Really Ravishing Review (The Reckoning)

literati_rain66 Friday, October 29, 2010 ,
Click here to enter the SPOOKTACULAR GIVEAWAY

Review of The Reckoning, by Kelley Armstrong.
The Reckoning (Darkest Powers, Book 3)

Warning: Spoilers for The Summoning and The Awakening! The Reckoning is book three, read the other two first!

Quickie: A wonderful resolution to a fantastic, fast-paced series.

Full: Chloe can raise the dead. Along with a few other teens, she's on the run from The Edison Group- a team of scientists with supernatural abilities attempting a genetic manipulation in other (unknowing) supernaturals. The Edison Group desires to minimize the effects of supernatural's powers and help the subjects have more control over their powers. Trouble is... the experiment went wrong. Instead of minimizing the effects, they maximized them. Now The Edison Group is trying to "fix" their mistakes... with bullets if necessary.

I'm a bit sad that this was the last book in the series, but I liked the way it ended. Kelley's writing is so smooth and easy to read, it's always a pleasure to read her books, and The Reckoning was no exception. I loved the pacing of the book, and the information was never dumped on us; but revealed slowly and with care. All three books kept me turning page after page, biting my nails in anticipation. I love that!

I don't think I had any nitpicks with this book, which is surprising. (heh) The romance was so very real- I'm pretty sure at one time or another I've been in the shoes of each different character. It was completely believable and sweet, I just wanted to hug them all. Chloe does finally decide between Simon and Derek, and I was all for her choice. :) It's a little weird, because normally I can choose my "team" right off the bat, and it seems obvious who the girl will choose in the end, but not so in this series. I hadn't made my choice until about the middle of The Reckoning- probably about the same time Chloe did. I like that. It made it just that much more real to me.

One of my favorite things about this book is how you really, truly don't know who you can trust. It kept my adrenaline pumping the whole stinkin' time.

If you are one of those people who need every plot thread capped off, then you might be frustrated with The Reckoning. There were some open ends, but nothing dire. In my opinion, it ended with a satisfying amount of hope.

4 out of 5 stars.

Splendid Spooky Swap

literati_rain66 Thursday, October 28, 2010
I signed up for the Spooky Swap, hosted by Travis over at Inked Books and Jessica from A Fanatic's Book Blog. What was the Spooky Swap? It was a special little thing for bloggers, kind of like Secret Santa, but for Halloween! Anyhow, it was great fun, and as part of the swap, I'm posting what I got in my package. :)

-A big Pumpkin Spice candle (which, as you can tell, I'm loving) (and yeah, the glass cracked, but it's still perfectly fine. :))
-Vampire Academy (which I love! And it's perfect because I love the book, but didn't own it.)
-A bag of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups (Not shown.. because they're already gone. Things like that don't last long in my house.)

Thanks so much to my secret Spook! ;-)

And for more spooky fun, don't miss out on my SPOOKTACULAR GIVEAWAY!

Super Spooktacular Stuff

literati_rain66 Monday, October 25, 2010

I'm participating in the Spooktacular Book Blog Giveaway Hop, along with 87 other blogs! Make sure you check them all out! (They're in a Linky at the bottom of the post)

The Spooktacular 1st Prize Pack:

An ARC of First Grave on the Right, by Darynda Jones
The School for Dangerous Girls, by Eliot Schrefer
Anxious Hearts, by Tucker Shaw

The Spooktacular 2nd Prize Pack:
An ARC of Teenie, by Christopher Grant
The School for Dangerous Girls, by Eliot Schrefer
An ARC of The Big Crunch, by Pete Hautman

The Spooktacular 3rd Prize Pack:
Misty Gordon and the Mystery of the Ghost Pirates, by Kim Kennedy
The Princess Trap, by Kirsten Boie
Hurricane Mia: A Caribbean Adventure, by Donna Marie Seim

To Enter:
*Leave a comment on this post with your email address.
*You must be a follower of this blog (It's simple and painless, I promise)
*In your comment, please tell me one of your favorite Halloween memories. :)

Three winners will be drawn from the entries. Prize packs will be given in the order the entries are drawn.

US & Canada only please. Contest ends at 11:59 PM EST, October 31st. Winners will be announced the following week.

Don't forget to check out these other Spooktacular Giveaways!


