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Thursday, May 24, 2012

Guest Post & A Giveaway: Alma Katsu Visits!

The Taker Trilogy 
by Alma Katsu

A question and answer of an unusual nature

Earlier this week I posted my review of The Reckoning by Alma Katsu. If you have read that review, you know that  I loved it. Which I was thrilled about because I also really loved The Taker, which I reviewed last summer. 

I have had a blast chatting with Alma about the series and telling her how much I loved it, and have the pleasure now of having her on the blog to answer some of those burning questions about The Taker and the upcoming sequel The Reckoning

*Rules for the giveaway are at the end of this post*

Just Let Me Say This About That

Between promoting the trade paperback release of The Taker and the upcoming hardcover release of the second book in the trilogy, The Reckoning, I’ve been writing a lot of guest posts and Q&As lately. So, I thought I’d do something a little different for Sara and ask myself questions that I think some readers would like to ask me, if only they weren’t afraid I’d bite them. Here goes!

Why aren’t there any vampires in your book? Vampires are a tried-and-true part of the landscape of Gothic fiction, but they’re a known commodity. You know their limitations, you know their strengths. I wanted the darkness in the book to come from an unknown place. The villain in the book, Adair, is cut from the same cloth as his Gothic counterparts: he is a representation of our primitive, emotional inner psyches, the people we would be if we weren’t constrained by society and our own consciences. But with Adair, you don’t know where his power comes from and so you don’t know how to stop him. There’s something familiar about him, but at the same time you have no idea where his boundaries are, and there’s something thrilling about that, I think.

I don’t like Jonathan (this really isn’t a question). Good for you. You’re not supposed to like Jonathan. He’s not the hero. He’s a prince who’s not so charming. He’s the guy who catches all the breaks and always lands on his feet and is proof that life isn’t fair. He’s not actively bad, but he has no interest in being nominated for sainthood. He’s not going to deny himself in order to make you happy—like rather a lot of people you meet in life.

Why couldn’t Lanny get over Jonathan? What I’d hoped to convey about Jonathan is that he is unusually attractive. Irresistibly attractive. More than just handsome: he is magnetic. There are people like this is real life and until you’ve stood in the presence of one it might be hard to appreciate. So imagine, say, George Clooney or Johnny Depp times ten, and then imagine further that he is not a movie star but that he is your friend and what’s more, he’s not above toying with your heart like a yo-yo. (Unfortunately Jonathan is also manipulative, just as Mr. Clooney and Mr. Depp were probably not above being manipulative once upon a time.) Can you blame a girl for thinking she can prevail in this situation?

If you liked my sassy-pants answers, I hope you will read my debut novel, The Taker. You should be warned that it’s not for the faint of heart (and I’m not the only one who’s said that). You can find the first chapter, a reading group guide and lots of lovely things people have said about it here: http://www.almakatsu.com/taker.php

The second book in the series, The Reckoning, will be out on June 19th and you can find out more about it here: http://www.almakatsu.com/reckoning.php

We’re giving away a NOOK tablet and other goodies for The Reckoning’s release! For details on the giveaway, please visit my website: http://www.almakatsu.com

The Giveaway!! 

Alma was amazing and offered a lovely prize pack for a couple lovely winners. Initially I thought I would make it one grand prize. But upon further thought, and my desire to spread the word. I decided to split it into first prize and second prize. 

First Prize:

-A SIGNED finished copy of The Taker- Which has the most beautiful cover EVER!!
-A SIGNED bookmark, a pen, a sticker and The Taker post-it notes- which are very handy!

Second Prize:

-The Taker dust jacket
-A SIGNED bookmark, another bookmark, a pen, a sticker, and two post-it note pads. 

The Rules:

-Fill out the Form!! That's the only rule.


-If you want an extra entry, please TWEET this giveaway! I would love for everyone to read The Taker and The Reckoning and I want to spread the word, so please TWEET, and you'll get ONE extra entry. 

-Contest is open internationally, I'll ship anywhere! If you have a blog, I ask that you post a review once you've read the book. Spread the word! 
-The Contest will run from today until June 18th, and I will email the winners straight away. They will have 48 hours to get back to me, if they don't I will chose a new winner.

That is it. Thank you SO much to Alma for stopping by, and for providing these wonderful prize pacts.

~Good luck and Happy Reading Everyone! 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

My Thoughts: The Reckoning by Alma Katsu

The Taker, a stunning tale of a mysterious young woman, Lanore, and an unwitting Maine doctor who falls into her world, a hidden world that exists outside the boundaries of time. In this magical realm, where the predatory use pleasure to corrupt the innocent, Lanore`s incredible devotion to her first true love, captured the attention of the dangerous man man who rules this world, and ignited within him an all-consuming desire to possess her. 

