The Carny by Brooke Moss (Book Review)

October 17, 2012 Adult Fiction, Book Review 3 ★★½

The Carny by Brooke Moss (Book Review)The Carny by Brooke Moss
Published by Inkspell Publishing on July 7, 2012
Genres: Chick Lit, Contemporary, Contemporary Romance, Romance
Pages: 416
Format: eBook
Source: From the Publisher
Amazon Add to Goodreads
2.5 Stars
At a town fair on the coast of Oregon, handsome Native American carny, Vincent Youngblood, bestows an unforgettable kiss on shy, awkward teenager, Charlotte Davenport. Then disappears without another word, leaving her baffled and enamored. Ten years later, Charlotte is still living in the small fishing town of Astoria, while being trained to--reluctantly--take over for her philandering hotelier father when he retires. After all, who else will do it? Her two perfect sisters are busy being married to their flawless husbands and having cookie cutter children, while Charlotte remains single, childless, and every bit as mousy as she was a decade ago. As Charlotte struggles to climb out from underneath her judgmental parents thumb, the carnival rolls back into town, and Charlotte finds herself face to face with Vin again. He's back to run his father's carnival, walking away from a promising career in medicine he started in Chicago. Will her biased and judgmental family accept her relationship with a man who is not only a Native American, but works as a carny for a living? And what unsavory secrets bind the well-educated and seemingly superlative Vin to that ramshackle carnival? After all, you can t judge a carny by its cover.

I was quite excited for this book, because I love the idea of this serendipitous moment where two people magically collide and form a connection that spans 10 years! I remember when I was younger, there was this TV show called Providence. One of the small story lines that spanned a few episodes was when Joanie went to a masquerade ball, and was randomly kissed by a masked man in a Zorro costume, before he disappeared. It was so exciting and romantic, especially once these two found each other again. That’s what I pictured with this story. As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. The romance factor is there, even though it was quite cheesy and predictable at times. We’ve got this sexy, swoon worthy Native American named Vin who is a complete dreamboat. He’s been thinking about Charlotte off and on since that kiss, and their reunion is pretty sweet and made me melt. Plus, the things he said to her were just precious. I’m a huge fan of Vin, and to be honest, he’s way too good for Charlotte. This brings me to my next point.

2. I can’t stand Charlotte. She has such low self esteem, that Vin has to continually reassure her that she’s pretty. She actually apologizes to him for not being pretty enough. My. Gosh. Plus, she jumps to conclusions. If she can be mad at Vin, she will be without even giving him the chance to explain! She’s hopelessly in love with this guy, but goes on pouting sprees as often as she can–ignoring him for days while she mopes. Seriously. Can anyone be good enough for her? And THEN she flips and runs into his arms sobbing. She was weak, and he was blinded by love. Seriously, Vin. Come find me.

3. I’m not a huge fan of the supporting characters either. I liked the people we briefly met at the carnival, the part of Vin’s family we met, and I liked Charlotte’s friend. But I could not stand Charlotte’s racist, annoying family. They were so horrible, that I had a hard time believing they were real. I would have enjoyed reading about Vin’s family so much more.

4. I enjoyed the small details: the carnival, the small cottage with the greenhouses, the lighthouse, the quaint town, the crisp air. I would love to visit this place. It was described wonderfully.

5. The writing was pretty awful. I’m not even sure this book was edited. Sundays does not equal Sunday’s. If you’re enjoying Sunday’s weather, you use it this way. If you’re excited about all the upcoming Sundays, there is no apostrophe. You’re adorable. That’s a good use of you’re. You’re dress is adorable is not a good use of you’re. It’s lovely outside. Yes. This is good. My cat wiggled it’s nose? No. There were more typos and broken grammar laws than I could keep track of. It really detracted from the story.

6. The deeper issues gave the book substance, and I liked that. Charlotte’s horrendous family forced her to defend herself. Vin’s unreliable family forced him to make tough decisions. They both had sad pasts, which made them real.

7. The ending was too much. You can only have so many “happily ever after” elements before it’s just too much. Every single happy thing that could happen to these two did. I mean, I was happy for them and all, but now that all is said and done I keep thinking that the bow this story was tied up in is just too pretty, especially after all the opposition they were facing throughout the entire story.

