Friday, October 29, 2010

Aloha Friday: Halloween-style

It's been awhile since I've had the time to do this.  Or I forget about (more likely) and then say, "Drats!" on Saturday morning.

In Hawaii, Aloha Friday is the day that we take it easy and look forward to the weekend. So I thought that on Fridays I would take it easy on posting, too.

Therefore, I’ll ask a simple question for you to answer. Nothing that requires a lengthy response. If you’d like to participate, just post your own question on your blog and leave your link below. Don’t forget to visit the other participants! It’s a great way to make new bloggy friends!

With Halloween fast approaching, tell me your favorite Halloween candy.

I'm totally a fan of the miniature boxes of Junior Mints myself.  And Milky Ways.  And I feel the calories already.

Review: Clockwork Angel

This is book 5/12 for the YA Reading Challenge.

Title: Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare

Summary:  Magic is dangerous--but love is more dangerous still.

When sixteen-year-old Tessa Gray crosses the ocean to find her brother, her destination is England, the time is the reign of Queen Victoria, and something terrifying is waiting for her in London's Downworld, where vampires, warlocks and other supernatural folk stalk the gaslit streets. Only the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the world of demons, keep order amidst the chaos.

Kidnapped by the mysterious Dark Sisters, members of a secret organization called The Pandemonium Club, Tessa soon learns that she herself is a Downworlder with a rare ability: the power to transform, at will, into another person. What's more, the Magister, the shadowy figure who runs the Club, will stop at nothing to claim Tessa's power for his own.

Friendless and hunted, Tessa takes refuge with the Shadowhunters of the London Institute, who swear to find her brother if she will use her power to help them. She soon finds herself fascinated by--and torn between--two best friends: James, whose fragile beauty hides a deadly secret, and blue-eyed Will, whose caustic wit and volatile moods keep everyone in his life at arm's length...everyone, that is, but Tessa. As their search draws them deep into the heart of an arcane plot that threatens to destroy the Shadowhunters, Tessa realizes that she may need to choose between saving her brother and helping her new friends save the world...and that love may be the most dangerous magic of all.

My Review:  I had a hard time with this review and where I would rate this book.  There are a few pros and a few cons to this read, but I think that if you are a fan of Cassandra Clare, it won't disappoint.  If you're neutral and have read the Mortal Instruments, it might go either way.

Clockwork Angel is an interesting prequel to the Mortal Instruments, with the start of an intriguing plot to drive the story of the series revolving around Tessa, the Magister, and the Nephilim, and it keeps you hooked from the beginning. I do enjoy the author's ability to create a world like this - that piques your curiosity as a reader and keeps you turning the page (sometimes staying up later than planned or ignoring things like laundry).  One of the greatest strengths that Cassandra Clare possesses as a writer is her ability to create that what's-happening-must-keep-reading feeling in her books.  I finished the book and wanted more.  There is so much that I feel like I need to know and how am I supposed to wait until the next book? That's a great feat for a writer.

I also have to say that I didn't see a certain character's deception coming and I'm usually pretty good about figuring that out.  However, it didn't occur to me until I think it was supposed to as a reader.

The problem with the book and the area that I think the author is weakest, for me anyway, is with her characters. Not that I don't like them or their relationships with each other, that part was wonderful.  My issue is that it doesn't feel like the characters are any different from those she wrote before.  Nothing seems to change. Having read the Mortal Instruments series, it feels like it's the same characters re-brandished with new names and new psychical looks. Will feels almost exactly like Jace in several ways - though there is something darker (which is one of those oh-my-god-need-to-know things!) - and Tessa reminds me so much of Clary. At times, it read to me like "Jace and Clary thrown back in time."  Maybe that was done purposefully, but it didn't feel like it.

Also, almost every single character is full of wit and completely sardonic. I love characters like that, who can provide that honesty while making me laugh at the situation, but not every character should be like that.  And not all the time. 

Overall:  3 1/2 stars

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Review: Nevermore

This is book 4/12 for the YA Reading Challenge.

Title: Nevermore by Kelly Creagh

Summary:  Cheerleader Isobel Lanley is horrified when she is paired with Varen Nethers for an English project, which is due—so unfair—on the day of the rival game. Cold and aloof, sardonic and sharp-tongued, Varen makes it clear he’d rather not have anything to do with her either. But when Isobel discovers strange writing in his journal, she can’t help but give this enigmatic boy with the piercing eyes another look.

Soon, Isobel finds herself making excuses to be with Varen. Steadily pulled away from her friends and her possessive boyfriend, Isobel ventures deeper and deeper into the dream world Varen has created through the pages of his notebook, a realm where the terrifying stories of Edgar Allan Poe come to life.

