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Bending the Spine

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

And the winner is…

and-the-winner-is Ok, so I've been pretty freakin’ excited all month about my FIRST EVER (!!!!) giveaway featuring two, yes TWO copies of Rusty Fischer’s awesome Ushers, Inc.  I just couldn’t wait to get the winners up on the blog! So…

…the winners have been chosen!  Our lucky Bounders are:

Both names link to their blogs, so check ‘em out and show ‘em some love!

Keep watching the blog for more giveaways and  more (I hope you thing they are) awesome reviews!


Get to reading,

*A special thanks goes out to Rusty who fronted the two eBooks to be given away.  Check out his blog and show him some love, too!*

Waiting on Wednesday (6) Dearly, Departed by Lia Habel

image WoW is a weekly blog-hop hosted by Breaking the Spine that features books we are eagerly awaiting!
I absolutely cannot wait to read Dearly, Departed by Lia Habel.  Read the description below and you’ll understand why. 
I first heard of this from The Bookish Brunette during Zombie Craze 2011 via guest post by Lia Habel (see it here).  I fell in love with the post and semi-cyber-stalked Habel for a few days, finding her on Goodreads and letting her know how freaking excited I am about her book.
And now, I anxiously patiently wait for October 18, 2011, for it to release.
Ms. Habel, can I have an ARC, please???
What are you waiting for?
Love can never die.
Love conquers all, so they say. But can Cupid’s arrow pierce the hearts of the living and the dead—or rather, the undead? Can a proper young Victorian lady find true love in the arms of a dashing zombie? 
The year is 2195. The place is New Victoria—a high-tech nation modeled on the manners, mores, and fashions of an antique era. A teenager in high society, Nora Dearly is far more interested in military history and her country’s political unrest than in tea parties and debutante balls. But after her beloved parents die, Nora is left at the mercy of her domineering aunt, a social-climbing spendthrift who has squandered the family fortune, and now plans to marry her niece off for money. For Nora, no fate could be more horrible—until she’s nearly kidnapped by an army of walking corpses. 
But fate is just getting started with Nora. Catapulted from her world of drawing-room civility, she’s suddenly gunning down ravenous zombies alongside mysterious black-clad commandos and confronting “The Laz,” a fatal virus that raises the dead—and hell along with them. Hardly ideal circumstances. Then Nora meets Bram Griswold, a young soldier who is brave, handsome, noble . . . and dead. But as is the case with the rest of his special undead unit, luck and modern science have enabled Bram to hold on to his mind, his manners, and his body parts. And when his bond of trust with Nora turns to tenderness, there’s no turning back. Eventually, they know, the disease will win, separating the star-crossed lovers forever. But until then, beating or not, their hearts will have what they desire.
In Dearly, Departed, steampunk meets romance meets walking-dead thriller, spawning a madly imaginative novel of rip-roaring adventure, spine-tingling suspense, and macabre comedy that forever redefines the concept of undying love.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Review: Linger by Maggie Stiefvater

In Maggie Stiefvater's Shiver, Grace and Sam found each other.  Now, in Linger, they must fight to be together. For Grace, this means defying her parents and keeping a very dangerous secret about her own well-being. For Sam, this means grappling with his werewolf past . . . and figuring out a way to survive into the future. Add into the mix a new wolf named Cole, whose own past has the potential to destroy the whole pack.  And Isabelle, who already lost her brother to the wolves . . . and is nonetheless drawn to Cole.
At turns harrowing and euphoric, Linger is a spellbinding love story that explores both sides of love -- the light and the dark, the warm and the cold -- in a way you will never forget.
Audiobook, Preloaded Digital Audio Player
Published August 28th 2010 by Scholastic (first published July 13th 2010)
ISBN: 1616379294 (ISBN13: 9781616379292)
series: The Wolves of Mercy Falls #2
literary awards: Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Goodreads Author, Favorite Heroine, Favorite Book, Young Adult Fantasy (2010), Voya Perfect Ten (2010)
After LOVING Shiver, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on Linger.  And, while it was good to continue the story of Grace and Sam, Linger left me a little disappointed.
I absolutely think the best character in Linger is Isabel.  I’m glad she got so much play time and that we really got to see who she is—not just as a Frost Queen, but as a real person, with feelings and depth.  I, however, really didn’t like Grace.  She came off as shallow and selfish.
One of my favorite parts of the book is where Grace tells her parents off.  I was all like “Yay, Grace!”  Their 180 had left me confused.  And, as a parent, I can see where there were coming from, but also I can’t believe how absent they were.  Giving Grace “room to roam,”  as her mom put it, and then trying to control her every move and banishing her from seeing Sam, it was too night-and-day for me.  Too much from one extreme to the other.  So it was like scientists  had finally proven there was life on Mars, unfortunately it was after the end of the world as they knew it—too little, too late….and a little unrealistic.
It all seemed very, juvenile to me.  After that maturity of Shiver, Linger felt a little too tween, not quiet there, but trying to act like it was (I’m not talking about audience here, more about depth of the story, characters, plotline).  There was good, and there was bad.  You can judge for yourself, it is an enjoyable read listen.  But, it left me with the lingering feeling, not that I had missed something, but that the book itself was missing something.
I’m a little leery about reading Forever.  I’ve heard mixed reviews.  After Linger, I might just want to make up my own ending to the story myself, so that everyone gets their happily-ever-after.
3: Linger did just that, lingered on the edge of greatness, but fell a little short.
Many Adventures,