8. Regardless of my little gripes about the book, I did enjoy the story. I will always pull for a couple like this one. The more opposition they face, the more I want them to end up together. I seriously loved Vin, and I loved some of the romantic scenes these two shared. I had a hard time putting it down.

Overall, I appreciated the story and the attack on racism, because it’s still a modern problem. I loved Vin so much, and would love to read more of his back story. We briefly hear about is past, and I’d love a prequel that shows us Vin’s life before Charlotte. A strong editor could have done wonders for this book, and I’m sad that didn’t happen. I’d recommend this to people who enjoy happy romantic contemporaries with real issues, a loveable hero, and quaint coastal towns.

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When a Sentence is All You Need… (#1)

October 15, 2012 Discussion 3

Back before I blogged about books, I still rated them on Goodreads. I never really wrote a formal review, but sometimes added a sentence or two about my thoughts. Or… even now, sometimes I read a book just to read it, with no concern for reviewing it. Or I’ll get into a review slump and feel like I have nothing relevant or interesting to say. I still like to voice my opinions, though, so here are my two cents on a few titles I read just to enjoy.

 

The Adventures of Huckelberry Finn by Mark Twain
I actually enjoyed this!

Wither by Lauren DeStefano
So depressing… I have hope that the next book will be a little happier.

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
Not as good as the first one, but still worth the read. Can’t wait for the third book!

Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick
You know… I wish there was a little more romance, but the suspense factor was amazing and the ending was sweet.

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
Oh. My. I just found my new favorite book. Seriously! This was adorable. And I am SO excited to go to Paris now!!

The Host by Stephenie Meyer
Oh my. Wonderful. I got so attached to the characters and the story was captivating. This is definitely Stephenie’s best.

Do your reviews ever look like this? Sometimes a sentence really is all you need to get your feelings out. And for my fellow book bloggers, do you ever decide to just not review a book? Both Wither and Anna were books I intended to fully review, but then chose not to.

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The Reluctant Bachelorette by Rachael Anderson (Mini Book Review, Guest Post, and Giveaway)

October 8, 2012 Adult Fiction, Blog Tour, Book Review, Giveaway, Guest Post 2 ★★★★

The Reluctant Bachelorette by Rachael Anderson (Mini Book Review, Guest Post, and Giveaway)The Reluctant Bachelorette by Rachael Renee Anderson
Published by HEA Publishing on September 8, 2012
Genres: Contemporary, Contemporary Romance, Romance
Pages: 300
Format: eBook
Source: From the author
Amazon Add to Goodreads
4 Stars
Luke Carney has no idea what possessed him to move back to Shelter Springs, Colorado, to set up his veterinarian practice. His parents have long since left, the small farming community is on the brink of extinction, and only one close friend from his childhood remains--Taycee Emerson, his best friend’s little sister, who isn’t so little anymore.

Then there’s the matter of Shelter’s Bachelorette, an online reality dating show created to raise some much needed funds for the town.

Unwittingly cast as the bachelorette, Taycee wants out, especially when she discovers that Luke, her childhood crush, is back in town and will be one of the bachelors. To make matters worse, it's up to the viewers--not her--to decide which bachelors stay or go. And they all seem to like Luke.

Unwilling to let him break her heart again, Taycee launches a subtle attack on Luke’s good name with the hope of getting him voted off the show. But she’d forgotten that Luke's an eye-for-an-eye kind of guy, and when he discovers what she's up to, it means revenge.

I’m ready and willing to admit that I love The Bachelor and the Bachelorette. These shows make Mondays worth having. I know they are totally silly and the couples pretty much never stay together, but I don’t care! I even watch the show if I really REALLY dislike the people. It’s pure entertainment, and I love the drama. So, of course I was excited to read The Reluctant Bachelorette! It was a cute, cheesy read. Sometimes cheese is what you need. :)

Taycee was a likeable lead, and I really liked Luke. They are an adorable couple, and I enjoyed reading about the development of their relationship. I liked the idea behind the show: raising money for charity. I thought it was a fun way to raise money, and I would love to be in Taycee’s shoes! Give me 20 guys to date, and I’m all for it. The only thing that bothered me about this particular group of guys is that most of them were even likeable. I really felt for Taycee and laughed to myself as she went on some pretty bad dates, just because I’ve totally been there! There were a few I liked, though, and I had fun reading about those dates. There was also quite a bit of secrecy and drama, which I ate up.

