The Wolves of Midwinter

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Fire Study Review

Flamed colored font has never been more appropriate for a book that's cover and title both reflect the theme of the third and last installment of Yelena's story. As a whole, Yelena has mightfully grown from a girl ravaged by the ghosts of her past to someone who holds her own and becomes the greatest hero within the story. Amazon reviews led me to believe that the ending was bound to greatly dissapoint any readers who loved either "Poison Study," and "Magic Study." Knowing this, I began reading the novel with greatly depreciated expectations. I trepidatiously flipped the pages and prepared myself for the ending that would not serve Yelena's story justice.

With bated breath, I carefully read each page, anxiously awaiting the one scene that would destroy any last hopes I had for a good ending. Towards page "50" or so, the anxiety dissipated and was replaced instead with excitement and deep interest with the direction of the story. Confounded, I continued to search for some remaint of the supposed element of the story that would greatly dissapoint the fervid readers of the Study series.

In it's place, I found myself becoming wrapped up in Yelena's internal struggle and I developed an intense fascination with seeking out the characters who may be potential traitors. Even with my sured hypothesis's, Maria V. Snyder's narratives still caught me by suprise with the relevations within this novel. At the end, I literally yelled "What?" aloud when I happened onto the novel's most pivotal revelation that reveals to us the main plot which began within "Magic Study." All throughout, I never found anything that was contrively developed and nothing detracted from the high opinion I hold for Maria V. Snyder's writing.

Surely, I am within the minority here, but I found "Fire Study," with it's quick pace and compelling plot to be better than "Magic Study." Poison Study," will always keep the top spot because it was my introduction within this well crafted universe with meticulously sketched characters. Even with the story's political intrigue and plot surrounding soul collection; the story's principally about Yelena's growth into an assured young woman whose male peers marvel her individual strength rather than feel inhibited by it.

Anyone whose faced tragedy early in the lives can relate to and be empowered by Yelena's story. Those who have encountered abuse on varying levels easily can gain strength from Yelena's ability to forgive what befell her within her past. Instead of becoming trampled by that pain, she seeks out strength to rectify the things within her present that she was not able to within her past. Yelena's, not a mere character, but a female character filled with innumerable dimensions. Her insecurities are familiar to us and the strength she discovers within a given situation is not an example of deux ex machina but the natural responce to a perilous situation.

I've begun reading "Storm Glass" already and hope to begin reading "Sea Glass," within a matter of weeks. Maria V. Snyder's series, compared with many other series, combines action and great characters. She has the ability to immerse her readers within a world that no individual wishes to escape. She entreats us with a plot that's filled with many unexpected occurences and nuances. If you are seeking a Christmas gift for any reader whose been begging for an adventurous story filled with characters as finely crafted as Buffy's; I encourage you to check out this series.

To Maria V. Snyder, thanks for helping me develop new friendships with characters I wish weren't fettered to the pages of your books.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Curse of the Spider King:The Berinfell Chronicles Book 1

About the Book:

The Seven succeeding Elven Lords of Allyra were dead, lost in the Siege of Berinfell as babes. At least that’s what everyone thought until tremors from a distant world known as Earth, revealed strange signs that Elven blood lived among its peoples. With a glimmer of hope in their hearts, sentinels are sent to see if the signs are true. But theirs is not a lone errand. The ruling warlord of Allyra, the Spider King, has sent his own scouts to hunt down the Seven and finish the job they failed to complete many ages ago.

Now 13-year-olds on the brink of the Age of Reckoning when their Elven gifts will be manifest, discover the unthinkable truth that their adoptive families are not their only kin. With mysterious Sentinels revealing breathtaking secrets of the past, and dark strangers haunting their every move, will the young Elf Lords find the way back to the home of their birth? Worlds and races collide as the forces of good and evil battle. Will anyone escape the Curse of the Spider King?

Personal Note:Glancing through my archive of past reviews, I've noticed my extended absence from the blog sphere. I attribute that to an increased workload at college, work upon my novel, attempts at reading four or five books simultaneously, and the job at the library. The latter really causes no disruption in my schedule except it does exert my energy before day's end.


Co-authorship typically lends to helping an inept writer write adeptly with the aid of an author who possesses more skill . Wayne Batson and Christopher Hopper are both great writers though and have no need to use one another as a crutch to provide a good story. So based on that tidbit of information, gathered from reading both their series; I had very high expectations for this series. Overall, those high expectations were met and exceeded. While there were some slight faults that caused me to wonder if my high expectations were too "high." I was very expectant of a few faults, seeing as no writer has completely perfected their craft.

"Curse of the Spider King" begins with a plethora of different perspectives, each one provides a new angle and in this case, new beginning for this planned trilogy. Right from the start, I pinpointed the characters whom I thought were crafted by either Wayne Batson and Christopher Hopper. One of my favorite characters happens to have a personality, similar to Antionette's. Though her disorder is one distinct difference from the character equivalent from the Door Within Trilogy. Luckily, some of the other characters prove to be different than the characters of either author's former series. Most would not recognize this because they are either unfamiliar with their other series or are not burdened (or gifted)with scrupulosity.

Similar to Door Within, an archaic text presents character or characters with a universe that has a slew of problems. These individuals, once unknown to this destiny, now found themselves thrown within this universe and discover they must aid in vanquishing the malevolent forces that the forces of good are grappling with.The factor that helps this series separate itself from the Door Within are the various chapters written from the perspectives of the various protagonists represented within the novel. Unlike the Door Within or even Christopher Hopper's series, the reader's granted the opportunity of seeing a story through the lenses of five different individuals which gives the reader a sense of realism. Additionally, it helps us to understand the motives of different characters and understand their reasoning for making certain choices. From a first person perspective or third person omniscient perspective, we are limited to one character's thoughts and we become biased due to the character's offer of opinions about a particular character's choices or attributes.

