Eleni and I will be donating to the GirlUP organization is:
$25.00

And now for the giveaway winners!


GirlUP winners: Please respond to Eleni when she contacts you! ASAP!  Here is the link to the giveaway post.

All other winners:  Please contact me by Wed the 22nd with your mailing info!  You know the rules...failure to do so means you relinquish your prize to another person.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

To Refrain, or not to Refrain?

NOTE:  I will be posting giveaway winners ASAP.  My apologies about the ridiculously long wait but Eleni and I got backed up this past week.  I'll make it up to you all soon with a huge book giveaway :)


My final is tomorrow and instead of studying, I got distracted and went onto Twitter (go figure).  I've been juggling with a question ever since I started blogging and my reader-base grew.  It's the type of question that's made me want to rip my hair our and scream bloody murder.  It's the type of question that has no real answer, either.

I've been struggling with positive and negative reviews as of late.  Do you post negative reviews on the blog if you're an aspiring author?  Do you bite your tongue and refrain from reviewing?  WHAT DO YOU DO!?  And holy crap, what do you do if an author asked you to review a book and you didn't like it?  Well for that one, I know what to do, but for the other questions?  My brain still hurts from overthinking.

Some people tell me I'm nice when it comes to writing negative reviews.  I try to, if I did not enjoy a book, say what didn't work and then back up that statement with some constructive criticism.  That's my goal for books that simply did not work for me.  I don't attack the authors.  I just state what's wrong.  Yet... there are authors who will still hate your guts for doing that, I bet.  I know I've probably ruined a few friendships with some authors online because I might have been a bit too honest in their eyes (when I thought I was simply making a harmless statement)... and it sucks.  Who wants to lose a friendship with someone over an opinion regarding a book?

I know that I personally would love to see constructive criticism in reviews regarding any future books I might get published.  If there's a problem in my book that a lot of people take issue with, why not?  It's nice receiving an outsider's opinion, and I know I would take those suggestions to heart when plotting/writing/revising any future works.  I also know not everyone wants to receive such reviews.  But guess what?  Getting a book published means you're not going to please everyone.


I don't want to step on any toes before I'm even published.  So what do I do?  Do I refrain from posting those negative reviews about the books I didn't like?  I'm not going to lie and bullshit about how awesome a book is if I didn't like it, so does that mean I simply do not review those books that I did not enjoy?  I guess if I don't want to step on any toes, then it would make sense to not post negative reviews in general, but what about the readers? 

What. about. the. readers? 

If I don't post negative reviews, I'm going against one of the primary reasons I started blogging in the first place.  Yeah, I wanted to blog to make friends, review books I love and spread the love.  I wanted to review the not-so-great books and explain why they didn't work, because you know what?  Amazon reviews for super-omega popular books, books like TWILIGHT, all had gushing 5-star reviews stating: "ZOMG DIS BOOK RAWKS!" and that shit used to piss me off.  Not because people loved the book, but because when I finally went to go read it, I absolutely HATED IT and was angry that I ended up wasting $7-20 bucks on a mediocre book I could have rented from the library.  (Btw: No hate on TWILIGHT here, I'm just using it as an example since I assume Meyer's not going to give a shit).

I always used to wonder in those situations: Why the hell wasn't there anything that politely stated what the flaws were and what the reader wished was there instead?  Why weren't there more negative reviews that warned me of what I was getting myself into?

When it comes to buying books, most of the time, I ignore all of the 5-star reviews and search for the 1-3 -stars.  Why?  Because I know what I like to read about and I'd prefer to hear the brutally honest truth about a book I'm going to be spending/wasting MY money on.  If there are a majority of low ratings that all state that the heroine in the book is dumber than a rock, then chances are I might feel the same way too.  I've also come to realize that a lot of bloggers tend to bull shit and gush in their 5-star reviews.  No hate on those reviewers, but I'm not interested in hearing how much you "looooooooove this book!" if I'm considering buying it.  I want to know why you like it, and what you didn't like about it, and who you think will enjoy it. 

