Spotlight + Guest Post: The Astrologer's Daughter by Elyse Douglas

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Astrologer's Daughter
Title: The Astrologer's Daughter
Author: Elyse Douglas
Genre: contemporary romance

Joanna Halloran, a best selling writer and astrologer, lives in a beach house overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. After a violent storm, she roams the beach, glances seaward and spots a man clinging to a piece of wreckage, being tossed helplessly. She dives in and pulls him safely onto the beach.

Robert Zachary Harrison is from a wealthy, political family. As he slowly recovers from a private plane crash, he and Joanna fall in love and spend passionate and sequestered weeks together. But because of family duty, Robert makes the painful decision to leave her and return to his fiancée and political life. He departs, not knowing Joanna is pregnant.

Twenty five years later, Senator Robert Harrison is running for President of the United States. In the midst of a contentious presidential campaign, Joanna’s daughter, who has a passion to expose secrets, seeks revenge on her father. She is also falling in love with her father’s adopted son.

As secrets emerge, Joanna and Robert meet again and confront the past and present. Robert confesses a secret that Joanna had never known. Now, on the world stage, they struggle to keep their families and careers from destruction.

Purchase from Amazon

Guest Post

Do you have any feelings in general that you are disturbed by?

I’m not disturbed by life so much now.  Most of the time I try to celebrate it for what it is.  As Joseph Campbell said, life is a wonderful, wonderful opera, except that it hurts.  I accept that it hurts and try to move on.  I’m more baffled by life now; but in an odd way I enjoy the mechanism of life and the insanity of it all: that is, the insanity within the apparent normalcy of every day living.  I mean, who do you know who is not insane in some way?  And yet most of us manage to live fairly “normal” lives.

In writing fiction, I try to show how insane “normal” really is and, at the same time, how beautifully human we all are, struggling with our emotions, desires and fears.  If I’m disturbed by anything, it is the lack of compassion we often have for each other and for ourselves as we stumble through this experience, on this little round rock of a planet that is spinning around out in the middle of nowhere.  We don’t know where we came from, who we really are or where we’re going when we “POOF” disappear.  We’re all in it and “out of it,” together.

Elyse:  I don’t think there is anyone who can honestly say that they’re not disturbed by feelings of inadequacy and fear.  In my opinion, these are the enemies of our lives; we must face them on the battlefield of our minds to prevent them from sapping our vital force, to stop them from taking over our emotional lives.  Because we have human consciousness, we can imagine what we think should be, as well as what could be, and so we regret the past, feel inadequate in the present, and worry about the future, especially the reality of death.

When you watch a cat or a dog dying, you realize that they have no fear.  There is physical pain, perhaps, but no fear.  A cat will just go off into the woods and hide, as if it knows to put its body in the proper place to decompose and continue the life cycle.  Because there is no imagination and no awareness of the future, animals just heed the dictates of the moment, follow instinct, respond to waning energy and allow themselves to go to sleep.  Humans, on the other hand, realize what they will miss when they die; they can anticipate the physical pain of losing energy and breath; can dread the loss of their independence; can wonder what happens to their individual consciousness; can hope they will be rewarded beyond death for their attempts to live in a moral or dharmic way.

I haven’t explored death in my fiction writing yet, but I can envision a time when I will.  I see octogenarians on the bus or on the street, and I imagine what goes through their minds:  will I have enough money to live out my life with dignity?  Will I have the physical mobility I need to live an independent life?  Will there be someone to help me through the last few months of my life if I become enfeebled and/or demented?  Will I accept death and be able to die without becoming bitter and angry?

As someone once said, the paradox of life is that we know we are going to die, but we have to live as if we are going to live forever.  Perhaps it was E.M. Forster who shared that thought; I do know he wrote this one, in a powerful essay entitled “What I Believe”, published in 1938:  “The people I respect most behave as if they were immortal and as if society was eternal.”

About Elyse Douglas

Elyse Douglas is the pen name for the husband and wife writing team of Elyse Parmentier and Douglas Pennington. Elyse received a Master's Degree in English Literature from Columbia University, and Douglas attended the Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music. Their novel, The Astrologer's Daughter, was published in 2011. They currently live in New York City. Wanting Rita is their second novel.

Spotlight + Guest Post: Midnight's Cloak by Justin E. Geary

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Title: Midnight's Cloak
Author: Justin E. Geary
Genre: epic fantasy
Publisher: Outskirts Press
Release Date: May 30, 2012

Dark blood of the evil ten; drank by a son of the same brood. Possessed by the taint, he marches to different sections of the world, conquering and destroying everything in his path as a cloak of midnight pulls itself over all things. The great foretelling of LaStaudd the Wise, the age of the Rising Flame.

Purchase at Outskirts Press or Amazon


After a half hour of travel Aramina woke up.

“You okay sweetheart?” Lot asked.

“I think so,” Aramina said. “I take it the Cael are dead.”

“Yes. Why didn’t you use your magic?” Lot asked.

“I started to, then one of them jumped me from behind. After that everything became hazy,” Aramina said.

“You’re not dizzy or anything?”