Admittedly, some of the perspectives were weaker than others and sometimes I found myself wishing to finish that character's perspective in order to resume reading another character's perspective. This fault might be due to my personal preference for a certain character and may not be due to the writing which throughout was concise and greatly detailed. Besides weaker perspectives, I found myself skimming through some of the earlier fight scenes in the novel due to their predictability. For some reason, I felt I had foreknowledge of what would inevitably occur which caused me to feel slightly bored with these scenes. Wayne Batson and Christopher Hopper later remedy this problem with their expertly written fighting scenes with the principal cast of characters and luckily both suspense and thrills are injected into these scenes. Again, those fighting scenes may have been tiresome to me since I have read a multitude of different fantasy novels and am very knowledgeable of the progression of events within these types of passages within fantasy series.

Even with the previous paragraph of negativity, I found this novel to be enthralling and well written. While I was reading this novel, it was easy to note certain sections that really showed how meticulous both these writers were with writing this novel. Nothing within the pages of this book felt unnecessary and every page of this book bolstered the story and helped me to form friendships with the characters. Hopefully, the next installment in this series is released within a year's time as both authors have helped in creating a highly addicting fantasy trilogy.

Thank you Wayne Batson and Christopher Hopper for diverting my attention from my college work and causing me to nearly miss my train stop last month!

Related Song:

Due to the popularity of posting related songs with my books reviews; I've decided to incorporate a song within this review. From reading some of my past reviews, some of you are aware of my obsession with the Dutch band, Within Temptation. If you haven't listened to any of their songs, here's your opportunity. The below video is their performance of "Our Solemn Hour," a song whose lyrics greatly reflects the battle chronicled within the archaic text the heroes of this story are presented with.

If you're interested in learning more information about this wildly creative, bombastic band, check out either their site or my self penned article (printed in my college's newspaper)."> Brandon Barr"> Justin Boyer"> Amy Browning"> Valerie Comer"> Amy Cruson"> CSFF Blog Tour"> Stacey Dale"> D. G. D. Davidson"> Shane Deal"> Jeff Draper"> Emmalyn Edwards"> April Erwin"> Karina Fabian"> Todd Michael Greene"> Ryan Heart"> Timothy Hicks"> Becky Jesse"> Cris Jesse"> Jason Joyner"> Julie"> Carol Keen"> Krystine Kercher"> Tina Kulesa"> Melissa Lockcuff"> Rebecca LuElla Miller"> Mirtika"> Nissa"> John W. Otte"> Cara Powers"> Chawna Schroeder"> James Somers"> Speculative Faith"> Robert Treskillard"> Fred Warren"> Jason Waguespac"> Phyllis Wheeler"> Jill Williamson"> KM Wilsher

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

CSFF Blog Tour: Haunt of Jackals Review


A decade earlier, Jerusalem's Undead escaped their tombs in the
Field of Blood. One of their group was missing, and he will return with
a vengeance, fighting his fellow Collectors for control of a vile
book--a blueprint that exploits "six things, no, seven, that the Lord
hates," as a way of dragging down mankind.

As the Collectors vie for dominance, Gina Lazarescu finds herself
fleeing through the mountains. She is alone and wounded, but more
determined than ever to find and protect the children in her care. She
does not know that Cal Nichols still has life-shaking secrets yet to
share. She knows only that she is headed for another confrontation with
the Collectors, one that will lead from Romanian castles to the Pacific
Northwest and eventually to the Haunt of Jackals, birthplace of Judas
Iscariot in Israel's arid wastelands.


"Haunt of Jackals" suits this month perfectly with it's central theme of demonic vampires. Vampires, as of late, have really blossomed within the literary market, all thanks to Twilight. Twilight's vampires though are toned down and are in many ways, not exactly the monstrous vampires which were originally depicted within Bram Stoker's novels. With the Christian market slowly accepting vampire books, we're faced with the best of the vampire stories. Eric Wilson's story was tightly plotted and has some very interesting theories on how the vampires were originally created. And best of all, not one vampire sparkled all throughout the novel. Even better, the words "bliss" and "chagrin" were not found on any page.

I'm a huge appreciator of vampire lore, something many professing Christians would never admit. Hearing of this series filled me with both dread and glee. To my surprise though, Eric Wilson writes these books with great finesse and shows a great appreciation for vampires. His series is not really the first proper Christian Vampire Series. Sue Dent's "Never Ceese" takes the honor of being the first with a redemptive vampirer. Eric Wilson's series involves vampires who are demonic incarnates and this was refreshing for me, after all the romantic vampire stories which seem to receive the most press as of recently. The story also has a great spiritual message which is interwoven expertly in the plot.

An even greater strength of this novel was the existence of strong female characters. Many tend to believe Christians undermine the potential strength of a woman and largely place them within subservient roles within novels. This myth may apply to a few books, but most Christian books feature some of the strongest, most assertive women within contemporary novels. Any readers can attest to this if they read this series in particular. Every girl is naturally developed and are not mere imitations of super females. But are instead true human characters whose strength is derived by faith and not their biological makeup. All the characters, both female and male are fairly treated and are developed very well.

One thing which bugged me during the novel though was the occasional moment of choppy writing. There were a few times where the author glossed over details and merely summarized over sections in order to move the plot further. Some may not notice this minor fault. I noticed because I'm a scrupulous reader. But these moments were enough to cause me to feel detached from the plot at these parts. Luckily these parts are smoothed over eventually and really are far and few. In all, this novel makes me very excited for the next installment and has helped me to gain more confidence in the future releases within the Christian market.

