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Friday, December 31, 2010

Out With a Bang! Reviews



Wow!  This year has gone fast—And this Out With a Bang!  Read-a-Thon seems to be going by even faster!!!!

As the Read-a-Thon is coming to a close, I thought I’d share some reviews of my progress:

I started with Ink Exchange, the second book in Melissa Marr’s Wicked Lovely series.  It was absolutely AMAZING!!!!!  I LOVED it and I couldn’t put it down once I picked it up!!!!!  I made it through most of the night, then picked it up as soon as I woke up.



Book #1
Ink Exchange by Melissa Marr
(#2 in Wicked Lovely series)
Page count:  325

Ink Exchange picks up where Wicked Lovely left off.  Now that Keenan has found his Summer Queen and they have defeated Beira and replaced her with a new Winter Queen, there is finally peace between the Seasonal Courts.  But not everything is so great for the other courts, particularly the Dark Court, which spent years feeding off the discord of Beira’s malevolent reign over the Winter Court.  It’s up to the king of the Dark Court, Irial, to find a way to feed his subjects.  His solution is an Ink Exchange, a tattoo made from his blood and tears, from his symbols, chosen by a mortal.  When Leslie walks into Rabbit’s tattoo shop, she’s looking for something to change her, a way to erase the bad things that have happened in her life and reclaim her body as her own.  When Leslie sees Irial’s symbol, she feels it call to her, and knows she has finally found her tattoo.  But Leslie has no idea what kind of changes her life is about to take.  As the tattoo begins to forge a link between Leslie and Irial, Leslie begins to be intertwined into the world of the Dark Court.  With Leslie, Irial finally has an outlet to feed on the despair and pain of mortals, but with his court so near to starvation, Irial can barely control his hunger.  He is a drug to Leslie, draining her of every painful emotion, and numbing her of feeling, until she barely cares or remembers anything.  In the end, Leslie has to make a choice of whether or not she can stand living without the pain, whether the numbness is worse, and whether or not she’s strong enough to leave Irial.


Melissa Marr really does a fantastic job of creating her fairy worlds, and really making them feel different and foreign.  It keeps surprising me how dark this series feels.  I’ve always had an image of cute Tinkerbelle-type fairies that flit and fly around with sparkles and glitter, and Marr’s world is such a contrast.  Her fey aren’t just humans imbued with magical powers; they have different needs and wants, different natures that make them what they are.  They are misshapen and hedonistic.  Marr really brings them to life as the essence of nature.  Winter is cold.  Summer is playful.  Dark is intoxicating.  At the beginning of Leslie’s and Irial’s relationship, I saw them as very separate; two worlds colliding.  But the more that Leslie interacted with Irial, the better I could imagine how a completely unknown and unseen universe could be interacting within our own world.  The hurt and pain that Leslie suffered aren’t fictional.  The addiction and the numbness that Leslie falls into are all too real in this world.  Her addiction has a name, Irial, but Irial could have just as easily been any other drug.  Ink Exchange was a really amazing book about people’s natures, succumbing and overcoming them, and sometimes just surviving.  I’m definitely adding the rest of this series to my TBR list!!!











Book #2
Wicked by Sara Shepard
Page count:  311

Book #3
Killer by Sara Shepard
(#6 in the Pretty Little Liars series)
Page count:  322














Book #4
Heartless by Sara Shepard
(#7 in the Pretty Little Liars series)
Page count:  66/275

I discovered The Pretty Little Liars series after falling in love with the television series this past summer.  The first three books follow pretty closely with the tv series.  The fourth book finally felt like there was some closure, like the characters and readers finally got some answers.  But with four more books sitting on my shelf, I knew it couldn’t be over.  And I was SO right!!!

The series revolves around four girls who used to be best friends, that is until Allison DiLaurentis disappeared, and Spencer, Aria, Hanna, and Emily all went their separate ways.  Years later, when the girls start getting mysterious text messages from an unknown stalker, they think they might finally be close to finding out what really happened to Ali that night.  But instead of getting closer to the truth, the girls seem to stumble upon more and more secrets.  What was Ali hiding?  Is A really gone?  Is A really back?  What really happened to Ali???

With A threatening and blackmailing each of them, trusting each other may be the only way for the girls to find out what really happened and stop A once and for all.

I just have to say what a master Sara Shepard is as an author.  The books all read so seamlessly together that it’s difficult to pinpoint where one ends and the next begins.  And at the same time, each book is fully able to stand on its own, simultaneously leaving the reader satisfied with the ending, and burning with questions about what will happen next.

