Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Guest Post: Richard Due and The Moon Coin

I'd like to welcome Richard Due to In the Closet With a Bibliophile, today. I'm going to be letting him take over the blog for a bit, so I hope you enjoy his interview with the illustrator of The Moon Coin!


From Sketch to Chapter Art, an Illustrator at Work

For me, getting to work with Carolyn Arcabascio was a dream come true. On The Moon Coin, we worked from a master list of scene options, with Carolyn picking out scenes she liked and making sketches. For the prologue, Carolyn drafted three options. All three were great, but two in particular were spectacular. I first went with option 3 (one of my scene suggestions). I think we spent more time on this sketch and subsequent color drawing than on any other piece. But it never seemed right. At the eleventh hour, I asked Carolyn how hard she’d hit me if I suggested scrapping the thing and instead going with the pinky promise scene you see below (one of her scene suggestions). Carolyn responded: "There would be no hitting involved!" and told me it wouldn't be a problem. You sure can't ask for better than that.

From the Prologue: Bedtime Tales.

Click on image to enlarge.

Richard: Did you make all these sketches in the same location, Carolyn?

Carolyn: Yes, I do all of my work at a drafting table that's situated in a little nook of my apartment in Acton, Massachusetts. There's a bookshelf to my right and a wall of "inspiration" to my left, where I hang prints of other artists' and illustrators' work. On either side of my drafting table are drawers of supplies, and stacks of sketchbooks and old paintings. The drafting table faces a window overlooking a quiet street and the woods beyond it.

From Chapter Two: A Coin of the Realm.

Click on image to enlarge.

Richard: Do you use models when you're sketching?

Carolyn: I use a combination of models and photo references. If I need to work out the nuances of a character's posture and really understand the perspective of it, I'll ask whatever friend or family member is handy to pose for a sketch. Often, I'll get into the position myself or mimic the facial expression I want to portray in order to get the feel of it. And sometimes, if there's a character being portrayed multiple times across scenes, I'll make a rough model of their head out of clay so I'll have it to refer to.

From Chapter Four: To Barreth.

Click on image to enlarge.

Richard: When drawing fantastical creatures, do you use bits and pieces of real animals for inspiration, or have you actually seen a wirtle and you're just not telling us? ;)

Carolyn: No wirtles native to Massachusetts, fortunately! When figuring out the look of fantastical creatures, I use photo references of different animals to understand the way the anatomy might work, and then combine features as I see fit and as the story calls for. To understand the wirtle's legs and paws, for example, I referred to a series of photographs of show dogs leaping over hurdles. The severely arched, scruffy back was influenced by photos of hyenas on the prowl. The bone-structure of the face ended up being something of a cross between a cow and a warthog, and I wanted the snout to be bare—kind of gross and raw-looking. Add it all up and, voila! We have a wirtle.

The Moon Coin, by Richard Due, is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and the iBookstore for $2.99.

Copyright © 2011 by Richard Due. All rights reserved.

Gibbering Gnome Press, A Division of Ingenious Inventions Run Amok, Ink™

The Moon Realm™

I really enjoyed the illustrated pictures at the beginning of each chapter.
Thanks so much for visiting, Richard and Carolyn! I simply cannot wait for the next book in The Moon Realm series!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Saints and Sinners: The Bookish Brunette

Hey everyone! I know you are all enjoying your holiday weekends, but I wanted to let you know about a mass of giveaways and fun going on over at The Bookish Brunette! The Saints and Sinners weekend started this morning and is going full tilt til tomorrow night. There are a ton of prizes and some extra fun pics of some very sexy men. So, head on over and visit all the guest posts at Ashley's blog, The Bookish Brunette! My post goes up tomorrow and I'm giving away either a copy of Lola and the Boy Next Door or ONE of The Chicagoland Vampire books. Don't miss out!

xoxo Jen

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

Hey everyone! I hope you all have a fabulous Thursday and enjoy all the fun and festivities. I'll be chilling at my mom's, scarfing on turkey, pumpkin pie, banana cream pie, potatoes, etc... Gah, I'm now drooling. YAY for food! LOL! :D I hope your day is epic and I'll see you back here on the weekend for the Saints and Sinners fest hosted by Ash over at The Bookish Brunette (I'll be hosting a giveaway, so make sure to check it out)!

Plus, be looking for my guest post by Richard Due, next week he interviews the illustrator for his book The Moon Coin.

Bookish Brunette

xoxo Jen

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Hushed by Kelley York: Book Review

Title: Hushed
Author: Kelley York
Pages: 260
Published: December 6th, 2011 by Entangled Publishing
Genre: Thriller, Contemporary, YA, LGBT
Summary:Eighteen-year-old Archer couldn’t protect his best friend, Vivian, from what happened when they were kids, so he’s never stopped trying to protect her from everything else. It doesn’t matter that Vivian only uses him when hopping from one toxic relationship to another—Archer is always there, waiting to be noticed.