The ReckoningLanore McIlvrae is the kind of woman who will to do anything for love. Including imprisoning the man who loves her behind a wall of brick and stone.

She had no choice but to entomb Adair, her nemesis, to save Jonathan, the boy she grew up with in a remote Maine town in the early 1800s and the man she thought she would be with forever. But Adair had other plans for her. He used his mysterious, otherworldly powers to give her eternal life, but Lanore learned too late that there was a price for this gift: to spend eternity with him. And, though he is handsome and charming, behind Adair's seductive facade is the stuff of nightmares. He is a monster in the flesh, and he wants Lanore to love him for all time.

Now, two hundred years after imprisoning Adair, Lanore is trying to atone for her sins. She has given away the treasures she's collected over her many lifetimes in order to purge her past and clear the way for a future with her new lover, Luke Findley. But, while viewing these items at an exhibit at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, Lanore suddenly is aware that the thing she's been dreading for two hundred years has caught up to her: Adair has escaped from his prison. He's free—and he will come looking for her. And she has no idea how she will save herself.

** ARC received by Simon and Schuster Canada**

Oh, The Reckoning. How you have slain me.

The Reckoning is the sequel to Alma Katsu`s debut The Taker which I read and reviewed last summer. If you have read my review you will know that I LOVED The Taker and for a good chunk of the year could not wait to get my hands on the sequel. The Taker was, absolutely, one of the best books I had read in 2011 and I am pretty sure that I can say the same thing for The Reckoning. Alma is brilliant writer and she has an absolute gift at weaving scenarios and actions together to create these stories that are breath taking and beautiful.  She is amazingly creative and the originality found in her plots is utterly refreshing.

I often find it hard to review a sequel and in this case it is extra difficult because I really don't want to give anything away, but I also want to convince you all to pick up this series. I assure you, it is worth it.  It is also difficult to write a review for a middle novel. Because often they are just considered filler novels, not really adding to the story. This is not the case for The Reckoning. This story gives so much and answers those burning questions, while at the same time giving you a few more to ponder. It was such s thrill to read and be a part of.

Everything that I loved about The Taker I found in The Reckoning.  The writing was beautiful. There were times when I would have to go back and reread a part to simply appreciate the beauty of the words. Alma has a way with words. The smallest details that were put into her descriptions really added to the beauty of the novel. Especially when she was talking about Adair.

The Reckoning, is for the most part, is Adair's novel.

I really enjoyed reading from his view point. In The Taker we are introduced to him and we get a general idea about him, but it was from Lanny's point of view, we as readers only knew him through Lanny. This was not a bad thing. I think it's a wonderful example of Alma's gift at story telling. However with The Reckoning, it's Adair we are hearing from, his emotions we get to experience and know. There were so many things that I was shocked to realize about Adair, that I didn't know about in The Taker. Things about him that I would not have guessed. This is because it wasn't something Lanny knew, wasn't something she would have thought of. Adair is a very multidimensional character. Someone at one point said that The Reckoning changed their mind and they actually liked Adair. I don't know that I would go that far personally. But there were definitely some changes in my mind regarding Adair.

I think what I liked THE best in The Reckoning, was the way emotions were described and how essential they were to the story. Fear, anger, lust, love, grief, joy, guilt, are what make up this novel. Decisions are made on based on these emotions. Rarely is there rational thought (it's not totally absent mind you), when it came to responding to a situation. This may be a common characteristic in most fiction, but it was more potent in The Reckoning. All those emotions are believable. Every single one. You can feel the rage coming from Adair followed by his guilt and confusion. You experience Lanny's unbearable fear and extreme panic. Luke's heartbreak is agonizing and you can't help but to want to make it better. There was a multitude of emotions in this book and they were sometimes overwhelming, but I would never suggest that any of it be taken out. They completely necessary. It's what makes the story and the characters believable.

Overall, The Reckoning was amazing. A perfect addition to The Taker trilogy. If you haven't read The Taker, then you should. Because it to is amazing. A compelling story with beautiful writing! I have admit that I am SO eager for The Decent to see where this story goes and how it ends.

The Reckoning hits the Shelves June 19th, 2012.

~Happy Reading Everyone!


Saturday, May 19, 2012

Stacking the Shelves (1)

Hello, and welcome to another book haul! I haven't been receiving to many books in the last little while (which is ok), but I do have a few to show you. I hope you enjoy. 

Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga over at Tynga's Reviews. 

Books Mentioned

For Review: 

The Summer of No Regrets by Katherine Grace Bond 
** I lied. This book came out May 1st**

From the Library:

Thumped by Megan McCafferty 
Forbidden Heat by Opal Carew 

Bloggers Mentioned:

Allison from Allison Can Read

That's all for me, 

~Happy Reading Everyone! 