Friday, August 26, 2011

Follow Friday (10)

image Q. In books like the Sookie Stackhouse (True Blood) series the paranormal creature in question "comes out of the closet" and makes itself known to the world. Which mythical creature do you wish would come out of the closet, for real?

A. Isn’t it kind of the point for fantasy to stay fantasy.  If it were reality it would be boring and commonplace.  So, my direct answer to the question is none of it.  It should all stay safely locked away in the minds of creative writers, TV and movie producers, who only let it out to entertain us.

What bump-in-the-night creature would you want to be real?


*Follow Friday is a blog-hop hosted by Parajunkee and Alison Can Read*

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Review: Room by Emma Donoghue

To five-year-old Jack, Room is the entire world. It is where he was born and grew up; it's where he lives with his Ma as they learn and read and eat and sleep and play. At night, his Ma shuts him safely in the wardrobe, where he is meant to be asleep when Old Nick visits.
Room is home to Jack, but to Ma, it is the prison where Old Nick has held her captive for seven years. Through determination, ingenuity, and fierce motherly love, Ma has created a life for Jack. But she knows it's not enough...not for her or for him. She devises a bold escape plan, one that relies on her young son's bravery and a lot of luck. What she does not realize is just how unprepared she is for the plan to actually work.
Told entirely in the language of the energetic, pragmatic five-year-old Jack, ROOM is a celebration of resilience and the limitless bond between parent and child, a brilliantly executed novel about what it means to journey from one world to another.
Audio CD, Unabridged
Published September 6th 2010 by Hachette Audio
ISBN: 1607886278 (ISBN13: 9781607886273)
literary awards: Man Booker Prize Nominee (2010), Commonwealth Writers' Prize for Best Book in Caribbean and Canada (2011), Goodreads Choice Award for Fiction, Nominee for Favorite Heroine (2010), ALA Alex Award (2011), Indies Choice Book Award for Fiction (2011), Bord Gáis Energy Irish Book Award for Hughes & Hughes Irish Novel of the Year (2010), Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize (2010)
Room is one of those rare books that come along every so often that is a book of contradictions.  I love it, I hate it.  It’s beautiful, it’s horrible.  It left me disturbed, and strangely comforted.
Being told from Jack’s perspective is a novel (pun intended) idea.  I liked this about it, but I was also terribly annoyed by it.  I have an almost 5 year-old she doesn’t call nouns by their proper noun form: a bed, is not “Bed,” nor is a rug “Rug.”  Seriously, this got on my nerves so bad I almost gave up on this altogether.  However, I hate not finishing a book.  So, I bit the bullet so to speak and persevered.  While in Room, Jack had conversations with Ma, they watched TV, so, I feel he should have been able to talk like a 5 year-old.  My 2 year-old doesn’t even talk like that.
Another complaint I have is that *SPOILER ALERT* Ma tries to commit suicide after the “Great Escape.”  I’m not buying it.  All she wanted while in Room was to escape or be rescued.  Now, after she finally gets what she wants, she can’t deal with it.  Really?  Cop out.  Drama for the sake of drama.  And it annoyed me.
As a reader (listener) I was challenged to see life and society through Jack’s eyes.  To see the lunacy and idiocy of our modern lives.  Things that we take for granted were completely new to him, sometimes misunderstood, and often laughed at.  And then I moved on.  I was aware of all this while reading Room, but haven’t given it much thought since.  The author both awed me at times with Jack’s perspective, and made me completely insane with his stubbornness and immovability.
2 Stars: This book had gotten such rave reviews and I can see why, I’m just not sure I’m buying into it.
Many Adventures,