Links of other Tour Participants"> Brandon Barr"> Wayne Thomas Batson"> Jennifer Bogart"> Justin Boyer"> Keanan Brand"> Amy Browning"> Karri Compton"> Amy Cruson"> CSFF Blog Tour"> Stacey Dale"> D. G. D. Davidson"> Jeff Draper"> April Erwin"> Karina Fabian"> Beth Goddard"> Todd Michael Greene"> Timothy Hicks"> Becky Jesse"> Cris Jesse"> Julie"> Carol Keen"> Dawn King"> Rebecca LuElla Miller"> Mirtika"> Nissa"> John W. Otte"> James Somers"> Speculative Faith"> Rachel Starr Thomson"> Robert Treskillard"> Steve Trower"> Fred Warren"> Phyllis Wheeler"> Jill Williamson"> KM Wilsher

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Goth Girl Rising Blog Tour Day Two: First of Two Parts: Interview with Barry Lyga

Here's the first interview ever conducted on my blog. This interview was done approximately two months prior to the actual tour date. Being as a writer's schedule is packed, I made sure to send my inquiry and questions in advance. For new readers, I'm doing a blog tour (only one blog included) for Goth Girl Rising. All week there will be reviews of the Barry Lyga books I've and a surprise Friday. It's imperative to read every review as Friday's surprise involves having foreknowledge of anything that's posted throughout the week.

**Caution (for my readers with sensitive ears) there is some profanity within the interview***
I'm including the disclaimer, otherwise I'll face the wrath of a disgruntled reader whose ears are sensitive to profanity. I once posted a story on Fictionpress without the profanity and violence warning and was sent a horrifying email in response from someone who hounded me for five pages. Because of these experiences, I'm very careful when posting anything and everything on the internet.******

1.First let me begin with a general question. Since no one ever throws that insightful questions till around the end. When did you begin writing and what sort of stories did you begin writing?

I remember writing stories at a very young age, as young as nine or ten. And I know that we had story-writing assignments in grade school that I always enjoyed. Most of those early stories tended to be science fiction or super-hero stories, since those were the genres I read at the time.

2.Was there any graphic novel or specific novel that really influenced your writing?

There was no single graphic novel or novel that stands out, but I know that the authors who influenced me most as a kid were a strange mix: Edgar Allan Poe, Paul Levitz, Alan Moore, and Joe Haldeman!

3. As I'm a huge fan of Joss Whedon and since he's really shaped my writing and really inspirited me to write stories that both entertain and impact readers. I'm going to ask this question, just as I've asked other writers. Have you seen or read anything written by him? And if so, which of his creations are your favorite?

Oh, sure, I'm familiar with Joss's stuff. I've seen Buffy, Angel, Dr. Horrible. I think the Buffy musical episode is one of my favorite episodes of TV ever, certainly up there in the top ten with some of Twin Peaks. And the last episode of Angel is just incredible.

4.Here's some more novel related questions. Since not all my blog readers are comic book fans or closet comic book fans. But, are any of the events within any of your novels inspired by real life experiences?

Definitely. A lot of what Fanboy goes through in the novel happened to me, usually filtered through the gauze of memory. I tried to make everything in the novel either sadder or funnier than what actually happened, though.

5.What inspired you to create the character of "Kyra?"

Wish fulfillment! She is exactly the kind of person I wished I'd known when I was Fanboy's age, and since I never had that opportunity, I decided to give it to Fanboy. I made Fanboy's life a lot worse than mine in many, many ways, but knowing Kyra is the major way his is better.

6. Now many of your novels explore many mature themes that teens are unable to find elsewhere within other young adult novels. Your books have explored sexual abuse (Boy Toy), social adversity (Fanboy and Gothgirl), and even freedom of speach "Hero Type." Are there any other issues you'd wish to explore in future novels?

Well, I don't think of my novels as "exploring issues." I just look at kids and look at how they live their lives and what they deal with and I think to myself, "OK, if I were a kid with this sort of life and this sort of attitude and then THIS happened to me, how would I react?" and I take it from there. I certainly never sit down thinking, "With THIS book, I will tackle the issue of [fill in the blank here]."

7.With "Boy Toy," some have written concerned notes in response to the subject matter. And whether it's appropriate for it's general audience. Have you received any similar responses to either "Hero-Type" or "Fanboy and Gothgirl?"

Oh, sure -- no matter what you write or how respectfully you handle an issue, someone will bitch about it. For Hero-Type, someone complained that Kross does not respect his father and, furthermore, was horrified that Kross's mom is -- gasp! -- a lesbian. Tough. In Fanboy, one parent actually complained that Fanboy thinks about sex so much that she was afraid her son would read it and think that if HE didn't think about sex all the time, there was something wrong with him! I hate to break it to you, lady, but if your son is a teenager and he's not thinking about sex, there IS something wrong with him!

8.Since your novels are marketed within the Young Adult market; you're bound to have read many of the books within that specific market. Are there any recent young adult releases that you highly recommend?

There are so many excellent YA books right now that it's tough to only list a few. But Jellicoe Road is one that everyone should read. Also, Ten Mile River by Paul Griffin, After the Moment by Garret Freymann-Weyr, and The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Steve Chbosky, which isn't recent, but everyone should read it.

9. Now a question for all the aspiring writers such as myself! But do you have any tips on the best method for writers to send their drafts to publishers? I'm asking this since there's always questions about the process but never about how one is to pique a publisher's interest.

I find that most aspiring writers ask this question far too early; early efforts are best spent crafting a kick-ass piece of writing. If you do that, you won't have any trouble landing an agent or a publisher. But I write a series of Writing Advice articles on my blog, and that's a topic that will be coming up soon, so I encourage your readers to check it out at

10.Another writing question; Do you listen to any music while you're writing?