My Magnificent Mailbox #18

literati_rain66 Sunday, October 24, 2010
Fail! It's Monday again, and I thought it was only Sunday. *shakes head in shame* So here is my IMM post... late, as usual.    Wow. It IS Sunday. I can't believe that I thought it was Monday. *shakes head in more shame than before* Uhm, so here's my apparently right-on-time IMM.....

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme showcasing this week's book loot, brought to you by The Story Siren.

This week I got:

From Amazon (thank you hubby!!):
Beautiful Darkness, by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
The Lost Hero, by Rick Riordan
Extraordinary, by Nancy Werlin
Personal Demons, by Lisa Desrochers
Paranormalcy, by Kiersten White
The Iron Daughter, by Julie Kagawa
The Search for WondLa, by Tony DiTerlizzi
Bright Young Things, by Anna Godbersen
Shadow Hills, by Anastasia Hopcus

From the Spooky Swap:
Vampire Academy, by Richelle Mead

Iona Moon, by Melanie Rae Thon
My Name Is Will, by Jess Winfield

Not a bad haul!!

What did you get? Have you read any of these?

Really Ravishing Review (The School for Dangerous Girls)

literati_rain66 Saturday, October 23, 2010 ,
Review of The School for Dangerous Girls, by Eliot Schrefer.
The School For Dangerous Girls 

Quickie: Surprisingly suspenseful, and completely infuriating. (In a good way)

Full: Angela has been deemed a "dangerous" girl. Her parents are done putting up with her, so they send her off to Hidden Oak, a reform institution in Middle-of-Nowhere, Colorado. Immediately it becomes clear that this is no ordinary school- it's more like a prison. A prison with a dictatorship and terrible mind games. Angela and the other new students have to go through a month-long "orientation" period, during which they discover video cameras throughout the school and that they get locked into their dorm rooms every night. The more Angela discovers, the clearer it is that she must escape.

The School for Dangerous Girls really took me by surprise. A little slow to get started, but only because things needed to be set up. Once the foundation was laid, however, the story took off. Angela is an interesting character... but she doesn't hold a candle to some of the other "dangerous girls". They're creepy and cruel and some are downright evil. I'm glad Angela wasn't one of those types because I would have had a tougher time understanding her.

As it was, I pretty much liked her. I didn't feel like she really deserved to be in such a crazy-messed-up place, and I really hated how they continuously said that this school was the very last chance any of the girls would get in life. They're young! They can always change. Humph. I hated the "they're hopeless" attitude that a lot of the faculty had. And whoa, nothing the staff did was legal. I was pleasantly infuriated multiple times. The unfairness and heavy-handedness was just horrible. (By pleasantly, I mean as much as I was upset, I was glad to be feeling something for the characters and wanting to help them)

I was honestly surprised how much I enjoyed the book. It was more suspenseful and creepy than I had anticipated. I was afraid it wouldn't end well, since there were only a few pages left and big things were still happening, but Schrefer somehow managed it. Overall, The School for Dangerous Girls was very entertaining.

4 out of 5 stars.

My Magnificent Mailbox #17

literati_rain66 Monday, October 18, 2010
Oops. I realize it's Monday, and IMM posts are supposed to happen on Sunday... so let's just pretend I can remember what day of the week it is and call today Sunday, okay? Okay!

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme brought to you by The Story Siren.

This week I got:

From Nantucket Bookworks:
Hold Me Closer, Necromancer, by Lish McBride
ARC of Recovery Road, by Blake Nelson
ARC of One Rough Man, by Brad Taylor

That's it!

What did you get?

Really Ravishing Review (First Grave on the Right)

literati_rain66 Thursday, October 14, 2010 , ,
Review of First Grave on the Right, by Darynda Jones. (Out Feb. 1st, 2011)
First Grave on the Right 
Quickie: A marvelous debut- I can't wait for more from Darynda Jones!

Full: Meet Charley Davidson, Private Investigator, 27 year old single woman, resident of Albuquerque, Grim Reaper. Yes, that's right. Charley ferries souls to "the other side". She also has a knack for knowing exactly where missing bodies are, where key evidence is, and who-done-it. She works as a consultant for her Uncle Bob, a member of the APD and is the secret to his success. When the spirits of three dead lawyers from the same firm come to her and ask her to find their killer, Charley is pulled into a scheme much larger and more dangerous than she imagined.