Now I've ranted and raved about why I think negative reviews are important.  The question still remains:  for aspiring authors, do you post those negative reviews and risk stepping on some toes, or do you refrain?

I'm thinking that I might start refraining and only post 3-5 -star ratings from now on.  Perhaps I'll leave the negative reviews to Book Dragon.

What do you all think?  I know some of you wanted to know which books I DNF'ed.  I know some of you appreciated my lower rated reviews.  Will you stop reading my reviews if I only post about books that are positive?

You can be totally honest.  If you'd stop reading my blog because I gave in, tell me.  You're not going to hurt my feelings.



EDIT:  After receiving such supportive responses, I've decided to keep writing negative reviews.  This post was oddly therapeutic, so thank you very much everyone! :)

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Break Time!


THIS is me right now, drowning in work for the last week of classes.  Every. single. day this week (and then the Monday next week) I will be working on a new project for my classes. 

Because of that, and because I'm feeling pressure from my TBR pile, I'm going on a bit of a reading/reviewing/blogging hiatus.  It'll either last for a week or until the 20th, which is the last day of my final exams.  (And boy is it a doozie.  Math AND Italian on the same day, 30 minutes apart.  I'm weeping emo-demonic tears right now just thinking about it.)

I'll announce all my giveaway winners around the 14th-ish, so I can get books shipped out ASAP, but aside from that, don't expect a post for a week or two.  I'll also be hosting a giveaway with a very special blogger on the 13th, so keep an eye out for that also! :)

Hmm... maybe I'll actually have time to stop by blogs and leave comments FOR ONCE!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

How to: add an email subscription to your blog

Okay, so, as you will see in tomorrow's post, I've made a new resolution: to start visiting more blogs and commenting. In general, I only stop by one or two paranormal blogs and my visits are rare at best. When it comes to commenting, it's pretty nonexistant. For me, talking on Twitter is a lot easier. My lack of comments are about to change, though! I've added a bunch of blogs to my email subscription in the hopes that, since I check my email daily, I'll start reading more blog posts in my spare time (and commenting).

During my adventures of adding blogs earlier today, I found that quite a few did not offer the email subscription option. Guess what that means? I can't follow you. I mean, I can, but chances are I won't really read any of your posts. It's not personal, I'm just a bad blog follower.  REALLY bad blog follower.

After complaining about it on Twitter, a few people approached me mentioning how they did not how to add such an option.... which is why I present you all with this blog post--and a possibly new feature--where I can address questions people may have about blogging or tweaking their blogs.




Please click on the "Read more" link below to continue reading this post.  Be forewarned: this post is image heavy (which is why I added the cut).

Tori's Review: Black Wings by Christina Henry


Paperback
- 304 pages
Price: $7.99
ISBN 10: 0441019633
ISBN 13: 978-0441019632
Released: November 30, 2010

Christina's Website
Buy it via the Publisher
Buy it via Amazon

Obtained: Publisher
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Black Wings 
1. Black Wings












As an Agent of Death, Madeline Black is responsible for escorting the souls of the dearly departed to the afterlife. It's a 24/7 job with a lousy benefits package.

Maddy's position may come with magical powers and an impressive wingspan, but it doesn't pay the bills. And then there are her infuriating boss, tenant woes, and a cranky, popcorn-loving gargoyle to contend with.

Things start looking up, though, when tall, dark, and handsome Gabriel Angeloscuro agrees to rent the empty apartment in Maddy's building. It's probably just a coincidence that as soon as he moves in demons appear on the front lawn. But when an unholy monster is unleashed upon the streets of Chicago, Maddy discovers powers she never knew she possessed. Powers linked to a family legacy of tarnished halos.

Powers that place her directly between the light of Heaven and the fires of Hell...


