Sunday, November 23, 2014

Spread the Love over at Nishita's Rants and Raves!

As you may know from last week I'm retiring from hosting the Spread the Love Linky Party - but the amazing Nishita is taking over the reins! Head on over there and link up the bookish fabulousness! 



For the sake of finishing what I started, last week the most clicked on line was: 




Wednesday, November 19, 2014

NaNoWriMo: Passing on the Wisdom


NaNoWriMo is in full swing by now. While I'm not participating this year, I did last year, and it just felt like a waste not to share whatever wisdom (if you want to call it that) which I gleaned from the event last year to those participating this year. 

So, enjoy!
NaNoWriMo: Early Surprises
NaNoWriMo: Week Two
Wrapping up NaNoWriMo 2013

To all those participating, congratulations, you're already attempting something extraordinarily difficult. For me, it pulled on my very soul. Please, leave tips here if you have any or feel free to comment on any of the posts! Good luck!

Monday, November 17, 2014

The Whirlwind Trip to D.C. - Stephen King, An Ode to


So, I went to Washington D.C. for three days with the express purpose of seeing Stephen King speak. I had the added pleasure of being able to meet up with Shannon at River City Reading for the event. I'm going to tell you of my trip in reverse order, because I know what the people really want (and that's this post). 

The event was a reading that was a part of a six city tour to promote his new book Revival. Before we get started with the main event I need you to know a little bit of my personal background with Stephen King. If you've been hanging around for any period of time, you probably already know this about me. 

I picked up my first King book (Cujo) from my father's stack of King novels when I was eleven. I remember being relegated to walking around the fences of the tennis courts during gym class because I had 'accidentally' forgotten my gym clothes (again). 

Growing up walking home from school with The Giver, A Wrinkle in Time, and of course the ubiquitous Baby Sitter's Club, and Fear Street novels made me quite proficient at walking and reading. So walking that rectangular fence, expertly avoiding the cracks in the asphalt I found something in Cujo that even to this day I can't quite describe. 

Before Cujo it never occurred to me that things like pubic hair could be spoken of outside a health textbook, that there could be such suspense, and as King often puts it himself 'balls to the wall horror' contained within a novel. That death and despair were possible and all you had to do was open the book to be completely transported somewhere terrifying. It should also be noted that in my opinion Cujo is not one of his better novels and weirdly, holds no special place in my heart.

For this reason alone I think that King and his writing are special to me and molded me as a reader, but something also struck me about him while watching a biography program. I couldn't have been more than fourteen or so and what I remember best about the program is the idea that King conveyed that even if he wasn't being paid a cent for his writing -- he'd still be doing it, solely for the passion that he has for the craft. His love of reading and writing made a lasting impression on me and he is someone I very much admire for that passion. 

Okay, let's get to the goods, you're thinking. So! The (sold out) event was scheduled for 7 p.m. at George Washington University's Lisner Auditorium which has a capacity of 1,409. Shannon had to work that morning and I was just grateful she was willing to brave the D.C. traffic. So I killed the morning visiting The Supreme Court and The Library of Congress (details coming in future posts). After some slight snafu's regarding meeting locations Shannon and I finally met up at the National Museum of American History where Shannon had just concluded saying hello to the First Ladies dresses.



Obligatory proof of life meeting picture.

So while employees of the Lisner Auditorium told me that people had been lining up since at least one p.m., Shannon and I chose to enjoy dinner and we made it to the venue at about 6:30, it turned out very nicely, while we weren't overly close, that was probably for the best as that way Shannon was not forced to restrain me while I attempted to throw myself on the stage like a madwoman. 

I'm still rambling, aren't I? Well, when the King made his way on to the stage Shannon did have to deal with a mild amount of squeeing and she may have handed me the smelling salts at some point but once the event got going it was everything I wanted it to be, and more. King was charming, funny, down to earth and... a terrible dresser. Pictures in a moment.

I was really impressed how he segued from the first line of a bad two line joke, ("Two jumper cables walk into a bar...") into the craft of writing, his own writing process, and everything else in-between. I won't go so far as to say he's a formidable public speaker, but he's definitely engaging. The audience was slightly insane and clapped every time he mentioned the title of one of his books (even Gerald's Game, I mean seriously?) but he took it in stride and never came off as arrogant or irritating (or irritated, for that matter). I was also delighted to find out that he's friends with John Irving (my top three authors, Stephen King, John Irving, Margaret Atwood). 

There wasn't supposed to be photography allowed but the girl two seats down from me had a full on DSLR camera and if she had taken one more picture with a flash in the darkened auditorium, I was going to shank her. In hindsight, I should have given her my card and asked her to email me her photos. By the time Q&A came up and the floor lights came up I decided to damn the rules and eke out two fuzzy little shots. Here's what I got for my effort and breaking of the rules. 