Sounds pretty good right? It gets better. There's another supernatural entity; a very, very yummy man, and he keeps, shall we say, visiting Charley in her dreams. She is not opposed to these visits, but she soon discovers there is a lot more to it than just a fun dream... there are lives at stake and whole wealth of information undiscovered about herself. That might not make sense now, but it will when you read the book.

First Grave on the Right was exactly the kind of book I love to read. Jones' humor was spot-on, I was laughing non-stop. I particularly enjoyed the names she gives to her feminine parts. I had to put the book down I was laughing so hard. Charley has the kind of attitude and snark that makes this genre of book so fun to read. She's tough but still feminine and doesn't take crap from anybody. Love it!

The only complaint I had was that I thought the ending needed a bit more struggle. I'm used to the conflict taking more of a toll on the characters I think. Not that the ending wasn't good, it was, I just wanted more meat to it.

A resounding success, First Grave on the Right is the first of three books in the Charley Davidson series. We can look forward to Second Grave on the Left, and Third Grave Dead Ahead.

I'm officially declaring myself a fan of Darynda Jones and the Charley Davidson series. If you're still not convinced of this book's awesomeness, maybe all the blurbs on the back cover will do the trick-

"The best debut novel I've read in years! Hilarious and heartfelt, sexy and surprising... I'm begging for the next one!!" -- J. R. Ward. #1 New York Times Bestselling Author of Lover Avenged

"I am furiously envious of Darynda Jones and rue the day she came up with this concept, damn her eyes. First Grave on the Right...kidnapped me from the first paragraph, and didn't let go until the exceedingly yummy conclusion." -- Maryjanice Davidson, New York Times Bestselling Author of Undead and Unwelcome

"First Grave on the Right is smart, sharp, and wickedly entertaining. Grab this one." -- Jayne Ann Krentz, New York Times Bestselling Author of Fired Up

"First Grave on the Right is witty, darkly thrilling, and oh, so sexy!" -- Gena Showalter, New York Times Bestselling Author of The Darkest Whisper

"First Grave on the Right is a phenomenal debut! This series opener has it all - rollicking humor, sizzling sexual tension, and a spine-tingling mystery. I'm eagerly awaiting the next Charley Davidson tale!" -- Kresley Cole, New York Times Bestselling Author of Pleasure of a Dark Prince

4 out of 5 stars

An Author Answers (Donna Marie Seim)

literati_rain66 Monday, October 11, 2010
Hurricane Mia: A Caribbean AdventureI had the opportunity recently to read and review Hurricane Mia: A Caribbean Adventure, by Donna Marie Seim. You can find my review here. Donna agreed to do a little Q and A for you all, and without further ado, I give you The Interview!

Literati: First, I'd like to get this out of the way- Go Bucks!! I had to. I'm an Ohio native, and I see that you're a graduate of Ohio State University.

Donna: Yay! Go- Bucks! Shannon, where in Ohio did you grow up? I was born and grew up in Cleveland!
        (L: Donna, I was born in Mansfield and raised in Mount Vernon, just about an hour North of Columbus.)

L: What inspired you to write Hurricane Mia? Was there anything specific? 

D:I love the Turks and Caicos Islands! I have been traveling there for many years and have visited all of the inhabited islands and many of the uninhabited Cays.  The turquoise waters, the wild donkeys, the people and the culture, along with bush medicine, all inspired me to write Hurricane Mia. Once I had decided to write a story about the islands, I then set about composing my main characters and soon had the idea for the core story, a search for the tea that cures everything. I  accomplished most of this while walking on the very beaches I wrote about. My goal was to write a story that would bring two cultures together,  the strength of the story relies on the relationship between the two girls, Mia and Neisha, beginning from the very moment they meet in front of the Green Flash Cafe. 

L: I've heard some authors say that they like to write because they can live vicariously through their characters, do you agree?
D: I am afraid that it is the opposite with me. My characters live through my experience and research. I love to make them come alive and I do want to share them and their foibles with my readers. But, no I cannot say I live through them. I must also admit that as I develop my characters they begin to take on their own traits and actions. I have to keep them in check so one doesn't overcome the other! It is one of the most fascinating parts of writing a novel!