Luke is my dream guy. I’d love to date him, and I loved reading about his and Taycee’s romance. One of my favorite scenes was when they went star gazing. I did that with a guy one time. He gave me his jacket, and we drove up into the mountains and the sky was on fire. He put his arms around me and rested his chin on my head as we watched the stars and whispered about random stuff. The scene in this book brought me back to that moment, and I totally remember feeling twitterpated and giddy like they did. It was a sweet moment. :) I also love when they spent the day at the swimming hole. So romantic!

This book is so happy and sweet! It’s one of those simple romantic contemporaries where everything makes you smile. Oh, and the ending… I got teary-eyed! This book had a downright amazing ending. We all need books like this. There was a lot of fluff, mixed in with some more serious issues that kept the story grounded. I liked the main characters, and even a few of the supporting ones.

Last of all, I really appreciate the clean content of this book. There was no steam, smut, or bad language, yet it was still sweet and romantic. Romance is possible without a bed in play, and Rachael did a great job proving that. Read on for her guest post on this exact topic of discussion.

The Author: Rachael Anderson
(Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Blog)

“I love to read, write, and do most anything outdoors, with the exception of rock climbing and sky diving. (I have serious height phobias.) If there’s something I can do within five feet of solid ground, count me in!”

Keeping it Clean for a Reason

I write unapologetic clean romance, and I always will. My favorite part of any love story is the falling in love part–all of the stuff that happens before sex. There’s something magical and special about that time, and for me, it’s the most romantic part. Take Pride and Prejudice, for example–the most beloved of all love stories. Jane Austin took two strangers, gave them a reason to think less of the other from the get-go, and then let the respect, friendship, attraction, and love grow from there. By the end of the book, there was no doubt in anyone’s mind that Mr. Darcy and Lizzy had so much more than chemistry. They had something real and lasting and sigh-worthy. And Jane Austin did it all without sex. They didn’t even kiss until the end of the book.

Yes, I realize the contemporary world we live in is a different place. In the movies and so many books these days, people meet, kiss, and fall into bed together in the blink of an eye. It makes me sad, because not only do I NOT want to read (or let my children read) about two characters having sex, but I feel like those writers clicked fast-forward on the most beautiful moments in any love story. I come away feeling shorted.

For me, true romance is in the initial connection, friendship, giddiness, excitement, noticing, frustration, fear, and insecurity. It’s in the first look, first touch, first kiss. It’s in the development of something real, something deep, and something lasting.  By the end of any book I write, I want my readers to know, without a doubt, that those two characters are a perfect fit, in more ways than just chemistry. That regardless of what comes their way, they will stay together for always. That’s the best kind of happily ever after there is.

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Owlet by Emma Michaels (Excerpt, Guest Post, & Giveaway)

October 3, 2012 Blog Tour, Book Excerpt, Giveaway, Guest Post 4

Hello! Welcome to my stop along the Owlet tour, hosted by Tribute Books! If you’re here for the readlong, say no more. Your excerpt is right here! Also, it’s my pleasure to have Emma on my blog today. After the excerpt, read on to find her thoughts on Elena’s garden. Finally, make sure to enter the giveaway to win your own copy of Owlet, the first book in the Society of Feathers series.

Title: Owlet
Author: Emma Michaels
Publisher: Tribute Books
Release Date: October 13, 2012
Buy It: Kindle | Nook | iBookstore | Smashwords | PDF
Add It: Goodreads

Summary: Somewhere between falling and flying… there is a girl.
Iris has a secret. She lost her memory eight years ago and never told a living soul. After an asthma attack one night she finds out that her dreams of a strange house on a snowy island may be a memory resurfacing but the more she learns about the past the more she realizes the life she has been living is a lie. As the façade her father has built starts to crumble around her she will have to decide which means more to her; the truth or her life.

Owlet Excerpt
She started to land and closed her eyes, not wanting to spoil that very first glimpse. She was so familiar with this dream that she didn’t need to see the ground to be able to land properly; she could just let herself drift and the wind would set her down. She waited until her feet were planted firmly in the snow and as it melted between her toes she opened her eyes. It was like magic each time she saw it. The snow falling like white feathers of all shapes and sizes before turning into the cold semi-liquid beneath her feet. It was perfect. The trees parted to reveal a road that would lead to the rest of her Never-Never, and revealed the view she knew so well.