As her world begins to unravel around her, Isobel discovers that dreams, like words, hold more power than she ever imagined, and that the most frightening realities are those of the mind. Now she must find a way to reach Varen before he is consumed by the shadows of his own nightmares.

His life depends on it.

My Review:  I'm a huge Poe fan, so that alone and it's integration into the storyline made me quite happy. Aside from that, the book introduces two interesting main characters in Isobel and Varen, very different in many ways, and interesting to read about when they're together. The problem falls into two areas: 1) the remainder of the characters, aside from Gwen, are highly unlikeable (and I'm not talking about the scary monster sorts) and 2) the rush at the end to establish everything that has become of Varen and what he brought Isobel into. It's another one of those cases where it seems quite clear that the author planned for a sequel and it felt, at least to me, that it took a lot of time to set things up and then BAM-rush-right-into-action-at-the-end.

I really did like Isobel and Varen though. I love that Isobel is (was) popular, but still had a sense of right-and-wrong-lines-you-don't-cross. I love that she had a good relationship with her parents and most of the time she didn't pretend or act ashamed of who she was (to Varen or to her friends). And I love that book has set up a great chance for the girl to be the one who rescues the boy (and I don't just mean emotionally).

And despite the flaws I did see in the book, it was still an enjoyable, fast read, the sort that makes you want to keep reading because you need to know what's going on and understand it.

Overall: 4 stars

Review: Forgive My Fins

Here is the next book that I read for the 2010 Young Adult Reading Challenge.  I really do need to get better about remembering to actually post my reviews here (there are two more to post that I've already read).  Brain, time to work.

YA Challenge Book 3/12

Title:  Forgive My Fins by Tera Lynn Childs

Summary:  Lily Sanderson has a secret, and it’s not that she has a huge crush on gorgeous swimming god Brody Bennett, who makes her heart beat flipper-fast. Unrequited love is hard enough when you’re a normal teenage girl, but when you’re half human, half mermaid like Lily, there’s no such thing as a simple crush.

Lily’s mermaid identity is a secret that can’t get out, since she’s not just any mermaid – she’s a Thalassinian princess. When Lily found out three years ago that her mother was actually a human, she finally realized why she didn’t feel quite at home in Thalassinia, and she’s been living on land and going to Seaview high school ever since, hoping to find where she truly belongs. Sure, land has its problems – like her obnoxious, biker boy neighbor Quince Fletcher – but it has that one major perk – Brody. The problem is, mermaids aren’t really the casual dating type – when they “bond,” it’s for life.

When Lily’s attempt to win Brody’s love leads to a tsunami-sized case of mistaken identity, she is in for a tidal wave of relationship drama, and she finds out, quick as a tailfin flick, that happily-ever-after never sails quite as smoothly as you planned.

My Review:  (Warning: There are a few spoilers in this review)

My friend asked me what I thought of this book while I was reading and I didn't want to rush to any judgments as I was hoping one of the things that bothered me would change. That would be the main character, Lily, being rather shallow and self-centered. It did get a little better by the end as she realized certain things about how she judged others, but she really didn't seem to care about anyone but herself. For example, part of the whole story is that when a mermaid kisses someone s/he is binded to the other person for life and the other person, if human, becomes mer. And it just seemed like she took the idea that anyone would just be okay with that, love or not, to such an extreme. And, again, I think it was supposed to be part of the character's journey and I realize that she was a teenager, but as a reader who is mostly driven by characters, this made it hard for me at times.

With that gripe out of the way, I can say that I loved the idea of this book and Tera Lynn Childs creates these very interesting worlds in her books. I loved Quince, who seemed to be the only one who saw things clearly most of the time, and how he was both protective and frustrated by Lily.  I'm also a sucker for bickering/bantering and really enjoyed the development of the connection between Lily and Quince.

It was enjoyable once I could accept Lily's sheer idiocy. It did end with an interesting twist regarding another character, so I'm interested to see if that's what the sequel is. If it's more Lily, I have to admit that I'll probably pass.

Overall:  3 stars

help out some cool blogs if you can

Some of my favorite blogs have set up Open Sky stores and are competing in a contest, where the winner receives $5000 based on most sales during the month of October.  It's not too late to help them out.  And if they do win, they're planning to giveaway $ 250.00.

The Open Sky Stores:

Survey Junkie's Open Sky Store
Simply Stacie's Open Sky Store
Little YaYas' Open Sky Store
Review Retreat's Open Sky Store
One Little Mister's Open Sky Store

For more information on the contest, check out this post by Survey Junkie.

