In My Mailbox (4)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme devoted to sharing the new books we’ve received, borrowed, or bought. For more information, visit IMM’s fantastic host, The Story Siren. You can visit other blogs that are participating in this week’s IMM here.

Today I’m attempting my first ever vlog! Be gentle…

Received for I Read Banned Books blog tour:

Wonderland by Joanna Nadin

Won from Recovering Potter Addict:

13 to Life by Shannon Delany
Wildwing by Emily Whitman

Won from Writer Musings:

Matched by Ally Condie
Sapphique by Catherine Fisher

Won from Badass Bookie:

XVI by Julia Karr (autographed)

Silly Sunday (4) – Charlie the Unicorn

It’s time for another Silly Sunday, kids, and this week I’ve got something really silly. I regret that I cannot be with you to watch it, as this is one of those clips that sometimes is only funny when you can laugh with others. It may annoy you, it may make you snort, it may confuse you, or it may make you so angry you’ll want to scoop out my eyes with melon ballers. If it’s the latter, I truly apologize.

But my sister showed me this, so if you don’t like it, blame her.

“The liopleurodon has spoken! It has shown us the way!”

“We’re on a bridge, Charlie!”

Follow Friday and Book Blogger Hop (4)

It’s Follow Friday! Hosted by the always amazing Parajunkee’s View, this is a chance to meet new blogger friends and grow our networks.

This week’s question is “What is/was your favorite subject in school?”

Is it a cop-out to say English? I had a phenomenal English teacher my senior year of high school, and she inspired me in so many ways. I learned everything I needed to know about college writing from her, which helped me breeze through my required English 100 course freshman year. Her entire room was decorated with aluminum foil on the walls, which she then covered with words in permanent marker. Line by line, they marched alphabetically around the room, over and over, mixed in with William Wordsworth quotes. She lit candles and waved wands and made us laugh, but more than anything she passed along her passion for words and showed us what to do with them.

Did you have any teachers who inspired you?

Be sure to check out this week’s featured blogger Mission to Read and the rest of the participants.


Book Blogger Hop

Hosted by Crazy For Books, this blog hop is all about connecting with our fellow bloggers. Each week we discuss a book-related question and hop around to other blogs to see their answers.

This week’s question is What book are you most looking forward to seeing published in 2011? Why are you anticipating that book?

I’m a sucker for a dystopian thriller, and the synopsis of this book sounds like it will contain everything I love about the genre. Veronica Roth also happens to live in Chicago and write a super cool and entertaining blog, so she gets bonus points. I am really looking forward to this book, but it doesn’t release until May 3rd!!! 😦


All you new followers: I have a giveaway for a copy of XVI by Julia Karr to celebrate reaching 100+ followers last week! You have until Sunday at 11:59PM to enter!

Review: Linger by Maggie Stiefvater

Book: Linger
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Release date: July 13, 2010
Source: Borrowed on Kindle

Summary: (from Goodreads) In Maggie Stiefvater’s Shiver, Grace and Sam found each other. Now, in Linger, they must fight to be together. For Grace, this means defying her parents and keeping a very dangerous secret about her own well-being. For Sam, this means grappling with his werewolf past . . . and figuring out a way to survive into the future. Add into the mix a new wolf named Cole, whose own past has the potential to destroy the whole pack. And Isabel, who already lost her brother to the wolves . . . and is nonetheless drawn to Cole.

First impressions: If there’s one thing Maggie Stiefvater can do, it’s write a good intro. I liked the tone of the prologue, setting us up for a not-so-happy ending. When the actual story begins, we pick up soon after the first book left off, and I thought things got going right away.

Lasting impressions: Even though I could see where the story was going, I really didn’t want it to happen. This book suffered from “middle book syndrome,” where there’s enough of a story arc to get us through, but no real conclusion. Instead, we’re left to decide whether we care enough to find out the end of the saga in the third book.

Negative impressions: Though I liked the introduction of the new character, Cole, I found the four narrators to be a bit much. I often found myself uncertain who was “speaking” and would read several paragraphs before realizing I was in Cole’s head and not Sam’s. Everything in these books reads exactly the same way, in exactly the same voice, which does not lend itself to two narrators, let alone four.

Overall impressions: In some ways, I actually liked this book better than Shiver. Grace was less annoying, but perhaps only because with four narrators I spent less time in her head. Sam became much less interesting in this book, but Cole was exciting and fresh, and his dark attitude brought something different.