“I feel fine,” Aramina said softly. She looked to the right where Clophues rode the gelding and had Snowflake’s reins.

“His name is Clophues. I don’t think he would have shot you. He was just scared.”

“The Cael were chasing him?” Aramina asked.


“Could you let me down so I can ride Snowflake. This saddle is a bit uncomfortable.” Lot stopped Tracker and Aramina climbed down. Clophues stopped his horse as well. She went to Clophues.

“May I have my horse back, please?” Aramina asked.

“Maybe I’ll give her back to you, but I’d like a kiss first,” Clophues said, simpering. Aramina stuck her hand out, expecting it to be filled with Snowflake’s reins. “I’d prefer a kiss on the lips,” the West woodsman said, perking up.

“I’d be careful with her?” Lot warned. Aramina dropped her hand and looked back at the samurai. Her look told him to shut up. Lot watched the two of them intently. She turned back to Clophues. “I can’t kiss you from up there,” Aramina said. Clophues bent sideways to get closer to her. When he got close Aramina grabbed his ear hard and yanked him from his gelding. The West woodsman hit the ground, grunting. Lot chuckled.

“Would you like another?” Aramina asked angrily.

Clophues stood up and brushed off his coat. “You’re mad,” he said.

Guest Post

My Favorite Books and Why by Justin E. Geary

This is a difficult topic for me to write about because I like a wide variety of genres, so I'll only pick some of my favorites. Let's start with Stephen King's the Long Walk. This was an excellent novel about a competition held every year or so. The title gives you a good idea of what the book's about. Every year a hundred children are drawn randomly to compete in a walk that does not stop until there is only one walker left. I will not give you any more information about this book because I think you should read it. It may be Stephen King's very best and that's saying a lot because he has written many good novels.

Harper Lee's To Kill A Mockingbird is another one of my favorite novels. I liked the two duel stories of Boo Radley and Tom Robinson and the subtle comparisons made about them. The characters were interesting and it gave you a feeling of what it was like when they were a kid.
Robert Jordan's The Eye Of The World was the novel that had the most influence on me as a novelist.

Mainly because I write Epic Fantasy myself and I was totally enchanted by the world that he'd created, practically from scratch, which most Epic Fantasy authors are unable to do.
Ayn Rand's The Fountain Head was another novel I enjoyed. Its focus was more on being unique or different and what makes a person beautiful. The fact that they are unique and different is beautiful.

The Princess Bride without a doubt is what epic fantasy is all about. Not only was the book outstanding having adventure, romance and battles, it had a child like sense of wonder to it. The Lord of the Flies was a very dark book about what happens when children are left without supervision. It also delves deep into the psychology of the human mind. This was a very dark book, one of the darkest I've ever read.

The only novel that made me laugh and cry in one book was John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men. This  is a novel I read many times. This represents some of Steinbeck's best work and he's the best literary writer I've personally ever read. He was not hard to read and his characters were truly captivating.

James A. Michener's Centennial is a very different book compared to the others I've read. It breaks a lot of the rules of what I was taught about writing, but I have to admit I loved it. It's about the geographical location of Centennial Colorado and goes through many characters. This novel is not character based but based on what happened since the beginning of time in Centennial and there is a good message to it. To readers curious about Centennial: it's a long novel but it's a smooth read.

About Justin E. Geary

Justin E. Geary lives in western Maryland where he spends his time reading various authors and exploring different subjects. In addition to fiction he enjoys history and some science. He is the nephew of 1942 Pulitzer Prize winner Laurence Edmond Allen. Justin’s hobbies are chess, pool and writing epic fantasy. He started reading Edgar Allen Poe with interest at the age of sixteen and started writing screenplays at the age of nineteen. Screenplays were unfulfilling for Justin because they lacked depth. Later on he wrote his first novel at twenty-one and Midnight’s Cloak his second at twenty-four. After finishing the rough draft Justin decided that Fantasy was his escape from the world. Without a college education Justin decided to seek editorial help sinking twenty-one hundred dollars of his own money into the editing and proofing of his manuscript. Justin calls the expense a small price for something he loves so dearly.


Review: The Lover's Dictionary by David Levithan

Monday, October 29, 2012

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I might be giving this book a whole lot more credit than I probably should but I'm basing my rating for this book on my feelings alone. I think it's the sweetest and most realistic romance novel I've ever read. In equal parts sweet - to the point that I stand up and talk myself out of gushing so badly - and bittersweet, to the point I clutch the area of my shirt where my heart lies below, as if doing that can make that quick shot of pain disappear. Maybe it's just me but I found the style in which the book was written so different, so brilliant. Moreover, I admire how great David Levithan is in writing this because it really felt like I was reading his entries, and not a persona he conjured. Maybe it is based on his own experiences but the sweetness and the pain and the reality is just too strong, I feel like I am reading someone's reflections.

It's not just that. What makes this incredible for me is that it's written in the boyfriend's perspective, which I deem fresh since I rarely read books with a male narrator. You must know I usually read YA so there's that. Additionally, every dictionary entry was quotable. And I mean, everything is quotable. I would love to just post entries in my blog forever. David Levithan has this way with words that makes everything worth a reblog in Tumblr. The wordings are so simple yet when put together, has an impact so huge. During the time I was reading this, I felt lifted up and crashed down and transported to a different world.