Monday, May 14, 2012

From Book to Movie (9)

When U.S. Marine Logan Thibault finds a photograph of a smiling young woman half-buried in the dirt during his third tour of duty in Iraq, his first instinct is to toss it aside. Instead, he brings it back to the base for someone to claim, but when no one does, he finds himself always carrying the photo in his pocket. Soon Thibault experiences a sudden streak of luck—winning poker games and even surviving deadly combat that kills two of his closest buddies. Only his best friend, Victor, seems to have an explanation for his good fortune: the photograph—his lucky charm.
Back home in Colorado, Thibault can’t seem to get the photo—and the woman in it—out of his mind. Believing that she somehow holds the key to his destiny, he sets out on a journey across the country to find her, never expecting the strong but vulnerable woman he encounters in Hampton, North Carolina—Elizabeth, a divorced mother with a young son—to be the girl he’s been waiting his whole life to meet. Caught off guard by the attraction he feels, Thibault keeps the story of the photo, and his luck, a secret. As he and Elizabeth embark upon a passionate and all-consuming love affair, the secret he is keeping will soon threaten to tear them apart—destroying not only their love, but also their lives.

I am pretty sure I can say I have seen every Nicholas Sparks' movies-well every one since The Notebook. However, I being the reader that I claim to be, have never read a single one of his books. Ever! I have thought about it, I have even "vowed" to do so before seeing the next movie. But here I sit, having watched The Lucky One  last night, having not read the book. Really, Sara, really? I have to say that I wish I had read the book before seeing The Lucky One. Actually as handsome and little (ok, not so little) Zac Effron was in this movie, I was a little disappointed. 

The story lacked the depth that the majority of the Sparks movies contain. Sure it was romantic and cute. But again, not really. I found that The Vow had more of a story then this one. I am not sure what my issue with this movie is. I think that it was because it lacked a story line. Or the plot that was there wasn't strong enough for me. Whatever it was it did not work for me. I have heard that the book is really good though, so maybe in a couple months I'll pick it up. 

If you want to see a good comparison video, check out this one by beauty guru Allison. She really convinced me that the book is worth it. Someday Nicholas Sparks I will read your book.  

Have you read any of Sparks' books? Are they worth the hype? Are the movies better? Let me know. 

~Happy Reading Reading! 

Monday, May 7, 2012

My Thoughts (In Short): Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood

Everybody knows Cate Cahill and her sisters are eccentric. Too pretty, too reclusive, and far too educated for their own good. But the truth is even worse: they're witches. And if their secret is discovered by the priests of the Brotherhood, it would mean an asylum, a prison ship--or an early grave.

Before her mother died, Cate promised to protect her sisters. But with six months to choose between marriage and the Sisterhood, she might not be able to keep her word... especially after she finds her mother's diary, uncovering a secret that could spell her family's destruction. Desperate to find alternatives to their fate, Cate stars scouring banned books and questioning rebellious new friends, all while juggling tea parties, shocking marriage proposals, and a forbidden romance with the completely unsuitable Finn Belastra.

If what her mother wrote is true, the Cahill girls aren't safe. Not from the Brotherhood, the Sisterhood -- not even from each other.

There have been a number of negative reviews for Jessica Spotswood's Born Wicked. Some have said that the protagonist, Cate was self absorbed and they found her to be a little bit of a snob. There are others who thought that the tyrant government was a little unbelievable- that a small group of people with no magical capabilities would have so much authority did not ring true. Others found the novel refreshing, a great reprieve from the usual YA dystopians. I would have to agree with this later group. I really enjoyed Born Wicked and I wasn't sure that I was going to.

It had been a while since I had read historical fiction- and while I know I just said historical fiction and earlier I said it was a dysopian novel. Born Wicked is actually maybe a little of both. I'm not sure exactly how to explain it, but know this: its different, but in a good way.

Born Wicked is (gasp) the first in a trilogy. It involves three sisters who just happen to be witches. I loved this bit of the book. The girls aren't vampires, or angels, or werewolves. They're witches. They have magical powers- this in itself could have been a little corny. But it wasn't, it was done well. Perhaps it was because their magic had to be kept hidden from The Brotherhood-the tyrant government I mentioned earlier. They are some seriously evil people. sentencing girls to prison, insane asylums even death over the smallest infraction. It was incredibly disturbing. They were really the best villains.

I really enjoyed Spotswood's writing. I thought she told a really good story and she did it really well. I was never bored or annoyed while I was reading. What really killed me though was the end. Ugh!! That ending. Be aware of that. I want the next book like now! It was that kind of ending.

