Monday, August 31, 2009

Promotion Celebration for Maximum Ride!!!

Do you love the series Maximum Ride? How about James Patterson? Are you a huge fan of action-packed books?

Well, I’m thrilled to bring to you an opportunity to stock up on some awesome reading!!!

ENTER TO WIN A SET OF JAMES PATTERSON PAGETURNERS!
MAXIMUM RIDE – IF SHE LIVES, THE WORLD LIVES, IT’S THAT SIMPLE.

Read “MAX” - the newest book in the bestselling Maximum Ride series.
On sale in paperback 09/01/09!


Still reeling from their most recent adventure, Maximum Ride and the rest of the flock must head out to sea to uncover the secret behind a brand new series of disasters—fish are dying off the coast of Hawaii, hundreds of ships are being destroyed. As if that weren’t enough, they’re also being tracked by a criminal mastermind with, oh yeah, an army of mercenaries. Can the flock save themselves and the ocean, and the world, from utter destruction?

Now for the rules:

The Maximum Ride: Max Promotion is open to legal US residents who are at least 13 years of age as of August 24, 2009. There will be two prizes for each Promotion. Each prize consists of the following eight (8) books: Maximum Ride: Max (paperback); Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment (paperback); Maximum Ride: School’s Out – Forever (paperback); Maximum Ride: Saving the World and Other Extreme Sports (paperback); Maximum Ride: The Final Warning (paperback); Maximum Ride: Manga (paperback); The Dangerous Days of Daniel X (paperback); and Daniel X: Watch the Skies (hardcover). The approximate retail value of each prize is $72.00. Winners will be confirmed on or about September 28, 2009 by email. Prizes will only be shipped to confirmed winners with addresses in the US. Prizes will be shipped within 30 days after a selected entrant is confirmed as a winner.

That’s right, you could win EIGHT books! 2 of you will receive (picture above):

-> Maximum Ride: Max (paperback)
-> Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment (paperback)
-> Maximum Ride: School’s Out – Forever (paperback)
-> Maximum Ride: Saving the World and Other Extreme Sports (paperback)
-> Maximum Ride: The Final Warning (paperback)
-> Maximum Ride: Manga (paperback)
-> The Dangerous Days of Daniel X (paperback)
-> Daniel X: Watch the Skies (hardcover)

All you have to do to enter to win is to write a comment for this post, including your email address and the answer to this question:

What was the last book you read, and what did you think of it?

Simple, right?!

The entry time is from today, August 31st to before midnight (PST) on September 21st. I’ll randomly select two email addresses from all the qualifying entries and notify you ASAP.

Pretty awesome, I’d say!!!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Behind Every Illusion

Behind Every Illusion is Christina Harner’s debut book, the first novel in a new YA fantasy series. (Sorry, I wasn't able to get a picture in time for my posting.)

The focus is on Tatiana, a very timid, introverted teenager who is on the brink of her eighteenth birthday and college. Her shyness in social interactions causes her some serious anxiety about leaving home, but it helps that she’ll be going to the same college as her older sister, Bethany, and her (slightly) younger brother, Isaac.

Her siblings, especially her kindred spirit Isaac, hold a special bond with her since their parent’s death when she was only 11. But only Isaac knows just how horrifying that experience was to Tatiana, as she had had a feeling that her parent’s wouldn’t be coming back from their trip, and was unsuccessful in convincing them to stay home.

Isaac has always been convinced Tatiana was special since that day she told him, and when Tatiana’s 18th birthday passes, she must admit he may be right. But to her, there’s nothing “special” about it.

Physical and mental changes begin to occur, and Tatiana is terrified as each day she seems to become less and less human. But that’s not possible, right? Her parent’s were human, so she must be human.

But as time goes by and it only gets worse and she must work harder and harder to hide her differences, Tatiana can’t help wonder: What is she becoming?

And more importantly: Why?

Now, before giving you my personal opinion of Behind Every Illusion, I need to let you know that the ARC I received was a copy that hadn’t had final edits made. A large portion of the novel ended up being cut out in order for it to be more brisk and faster to action.

So, even though I did find the novel to be a bit slow in the beginning, I would most likely say to ignore that comment because this has probably been changed.

More importantly, even if the beginning of Behind Every Illusion is still a tad slow I implore all of you: BE PATIENT.

Why? Because after a while of feeling a bit distant towards the character and the plot, waiting for some action to occur, and wondering if maybe there was a bit too much telling and not enough showing – I soon forgot all of these early criticisms.

Christina Harner’s lovely writing ability comes across as she little by little lets you grow accustomed to Tatiana, to her nuances, to her quiet personality. Behind Every Illusion is less about super-powers and more about the reality: What would you ACTUALLY do if you started looking majorly different – less human – and began to have abilities that aren’t “normal”? Would you make yourself a batgirl costume and start saving the world at night?