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Early Review: Drink, Slay, Love by Sarah Beth Durst

image Description:
Pearl is a sixteen-year-old vampire . . . fond of blood, allergic to sunlight, and mostly evil . . . until the night a sparkly unicorn stabs her through the heart with his horn. Oops.
Her family thinks she was attacked by a vampire hunter (because, obviously, unicorns don’t exist), and they’re shocked she survived. They’re even more shocked when Pearl discovers she can now withstand the sun. But they quickly find a way to make use of her new talent. The Vampire King of New England has chosen Pearl’s family to host his feast. If Pearl enrolls in high school, she can make lots of human friends and lure them to the King’s feast—as the entrées.
The only problem? Pearl’s starting to feel the twinges of a conscience. How can she serve up her new friends—especially the cute guy who makes her fangs ache—to be slaughtered? Then again, she’s definitely dead if she lets down her family. What’s a sunlight-loving vamp to do?
ebook, 398 pages
Expected publication: September 13th 2011 by Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
ISBN: 1442423757 (ISBN13: 9781442423756)


Wow.  Sarah Beth Durst, you are amazing!  Drink, Slay, Love is amazing!

I was delighted that Durst created a world where vampires are hunters and humans are prey.  She embraced all the traditional lore of vampires and wrapped it into a story where it doesn’t feel fantastic, but real and honest.  Genuine.  She didn’t make vampires nice or shiny, she poked fun at the Twilight Saga numerous times (love it!), but left them in all their gory, predator greatness. 

And then we meet “Mr. Sparkly-and-Pointy.”  The unicorn added the element of fantasy that Drink, Slay, Love required.  Not to say that this book isn’t fantasy, because it is, but vampires in literature are “it” right now, so, using the unicorn makes this unique in a rainbows and sunshiny kind of way.  And I love it.

I like that Durst used the juxtaposition of the vampire’s hierarchical society and the human’s anything-goes approach to life to add an element of naiveté to Pearl.  There was something honest and refreshing about the way Pearl viewed and understood high school through the tinted lenses of her life.  I was lead down a path with Pearl as she grew and adapted to the intricacies of a human’s angst-filled teenage life, very authentic and never forced.  And her fellow students are so much fun!  Matt and Zeke are hilarious—I love their enthusiasm and idiocy.  Bethany’s idealistic change-the-world outlook was somewhat refreshing.  The only thing that did kind of bother me, is that the Evil Snow Princess of Greenbridge High (Ashlyn) was the one who “got what was coming to her.”  That one thing was very cliché.

The subtly of Pearl’s change in conscience was astounding.  The author did a fantastic job.  It was not contrived or sudden, but wonderfully gradual and unmistakable.  Durst was clever, cunning, and I honestly never figured out Pearl’s next move.  Maybe because i had a cold while reading, but i think it’s just her genius.

I had several laugh-out-loud moments and some that even made me clap with delight.  Drink, Slay, Love is a fantastic read.  I enjoy Durst’s writing and tone, and love that this book is very tongue-in-cheek at times.  All the references to Molly RIngwald and The Breakfast Club were so funny!  I liked the time-warp of Antoinette.  I was entertained, and look forward to reading more by Sarah Beth Durst.

5 Stars: Vampires, unicorns, and some kick-tail action sequences…heck yeah!

Many Adventures,

*This pre-release was provided by to me the publishers through Galley Grab*

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Follow Friday (9)

image Q. If you could write yourself a part in a book, what book would it be and what role would you play in that book?

A. Nerdy accounts receivable zombie by day, super exciting sleuth by night.  Ah, who am I kidding, that would be the worst book EVER.  Well, a zombie sleuth, that could be interesting.  I might be on to something there…

What about you?

PS: I you haven’t yet, check out my GIVEAWAY of Ushers, Inc. by Rusty Fischer!