L: I read in your bio that you spend time in the Caribbean. What sort of things do you do down there?
D: Yes, I spend a great deal of time in the Caribbean. My husband and I have renovated a small house and we live there on a part time basis. We enjoy taking eco tours and small boating trips to the undeveloped islands and exploring the uninhabited ones. We enjoy the people and the music, we have fed the stingrays, swam with barracudas, and visited the wild donkeys in the shelter. I love to walk  the beach collecting shells and sea glass. I really enjoy all the birds, wild horses, goats and chickens running free in the streets. We love to 'lime', just sitting and talking with friends and listening to their stories. Islanders always have stories, and they are more than willing to share them! 

L: Any favorite stories of your times spent there?
D: My favorite story is the time when we took an eco tour to meet with a real bush doctor and possibly a granny or two. We had to fly to one island and then take a ferry to another, followed by a long drive in a truck through mud at times nearly three feet high. It was a wild drive, I held on for dear life hoping we would not end up sinking in the mud! We did accomplish our goal and to my delight met with a bush doctor. He had a sign hanging out front, hand painted, that read, The Doctor is in! The back of it read, The Doctor is out. He was a walking encyclopedia of information about all the different types of plants and what  healing qualities they possessed. He also pointed out some bad ones, so you need to know your plants!  We were also very pleased to make the acquaintance of many of the local folk, among them a granny. Auntie Cecilia is partially based on this granny. By the way, a granny is a midwife, and it is out of respect that elders are called Auntie or Uncle with their first names.

L: I love to know the little details that seep through from the author's life into their writing. I noticed one- that you have a dog named Rags and Mia has both a stuffed dog and a real dog named Rags. Are there any other things from your own life that appeared in Hurricane Mia?
D: Yes, I have a dog named Rags and it was fun to put him in the story. Also the name, Dragonfly, came from our boat. Susan, the illustrator, used our boat for the drawing for the cover. Most of my knowledge of boats is based on our own boat, so I decided to name the boat in the story Dragonfly! Also, many of the descriptions of the islands are as I know them and have experienced them. For instance, I have witnessed a water spout, and it is truly a terrifying thing to see. I saw one as we were preparing to leave our house to board a puddle jumper to fly to another island. I could only imagine how scary it would be to be on the sea in a small boat with one coming toward you. It was bad enough in the air. I made a point to file that thought, hmmm, good fuel for a story! 

L: Which character in Hurricane Mia was your favorite to write?
D: I have to admit, I loved them all. Each one is a composite of different people I have met and a hearty mixture of my own imagination. Mia came first, and being the protagonist, she was my favorite. I had to check myself, as I wrote and developed the characters of Neisha and Jack, that I didn't let them take the stage away from Mia. They become stronger as the story progresses, Neisha, with all her strengths and fears, and Jack, as a lovable and humorous character. Auntie Cecilia is special, and I have to say, developing her was a true pleasure, she is a favorite too.

L: Which was the most difficult?
D: Without a doubt Gram was the most difficult! She is presented as rigid and ungiving and judgmental. Without Gram and Mia' s conflict, the story wouldn't have been able to move forward. I felt bad for Gram, because grandmothers are generalized as loving and caring, and not as demanding as the parents. But, that is not always the case, as is this situation. I had to concentrate on the conflict between Mia and Gram having it grow until Mia blows up and loses her temper. She says awful things to Gram and ends up regretting it, but neither of them are able to resolve the conflict between them. That is the reason Mia goes on with her plan and does not ask for help, believing her grandmother would never condone a trip to find something as silly as bush medicine.  

L: Quick! Yankees or Red Sox?! (It's mandatory that I ask you that. Well, not really, but I'm asking anyway.)
Red Sox! Of course!

L: Any advice to young writers and aspiring authors? 
D: The best advice I can give to young writers is to keep a journal. Even everyday incidents can be used later on for a good story. The more your pen flows, the more you write, the more you will master the art of writing. Writers should also read, read, read! I think the more you read the better you write, it helps  to expand your scope and learn how others create a storyline, conflict, tension and resolution. I often feel I write the best after I have read an author that has truly inspired me. 
Some say, write what you know, but I say,  don't only write what you know, use your imagination and expand your horizons! Do some research to fill in the gaps! I also like to write as I travel or experience something new, or meet someone who has just told me an interesting, head turning story. Writing is a process, it is always continuing and growing, you will find that your revisions of your work make it better, just like the elbow grease needed to polish silver until it shines!