You can take this review with a grain of salt, since I am nothing but a mere eighteen year old girl who rolls her eyes at sappy movies yet watches them all. I might be a girl who's in love with the idea of love and that's why this appeals to me. But take a chance, and read this book, and tell me if it didn't reduce you to a mushy pile of goo.

I am not a writer but I will leave you with this quote from the book, which justifies that any words I put together will not be enough to describe this book or how I felt about it, because it's an experience. Reading this book was an experience and I'd gladly relive it anytime, even right now, right after I just finished it.

“Trying to write about love is ultimately like trying to have a dictionary represent life. No matter how many words there are, there will never be enough.”

I love this book and trying to write about why I love it is futile because words will never be enough. <3

*Originally posted last April 7, 2012

Spotlight + Guest Post: Eden: Regaining Our Spiritual Freedom by Chet Shupe

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Eden: Regaining Our Spiritual Freedom
Title: Eden: Regaining Our Spiritual Freedom
Author: Chet Shupe
Publication Date: September 2011
Publisher: Acacia Publishing, Inc.

Is Our Way of Life Sustainable? Can humans control their destiny?

Do we have freewill?

Is our species the focus of creation?

Our religious and legal institutions are based on the presumption that the answers to these questions are yes. If we hope to ever again live in concert with Nature, a requirement for our eventual survival, we had better be sure

Chet Shupe is an engineer and researcher who has spent thirty years delving into these questions. In his groundbreaking book, Eden, Shupe provides answers that may be hard to face. But the gut reaction they produce tells many that he may very well be right.
Sure to engender controversy, Eden provides vivid glimpses of another life entirelya sustainable way of life that allows humans to live together without sacrificing their spiritual freedom. A life in which living in the moment is as natural as breathing. This book leaves no sacred cow untouched, yet Shupes arguments hit the nail dead-on, time after time. Even outraged skeptics struggle to counter his reasoning.

EDEN IS AN EXPOS revealing the root causes of our intractable social, economic and political problems.

EDEN IS A CALL TO ACTION for those whose instincts have been telling them something is fundamentally wrong.

EDEN IS A MESSAGE OF HOPE about the resilience of the human spirit and its innate capacity for genuine intimacy, trust, and freedom.

Genre: Non-fiction Self-Help A sociological view of the world we live in.

Chet Shupe’s professional background is in Electronics Engineering. As a young engineer never did he imagine he would someday be developing a thesis that addresses a broad spectrum of sociological issues. At some point at mid career however, he was inspired to apply his background in control theory to the human condition by looking at the brain as the controller of the life of the species. This has led to an engineering based, rather than a religious, sociological, psychological, or philosophically based assessment of the human condition. Out of this has come a unique perspective addressing the perplexing issues that increasingly face us, including, among others, our lack of intimacy and habitat destruction. Why is our world essentially without relational intimacy, when that is what we want most is to love and be loved? And why are we destroying the habitat that we need to survive?

To Shupe, the two issues are related, plus myriads of other ills from which our culture suffers. Shupe offers his answer regarding the source of these issues, and also suggests a path by which to recover our natural state of intimacy in our relationships and of harmony with the natural world.


To be spiritually free is to live in intimacy. Presuming access to basic needs, like food, shelter and clothing, if we have love then nothing else really matters. And if we do not have love, then nothing else really matters anyhow.

Excerpt + Guest Post: The Bachelorette Project by Tami Anthony

Saturday, October 27, 2012

The Bachelorette Project by Tami Anthony
Genre: Chick Lit/Women's Fiction 
Date: June 23, 2012

When an unfortunate twist of fate leaves 28 year-old socialite Leslee Robinson broken-hearted and unemployed, she embarks on a journey to discover what boggles every twenty-something single woman’s mind: What do men REALLY want and how do you find the perfect mate? With the help of her two best friends; Annie, a self-conscious, sarcastic single mother; and Karen, the neurotic, perfectionist ‘bridezilla,’ Leslee creates The BACHELORETTE Project, a ‘scientific’ dating experiment designed to uncover the enigma of the male species.

After multiple dates gone awry and unanticipated encounters of the extreme, Leslee decides to confide in the last person that she’d ever consider asking dating advice from: Eric, her handsome, womanizing college friend with a well-known ‘love ‘em and leave ‘em’ reputation. Aside from Eric’s infamous bachelor tactics, Leslee can’t help but to be oddly attracted to him, but will pursuing the charming, ‘bad boy’ philanderer that Eric is even be worth the risk?

With unbelievable twists and a contemporary, comedic Chick-Lit feel, The BACHELORETTE Project is the chronicle of a single woman’s journey to finding true friendship, discovering herself, and learning the enigma of love down to a science.