Then along comes Evan, the only person who’s ever cared about Archer without a single string attached. The harder he falls for Evan, the more Archer sees Vivian for the manipulative hot-mess she really is.

But Viv has her hooks in deep, and when she finds out about the murders Archer’s committed and his relationship with Evan, she threatens to turn him in if she doesn’t get what she wants… And what she wants is Evan’s death, and for Archer to forfeit his last chance at redemption. (From Goodreads.com)
My Thoughts:

Twisted and daring, Hushed, Kelley York's debut novel is a tempestuous story that shakes up reality and shows how deranged the mind can become. Full of sweet moments as well as the unhinged, York builds for us a murky world where the best of intentions knife you in the back and all you can hope for is to make it through long enough to try and do the right thing.

Archer and Vivian have been best friends since childhood, Archer staying at Viv's house more than his own. Her mother more his mother than the one that raised him. But, one fateful night Vivian is the product of a group rape and Archer isn't strong enough to do anything to stop it. Broken and bruised, Viv has difficulty recovering and Archer--broken and bruised in his own way--is sure that he can fix what happened by murdering those who hurt her. But, unexpectedly, Archer meets Evan, someone who is nothing like Viv, but more like her mother, Marissa. Kind, caring and immensely calm, Evan slowly breaks down all the walls Archer has crafted, hoping to find the true Archer. But, just when it seems things are going in a better direction, Viv finds out about the murders Archer has committed and the closer Archer grows to Evan, the more Viv wants what's always been hers; Archer.

Hushed pitches us directly into the action with the very first chapter, beginning with Archer murdering one of his victims. I don't know why, maybe it's because I'm a little bit unbalanced myself, but the introduction of Archer's character in this scene was not only fascinating, it was kind of fun. Okay, maybe I'm sadistic, but the implications behind Archer's actions are downright mad and therefore massively brilliant. I find that the insane imperfections of a character make them all that much more captivating. Yes, Archer is a murder. Yes, it's totally wrong and jacked-up that he's killing these people, no matter what they did. But, it makes him, as a character, original and a little bit refreshing. Although, that being said, Archer was a difficult character for me to like for a while. The murdering, while slightly bothersome, wasn't what threw me off, it was his meanness toward those around him....other than Viv that is.

The mind is a fickle thing. Emotional and complicated, it directs us through every moment of every day, never once stopping, always there to guide us through the hardest of times and the best, as well. Archer, whose mind we get to live the story through, is different than most minds I've been fictionally plunged into. At first, there isn't much to him. He seems coarse and abrasive and everything he does is centrally located toward Viv, a heathen of a character who deserves a bitch slap. But, eventually, we get to see why he is mean and short with people, why he prefers to be alone rather than in groups. Most of these character traits slowly seep out of him due to Evan, the romantic other party and just as slowly, if not suddenly, we end up liking Archer.

Evan was my very favorite character from Hushed. I had a harder time relating to Archer and I couldn't relate to Vivian in the slightest (which was entirety the point of how she was written, I think), but Evan was like the beauty in the storm. He was kind and helpful and so sweet I really just wanted to hug him like it was no one's business. He wasn't perfect, which made him even better, but he was strong and sensitive and didn't let people walk all over him. He told it like it was whenever he could, but wasn't brutal about it, his shyness a perfect fit in such a cruel setting. He was the sunshine after the rain (lyrics anyone?) and I could feel his character pushing through my Kindle casing, grasping my heart and pulling me into the book, with him.
"Do I have to dress up?" he asked tentatively. [Archer]

"Nah." Evan grinned. "I mean, you can if you want, but we won't part or anything like that. Just the standard puppy sacrificial ceremony, and you can always sit that out."

This time, it was Archer who laughed, and the sound felt so blissfully foreign rolling off his tongue. Despite everything--laughing at something so ridiculous felt like a cold rain after a drought. "Who would want to miss that?"
Well paced and written, Hushed is a different kind of thriller. Ms. York has shown how as people, we decide our fate, we decide whether to let the hard times keep us down or to push back with all we have in us. And while I loved most things about Hushed, I did have issues with the lack of shock and awe related to Archer's murdering and parts of Archer and Evan's relationship. It just seemed like Archer murdering wasn't as big of a deal as it should have been which kind of weirded me out, slightly. As for the relationship, I couldn't quite figure out Evan's attraction to Archer. Archer seems like a not-so-nice person and it takes Evan a while to break down the metaphorical door let alone the walls. I also didn't get why Archer, in the beginning, did the opposite of what he was thinking when it came to Evan. Evan would ask him to do something and in his head, Archer didn't want to, but he'd say yes and then question himself about it later.