Sometimes. I don't have any sort of hard-and-fast rule about it. Some days I just feel like cranking up the music while I work and other days, I like it quiet.

11.Any final comments you wish to share besides shameless self promotion?

Just the shameless self-promotion will do. :)

Thanks again Barry Lyga for taking time out of your busy schedule to answer my questions!!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Day one of the "Goth Girl Rising" Blog Tour:

Plot Summarry:

Time is a funny thing in the hospital. In the mental ward. You lose track of it easily.

After six months in the Maryland Mental Health Unit, Kyra Sellers, a.k.a. Goth Girl, is going home.

Unfortunately, she’s about to find out that while she was away, she lost track of more than time.

Things seem normal at first. Roger’s his typical, pain-in-the-ass fatherly self. Jecca and Simone and the rest of the goth crowd still do their thing. And Kyra is back in black, feeling good, and ready to make up with the only person who’s ever appreciated her for who she really is.

But then she sees him. Fanboy. Transcended from everything he was into someone she barely recognizes.

And the anger and memories come rushing back.

Fanboy. The Spermling. Miss Powell. Roger.

Her mother.

There’s so much to do to people when you’re angry.

Kyra’s about to get very busy.

Seeing I've been far too occupied with college homework and work on "Death Seer," four individuals shall be offering their review of Barry Lyga's newest novel "Goth Girl Rising." To those who are unaware of Barry Lyga's works, I highly recommend all his books because his books are effective in conveying their intended messages. And also all his books are highly entertaining and contain the great amount of quotable quotes that will ultimately stick with you for a long period of time.

Be sure to check my blog every day this week for a review of Barry Lyga's other books. And also just for your knowledge, today's the official release date of "Goth Girl Rising," even though Amazon and a host of other online outlets shipped copies three or four weeks in advance. Anyways, that's my only input for this review. My special guests shall be overtaking this review.

First Take on the Book (from Princess Cordelia)

"Excuse me for a bit; I've recently returned from one of Angel's missions. And those migraine inducing vision thingies that those "Powers that aren't" sent me really puts a strain on my thought process. So hope you don't mind my occasional incoherent comment about the book "Goth Girl Rising. The one theme in which I especially loved was the author's effectiveness in furthering Kyra's development. Within the first novel, we're only shown one dimension of her character from Fanboy's perspective. From Kyra's perspective, we're able to see her conundrum of thoughts related to everything that unfolds in her life. This helps the reader to finally feel some sympathy for the character we once thought to be a very malevolent, yet misguided person.

Kyra felt like someone I know like either Angel or the Gorugula. Though she might be a tad bit irritating like Darla and confusing like the detached Druscilla. Her feelings seemed natural to those who've gone through the hell of high school. As some know, my high school was a literal hell. In my honest opinion, I believe Barry Lyga writes better female characters than male characters. Since every thought and action of Kyra seemed authenticated and Kyra possessed more personality than some of his male protagonists. I hope Barry Lyga writes from a female perspective more often because Kyra truly breathed some fresh air into a setting which was starting to grow old.

Anyways, I loved the book and even handed it to Angel, knowing he would appreciate this book, being as he is a bit of a softy. I have to go now and fight some ghastly demons in this skimpy dress of mine. Let's hope I don't get too much carnage on this, especially the hand crafted tiara."

Second take on the book: (Gambit)

"Why am I being commissioned to write this review? Can't I simply just say it was excellent even if everything within the novel seemed resolved far too easily. Though I'm relieved that the ending was ambiguous enough to forgive the ending which seemed to be an easy one. Delving into the misguided Kyra's head was definitely awkward for someone like me to read. Especially her references to some of the women related things that I'm only familiar with when Rogue whines about them on occasion. Saying this might be a bit out of character for me. But I found Fanboy to be a tad bit infuriating towards the middle of the book. His tendency to ignore Goth Girl's input on things frustrated me as much as Kyra. I thought I'd never be able to understand the thought process of a female. Yet, reading the scenes between Kyra and fanboy caused me to realize that our thoughts are similar to those of females. In all, we're not much different from the other. The book was engaging and has helped me to feel more sympathetic towards the identity conflicts of teens and aided in having more patience with Rogue during one of her tirades. Thanks to Barry Lyga, I'm on the road to gaining more understand to the workings of a female and having more of an ability to see they're equal to us in many ways. Also just as Kyra mentions within the middle of the novel, no male should perceive any female as being an object for them to play with. All in all, great book and nice allusions to "Sandman," one of my favorite reads."

Third Take:(Boy Struggling with mire)
"Being one of the Gashycrumb Tinies, I'm destined to die sometime after finishing this review. I read this book while struggling to stay atop the mire I've been forced to eternally walk. Till I become greatly exhausted and meet my fated end. One of the elements I appreciated was Kyra's struggle with the concept of death. Since I'm accustomed to death and am afraid of the unforeseen elements of it, I really identified with Kyra and understood every doubt she had about death. These passages greatly resonated with me and really eased my fear of death. I know inevitably I'll die someday. At least,I can lead out a meaningful life while fighting against the mire of life. Death's only frightening for those who have not lived a life where you've shown compassion to others and tried your best to fight against the mire.

Many young adult writers or other writers avoid writing about death because it's a hard topic for any human being to grapple with and write about. Luckily this book approached the topic in a manner that's easy for anyone to relate with.

Maybe I will write more reviews sometime. That's if, the mire does not catch up to me in the next month or year."