When you think about it, you know you’d want to hide it. You’d be freaked out and scared. And if you were already shy in the first place? Yeah, that’d be torture.

So, what we have in Behind Every Illusion is more of a character-driven fantasy.

That’s not to say, however, that some massive things don’t happen. I take my hat off to Christina Harner, who really managed to SHOCK me at least three separate times in the course of the novel. I mean, wow. I was not expecting certain things to happen AT ALL.

By the end of Behind Every Illusion, I had really come to appreciate the style of Harner’s writing and the subtle build of both characters and plot. The slow but noticeable change in Tatiana’s personality – becoming earthier and other things – was quite fascinating. It was an inside glimpse of a transformation in a way I had never quite experienced in a book before. Christina has a unique way of telling the story, which as time went on, I came to grasp more and more. And to know there will be another book makes me very interested in what will happen next, yet I was still satisfied with the conclusion of this one.

One other note: Behind Every Illusion has a strong environmental focus. I want to let any potential readers out there know that even if you aren’t a big environmental activist or conservationalist, this novel has enough plot and fantasy elements to entertain and interest you anyway. I don’t believe that should impede your enjoyment.

Though it took a bit of patience (which you may not need with the new cuts, mind you), I felt, in the end, it was worth it to enjoy this subdued, yet very charming novel.


HEADS UP: Next week, August 31, you'll have a chance to win EIGHT books!!! Come back and find out how to win! :)

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Agatha Christie Special


I don’t know if maybe there are some of you out there who’ve never heard of Agatha Christie (I can just see, simultaneously, someone saying, “Who?” and someone else saying, “Who doesn’t?”)… But y’all should.

She is the Queen of Crime and the originator (as far as I know, at least) of the “cozy” murder mystery. There is something oddly enjoyable about snuggling up in a comfy chair and reading about murders, suspects, and Christie’s truly infamous sleuths.

Agatha is the creator of such greats as Miss Marple, Hercule Poirot, and others. Even the mysteries she writes that lack a traditional detective are first-rate.

Why? Because her writing talent surpasses the ages. The books take place from the 30s to the 70s. There is no Internet, no iPods, no video games – but there is a good cup of tea and a full cast of British characters, so believable and well penned that you could almost say you’d met the people before.

Except one (or more) have committed the oh-so-heinous crime of murder.

And oh what a puzzle she creates! Of every novel I’ve read of hers, I have never been disappointed. She has dozens of books, and I have recently had a reading spree of 5 of them. Here’s a brief, spoiler-free summary of each for your perusing pleasure. I recommend each one heartily, with perhaps a slight extra ounce of hearty bibliophile approval for They Do It With Mirrors, After the Funeral and Cards on the Table.

But, really, they are all awesome. So, if you like to piece together clues and tiny drops of conversation and suspicious glances, enjoy being a couch detective, yet enjoy even more being completely wrong: Read these and all other whodunit’s from Dame Agatha Christie.

They Do It With Mirrors: When one of Miss Marple’s oldest friends implores her to take a holiday with her sister, Carrie, because she feels something is “off” at Carrie’s home, Miss Marple finds that Carrie has turned her home into a sort of rehabilitation for delinquent boys. And her family isn’t very happy about it. Once murder occurs, Miss Marple realizes that she must look behind the magician’s trick and find the killer in their midst.

Cat Among the Pigeons: Meadowbank is a heralded upper-class girls’ school, completely above scandal. That is, until a teacher is found dead. But such an exclusive school must not house a cold-blooded murderer, could it? It’s decided it must be a degenerate stranger. However, yet another teacher is killed and it’s clear there is someone that has a personal vendetta against Meadowbank. Only Hercule Poirot seems able to piece together this puzzle.

A Pocket Full of Rye: When the tyrannical and odd tycoon Rex Fortescue dies a sudden and mysterious death, the strangest thing about it is why his pocket is full of rye. It can’t help but puzzle the detectives. But as the investigation seems to be gaining ground, a prime suspect gets knocked off just as peculiarly. It’s not until Miss Marple finds her way to the scene do they realize these murders seem to be following a children’s nursery rhyme, and instead of looking amongst possible inheritors, they may be searching for an insane, pointless killer. The problem? Those can be the hardest to find.

Cards on the Table: Mr. Shaitana is a disliked, strange person who looks at people more as objects and collectibles than as actual human beings. However, his gift for party throwing causes Hercule Poirot, crime writer Ariadne Oliver, Colonel Race, and Superintendent Battle of the Scotland Yard to play bridge with four of Mr. Shaitana’s “collectibles” at his home. But before the night is through, Mr. Shaitana pays the ultimate price for his dangerous hobby and is murdered. This puts the investigators in an interesting position as only four people could have committed the crime, and, according to a statement made by Mr. Shaitana to Hercule Poirot before the bridge game, all four had previously gotten away with murder.