Overall though, I really enjoyed the story. It was fun, it was different, it was a little mind-bending and that in and of itself is something I appreciate from a book. I love when a book breaks free of its restraints and becomes what it should be, distinctive. So, I give Hushed a 3.5/5 and recommend it to those who enjoy YA, Contemporary, Thrillers and LGBT Fiction.
The Author

Pre-order HUSHED by Kelley York!
Release Date: December 6th, 2011

Monday, November 21, 2011

Saints and Sinners: Cricket Bell & Ethan Sullivan

Hi everyone, my name is Jen and I'm from In the Closet With a Bibliophile. I hope your weekend is going smashing and you're all ready for the yumminess that is this weekend! Because, lets be honest, I love my fictional boyfriends and I can't help but think they love me! *wink*

Fictional boys, the epitome of deliciousness, come in so many flavors. We have the sinfully sweet Saints who are magnificently gorgeous while also affectionate and tender-hearted. Quite often, they are charismatic and maybe even a little shy. On the flip side, we have the wickedly delectable Sinners, who are exquisitely beautiful while radiating sex, lust and their allure is held in their not-so-nice actions. Both we want in some form or another, but lucky for me, this post is about the Saints I want to lick and the Sinners I want to throw up against a wall and do unholy things to.

So, without further ado, I give you my picks:

My pick for Saint was epically easy as I have a crazy-super crush on Cricket Graham Bell from Lola and the Boy Next Door. Cricket is 6'4" tall, lean and possibly the sweetest guy to ever exist. He has the most beautiful blue eyes and mad-scientist, brown hair and, not only is he thoughtful and caring, he is a brilliant, genius. But my very favorite thing about Cricket, is this underlying energy he has that makes him so full of life and love, he draws me to him. The way he lights up about the smallest things or how he listens to everything that I that Lola is saying, no matter if it's about panniers, (metal corded layers underneath a medieval dress) or her loser of a mom, or the pies her dad makes. He is generous in all the ways that matter and while sometimes he's a little bit nerdy, I find it freakishly sexy.
"Lola, do you remember when you told me that I had a gift?" [Cricket]

I gulp. "Yes."

His eyes open and lock on mine. "You have one, too. and maybe some people think that wearing a costume means you're trying to hide your real identity, but I think a costume is more truthful than regular clothing could ever be. It actually says something about the person wearing it. I knew that Lola, because she expressed her desires and wishes and dreams for the entire city to see. For me to see."

My heart is beating in my ears, my lungs, my throat.

"I miss that Lola," he says.

I take a step toward him. His breath catches.

And then he takes a step toward me.
Now, even though Cricket Bell is 18 in Lola, in my head he is always older (because I'm 28,LOL!) so, for my Saintly Cricket, I've chose James Marsden. And let me tell you people, I don't know if you can find anyone as sexy and sweet as Cricket Graham Bell! I really have this urge to lick my screen!
My eyes open, and my heart is in my throat. "Cricket...I'm not that."
He stops pinning my hair. "What do you mean?"

"You've built up this idea about me, this ideal, but I'm not that person. I'm not perfect. I am far from perfect. I'm not worth such a beautiful story."

"Lola. You are the story."

"But a story is just that. It isn't the truth."

Cricket returns to his work. The pink roses are added. "I know you aren't perfect. But it's a person's imperfections that make them perfect for someone else."
I will never fully be able to express how much I love Cricket Bell. However, Lola says it best:
And if I'm the stars, Cricket Bell is entire galaxies.
[Lola, Kindle Location 3966]

For my bad-boy Sinner I've chosen Ethan Sullivan, Master Vampire for Cadogan House from The Chicagoland Vampire series by Chloe Neill. Now, sometimes Ethan is kind of a douche, but he's a very old vampire and really...it's to be expected. He's tall and muscular with long blonde hair and exquisitely green eyes. Occasionally, he thinks outside of his vampirism and remembers a bit of his humanity, but in the beginning it's kind of rare. Mostly, he does what he must to take care of Cadogan House and all the vampires within. He is a protector, a teacher, a freakishly sexy man that I would love nothing more than to jump!
“You are what I made you.” [Ethan]

“I make myself.” [Merit]

Ethan took a step forward, then another, until I was stepping away to avoid him, until he’d backed me against the living room wall, until I felt the cold slickness of painted plaster behind me. I was caught. Ethan braced his hands against the wall, one on each side of my head, boxing me in, and stared down at me.

“Do you want disciplining, Initiate?” I stared at him, a flame igniting in my core.

“Not especially.” Liar. His eyes searched mine.

“Then why do you persist in taunting me?” The eye contact felt too intimate, so I turned my head away and tried to swallow down the reluctant arousal, uncomfortably aware that I couldn’t blame my actions, my interest, on the vampire lurking inside me.[...]
Ummmm...I think my eyes silvered with that one! Geesh, Ethan, I'll be your consort! Forget Merit! :P
[...]“I wasn’t taunting you.”
He didn’t move, not until he lowered his head, his lips even closer to mine than before. “You wanted me a moment ago.” This time, his voice was quiet, his words not the challenge of a Master vampire, but the entreaty of a boy, of a man: I am right, aren’t I, Merit? That you wanted me?

I forced myself to be honest, but I couldn’t force myself to speak. So I stayed silent, and let the silence stand for words that I couldn’t bring myself to say: I want you. Despite myself, I want you. In spite of what you are, I want you.


“I can’t.”