L: Anything that you want to mention, but I didn't ask about?
Shannon, thanks so much for the interview! I enjoyed answering your questions, they were great! I love having the opportunity to express my thoughts and feelings about the characters, conflicts and all the ingredients that went into the making of Hurricane Mia! It was quite an adventure! 
        My very best,
Donna Seim

Donna's Bio: 

The love of children and children's literature has played an integral role in Donna Seim's life. In her first book, Fifty Cents an Hour, Donna tells her hilarious childhood stories from growing up in a large Irish Catholic family. 
Donna's first picture book, Where is Simon, Sandy?, set in the Caribbean, is an award winning story of a little donkey that wouldn't quit. 
Hurricane Mia, a Caribbean Adventure, is Donna's first novel. And, coming soon, is Charley!, the story of an orphaned city boy from Boston who sings his way into a dairy farming family in the heartland of rural Maine. 
When Donna is not in the Caribbean, she lives in Newbury, Massachusetts, with her husband and her dog, Rags. 
Donna is a graduate of Ohio State University, and holds a master's degree in Special Education from Lesley University. 

Want to know more about Donna? Visit her webpage- You can also join Hurricane Mia on Facebook and follow her on Twitter! (@hurricanemia)

Only One Opinion (Sea)

literati_rain66 Saturday, October 9, 2010 ,
Review of Sea, by Heidi R. Kling.
Quickie: Not at all what I expected, but lovely.

Full: I went in to Sea cold turkey. I had absolutely no idea what the book was about. Even so, I was surprised. I think the title and the cover made me think "mermaids" or "beach vacation love story" or something along those lines. Boy was I wrong! Sea was a story of love, yes, but also a story of personal growth and overcoming personal obstacles. No mermaids, though. ;-)

Sienna Jones (Sea, to her friends) lost her mother in a plane crash over the Indian Ocean. Sienna's parents would go for two weeks every year and use their training in psychology to help people suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. On one such trip, Sienna's mother boarded a flight and never was seen again. Sienna lost her mother, but she lost so much more. She lost her sense of self, she lost her way in life. Sienna became terrified of flying, and of the ocean. She stopped doing the things she loved, like body boarding, with her friends and lost touch with those she cared about.

Her fifteenth birthday rolls around and her dad surprises her with tickets... to Indonesia. She's furious that he could be so insensitive- he knows how she feels about planes and the ocean! But after some thinking she decides to go through with it.

Off she goes to Indonesia, headed to an orphanage full of tsunami survivors from Aceh. There she sees horrors beyond anything she thought possible, and befriends an adorable little girl who lost her whole family to the tsunami. She also meets a boy, Deni. He's mysterious and warm, friendly and charming. He's different from anyone else she's ever met. They bond over their mutual loss of family members and Sienna feels as if Deni can understand her like no one else can.

That's not all, of course, but if you want to know what happens, you'll just have to read the book. :-p

What did I think? Well, I'd say the general consensus was that I liked it. I wasn't completely blown out of the water (hehe) by it, but it was a nice story. I'm honestly having a hard time figuring out what to say, I don't have any super strong feelings about it.

I did enjoy seeing another country in Sea. It was a nice change of pace to be someplace other than modern day America. It was heartbreaking to read about the devastation of the tsunami and the lives lost and affected. Sea was set in the aftermath of the very real, very tragic 2004 tsunami in Indonesia.

Other than the tragic-factor, the setting was very interesting and detailed. Kling must have done quite a lot of research for Sea, so props to her. To be totally honest, I don't have much else to say about Sea. It was a solid, decent book. It gave me nothing to complain about, but also nothing to squee over. The characters were all... good. I didn't adore any of them really, and I didn't loath any either. Sienna made some really stupid and irresponsible choices, but without them the story wouldn't have been nearly as interesting. (Plus, she's a teenager. Having been a stupid and irresponsible teenager myself, I can follow her logic.)

Aside from the general lack of strong emotions about the book, I did enjoy it. The love story was sweet, and I was happy for Sienna when she found herself again and was able to move on with her life.