*Follow Friday is a blog-hop hosted by Parajunkee and Alison Can Read*

Review: In the Belly of Jonah by Sandra Brannan

In the Belly of Jonah is a fast-paced mystery with a likable protagonist and an intricately woven narrative brimming with bizarre yet believable twists. The first in a series, the book expertly lays the groundwork for Liv Bergen, amateur sleuth, and her love interest, FBI Agent Streeter Pierce.

Liv becomes involved in the investigation of the murder of Jill Brannigan, a summer intern at the limestone mine Liv manages near Fort Collins, Colorado (a breathtaking setting that unwittingly becomes an accessory to crime). In doing so, she inadvertently puts her friends, her family, and herself at risk of being swallowed in the belly of a madman bloated with perverse appetites for women, surrealistic art, and renown.

Perhaps a bit too daring (and at times irreverent) for her own good, ''Boots,'' as Liv's eight siblings call her, soon realizes she has a knack for outsmarting and tracking down the Venus de Milo murderer--and she enjoys it! As the gripping plot of In the Belly of Jonah unfolds, Liv Bergen takes her place alongside the best female crime-solvers as a woman with smarts, self-confidence, and intuitive savvy.

ebook, 288 pages
Published September 1st 2010 by Greenleaf Book Group, LLC
ISBN: 1608320774 (ISBN13: 9781608320776)
series: Liv Bergen Mysteries #1
FULL DISCLOSURE: I got this as a *FREE* download.  I cant’ remember from where, but it was free.  So, now you know.  I’m cheap.
This is a very quick read.  Once it got going, it moved.  Now, In the Belly of Jonah is not difficult, it’s pretty easy-peasy.  However, this story is murder-mystery-scripted.  It follows your normal, expected, typical path of the genre.  Which, was somewhat of a disappointment.
You have the independent woman-in-a-man’s-world Liv Bergen, who manages to inject herself Jessica Fletcher style into the murder investigation of one of her employees.  Um, been there done that.  Tired of it.  I expected a bit more of the author looking at the awesome cover and the description (which I believe was different than the Goodreads version).
I was entertained, even though I figured out the who-dunnit about mid-story (which I NEVER do).  All in all, it was an OK reading experience.  Can’t say I’d pay for book two.
2.5 Stars: Glad I didn’t pay for it.

Many Adventures,

Monday, August 15, 2011

Early Review: Ashes by Ilsa J. Bick

It could happen tomorrow...
A cataclysmic event. An army of "The Changed."

Can one teen really survive on her own?

An electromagnetic pulse sweeps through the sky, destroying every electronic device and killing billions. For those spared, it's a question of who can be trusted and who is no longer human...

Desperate to find out what happened and to avoid the Changed, Alex meets up with Tom---a young army veteran---and Ellie, a young girl whose grandfather was killed by the electromagnetic pulse.

This improvised family will have to use every ounce of courage they have just to survive

Hardcover, 480 pages
Expected publication: September 6th 2011 by EgmontUSA (first published August 5th 2011)
series: Ashes Trilogy #1
This is not a light task, reading this book.  It is dark.  It is depressing.  It is disgusting.  It is long.  Cannibalistic unevolved-ape-teens (or rather reverse-evolved…not that I subscribe to evolution, but read the book, you’ll understand) that are the “Changed,” blood, gore.  Action, killing, guns, fighting…all the things a guy likes, wrapped up in a neat 480-page package.
There are many unique ideas of this dystopian novel that I have not encountered anywhere else.  You can tell Bick knows her stuff, because everything is believable.  It’s easy to buy into Ashes and give yourself over to the story.
*Caution: There may be some spoilers, so proceed with care*
I LOVE THIS BOOK.  Seriously, without a doubt, going on my favorite books of 2011 shelf.  This book is a whirlwind of motion.  A fast-paced page-turner.  Once it got started (and it did take a couple chapters to get going) it didn’t stop.  There were slow-downs, enough to let you catch your breath, and then it ramped back up.
Alex, the heroine, is a strong, independent, self-sufficient young lady.  I love her, but her whining gets on my nerves some times.  I can only take so much woe-is-me before I want a character killed off.  And Alex pushed my limits a few times.  There’s a lot of character development, a lot of growth.  She has to make grown-up decisions, and on the fly most of the time.  She is very realistic and I could relate to her.  There are tons, literally so many supporting characters that I sometimes forgot who was who.  I’m sure, since this is a series, that many of them will be developed more and that more of their stories will be revealed.  I want to know more about Jesse and Chris.  And Tom.  And Ellie (who I hated, then loved, then missed).
The people of Rule are a conundrum.  Are they just making do in post-apocalyptic America? Or are they continuing life-as-they-know-it, with a few minor hiccups?  And what’s with the Council of Five? And the empty chair?  They are so cult-tastic and creepy in their own right.  What’s their deal?
Ok, so, if you follow my reviews, you know that endings are important to me.  I hate the ending and love it all at the same time.  Talk about a cliffhanger!  Now, I must wait until sometime in 2012 (!!!!!!!!!) to know what happens next.
Ilsa J. Bick is wicked.  Not bad, but wicked in the awesome way that very few authors get to be.  She wove a masterful tale that has me hooked and wanting, no, craving more of this series.  I love her for writing this book, and hate her for not having the sequel ready for me to read!  I need it like NOW!
5 Stars: Can I please, please get the sequel early?????
Many Adventures,
*This pre-release was provided to my by the publisher through netGalley*

