Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Other Side of Life -- Flower Making

I'm using these posts to occasionally describe other things I enjoy (besides books.) I used to post these projects on my other blog, but I posted so seldom that I decided to include them here. Feel free to skip this one, if you are strictly in it for the books.

This week I tried out my new Kanzashi Flower Maker. I was surprised how fun and easy it was.
This is what the pattern looks like. It's a piece of plastic with holes and slots. You cut the fabric for your flower bigger than the pattern. 

You fold the fabric in between the pattern, and cut along the edge of the pattern.

You take a needle with a LONG piece of thread, and just follow the numbered holes. Come up at #1, down at #2, up at #3, and so on.
When you are finished, remove the pattern, and draw up the thread.
This makes ONE petal.
You then insert another piece of fabric into the pattern, and repeat, leaving the first petal hanging at the end of the thread. Don't cut the thread!
This flower had six petals, so at the end you have a thread with six petals gathered on it. You just pull the thread to gather them all in a circle, and take a few stitches to secure. You can add beads or a button for the middle. I think it turned out pretty cute!

The kit came with six different patterns--three types of flowers, each in a small and large version. I'll let you know when I get around to making some more of these. The possibilities are endless as to what you can do with the flowers when you are finished. I think this will be a fun thing to do while sitting in front of the TV.

What do you think? Do you make any kinds of flowers? I know there are all kinds of ways to do it. I thought this one was kind of unique. Can't imagine how someone figured out these patterns!




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Saturday, September 29, 2012

Stacking the Shelves -- A Few to Be Excited About

I only got a few this week, but they are some I've been wanting for a while!

For Review:
Yea! Legend is one of my favorite dystopians, so I'm really excited about Prodigy.

From the Library:
Beautiful Disaster, by Jamie McGuire

Free ebook:

Sweet Venom by Tera Lynn Childs
Don't know how long this will be free, so go check it out!

Thanks to Tynga's Reviews, as always, for hosting the fun. Make sure you go over there and give others some blog love!

Seems even when I anticipate a slow book week, something exciting always happens. Hope yours was exciting too. Let me know in the comments...





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Friday, September 28, 2012

Follow Friday - Vocabulary Words

Happy Friday everyone. First of all, let's thank Parajunkee and Alison for hosting the fun this week. The question is:


Q: What is the BIGGEST word you've seen used in a book lately - that made you stop and look it up? Might as well leave the definition & book too.

Unfortunately, I can't remember any words that I've looked up lately. Usually, I'll just try to use the context to figure out what it means. But, the point I really want to make is every time I don't know a word in a printed book, I WISH I was reading it on my Kindle! That's truly one of my favorite features of my Kindle. Love the dictionary. It's so easy, and you don't lose the flow of the book.

Secondly, I LOVE when a book uses words I don't know! I consider myself to have an extensive vocabulary, so if a YA book uses words I'm unfamiliar with, I love it.

I hope you all enjoy your weekend. Please let me know where you've posted your answers, so I can improve my vocabulary!





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Thursday, September 27, 2012

Book Review: Fathomless, by Jackson Pearce @JacksonPearce

Fathomless is a strange book. I don't mean that in a bad way. It's not easy to describe. It's a fairy tale -- but a dark one.

Lo lives in the water. She knows she used to live on land, but her memories of that time are fading quickly.

Celia is one of a set of triplets. She and her sisters have interesting powers. Celia can see glimpses of people's pasts if she touches them.

Jude loves to write songs and play the guitar. A freak accident causes him to fall into the ocean and almost drown, until someone save him. He thinks it was Celia. But was it?

There's more to the story. Celia and Jude and Lo build strange, tenuous relationships as they try to help each other. Jude is in love with Celia -- but is it only because she saved his life? Lo longs to be human again, especially since Celia has helped her remember her past. But can she ever return to that life? She needs someone to fall in love with her -- could it be Jude? Why can't she remember what happened to make her live like she does now? She's been told by the other water dwellers (her "sisters") that she was brought here by angels, but why does Celia always hear screams when she looks into Lo's past?

It's complicated, and the relationships are intricately developed. There's a web of deception that complicates things also. The romance was OK, but for me not the best part. As these three main characters try to work out a future, Fathomless take us on a ride through the water as well as the sandy beach.