The story changes a bit in this one, with the wolves less able to control their shifting, which leads to Sam, Grace, Cole and Isabel trying to figure out what’s going on. When the book ends, they still haven’t found a solution, and instead the ante is upped even farther, setting up the need to solve the problem in the last book, out this summer. I have to admit that curiosity is convincing me to give Forever a try, though the fact that I find these books only mildly interesting may change my mind. Stiefvater is great at thinking up interesting plots, there’s just something missing in the execution.

Rating: 3/5 stars

Want a different perspective? Check out this five star review by Annette’s Book Spot or this four star review by Book Couture.

Writing Wednesday (4) – Q1 goals

Writing Wednesday 2

Grab the button and join in:
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Welcome to Writing Wednesday, my weekly feature where I discuss my works in progress, project ideas, editing struggles, or anything else related to the world of writing. Feel free to grab my button and post your own thoughts on writing! Leave a link to your post in the comments and I’ll stop by.


After seeing nothing but reading challenges, I finally stumbled across a writing challenge! Hosted by ShadowKissed, it was designed for folks who can’t fit NaNoWriMo in their busy schedules. Instead the goal is to write 10,000 words per month, every month in 2011, for a final manuscript of 120,000 words. Here’s their official blurb:

Ever heard of NaNoWriMo? Did you sign up, get really enthusiastic about it, then fall flat on your face half way through realising there was no way you could cough up 50,000 words in a month? I know I have.

I still really love the idea behind that though, but know it is really hard for me to juggle with my real life commitments. So Mandy and I came up with the awesome year to spread it out over a yearâ?¦ and make it 120,000 words, rather than 50,000. The goal is to clock in at 10,000 words written per month.

Now, we are starting a little late on this, so if you want to join up, youâ??ve got until the 20th of Jan 2011 to let us know youâ??re going to join us on our quest to complete a 120,000 manuscript in 12 months. It can be any genre, any writing style â?? just let your imagination run wild. Itâ??s more about getting a finished story, because that is the hardest part of writing.

To officially sign up, just email me (Katie) â?? admin@shadowkissed.net before the 20th of Jan to let us know youâ??re participating. Weâ??re starting up a thread on the forum where you will be able to find support and suggestions and other cool stuff.

I look forward to you joining us on our 2011 writing adventure, and good luck!

I need challenges like this to keep me motivated. If I don’t have a deadline looming, I will never complete anything. So I think it’s time I set some concrete goals for this year.

The official NaNoEdMo starts in March, so I think I will do a warm-up and set a goal to log 20 hours of editing in February. NaNoEdMo requires 50 hours in March, which seems like more hours than I will have time for, but I will give it the old college try. I need to quit ignoring my manuscript and do something with it.

To recap:

January 2011 – Write 10,000 words.
February 2011 – Write 10,000 words. Edit manuscript for at least 20 hours.
March 2011 – Write 10,000 words. Complete NaNoEdMo.

I’ll evaluate my progress and set some new goals for the second quarter of 2011 later on. Until then, I’d best get writing!

Review: The Vespertine by Saundra Mitchell

Book: The Vespertine
Author: Saundra Mitchell
Publisher: Harcourt Children’s Books
Release date: March 7, 2011
Source: NetGalley ARC
Website: http://www.thevespertine.com (Trailers, interviews, period information, and more!)

Summary: (from Goodreads) Itâ??s the summer of 1889, and Amelia van den Broek is new to Baltimore and eager to take in all the pleasures the city has to offer. But her gaiety is interrupted by disturbing, dreamlike visions she has only at sunsetâ??visions that offer glimpses of the future. Soon, friends and strangers alike call on Amelia to hear her prophecies. However, a forbidden romance with Nathaniel, an artist, threatens the new life Amelia is building in Baltimore. This enigmatic young man is keeping secrets of his ownâ??still, Amelia finds herself irrepressibly drawn to him.

When one of her darkest visions comes to pass, Ameliaâ??s world is thrown into chaos. And those around her begin to wonder if sheâ??s not the seer of dark portents, but the cause.

First impressions: The opening chapter takes place in the fall of 1889, which we soon find out is after the events that span the rest of the book. On first read it is captivating enough, with Amelia being imprisoned in her brother’s attic, revealed to us as our “ruined” heroine. The brilliance of this first chapter is that as I progressed through the story, I could turn back and read it again, gathering more insights into the action. Just like the prologue to Romeo and Juliet, this opening chapter tells us of doomed love, and definitely got me interested in what events led to that outcome.