Purchase at Amazon


I follow Mark to his house from the bar. We pull up to this very quaint brick rancher with a gigantic front yard and half groomed bushes and trees spread about. There is nothing spectacular about Mark’s house. It’s … well, very plain actually. It’s not a dream house nor a McMansion. It’s as ordinary as ordinary can be. Yup,I think to myself, this will definitely be a booty call. I can’t even imagine living in a house like this. It doesn’t scream RICH and FABULOUS the way I would want a house to scream. I imagine that my future husband will have a fantastic two-story house with a classy cobblestone driveway and this breathtaking garden with white roses and lilacs growing in effigy. Yeah, maybe I need to leave this dream world of mine and face reality. I could very well fall in love with a man who lives in a rancher or worse, a motorhome.

Dream Movie Cast: Mad World: Epidemic by Samaire Provost

Friday, October 26, 2012

Mad World: Epidemic

Title: Mad World: EPIDEMIC (Mad World #1)
Author: Samaire Provost
Genre: YA Paranormal Dystopian
Number of pages: 160
Word Count: 44,700

The Black Plague is ancient history. It killed 100 million people nearly seven centuries ago, halfway around the world from the technologically advanced research center at Stanford University. Scientists there have recently begun examining samples of bone marrow from plague-infected corpses unearthed in Europe. All the necessary safeguards are in place. What could go wrong? Alyssa and Jake are away with their class on a highly anticipated year-end trip to Broadway with their senior acting class when all hell breaks loose at home. Traveling back, and trying to find their families, they encounter deadly results. Riots are breaking out. People are being evacuated. And they have no idea what's happening to their families.
Horrific ordeals, heart-pounding tragedy, and chance encounters harden them for what lies ahead. Faced with tormenting decisions, they're forced to follow their instinct for survival at any cost - even when the cost is a heart-wrenching decision of life or death.
A harrowing adventure of frightening discoveries, horrifying confrontations and narrow escapes in Epidemic, the first installment of the Mad World series.
Find out what's got everyone so terrified.

Purchase from Amazon (Kindle) | Amazon (Paperback)

Samaire has provided us her dream cast if ever her movie gets adapted to a film. I sure hope it will!

Samaire's Dream Cast

I loved writing EPIDEMIC, and many times during the process I would think about who I’d love to play the different characters if my book were made into a movie.

Alyssa – Jennifer Lawrence, age 22. I loved her in Hunger Games. They could darken her hair, and I completely believe she could pass for someone of Mexican heritage. I am, after all, half Puerto Rican and look totally white.

Jacob – William Moseley, age 23. Loved him in The Chronicles of Narnia. He would make a great Jacob.

DeAndre – Jaden Smith, age 14. We’d have to wait until he was 2-3 years older, but little Jaden is growing up quite nicely. Loved him with his father in The Pursuit of Happyness.

Emily – Haruna Kawaguchi, age 17. Had to search for this one, she’s famous in her native Japan. Her picture looks just like how I envisioned Emily would look. She was great in Tokyo Dogs, too!

Caitlyn – Victoria Justice, age 19. Loved her in Zoey 101.

Conner – Larramie Doc Shaw, age 20. He was great in The Mo’nique Show. Although I envisioned Conner a little darker, we can’t have everything we want in life, can we?

Coach Turner – Eric Bana, age 44. He was fabulous in The Time Traveler’s Wife. Made me cry. And he has messy, curly hair, just like Coach.

Risa – Maggie Elizabeth Jones, age 7. She’s adorable and spunky, and she was great in We Bought A Zoo.

Holly – Blake Lively, age 24. Loved her in Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.

Mike – Jake Gyllenhaal, age 32. Loved him in Brokeback Mountain.

Ellie – Estelle Harris, age 84. Well, perhaps when she was 10 years younger, but she’d be great as Ellie. Loved her in her reoccurring role on Seinfeld.

Paula – Claire Danes, age 33. Loved her in everything she’s done, especially in Stardust.

About Samaire Provost

Samaire Provost lives in California with her husband and son.

Her love of paranormal stories, odd plots, and unique tales as well as the works of Neil Gaiman, Terry Pratchett, Susan Cooper, Madeleine L'Engle and Stephen King has deeply influenced her writing. Mad World : EPIDEMIC her first novel. The second in the series is entitled "Mad World: SANCTUARY" 

Review: Mockingjay (The Hunger Games #3) by Suzanne Collins

Thursday, October 25, 2012

A fair warning. Spoilers ahead so do not read this review if you haven't read Mockingjay. Please, do yourselves a favor and do not read this until you haven't read Mockingjay.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As soon as I finished reading the acknowledgements (Don't judge me! I like sweet little things like saying sweet things to your husband and kids about how they supported you blahblah), I weighed in on my thoughts and immediately rated Mockingjay a 3 here in Goodreads. But then, I felt bad about giving a "liked it" rating to this book because it's such a good novel, if not great, it's almost great. It was very gripping and you couldn't help but just read it all. Gripping in that I think I'll be dreaming of how they tortured Peeta and how everyone died. This book just paints such abhorring images that I trained myself to just read and not dwell on the words and not imagine them because it will end up consuming my thoughts. And as I write this review, I do think of them all and I keep on swallowing in my empty mouth and prod myself to just finish this darn review and somehow straighten my thoughts and get the words out.