He dropped his head so that his lips hovered just above mine, his breath on my cheeks. “Give in to it.” I flicked my eyes up to meet his, which were the deep, dark green of primeval forests—ancient, unknowable, and hiding monsters in their wooded depths.

“You don’t even like me.” He smiled a little evilly.

“That doesn’t seem to matter.” A slap wouldn’t have pulled me out of the trance any faster. I twisted beneath his braced arms, then moved away.

“I see.”

“I’m not happy about this either.”

“Yes, I get that you don’t want to be attracted to me, that you think I’m beneath you, but thank you for pointing it out anyway. And in case you haven’t realized it, I’m not thrilled about it, either. I don’t want to like you, and I certainly don’t want to be with someone who’s appalled by me. I don’t want to be . . . desired begrudgingly.” He stepped toward me with the grace of a slinking panther. And just as dangerous.

“Then what do you want me to say?” His voice was low, thick with lambent power. “That I wanted you to taste me? For all that you’re stubborn, sarcastic, completely unable to take seriously my authority, and patently disrespectful, that I want you? Do you think this is what I would choose?”
Is it totally wrong that I want him to choose, ME!? Is anyone else a little hot in here?? *licks lips*

Anyhow, there are my selections for this freakishly awesome Saint and Sinner Weekend. I'd like to thank Ash for letting me be apart of this, I had WAY too much fun! And, to celebrate, I am giving away a copy of either Lola and the Boy Next Door or any ONE of The Chicagoland Vampire books to ONE lucky winner. This giveaway is open to anywhere The Book Depository ships, see countries here.
  1. You don't have to follow to enter, but you get extra points if you do and of course...it's always appreciated!
  2. 1 entry per person
  3. Fill out FORM HERE
If you have any issues with the form, feel free to email me at jtheuknown(at)gmail(dot)com using "Saints and Sinners" as the subject. Also, I'm doing a shameless plug and telling you to come and visit me at In the Closet With a Bibliophile! :D *waves* And may your days be filled with Saints and Sinners of your own! *mwah*

The Moon Coin by Richard Due: Book Review

Title: The Moon Coin
Author: Richard Due
Pages: 297
Published: Gibbering Gnome Press, A Division of Ingenious Inventions
Summary:For Lily and Jasper Winter, the Moon Realm began with a single secret bedtime tale. As the children grew older, Uncle Ebb enthralled them with thrilling tales of the Dragondain riding horse-sized, catlike Rinn; mysterious tales of peerin-wielding lunamancers manipulating the magic that lies just beneath the surface of reality; exciting tales of flying dragons, swimming merfolk, stomping giants, and troublesome faeries. But as the magic of their childhood faded, so too did the tales. Eventually, they were just . . . good stories. Or were they? Now, nine years after it all began, Uncle Ebb is missing. Lily and Jasper search for clues, but their uncle's mansion is full of distractions. A Tesla generator thrums in the basement. Prismatic electrimals flit around walls resembling underwater reefs. Then a most unexpected friend comes to their aid, leading them to a hidden room where they find a mysterious coin—the moon coin. Before the night is out, Lily is transported to the real Moon Realm. But the moons are in trouble. The Rinn of Barreth are under siege, and the lunamancers of Dain are beset by the very dragons they once loved. Most horrifying of all, the moon Darwyth has fallen to a villain named Wrengfoul, whose creeping evil now threatens to overshadow all the Realm. Are Lily and Jasper too late to save the Moon Realm, or will they have enough time to write an ending of their own? (From Goodreads.com)

My Thoughts:

Adventurous and fantastically action packed, Richard Due's The Moon Coin is a story that reminds us of what it's like to be young and that there is so much more to the world than we can sometimes imagine. With nine moons, talking creatures and a traveling coin, we enter the world of The Moon Coin, a story that takes us to the far reaches of ingenuity and excitement, eliciting all the emotions of learning, growing, experiencing and realizing that things aren't what we thought they were...they are so much more.
"Are you going to tell us a story, Uncle?" asked Jasper.

"No. Not tonight, I think." Jasper's small shoulders slumped. "But if you tink you're up to keeping another secret, I might be willing to tell you a tale."

"There's a difference?" asked Lily.

"Oh, yes, yes, yes. You see, a story can be made up as easily as you please, or not. But a tale, now that's a moon of a different color. A tale is an account of things in their due order, often divulged secretly, or as gossip. Would you like to hear one?"
My feelings on this book may be better related if you all know something about me. I love a good story. I have this aunt who tells the most amazing stories and growing up, whenever we'd visit her in Utah, she'd round us all up and tell us the most amazing tales. Stories of dancing princesses or Captain Crunches soggy cereal or witches that were secretly our little brothers. She could craft a story so imaginative and so detailed, it felt like I was there, in the story and even to this day, my siblings and I can still sit there and listen to her tall tales of far fetched places and people. Richard Due's The Moon Coin, for me, was like that.

