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Book Review – “The Diviners” by Libba Bray

In Books, Paranormal, Supernatural, Writing on January 2, 2013 at 9:15 am

Diviners

I just finished reading The Diviners, by Libba Bray. I have read a lot of books every year, but I have to say that this young adult novel is special. It’s set in the roaring 1920s (which I loved reading about), the protagonist is a flapper, and there are enough creepy supernatural things going on to keep you up at night. (With a flashlight and a blanket over your head.) The time period was clearly well researched, and the details were rich without being overly done.

I was sitting on the edge of my seat through most of the novel, and really enjoyed it. If I had to come up with any criticisms, I would have to mention that the use of 1920s jargon was just a little too thickly applied. Also, there were times when I felt that Evie’s uncle would conveniently disappear just so the young adults would be left alone long enough to put themselves in extreme danger. Other than that, I give a firm two thumbs up (and maybe some big toes as well.)
Highly recommended!

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Community

In Books, Family Fun, Friends, Life, Writing on October 22, 2012 at 11:36 am


When you hear the word “community,” what images/words come to mind? Yes, the community or neighborhood you live in may pop into your head first. But community is so much more than a place.

I have many different communities. My children go to different schools, and each one of those schools is a different community for our family; a different circle of friends (kids and parents) for each one.

I’m a member of a fabulous writing critique group called Writers in the Rain. (Shout out to Fabio Bueno, Angela Orlowski-Peart, Eileen Riccio, Suma Subramanium, and Brenda Beem.) In our own little writing community, we help to keep each other sane. We meet every week, read and critique each other’s pages, and give helpful suggestions or sometimes, a reality check. We are a family… a community unto ourselves. Who else gets as excited about our characters and plot lines as we do for each other’s stories? I am grateful for my writing community every day.

Even our kids’ after school activities are a community; from my son’s T-Ball team and Taekwondo studio, to the dance studio where both my kids dance, to the youth theatre where both my kids act. All community.

I could list all the communities that enrich my life, but I’d rather hear from you. Think about the communities in your life, and how they add value to it. How do you lean on your communities when you need their support? In turn, how do they lean on you? Isn’t it nice to know how much support we all have?

Tell me about your communities. Maybe it’s a group of college friends, a yoga group, or perhaps an organization in which you volunteer. Which ones have the most impact or are the most meaningful to you? I’d love to hear your stories of community and how they’ve shaped your lives.

Living Dead in Dallas (Sookie Stackhouse) Book Review

In Books, Paranormal on September 28, 2012 at 10:26 am

(I give it a solid 4 out of 5 stars) In this second book in the Sookie Stackhouse series, Sookie travels to Dallas with her vampire boyfriend, Bill. Under obligation to help the higher-ups in the vampire community, Sookie and Bill set out to find out a missing vamp named Farrell, who is friend to Stan, a very powerful boss-man. Along the way, there is murder, a fanatical group of religious zealots bent on convincing vampires that they should “go to the sun” (or in other words, to commit suicide), and Sookie’s quest to exonerate Sheriff Andy from a crime he did not commit.
 
Compared to the previous book in the series, this book was much better. Even though the first book was a fun read, it had some inconsistencies in the main characters that distracted me. Living Dead in Dallas fixed all those inconsistencies, allowing me to just enjoy the story.

I will definitely pick up the next book in the series to see what Sookie is up to next.

Dead Until Dark -Sookie Stackhouse: a quick review

In Books on September 9, 2012 at 7:12 pm

Dead Until Dark (Sookie Stackhouse, #1)Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I’m torn between giving it 3 or 4 stars. I loved the concept of the story, and it definitely kept me turning pages. But I thought sometimes the characters weren’t as consistent as I would’ve liked them to be. Sookie vascillates between being weak and naive to strong and daring. Of course, I expect that from the last half of the book, after her character has grown. However, I had kind of a hard time figuring her out in the beginning. To me, Bill’s character also fluctuated a little too much. I needed to get a more solid idea of what he was all about.

However, I’m going to read the next book in the series–not only because I want to find out what happens next in Sookie’s life, but also to see if the characters become more concrete and real.

View all my reviews

Book Recommendation – Divergent

In Books on August 9, 2012 at 8:14 am

Divergent (Divergent, #1)

I just finished reading Veronica Roth’s debut novel, Divergent. I heartily recommend it to folks who love reading YA or who just love a good story. (i.e., everyone.)