Now, back to my rating. Based on my enjoyment or satisfaction level, it would easily warrant a 3. You must think I am contradicting myself and I actually think I do but even with twists that I expected (I'm thinking President Coin, anyone?) and did not, this book didn't had me like Catching Fire had. Somehow, I felt that I know what's gonna happen and I'm just reading to find out how did it happen exactly. Moreover, my interest waned in the latter parts of the book and I was just going through the motions of flipping the next page and reading the spread and flipping to the next. Now, don't write me off as some insensitive, heart-made-of-stone person because I almost cried at times, if not for not wanting to wet my copy of the book with saltwater. You can ask people in my house as they were witness to my moaning, as if writhing in pain, unable to go read the next page. This book was so sad, with all the deaths, the torture, everything. It was painful to read that like I said, I just read through it, trying as hard not to imagine how they died but greatly failing. So why the 3? Maybe it's just the happy girl in me but I don't like dying, especially if it's in the thousands and more especially (if that's even grammatically correct) if it's children dying. I just can't stomach it. I wasn't happy with what happened although it was completely necessary. (Prim, anyone?) Moreover, the ending was kinda flat to me. I rather Collins showed us that Peeta's more or less back and that they're happily together, rather than just telling us. I guess you can't really end on a happy note there even if Katniss and Peeta were together but everything's too grim. Sigh.

So I'll just air out my disappointments then. Gale. Oh, Gale. I was on Team Peeta ever since he became the boy with the bread. All the way. I was never once swayed to side with Gale though I wished there had been more of him in the previous two books because he just didn't seem a competitor enough since he barely appeared or had a role. It was Peeta's show. But here, even here in Mockingjay where he's everywhere, I was never swayed to side with him. He was too brutal and he didn't appeared as the compassionate person Katniss described to us. Well, he isn't really compassionate but he's gone off the handle here. He's full on no mercy and unlike Katniss, who still thinks of other people's lives even if they're supposed enemies (which is actually why I still liked her given she wrote off Peeta too many times for my taste), he doesn't think about others anymore. I know he's too into the cause but it's as if people are like his hunting preys and that killing off people is the same as killing animals. Which is totally wrong. Which also made me love Peeta even more because he's just the good one. And, here's another thing, so Gale just left for District Two, huh? Somewhat lame but good for him. He can harness all that rage into defense tactics. (This is actually weird since I am known to be the person who roots for underdogs and second fiddles and such. But it felt like Peeta was actually the underdog all this time to me, loving a girl who loves another, Another thing is that, I keep picturing Liam Hemsworth while reading this even though I haven't watched the movie. (I actually crammed reading the books to watch the movie soon. And I will go for Josh Hutcherson any day than Liam Hemsworth. Sorry but I guess it's another factor.)

I admit I got irritated so many times at Katniss, for writing off Peeta and for a lot of things. But okay, I can somehow forgive her, maybe, given the circumstances she's in. After everything she has lost, everything she was forced to take, everything, practically after everything, she has stood her ground and fought her battles and thought for herself. That even being repeatedly used as a pawn, she tries to break free of that, to become her own entity. Certainly, she has lost some of that strength and spark she once had, having spent most of the time drugged or sedated, but she still fought, though late at times. I couldn't imagine myself being in her shoes and for that, I can't judge her.

Do you feel that at times, that the guy is just too good for the girl and that the girl should just get on with the second fiddle for you to have the guy for yourself? I thought that a lot of times, especially at times when Katniss just angered me, either by giving up on Peeta, or not realizing things or writing him off. I mean, girl, how could you get angry at Peeta at his disheveled and insane state for having altered memories of you? While you kissed Gale in the mountains, writing him off to oblivion. How could you think he knows anything and that everything that happened to him was his fault? I just can't comprehend why those thoughts crossed her mind. Maybe it's just me. Maybe I'm just too protective of Peeta because I like (more like I am in love1) his character but I think even Gale shippers felt bad for Peeta. Sigh.

Here's something I wrote before I finished the book in one of said rages: "I still believe Katniss doesn't deserve Peeta. But she needs that unwavering kindness in her life, that hope, that warmth. And as much as I think Peeta's better off without Katniss and better off with me, I cannot make him happy because his happiness is Katniss. So I guess, okay, I need to accept that he'll only ever be happy with Katniss."

Now, finishing the book, I don't think Katniss doesn't deserve Peeta anymore though I still seethe at times when I remember her lapses in judgment. Haha! She was so whiny really and I couldn't help remember my annoyance with Elena in The Vampire Diaries. But that's a completely unrelated point (though I'd like to discuss that) so let's get back to business. But only in Peeta's arms will Katniss ever be better as she needs that warmth and hope Peeta just emanates, to patch up her brokenness and Peeta just needs her. Period. I think Peeta will kill himself if Katniss was dead and the war over. It's just that, we know that he's loved her since they were five and his world revolves around her. Sigh, love.