Jasper and Lily are one year apart, age wise, and their very favorite thing is to listen to their Uncle Ebb and his bedtime stories. One evening, Ebb decides the children deserve to hear the tales of The Moon Realm, a place with nine moons - or worlds - that swirl around one another. Slowly Jasper and Lily grow up and realize that these "tales" are just fabrications their Uncle has made up. And even though they seem so real and so mesmerizing, they really are just stories. Except, when Lily is 13 and Jasper 14, their Uncle disappears and Lily and Jasper discover the necklace he never takes off or allowed them to see the pendant of, wrapped around a dress mannequin. From there everything takes off and Lily and Jasper realize the Moon Realm does exist, but it is not quite how it was in their Uncle's tales.

The Moon Coin, fast, furious and immensely enjoyable, reminded me of what I love about fiction. The thought and creative emphasis that drives that little light of our imagination to explore the fantastical to it's every corner. The way Mr. Due has crafted his tale is wickedly enthralling, with a touch of what we know added into the larger mix of what we don't, we get to discover everything right along with Lily (and eventually Jasper). There are surprises around every corner and by taking the more difficult theme of division, forcible annexation and the underlying currents of coloring up the truth, Mr. Due has made The Moon Coin into a story that is deeply layered and developed as much as it is entertaining and delightful.
"[...]First, I want to hear about Tavin. What spooked you and Dubb so?"

Lily stared down at her tea. A sudden suspicion arose in her: Nima was looking into Tavin's mind in the next room...using tea.

Keegan seemed to sense this, saying, "Sometimes, Lily, tea is just tea." He smiled politely.

Lily took a sip from her mug.

"He tried to kill me."

Keegan laughed at that, but as he looked into Lily's face, his mien slowly changed from indulgence to disbelief.

"Forgive me. I don't mean to laugh at you, but what you say makes no sense. I've known Tavin since he was--oh, much younger than you. He couldn't have tried to kill you. If he had, then you would most certainly be dead. Trust me."

Lily took another sip and stared at Keegan.
With a extremely wide cast of characters and a heroine we can appreciate, The Moon Coin just keeps giving. I must admit, I wasn't expecting to love this book as much as I did. I think it brought me back to those stories of my aunt's and how much I love living in an imaginative world and the alluring places they take me. To worlds where giant lion-like animals with huge saucer eyes rule worlds and control magic and where humans are not the majority or the strongest, but rather fighting for survival on a planet that has had terrible pains. Mr. Due has brilliantly crafted these worlds for us, developing them to illustrative vivid quality. My only complaint is sometimes there was a little too much detail, but I believe that as a first installment it was undoubtedly necessary to the creation of each moon.

Overall, I heartily loved The Moon Coin and I look forward to the next installment and the hope that I will get to visit even more planets and discover all the hidden secrets the Moon Realm holds. I give The Moon Coin a 5/5 and recommend it to those who enjoy YA, MG, Other World and Fantasy Fiction.

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Start Up: Episode 1 by Saydie Hayes: Book Review

Title: The Start-Up (Episode 1)
Author: Sadie Hayes
Kindle Locations: 1751
Published: October 17th, 2011 by Backlit Fiction, LLC
Summary:When a college freshman's breakthrough software program catapults her into the limelight, she and her twin brother must navigate a treacherous world of money, power, and envy: Silicon Valley.

In a world of tweets, apps, and mobile games, The Start-Up is a fast-paced and exciting serial story with a new episode released each month.
My Thoughts:

Deep-seated greed and corruption intricately blended with naivety and intelligence, The Start Up: Episode 1 by Sadie Hayes, is sharp and fun and full of angsty dramatic brilliance. Gossip, intrigue and illegal corporate tactics sing from Silicon Valley, telling us of the money to be made and the people who will destroy anyone in their way to get that money.

Adam and Amelia are scholarship entrees into Stanford. Amelia,the epitome of genius when it comes to code and computer engineering, wants nothing more than to spend her days in the computer lab, coding day in and day out.
"She's a total nerd. Like, beyond nerd. Imagine if a computer and an iPhone had a baby--that's Amelia." [Amelia's roommate--Patty]
Adam, her twin brother/bartender wants to be more than the "scholarship student", he wants to be part of the "In Crowd", he wants to go places, do things...be somebody. However, it is Amelia who is discovered by Tom Fenway--a billionaire who sold his own product to Apple in the late 90's-- and he wants to help her start her own company and eventually help her find investors to spawn her genius in computer engineering. Amelia, much to her dismay, reluctantly joins the project and suddenly is cast into the evil of Silicon Valley. With people who want her to fail and those who she doesn't think she can trust, Amelia must try to make it through with her soul in tact and hopefully her brother following closely behind.

The Start-Up is categorized as a serial story. Think of it like a nighttime TV series. The ones that take place in rich cities where the rich profit and the poor try to make it by with their smarts. Each book in the series is an episode and each episode is released monthly. To me, it's a total WIN! I don't ever get to watch TV and I love me some drama, so reading Sadie Hayes's The Start-Up is getting what I want, but better. Now, instead of watching the people on TV and their drama, I get to experience every crazy moment with them.

