Book Reviews by Today, I Read…

A Continuous Book Review and Vocabulary Assignment

January 12

Comments: 2

2012: The Year of Extinction (and Change)

by Ann-Kat

Aside from humankind becoming extinct this year (some time in December, I believe it is), it’s also the year to make positive changes. Every year we all make resolutions to be different, be better, be whatever, and every year we completely forget about those resolutions come February.

But what if these changes were broken down into bite-sized manageable pieces? I’m thinking it would be a lot easier to make those changes stick, especially with continued and repeated effort.

This year I have many plans for this blog, including the reintroduction of the newsletter, more interviews, giveaways, general commentary, and, of course, book reviews. I’m also thinking of coming up with a proper publishing schedule (which, as I think about it, seems like a very good idea) with features on specific days. Once I get my personal life back in line, I’ll certainly be revisiting the idea.

52 Small Changes book coverFor now, I’ll just post up a quick note about a nice boon that arrived on my doorstep recently: three copies of 52 Small Changes: One Year to a Happier, Healthier New You by Brett Blumenthal to giveaway to a few lucky readers.

I’ve already started to read a few of the tips and I’ll admit, some seem fairly common sense (i.e. drink more water), but there are a few in there that have grabbed my attention. I also like that Blumenthal offers a few helpful tips for actually making those small changes less painless. Once I’ve finished reading it all the way through and making notes, I’ll post up a proper review, along with progress reports.

With that, I’m going to finish up with: I hope you had a splendid, varied, and wonderful 2011 and I hope that your 2012 will be even better.

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April 17

Comments: 4

Giveaway: Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion

by Ann-Kat

Warm Bodies coverI mentioned it last month, but now the time has finally arrived. I’m giving away a copy of Isaac Marion’s Warm Bodies, a twisted and surprisingly poignant zombie love story. Trust me, this is a book you want to read.

Marion uses excellent, sometimes poetic and often hilarious, prose to tell the story of ‘R’, a zombie trying to make sense of his existence. When he eats the brain of a man named Perry, he begins to experience Perry’s memories. Part of those memories include Perry’s girlfriend Julie. ‘R’ subsequently saves Julie and what happens next is an inexplicable connection that will have you glued to the pages.

Well, enough gushing about the book, on to the giveaway details. Rather than have the standard “leave a comment” to enter, I’m mixing things up a bit. For this giveaway, I’d like you to write a zombie haiku!

Yep. You read right. A zombie haiku. To enter, leave a comment with your haiku below.

In case you aren’t sure what a haiku is, it’s a short poem consisting of 3 lines. The first line contains 5 syllables, the second 7 syllables, and the final 5 syllables. Your haiku can be poignant or funny, gross or silly, just have fun with it. No profanity, please. Or, if you absolutely must include a profane word for effect, euphemize it. (Example: s**t.) Thanks.

This giveaway will run until 11:59PM EST April 26, 2011. You can enter as many haikus as you can write (however, duplicate or obviously spam haikus will not be eligible). For extra entries, you can also tweet about this giveaway or blog about it—just make sure to come back and leave a comment with a link to your tweet or blog post.

All entrants must use a legitimate email address (otherwise they’ll be no way to contact you if you win). If you do not have a website or blog, leave the space for a URL blank.

To finish up, there are a couple stipulations: You must be at least 13 years old to enter and the giveaway is open to those with a U.S. mailing address. And if you have any questions, just ask.

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March 25

Comments: 2

My Stack of Books Going into the Weekend, Planned Giveaways, and Currently Reading

by Ann-Kat

Typically I’d do a recent arrivals post for each of the books, but this past week has been very good to me in the book department, so I’m just going to do up a collective post and then publish book notes/teasers as I read through each title. :D Sound good? Hooray!

The Dead-Tossed Waves Cover Last year I read, and reviewed, The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan. Although I didn’t care too much for Mary’s character, I did enjoy the intrigue and the world created.

When I was in my local Borders wishing them a heartrending farewell (sniff, sniff) I found The Dead-Tossed Waves on sale and I couldn’t resist. The reason I even waited so long was because I knew this book probably wouldn’t tell me anything I wanted to know about the Sisterhood.

Then I got to thinking, hey, I could be wrong. Maybe it’s going to be connected somehow and it will be like a slow reveal of how the zombie apocalypse in their world came to be. So I grabbed it and it’s officially in my TBR stack.