The story is well told. The setting was sometimes so vivid I felt the sand on my feet and the salt air on my skin. I really wanted everything to be OK for these three. I did care about them, and I didn't understand what was going to happen in the end, which kept me quickly turning the pages.

The only part of the story I didn't like was the lore about the "angels" that brought the girls to the sea and supposedly took them away to live happily when they were "old." I didn't really get that part, and the ending that included a showdown with these "angels" was kind of confusing to me.

Fathomless isn't a happily ever after "Little Mermaid" Disney-type tale. It's dark and at times depressing. The mermaids aren't nice -- somewhat like those in Lies Beneath. They can be deadly. The parts where Lo is fighting back and forth with her human alter-ego were some of my favorites. This was a unique and interesting spin on the mermaid theme.

All in all, Fathomless is a worthwhile read, but I don't think its a book that will stick with me or leave a lasting impression. I enjoyed the experience, and I will recommend this to my mermaid and fairy tale fans.

Published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, September 4, 2012
ARC obtained from Library Media Connection Magazine for review
304 pages

Rating: 3/4




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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Book Review: Shadows, by Ilsa J. Bick @ilsajbick

Shadows kept my adrenaline pumping, just as Ashes did, but the gruesome descriptions also left me a bit queasy! This review may contain some spoilers from Ashes... so you have been warned.

It hasn't been that long since I read Ashes, but I still had some difficulty remembering all the characters that came back in Shadows. I made a list of character names, the old and the new, which helped. After the first couple chapters, this wasn't a problem any more.

The story is told from several different perspectives, but I don't want any spoilers, so I'm going to be vague about just whose perspectives we are given.

Alex has to go through much in her quest to find Tom. Chris finds out a lot about the Rule compound and the way it is being run, and let's just say it is rather shocking. I didn't expect it, but after finding out, it makes sense -- dreadful as it is. We get to learn more about some of the people outside of Rule, and what they are doing to survive and possibly solve the mystery of The Changed. It is also extremely shocking.

People get killed. A lot. Every death is gruesome and precisely described, so much so, that at times I dreaded picking the book up again because I knew I was going to lose my appetite. There were very few breaks from these grisly descriptions, and I found myself very anxious to get finished with Shadows. This was NOT a pleasant read.

But, I was compelled to finish. I needed to know what happens. The end is spectacular, and of course, leaves questions about who has survived.

If you like to munch while reading, this book probably won't work for that. If you are trying to cut down on how much you are eating, Shadows would be great! Seriously, I've never been so grossed out by an entire book. Usually there are gross parts in a book. But this book is entirely macabre.

I would recommend Shadows. It's compelling, and sucks you into this horrible world. The characters are well described, although there aren't many that I really "liked." I will definitely need to read the conclusion. I'm hooked, no matter what my stomach has to go through.

I already have one student waiting for Shadows -- she's just finishing Ashes. I know there will be more.

Published by Egmont, September 25, 2012
ARC won from Bewitched Bookworms!
528 pages

Rating: 4/5





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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Book Review: Yesterday, by C.K. Kelly Martin

Yesterday  has a premise that sucked me in immediately, but the way the story was told left me wishing for more.

The story begins with Freya's brother being quarantined and taken away because he has some deadly disease, then Freya and her parents are taken somewhere supposedly safe. It is obvious we are in the future.

Then, we jump back to 1985, and Freya is still there, but she's a different Freya. Different family, different school, different place -- and different memories. She doesn't remember anything about her brother or the life she was living in the future.

Freya sees someone that she recognizes. She's sure she knows him -- Garren -- but from where? She has no memory of him.When she confronts Garren, he doesn't know Freya, and thinks she is losing it.

Why does Freya feel so uncomfortable in her life? She feels like she isn't where she's supposed to be. She dreams (or remembers?) things about a different existence -- one with Garren -- and she doesn't understand. When she finally convinces Garren there's something wrong with their lives, they end up on the run from the authorities and trying to figure out why.

The romance that eventually develops is expected and OK. Nothing exceptional, but at least there's no "triangle!"

Yesterday is a book that requires to you read the synopsis before you begin, otherwise I think you'll be confused. Usually I like to jump into a book cold, but in this case, kind of knowing a bit about the premise will help. I was thinking Yesterday was going to be a Matrix kind of book where Freya and Garren aren't really living this life, they are just comatose somewhere with these memories being pumped into them.