Fourth Take:(Miniature Kyra)

"I may be a miniaturized Kyra but I still retain her spunk and her personality. If you want one of your own mini Kyras, be sure to check out this awesome offer. These Kyras shall hopefully aid in the betterment of society since we're not afraid to speak the truth. I was very satisfied with this book because it finally allowed me the opportunity to reveal all my doubts and insecurities, which were formerly hidden due to Fanboy's biased views. I finally was able to appear as someone who was not nefarious or entirely angst ridden. Instead I was shown in favorable light and portrayed to readers as someone whose struggling just as much as other teens and adults with finding my place within this crazy world. One of the story's elements I loved was the unfinished poem about my mother's death and how each new element of the poem ultimately matched with my developing feelings surrounding the entire incident. I won't offer any more information about this unique piece of the story as it'd reveal one of my core conflicts for myself throughout the novel. Hopefully we'll see more books from my perspective or other females from Brookside High School. Because whether Barry Lyga will ever admit it or not, he has really taken great care in writing a well shaped female character. If Joss Whedon were to see this story, he would definitely be proud about the fact that there are other males like himself who are not afraid to write strong female characters which members of any gender can identify with.

Be sure to check in tomorrow for a review of "Wolverine's Worst Day Ever!," the first of Barry Lyga's youth X-men series!"

Saturday, October 17, 2009


I apologize for not updating this blog for nearly a week. The reasons are the usual reasons including an onslaught of college work and other life related matters. Thing though shall be returning to normal this Monday when my first blog promotion week begins for Barry Lyga. I'll be offering reviews of his earlier books along with a review of his latest release, "Goth Girl Rising. And there will be an interview, which shall be posted on the last day of the tour, Friday October 22. Sorry again for the lack of activity on my blog and hopefully you've been patient during my week of adjusting to a fairly chaotic schedule.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Catching Fire Review.


Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen has won the annual Hunger Games with fellow district tribute Peeta Mellark. But it was a victory won by defiance of the Capitol and their harsh rules. Katniss and Peeta should be happy. After all, they have just won for themselves and their families a life of safety and plenty. But there are rumors of rebellion among the subjects, and Katniss and Peeta, to their horror, are the faces of that rebellion. The Capitol is angry. The Capitol wants revenge.


To think this review's being typed while my body's still suffering from caffeine withdrawal and I've only been up for approximately an hour. As result, how am I to type a meaningful, detailed review of the newest installment within The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins. Well, I guess I'll just have to force my body to cooperate for twenty minutes to work against exhaustion and the growing need for sleep.

(Warning! Spoilers) For those who are unfamiliar with the first book, please do not read the below review, otherwise you'll be spoiled!! Thanks!!

"Catching Fire," begins a few months after the first book ended with Katniss and Peeta arriving home from the games, which were the first games to have "two" winners. Right from the start, Suzanne Collin effectively bridges the last chapter of the first novel and the first chapter of the second by slowly, but effectively transitioning us back into the action of the book. Even if the book does not begin with a tournament, it's still a page turner just as with last. As I progressed through this novel, I found it increasingly difficult to tear myself from the pages of this book

Suzanne Collins effectively builds the tension of the novel's main conflict whilst developing the characters even further. Within the first novel, Katniss constantly feuded over her feelings over Peeta of whether or not they were real. In this novel, as she's taking a much needed respite from the tournament, she's forced to go through even more confusion in relation to the feelings she's experiencing. Being a teen and having to go through this awkward stage of teen life; I really resonated with Katniss's dilemma since defining one's feelings and making them clear is a personal struggle for all teens. At this age, with our lack of experiences, we do have a clear understanding of what truly defines one's feelings as love. For their feelings as with Katniss's may be self created all for the sake of protecting her younger sister and mother.

Besides, Katniss, each and every character's treated fairly and they're all given their own distinct personality and personal struggle. Being a person who suffers from character name dementia, it helped that no one character had repeating personalities. This allowed me to easily recognize each character by their characteristics. Rather than become overwhelmed with trying to fit a certain character with a name. And when your book has strange names such as "Katniss," and "Peeta," can you really expect readers of any age to recall their names especially if they are characters with minimal involvement within the book?

The second half was where Suzanne Collin's strengths as an author really showed. The way she deftly balances character interaction with intense action sequences amazes me. As a writer, I find it very hard to write action sequences that maintain the personalities of characters. When the action sequences retain the humanity and personality of the characters, they're far more tense and nail biting. That's because we're connected to the characters and worried for their survival. And within this novel, we're not sure that they're entirely safe from death. Peril or tragedy always awaits to cross paths with these characters. The reader's drawn to the foreboding sense of danger and as result we're feeling the tension that the characters are feeling all throughout.

I can't stop heralding this novel for it's themes of bravery and the importance of maintaining friendship in the midst of chaos. And the author deserves the highest honor for allowing all characters an equal chance of dying. With some novels, we're confident that a character shall survive the entire novel. Though with "Catching Fire," I felt that Katniss and Peeta could die at any given moment.

Now this may be a disgusting detail and somewhat inappropriate but there are sweat marks subtly painted on the cover of the book and alongside the spine. If you do not believe that this novel causes an adrenaline rush then that detail should rightfully convince you. You'll be exhibiting every nervous tick known to man as you're reading this. Because every page has as much suspense as the next. Every page rivets you, even the smallest sentence of half a page imbues you with a sense of urgency.

No book in recent memory has compelled as this novel has. I know that this review seems to be filled with a bit too much praise. If there was only one detractor it would be the occasional tendency for the author to skimp on some details of minor characters. And sometimes she quickly introduces new plot developments without providing any foreshadowing to those events. But these faults are minor in a book that I felt was both tightly plotted and extremely well written.