I give Sea 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Have a Happy Hop! #5

literati_rain66 Friday, October 8, 2010
Book Blogger Hop

This week's question: What's your favorite beverage while reading or blogging, if any? Is it tea, coffee, water, a glass of wine, or something else?

My answer: Depending on the weather, time of day, and my mood: Milk, hot chocolate, ice water, or Mountain Dew. (Milk with cookies/other chocolate, hot chocolate with breakfast or late night snack, ice water if it's hot, and Mountain Dew with lunch.)

For all you other hoppers out there, leave me a link to your blog and I'll make sure to stop by. :) Comments and follows are very welcome, but please don't feel obligated. I just like meeting you all and talking with you.

Have a happy hop!

Really Ravishing Review (Alpha)

literati_rain66 Tuesday, October 5, 2010 ,
Review of Alpha, by Rachel Vincent.

Alpha (Shifters Book 6)
Quickie: The perfect ending to the Shifters series. I couldn't be more satisfied.

Warning: This is an extremely biased and fangirly review. :-p No spoilers though.

Full: First off, if you haven't had the pleasure of reading Rachel's Shifters series -Stray, Rogue, Pride, Prey, Shift, and now Alpha- then you're seriously missing out. It's one of my all-time favorite series of books.

From the back cover of Alpha: You've got to have Faythe... The unscrupulous new Council Chair has charged Jace, Marc, and me with trespassing, kidnapping, murder and treason. Yeah, we've been busy. But now it's time to take justice into our own hands. We must avenge my brother's death and carve out the rot at the heart of the Council.

It's not going to be easy, and loss seems unavoidable, but I have promised to protect my Pride, no matter what. With a target on my back and Marc at my side, I'm heading for a final showdown that can -that will- change everything forever. A showdown I'm not sure I'm ready for. 

But life never waits until you're ready.

Yeehaw! What a fantastic book! I devoured the first 3/4 of it, then I purposefully slowed down. I didn't want it to end!! Ever! All those plot threads come to a head in Alpha, and Faythe makes loads of crazy-important and amazingly difficult decisions. As usual, there were times when I had a gut feeling that she wasn't being very smart, but guess what?! She's learning from her mistakes! If you compare the Faythe from Stray, to the Faythe in Alpha, you can't help but be amazed by her personal growth and the leaps and bounds her maturity has made. She really starts to figure out that the world isn't all about her, and that her decisions have consequences that affect lives. Not just her own life, but the lives of everyone she cares about.

Oh, and yes, she finally makes her decision regarding Marc vs. Jace. I think you'll be satisfied with it. I was. I was having just as hard a time as Faythe making the choice. I've been in a position nearly identical (minus the werecat aspect) and I know how hard it is to choose. How impossible it is. For a terrible comparison, it's like asking somebody if they'd rather have cookies or cake for the rest of their lives. (I want both, forever, but for different reasons) Granted, it's a terrible comparison, but you know what I mean. Choosing between two things you love dearly... is pure pain.

Alpha made me laugh out loud. It made me cry. It made me so stinkin' mad that I slammed the book down (poor book, I'm sorry!) and stomped off. Books rarely get me so worked up and emotionally invested, but each and every Shifter book has done so. To me, that speaks volumes about Rachel's writing and amazing storytelling ability.

Please, if you enjoy stories about shifters, do yourself a favor pick up Rachel's books.

5 out of 5 fangirly stars.

My Magnificent Mailbox #16

literati_rain66 Sunday, October 3, 2010
Sunday again, already? This week has gone by quickly and strangely. My schedule is all off because my hubby's work schedule got switched around. Anyhow, In My Mailbox is a weekly meme brought to you by The Story Siren. And a big thanks to my son's Elmo chair for showcasing my books for me. ;-)

This week I got:

From Nantucket Bookworks:
ARC of Subway Girl, by P. J. Converse
ARC of First Grave on the Right, by Darynda Jones
2 copies of The School for Dangerous Girls, by Eliot Schrefer
Cockroach, by Rawi Hage

From the library:
Sea, by Heidi R. Kling

From Amazon:
Iron Kissed, by Patricia Briggs
Alpha, by Rachel Vincent
Bayou Moon, by Ilona Andrews

For Review:
Sugar Tower, by Jessica Dee Rohm