That's not what Yesterday is, but it's still kind of like that. I was really excited to see how Freya ends up figuring out what's going on. And that is were I was extremely disappointed. The way that Freya discovers her "future" is a cop out. I won't give away the details, but it's a situation where she suddenly remembers, and tells the reader everything in a huge information dump. It would have been so much better if somehow all that information could have been slowly revealed in an interesting and exciting way. I mean, that's what I was waiting for. The clever and creative way she was able to figure it out. But, no.

There's more story after the reveal. The part where they are running from the authorities, now knowing what has happened. It is exciting and dangerous, and the ending was great. I loved the twist, but I was disappointed in the way we were brought there.

I still think Yesterday will have appeal to teens. It's a survival story -- the kids against the authorities -- and there are lots of fans of that type of book. It just could have been better.

Published by Random House, September 25, 2012
eBook obtained from NetGalley
368 pages

Rating: 2.5/5




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Monday, September 24, 2012

Book Launch: Uncontrollable, by S. R. Johannes


Yay! Uncontrollable is out today!

Uncontrollable is the second book in "The Nature of Grace" series by S.R. JohannesUntraceable, the first book in the series, has won and been nominated for several awards including Winner of the 2012 IndieReader Discovery Award (YA), 2012 Georgia Author of the Year (YA Nominee), and a finalist in The Kindle Book Review's "Best Indie Book of 2012 (YA)".

Kirkus reviewed Untraceable as "A thrilling story is a dramatic entanglement of mystery, deception and teen romance.  The action flows like a brisk mountain stream interspersed with rapids, holding suspense to last page."

If you like a page turner, you will love this series!

Head over to Mundie Moms for a Big Uncontrollable Launch Party with tons of prizes and then over to SR Johannes blog for even more.

To continue on with the blog tour, check out the line up! Where SR talks about anything from marketing to writing to her books to personal interviews and giveaways.

Book Summary

As 16-year-old Grace recovers from tragedy, her science class is chosen by Agent Sweeney at the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to help with research on the new "Red Wolf Reintroduction Program". 

While she’s excited about helping with the conservation of the endangered wolves, Grace knows this means being outdoors in the worst winter recorded, in a place she no longer feels comfortable. It also means working closely with Wyn (her ex) and his annoying girlfriend (Skyler), a girl whose idea of getting close to nature is picking silk plants and growing fake plants. 

After a couple of wolves show up dead, Grace almost quits. However, when a fellow project team member goes missing, Grace continues the assignment under a renewed suspicion that someone might be sabotaging the conservation program. She quietly begins to hunt for clues. 

Little does she know, she is being hunted too. 

On Sale Now! 

Uncontrollable is on sale in paperback and ebook at all major
booksellers including Amazon, iBooks/Apple (coming soon),
 Smashwords, and B&N.

If you haven't read Untraceable, you can get it in paperback and ebook
at all major booksellers including AmazonAppleSmashwords,
and B&N.
Author Bio

S.R. Johannes is the author of award-winning and Amazon bestselling Untraceable (a teen wilderness thriller) and new tween paranormal, On The Bright Side. She has also published short novelettes as well as a teen romance anthology with 16 other authors titled, In His Eyes.  Uncontrollable, the sequel to Untraceable, is scheduled for September 2012.

S.R. Johannes is a winner of the 2012 IndieReader Discovery Awards (Young Adult) and was also recently nominated for 2012 Georgia Author of the Year (Young Adult). Untraceable was also recently named a Finalist in The Kindle Book Review's Indie Book of the Year (YA)

After earning an MBA and working in corporate America, S.R. Johannes traded in her expensive suits, high heels, and corporate lingo for a family, flip-flops, and her love of writing.  She lives in Atlanta, Georgia with her dog, British-accented husband, and the huge imaginations of their little prince and princess, which she hopes- someday- will change the world. 

Connect!

Follow S.R. online on her websiteTwitterFacebook, and Pinterest

You can also sign up for her newsletter to keep up on author or book news.