The holidays aren't that far away and if you see something in the stores you like, you'll be helping fellow bloggers out.  And, as a thank you, these five Open Sky stores have a fabulous giveaway going on right now where you can win $20 Target & $32 Bangle Bracelet. To enter visit
And now I must go do actual things with my day.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

pushing through gravity...

Today is Wishcasting Wednesday.  I love Jamie for providing this outlet and always being so in tune with the universe to ask the perfect question for feelings running through me at any time.  

I'm continuing to feel physically and emotionally drained.  It's not helped by returning from a rough therapy session (which I do realize, in the long run, is a good thing) during my lunch break and wishing I could curl up in a ball until this feeling passes.  I'm trying not to put such negativity out there, but some days it feels like a grueling process...some days it feels so much easier to embrace the same-old-horrible-pessamistic ways than to embrace the harder-live-in-the-moment what if.

I'm my greatest obstacle.  There are plenty of reasons behind the madness, reasons I won't bore you with, and reasons I don't particularly understand yet.  I worry too much about how I am perceived.  I hold onto the smallest, most awful thoughts I have about myself and allow them to manifest until I become convinced that I'm a huge failure and not deserving of anything.  Logically, I know this isn't true, but it's funny how little logic can work when it comes to emotions, especially about yourself.

In therapy today we talked about this fall-back I have and how it's possibly a large reason why I've been feeling so stuck the past year.   I want to be able to move past this huge block, the voice in my head that says allowing myself to feel or to embrace sadness are bad things.  I want to be able to take time for myself without worrying about all the ways I'm being selfish and letting people down.  I want to free myself of these preconceptions I place on myself and other people, and take the time to experience what I'm feeling.  Because maybe once I can do that - including the years of it that I've avoided because that's not how I was raised - I can be free to live, to sometimes-succeed-sometimes-fail, and to be in the now, striving toward happiness. 

It's fluid really.  I think.  And it requires hard work and facing up to my fears.

My wish:  that I can allow myself to go to the harder places and push through in hopes of achieving some clarity and peace in the future.

It's not too late - Borders Kobo E-Reader Giveaway

Just a quick post that it's not to late to enter Two of a Kind's giveaway, sponsored by Borders, of the Kobo E-Reader.  The giveaway is runs until 11:59pm on October 29th.  And the only main requirement to enter is to visit Border's site and share your favorite feature on the Kobo E-Reader.

Go check it out here!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

from negative to positive...

Today was a horrific day.  I'm battling the triple threat of illness - ear infection, sinus infection, and upper respiratory infection - so I missed work on Monday and have been sorta just sleeping as much as possible and on lots of meds.  I realize my brain is not at full functioning levels.  And, amongst other reasons, it led to an issue involving name badges of doom this afternoon at work.  I corrected the issue and stayed late to get it done properly, and yet, I can't let it go.  Why am I so good at harping on the things I mess up and totally incapable of allowing myself to enjoy moments of victory?  I just wish I could stop myself from feeling this way.  At least I'm able to notice it now, so that's a start.

Speaking of wishes, it's Wishcasting Wednesday.  I know the day is almost over, but I feel so much better when I do this and share my hopes for everyone else.  It's nice to positivity out into the universe.  This week Jamie references She references Mary Oliver’s poem Wild Geese

Comfort.  As the seasons change and I'm battling of the icky feelings associated with sickness, I currently just want comfort.  A place without anxiety and negativity where I can recharge my batteries and just be.  In the end it will help me get back on track with so many things and give me time to think and journal and enjoy things that I keep finding ways to avoid.  I want the comfort of a warm blanket, a cup of hot chocolate and a good book in front of the fire place while I just enjoy the small moments of life.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

butterfly in the sky, I can fly twice as high

Today I got to spend a portion of my day at a seminar on the Health Care Reform laws going into effect.  It wasn't nearly as informative as I needed it to be, considering there are so many nuanced bits to this law that will make my day job oh so much fun.  But I can't complain because I'm one of those lefty progressives who thinks health care reform has been needed - in fact, I'm not sure this goes far enough, but it's a start, right?

But it's Wishcasting Wednesday!  And that's always a good day and a great opportunity to get in touch with the universe and myself and take a moment to breathe and think about things. 