Lasting impressions: L’amour, l’amour! The relationship that gradually unfolds with Nathaniel is touching and mysterious and dangerous and…grand. Amelia knows she is not supposed to take an interest in this (by their standards) pauper, but she is intrigued by her strong attraction to him. After all, aren’t we always drawn like magnets to those we shouldn’t love? There is more to him than just his profession, however, and the more Amelia learns about Nathaniel, the more we understand why she doomed her reputation for him. These two left me aching for them.

Negative impressions: Every time I try to think of something negative to say, I talk myself out of it. I could say that I wish Amelia’s visions had appeared sooner or taken a more prominent role earlier on, but then I like that the reader discovers them at the same time as she does. This novel is perfection, and I can’t really think of anything I didn’t like.

Overall impressions: For me, this is that book. The one that you know you will read over and over again. The one you will put at the top of your favorites list. The one that means something to you, even if you can’t quite put your finger on what that something is.

Amelia is an everywoman…with a gift. She is eager and curious and shy and impulsive. She has this ability that she doesn’t understand, and just when she starts to learn how powerful it can be, it’s too late. She is rushed into the bustle of Baltimore, thrown into a whirlwind friendship with a bright star named Zora, and before she even has time to get her bearings, falls in love. Yet the story doesn’t run away from her as you might expect. No, this story grabs her and won’t let go, and I went right along with them.

Saundra Mitchell carried me through this novel with delicacy and ease. It swelled with period details, yet didn’t get weighed down by them. The dialogue rang true, and told us everything we needed to know about the characters. Zora’s mother is entirely revealed to us through her interactions with the girls, and she became one of my favorite characters because of that. Mitchell takes her time, revealing the details to us piece by piece, and I savored every moment. Each scene was like a sweet treat I wanted to take under the covers and unwrap where no one else could get at it.

For all of its lush setting and budding romance, this book really takes the cake with its ominous tone. Just as Amelia’s first few visions come true, she begins to foresee more horrifying events. You would think, given that we know how Amelia’s summer ends, that the story would lose its suspense, but it didn’t. Instead, my heart raced with anticipation, desperate to find out what would truly come to pass.

If you like historical fiction, even in the slightest, you should read this book. Amazing, vibrant, and touching, this is what great books are made of.

Rating: 5/5 stars

Interested in another point of view? Check out Small Review’s take on The Vespertine. There’s another review and giveaway at Fire and Ice.

FF Thank You and Giveaway!

Wow. Just…wow. A few weeks ago I decided that once I hit 100 followers I would host my first giveaway. Little did I know that would happen over one whirlwind Follow Friday! I am so grateful to Parajunkee’s View for featuring me this past Friday, because it gave me an unprecedented number of commenters and followers. For someone trying to expand my readership, this was tremendously helpful.

In honor of crossing that magical 100 mark, I am hosting a giveaway for my followers! I have a brand new copy of XVI by Julia Karr for my U.S. readers, and since I’m feeling extra celebratory, I will also gift a copy of the book internationally via The Book Depository. Though I still haven’t had the chance to sit down and read this one yet, it’s one that I’ve looked forward to for a very long time.

To keep things simple, we’ll do this via comments. This contest is open to all readers ages 13 and up, with a shipping address in the United States or anywhere The Book Depository ships. You must also be a follower or email subscriber to win (since, you know, it’s to celebrate all of my awesome followers).

To enter, leave a comment with your email address, name you would like used for the winner announcement, GFC follower name or email you use to subscribe, and whether you are entering the U.S. or international giveaway. I will select the winners using random.org and contact them via the supplied email address. Winners will have 48 hours to send me their shipping address or the win is forfeited.

The deadline to enter is Sunday, January 30th at 11:59PM.

Thank you so much and GOOD LUCK!

Silly Sunday (3) – Jane Austen’s Fight Club

Last month, I mentioned my love for Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility, and the Ang Lee movie in particular. Last week, during a #steampunkchat on Twitter, someone mentioned a video called “Jane Austen’s Fight Club.” Of course, I immediately went to YouTube and looked it up.

Um. How awesome is that? It takes the Austenian theme of women’s societal struggles and turns it on its head with the brilliant Fight Club mashup. I love how you can almost believe that these stuffy women would go out back and start brawling. I wish that this movie really existed.

I mean, there are so many crappy spoof movies that come out every year. Can we please just have one that has some actual intelligence behind it? I get that I’m probably overthinking this funny little video about “proper” women who secretly beat each other up for fun, but I think the Austen reference is what makes this video work. It’s funny not just because women in Austen’s time wouldn’t have a fight club, but because Austenian characters are strong enough and impulsive enough to pull it off, if only the concept of a fight club had occurred to them. Throw a modern sense of women’s liberation at Marianne Dashwood and I’d bet you a hundred dollars she’d punch Fanny in the nose. Wouldn’t you just love to see her do that?