My Rating:


My Opinion:
So I just finished reading BLACK WINGS, an urban fantasy that I was extremely excited for. I've had enough of vampires right now, and I've always wanted to read a story about a grim reaper. Maybe it's just me, but I always thought the idea of death being personified was exciting. The English major-dork in me loved reading about/the concept of the Danza Macabra (aka The Dance of Death) during the middle ages. Perhaps I found it so interesting because I always wondered what death would think, how she/he would react, and if death would have a love life. How could he/she, if whenever death touched someone, they died? Or perhaps the busy work schedule deterred any love life? Would there be multiple deaths, collecting souls? There's just so many possibilities, and now I got a story about it!

Unfortunately, I did not enjoy this novel as much as I had hoped. The writing is accessible and I believe that many will enjoy Christina's writing style. There are bits and pieces of humor that will make you laugh out loud while reading this story, which is definitely something I can appreciate in a novel. One cannot laugh enough while reading a book.

Then, there is the world Christina created, which is what kept me reading this book. Like I said earlier, I love the concept of a good grim reaper story and I believe there are not enough books out there right now that focus on that sort of character (this will probably change soon). Fallen angels, nephilim, and Christina's take on Lucifer were also unique and refreshing. There is no actual hell. Who would have thought of that one? It definitely makes Lucifer's minions seem more modern and... well, I thought it was amusing that they would be living alongside humanity. Oh, and the gargoyle sidekick/comical relief? Priceless. Give me more gargoyles!

Alas, that is where my adoration for this book ends, because we are ultimately forced to learn more about Maddy, the heroine in our story. If I love the heroine in a UF, you can believe that I will probably love the book. If I don't, then even if the world is unique, I probably will not love the book. Guess which side of the spectrum I'm on?

When it comes to Maddy, our 32 year old heroine, let's just say she has more temper tantrums than I did when I was 12. I said to a friend of mine when I reached the midpoint of the book: "Maddy is bipolar x10." Almost every single encounter contains a moment where Maddy seems to overreact and act childish. She vents and complains so early on in the story that I found it hard to like her since it made her come off as whiny and dramatic. Granted, there were three encounters that had occurred beforehand, but I couldn't even recall one because it was so brief. Heroines having mental breakdowns and rant-fests within the first 100 pages of a book do not earn my sympathy.

I will give Maddy the benefit of the doubt though, because her emotional state of mind did serve a purpose to the story. Alas, fights are one thing; how the heroine interacts with the allies around her (read: when she isn't fighting) is entirely different. I hope that Maddy's character vastly improves in book two.

Speaking of ranting, parts of the dialogue felt too condensed for my tastes.  Instead of flowing naturally, the venting scenes were repetitive and long winded.  I would have appreciated some lines cut, simplified, or explained via Maddy's thoughts (ex: I then began to explain to so-and-so about how I felt.  How I was tired of getting my ass kicked, how I was tired of being left in the dark)  I feel that flows more naturally than some of the things actually said, but that's just me being nitpicky.

Moving on to the love interests: I loved Gabriel. I loved the attraction (later on in the story) between Maddy and Gabriel. But the initial attraction between them? I wasn't buying it. For me, the pacing was off at that point and it went from Maddy dealing with struggling for her life to suddenly crushing on this man. There were no bonding moments between the two early on. Hell, she was mad at him. Despite her anger, he saves her life by kissing her and she's suddenly drooling over the man. For me, this felt too abrupt and unrealistic.

JB was another character I took issue with. He's an asshole at the start. Maddy thinks he's an asshole, albeit, an attractive one. Yet once Gabriel enters Maddy's life, JB transforms from jerk to attracted man. There were no other signs during earlier interactions that would hint at any sort of attraction on his end, which is why I struggled with the initial unveiling of him as a love interest. I liked JB as one, but I would have enjoyed that element developed further so that it was more convincing.