I wish I was that girl who always knew she could fly, the type of girl who believed that she could do anything, no worries, no fears...just fly out into the sky.  Maybe it's because my dad died when I was little.  Maybe it's because my mother didn't live a life based on dreams.  Maybe it's because I'm a Virgo and part of who we are is practical to a fault.  Maybe it's just a mixture of it all, which is most likely.  But even as a kid, I was there saying, "I want this.  I love to do this, but..."

I want to be free of the words "but" and "can't."  As a writer, it's a strange thing to say that I want to be liberated from words.  Unfortunately, I put too much emphasis on them in regards to my life and, in the context of my world, they are excuse words.  It's not that I can't make time to write - it's that I won't.  It's not that I would like to do this,'s me looking for a way out, to put things on some unknown.  I've lived too long on excuses and it hasn't made me very happy. 

My wish is to fly free of the words I use to hold myself back, whether said by me or others. 

Monday, October 11, 2010

Review: Dayhunter by Jocelynn Drake

I'll continue to play catch up on the other YA books and such as I go, but I might as well post the latest book I finished.

Title: Dayhunter by Jocelynn Drake

Summary:  A new day dawns blood red .

A master of fire, Mira is the last hope for the world. For centuries she has secretly enforced the history-altering edicts of the Triad. Now she and her unlikely ally—the human vampire hunter, Danaus—have come to Venice, home of the nightwalker rulers. But there is no safety in the ancient city, for the threat of conflict is in the wind...with unholy alliances and earth-shattering betrayals taking hideous form in the shadows.

Banished for eons beyond the world's boundaries, the malevolent naturi prepare to feed once again upon a vulnerable earth—and treachery is opening wide the portal that will enable their dread re-emergence. The great battle that has always been Mira's destiny is looming, and she must remain powerful in the face of a shocking revelation: that Danaus, the only creature she dares to trust, is something more than the man he claims to be.

My Review:  This book picks up immediately after the first book and continues with storyline set up in the first one. While there is reminders of what happened during the first book spread throughout this novel, I doubt you would want to pick this up without having read the first one. 

Despite the way the first one ended, with a huge battle, there wasn't much action in this book.  It seemed to focus more on the whys and hows of some of the information discovered in the first book as well as setting up for some interesting choices on the the part of Mira in the remainder of the series. 

I still love the character of Mira and her fight against everyone trying to have control over her (including her inner monster/past) and sometimes feeling like it's such a lost cause. I love that as much as she says she doesn't care for anyone but herself and getting to her home, she continually proves otherwise.

Her "relationship" with Danuas continues to be enjoyable, including her attempts to break his rigid moral code.  I like that the one person she can even trust a bit is someone she would normally consider her enemy and those that she spent years depending on have turned out to be nothing like she thought.

I think my favorite thing about this series is the way the author writes the settings. The description and emotions evoked makes it so easy to envision and get lost in the places.  My biggest issue with this book was that it felt like a huge information dump throughout most of it. It has a great premise and storyline in place, but we barely saw any movement forward.  However, I'm willing to continue with the series because I'm intrigued to see how all this information comes into play and what happens next. And, again, I really do like Mira and I'm a girl who will stick with a lot for a interesting character.

Overall:  3 stars

Reviews: Mockingjay & Oh. My. Gods.

So I signed up for the 2010 Young Adult Reading Challenge awhile ago.  I've been reading the books, but keep forgetting to put up my reviews.  I get easily distracted by more books to read and pretty boys on the television and whatever random thing pops into my head.  I'm sorta like the dog from Up that way.  I'm just going along and all of a sudden, "SQUIRREL!"

Anyway, I signed up to do the mini-challenge, which was to read twelve young adult books by the end of the year, starting on May 22nd.   Here are the first two reviews as I don't want to post too many at once.

YA Challenge Book 1/12

Title: Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

Summary:  Katniss Everdeen, girl on fire, has survived, even though her home has been destroyed. Gale has escaped. Katniss's family is safe. Peeta has been captured by the Capitol. District 13 really does exist. There are rebels. There are new leaders. A revolution is unfolding.

It is by design that Katniss was rescued from the arena in the cruel and haunting Quarter Quell, and it is by design that she has long been part of the revolution without knowing it. District 13 has come out of the shadows and is plotting to overthrow the Capitol. Everyone, it seems, has had a hand in the carefully laid plans -- except Katniss.