I do think Peeta's torture was necessary though painful to me. He needs to shed some of that goodness and have a taste of reality, of this harsh place, in order for him to grow. Because without those flashbacks that still haunt him at times, his character wouldn't have grown. Katniss, I think, had experienced growing then stunting and growing and stunting again. I can't blame her for the reasons I've stated earlier. But at least, she can finally accept Peeta's love without thinking it's some debt to pay. A big step, really.

Sooooo, my review's too long already, I think. It somehow devolved into a rant post. So that's the reasons why I felt giving it a three based on enjoyment. But if I will judge the book objectively, then it's a four. I keep thinking that it might be a five but then I rescind that thought because it's just not great enough for me. Surely, the book fares differently from the usual YA stuff and delves into a revolution, progressive and subversive ideas thrown here and there. But I don't know, that twisting feeling in my gut I had with Catching Fire was not present here. It was present at times, yes, but even after rereading parts of the end, I just had a hollow feeling in my gut. I just put the book down and started writing this review, no writhing in pain that isn't really there. Maybe because it's the last book, the book that will surely offer the resolution for the conflict established in Catching Fire. And as we know, stories progress downwards after the conflict. Resolutions to stories are viewed as a downward slump and it just halts. The story just stops there, even if it isn't an open ending. Because, surely, the ending depends on where you stop the story. And I am sure that Katniss is somewhere having nightmares and Peeta having flashbacks and I pity them, sincerely pity them and mutter a thanks that I am not them. But just the feat of making me think about how these characters are faring far after the book ends, where the story stops telling us what happens in Panem, makes this book, this trilogy great. Though I rated Mockingjay with 4, I rate this trilogy a 5. Because deep down, it moved me to places and made me feel emotions my heart never knew and these, these thoughts, these feelings, now haunt me like a mutt.

(I do hope it won't haunt me forever because that's just gruesome. I'll send hate mail to Collins if I don't get over this feeling in a month. Hahaha!)

P.S. Finnick! <3333333 *my heart shatters* I have not even mentioned you here because it just hurts. How much Finnick loves this deranged, mad girl unconditionally. I mean, how can you top that? My heart, Finnick, don't take it. Huhu.

P.P.S. I just had to end in a lighter note because I felt that the review was so intense. Haha!

*Originally posted last April 4, 2012

Review: Monstrous Beauty by Elizabeth Fama

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Monstrous Beauty
Title: Monstrous Beauty
Author: Elizabeth Fama
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Date of Publication: September 4, 2012

Fierce, seductive mermaid Syrenka falls in love with Ezra, a young naturalist. When she abandons her life underwater for a chance at happiness on land, she is unaware that this decision comes with horrific and deadly consequences.

Almost one hundred forty years later, seventeen-year-old Hester meets a mysterious stranger named Ezra and feels overwhelmingly, inexplicably drawn to him. For generations, love has resulted in death for the women in her family. Is it an undiagnosed genetic defect . . . or a curse? With Ezra’s help, Hester investigates her family’s strange, sad history. The answers she seeks are waiting in the graveyard, the crypt, and at the bottom of the ocean—but powerful forces will do anything to keep her from uncovering her connection to Syrenka and to the tragedy of so long ago.

My Review

I'm gonna drop the bomb now: I loved this book. I gave it five stars and a whole lot of hearts. I know it got mixed reviews and even some of my favorite bloggers did not like it but this time, I won't be affected. I always question myself when I like a book when bloggers who like the same books as me don't. Yes, I know, signs of a low self-esteem but they're just more established and I feel like I don't get the book because I loved it. But now, nope, I don't care, I should be able to unapologetically like a book. Heehee.

I love mermaid books. I really do. The paranormal creatures I tolerate or love are the mermaids, angels and werewolves. But mermaids seem to really do it for me. What can I say, I love the great deep. So it might be my bias for mermaids which made me love this book as much as I do but it is certainly good.

Mermaids and ghosts. Sounds weird? I can't believe it myself when I saw the back of the book (I read an ARC) because how can you mash two genres together? But Elizabeth Fama is supercalifreakinawesome as she has woven an intricate and wonderful story with a world so convincing I stopped listening to my lectures in school and just read this book. (Granted, the lectures were boring and it was a rehash. Bad, bad student.) I read it everywhere because I can't stop. This book has adventure, mystery, romance, danger, myths and everything you'd possibly want. The secrets just kept on coming and I was not ready for any of them. One moment you'd think you got it all figured out but the next thing, boom, Elizabeth has dropped another bombshell and you'd have to form your theory again. Until the very end of the book, you don't know (well at least I don't know) what's the actual deal. This makes for a great reading experience because I was always on edge. So it goes to say that the pacing was extremely well thought out and was gripping.