A plain white house with many quirks sat before her; shingles from the roof were missing, black shutters framed the windows making them look like wide-open eyes, and empty planter boxes were attached to every window. When she saw the house she ran, placing her hand flat against the dark red door.

“Let me in. You are MY Never-Never—this is MY dream! Let me IN!” Iris gave the doorknob a sharp turn but it wouldn’t budge. She felt like a child throwing a fit and willed herself to calm down. She closed her eyes and when she opened them again she spoke.

The Author: Emma Michaels

Emma Michaels is the author of the ‘A Sense of Truth’ and ‘Society of Feathers’ series. Her goal with her latest YA novel ‘Owlet’ is to give others what she did not have growing up; a strong female protagonist with asthma.  While her previous aspiration was to be a lady knight she realized that not being able to run more than a few feet might become a hindrance so turned to writing instead. Her day jobs include being a cover artist, marketing consultant and silk screen designer.

Find Emma: Facebook | Twitter | Website | Goodreads

Elena’s Garden from Emma Michaels

While I don’t bring a focus point on Elena’s garden in the novel, it is one of the clearest settings in the novel in terms of how I imagine it in my mind. The island was Elena’s favorite place in the world because of her bedroom, her garden and the privacy/safety that is offered. The garden was her ‘special place’. You know when you are a child and you go somewhere and every time you leave you feel like you are leaving a part of you there because you belong there? Somewhere that feels more like magic than reality to you? That is what her garden is for her.

So while the book doesn’t give an in-depth description, if you want to know more about Elena that is the one place that could show you. The island is naturally covered in trees, especially alders, maple and pine but she had that section that had once been her mother’s garden cleared away and created from scratch. She knew she wanted her mother’s favorite birds, humming birds to visit so started by adding nectar plants like red sage and birds of paradise.

From there she realized why she wanted to create the garden anew, because it could be a paradise for birds. So keeping track of what birds could live in harmony she started compiling a list of what she wanted and found Joseph to help her out. She ended up with wild strawberry plants creeping along the sides of the path, manzanitas, dogwood and hemlock trees, madrone, holly, lilacs, sugar bushes, butterfly bushes, sunflowers, carnations, lavender and Irises. The one thing she had left untouched were the apple trees, she didn’t mind having them in her sanctuary because they fed the deer and were great for birds to nest in.

Her garden ended up attracting a wide variety of birds, though some of them she had imported to the island from rescue bird sanctuaries with her father’s help. Now in her garden you can find flickers, sparrows, waxwings, buntings, thrush, finch, thrasher, hermit thrush, wrens, hummingbirds, the amazing Lyre birds and more.

At the end of all of her hard work you have the garden that Iris got to see a portion of. Over time Elena had decided to add a pond with rose water lilies and koi (since koi go dormant in the winter but stay alive even with the cold temperatures) creating the garden you can read the description of in Owlet. I hope you enjoyed reading this little behind the scenes peak at Elena’s garden! If you haven’t read the novel yet, just wait and see what other wonders await!

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Thorns (Frost Chronicles #2) by Kate Avery Ellison (Book Review)

September 28, 2012 Book Review, Young Adult 0 ★★★★★

Thorns (Frost Chronicles #2) by Kate Avery Ellison (Book Review)Thorns by Kate Avery Ellison
Series: Frost Chronicles #2
Also in this series: Frost
Published by CreateSpace on September 6, 2012
Genres: Dystopia, Paranormal, Paranormal Romance, Romance
Format: eBook
Source: From the author
Amazon Add to Goodreads
5 Stars
Lia Weaver went against everything she’d ever known when she risked her life to help a Farther fugitive named Gabe escape from the Aeralian soldiers, and her life changed forever. And the Frost changed, too—the Farthers have taken over her village, a new group of vigilantes calling themselves the Blackcoats are making plans to overthrow the Farther occupiers, and the Thorns are seeking for her to join them.

Lia seeks to fight back against the evil and injustice that has swallowed up her home, but danger lurks at every turn. The monsters that dwell in the deepest regions of the Frost are growing bolder and more dangerous every day, a Farther noble takes up residence in the village on a mysterious mission, and Lia discovers that her parents were harboring even more secrets.

As the frozen world of the Frost grows even more perilous, can Lia survive?