Now, I'm waiting anxiously for the third book to help abate my worry over whether a certain character's still alive or not.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Max Lucado's Fearless

Each sunrise seems to bring fresh reasons for fear.
They're talking layoffs at work, slowdowns in the economy, flare-ups in the Middle East, turnovers at headquarters, downturns in the housing market, upswings in global warming. The plague of our day, terrorism, begins with the word terror. Fear, it seems, has taken up a hundred-year lease on the building next door and set up shop. Oversized and rude, fear herds us into a prison of unlocked doors. Wouldn't it be great to walk out? Imagine your life, wholly untouched by angst. What if faith, not fear, was your default reaction to threats? If you could hover a fear magnet over your heart and extract every last shaving of dread, insecurity, or doubt, what would remain? Envision a day, just one day, where you could trust more and fear less. Can you imagine your life without fear?


By nature, this review's will differ from some of my past reviews. Mostly cause this books of the nonfiction variety, specificially because it's related to one's Christian walk. Before this, I've never touched any of Max Lucado's books. Though I've heard many good things about the authenticity of his writing and the humility that eeks within the passages he writes. Course, I wouldn't expect anyone to herald a Christian writer whose pompous and writes from an elevated stance. Anyone reading that sort of book would feel condemned by that sort of writing and it would definitely not come across as something spiritually empowering. Instead it would be spiritually debilitating.

"Fearless" overall was a very inspirational and empowering read. Being someone whose mind's pervaded with fear of all kinds, I find many of the individual chapter topics to be very relevant to the host of fears within my own mind. And each chapter contained phrases which were well worded and very easy to relate with. Max Lucado writes on the same plane of experience as all of us. He admits his spiritual flaws whilst offering scriptural text and his own insights to help remedy that flaw of ours.

A tendency for many Christian writers is to write "feel good," Christian messages, similar to Joel Osteen. Who seems to believe within the philosophy that God pampers our soul and offers us bliss within our lives. If we promise to ascribe to all his commandments and laws. Max Lucado impressed me by writing that we are to accept the challenges that are about us and to have trust in God that we'd realize the good which can be reaped through these experiences. Our fear should not be seen as a hamper, but as something which can greatly fortify our faith by magnifying our fears. And seeing the lies which are contained within our fear.

From this book, I felt that fear shall always exist in our lives just as with doubt. They mutually coexist within our lives to hinder our progress. Max Lucado's words provide us with spiritual aid to penetrate the barrier that fear and doubt creates. He tells everything openly and never bowdlerizes any element of the Bible in order to pacify the reader. Because genuine truth provides the essential aid in our lives. Instead of doctoring up the Bible's words to produce it into a trite Self Help Guide. I wholeheartedly recommend this book to all my fellow anxiety sufferers and deep thinking Christians. This writer truly knows how to empower us within the right technique.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Vanishing Sculptor:
Tipper is a young emerlindian who’s responsible for the upkeep of her family’s estate during her sculptor father’s absence. Tipper soon discovers that her actions have unbalanced the whole foundation of her world, and she must act quickly to undo the calamitous threat. But how can she save her father and her world on her own?

The task is too huge for one person, so she gathers the help of some unlikely companions--including the nearly five-foot tall parrot Beccaroon--and eventually witnesses the loving care and miraculous resources of Wulder. Through Tipper’s breathtaking story, readers will discover the beauty of knowing and serving God.

For anyone whose interested within the mundane detailing of my life; college has been mediocre thus far. There's a slight possibility that I haven't completely adapted to the new campus. But so far nothing has stimulated me in the slightest. I'm still waiting for something to empower me in an academic manner.

Other than that, life's been pretty much within the norm. Nothing has occurred that's out of norm except Maria V. Snyder's signing this past Saturday evening. And that was truly a great opportunity since she was both humble and very fun to converse with. The signing atmosphere was extremely casual in a good way and all ten attendees joined with me around her signing table. We had one long talk session about her novels and other notable Young Adult releases. Thanks Maria V. Snyder for being such a wonderful person and a very skilled writer. I'm reading "Fire Study," and so far am not disappointed

I apologize in advance for this truncated review. The last I've read of this book was during the last week and August. Ever since finishing a number of other releases, it's hard to recall all the details that pertain to the latest Donita K. Paul novel. Also, because of the sudden onslaught of college work, it's been very difficult to keep with my book review schedule.

Donita K. Paul

Donita K. Paul retired early from teaching school, but soon got bored! The result: a determination to start a new career. Now she is an award-winning novelist writing Christian Romance and Fantasy. She says, “I feel blessed to be doing what I like best.”

She mentors all ages, teaching teenagers and weekly adult writing workshops.

“God must have imprinted 'teacher' on me clear down to the bone. I taught in public school, then home schooled my children, and worked in private schools. Now my writing week isn’t very productive unless I include some time with kids.”

Her two grown children make her proud, and her two grandsons make her laugh.

Again, as opposed with former reviews. This one's going to be slightly concise and lacking any exact details of either the characters or plot. Overall, I thought this book was a captivating story. Even if some of the start of the story lacked the usual magic of Donita K. Paul's past releases. Her strengths shone throughout the novel with her sumptuous details of the universe she's intricately created. Everything felt three dimensional and the enviorment surrounding the characters seemed lush and appealing to the senses. At some moments within the novel, I felt myself entirely immersed within these details alone. Her details effectively conjure a picteresque landscape within the minds of readers. And permits them to experience the world in a manner that very few books allow them. Nothing about her descriptions seemed stilted or excessive, as with other authors. Instead it lends to the actions of the characters within the book and necessitates them to be as interactive as the readers are with the setting of the stories.

With the drudgery of my college courses, the last thing I wanted to read was a book which did not immediatley hook you. Luckily this book was a well deserved reprieve for me after finishing college work as the story itself on the surface was a simplistic fantasy tale. Though within the story it contained numerous spiritual truths and great characters. When reading this I did not expect it to be an insightful fantasy tale filled with an innumerable number of layers. I greatly expected to be just like the others; a linear fantasy story that effectively pulls you away from your world and inserts you into anohter. Here's living proof that no story needs to contain profane material to entertain all ages as nothing within this novel exlusively caters to a young age set. Instead it invites people of all ages to partake within the tale and temporarily leave their taxing lives behind.

