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Bending the Spine

Monday, May 28, 2012

Review: Pretties by Scott Westerfeld

Pretties (Uglies, #2)
Tally has finally become pretty. Now her looks are beyond perfect, her clothes are awesome, her boyfriend is totally hot, and she's completely popular. It's everything she's ever wanted.

But beneath all the fun -- the nonstop parties, the high-tech luxury, the total freedom -- is a nagging sense that something's wrong. Something important. Then a message from Tally's ugly past arrives. Reading it, Tally remembers what's wrong with pretty life, and the fun stops cold.

Now she has to choose between fighting to forget what she knows and fighting for her life -- because the authorities don't intend to let anyone with this information survive.

Audio CD
Published January 1st 2006 (first published November 1st 2005)
ISBN: 1428111239 (ISBN13: 9781428111233)
series: Uglies #2
Asheley at Into the Hall of Books, this review is for you.
I read Uglies and was a little underwhelmed by it.  However, I promised Asheley, that I would try the rest of the series.
I’m glad I did.  All the negative things I said about Uglies weren’t resolved, but as a whole, Pretties was a much better experience than Uglies.
The storyline felt much more developed and mature.  I liked the mystery and intrigue, but also there was a lot of action.  Even though you could kinda guess what was going to happen (it is the second book in a triology), there was enough unknowns to keep me guessing.
The characters were much more developed and even though they were pretty-minded, you could see the growth and changes in them.  It was really neat to see the growth in Tally over the course of the book.  I’m not saying that all teenagers should buck the system, but to see her pursue her cause of fighting back against the city, of giving people a choice of pretty or ugly.
Y’all, this might not be a great book in the big scheme of literature, but it is a really good story!  You need to check out the Uglies series!
3 Trees: Pretty intriguing and interesting
Get to reading,

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Giveaway: Nickolas & Company Episode 1 by Kevin McGill

Kevin McGill, author of the Nikolas & Company series offered to giveaway a SIGNED COPY of Episode 1!  You can see my review HERE.

Kevin launched a copy of N&C into space!  Check out the video:

Want to win a signed copy of N&C Episode 1? Yes, of course you do!  Leave a comment about the video below to enter!

Giveaway Details:

Entries will be accepted through June 4, 2012.  Winner will be chosen using random.org.  Please leave your email address in the comment using any variation of the following example: email[at]email[dot]com.  Chosen winner will have 48hours to respond to notification email before new winner is chosen.

Good luck, y’all!

Get to reading,

Monday, May 21, 2012

Review: Nikolas & Company: The Merman & the Moon Forgotten—Episode 1 by Kevin McGill

Nick lives in a time when one can extend their life indefinitely through cerebral downloads, zip from country to country in hovercars, and have every whim taken care of by the ever faithful nannydrones.

Nick hates it.

Aside from the refugee camps, overpopulation, and unchecked consumerism filling every city across the globe, Nick just doesn’t belong. That is when he hears the voice of a woman:
“The Rones lie about their true intent. They enter the city of Huron at the peril of us all.”

Shortly after, his slightly crazed grandfather reveals to him:
“All you’ve ever heard about the Moon is a lie, my dear Nikolas. He was not always a mere satellite, a ghost wandering the stars. In an age before our own, Moon was our twin, and in him bore the whole of magical life. The cradle of this magical civilization was a fantastic metropolis filled with fire-breathing winged lions, volcano-born nymphs, automaton-legged mermaids, and so much magic you can smell it. We called this city Huron, and you, Nikolas, are her steward.”

Meanwhile on the moon, the senior stagecoach driver Yeri Willrow thought he was performing a simple drive and drop for his mysterious passengers, until they are attacked by foul-breath red-eyed creatures. He soon learns that his passengers are a family of automaton-legged merfolk, and he is their only hope. Yeri suddenly finds himself tasked with saving the merfolk or they will fall to the peril of the creature most foul.

ebook, 130 pages
Published March 31st 2012 by Aero Studios (first published December 15th 2011)
ISBN: B006K3MS1K (ISBN13: 9780983415626)
url: http://nikolasandco.com

I don’t read fantasy books.  At all.  It’s not my thing.  I don’t watch sci-fi/fantasy movies or TV shows.  I just don’t get them.  I can’t follow them.  I don’t even give them a chance.  Then, Kevin McGill contacted me and I read the first few chapters of Nikolas & Company: The Merman & the Moon Forgotten.  And I was instantly hooked.  It’s almost like this book was written as my introduction to the sci-fi/fantasy genre.