The book alternates every chapter or every few chapters from the present day (Hester) and 1872/1873 (Syrenka). This totally works because I am so invested in both timelines. Elizabeth Fama writes both time frames convincingly that it was not jarring to read. Even Pastor McKee's scottish accent was just awesome! Admittedly, I was suffering from Pitying-the-Other-Guy syndrome as I was feeling so bad for Peter yet falling in love with Ezra. Another fictional man. What is happening to my life? Ezra is a naturalist and of course, being a scientist made me relate to him and his unquenchable thirst for knowledge. Syrenka's life was so poignant, especially at the prologue with Pukanokick. It was heartbreaking and at the same time that you're feeling pity for her, you know that she's the one to blame. Actually, everyone's life was bittersweet or, as Syrenka pointed out, sweet-bitter. Hester was relatable to me, even if I question her actions at times. Just not a fan of her sorta insta-love with Ezra though if you've read the book, it makes sense. Peter took a backseat and wasn't fleshed out but I do understand as he's not too integral to the story than say the other characters. Linnie seriously creeped the hell out of me. There's a particular scene, or for me, two scenes (or maybe three or four, depending on your iffy meter), that might be icky or a dealbreaker with others. This is not some fluffy, light stuff guys. It dabbles with death, soul, life, power, revenge and everything in between.

Anyway, I don't think I can write a review that will give this book justice as I was actually at a loss for words when I finished it. Just see for yourself how Elizabeth Fama went from I-don't-know-her to will-definitely-read-all-of-her-books for me and how I just gained another mermaid novel I love. Or how YOU will gain a mermaid novel that you'll love. Or how YOU will get lost in this world and with these characters. Read for yourself. :)

Thank you to Farrar, Straus and Giroux for giving Precious of Pinoy Book Tours an ARC which on the long run, came to me, that I was able to read this. Thank you, most of all, to Elizabeth Fama for writing a tale so exquisite. I love you all! <3

(Sorry if my thoughts are all over the place. That's good, right? When you read a book and your mind can't catch up with all that it's thinking. Heehee.)

Playlist: To Catch a Vampire by Jennifer Harlow

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

To Catch A Vampire (F.R.E.A.K.S. Squad Investigation, #2)
Title: To Catch a Vampire (A F.R.E.A.K.S. Squad Investigation #2)
Author: Jennifer Harlow
Genre: Paranormal Mystery/Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Midnight Ink
Date of Publication: 9/8/12
Number of pages: 288
Word Count: 78,000
Beatrice Alexander, telekinetic special agent, is still adjusting to life among the F.R.E.A.K.S. while wiping out zombies and other supernatural threats. When Bea learns about her “special assignment” investigating a series of human disappearances with Oliver Montrose, her gorgeous but annoying vampire co-worker, she reluctantly agrees to go undercover.
Disguised as a married couple, they infiltrate the gothic vamp scene in Dallas. While sniffing out clues, Oliver's convincing public—and not so public—displays of affection have Bea swooning in her bustier and fishnets.
Between contending with her fake husband’s ex-lover Marianna and feeling guilty for hiding the mission from her werewolf crush Will, Bea discovers she’s not the only F.R.E.A.K. keeping secrets. Clubbing with the undead turns bloody when Oliver's old enemy, the Lord of Dallas, decides to seek his revenge. Caught in the crossfire, Bea is up to her neck in blood-sucking trouble.
Purchase from Amazon | B&N | Indiebound

Soundtrack Playlist

Magic - Bruce Springsteen 
Benny and the Jets - Elton John 
Teeth - Lady Gaga 
Dare - Gorillaz 
That Girl - Frankie J feat. Mannie Fresh & Chamillionare 
Drive - The Cars 
Other Side of the World - K.T. Tunstall 
Favorite Thing - The Cardigans 
More Human Than Human - White Zombie 
Fade Into You - Mazzy Star 
John the Revelator - Curtis Stigers & The Forest Rangers 
Shut Your Eyes - Snow Patrol 
Devil Town - Tony Lucca

About Jennifer Harlow

Jennifer Harlow spent her restless childhood fighting with her three brothers and scaring the heck out of herself with horror movies and books. She grew up to earn a degree at the University of Virginia which she put to use as a radio DJ, crisis hotline volunteer, bookseller, lab assistant, wedding coordinator, and government investigator. Currently she calls Northern Virginia home but that restless itch is ever present. In her free time she continues to scare the beejepers out of herself watching scary movies and opening her credit card bills.

Review: Catching Fire (The Hunger Games #2) by Suzanne Collins

Monday, October 22, 2012

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I may be on the minority in that I felt Catching Fire was more compelling than the first book in the THG trilogy. It's just that this book made me feel more, made my heart LITERALLY ache, for Peeta and for everyone decent enough to be mourned for. I was reading until 5AM and I couldn't stop and I couldn't bring myself to sleep immediately because I keep pondering what's gonna happen. I felt like the first book was like the pilot of a TV series, wherein it established the grounds of the story, the dystopic world our characters live in, the harshness they face everyday. But this book elevates that and raises all the stakes. An uprising, a rebellion, a revolution, whatever you want to call it, is more intense than any Hunger Games for me, than any Quarter Quell. Because a single Hunger Games, though kills kids, affects only some. But a rebellion, it can wipe out a tyranny, a government so twisted they kill kids for entertainment. Maybe it's just that I just came from a semester full of political ideas and thoughts and I remember Machiavelli wanting to overthrow the current government and establish a republic. It just made for a gripping novel for me.