Friday, August 12, 2011

Follow Friday(8)

Q. How has your reading habits changed since you were a teen? or If you are still a teen what new genres are you in love with currently?

A.  Growing up (not that I’m finished yet!), I tended to read more mature mystery/suspense books—John Grisham, Mary Higgins Clark.  I went through a phase where I read more Christian fiction (Terri Blackstock, The Left Behind Series).  And I read A LOT, no matter what genre I was reading.

Once in college, when reading became mandatory, and usually not very interesting, I don’t recall reading for pleasure.  I did take several Lit classes as electives to have some fun.

As an “adult,” my wife got me back into reading.  I read about two books a week, usually one audiobook and one regular book.  I seem to be reading more more YA lately than anything else, though I enjoy many different genres.

Have your habits changed?

Many Adventures,

PS: I you haven’t yet, check out my GIVEAWAY of Ushers, Inc. by Rusty Fischer!

*Follow Friday is a blog-hop hosted by Parajunkee and Alison Can Read*

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Review: The Savage Garden by Mark Mills

Adam Strickland, a somewhat aimless young scholar at Cambridge University, is called to his professor's office one afternoon and assigned a special summer project: to write a scholarly monograph about the famous Docci garden in Tuscany. Dedicated to the memory of a fifteenth-century nobleman's young wife, the garden is a mysterious world of statues, grottoes, meandering rills, and classical inscriptions. But Adam comes to suspect that something sinister lies buried in the garden's strange iconography. What if Lord Docci's wife was murdered, and her memorial garden is filled with pointers to both the method and the motive of the crime?

As the odd history unfolds, Adam finds himself drawn into a parallel intrigue. Through his evolving relationship with the lady of the house - the ailing, seventy-something Signora Docci - he hears stories of yet another violent death in the family, this one much more recent. The Signora's eldest son was shot by Nazi officers on the third floor of the villa, and her husband, now dead, insisted that the area be sealed and preserved forever. Like the garden, the third-floor rooms are frozen in time.

As Adam delves into his subject, he begins to suspect that his seemingly innocent history project might be a setup. Is he really just the naive student, stumbling upon clues, or is he being used to discover the true meaning of the villa's murderous past?

Audio CD
Published May 10th 2007 by Brilliance Audio on CD Unabridged
ISBN: 142333793X (ISBN13: 9781423337935)
I am not a historian, or architect, or art-historian, nor am I great with mythology.  So, going into this book I had a lot, I mean A LOT, against me.  But what I did have going for me is persistence.  I was intrigued, hooked, confused, needing-to-stop-and-ask-for-directions-but-I’m-a-man-so-I’m-too-stubborn-to lost, and amazed, sometimes all at the same time.  BUT(!!!!) Mark Mills is a master story-teller.  He’s so good at weaving a tale that I could not wait to hear what was next!
Mills’ story appealed to my emotions, my sense of justice, the make-right-the-wrong ingrained in the fabric of my being.  I willed wrong to fail and for right to prevail, and at every twist and turn, Mills would take my “this has to happen next” and change it into a “what just happened? Seriously? I had no idea that was going to happen!” to the very last minutes of this book.
The characters are vivid, lively, interesting.  I immediately wanted to know their story and find out what was so mysterious about their lives.  I loved some, hated others, wanted some to get hit by a bus.  Mills developed his characters, brought them to life.  I could imagine these characters as real people living real lives near Florence, Italy.
The Savage Garden is not necessarily a thinking-man’s novel, but it couldn’t hurt if you were one.  Between the architectural terminology and styles, and mythology, and Italian places, my head would spin.  I’m no thinking-man, never have I claimed to be one (ask my wife, she’ll verify it!) and I was able to enjoy it.  I have a feeling that if this had been a printed copy, it might would have made it on my DNF list.  There were times when I felt dumb for not knowing what was being talked about (i.e. keeping up with who begot who and who was in love with who in the mythology…or should some of them be “whom?”…anyway…), but being an audiobook, something about it became vivid, more interesting, less imposing.  Basically, I really enjoyed the story.
4 Stars: visiting this garden made me itch to know how the story would end!
Many Adventures,