There are a few instances where I felt slightly detatched from the story as this story was not thouroughly riveting. At these points, it seems the character development stalls and we're forced to read through various instances of fluff. None of it aids in furthering the plot or revealing any additional details of the characters. It seems they're there to increase the page count. Other than these few flaws, the book was a greatly entertaining book and I hope Donita K. Paul continues to weave more tales from this world that she's ingenuicly designed.

Other Participants upon the CSFF Blog Tour:

Brandon Barr
Jim Black
Justin Boyer
Rachel Briard
Karri Compton
Amy Cruson
CSFF Blog Tour
Stacey Dale
D. G. D. Davidson
Jeff Draper
April Erwin
Karina Fabian
Linda Gilmore
Todd Michael Greene
Katie Hart
Ryan Heart
Becky Jesse
Cris Jesse
Jason Joyner
Carol Keen
Krystine Kercher
Dawn King
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Eve Nielsen (posting later in the week)
John W. Otte
Lyn Perry
Crista Richey
Cheryl Russell
Chawna Schroeder
James Somers
Speculative Faith
Rachel Starr Thomson
Robert Treskillard
Steve Trower
Fred Warren
Dona Watson
Phyllis Wheeler
Elizabeth Williams
KM Wilsher

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Bran Hambric Review

About the Author: Kaleb Nation

On the third night of the third month in 2003, KALEB NATION, age 14, suddenly imagined a boy and a banker on a roof, waiting for a burglar to come. From that original idea was born the story of Bran Hambric. The first novel (BRAN HAMBRIC: THE FARFIELD CURSE) would take most of Kaleb's teenage years to write.

Aside from writing, Kaleb hosted his first radio show in Texas at age 13, later launching his own program in 2006 called The Top 5. Kaleb’s show grew to be broadcast on AM, FM, Internet and satellite radio stations across the globe, before he left radio to focus on writing.

In 2008, Kaleb launched a blog at, giving chapter-by-chapter insight, from a guy and writer’s perspective, on reading the Twilight Saga, a series of popular novels. The website went on to receive over 5 million hits, and was featured in BusinessWeek and Entertainment Weekly magazines, as well as on MTV, ReelzChannel and other TV outlets. Kaleb also began posting regular videos on his Youtube channel, with a combined total of over 8 million plays.
In his free time, Kaleb enjoys creating music and blogging. A homeschool graduate and a former black belt in taekwondo, he currently lives in California and turned 20 in 2008.

The Book

Bran Hambric was found locked in a bank vault at six years old, with no memory of his past. For years, he has lived with one of the bankers, wondering why he was left behind -- until one night, when he is fourteen, he is suddenly confronted by a maddened creature, speaking of Bran’s true past and trying to kidnap him.

Bran finds that he is at the center of a plot which started years before he was even born: the plot of a deadly curse his mother created…and one that her former masters are hunting for him to complete.

Haunted by the spirit of his mother’s master and living in a city where magic is illegal, Bran must undo the crimes of his past...before it is too late.

The Review:

I've had a long history with Kaleb Nation's blog where he's accounted his experience with reading "Twilight," as a male. From that, I've always seen that he has the skills for writing and has the ability to greatly entertain his readers with his unique sense of humor. With that, I really wanted to love this book and very much tried to find some pro's. But being a scrupulous reader definitely causes one to sight the flaws more so than the pro's within any piece of writing. And with this one, there were some very noticeable flaws that greatly detracted from my enjoyment of the story. I appreciate the effort that Kaleb Nation put within this story and understand the ardor of writing. Hopefully I'll be able to point out some of the positive elements of the story to not overwhelm the readers of this with a listing of all the negatives.

First off, the story begins with Embry Hambric futilely trying to run from a pair of men who seem to be chasing her for some unknown reason. This beginning initially brought to my attention the dryness of the writing. Everything seemed more like an instructional guide to inform readers of essential information for understanding the story. Rather than providing a beginning that immediately immerses the reader into the action of the story, it's a very cliche ridden beginning that seemed to lack excitement and emotion. The dialogue especially seemed stale and noticeably uninspired.As a reader, it was hard for me to grasp the intensity of Embry emotions as she desperately decides how to save her son. Instead, I felt that I had to formulate those feelings myself. Since Kaleb's writing seemed not able to evoke those feelings. Writing beginning chapters is definitely a difficult task because there's so many options for a writer to choose from on how to begin the story. It was definitely a great way to starting the story but due to the poor execution of it; I did feel compelled to continue reading.

After the introduction, we are introduced to Bran, the protagonist of this story. Bran encompasses every aspect of "the" common protagonist. Nothing about his personality seems fresh to the target audience. He's basically a normal fourteen year old boy, whose unaware at this point of the great abilities he possesses. Sounds a bit like another boy wizard, who also had no knowledge of their magical abilities. Along with Bran, we're also introduced to the family that has decided to house him. If anyone whose reading this has read Harry Potter, you already have foreknowledge of the mannerisms of the family members, who have a striking resemblance to the Dursleys. There were a few slight variations as there are two additional members. One example of a similarity though is Sewey's temper and extreme animosity of gnomes which is reminiscent of Vernon's hatred of magic and anger. Now, I must admit that the interaction between the family members was very funny. Especially Sewey's paranoid wife whose fears seemed identical to mine. Since I happen to be somewhat of a germaphobic.