After the Funeral (also printed as Funerals are Fatal): When the family members assemble for their beloved and rich relative Richard Lanscombe’s funeral, after a battle with a fatal illness, they are shocked when the ever-outspoken Cora asks loudly, “But he was murdered, wasn’t he?” But when another death suggests that maybe there is more to her question than a lack of brains and sensitivity, Hercule Poirot is called in to investigate.

Go ahead. Go and see if you can figure out whodunit. ;)

Monday, August 10, 2009

The Lucky One


Nicholas Sparks brings us yet another novel, The Lucky One.

Thing is, though I know it is “yet another novel” to many of you – I actually haven’t read anything of Nicholas Sparks’ yet. Sure, I saw A Walk to Remember (who could resist Shane West?), but I never base my thoughts on authors strictly off a movie of one of their books. I’d say most of you bibliophiles feel the same way.

So, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Would it be mushy? Saturated in love scenes and gloriously romantic language? I had no idea. But I did think the cover was pretty. (I know, I know – we shouldn’t pay attention to covers, but how can you help it?)

Spoiler free synopsis comes to this: Logan is an honorably discharged U.S. Marine who has embarked on a journey with his dog, Zeus. He has succumbed to curiosity fueled by his fellow marines about the beautiful girl in a photograph he found, abandoned, in the deserts of Iraq. Thing is, the photograph turned into something more than a pretty, anonymous woman to look at in the dreariness of war – it seemed to keep Logan safe when all around him causalities were almost inevitable. Though never completely convinced of this idea that the photo was a good luck charm, Logan ends up searching for her.

And he finds her. But what was previously only a nameless face is a grown woman, a single mother, and a hardworking employee to her ailing grandmother. Her name is Beth, and Logan soon realizes they have a connection and over time they fall in love.

However, the origins of the photo that brought him there, past heartbreaks, small town politics, and lies by omission threaten to ruin what Logan has found.

Okay, I wouldn’t say this synopsis really does the book justice, but it’s the best I can do. That is the basis idea behind the plot, but it’s the writing that really pulls it off. I was blown away by how absorbing and suspenseful Nicholas Sparks’ storytelling is. Without much prodding, I was fully entrenched in the lives of these people he brought to the table and cared immensely.

There is a romantic and sensitive demeanor about the novel that never turns saccharine. It has heart, as cheesy as that may sound. Thing is, if you read it – you’ll see what I mean.

I was moved many times during the course of The Lucky One, drawn into the back-stories and everyday lives of these three-dimensional characters. It was honest and melodrama-free in its telling, something that was refreshing, especially for a novel involving some romance. And I say some romance because there is more to it than that. This is character-driven, this is a book about people’s journeys and where life leads you through tragedies and sadness.

I actually loved The Lucky One and I am now much more interested in seeking out more novels by Nicholas Sparks. His writing was restrained and poignant, mature and captivating. The end was a killer. (Vague enough for you? Now you have to read it, right?)

Extremely recommended.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Jinx


Jinx is a stand-alone paranormal by the never-disappointing Meg Cabot.

Jean has earned her nickname, Jinx. And it’s for that very reason, her tendency to attract and cause trouble that she has now fled from her small town to her Aunt’s home in New York City. Jean’s hoping to start a new life, one in which she could go two minutes without messing stuff up.

But she’s not up to a great start when she finds out her once adorable and fun cousin Tory is now a gothic seductress trapped in a high schooler’s life. And Tory doesn’t find Jean charming like her friends do.

When Jean only angers her cousin further, entirely by accident, by befriending Tory’s cute boy-next-door crush, Jean learns out more about why Tory’s “act” isn’t as much of an act as she was hoping it was. And, of course, she has try and keep Tory from not only endangering herself, but everyone else around them.

But what could she expect? She’s a jinx.

As expected from Meg Cabot, Jinx didn’t fail to entertain me. The pages flew by so quickly I was done before I knew it. Jean is likable and different from Meg’s other characters. And Meg always manages to make the guys in her books worthy of being crushed on.

There were quite a few honest-to-goodness twists in there, too. It’s great when you can’t see ‘em coming. Jinx had a fresh feel about it, especially in contrast to other paranormal YA novels. You know you’re reading a great author when you flipping pages swiftly even as you think, “I wouldn’t say this is the best Meg Cabot book.”

Like I said, I wouldn’t go so far as to rank it as high on my personal favorites list as the Mediator series, which I’d say would be the closest comparison in this instance. However, it had classic Cabot humor, romance, and suspense. Plus, it was fun. It’s hard sometimes when you have such high expectations for an author’s books to critique them fairly.

Don’t get me wrong. I thoroughly enjoyed Jinx. I think it just calls to mind how awesome Meg Cabot really is. She’s yet to have a dud. I’m always satisfied by the last page.

What more could you ask for?