In Wicked, Spencer is still reeling from having confessed to plagiarizing her award-winning paper—Her parents won’t talk to her, her teachers are suspicious, and she’s been kicked out of every club and activity she was in.  Spencer also just found out she was disinherited from her grandmother’s will and she might be adopted.  Now that Emily’s family is finally adjusting to her being gay, she might be in love with a boy.  Aria and her mother are finally mending their relationship, but it’s threatened again when her mother’s new boyfriend, Xavier, starts hitting on her.  Hanna’s mother took a job in Singapore, leaving her to live with her father, step-mother-to-be, and a step-sister who can do no wrong.  And on top of all that, Ian Thomas escapes just before he was about to go on trial for Ali’s murder.  Oh, and is A really back, or is it a copycat?

In Killer, Spencer may have found her biological mother, only to be scammed out of her college fund.  Emily finally has a boyfriend, and his mother might be a little unhinged.  Aria is dating Ali’s brother, Jason, but could he have had something to do with Ali’s disappearance?  Hanna is trying to out-maneuver her step-sister, Kate, which includes dating Aria’s younger brother, Mike.  The girls thought they saw Ian’s dead body, but now he’s IMing them—could he still be alive?  Could he be innocent???  Is Ian AWho is A?  Every time the girls seem to get closer to finding out the truth, something gets in their way; will they ever find out what really happened to Ali????

Heartless is just picking up where Killer left off.  The girls think they may have seen Ali—could she really be alive?  And if Ali’s alive, who’s body did they find???


Have I mentioned how much I LOVE this series?!?!!?  I am picking up clues everywhere, but I am absolutely horrible at solving who-dunnits, I suspect everyone; everyone seems to be suspicious and have motives.  And I never believe somebody is dead until there’s a body.  Even after seeing a couple bodies, it’s still hard to tell what’s real and what could have other explanations.  Something that I think is very interesting is how Sara Shepard deals with the theme of “who can you trust.”  As a reader, I instinctively want to trust the main characters, and I want them to trust each other, I want them to go to their parents and to the police for help, but the setting is such a den of secrets that as a reader I don’t even trust the girls, let alone blame them for not trusting anyone.  It’s a game that keeps changing, and I won’t believe it’s the end until I turn the final page.  This is one series that has definitely kept me on my toes!!!!

Total page count:  1024

Not a bad way to end the year!!!!


Special thanks to The Bookish Type and Book-Savvy for hosting the Out With a Bang!  Read-a-thon!!!!  I had lots of fun!!!!




Happy New Year Everyone!!!!!!!






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Out with a Bang! Day 3 Mini-Challenges

So, I haven't spent all day reading, because I decided to try two of the fun mini-challenges for the Out With a Bang!  Read-a-Thon hosted by The Bookish Type and Book-Savvy.

The first mini-challenge, hosted by Books, Sweets and Other Treats was to answer:


1) Out of all the books you read in 2010, which one would you like to see made into a movie? Why?

It's funny, because I think most of the books that I've been reading are going to be, or have been, turned into movies or tv shows, but I think I might go with The Alpha Bet by Stephanie Hale.  I could totally see it being a cute teen romance/comedy in the style of Easy A.

2) Pick a song that you feel represents the book as a whole.


I would pick Mika's Grace Kelly, because the main character of the book is named Grace Kelly, and the song lyrics ask "Why don't you like me?", while the book character is trying to figure out how to fit in and make people like her.


The second mini-challenge I did, hosted by Reading Teen, was to take 3 or more books from your shelves and try to make a sentence from them.

I had a lot of fun with this challenge and could have probably spent a lot longer playing around, but I stopped myself after two sentences:

Daddy Long-Legs, who get's the drumstick?  Jane and the damned Mr. Roberts burned the dark half.






My fair lady, let's elope on the beach.








Hope your having as much fun seeing 2010 out as I am!!!


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Out with a Bang! Mini-Challenge




As part of the Out With a Bang! Read-a-Thon, Loud Words &Sounds is hosting a Mini-Challenge:
Come up with three photos (you may use  image sites or your own) that pertain to the chapter or page you are currently reading in your book. And state why they are significant to this chapter or page!
I just finished reading my third book for the day, Killer, the 6th book in Sara Shepard's Pretty Little Liars series and these images relate to Chapter 29.

A mysterious figure named "A" has been stalking the main characters via text messages.



Aria, one of the main characters stumbles upon a blue class ring, is it a clue about what really happened a few days earlier???


When it looks like the girls might be getting too close to the truth, someone is determined to keep them from getting too close.


So those are my entries--I don't think I gave too much away...besides, I've still got two more books to go before I finish the series!!! ;)

The Out With a Bang!  Read-a Thon is hosted by The Bookish Type and Book Savvy!!!  Forget your New Year's parties, this is definitely my favorite way to end the year and ring a new one!!!!!