Here’s why:

  1. It has an awesome cover (yes I sometimes do judge a book by its cover!) At first glance, the cover is reminiscent of the Hunger Games with the focus on the main symbolic element. However, the Divergent cover is more beautiful and complex. Thumbs up!
  2. When I first started reading I thought, “Oh no, another dystopian society where the government controls all, and the main character is matched with a boy,” blah, blah, blah. I’m happy to say, I was wrong. Instead of a flat character who rides the wave of the storyline with seemingly no control of her own, I was pleasantly surprised that our main gal, Beatrice, or Tris, as she later becomes, is a badass girl who is tough as nails. She may be small, but she packs a mighty punch. I am a sucker for a strong female protagonist.
  3. The dystopian society in this book is so much more interesting than I had expected. Set in futuristic Chicago, I was captivated in particular with the five different factions in this society, and the characteristics of each group of people. At age sixteen, the members of each faction get to choose if they want to stay in the group they had grown up in, or switch to one of the others. Tris’s newly chosen faction, the Dauntless, is by far the most interesting faction of the five, as they are pierced, tattooed, and fearless. Because this is not a book review, but rather a recommendation, I will not give away any of the plot points. No spoilers here!
  4. And the final reason why I enjoyed this book;  the protagonist’s love interest is, well… he’s pretty hot. There I said it.

So, if you haven’t read it already, you should. The minute I finished reading Divergent, I got the next in the series, entitled, Insurgent. I’m hoping this book lives up to the expectations set by the first.

The Fault in Our Stars – Book Recommendation

In Books, Uncategorized on June 30, 2012 at 10:44 am

The Fault in Our Stars

Wow, what can I say? First of all, I just want to put this out there: John Green is an amazing writer. I’ve pretty much loved all of his books. He has the ability to breathe so much life into every character;and his dialogue can be both witty and heart-wrenching at the same time. Love, love, love him!

This book is no exception to the list of great novels he has written. It’s a sweet story about love and loss. The characters get under your skin, and you’ll continue to think about them long after you’ve finished reading the book.

I highly recommend it!

Books for Kids who Like to be Scared

In Books on January 22, 2012 at 10:16 am

For some reason, my six year old son loves scary stories. The other day, against my better judgment, he watched a marathon of the Ghost Adventures show. You know the one… several insane guys lock themselves up in reportedly haunted houses or buildings and record what happens to them? The stars of the show are nearly peeing their pants with fright as dark entities are scratching them or whatever, and my son isn’t the tiniest bit scared. I don’t know how he became so brave, but I guess the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree.

When I was a teen, I read every Stephen King novel I could get my hands on. But, heck, I was a teenager! My son is only six for cripes sake. However, it is my belief that if your child shows a special interest in something, you let them follow their interests.

That brings me to the topic of scary books for younger children. I wouldn’t hand my son a Stephen King novel and say, “Have at it!” The content is way too adult for the average elementary school child. However, I have managed to find some great alternatives for the younger crowd. If you have an elementary-aged child who loves to be scared, you might consider these options:

The Goosebumps Series by R. L. Stine – These are fun and really quite good! We have found a great selection of these in audio book format and listen to them in the car. R. L. Stine has written hundreds of books, so if your child is into these stories, this should keep him/her busy for quite a while.

Haunted Kids: True Ghost Stories by Allan Zullo – This is another one we have as an audio book. It’s narrated by John Ratzenberger. The kids recognize his voice from all the Pixar movies. (And I immediately think of Cliff in the TV series, Cheers.) This is a collection of eleven creepy stories inspired by real-life cases.

Magic Tree House Fact Tracker #20: Ghosts: A Non-fiction Companion to Magic Tree House #42 by Mary Pope Osborne – I believe this book was the catalyst in my son’s fascination with ghosts. He read this book at school and was soon obsessed with the topic, even drawing his classmates into the fun.

I’m sure there are more options to choose from. Do you have any suggestions? Post them!

The Paranormal – What do you Believe?

In Books on August 14, 2011 at 9:20 pm

I really enjoy reading and writing books with a paranormal plot. When I was a teenager, my favorite guilty pleasure was curling up with a good Stephen King novel. Books like Carrie, Firestarter, and Thinner both delighted and scared the crap out of me. The paranormal genre is a trend that has taken a firm hold in the young adult book market. But how much of the paranormal do you really believe in outside the pages of your current read?

My novel, The Third Eye of Jenny Crumb, focuses on a girl who has psychic ability—probably not as common as the host of vampire or zombie books that are out there, but a popular theme, nevertheless. For me, I honestly believe that everyone has some sort of psychic ability or intuition. Have you ever made the mistake of not following your gut instinct and had bad results? Or conversely, you followed your gut instinct and it turned out great? In my opinion, there are people who have psychic ability and can see things that the majority of us cannot.

So, I want to hear from you! Do you believe there really are people with psychic ability? What about telekinesis (the power to move things with the mind,) pyrokinesis (the ability to ignite or extinguish fire with the mind,) or astral projection (the ability to separate from your body and travel distances with your mind?)

Tell me about your experiences and whether or not you think any of this is real or if it’s just fantasy. I’d love to hear from you!

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