I absolutely loved Frost, the first book in this series, so I was extremely excited when Kate contacted me and asked if I would like to review the sequel! I did not even know it was out yet, which is just nuts because I have been thinking about that book for months. Thorns did not disappoint, and surely did not fall victim of the “second book syndrome” as I like to call it. So often second books are pointless bridges to the concluding book. Thorns was SO not that, though. I really enjoyed reading it, and am even more excited for the next one! As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. Just like in Frost, I love the setting of this book! The Frost is the coldest place I’ve ever read about, and I loved curling up under my covers and reading about it. Not a lot of books are set in a place like this one, and it’s just freezing, snowy, sparkly, magical place. 

2. Kate’s writing is still absolutely beautiful. Her descriptions of the scenery, the weather, the tense moments, and the simple sweet times are flawless. I could not stop reading.

3. Like I said before, this story is not one of those worthless second novels that authors write because they feel like they absolutely have to write a trilogy. This book gives us so much more information on the underlying mystery of the Thorns and the Farthers, and sets us up for a really awesome third novel.

4. In the last book, I really liked Gabe. Like A LOT. But since Lia helped him escape he was not in this book at all. So now… Adam Brewer… the guy I didn’t think a lot about, is this really mysterious, brave, swoonworthy lead! The romance is minimal, but there’s definitely some tension there. And because there’s no insta-love, that achy tension is extremely believable. I think I’m team Adam now, but I’m torn at the same time!

5. I kind of like that in this book we get to see Lia as more vulnerable and human. In Frost, she was rather emotionless, hardened, and skeptical. She just kept to herself and took life as it came. I think Gabe coming into her life softened her up a bit to the potential of love and also made her think about the life that she wants to be living. Overall, I think he challenged her to go against the rules and fight for what’s right. I enjoyed this change in her a lot. She became more relatable, but not so worn down that she got annoying.

6. I loved all the secrecy and sneaking around that Lia and Adam did as part of the Thorns. There were still some crazy suspenseful moments and a little danger. It was very exciting.

7. I also really loved that Kate gave us enough info to remind us what happened in the first book, but not too much that I felt like I was reading the first book all over again.

Overall, I loved this book just as much as the first one, but for different reasons. Rather than romance, this one focused on secrecy and rebellion. The details and descriptions are gorgeous as ever. I do think Kate is gaining a fan for life. I’m convinced now that I will love anything she writes.

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Covers of the Rainbow: Red

September 26, 2012 Cover Talk, Covers of the Rainbow 6

You know me! I love colors, I love art, and I love beautiful book covers. So this new feature here on my blog features my favorite covers from every color of the spectrum. I’ll also feature a short explanation of the color’s meaning so we can discuss if the predominate use of that color was a good choice.

 

This time, I’m featuring red covers. Red is the color of fire and blood, so it is associated with energy, war, danger, strength, power, determination as well as passion, desire, and love.

So, what do you think? If you’ve read these books, does the use of red on the cover reflect the subject matter of the story? What other red covers do you like?

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A History of Wonder: Illustrating Yount, by Deborah A. Mills, Illustrator of the Longing for Yount Series (Guest Post)

September 24, 2012 Blog Tour, Guest Post 0

It’s a great pleasure to have Deborah A. Mills, cover illustrator of the Longing for Yount 2-volume series, as part of the official ChiZine Publications promotional tour for the release of the concluding volume: The Indigo Pheasant. Seeing as how my blog deals with the artsy as well as the bookish, I was delighted to find out I would be hosting Deborah’s discussion and explanations of her inspirations for the imagery used in both her cover designs!

I’ve always been a firm believer in art having a purpose, and not just being done for the sake of art itself. Sure, many covers out there are lovely, but so many of them have no real purpose other than to just be pretty. Being a book cover designer myself, I absolutely love and appreciate Deborah’s designs and her very detailed reasoning behind them. Before we jump into her thoughts, let me introduce the dynamic duo behind the books!

Deborah A. Mills and Daniel A. Rabuzzi

Deborah has been carving wood professionally since 1991. She studied wood sculpture with Lorrie Goulet at the Art Students League of New York and, while living in Norway, trained with master woodcarver Erik Fridstrøm at the Viking Ships Museum in Oslo.