I get to be there while Adam and Amelia Dory try to make it through the lives they've been handed. Lives that involve foster homes in a system that was corrupt in it's own way. I get to see them make it to Stanford on scholarship and see Amelia try and keep her morals in tact while people are trying to bribe, blackmail and extort her into what they want.

I love fictional drama with characters I love to hate, characters I love to love and characters that are on that fictional line of not knowing whether I want to murder them myself or make-out with them. The Start-Up is all of that. With a huge array of characters from the bottom feeders to the spoiled to the sweet. Its a cacophony of personalities and emotions and its so fun to read and see all the characters and the dirt that accompanies their lives. Especially those who dirty up those lives on purpose. Am I evil? Who knows....what I do know is the drama in The Start-Up is jaw-dropping and hilarious and I loved every minute of it.

The book is short, and I don't want to give too much away, so I'll just say the writing is excellent and well paced and the cliffies are big, but not hurtful and besides, what good drama series doesn't have cliffies? Lucky for us a book is released EVERY month. The first 2 are out now and the 3rd is out next month. So, I give The Start-Up: Episode 1 a 4/5 and recommend it to anyone who likes YA, Adult, Crossover, Contemporary, Electronic Fiction as well as fans of Gossip Girl, 90210, Pretty Little Liars, One Tree Hill....that is, if they all "took place in Mark Zuckerberg’s dorm room… and if he had a twin sister and they lived in California (Sadie Hayes)" Also, this series contains sex, drinking and swearing and I recommend it for an older YA audience (17 years on up).

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Dark Eden by Patrick Carman: Book Review

Title: Dark Eden
Author: Patrick Carman
Pages: 336
Published: November 1st, 2011 by HarperCollins
Fifteen-year-old Will Besting is sent by his doctor to Fort Eden, an institution meant to help patients suffering from crippling phobias. Once there, Will and six other teenagers take turns in mysterious fear chambers and confront their worst nightmares—with the help of the group facilitator, Rainsford, an enigmatic guide. When the patients emerge from the chamber, they feel emboldened by the previous night's experiences. But each person soon discovers strange, unexplained aches and pains. . . . What is really happening to the seven teens trapped in this dark Eden?
My Thoughts:

Buried in secrecy and fear, DARK EDEN by Patrick Carman is eerie and suspenseful, every scene built and dedicated to the emotions surrounding Fort Eden. As readers we can feel the fears that seep through each individual character, throwing up red, flashing warning signs in our peripherals that we do our best to ignore and so we can carry on through the murky depths of the base, looking for a cure to what haunts these petrified teens.
Fort Eden

The place sent a chill of dread down my spine from the moment I saw it. Low slung to the ground, made entirely of concrete slabs crawling with moss and vines. My first impression was of a massive casket left alone in the woods for years and years, overrun by a menacing forest of gloom.
My feelings concerning DARK EDEN are a little twisted in and of themselves. I agree with many of the reviews I've read --parts of them anyway--in that the book was pretty good. The characters, while not fully people I grew to love, I enjoyed them from a detached point of view. I wasn't sure how Mr. Carman was going to develop his characters because for most of the book, our narrator, Will Besting, isn't in the compound with them at all. The clever use of the televisions in the underground bunker proved to be even more of a development then I could have asked for. It's quite amazing at what you can learn from a person when they think no one is watching them. Still, I never felt any real connection to the characters, including Will, until after their "cure". This worked for the book, I think because seeing those fears was like an instant way I could relate to that person. Not that I have experienced anything they had, but it made them more human and gave them "more" as a character.

The compound, Fort Eden, became its own character. With the many doors and the paint and the whispering voices it was the secret that we are surrounded by but don't have a clue what it means. It's frightening and the heightened sense of awareness we suddenly get whenever Will ventures into Fort Eden cannot be denied. Really...it's freakishly creepy.
I held one of the rails and started walking, but stopped short at the sound of a distant whispering voice radiating from the deep. It sounded like someone was searching down the long hallways of my mind, trying to find me but failing.
All of these factors made me really enjoy the book, but it was the ending that frustrated me. A ton of people loved the ending for its serious whiplash effect. I mean, we're reading along and all of the sudden, that ending hits us out of nowhere and BAM!! we are suddenly looking back trying to figure out if we missed something. Was there a sign of what was happening, a sign of what everything really was? Normally, I love a good surprise in a book and this was a whopper of a surprise. But, I it still frustrated me. I keep trying to pin down why, but I guess it's because I was expecting the book to be a contemporary, teen horror of sorts and that ending was a genre changer. But, after a couple conversations with Jenny I think it's mostly that the main characters in the book got a raw deal and I'm angry at a character I think deserves to die. I don't want to give anything away because the surprise is kind of fun, in a way, and I don't like spoiling anything.