I think the problem that I had most was Maddy's emotions being everywhere and the pacing. There was a lot of action in this story, which is not bad, but it can hurt a book at times too. I had no opportunity to become intimate with Maddy's character because I felt like I was always on edge, expecting her to get her ass kicked at any second (or, having her discover ANOTHER new skill that will conveniently save her life and kick the bad guy's butt). I wanted to get to know Patrick and Maddy and Beezle more before everything started to become undone. Patrick's fate did not phase me because I did not know him as a character. I also wanted Maddy and Gabriel to interact more and get to know each other before all the drama began. Same with JB.

I also had a few technical problems with the book, but those are nitpicky and can probably be overlooked by most readers. Primarily, how did JB know Gabriel was a paranormal creature and not just some human? Did humanity know about vampires and demons and whatnot? I might have missed the latter question at some point, but if not, that should have been addressed.

Aside from all those complaints, I thought BLACK WINGS was a decent debut. Not my favorite, but I enjoyed it enough that I am looking forward to reading the next book in the series. Hopefully, Maddy's character will act a bit more maturely and the pacing will improve, now that Christina's a more experienced writer. I suggest reading this book if you enjoy action-packed UFs combined with a bit of humor, or if you want to read about a grim reaper-filled world. I believe that most will be able to look over the pacing and romance issues I had, just like I believe some will detest Maddy's emotional state of being. I also believe that despite how emotional Maddy is, those readers will also look forward to book two.

Friday, December 3, 2010

DNFs: Other, Harvest Moon, Paranormalcy


Reason for the DNF:
The heroine/her voice didn't work for me.
 

Recommended for...
  • Those who tend to enjoy heroines who are more nerdy/geeky in nature;
  • Those who can handle the more casual, conversational tone our heroine has in this story;
  • Those who enjoy boyfriends who randomly speak poetically.

 Blogs that loved this book:




Reason for DNF:
 Review of: A Tangled Web by MERCEDES LACKEY

A TANGLED WEB is the reason I wanted to check out HARVEST MOON. I always love a good recreation of the Hades/Persephone relationship and ATW sounded like it would be a cute, fun read.

My first problem with this piece is that it felt too casual. I wasn't buying the mother/daughter relationship between Persephone and Demeter. The former sounded like a brat with ADD, and the latter sounded like one of those psycho mothers you thank the heavens you're not related to.

I did not enjoy Hades acting like such a wimp. He's the God of the Underworld... even if one is going to recreate a story... I don't know, he rubbed off on me the wrong way because he was so timid at the start.

The relationship was cute, but overall, I wasn't feeling very invested (probably because I wasn't buying Persephone and Hades as characters). I would have enjoyed their relationship developing further. Instead of being told about how the two spent a year together, I think the story would have been more interesting following that year and watching the two fall in love. As it is, I'm expected -- as a reader -- to simply accept the fact that the two love each other without ever being shown that love.

One of the primary reasons I wanted to read the text in the first place was to witness that love. Major bummer that I didn't get to.

While I am interested in Norse mythology, I don't know as much about it. I felt like I was thrown into this side of the story without any warning, and there really wasn't as much of an explanation/back story for these characters. Once again, did not feel invested. I hate to say it, but I usually skimmed the scenes that switched to this POV.

Overall: I'm rather reluctant to continue with this anthology, however, I will try to do so at a later date.

Recommended for...

  • Those who enjoy retellings of the old mythological tales;
  • Those who don't mind the Olympians you knew and loved having been changed so drastically.

Blogs/Reviews that loved this book:







Reason for DNF:

I know... I'm in the minority here.

My main problem with this book was the writing style. It felt rushed, choppy, and childish (that's not to say childish books are bad or anything). I also felt no real connection with the heroine 44 pages into the story.

 
Recommended for...