Animorphs The Invasion CoverAnimorphs The Visitors Cover Then there are the wonderful elves as Scholastic who somehow seem to read my mind and send me books I start drooling over the moment I open up the package. Animorphs!! With lenticular covers! (Yes, I’m easily amused.) I remember reading K. A. Applegate way back in the day, so receiving these books made me smile–okay, I also did a snoopy dance, too.

Behind the Gates Cover I also received a promising dystopian urban sci-fi novel called Behind the Gates (Tomorrow Girls Book 1) by Eva Gray. When I read the back cover, I was curious, but shrugged. Then I read the actual release and thought, hey, this could be good.  And then I read the first chapter and thought, I need to move this up the TBR pile.

But let us not forget about the Simon & Schuster elves who also seem to have these amazing mind-reading powers and sent me books that made me pause and say, hmmm.

Stay Cover Deb Caletti is a brand-new-to-me author, but when I read the back cover for Stay, I knew I’d be in for an emotional ride. It may even hit a little close to home. Must start mental preparations now.

Between Here and Forever Cover The other book was Between Here and Forever by Elizabeth Scott. This will be my third official Elizabeth Scott book.

The first one I read was The Unwritten Rule, which was fun and light and touching. It was filled with teen angst and drama and discovering oneself. Basically, I enjoyed it and it’s a great way to pass a lazy afternoon.

Then I just recently finished Living Dead Girl and…words…I don’t have any. I was not prepared at all for what laid between the virtual covers of that book (I read the ebook*). When I realized how jarring a read it was, I wanted to stop so I could set my head on straight, but I couldn’t because if I did and went to sleep, I would have nightmares. Finishing wasn’t any better. (Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a bad big, the subject matter is just…again, words fail me.)

The differences between those two books was vast, but it gave me a whole new respect for Ms. Scott. She’s an automatic must-read author for me now and having finished the first chapter of Between Here and Forever, I know to be prepared for a roller-coaster of emotions.

So, to sum up, here’s what I received this week laid out in a neat list:

I can’t believe it’s almost the end of March and I haven’t done a single giveaway yet. I must rectify that. In fact, I think I’m going to overcompensate for my lack of contests.

Warm Bodies Cover Coming up next month I’ll be holding a giveaway for Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion (oh my goodness am I excited about this one–and crossing my fingers that Mr. Marion will do a guest blog) thanks to the wonderful Mellony at Simon & Schuster.

Radiance CoverI’ll also be giving away my soft cover copy of Radiance by Alyson Noel. One thing I love about this book is the deckle edge paper. Definitely a nice touch, not to mention a good read.

Abandon Cover On the list of books up for giveaway is my ARC for Abandon by Meg Cabot. I have so much to talk about with that book, but I’m holding off until the official release next month. Until then, you can check out my scant book notes on the recent arrivals post.

Finally, I’ll officially be announcing my comment rewards. What are comment rewards? Well, a while ago I mentioned an idea of rewarding those who visit my blog by selecting a random commenter whenever comment milestones are reached. The commenter can then select a book from the comment rewards bookshelf.

Any comment, past or present, is game. Commenters just need to use a valid email address when commenting (no, I will not spam you or subscribe you to any mailing list and such) and are over the age of 13 (privacy thing–in case you win). Comment rewards will be open internationally.

Beastly Cover To close up, since this post is now becoming rather unwieldy, after watching a recent preview for the movie Beastly, and seeing that it was based on a book by Alex Flinn, I trotted my happy behind over to the library website and (thank goodness a copy was available) downloaded the ebook. I’m just over halfway finished and have mixed feelings.

On one hand, I love the tweak on the classic story, but on the other I’m not loving the lack of a nod to Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont, or even Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve, though a number of other fairytale creators (Hans Christian Andersen, The Brothers Grimm) and fairytale characters receive such nods (unless, of course, the Madames’ nods are through all the discussion of French literature–but maybe there will be a more discernable one in later chapters).

Also I’m not entirely thrilled with some of the character development and prose—sometimes it feels as though she’s talking down to her audience. But I’ll save that for an actual review though.

For now, I shall leave you to enjoy your weekend. Have fun, be safe, and don’t forget to read a book or two.