I didn't cry at the first book, not even with Rue, because I keep on stopping and preparing myself for any sadness that might come my way. But this book didn't allow me to prepare, because it comes out rolling unexpected events my way that I can't help but just swallow them in and man up and toss around a little in my bed and move on, only to face greater pains and fears. I admit I was so stressed by the first part of the book. Case in point: My heart actually aches, as in real pain, just by reading how Peeta gets used and how his feelings are sidestepped and on the sidelines for Katniss. I felt really irritated about Katniss; how can she trample and use Peeta without Peeta asking for any in return and how she didn't give anything to him too. It just felt too unfair to my dear Peeta. I also found Katniss' voice to be different, I dunno, from the first book. Maybe Collins had found it difficult at first to regain Katniss' voice when she was writing Catching Fire but I found it unsettling and weird at first. But that minor gripe was the least of my problems after everything that happened in the book. (Another minor gripe would be the lack of Gale. How can I root for Gale when I know so little about him and Peeta's been causing me heart pangs even with just staying with Katniss as she sleeps. How?)

I had goosebumps reading some parts of the book and I rarely get that from reading a book. I'm more of a visual person, honestly, so that's a feat. I said I'll be putting off reading Mockingjay out of the stress Catching Fire has brought me but I think I can't do that. I need to bite on that book now.

*Originally posted last April 3, 2012

Playlist: Revolution (Collide #4) by Shelly Crane

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Revolution (Collide, #4)
Title: Revolution (Collide #4)
Author: Shelly Crane
In the fourth and final installment, everything is on the line. Merrick's life is in the balance and Lily is their only hope. Ellie and her new powers are miraculous, but also problematic; if she's with the bunker family, they won't be able to sense when the Lighters are there. There are many new members to the bunker and sparks will fly, and with the food shortage, they will all have plenty to deal with. Miguel is intrigued with Rylee, her past and her spunk. Ryan and Elli are barely scratching the surface of their relationship. Cain and Lillian will have to deal with Daniel, who has no qualms about showing his true feelings for her. And Sherry and Merrick…what will happen to this happenstance family who have worked so hard to come together? Can they all survive? Can they all withstand the new enemy that is right outside their door? Can they beat the Lighters, once and for all…

He smiled. He had dimples. I'm sure he thought they were charming, but this jerkface was totally barking up the wrong tree. "Now why would I want to do a thing like that?"

"Because it's the right thing to do."

"You've got a point," he said and stood, groaning. He stretched his back. "Can you believe I used to be a linebacker? The good old days." He held his hand out to me as I continued to look at him as if he were a mental patient. "I won't bite." He grinned.

"Aren't linebackers the fat ones?" I asked as I let him help me stand.

"Nah. That's the lineman. Linebackers are lean and mean."

I sneered at him, "I can see that."

"Hey, you didn't have to run," he argued with a smirk.

"Hey, you didn't have to tackle me!" I shouted and checked to make sure I still had my necklace. "Why didn't you just shoot me anyway?"

"I'm not in the habit of shooting beautiful women."

Soundtrack Playlist

Here's the soundtrack to the novel, with some scenes specified, prepared by the lovely Shelly. The Cab! Walk the Moon! Enjoy!

(Theme) Collide : Howie Day 
(Merrick's flashback) Open Your Eyes : Snow Patrol 
(Sherry's dream) Touch This Light : House of Heroes 
(Plotting) Angel With A Shotgun : The Cab 
(Fight) Skin Graph : Silversun Pickups 
(The hard truth) Anna Sun : Walk The Moon 
Remember The Empire : House Of Heroes 
(Ryan & Ellie) Love Somebody : Maroon 5 
You Know Where I'm At : Gavin Degraw 
Wide Awake : Katy Perry 
Iscariot : Walk The Moon 
Keep Your Eyes Open : Needtobreathe 
Y Control : Yeah Yeah Yeahs 
Stay : House Of Heroes 
(Cain in the Sand) Be Still : The Fray 
Alibi : 30 Seconds To Mars 
Where I Belong : Switchfoot 
(Daniel's Goodbye) Broken Angel : Boyce Avenue 
We Were Giants : House Of Heroes 
Home : Phillip Phillips 
(On the road to the station) Roads Untraveled : Linkin Park 
Gunnin' : Hedley 
This Is Why We Fight : The Decemberist 
On The Run : Kaiser Chiefs 
(The war) The War Inside : Switchfoot 
Daylight : Boyce Avenue 
(The End) Vegas Skies : The Cab

About Shelly Crane

Shelly is a YA author from a small town in Georgia and loves everything about the south. She is wife to a fantastical husband and stay at home mom to two boisterous and mischievous boys who keep her on her toes. They currently reside in everywhere USA as they happily travel all over with her husband's job. She loves to spend time with her family, binge on candy corn, go out to eat at new restaurants, buy paperbacks at little bookstores, site see in the new areas they travel to, listen to music everywhere and also LOVES to read.

Her own books happen by accident and she revels in the writing and imagination process. She doesn't go anywhere without her notepad for fear of an idea creeping up and not being able to write it down immediately, even in the middle of the night, where her best ideas are born.

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