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Thursday, December 30, 2010

Out with a Bang!

I’d like to say that I got up bright and early this morning, but honestly, it was so early that it was still dark out.  My intention was to be productive, work on some blog entries, etc…  Oh, and to turn on the heat, because as mild as these California winters are, two blankets really weren't doing it for me last night.

So I turned on the heat and microwaved some nachos for breakfast.  Then I flipped through about three-hundred channels while I was eating, and flipped through a second time, just to make sure that there really wasn’t anything good on.  I finished my nachos and scooched over to my laptop, started going through emails, when I finally discovered the best way to be productive.

Apparently, The Bookish Type and Book-Savvy combined their book super-book-blog powers to host a marathon reading session for your 2010 TBR list!




What a fantastic idea!!!!!  And even more fantastic, because I realized that even though I’m a bit late in joining the party, I already finished one book this morning before I even got out of bed!!!!

So, now that I’m going to be super-productive today, I’m grabbing a pile of books and heading back to my warm, snuggly bed and mountain of pillows.

Best.  Day.  Ever.







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Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas is on its way!!!!

Christmas is on its way!!!!

And I am a super- Christmas-freak!!!!!  Especially when it comes to Christmas music, so I thought I would share some of my favorites!!!!

First off I LOVE anything and everything Bing Crosby!

a little background…

Bing Crosby is kind of how I got so obsessed with ChristmasI mean, I always LOVED Christmas!—Presents, shiny, sparkly decorations, tinsel, candy, vacation—And everybody’s happier and smilierGrinches aside, who wouldn’t love that?!?!?!?!  But aside from Christmas my passions have always been books and movies—All movies, classics, blockbusters, new and old, I watch EVERYTHING!!!!  Before the whole commercial-thing, AMC and I used to be BFFs.  And that’s how I fell in love with Bing Crosby—It was love at first movie, first sight, first sound, first song, and every one after.

I’ll admit that Bing wasn’t your classic Cary Grant or Gary Cooper or Rock Hudson or Paul Newman or James Garner type of chiseled good-looking movie star that would pick up a girl at the end of the movie and whisk her off her feet.  But I’m certainly not alone in my crush, because Bing was a pretty big star in his time, doing movies with lots of other biggies of the time—Ingrid Bergman, Grace Kelly, Bob Hope, and Fred Astaire.  Not peanuts.  I’m just saying.  But Bing was the kind of guy that would look at a girl and make her swoon.  And when he sang to her, she’d melt into a puddle of jello.

So anyway, we fell in love.  Except that happened to die about two years before I was born.  So I had to console myself with watching every movie that he ever made—Or at least every one that I’ve been able to get my hands on.  And like all of the multi-talented actor-singers of the present, Bing had all the markets cornered.  So I snatched up every cd I could find.  Um, except, Bing happens to be the most well-known for his Christmas-music—the ultimate classic Christmas carol—Irving Berlin’s White Christmas?  Yeah, that’s Bing Crosby.

So for years, the only Bing Crosby music I could find was Christmas music.  But I bought everything I could find, because I just LOVED couldn’t get enough of that deep, rich, mellow velvet voice of his:

Christmas with Bing Crosby
Christmas with Bing Crosby* (no, it’s not a duplicate, it really is a completely separate album, with different songs)
Bing Crosby Christmas
Bing Crosby White Christmas
Bing Crosby Christmas Album
Bing Crosby’s Christmas Classics
Bing Crosby Merry Christmas
Bing Crosby That Christmas Feeling
Sharing the Holidays with Bing Crosby

Yeah.  I know you thought I was joking.

But the kicker is that not only are there more, but I generally don’t buy them anymore, because the ones that I tend to find these days are usually just different combinations of all the songs I already have…not to say that there aren’t still a couple out there yet who may not have made it into my collection yet.

So I used to listen to Christmas music year-round.  And I discovered that Bing Crosby or not, I enjoyed the songs, because they were happy, and sang about hope and magic and love and snow, and cuddling up close with the ones you love.  And that’s when I began adding other artists to my Christmas collection.  First it was cds with Bing and friends:

A Merry Christmas with Bing Crosby & The Andrews Sisters
Christmas with Bing and Frank
Christmas with the Stars (3 disc set)
NBC Sounds of the Season, Classic Holiday Songbook

And then it was anything I could get my hands on:

Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer by Elmo & Patsy* (Before I went all Bing –crazy, this is probably the first Christmas album I had, thanks to my sis!)
Christmas with the Chipmunks* (another holiday classic from my childhood)
Holiday Music 2006, Glisten and Glow (Bath & Body Works—I’m serious, they do GOOD music collections!)
NBC Celebrity Christmas
Sleigh Full of Songs
Dr. Demento presents The Greatest Christmas Novelty CD of All Time
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
Elton John’s Christmas Party
Music for the Wholidays (featuring “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch”)
My Little Pony:  A Very Minty Christmas
Strawberry Shortcake:  A Berry Merry Christmas Soundtrack
The Santa Clause 2 soundtrack
Love Actually soundtrack


So yeah, I know a thing or two about Christmas songs.