McGill has an interesting take on the Earth-Moon relationship, one that seems plausible, yet fantastical at the same time.  We’re dropped into a dystopian-future society where the Geneva virus has wreaked havoc on the populace.  It’s a harsh, and prejudiced, but it is what they know.  Though we are only very briefly introduced to Nikolas & Company, you tell right off that there is a strong friendship between them all, a depth of friendship that sincere and honest.

Though the writing was choppy at times, I was able to follow the story.  Even, all the different names, places, etc. were distinct enough that I was able to keep up with it all.  Which is a near miracle to me, because with most movies of this genre, the names alone would be enough to have me puzzled.  Thank you for not loosing me, Kevin!

At the end we have a cliffhanger, which I’m not usually a fan of.  But it was appropriate, and Episode 2, When Boats Breathe and Cities Speak releases June 16th!

4 Trees: Y’all, check this series out!

Get to reading,

*This eBook was provided to me by the author in exchange for an honest review*

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Review: The Vespertine by Saundra Mitchell

It’s the summer of 1889, and Amelia van den Broek is new to Baltimore and eager to take in all the pleasures the city has to offer. But her gaiety is interrupted by disturbing, dreamlike visions she has only at sunset—visions that offer glimpses of the future. Soon, friends and strangers alike call on Amelia to hear her prophecies. However, a forbidden romance with Nathaniel, an artist, threatens the new life Amelia is building in Baltimore. This enigmatic young man is keeping secrets of his own—still, Amelia finds herself irrepressibly drawn to him. When one of her darkest visions comes to pass, Amelia’s world is thrown into chaos. And those around her begin to wonder if she’s not the seer of dark portents, but the cause.

Hardcover, 293 pages
Published March 7th 2011 by Harcourt Children's Books
ISBN: 0547482477 (ISBN13: 9780547482477)
series: The Vespertine #1


Ok, y’all, this book is sexy!  Ameilia and Nathaniel make sparks jump off the page!  I don’t know how Saundra managed to make it so super sexy without actual sex, but she did.  There was this element of being risqué, that made the forbidden/frowned upon attraction between them almost too much to handle!
I fell in love with the characters.  I felt very passionate about them (though often confused on who the minor characters were—there were many!) and wanted good things for them, and good things did happen!  Amelia’s visions, though, perforated a happy period piece with flashes of tragedy.  Even if the visions weren’t tragic, they were often bittersweet.
The language is appropriate, but not overly-haughty.  I felt transported back in time, without feeling as if I was an outsider—I connected with the writing and was drawn in.  The major plot elements really develop about half-way through the book.  The story is so enticing, so entertaining that it wasn’t bothersome that that no real action takes place right away.  And the paranormal elements keep things interesting.
Y’all, you need to read this book, even if you aren’t fans of either period or paranormal.  This is just good!
5 Trees: Read this in front of a fan.  It’s HOT, y’all!

Get to reading,

Side Note:

I don’t normally like period novels.  I would have never read this book had it not been for YALL Fest 2011.  Saundra was on a panel and hearing her talk about The Vespertine made me want to read it—BAD!  So, I bought it that day, had her sign it, and the rest is history.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

B&D: A look ahead

Every now and then I get review requests.  And every now and then I accept them.  Which leads to a problem, having too much to read, and not being near organized enough with it! 
So, in order to better balance my TBR/review queue, I’ve made a list.  And on that list are a lot of books…an overwhelming amount of books.  To keep myself accountable for reading what I should be, here’s a list (in order) of reviews that will be coming to B&D soon:
[Not pictured above: The Joy of Deception by Gretchen Johnson]

Do you guys, as readers and reviewers, ever feel overwhelmed when you look at your TBR? 

Get to reading,
*This is my plan, and my plan is to stick to it. Time will tell!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Review: The Starboard Seas by Amber Dermont

JASON PROSPER grew up in the elite world of Manhattan penthouses, Maine summer estates, old-boy prep schools, and exclusive sailing clubs. A smart, athletic teenager, Jason maintains a healthy, humorous disdain for the trappings of affluence, preferring to spend afternoons sailing with Cal, his best friend and boarding-school roommate. When Cal commits suicide during their junior year at Kensington Prep, Jason is devastated by the loss and transfers to Bellingham Academy. There, he meets Aidan, a fellow student with her own troubled past. They embark on a tender, awkward, deeply emotional relationship.
When a major hurricane hits the New England coast, the destruction it causes brings with it another upheaval in Jason’s life, forcing him to make sense of a terrible secret that has been buried by the boys he considers his friends.
Set against the backdrop of the 1987 stock market collapse, The Starboard Sea is an examination of the abuses of class privilege, the mutability of sexual desire, the thrill and risk of competitive sailing, and the adult cost of teenage recklessness. It is a powerful and provocative novel about a young man finding his moral center, trying to forgive himself, and accepting the gift of love.
320 pages
Published February 28th 2012 by St. Martin's Press
ISBN: 0312642806 (ISBN13: 9780312642808)