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (5)

WoW is a weekly blog-hop hosted by Breaking the Spine that features books we are eagerly awaiting!

I CANNOT wait to read this book!  The cover alone is amazing, much less the description…HOLY COW!  Well, maybe I’m not so excited about the romance part mentioned in the description, but who knows, maybe I will even like that part!

What are you waiting for?

Many Adventures,

Description from Goodreads:
Mara Dyer doesn't think life can get any stranger than waking up in a hospital with no memory of how she got there.
It can.
She believes there must be more to the accident she can't remember that killed her friends and left her mysteriously unharmed.
There is.
She doesn't believe that after everything she's been through, she can fall in love.
She's wrong.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Movie to Book: Red Riding Hood

image I’m not totally sure where to start with this.  Is it a book-to-movie, movie-to-book?  Eh, I don’t think that it really matters.  Either way, they both pretty much suck.  (See my review of Red Riding Hood by Sarah Blakley-Cartwright, Catherine Hardwicke).  I really wanted to love the book.  I really wanted to love the movie.

As a literal translation, the book was spot on (if my research serves me right, the book was written from the manuscript for the movie).  I prefer when liberties are not taken with the storyline.  Maybe, on one side or the other, someone should have taken some major liberties with this hot mess.

It came across as very…well, Twilightish…immature and underdeveloped.  Then I searched Google images for a movie poster, and, low-and-behold, the top of the poster reads “From the Director of Twilight.”  That explains A LOT.  Wasn’t one horrible movie enough?

Red Riding Hood (movie) was a thing of cinematic beauty.  Until the actors spoke, or the wolf appeared.  At best, it’s a B- movie but really closer to a C+.  Campy, corny, not well thought out, low-budget.  Cheap.  It left me thankful that we rented it from the Redbox and didn’t pay movie theater prices to see it.

Many Adventures,

Friday, August 5, 2011

Follow Friday (7)

Q. Talk about the book that most changed or influenced your life (was it a book that turned you from an average to avid reader, did it help you deal with a particularly difficult situation, does it bring you comfort every time you read it?).

A. This is difficult for me to answer, because I really don’t read anything that would influence my life.  I read for fun, not for personal growth.  I began to read more avidly once I started blogging, but that had nothing to do with a book I had read, it was from how much fun my wife has blogging.

The only book that I can think of that has an influence on my life is more like an anthology made up of smaller books, some independent of one another, some continuing from the last: The Bible.  No matter what I’m going through or what situation I’m in, the Word always helps me through it.  From inspiration, to comfort, to guidance…it’s all in there!  I prefer the NIV translation just in case you were wondering.

What book influences you?

Many Adventures,

PS: My blog is hosting a Guest Post and GIVEAWAY of Ushers, Inc. by Rusty Fischer, so read my review, the Guest Post, and register for the giveaway!

*Follow Friday is a blog-hop hosted by Parajunkee and Alison Can Read*

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Guest Post & Contest with Rusty Fischer

Hello, Bounders!  Today we have the honor of a guest post from author Rusty Fischer.  Read it, love it, enter the GIVEAWAY below!

Rusty_zombie-fiedSetting – When Your Places Are As Important As Your People
A Guest Post by Rusty Fischer, author of Ushers, Inc.

Writing YA is a great excuse to revisit some of the most evocative, poignant and powerful places from my own youth. For many young adult readers as well, particularly those who are only “young” at heart (like myself), reading about such places brings them back to high school as well.