Daniel A. Rabuzzi, a former banker, studied folklore and mythology in college and graduate school, and keeps one foot firmly in the Other Realm. He earned his doctorate in 18th-century history, with a focus on family, gender and commerce in northern Europe. His first book, The Choir Boats, was published  in 2009, and 2012 brought about the concluding novel, The Indigo Pheasant. He has also published a number is short stories, poems, and scholarly articles covering numerous topics. He is now an executive at a national workforce development organization in New York City, where he lives with his wife and soulmate, Deborah, along with the requisite two cats.

Photo: ©Kyle Cassidy, all rights reserved
Biographical information was acquired and spliced together from both Deborah’s and Daniel’s websites.
A History of Wonder: Illustrating Yount, by Deborah A. Mills

Find out more about The Choir Boats and The Indigo Pheasant by visiting their Goodreads pages.

Daniel and I were terribly lucky to have ChiZine as his publishing house.  Sandra Kasturi and Brett Savory made a dream come true for both of us when they invited me to illustrate Daniel’s Longing for Yount historical fantasy series (not to mention that they also incorporated two of my sea beast carvings into the book covers!).

Porcelain tea bowls seemed a perfect vehicle for the “Indigo Pheasant”
theme that carries through both books. I added a foreboding crack to my version.

For years, while Daniel honed drafts of The Choir Boats, we daydreamed and discussed what my illustrations might look like. Daniel created an enormous “Yount inspiration file” full of our sketches, photos, and pages torn from magazines, museum brochures and auction catalogs.  The file is full of the kinds of decorative objects that would have surrounded the characters in the books – much of it, of course, from the 18th and 19th centuries: sumptuous fabrics, carved furniture, mirrors and clock cases, porcelain tea ware and figurines, botanical prints, etc.

When I suddenly had the actual job of creating illustrations to head each chapter, I knew I wanted to use everyday objects from the world of Daniel’s characters to hint at their personalities and some key sequences in the books.  Personally, I am irked when illustrated characters in a book I’m reading don’t match the ones I see in my head, so I knew I didn’t want to show realistic “portraits.”  Following our idea of using the material culture of the period, I searched Daniel’s manuscripts for objects associated with the different characters or scenes (like Sally’s locket, Barnabas’s sandalwood box, the dolphin door knocker on the McDoon front door and the sign outside the Piebald Swan coffee house, for example) and then did lots of further research on my own.

I was thrilled to find a place to put a hippocamp mirror, having sketched many at museums and antique shows!  I think it amplifies the creepiness of the “Conjure Hands” (another of Daniel’s extraordinarily visual literary creations).

Meissen ware porcelain figurines of animals and birds were very popular in the early 1800s, so seemed a perfect way to depict some other favorite characters (Isaak the cat and Charicules the bird).

Igbo ukara cloths incorporate hands, moons, arrows, leopards, turtles
and a whole language of symbols to communicate meaning; Maggie’s
ukara also refers to her mother’s stories, Maggie’s visions, and the
mathematical formulae that are part of her magic.

In The Choir Boats, my favorite character, Maggie, appears only in “interlude” chapters, which alternate with the main story-line’s chapters.  I wanted the interlude illustrations to look different from the others, to signal the change in view point, but I didn’t have time to do something unique for each one (I thought).

Then I had an “a-ha” moment, illuminated by my research into Igbo art and history (Maggie is an escaped slave, born in Maryland to Igbo captives). I realized I could mimic a traditional Igbo artform, the indigo-dyed ukara cloth, with blocks representing Maggie’s experiences throughout the story; once I’d scanned and digitized the image, I could cut out and enlarge segments that would refer to scenes in each interlude. I’ve used a similar technique for the interlude segments of Daniel’s second and concluding novel, The Indigo Pheasant, carving one larger image into individual illustrations for each chapter head.

As a woodcarver, I could easily imagine an Igbo drum carved with moons, “the brown eye of wisdom,” warding hands and a threatening swallow-tailed owl, especially as my research showed how much meaning each of those symbols would convey in Igbo culture!

As an inveterate museum junkie, I hope my illustrations will tempt readers to step a few feet beyond the familiar and maybe explore some of the cultures and artisans who produced these amazing objects that continue to inspire Daniel and me in our artwork together.