So, for all those who've read it, here's my spoiler portion (highlight to read)
I'm upset that Will has to wait 60 years to kill Rainsford/Davis. I mean, what if he doesn't live that long? I know why he is waiting, but I guess I have anger issues. I want vengeance, NOW! o_o

Overall, I really liked the story. The writing was good and perfectly creepy. The characters were well done and the fears were excellently played. My only complaint is parts of the ending, but that is only a personal preference. I think that so many people will love what Mr. Carman has done. He's taken something that could have been similar and mundane and given it a very unexpected twist. Funny thing is going back and rereading it, knowing how the ending is, I like it a lot better than the first time. So, I give DARK EDEN a 3.5/5 and recommend it to those who enjoy YA Fiction with a little bit of creepy mixed in.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Root Canals and Posting

Hey, just wanted to drop a line saying sorry for my lack of posting. You see, I had 2 abscesses at the bottom of a root canaled molar. So, I was supposed to go in last week, Thursday to get it re-treated...meaning the Endodontist drills through my existing crown and tries to make it all better. But, the Endo cancelled because he was sick and I got moved to Monday. Needless to say, the pain of the tooth over the weekend wasn't fun, thank heaven for pain pills (thank you Dr. Brian!), but then I went in for the root canal and OH EM GEE...OUCH.

The root canal itself, not so bad, but they drilled all the way down into that sucker and soaked it in bleach. BLEACH. o_o Then they packed it back up and sent me home...(I still can't believe they soaked it in bleach). Once I was no longer numb, I thought my jaw was on fire and someone was poking a nail into it. It took 2 very large white pills (again, thank you Dr. Brian!) to make the pain stop as well as a 6:00 p.m. bedtime. LOL! Hubby even took the kids out and got them ready for bed and then put them in bed. That never happens. He even got up with them in the night. This also never happens. :P (That part was awesome)

I'm hoping to get back to regular posting in the next couple days, once the pain stops. Til then, I love you and miss you all! Oh, and I'm answering emails, so no worries! :D



Wednesday, November 2, 2011

My Book Boyfriend 7: Cricket Graham Bell

Hey everyone! It's Wednesday which means it's time for My Book Boyfriend hosted by Missie over at The Unread Reader. If you don't know what My Book Boyfriend is, it's where we pick a book boyfriend and tell you about him. For all the details, check out Missie's blog. She's an excellent reviewer and makes this meme freakishly fun! I've been missing out on this for several weeks because of work and life, but I'm so happy to be back this week.

This week I knew exactly who I wanted to do for MBB, but finding the right person for him wasn't easy. In fact, I don't even know if I've truly picked the right person because in my head he looks different than he does in the book...LOL! Hopefully that made sense. Anyway, I'd like you all to meet Cricket Bell from Lola and the Boy Next Door. He's 6'4" tall with the bluest eyes you've ever seen. He has this internal energy that is always bursting out of him. He's animated and exuberant and he's always ALWAYS writing on his hand. (I've chosen Casey Jon Deidrick for my Cricket)

"Cricket, you're...tall."

Which is, quite possibly, the stupidest thing I could say to him.

Cricket Bell was always taller than most boys, but in the last two years, he's added half a foot. At least. His slender body--once skinny and awkward, despite his graceful movements--has also changed. He's filled out, though just slightly. The edge has been removed. But pointing out that someone is tall is like pointing out the weather when it's raining. Both obvious and irritating.

"It's the hair," he says with a straight face. "Gravity has always been my nemesis."

And his dark hair is tall. It's floppy, but...inverted floppy. I'm not sure how it's possible without serious quantities of mousse or gel, but even when he was a kid, Chricket's hair stood strait up. It gives him the air of a mad scientist, which actually isn't that far off. His hair is one of the things I always liked about him.

Until I didn't like him at all, that is.

He's grown up and grown into his body, but it's still him. The same boy I fell in love with in the ninth grade. My feelings had been building since our childhood, but that year, the year he turned sixteen, was the year everything changed.

I blame it on his pants.

"So you believe in second chances?" I bit my lip.

"Second, third, fourth. Whatever it takes. However long it takes. If the person is right," he adds.

"If the person is....Lola?

This time, he holds my gaze. "Only if the other person is Cricket."

My eyes open, and my heart is in my throat. "Cricket...I'm not that."

He stops pinning my hair. "What do you mean?"

"You've built up this idea about me, this ideal, but I'm not that person. I'm not perfect. I am far from perfect. I'm not worth such a beautiful story."

"Lola. You are the story."

"But a story is just that. It isn't the truth."

Cricket returns to his work. The pink roses are added. "I know you aren't perfect. But it's a person's imperfections that make them perfect for someone else."

And if I'm the stars, Cricket Bell is entire galaxies.
[Lola, Kindle Location 3966]

Okay, so this picture is actually James Marsden, but Cricket dresses like this. His pants always a little bit short--on purpose--and everything matching and coordinated, perfectly.