  • Those who enjoy more lighthearted young adult novels;
  • Those who can tolerate a more juvenile heroine;

Blog/reviews that loved this book:

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Tori's Review: Rise of the Darklings by Paul Crilley


Hardcover
- 352 pages
Price: $16.99
ISBN 10: 1606840312
ISBN 13: 978-1606840313
Released: September 28, 2010

Paul's Website
Buy it via the Publisher
Buy it via Amazon

Obtained: Publicist 
Genre: Children's book / Middle Grade
Series: The Invisible Order 
1. Rise of the Darklings










Emily Snow is twelve years old, supporting herself and her younger brother on the streets of Victorian England by selling watercress. One early winter morning on her way to buy supplies, she encounters a piskie--a small but very sarcastic fey creature that has been cornered by a group of the Black Sidhe, piskies from an opposing clan. She rescues him and unknowingly becomes involved in a war between the Seelie and the Unseelie, two opposing factions of fairies that have been battling each other throughout the long centuries of human history, with London--and England itself--as the ultimate prize.

When the Invisible Order--a centuries-old secret society of humans that has protected mankind from the fey's interference--gets involved, things really start to get complicated.

Now she is the central figure in this ancient war that could permanently change Earth. With no one to trust, Emily must rely on her own instincts and guile to make the right choices that could save her family and all of mankind.

My Rating:
 
My Opinion:
I felt that the beginning was the most intriguing part of this novel. It was the unique world Crilley created that had me devour the first half of this story within a few hours the other day. I did not realize, when first requesting this book to review, that The Invisible Order series is based upon the fey. Well, that's a lie. I knew at the time, then conveniently forgot. So, when the fey were introduced, I was pleasantly surprised.

Let it be known that this is not your typical fey book. They fey in London are a group who have created their own divisions of the Seelie and Unseelie courts. We do not have the winter and summer courts here, folks. There's actually a jab at Oberon at one point which made me laugh. But aside from Oberon? All of these faeries are unique, original, and intriguing. For once, I actually wanted to learn more about the world of faerie to better understand the creatures lurking about London. It was an entirely new concept, and that is what made RISE OF THE DARKLINGS have such a strong start in my eyes.

While I enjoyed this story, I did have a few problems with it, particularly with the ending. After the first half of the book, I felt the story soon grew rushed. Instead of paying attention to detail (by the way, there's virtually no showing in this book), many of the scenes are skirted over. Or at least, it felt like they were to me. To others, perhaps it was perfect.

I felt that the scenes where Emily succumbed to her emotions were melodramatic. I was unable to relate with her or feel for her throughout these brief interruptions because it grew increasingly more and more difficult to connect with her as a character. In my mind, the story was generally smooth, only to hit turbulence as Emily acknowledged the stresses around her. These moments came out of nowhere and interrupted my enjoyment of the novel.

Now, before people start blaming me for missing anything, or hating on Emily as a character, let me say that I can understand why she did have these moments. It was a step in the right direction when it comes to fleshing a character out. That's not my problem. My problem is that I'm not pleased with the execution of these moments. Why? Because I could not feel sympathetic due to my disconnect with her as a character.

The trials Emily fumbled through were also fairly rushed. For such difficult riddles, I'm still having a hard time understanding why a twelve year old was able to decipher them so quickly. Especially when she had a roughly two-thousand year old faery helping her...

I felt Jack, Corrigan, and a lot of the fae were the most developed in this book. Emily and William disappointed me, much like the ending. Emily is a strong heroine, yet, due to the lack of showing and a lot of seemingly rushed through scenes, she is somewhat more difficult to relate with -- more so because she comes off as snappy and irritable most of the time (a quality that I disliked in this heroine). As for William, well, he barely plays a role in this book, and the role he does play is quite... childish.

If you want to read RISE OF THE DARKLINGS because you think it is a typical faery story, you will be disappointed. If, however, you want a new take on these wonderful creatures, I highly suggest checking this book out. I believe most readers will enjoy this story. Due to me being somewhat unfamiliar with most MG books, I am unsure of whether or not the rushed vibe I felt was typical in these sorts of books, or if it was unique to this book alone. Either way, I enjoyed this story much more than I did other MG books, and I highly suggest checking RISE OF THE DARKLINGS out for the beginning/worldbuilding alone.