Oh, the end of the joke is: Two jumper cables walk into a bar and say, "Can we get a drink?" the bartender says, "Yeah, just don't start anything." <rimshot>.

Overall great time meeting and hanging out with Shannon at such a phenomenal event. Totally worth the price of tickets, especially considering we each got a hardback copy of Revival (though sadly, we were not among the lucky few who randomly got signed copies). 

So, Reader, do you have any authors that you'd travel 1200+ miles round trip over the course of three days to see? I flew, no worries. Though the pilot on my trip back to Atlanta might have been wearing heels during the landing.


Sunday, November 16, 2014

Spread the Love 2.0: Week Forty



The end of the second era.

This is officially the 4oth week that I've hosted Spread the Love 2.0. I'd like to say 40 consecutive weeks, but there was that one week off... oh well... I never got the perfect attendance record in school either. It has been so much fun and I have "met" and discovered so many new bloggers and blogs. Thank you all for making this party so successful, I couldn't have done it without you. Either myself of Nishita will announce who had the most clicked on link last week. 

Just as Rebecca at Love at First Book passed the party over to me, I'm pleased to announce (as I did last week) that Nishita from Nishita's Rants and Raves will be taking over the reins after this week. I'll be there linking up and hope to see all of you there too! She has a beautiful website and writes engaging and interesting posts. 

Last week the most clicked on link was: 


Michael at Literary Exploration wrote a fantastic post on Catfishing, Negative Reviews, and Fear of Blogging

Go get your button!

Your turn! Showcase your favorite post this week!
Would you like a friendly reminder on when 
The Spread the Love Linky Party is going live? Wanna grab some buttons? 


Guidelines
  • Link up your greatest book review, bookish post, or anything tangentially related to books, reading, writing, or blogging that is fabulous this week (or before!) that you want to show to the world!
  • Additionally, please avoid linking up other parties, directly to Etsy shops, and posts that are just to a giveaway. If you have a book review or an author feature or... anything else that happens to have a giveaway as well, that's A-OK.
  • Spread even more love - Click on at least one other link that interests you (and others!) and say something nice! It's a fantastic way to learn about a new blog and see an amazing post that someone is really proud of! We all love nice comments, so this part is important, take a minute and spread the love!
  • By linking up, you are granting the party hosts permission to promote you and and image from your site in a featured post or on social media. Meaning, if I or anyone else thinks that your post is super fabulous, it might get promoted! This is totally a win-win, don't you agree?

Friday, November 14, 2014

Brutal Youth (Book Review)

Brutal Youth by: Anthony Breznican

Source: Publisher via BE Books Consulting in exchange for consideration of an honest review.
Synopsis: (Goodreads) 
With a plunging reputation and enrollment rate, Saint Michael’s has become a crumbling dumping ground for expelled delinquents and a haven for the stridently religious when incoming freshman Peter Davidek signs up. On his first day, tensions are clearly on the rise as a picked-upon upperclassmen finally snaps, unleashing a violent attack on both the students who tormented him for so long, and the corrupt, petty faculty that let it happen. But within this desperate place, Peter befriends fellow freshmen Noah Stein, a volatile classmate whose face bears the scars of a hard-fighting past, and the beautiful but lonely Lorelei Paskal —so eager to become popular, she makes only enemies.

To even stand a chance at surviving their freshmen year, the trio must join forces as they navigate a bullying culture dominated by administrators like the once popular Ms. Bromine, their embittered guidance counselor, and Father Mercedes, the parish priest who plans to scapegoat the students as he makes off with church finances. A coming-of-age tale reversed, Brutal Youth follows these students as they discover that instead of growing older and wiser, going bad may be the only way to survive.


Well, if I needed a book to remind me what a bad idea sectarian schools might be, Brutal Youth is it. The prologue is gripping and pulls you in immediately. The story begins with a disturbed and bullied kid throwing jars of formaldehyde off the roof of the school at the school mates and teachers that have tormented him through high school. It culminates with him pushing the crumbling statutes of the saints off the edge of the roof. Unfortunately after the scene ends the gripping writing seems to dissolve a bit.

While the characters are fairly well fleshed out and a perfect dichotomy of good versus evil, the sheer number of them could have been cut without any loss to the story and would perhaps provide more clarity to the reader. Less of "Wait, who?". Had the story been more focused on Stein and Davidek I think it would have been much more powerful, like the prologue.

Much like Anita (her review) I felt like the sheer viciousness of the bullying that was depicted at St. Mike's and the complete lack of real concern or action from the administration required me to suspend belief, it was necessary for the movement of the story but that school was out of control and I found myself rooting for it to be shut down. Davidek couldn't have been worse off at the public school, for sure.

The ambivalent and flat out careless parents (and teachers) saddened me, and I have to wonder if this is a commentary on certain types of parents and the importance of actually listening to our kids. There was a certain irony that the most tortured student in the novel has the most supportive and loving home life.