So, that's my Cricket Bell. There were so many quotes I wanted to use, but I didn't want to give away the best parts. I love Cricket more than I can explain to anyone. I don't feel like he's wholly represented here because Cricket is so much more than I could ever explain in this post. [you can read my review of Lola by clicking this link]

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Author Interview and Giveaway: Sherry Gammon and UNLOVABLE

Today I'm so excited to welcome Sherry Gammon author of UNLOVABLE to In the Closet With a Bibliophile, today. Her book UNLOVABLE was such a fun, thrilling read and I still can't get her characters and their relationships out of my head [see my review HERE]. And, the cover (as shown above) is probably one of my very favorite. There is just something about the girl in the swing that is terribly beautiful. But now I'm going to stop rambling and get to the interview.

Hi Sherry:

There are a lot of emotional hardships for the characters in UNLOVABLE, what was the most difficult scene for you to write?
Well, there are two actually. The scene near the end with Maggie and her mom in the hospital, and then next chapter in Maggie’s trailer. I don’t want to elaborate because it will give too much away!! But they are emotion packed, and tough!
Seth, the brave and very hot male lead from UNLOVABLE, not only loves to cook, but he's actually really good at it. If I were to show up at his house (invited of course *wink wink*) for a meal and he knows I don't eat pork, peppers or pasta, what would he make for me (P.S. dessert is my favorite food!)?
Cookie dough?? I don’t know really, I am a terrible cook!! I had to do a lot of research so I knew what to have Seth cook. My idea of the perfect man is one who LOVES to cook, thus we have Seth! Whatever it is, it will be amazing!
UNLOVABLE has a host of amazing characters. Which one is your favorite and why?
Hmm, that is tough for me. I love all of them, mostly because I know all their histories, which will be revealed over the next two books. If I were FORCED to decided, then it would be a tie between Maggie and Booker. Maggie, because of all she went though and how she never gave up. Booker for the same reasons really, he has a pretty rough history also.
In the beginning of UNLOVABLE, I had a difficult time with Maggie because of her treatment of Seth. What would Seth's reply be to me if I asked him why he was so persistent in wanting to capture her heart (sans MET as an excuse)? What did he see in her that I didn't?
Maggie is actually based on two girls I grew up with. One of them trusted NO ONE, thanks to a very emotionally abusive mother! Maggie learned to NEVER trust anyone. She learned self-preservation and feared anyone getting to know the real her, because in her mind, she truly was Unlovable. She'd just broken up with Zack, who only wanted to use her, and now Mr. Hottie wants to take her out. She is SURE he only wants to use her too. Seth knew a little of Maggie’s history. He learned about her from the other kids and teachers. He respected and admired her for her hard work at school and her willingness to help others, notwithstanding what was going on in her home. He knew she had a horrible mother, and despite that, she was a good person and well-liked by her peers. He was attracted to her right off the bat, and at the very least, he wanted to get to know her. Remember, Booker is his best friend, and Booker himself has been through some tough times. I think Seth finds them both amazing people, even after all they have been though, they didn’t let it destroy their lives. They didn't become victims.

Seth drives a beautiful red Lexus IS F and dreams of owning a Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren Roadster. If you could choose any car, no worries about the cost, what would you choose and why?

The roadster! LOVE that car!! It is the car in Johnny English, the movie!! It is sleek, fast and awesome.
I'm one of those girls who sees guns as a necessity, but I'm still scared of them. Maggie is similar in her feelings about guns, but still tries to learn to use one properly. Are you like me and Maggie, or are you a gun lover who can shoot a moving target from a mile away?
I can can shoot pretty good actually, but I don't enjoy guns, they intimidate me with their tremendous power, but I do believe in the right to bear arms.
Seth has been all over the world because of his fathers work. If you could go anywhere in the world, again money is no object, where would you go and what would you do when you got there?
It is a toss-up between Hawaii and Paris. In Hawaii...well, I'd go to the beach! And the PCC- Polynesian Cultural center. In Paris, ALL the touristy attractions...except for the museums...sorry, I'm not a big fan of museums. I would like to go to a couple, but not ALL of them.
What was the last book you loved so much you read it in one sitting?
Breaking Dawn. My eyes were burning by the time I was done! I tried to go to bed (at four in the morning) but I just tossed and turned. I gave up trying to sleep and got up to finish it. I was not the least bit tired until I finished, then I was completely exhausted! The same thing happened with Les Miserables, by Victor Hugo! What a GREAT book! It is my favorite. I would LOVE to see the Broadway play! Maybe someday!!
Sherry, thanks again for hanging out with us today! If Seth has the cookie dough ready, I'll help him bake it! I love cookies and pies, and I love making them. It's always nice to have a partner in crime...especially if said partner his as hot as Seth! Also, Booker is my favorite and that's without his back story. I'm especially excited for UNBELIEVABLE for exactly that reason!

I also read BREAKING DAWN in one sitting and I think I was up all night also. LOL! I can thank my mom for that one. I'd been out of the country during its release and when I got home, my mom lent me her copy and I think I slept for a whole day after (due to the 9 hour time difference and my need to finish the book).


Today I have 2 copies of UNLOVABLE e-Books for giveaway. All those who would like to enter please fill out the rafflecopter below. If you have any questions, please let me know. Thanks!!


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