As the plot of the novel begins to progress, things do get a tad bit more interesting as we're introduced to characters such as Adi and her gnome. I would like to note that Bran's interaction with the gnome was one of the more refreshing aspects of this story. And it's where Kaleb Nation really shines. He seems to be well skilled in creating some truly great comedic moments. Yet his writing greatly falters when it comes to conveying emotions.

If there's one element that seemed lacking it was the emotion of the characters. Right from the beginning, none of the characters are entirely three dimensional. Instead they are two dimensional and their development is greatly contrived. We're never really able to comprehend the weight of Bran's feelings of betrayal or sadness because Kaleb tells these feelings instead of showing them. When Kaleb does try showing these feels rather than telling them, he recycles the same words, similes, or descriptions. Now many veteran authors make these mistakes occasionally because we all have words or similes that we love. But Kaleb does it too often to dismiss. Sometimes the same description's used every chapter or even within the same page. Referring back to my mention of being a very scrupulous reader, these mistakes are far too many to not note.

Towards the end, my earlier mixed feelings about this story soon developed into a feeling of great disappointment. Eventually, we're introduced to the story's main antagonistic force whose very similar to Voldemort within Harry Potter. Initially, I'd had the sense that Kaleb was throwing in some elements of Harry Potter that he was quite fond of. Yet, once we're introduced to this villain and the atrocity he'd committed, Harry Potter fan will be able to easily recognize them from Harry Potter. Even a certain quote from Harry Potter, "As my power strengthens, your's weakens," seemed to be taken directly from the Harry Potter novels. Instead of being greatly bemused by this, I was quite dismayed that Kaleb would emulate various elements of Harry Potter. I'm a writer myself and can admit to incorporating elements of some my favorite novels within my own stories. But, going to extent where you're emulating elements of another story's plot is inexcusable.

At this point within the book, I forced myself to finish the story all in pursuit of providing an honest and well thought out review. Writing this review was a great challenge for me because I really wished not to convince Kaleb Nation that he should not write any more novels. Since I'm an aspiring writer myself, I would never convince someone to stall their writing. Instead, I've intended to inform him of some of the flaws of this story and aid in helping him grow as a writer. I'm striving to provide a balanced review without being too negative.

There were elements I loved including some of the jabs that Sewey makes and some of the comical elements of the city of Dunce. It's these moments that prove he's able to write and be incredibly creative. Also, the fact he was able to complete this story's something to commend him on. Because completing any work is a very arduous process that takes a great amount of patience and energy. Kaleb's a very humble, kind person whose determination has greatly helped in getting this published and gaining a great number of loyal followers (who'll probably attack me with torches and unleash a band of feral gnomes upon me). I greatly respect him for that; but I also hope that he recognizes his story's faults and continues to improve on his writing.

If you happen to read this Kaleb, I hope you understand that I wrote this as a means of providing aid in your continuing journey as a writer. And I offer my apologies for anything within this review that may disperage you from continuing that journey. Please strive to always work your hardest and recognize criticism not as a detractor but as something which can greatly help your development as a writer and even as a person. You're someone who has a great personality and also someone who posesses strength that helps in forwarding yourself in life. As a writer, I wish you the best of luck and I hope you'll see this review as an honest assessment and not something written by some cold hearted person who seeks to see you fail. Hopefully, your next book will be better than this one.

Here's links to online vendors who are selling copies of this book:Barnes and Knobles, Amazon, Borders.

And the Bran Hambric's Blog Promotion Tours continues with a host of different opinions about the book. Someone's review may be much more positive than my own. Remember that's because we all happen to have differing opinions and are entitled to them.

Sunday, August 30th

Karla Duff’s 6th Grade English Class

Jenn’s Bookshelf

Homespun Light

Monday, August 31st

Dolce Bellezza

Bobbi’s Book Nook

Tuesday, September 1st

The Looking Glass Review

Beth Fish Reads

SMS Book Reviews

James Holder’s YouTube Channel (video)

Wednesday, September 2nd

Reading Rumpus

Katie’s Literature Lounge

Ultimate Bookhound

Thursday, September 3rd

Brimful Curiosities

Charlotte’s Library

Friday, September 4th

Bran Hambric by Kaleb Nation

Saturday, September 5th

Library Lounge Lizard

Sarah’s Random Musings

Saulchichas (video)

Sunday, September 6th

Cindy’s Love of Books (video)

Monday, September 7th

Lauren’s Crammed Bookshelf

Grasping for the Wind

Life After Twilight vlog channel (video)

Tuesday, September 8th

Shooting Stars Magazine

Mrs. Magoo Reads

Lori Calabrese Writes

Wednesday, September 9th

Teens Writing for Teens

Twilight Novel Novice

Portland Examiner

The Brain Lair

Luna Louise

The Children’s Book Review

TV Watch Online

Thursday, September 10th

The Friendly Book Nook

Book Journey

Stephanie’s Written Word

Home School Buzz

Friday, September 11th

The Inside Scoop With Chandelle

Booking Mama

Saturday, September 12th

Zoe’s Book Reviews

Lit for Kids

Sunday, September 13th

Never Jam Today

A Bibliophile’s Reverie

Monday, September 14th

Café of Dreams

Marta’s Meanderings

A Book Blogger’s Diary

The Reader’s Quill

Tuesday, September 15th

a book in hand

Not Just for Kids

Wednesday, September 16th

Write for a Reader

Thursday, September 17th

Howling Good Books

The Written World

Friday, September 18th

Always Riddikulus

YA Books Central

Saturday, September 19th

Ms. Bookish

Into the Wardrobe

The Lateiner Gang Book Review Spot

As a way of defusing some of my reader's anger and resentment at my negative review, here's a song that reminded me of the plight of the gnomes and mages in Kaleb's universe. All you should recognize the band! Enjoy the song and for your knowledge, I am a huge fan of this band and am very eager to hear the entirety of this album.