By far the best aspect of this book is a reminder to those who have our high-school years long behind us how hard it is to be a kid - and we should remember that around kids and teenagers of all ages.

It's clear that Breznican is a talented debut author and I look forward to what else he might have in store for us.

Other trusted reviews on this novel: 
River City Reading
Estella's Revenge
Words for Worms
The Relentless Reader
Don't forget Anita Loves Books - linked in the text!

What about you, Reader? Did you have a brutal high school experience?  


Thursday, November 13, 2014

Last Train to Babylon (Book Review)

Last Train to Babylon by: Charleen Fam

Source: Publisher via TLC Book Tours. I received a copy for honest review consideration.
Synopsis: (Goodreads)
Aubrey Glass has a collection of potential suicide notes—just in case. And now, five years—and five notes—after leaving her hometown, Rachel’s the one who goes and kills herself. Aubrey can’t believe her luck. 

But Rachel’s death doesn’t leave Aubrey in peace. There’s a voicemail from her former friend, left only days before her death that Aubrey can’t bring herself to listen to—and worse, a macabre memorial-turned-high-school reunion that promises the opportunity to catch up with everyone… including the man responsible for everything that went wrong between she and Rachel. 

In the days leading up to the funeral and infamous after party, Aubrey slips seamlessly between her past and present. Memories of friendship tangle with painful new encounters while underneath it all Aubrey feels the rush of something closing in, something she can no longer run from. And when the past and present collide in one devastating night, nothing will be the same again. 

But facing the future means confronting herself and a shattering truth. Now, Aubrey must decide what will define her: what lies behind… or what waits ahead.

I should start by saying that over all this is an excellent suspense read. The cover blurbs about dark humor and biting wit, do not mislead. Fam uses expert pacing, flashing back an forth between present and past slowly unfolding to the reader exactly what happened to Aubrey to turn her life and friendship with Rachel upside down. 

Both Rachel and Aubrey's characters are fleshed out enough to put you in a love/hate relationship with them and make them feel real. The other characters are on the periphery and more one dimensional - but there's really only one other character that I feel needed to be better fleshed out and that was Adam. What was his deal? 

The setting and details are well written too, Fam has a knack for putting the reader in the story without becoming too bogged down in detail.

This is an excellent debut novel in the suspense genre and I have but one complaint. It's not very memorable. When I was reading it and after I finished I was sure that this was a four star read for me. But as you all know life has been getting in the way of the blog lately so I found myself unable to get to the review until a week or so after I finished the novel. One week later (and granted I have been under a lot of stress), I couldn't remember very much about this novel at all, including the ending. I like my love affairs to last longer than a week.

All that being said, if you're a fan of the suspense genre you should absolutely check out this book. I'm going to trademark my phrase for three star novels (which is a GOOD rating from me) and say, "You could do a lot worse on an airplane." 

For all intents and purposes it's a fantastic debut novel from a young author and I'm looking forward to see what else she has in store for us. 

So, Readers, do you have any suggestions for fun beach-read suspense novels? They're one of my weaknesses! 





I'm excited to be participating in the tour for Charleen Fam's Last Train to Babylon, be sure to check out the entire tour schedule here and the other fabulous posts that have been written on it! 

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Spread the Love 2.0: Week Thirty Nine



Hello, hello, hello! As you may know I'm carrying this baby to term and next week will be my last week hosting this fabulous link up, but the good news is that the ever-faithful Nishita from Nishta's Rants and Raves will be taking it over after that!

Next week I'm going to see Stephen King speak in D.C. and I am so super psyched.

Okay, on to what's important!

Last week the most clicked on link was: 

A tie! 


Tanya from Mom's Small Victories had a post on the Top Five Tips on How to Create a Sense of Community on Your Blog

and




Book Mammal's Musing Mondays on whether you prefer new or used books

Go get your button!

Your turn! Showcase your favorite post this week!
Would you like a friendly reminder on when 
The Spread the Love Linky Party is going live? Wanna grab some buttons? 


Guidelines
  • Link up your greatest book review, bookish post, or anything tangentially related to books, reading, writing, or blogging that is fabulous this week (or before!) that you want to show to the world!
  • Additionally, please avoid linking up other parties, directly to Etsy shops, and posts that are just to a giveaway. If you have a book review or an author feature or... anything else that happens to have a giveaway as well, that's A-OK.
  • Spread even more love - Click on at least one other link that interests you (and others!) and say something nice! It's a fantastic way to learn about a new blog and see an amazing post that someone is really proud of! We all love nice comments, so this part is important, take a minute and spread the love!
  • By linking up, you are granting the party hosts permission to promote you and and image from your site in a featured post or on social media. Meaning, if I or anyone else thinks that your post is super fabulous, it might get promoted! This is totally a win-win, don't you agree?