Though unable to relate to the overindulgent upbringing of the cast of characters, what I could relate to is the feelings they experienced.  Feelings of invincibility, self-loathing, pride, indecision.  Jason wears these like a banner waving in the wind.  He internalizes them also, but bears them vibrantly for the reader to evaluate their own feelings against his story.  To become so entwined with him that they are not two separate yet equal beings, but the reader and Jason become joined, their emotions inseparable and indistinguishable.

There is so much pain.  Sometimes unbearable to the point of being unsure whether I could carry the yoke of this book.  Glimpses of joy perforate the solemnity, providing rays of hope in an otherwise dark tale.  Sorrow is Jason’s scar, one that he carries as Atlas shrugged under the weight of the world.  A sorrow that seeps into the soul of the reader.  Yet there is little comfort to be found—for Jason or the reader.  There is not a magic silver-lining.  One can only hope to persevere, not overcome.

I finished this book and sighed, “Oh my goodness.”  Nearly in tears, and glad for the reprieve of having finished such an intense, emotional book.  My heart aches and yearns for better things to come.  For justice, for peace, for hope to prevail and for life, in all it’s bitter glory, to go on.  There are so few books that move me to near-tears, and this one did.  I had my qualms with The Starboard Sea, yet I have been moved and changed.  A little part of myself shattered, and reshaped.  I cannot imagine how this book could not affect someone immensely.  To enlarge the heart of it’s reader to increase love, to embrace the hurting, to mend the broken.

If there was a way to insert the feeling of a standing ovation to this review, I would, for Amber Dermont deserves one.

5 Trees

Get to reading,

*This book was provided to me by the publishers through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

About the author

Amber Dermont is the author of the novel, The Starboard Sea, and the short story collection, Damage Control, both forthcoming from St. Martin's Press. A graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop, Amber received her PhD in Literature and Creative Writing from the University of Houston. Her work has recently appeared in American Short Fiction, Crazyhorse, Open City, Tin House, TriQuarterly, Zoetrope: All-Story and the anthologies Best New American Voices, The Best American Nonrequired Reading, The Worst Years of Your Life and Home of the Brave: Stories in Uniform. She is the recipient of a Literature Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts and currently serves as an Associate Professor of English and Creative Writing at Agnes Scott College in Decatur, Georgia.

Monday, May 7, 2012

SBT12: Winner, winner, chicken dinner


Southern Book Tour 2012

Once again, a special thank you to all those who stopped by and entered the giveaways for SBT12!


(links go to the winner’s blogs)
Under the Same Sky by Genevieve Graham: Christina
The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab: Enna
Vamplayers by Rusty Fischer: Julie
A Soul to Steal by Rob Blackwell: Kelly W.
On the Island by Tracey Garvis Graves: Elisha S.
Perigee Moon by Tara Fuller: Mirely

Contests still running are:

ARC of Elemental by Antony John [US/Canada]

ARC of Auraria by Tim Westover [3 Winners! INTERNAIONAL]

Get to reading [writing, blogging, entering the giveaways!],

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

SBT12: A Wrap Up…Kinda


Southern Book Tour 2012

The first ever Southern Book Tour has come to an end!  I hope that you have enjoyed hearing from Southern authors and bloggers as much as I have!  This has been so much fun, it may become a regular feature on my blog!  What do you think?

There are still some giveaways running, so be sure to enter while there’s still time!

A very special thanks to all those who participated, commented, entered the giveaways, and stopped by for all the fun!  You all have been awesome and made all the stress, scheduling, formatting, and yelling at my computer when it would cooperate worth it!  If I could have my wife bake you all her famous chocolate chip cookies and send them to you, I would!  Y’all rock my face off!

Winners for various giveaways will be notified as they are selected.  I will post them all in a follow-up post once all the giveaways have ended!

So, for now…

Get to reading (writing, or blogging!),

Schedule recap

Click on the covers to check out the post!
Not pictured above: Southern Bookstore Tour with Joli @ Actin’ Up With Books