Fun fact: My husband went to high school with one of the girls in the cast! When I showed him the video, he told me he had already seen it since he knew one of the girls. Well then why hadn’t I seen it yet?!?

What do you guys think of this video? What are your favorite parts or lines? Does the mashup work for you?

Bloggiesta

Bloggiesta is here! Run by Maw Books Blog, this is a three day marathon of blog prep work. If you’d like to join up, follow the linked image and you can sign up anytime this weekend. There are lots of fun challenges and there will be motivating posts up to help you get organized!

Here’s my to-do list so far:

  • Create review template
  • Create IMM, FF/BBH, WW, and SS templates
  • Update challenge reviews with link to challenge index page
  • Link on review pages to other blogsâ?? reviews
  • Write reviews for books read
  • Create Feature/Meme Index page
  • Update Twitter background image
  • Put together first giveaway post/rules
  • Create spreadsheet to organize books for review
  • Create Google doc with frequently used links and HTML codes (cheat sheet)
  • Get social networking buttons for site, then figure out how to install them
  • Create YouTube account/channel
  • Make a Goodreads icon to match my other new icons (don’t know if I can do this myself though)
  • This is so not happening. I’ll have to do without or pay someone to do it.

  • Create a Silly Sunday button
  • Backup blog
  • Figure out how to set up polls
  • Will be done in the future. Not pressing.

I’ll be updating this post throughout the weekend as I cross things off my list. I don’t know if I’ll get through all of it, but hopefully I’ll make some good headway.

**UPDATE**

I made really great progress. I got a lot done to clean up my theme, get a better title font, get social media icons and get templates ready to go in Google Docs. It helped me tremendously to get organized and feel like I can maintain this blog without completely losing my sanity or failing out of school. Thanks to everyone who posted informative helpful tips and had patience with my commenting absence while trying to sort through all of this stuff. 🙂

**UPDATE WITH QUESTION**

So I have this new font for my blog title, which showed up exactly as I coded it in CSS in my Safari browser at home, but in Chrome it only shows “Lo” and in Internet Explorer it doesn’t show any of the shadowing. Is there something I need to put in the HTML/CSS to fix this or is it something I have to live with?

It seems cross-browser shadowing is an issue in CSS. Too bad. I took out the shadow effect and it opens fine now, but it really looked nice with a shadow. 😦

Follow Friday Feature! (4)

It’s Follow Friday! Hosted by the always amazing Parajunkee’s View, this is a chance to meet new blogger friends and grow our networks.

You guys! This week I’m the featured participant! I’m so very excited about this, because I just adore Parajunkee and this meme has already led me to some amazing blogs and friends. I will happily follow everyone back, and I hope you newcomers enjoy your time on my site!

If you are so inclined, you can also find me on Twitter and Goodreads.

This week’s question is “Who do you cheer for?” My answer is in my bio, which I’m copying from what I submitted to Parajunkee.

Hello lovelies! My name is Logan (really? I know, quelle surprise!) and I started my book blog in December 2010. I’m working on a YA manuscript, but haven’t read nearly enough YA books. I love challenges and starting a blog gave me a great excuse to join tons of reading challenges and expand my horizons a bit. I blog to share part of myself and connect with the rest of you awesome book bloggers, writers and authors. So far, I have not been disappointed. In the short time I’ve been blogging, I have met some truly amazing people, and I’m astonished by the amount of kindness and support shown to me on a near daily basis. I am so thankful to be featured this week and owe a huge debt of gratitude to Parajunkee, who runs one of the best blogs around.

But enough sappy stuff. Who am I? Why should you care about my blog? I’m married and work as a legal assistant for a non-profit organization. I grew up in Nebraska and now live in Chicago, which means that I’m a huge football fan (Go Huskers! Go Bears!). When I’m not watching football, I’m rooting for the Cubs. It’s a lost cause, but someone’s got to do it. I love the color purple, movies, and Shakespeare. I hate ketchup, bad manners, and most children. As for my blog, I mostly review YA paranormal novels, but some steamy romance, urban fantasy and steampunk books will slip in there from time to time. I post every day except Saturday, and I have two features each week: Writing Wednesday, where I post about, well, writing; and Silly Sunday, which usually involves a goofy YouTube clip. I hope you will stop by and say hello!

Be sure to check out the rest of the participants in Follow Friday!