So when I sit down to write a particular scene, in a particular YA novel, place is never too far removed from the people I’m writing about. In many ways, in fact, my places are just as important as my people.

I don’t spend a ton of time writing or blogging about craft. Partly because it’s not my expertise. By that I mean, I got a degree to teach English, not so much to write it. Most of what I know about writing came from the books I’ve read and, more recently, the books I’ve written.
  So while it’s easy for me to write about zombies, vampires or werewolves, tackling much “scarier” topics like symbolism, third person omniscient (what *is* that, anyway????) and theme are far more challenging. That said, I think I can speak confidently on one literary element at least, and that’s setting.

For me, books always start with a place (setting). I can’t separate it from my people (characters), let alone my story (plot). When I sat down to write my debut YA novel, Zombies Don’t Cry, I just knew it had to start in a cemetery.

I didn’t have Maddy or Stamp or Chloe or Dane or Bones or Dahlia or a single character in mind yet, but I could already “see” an opening scene in a graveyard.

That scene was more about starting a book; it was also about setting a tone. I mean, you start your book in a graveyard, you’re pretty much grounding your readers in a rich, varied, accessible setting right away. It’s the literary equivalent of a soundtrack. I can’t play creepy music to set the scene, but I can drop you right into a scary place and, if done right, it can be just as effective.

The thing about writing YA, you’re never really at a shortage of settings. And the thing is, for present, past or even future teens, most of them are so darn powerful. A locker room, for instance, is a very powerful setting. The hissing showers, the chlorine smell, the slamming lockers, the popping towels, the snapping bras… it’s almost instant emotion.

For those who sail through high school, the pretty or popular or cool ones, it’s usually a positive emotion; and that’s good. But for most of us who struggled with our looks, our bodies, our social standing, it’s a generally negative one; and that’s better!

The danger, of course, is in setting the scene and then thinking your job is done just because folks already know what a locker room looks like; or a gym or a cafeteria or a Chem lab. It’s not enough to just describe a place in the first two paragraphs of a scene, oral report style, and then… let it go.

A good setting isn’t just a background player but a supporting role. Describing what the locker room looks like up front is good, but slamming a locker door midway through the scene reminds them where they are, as do smelly socks, slick floor tiles, a slipping towel, etc.

The idea for my new YA supernatural romance, Ushers, Inc. – about four movie ushers who know more than the cops, the government and even the Marines about stopping werewolves, vampires and zombies – came to me while sitting in a movie theater.

So place was very, very important while writing that book. There are four main characters in that book; four Ushers who form Ushers, Inc. You could say that the theater they work in is really a fifth character. It’s such a big part of their world, the popcorn smells and constantly wiping off the glass concession stand and tearing tickets and finding seats, how could it be anything but?

So, that’s my take on setting. Not only is it important to your characters, but to your readers. Part of the joy of reading a book is being taken somewhere new, even if you’ve already been there before.

Few can argue that Hogwarts isn’t a strong, central character in the Harry Potter series, much as The Shire played a leading role in The Hobbit. But you don’t have to create a fictional world to create a strong setting. In YA, in particular, there are plenty of existing places just waiting to be explored!

Yours in YA,
Rusty Fischer

About the author: Rusty Fischer is the author of several YA supernatural novels, including Zombies Don’t Cry, Ushers, Inc., Vamplayers, I Heart Zombie and Panty Raid @ Zombie High. Visit his blog, www.zombiesdontblog.blogspot.com, for news, reviews, cover leaks, writing and publishing advice, book excerpts and more!
THANK YOU, Rusty!  Awesome insights.  I never realized how the simple elements of the setting really do make the story more awesome.  Looking forward to reading more of your books!

*Bounders, if you haven’t yet, check out Rusty’s Blog (there’s some FREE awesomeness on there!).  You can also find him on Goodreads.*


Rusty has been very generous to give Bound & Determined…two (2) copies of the Ushers, Inc. ebook to give away to two (2) lucky Bounders!