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December 29

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Download a Free Copy of Wish by Alexandra Bullen

by Ann-Kat

Wish cover To commemorate the upcoming release of Wishful Thinking (I’m loving that cover), you can download a free ebook copy of Wish by Alexandra Bullen from now through January 3, 2011.

About the book:

For broken-hearted Olivia Larsen, nothing can change the fact that her twin sister, Violet, is gone… until a mysterious, beautiful gown arrives on her doorstep. The dress doesn’t just look magical; it is magical. It has the power to grant her one wish, and the only thing Olivia wants is her sister back.

With Violet again by her side, both girls get a second chance at life. And as the sisters soon discover, they have two more dresses-and two more wishes left. But magic can’t solve everything, and Olivia is forced to confront her ghosts to learn how to laugh, love, and live again.

In a breathtaking debut from Alexandra Bullen, WISH asks the question: If you could have anything, what would you wish for?

You can read the book through the widget or download a copy to your Kindle. Also, keep your eyes open for a Wishful Thinking giveaway (which will be open to international readers, yay!).

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October 9

Comments: 2

Quiet, Read-a-Thon, NaNoWriMo, and Changes

by Ann-Kat

Solitary Bench It’s been quiet around here.

Had an unscheduled hiatus due to some familial duties. I’ve still been reading though (and updating my 2010 reading list if you’re curious), just haven’t been blogging about it.

Slowly things are getting back to normal so the blogging should pick up soon.

I had planned to do the 24 Hour Read-a-Thon this year—even had a book pool filled with books perfect for this Halloween season picked out—but I’d thought it was tomorrow. Turns out I was wrong and it was today. To all those officially participating in the read-a-thon, I’m there with you in spirit, reading unofficially. Press on, have fun, read lots. :)

For the infinitely curious, here’s a small sampling of my planned pool:

Soulstice, The Devouring Book 2Tales from the Odyssey Book 2Solitary by Travis ThrasherEmpty by Suzanne WeynThe Thief Lord by Cornelia FunkeOne Across, Two Down / The Face of Trespass / Make Death Love Me by Ruth Rendell

Plus a few short stories thrown in for good measure, selected from Nightmares & Dreamscapes by Stephen King.

NaNoWriMo 2010 ParticipantAnd can you believe it’s October already? That means NaNoWriMo is less than a month away. I thought about whether I’d like to participate this year, and the answer is of course yes. It’s simply too hard to resist.

Although I’ve been feeling the creative juices lately, I hadn’t been writing as much. I’d jot a quick note here or there, or a sentence or two, but nothing serious. Instead I’ve been working mainly on short stories or outlines for longer stories. NaNoWriMo will give me an opportunity to take one of those seedling ideas and transform it into a shitty first draft.

Again I plan to use the Liquid Story Binder software. (Jesse might even give the same 50% discount throughout the month of November that he did last year, so if you haven’t already, it’s time to set your sights on it.) Although I have a fairly good system worked out for new novels, I’m planning to tweak that system to incorporate more Builders (which I absolutely love for writing short stories).

But, for the non-writerly types, I plan to keep this blog mainly about books and my readings and other musings and keep all my writing and NaNoWriMo stuff to my actual writing blog (which is in sore need of an update or three).

Finally, this has been clunking around in my head for some time now, but I’m planning a number of changes around the blog. The first of which might be the design. Although I’ve grown quite fond of it, I think it’s about time to change the look, especially since I’m planning to expand the blog a bit.

Which brings me to my second point: I’m planning to expand the blog a bit. Right now I have a sidebar which lists the books I’m “currently” reading and books which I’ve “recently” read, but they’re dreadfully out of date. Rather than fight with them every so often, I plan to move the “currently” reading section to its own page where I’ll just list my entire TBR pile. I’ll keep the recently read section and update it periodically.

Also, I’ll be starting up a Comment Rewards program. Basically, I have a ton of books which need new loving homes. Some I’ll inevitably donate, but I figure my readers might enjoy some of them. So I’ll set up a comments rewards bookshelf where I’ll select a commenter at random once every couple of weeks to choose a book from the shelf.

All commenters are eligible (as long as a valid email address was provided during commenting), past or present or future. More comments equal more chances to be chosen. That’s it. Assuming all goes well, it will become a long term feature of the blog. I’ll make a formal announcement post when I’m rolling out with it.

And that…is the update.

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