Back to Annette's Book Spot Homepage Copyright © 2012 Annette's Book Spot. All Rights Reserved

Book Review: Zelda Pryce: The Razor's Edge, by Joss Llewelyn

Zelda Pryce: The Razor's Edge is a creative delight, full of strange devices and a perky main character that is hard not to love.

Zelda is a teen genius. She's a geometrix, which means she creates arcane objects to help her in her security business. She hires herself to museums to try to steal objects to test and improve security.

The book starts out with a bang, as Zelda is in the Smithsonian trying to steal a couple of very important arcane artifacts. She's successful, and feels that her business is off to a great start, especially when she receives a letter from the British Museum wanting to hire her. She takes the British job, but things don' t turn out as she expects. She ends up racing all over Europe trying to save her reputation while also saving the world from a mad librarian who has a dastardly plan (that I won't go into because it would be a spoiler.) And yes, I did say "librarian." Gotta love it when the villain is a librarian!

Zelda Pryce has a breakneck pace that took my breath away. I really liked Zelda as a character, and felt sorry for her every time she was duped or in danger (which seemed to happen quite a bit.) She did get some help from others, and those secondary characters were well done too. And, in case it's important to you, one of those secondary characters offers a hint of romance. While there are some tense moments, for the most part the book is lighthearted and not to be taken too seriously.

Llewelyn is crazily creative. The arcane devices he comes up with are entertaining and clever. I just wish there were more explanation of them. There's a glossary at the end of the book, which explains where each of the device names comes from. You see, they are named after famous people, mostly scientists but not all of them (Jimi Hendrix!), and the devices' function relates to the person they were named after. I would have liked to be able to flip to this during my reading, but that's one of the disadvantages of an ebook.

I got most of the references, but I think many people, especially the YA audience, will not understand most of them. I was familiar with Occam's Razor as a concept. The fact that it (and a bunch of other razors) is a real tangible object really confused me at first. I needed some explanation at the beginning. I felt plopped into a world that seemed familiar, but there was much I didn't understand.

I also wish there were more explanation of the political climate. After we are about 2/3 through, we get a little taste of some political ideology:

"For centuries, governments have controlled and abused the knowledge and power of the arcana to control people, to abuse people. When I marched at university and fought the police in the riots, they fought back with Crabtree Bludgeons, torturing the students.  Geometers and alchemists, graphologers and actuaries, all coordinated by State astrologers to oppress the working classes, the poor, the young, and the foreigners."

This was the first I felt the dissatisfaction of some people about the government and the arcana. I would have liked to know more, and sooner, so that I could get a feel for world.

Zelda Pryce is entertaining, even at face value, without know anything about arcane objects and the state of the world. I mean, Zelda can fly. Who cares why they are called "Hypatian Wings."   She can make herself invisible to cameras. Who cares how her Faraday Cloak works, and why it's called that. But, it's also fun to figure those things out.

Zelda Pryce is a quick, entertaining read, and for most young people will offer superficial entertainment. For those interested in science and scientists, Zelda Price can offer a much richer experience. The second book, Zelda Pryce: The Clockwork Girl is available now.

Published by CreateSpace, May 16, 2012
eBook obtained from the author
206 pages

Rating: 3/5




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Sunday, September 23, 2012

Do I have Anything to Discuss? Speed Reading

A while back I was interested in calculating my reading speed, so I looked into some online applications, as well as "the old fashioned" way with a stopwatch. But these calculations really didn't tell me much.

I got to thinking about how I read--when I read fast, or slow, or skim or re-read. There are certain times I do all of these things. What results for me, I hope, after many years of reading is a very fast reading pace, that still allows maximum comprehension.

I think whenever you begin reading something new, you naturally read slower. Once I'm into the rhythm and familiar with the characters and setting, I can speed up considerably. I often go back and re-read the first couple pages of a book after I've "settled in," particularly if it's a complex book with much introduced at the beginning. I always think I might have missed something important if I felt confused at the beginning. And it's OK for a book to be confusing at the beginning.

I do skim sometimes. If I get into a really descriptive passage that I feel isn't going to add much to the atmosphere or plot, I skim. Sometimes the pictures on the wall, the color of her lipstick, or the color of the carpet really aren't important. I've rarely been "burned" by doing this. In extremely rare occasions I have had to go back and find some detail I missed while skimming because it was something important. But I can probably count those instances on one hand. I never skim dialog; it's usually too important.