The success of the rebellion hinges on Katniss's willingness to be a pawn, to accept responsibility for countless lives, and to change the course of the future of Panem. To do this, she must put aside her feelings of anger and distrust. She must become the rebels' Mockingjay -- no matter what the personal cost.
My Review:  I loved this book.   I try to think up something constructive to offer, but it really comes back to the fact that I love this book.  I've read it twice - once because I couldn't wait and had to know what happened; second time to try to absorb more of what was going on.  I won't lie.  The book did upset me a great deal, but not in a this-is-horribly-written-way but rather the I-love-these-characters-so-much-and-don't-want-to-see-them-hurt way.   That's part of what makes it so good though.  It's true to the world and story that has been set up in the first two books.  The fighting, the loss of life, and the sheer trauma of being put in a position to hold up an entire resistance.  
The book picks up a bit after the end of Catching Fire and Katniss is beaten down, barely holding on, and once again, the only reasons she agrees to do anything is to protect those she loves.  It started with her sister in the first book and comes back around to getting involved to save Peeta and the others.   I love that throughout the journey Katniss still isn't sure of what's best or not, and that she's not always this great sainted girl, just someone who loves and hates and reacts because of it.

The ending is devastating, but makes so much sense.  It had to happen in order for Katniss to truly understand the world she was a part of and the role she really played.  Because again, the motivations of Katniss have always been guided by those she loves.

If there is still someone out there who hasn't read this series, I just beckon them to head out and get a hold of it. It's amazing.

Overall:  5 stars. 

YA Challenge Book 2/12

Title:  Oh. My. Gods by Tera Lynn Childs

Summary:  A modern girl's comedic odyssey in a school filled with the descendants of Greek gods.

When Phoebe's mom returns from Greece with a new husband and moves them to an island in the Aegean, Phoebe's plans for her senior year and track season are ancient history. Now she must attend the uber exclusive academy, where admission depends on pedigree, namely, ancestry from Zeus, Hera, and other Greek gods. That's right, they're real, not myth, and their teen descendants are like the classical heroes -supersmart and superbeautiful with a few superpowers. And now they're on her track team! Armed only with her Nikes and the will to win, Phoebe races to find her place among the gods.

My Review:  This was a great, quick read. I loved the main character and the situation she found herself thrown into. I like how she was trying to deal with everything changing around her, holding on so hard to what she knew that her blinded her to certain things.  Finally, she was able to realize sometimes change isn't a bad thing - something we all go through - and that it doesn't mean you have to let go of the people you love.

It's definitely a very cool concept that was played with here.  However, there were a few issues.  There were quite a few cliches at work - the bad boy with the heart of gold who can't resist the plain girl, the evil step-sister, the mean girls tormenting the new girl - and the book felt completely rushed from the beginning until the end.  And there was hardly any time spent on the big reveal (which I'm not sure how big of a reveal it was as I figured it out early on) or any emotions that Phoebe might be feeling about it.  It was just this quick wrap-up.  My only guess is that the author knew there would be a second book (which there is).

Still enjoyable and I definitely plan to read the sequel to see where it goes from the end of this book.
Overall:  3 stars

Thursday, October 7, 2010


I'm uber behind on my book reviews.  I've managed to fair slightly better over at good reads, but I want to at least post the reviews for the YA challenge I'm taking part in.  So tonight I might be making a few posts.  Hope that doesn't cause any trouble.

Twenty minutes left to my workday and I keep thinking of funny lines from this week's episode of Raising Hope.  It's on FOX on Tuesday nights after Glee, and I highly recommend it to everyone.  It's part adorable, part inappropriate, and completely hysterical. 

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Such a long day...

My partner in crime at work is on vacation this week.  Not only am I jealous that she's in sunny Florida, but suddenly things got very busy in the office.  God love them, my bosses seem to thrive on waiting until the very last second to need to get some huge project done rightawaymustbedone.  And I've already been in a mood of sorts the past few days, fighting off a cold and ennui.  Luckily, I sucked it up, went to the gym, and swam my laps on lunch.  As much as exercise annoys me, I do feel better after I do it, and while I'm working out, my mind wanders into such fun places sometimes.  You know, when I'm not groaning and thinking, "Why oh why can't I just pay someone to work out for me and still be healthy?"

Also on the bright side, it's Wishcasting Wednesday!  I love these questions.  It forces me to stop and think, and the questions are always so perfectly timed as to where my mind tends to be.

Where do you wish to grow your confidence?

illustration by hugh macleod

Confidence has never been my strong point.  I grew up with a mother who would make me feel so small all the time and say, "I'm your mother, if I can't tell you the truth, who can?"  Now I realize a lot of it was her and her issues, but it has left a lasting impression on me.  I'm only learning over the past few years that I need to stop only seeing myself in such negative ways.

So I wish to grow confidence in myself and through that I'll become stronger and have more faith in my own creativity and strives to live a happy, fulfilled life.