Book Reviews by Today, I Read…

January 16

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Recent Arrivals: The Alchemy of Forever by Avery Williams

by Ann-Katrina

Recent Arrivals chronicles the books that have made their way onto the Today, I Read… bookshelf. Here’s the latest arrival: The Alchemy of Forever by Avery Williams

The Alchemy of Forever cover

First paragraph: I feel as though I’ve been waiting for the masquerade ball for my entire life. At fourteen, I am eligible for marriage and finally old enough to attend. The torchlight flickers on the sandstone facade of Lord Suffit’s palace on the Thames, and the roses woven into my hair are heady and sweet. I remember to push my mast up over my face before I walk through the great arched doorway.

Initial thoughts: Let me say up front that I’d not heard word one about this novel. Never read anything by Avery Williams before and, in general, have been out of the loop. But when I checked my mail and saw a package from Simon & Schuster and with tucked inside a book with a very pretty cover, I couldn’t resist checking out the back cover and blurb. (By the way, the picture does not do the actual cover justice.)

My first thought was, Hmm, this reminds me of that episode of The Outer Limits where the cops were chasing those spirit orb glow-y things that kept leaping from body to body. Before you think that’s a bad thing, it’s actually not. The Outer Limits happens to be one of my all time favourite shows. So while the gist of the story sounded quite similar to that episode, it was different enough to grab my attention—different in a way that made me want to read this book—like—yesterday.

As luck would have it, the book doesn’t appear over-long, so it should only take a few hours, however, it’s the beginning of a series, so I’m a little worried that this won’t be a fully contained story. I saw a lot of that going around last year—an almost story with a cliffhanger ending in an attempt to shove you into the next book—but the good news is that I haven’t seen it too much with stuff put out by S&S.

Book description:

Her first love made her immortal…

Her second might get her killed.

After spending six hundred years on Earth, Seraphina Ames has seen it all. Eternal life provides her with the world’s riches, but at a very high price: innocent lives. Centuries ago her boyfriend, Cyrus, discovered a method of alchemy that allows them to take the bodies of other humans by jumping from one vessel to the next, ending the human’s life in the process. No longer able to bear the guilt of what she’s done, Sera escapes from Cyrus and vows to never kill again.

Then sixteen-year-old Kailey Morgan gets into a horrific car accident right in front of her, and Sera accidentally takes over her body while trying to save her. For the first time, Sera finds herself enjoying the life of the person she’s inhabiting–and falling for the human boy who lives next door. Buy Cyrus will stop at nothing until she’s his again, and every moment she stays, she’s putting herself and the people she’s grown to care for in great danger. Will Sera have to give up the one thing that’s eluded her for centuries: true love?

Book Details: 246 pages; Simon & Schuster; Pub. January 3, 2012

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January 12

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2012: The Year of Extinction (and Change)

by Ann-Katrina

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 26

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Teaser Tuesdays: An Interesting Dilemma

by Ann-Katrina

Teaser Tuesdays Happy Tuesday! It’s time again for another edition of Teaser Tuesdays

Here are the rules:

  • Grab your current read
  • Let the book fall open to a random page
  • Share with us two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • You also need to share the title of the book where you get your teaser from…that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you’ve given
  • Please avoid spoilers

Before I get on with this week’s teaser, I realized I had an interesting dilemma on my hands because I’m reading an ebook. I can’t randomly flip to a page and quote it. So, how, then, to quote? With the help of, that’s how. I plugged in the total pages, let the Random Machine do its job and went to that page. OK, I know that was a useless fact to most people, so I’ll just get to the teaser.

Paranormalcy cover This week’s teaser:

“I couldn’t believe it. Here I’d just told him I was a monster, that I was designed to suck souls out of paranormals, and he was okay with it.” ebook pg. 198 Paranormalcy by Kiersten White

This book has been on my radar for at least a year, but I never had an opportunity to read it before. Now I do.

I’m not that far into it, but it already has a fun campy feel. This can get overdone in a heartbeat and I’m not far enough in to know for sure if it does, but for now, it’s perfectly balanced. I’ve already laughed out loud a few times.

I especially love the interaction with the vampire in the opening chapter. That was a hoot.

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April 26

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A Zombie-Tinged Tea Party

by Ann-Katrina

Isaac Marion PhotoFun fact: Isaac Marion isn’t just a skilled author and pretty face, he’s also musically inclined and artistic. How’s that for a triple threat (quadruple thread if you count the pretty face)?

Well, that inspired me to ask this multi-talented man to a virtual tea party and told him he could bring three guests: an artist, a musician, and an author. Then I asked what shenanigans are likely to ensue, you know, so I can be prepared. Here’s what Isaac had to say about that…

This is an interesting question because you didn’t specify living artists, which means there are so many opportunities here beyond just meeting artists I admire, which let’s face it, is always underwhelming. For instance, I could meet Beethoven and force him at gunpoint to compose an original symphony with my name in the copyright. Can you imagine how much I’d make in royalties with a brand new release from the legendary Ludwig Van Beethoven? And I could meet Da Vinci and force him to tell me where he hid the secret map that leads to the secret vault that holds Jesus Christ’s secret sex tape, or whatever The Da Vinci Code is about. (Haven’t read it.) And speaking of Jesus, God is generally believed to be the author of the Bible, right? So I could meet God, and maybe slip some kind of magical drug into His tea that would make Him lose consciousness for a few hours, during which I could steal the Divine Battery that powers all His powers and use it to become God. This is going to be the best tea party ever!

It raises the question, though, how did you, gentle blogger, gain the power to raise dead historical figures and summon the Almighty to tea? Does this involve time travel, or the kind of dark, dead-raising magic I launched my career writing about? Because if these are zombie artists we’re talking about, that changes things. A lot. Would Zombie Beethoven still have the musical chops to compose a hit single? Or would he write me some kind of dull, plodding adagio that wouldn’t make it anywhere near the classical charts, much less dominate them? Would Zombie Da Vinci even remember where he hid Jesus’ sex tape, much less be able to teach me how to fly an ornithopter? And I don’t even want to think about Zombie God. That just sounds like bad news for everybody.

I hope I’ve answered all your questions.

Yes, Isaac. Yes, it did. A very big thank-you to Isaac and his wonderful publicists for allowing this post to happen. If you haven’t already, check out the Warm Bodies giveaway–you still have a few hours to enter. And if you can’t wait that long, then visit Amazon (or your favorite ebook retailer) and download yourself a copy because that book rocks. It’s filled with zombies.

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April 17

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Giveaway: Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion

by Ann-Katrina

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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