But, there are times when the descriptions are a big part of the book. I recently read Stephen King's 11/22/63 and I read every word of it (all 849 pages.) I read that book in detail, because King is such a great writer, you really don't want to miss a thing. I think Barbara Kingsolver is another one that I enjoy every word.

I must admit, most of the books I slow down and read carefully are adult books. I find I can read YA books (in general) more quickly. I'm sure there are exceptions, but I can't think of any right now.

The vocabulary and sentence construction definitely make a difference, and that's why more "literary" novels usually require a more deliberate pace. I really LIKE to read fast, so these types of books need to be really riveting, or I will lose patience!

And, speaking of riveting, if a book is tense and exciting, I find myself reading faster and faster to find out what happens. These are the times when I skim too much, and have to tell myself, "Now, slow down and go back and read that stuff you just missed." I consider it a good thing if a book forces me to read at a breakneck pace. I NEVER skip ahead to the ending. It just isn't done.

So, I don't know how accurate those tests of reading speeds are. It really depends so much on what I am reading. I read for enjoyment. Sometimes I enjoy flying through a book to find out what's going to happen. Sometimes I enjoy the journey of reading every word on every page.

How do you feel about reading fast? Is it something you work at? Do you read different books differently? I'm interested to hear what you think...





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Saturday, September 22, 2012

Stacking The Shelves - From the Author

Welcome to another week of Stacking the Shelves, hosted by Tynga's Reviews. I got a couple of book from authors this week.

For Review:

Uncontrollable, by S.R. Johannes
I enjoyed Untraceable, so when the author asked if I would like to review the new book, I said, "For sure!"

Redemption on the River, by Loren DeShon
This came from the author's solicitation. Once in a while, I just like the sound of the book, and this email was so well presented, that I said "Yes!"

Non-Bookish Things:

I just had to show you my new Logitech Keyboard Case for my iPad. I just got it, but so far I'm loving it.

So nice and thin -- and matches the back of the iPad perfectly.

That's all for this week. I've been very tempted to grab some books from the library shelves -- we just got a bunch of new books in, but I've been so good about clearing my TBR, so I'm trying to resist!!

Thanks for stopping by. I'm looking forward to seeing what you got this week!





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Friday, September 21, 2012

Follow Friday - Hyped Books that Deserve It


What hyped up book was worth all the fuss?

Well, in general, I find that most books that get a lot of hype really deserve it. To name just some recent ones that I absolutely loved:

Grave Mercy

Daughter of Smoke & Bones

The Fault in Our Stars

The Immortal Rules

Insurgent

Pushing the Limits

Shadow and Bone

Throne of Glass

Wonder

Wow! When I look at that list, I think, "What a great book year this has been -- and it's not over yet!" I'll be checking out your picks for this one. Make sure you check out all the participants at Parajunkee's and Alison's. Thanks for visiting!




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Thursday, September 20, 2012

Book Review: The Assassin and the Pirate Lord, by Sarah J. Maas @SJMaas

The Assassin and the Pirate Lord is the first novella prequel to Throne of Glass.

We get to learn about Celaena's past. Sam is a character in The Assassin and the Pirate Lord, but surprisingly, he and Celaena don't get along. (Even though he isn't in Throne of Glass, it appears that Sam and Celaena had at one time at least a friendly relationship, if not a romance.) They are sent on a mission together, to the kingdom of the Pirate Lord. Surprisingly, she and Sam decide to change the mission when they find out they are to bring back a ship full of slaves. In total defiance of their leader, Arobynn, they decide to attempt to free the slaves.

I'm always leery of short stories or novellas. I think I enjoyed The Assassin and the Pirate Lord for a couple of reasons. First, I already knew a bit about the characters and the world, and in particular, Celaena (even if she is a bit older in Throne of Glass.) Second, it is a complete story. There's no huge cliff hanger. Celaena and Sam go on a mission and complete it -- in their own thrilling way, of course.

I'm looking forward to the other three novellas in this series. I can't wait for the sequel to Throne of Glass, but these novellas are the next best thing, and I highly recommend them if you've read Throne of Glass.

Published by Bloomsbury, January 13, 2012
eBook purchased from Amazon
?? pages (1777 kb)




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