______________________________
Comments from Jana:
Wow, Deborah! Thanks so much for taking the time to write about your inspiration for these amazing works of cover art! I’m a museum junkie as well, and actually majored in graphic design and minored in art history, so I totally and completely understand your motivations and explanations. Art was the very first visual communication among mankind, and I love that you treat it with such reverence and respect. I can see your love of what you do through your designs and your writing, and I’m just so pleased you took the time to give us a glimpse into your mind! Thanks so much for visiting today. :)

______________________________
Did Deborah inspire you to check out the Longing for Yount series? Get a taste by checking out the novel previews for both The Choir Boat and The Indigo Pheasant. And if a taste is not enough, both books are available on Amazon right now.

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Fall for You by Cecilia Gray (Mini Review)

September 19, 2012 Book Review, Young Adult 4 ★★

Fall for You by Cecilia Gray (Mini Review)Fall for You by Cecilia Gray
Series: Jane Austen Academy #1
Published by The Alpha Division on February 10, 2012
Genres: Contemporary, Contemporary Romance, Retelling, Romance
Pages: 128
Format: eBook
Source: From the author
Amazon Add to Goodreads
2 Stars
To say Lizzie and Dante are polar opposites is the understatement of the century. He's a snooty Exeter transfer with more money than Google. She's a driven study-a-holic barely keeping up with tuition. It's obvious that Dante thinks he's way too good for Lizzie. And Lizzie knows Dante is a snob with a gift for pushing her buttons.

But things are changing fast this year at the Academy. And when Lizzie's quest to stop those changes blows up in her face, taking her oldest friendship with it, she has nowhere else to turn but to Dante, with his killer blue eyes, his crazy-sexy smile, and his secrets... Secrets Lizzie can't seem to leave alone, no matter how hard she tries...

I absolutely love Jane Austen-esque novels, so I was quite excited to read this book. While the story is light and cute, and it started off promising, there just wasn’t much to it for me. It was a very quick read, so none of the characters were extremely developed or all that memorable. The writing itself was fine, but the plot line was not strong enough for me either.

I didn’t like Lizzie very much. She came off as being mean and rather annoying. The investigative journalist aspect of her character kind of bothered me, just because I’m not a huge fan of books with this angle. It turned her into a nosy girl, shoving her way into everything. The romance was not believable, and was kind of all over the place. And… I kind of hated the school’s nickname: Jasta. I know that’s a really silly thing to dislike, but it just bugged me!

I think this all boils down to the fact that the story takes place in a boarding school, which I rarely enjoy about a book. Most boarding school characters a stuck-up and arrogant, and I really dislike reading about people like that. Also, it was short but still had a lot to cover. If there had been an extra 50-100 pages, I’m not necessarily sure I would have liked the book more, but it would have been a more solid foundation for the rest of the series. While I won’t be continuing on with this series, I would encourage Jane Austen fans to give this a try if they are looking for a quick fix. I’ve seen a lot of raving reviews for Fall for You, so maybe you’d feel differently about it than I do!

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Top Ten Bookish People I Want to Meet

September 19, 2012 Top Ten Tuesday 17

TTT

This week’s topic is all about the bookish people I want to meet. They could be bloggers, authors, characters, etc. I have a feeling it’s going to be hard to keep this list down to just 10 people, so you might find me cheating a little bit!

 

 

1. My Broke and Bookish Crew
I have been writing at The Broke and the Bookish for over 2 years now, and I have only met Kimberly! And I almost met Daisy when I was in Holland over the summer. I got extremely sick, though, and spent the day I was supposed to have lunch with her in bed with pneumonia. So, I want to meet alllll of them! Jamie, Lori, Daisy (we need to go shopping for sparkly things!), Jen, Julia, Kelly, Paula, Tahleen, and Bridget. Girls, we need a huge getaway. Like a cruise or something.

2. Alexa of Alexa Loves Books
I adore this girl! We’ve had fun discussing books and life… and I designed her blog for her, which was way fun. She’s one of my best clients ever. And we have the same kind of taste in books! Plus, she’s one of the sweetest people ever.

3. Estelle of Rather be Reading
I met Magan at ALA, which was so much fun! I adore Estelle. She’s so much fun to talk books with, plus her reviews are amazingly well done and her vlogs are very fun to watch. I just know we’d be great buds with lots to talk about!

4. Tracey Garvis Graves, author of On the Island
Tracey and I have become great friends over time as her book went from self-published, to Penguin published, to MGM movie rights and beyond. She’s an extremely nice person, and I think we’d get along wonderfully!

5. Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games
The movie version just did not do it for me. I want to meet the Katniss from the book and ask her all about her life. Her story is fascinating.

6. Mandee from Vegan YA Nerds 
I love Mandee! She’s so sweet and so much fun to talk to. I want her to teach me all the yummy vegan recipes too!

7. Sam from Incarnate
Seeing as how he has been reincarnated so many times, I’d love to sit down and talk with him about the evolution of the world. Plus, he’s got so much life experience. I’d love some advice!

8. Lauren Oliver, author of the Delirium Trilogy
She seems awesome, and like such an amazingly funny person! I LOVE the Delirium trilogy, and would love to hear her talk all about the development of the story, the characters, and how she plans to end it all with the final book!

9. Amy from Following the Reader
We’ve chatted on Twitter many times, and I know she and I would get along SO well!

10. YOU.
Hey, you’re awesome! And I LOVE it when you stop by my blog! I know we’d have so much fun chatting about books and bookish things.

So, which bookish people do you hope to meet someday? Link me up and I’ll come visit!

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Ten by Gretchen McNeil (Book Review)

September 17, 2012 Book Review, Young Adult 4 ★★★★

Ten by Gretchen McNeil (Book Review)Ten by Gretchen McNeil
Published by Balzer + Bray on September 18, 2012
Genres: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense, Thriller
Pages: 296
Format: ARC
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4 Stars
It was supposed to be the weekend of their lives—an exclusive house party on Henry Island. Best friends Meg and Minnie each have their reasons for being there (which involve T.J., the school’s most eligible bachelor) and look forward to three glorious days of boys, booze and fun-filled luxury.

But what they expect is definitely not what they get, and what starts out as fun turns dark and twisted after the discovery of a DVD with a sinister message: Vengeance is mine.

Suddenly people are dying, and with a storm raging, the teens are cut off from the outside world. No electricity, no phones, no internet, and a ferry that isn’t scheduled to return for two days. As the deaths become more violent and the teens turn on each other, can Meg find the killer before more people die? Or is the killer closer to her than she could ever imagine?

Sometimes I enjoy being scared. I’m a major chicken, so I don’t read many scary books, but this one sounded too good to pass up! I was also majorly intrigued when I found it’s a retelling of Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None. This was totally worth being scared for. As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. The location is really ominous, and a character all its own. It has the power to be a breezy, sunny escape or a stormy, treacherous nightmare. In this case, it was the latter and I loved it. The descriptions had me snuggling under my blankets, hiding from murderers.

2. Gretchen is amazing at writing suspenseful passages. All of a sudden, I was a speed reader with this book. It was not because I was bored or because there were too many details. It was because everything flowed and ran into the next story elements so nicely that I almost absorbed the words rather than having to shove them in my head. It was effortless reading. 

3. Now, I have not read Agatha’s original version of this story, but the reviews I have read lead me to believe that this version sticks very closely to the original. I didn’t read anything about it having the crazy weather like Ten does, which I loved. It reminded me of Stephen King’s Storm of the Century. Very creepy, and it added a lot to the story. Just like the location, the weather was a character.

4. There were a lot of people to keep track of. Meg is the main girl and her best friend is Minnie. I had a hard time keeping track of who was who in the beginning, just because they each had an “M” name. And all the other characters blended together a bit for me, except for T.J., the love interest. Even though everyone was being murdered, though, the story focused more on the scare factor and less on the characters. I actually enjoyed that, just because it was fun to be immersed more in my feelings and reactions than the characters’ stories.

5. The murders form and are all wrapped up into a pretty crazy web of details. We learn more and more and solve the mystery right along with the characters. I was just as confused as they were. And I figured things out at about the same pace as they did, which was fun. I enjoyed that the reasoning and resolution weren’t easy. I love my details!

6. SO many twists and turns and events. It never calmed down! It just got creepier.

7. I was so scared! I could not read alone or at night, or I started to get really paranoid. This is a great book for autumn, especially for around Halloween.

All in all, everyone needs to read a creepy book every now and again. I really enjoyed this one, and would recommend it to pretty much anyone who loves a good scare. It wasn’t my favorite book in the world, but it’s definitely worth a read. And it seems to be great for all ages, since my dad just stole it from me when I was done! I really want to read Agatha Christie’s version now!

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