Overall, I really liked Born Wicked. I thought it was clever and unique. With great writing. If you haven't already you should totally look into this one!

~Happy Reading Everyone!

Friday, May 4, 2012

March and April Wrap Up

It's been a while. I completely skipped the March wrap up, and I thought about not including it this month, but that's no fun. So, here we are.

Ps- If you would to see what I am hoping to read for May, check out my video.

Books Read:

- Chopsticks by Jessica Anthony and Rodrigo Corral
-Naked by Megan Hart
-Pieces of Us by Margie Gelbwasser
-Stranger by Megan Hart
-The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
-How to Save a Life by Sara Zarr
-Lover Reborn by JR Ward
-Fifty Shades of Grey by EL James
-Tempest by Julie Cross
-Of Poseidon by Anna Banks
-Fracture by Megan Miranda
-Delicious by Shayla Black

Considering I was insanely busy with school the last two months, I am impressed with the amount of books there.

Books Reviewed:

-Girl Stolen by April Henry
- Pieces of Us by Margie Gelbwasser
-Chopsticks by Jessica Anthony and Rodrigo Corral
-Tempest by Julie Cross
- Of Poseidon by Anna Banks

Random Stuff:

-So, The Story Siren. I am not going to say much on this subject. However after much thought I have decided that I do not want to support her blog anymore. The way I felt she handled things poorly, and took little responsibility for her actions. In saying that, you will see that I have am still included the results of the Debut Author Challenge. This I will explain- I want to support new authors, and I want to encourage others to do so as well. So I will continue to keep track of the debut authors that I read. That is the only reason I have included the results. I will not be participating in any challenges, nor posting my reviews. I just want to support those who have their debut novels coming out this year.

Challenge Overview:

Debut Author Challenge: 7/25
2012 TBR Pile: 1/25
Completely Contemp Challenge: 10/15 (I think)
2012 Reading Challenge: 29/80

That's it for me.

~Happy Reading Everyone!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

My Thoughts: Fracture by Megan Miranda

Eleven minutes passed before Delaney Maxwell was pulled from the icy waters of a Maine lake by her best friend Decker Phillips. By then her heart had stopped beating. Her brain had stopped working. She was dead. And yet she somehow defied medical precedent to come back seemingly fine. Everyone wants Delaney to be all right, but she knows she's far from normal. Pulled by strange sensations she can't control or explain, Delaney finds herself drawn to the dying. Is her altered brain now predicting death, or causing it?

Then Delaney meets Troy Varga, who recently emerged from a coma with similar abilities. At first she's reassured to find someone who understands the strangeness of her new existence, but Delaney soon discovers that Troy's motives aren't quite what she thought. Is their gift a miracle, a freak of nature-or something much more frightening?

What an interesting little novel. I don't know what I was expecting when I started reading Fracture by Megan Miranda. The concept of the book was really interesting. I cannot imagine being caught under ice for one minute, never mind eleven minutes. The thought just stresses me out. Although, Fracture was an interesting novel, with AMAZING potential, there were a few things about it that just did not work for me. Mostly with the plot.

The main issue I had with Fracture was how rushed it felt. I feel like the novel needed another hundred pages. Miranda could have done amazing things in that hundred pages.

Delaney gets caught under some ice her best friend Decker pulls her out and some how miraculously she lives after being under water for eleven minutes. However, her survival is tainted by the fact that she is now inexplicably drawn to the dying. Freaky right? It gets better. She then meets Troy, who is also called to the dying. There are some major questions in that little synopsis, questions you would expect to be answered in a stand along novel. Unfortunately they were not.

That is what was missing in this novel. We never find out how Delaney was able to survive being under freezing water for eleven minutes. That is not explored at all, and we never find out why she is drawn to the near dead. Ever. It was so frustrating to come to the end of the novel and realize that I still had no idea what was going on, or what happened. It very disappointing.

Delaney's relationship with her mom was a little convoluted and fragmented. It needed a little more exploring as well. I did not understand some of the reasons her mother chose to do what she did. 

And then we have Troy. Was he a good guy, was he a bad guy. What was he? Who was he? UGHHH. So many questions.

With that being said, I still gave this book a four out of five stars on Goodreads. It's more of a 3.5, but meh. I enjoyed this book. I really did. I liked Delaney, and I really liked Decker. A lot. He was great. I love when guys and girls are best friends. Maybe it's because all my best friends have been guys, and I know that that kind of friendship is a special kind of relationship.

Overall, Fracture was an ok novel, but it needed a lot more development. Or at least a sequel to tie up the lost ends. Then it would be a perfectly thrilling novel.

~Happy Reading!

"So, please, oh please, we beg, we pray, go throw your TV set away, and in its place you can install, a lovely bookcase on the wall."
— Roald Dahl