Here’s the skinny:
1. You don’t have to be a follower (but it would be awesome if you are).
2. Giveaway is open internationally.
3. Two lucky Bounders will be chosen at random.  Notification will be sent by email, you will have 2 days (48hours) to reply or new Bounders will be chosen (I will also announce the winners on the blog!).
4. Entries will be accepted through August 31, 2011.
5. Fill out the entry form below:

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (4)

WoW is a weekly blog-hop hosted by Breaking the Spine that features books we are eagerly awaiting!
This week, my pick is Zombies Don’t Cry by Rusty Fischer.
Why am I waiting on this?  Well, it’s highly recommended by fellow bloggers, and Rusty Fischer is AWESOME! Plus, there’s zombies, and an almost zombie Armageddon!  Heck yeah!

What are you waiting on?

Many Adventures,

In the sleepy small town of Barracuda Bay, Maddy Swift leads the life of a fairly typical teenager, but while attending a party one night, Maddy is struck by lightning and awakens to realize she has been reanimated and turned into a zombie. While becoming acquainted with her new "lifestyle," Maddy stumbles upon two unexpected undead chaperones, fellow students Dane and Chloe, who begin to teach her the ways of zombie life, including defending the populace from Zerkers—the bad zombies. Together, on prom night, the three teens must ultimately defend Barracuda Bay High from an all-out zombie Armageddon.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Review: Ushers, Inc. by Rusty Fischer

When the streets are full of bloodsuckers, werewolves, zombies and ghouls, where will you turn? The cops don't know how to stop them, the Army's pretty much given up and even the Marines are stumped when their bullets and grenades fail to stop the onslaught.
Have no fear, Ushers, Inc. is here! Four high school movie ushers, who collectively have seen over 42,000 hours of B- and C-horror movies know just what to do.

Did you know copper pennies can stop a zombie in its tracks? Abby Cooper, Head Usher, does.

Did you know garlic paste is twice as effective on vampires as garlic cloves? Abby Cooper does.

Did you know werewolves are absolutely petrified of seeing a Hershey's kiss? Abby Cooper does.

The girls at Cypress Cove High school-especially Rich Witch Mia Hopwood-call Abby an uber-geek; the victims she rescues from zombies, werewolves and vampires just call her one thing: Hero!

But Abby and her fearless crew of movie ushers-slash-superheroes face more than just bloodsuckers and brain-biters. There's Wyatt Winters, for one; he's the hot new PR guru Ushers, Inc. has had to hire to handle all their press - and with his smoldering good looks and air of confidence, he's causing more than just tension between Abby and her old boy-crush-and fellow usher-Zach Nash.

And let's not forget the monsters, who aren't too happy about four geeky ushers beating their butts all over creation. Now the League of Associated Undead (LAD) is converging on Cypress Cove, determined to stop Ushers, Inc. once and for all.

When it's the monsters versus the monster hunters, who you gonna call?

Ushers, Inc., that's who!

Published June 23rd 2011 by Decadent Publishing (first published June 22nd 2011)
ISBN: 001134427X (ISBN13: 2940011344275)

First of all, I have to throw props out to Rusty Fischer…Ushers, Inc. is awesome!  Great job, dude!

I read The Bookish Brunette’s review of Ushers, Inc. and KNEW I had to read it!  And boy am I glad I did.  The story was clever, the idea original, and I just couldn’t get enough!  I read Ushers, Inc. feverishly, and rightly so.  Fischer is a genius!  It was like a rollercoaster ride of emotions.  Just when I got to catch my breath, there was another twist, and plunge, and…well, you get the idea.

Abby Cooper is the reluctant hero.  I love her witty, comedic, sarcastic approach to life.  Her fellow orphans/coworkers/only friends are cool, too.  I really liked how they interacted and could read each other without saying anything—like brothers from another mother, sisters from another mister.  I however, did have a problem with Cliff.  His motives were very transparent, canned.  Fischer tells us (in the last chapter) what I suspected all along about Cliff.  And, well, it was a little bit teen-drama-cheesy and weak.

There are twists I didn’t see coming, and those I did.  The prologue kinda gives away the ending, so if that will bother you, just skip it and read it last—turn the prologue into an epilogue!  I won’t give away too much, because YOU MUST READ THIS BOOK!  Trust me, don’t think, just zombie-it on over to a bookseller’s website and buy it, devour it, then smile to yourself knowing that you read one of the best books of 2011!  I sure did.

Check out Rusty Fischer’s blog for more awesomeness (and some free downloads—seriously, dude, FREE awesomeness!!).

5 Stars: unadulterated awesomeness!!!!  Looking forward to reading Fischer’s other works!

Many Adventures,

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