Merry Christmas!!!!





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Sunday, December 19, 2010

IMM(SWEET)16

Well, it’s getting to look a lot like Christmas.

Um, that is if I don’t look outside.  Because, here, in sunny rainy CA all seasons look alike.  The flowers are still blooming, the grass is still green, and one or two stragglers still have their Halloween lights up.

But inside is a whole other story!  I’ve decked the halls, the kitchen, the living room, the works—and because half of our Christmas decorations were misplaced when we moved last spring, I got to try out a pink and silver color scheme that’s been in my head for years.  And now that’s in the living room and on the tree, I must say, it looks FABULOUS!!!!!!  Aside from my gorgeous tree, I think my favoritist idea was taking all of our pictures and wall-hangings, wrapping them like presents (in sparkly silver paper), and re-hanging them.  Oh, and at the last second, I decided to substitute silver garland for white curling ribbon.  I know I shouldn’t gush, but it all turned out so fun and festive!  I love it!!!!

And while I will not be having a White Christmas this year, at least I can turn on my Christmas playlist and pretend it’s snowing while Bing Crosby sings all my favorites.  Sigh.  He has a voice just made for Christmas music; made to keep out the cold, made to keep you warm, perfect for snuggling in front of a crackling fireplace, or for sing along with while decorating and baking cookies…  Delicious.  ;)

Cookies are on today’s agenda.  I’ve been dreaming about them all week.  At this point, it isn’t even about eating them—I just want to frost things and put cinnamon eyes on them.  Ok, and I want to lick the frosting.

…But with Santa coming so soon, I’ve been trying to be good, and so I’ve been curbing my sweet tooth with some extra yummy morsels courtesy of Tera Lynn Childs.  My SWEET 16 IMM just happens to coincide with the release of Eye Candy’s 16th installment—Is that fate or what?!?!?!?!  I didn’t know if I could hold out for weekly installments, but I seriously fall in love with this story over and over again every week!

And for all of us who loved Forgive My Fins and are dying for the release of Fins Are Forever, Tera created a virtual advent calendar with new Fins teasers every day!!!!  Somebody sure knows how to get in the Christmas spirit!!!  :)


Next on my list of stocking stuffers…I won a *SIGNED* copy of Melissa Marr’s Ink Exchange from her post on the Supernatural Underground!!!!  This one has been on my TBR list ever since I read Wicked Lovely!!!!!  
Thank you!  Thank you!  Thank you!

Now, usually, I try not to post when I’ve won something, until I’ve got it in my hands and have a picture to show people…But this is too fantastic a Christmas present not to share!!!!—As soon as I got done jumping up and down from the excitement of the arrival of Wicked Lovely, I got one of the coolest emails EVER!!!!!

I usually have these crazy reactions to winning things—Mostly because I can’t believe I actually WON something!!!!!!  I can’t stop myself from jumping up and down and simultaneously find myself with a sudden case of jazz hands.  And this email was one of contest I entered that I NEVER thought I would win.  Until I did.

So WHAT is it?  Um, the COOLEST. THING. EVER.  I’m just saying.



Sacrifice Badge


Dakota Banks (also of the Supernatural Underground) had a contest to BE A CHARACTER in the next book of her MORTAL PATH series.  So, yeah, I’m not just going to be reading the book, but I’m going to get to be a little part of it too!!!!!  SERIOUSLY.  How fracking COOL is that?!?!?!!?!?

[insert a million THANK YOUs]

Oh, and there’s MORE.  Like that wouldn’t be cool enough?  I also get my choice of either a subscription to her Mortal Path SERIES (ALL OF THEM), and get to receive a *SIGNED* copy ON or BEFORE the release date.

Or…

A FULL MANUSCRIPT CRITIQUE.

SERIOUSLY???  SERIOUSLY?!?!?!!??!  SERIOUSLY!!!!!!

Well, I can only say that it wasn’t an easy decision…  But in a manuscript critique is such a once-in-a-lifetime kind of thing… :)

[THANK YOUs x Infinite)


I sincerely hope that all of you are having as magical a holiday season as I am!


Happy Holidays!!!!





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*In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi over at The Story Siren*  So head over there if you want to check out what everyone else got, or if you want to find out how to participate!!!