Friday, August 1, 2014

Austen in August

http://lostgenerationreader.com/2014/06/23/austen-in-august-sign-up-post/
I've never finished a single Jane Austen book IN MY ENTIRE LIFE! Every year I figure I will get around to one or two, but that never ever happens! I feel like such a crappy book worm because of it (and other things.)

So this year I've signed up for this and have my books ready!

I'm reading Emma, Pride and Prejudice, Persuasion, and Northanger Abbey. Yes I know that's kind of a stretch to go from none to like 4 in no time, but still. I'm ready!


If you want to sign up for this, you can click the picture and go at it!

~Please Pretty Lights ~


please pretty lights
Please Pretty Lights
Ina Zajac
  Blurb:
It’s September when good girl Via Sorenson stumbles into a Seattle strip club, drunk and alone on her twenty-first birthday. Matt and Nick—best friends, bandmates, and bouncers—do their best to shield her from their sadistic cocaine-trafficking boss, Carlos. They don’t realize her daddy issues come with a forty-million-dollar trust fund and a legacy she would do anything to escape. She is actually Violetta Rabbotino, who had been all over the news ten years earlier when her father, an acclaimed abstract artist, came home in a rage, murdered her mother, then turned the gun on himself. Young Violetta was spared, hidden behind the family Christmas tree, veiled by the mysticism of its pretty lights whose unadulterated love captivated and calmed her. Now, desperate to shed her role as orphaned victim, Via stage dives into a one-hundred-day adventure with Matt and Nick, the bassist and drummer of popular nineties cover band Obliviot. The rock-and-roll lifestyle is the perfect distraction—until she is rattled by true love. As Christmas looms closer, her notorious past becomes undeniable. How will she ever untangle herself from her twisted string of pretty lights?  

ina1 

About the Author:  
Ina Zajac is an award-winning journalist, avid people watcher, and lover of quirk and contrast. Her writing is heavily influenced by her fascination with music, art, and her hometown of Seattle.

Twitter: @InaZajac

 Excerpt:  
Chapter 1
SoHo, New York City, December 21, 2004
*** Via

Back to the wall, Via shuffled through the candy cane wilderness, careful not to displace piles of presents or disturb crystal angels. It was so close. Branches prickled against her chin and neck as she stretched into the corner. Needles latched onto her green St. Anne Elementary School sweater. After months of waiting and wondering, there it was—white with a gold bow. She reached out. Her fingertips grazed the paper, the tag. It would have her name on it.


“No peeking,” her mother called from the kitchen. “Cookies are almost ready. Come and help.”

Guilt settled in and crowded out her naughty curiosity. Mama’s feathery voice lingered in the air, and mingled with the smell of gingersnaps.


The front door slammed shut. Her body tensed against the wall as it recognized the rumble of her father’s approach. Her arm retreated to the safety of her side. The hardwood floor vibrated his location in the foyer. He wasn’t supposed to be home from the country yet. He needed his rest.

“Ingrid!” he yelled. “Violetta!”

He called her Violetta when he was angry. When he was happy, he said she was the heartbeat of the universe. Now that she was eleven, she wasn’t a little kid anymore, but she still called him Daddy. He made her promise she would always call him Daddy.


 
His voice was muffled. The floor was still. He must have stopped to check the front bedrooms, but for how long? That tummy pain was back, the one that burned from the inside out; the one Dr. Peyton said fifth graders shouldn’t have. Being the daughter of Joseph Antonio Rabbotino wasn’t easy. Kids at school called her Rabbit and were never allowed to come over and play. The floor trembled more and more. He must be standing nearby, maybe next to the piano, she thought. She couldn’t see past the tree’s festive colors, and prayed he couldn’t either. She had promised to be a good girl.

Her mother’s voice rushed over from the kitchen. It was shrill. “Oh, my God,” she said. “Put that down. You’re not yourself right now.”

Put what down? She wondered. Sometimes he brought home presents or pets.

“You think I’m crazy?” He let out a harsh laugh she had never heard before. “You think you can drug me and leave me in Connecticut to rot?”


 
A bell near her elbow began to jingle. Don’t be a spaz, she told herself. She had to stop shaking; she just had to. Being invisible meant being silent, so she leaned to the right and smothered it. Her other arm met up with something pointy.

“But, you wanted to go, remember?” Her mother was talking really fast. “Dr. Goldman said you should rest, give the new meds some time.”

Daddy had a lot of doctors. Daddy took a lot of pills.

“I know what you think of me,” he said. “That the critics are right. That I’ll never paint again.”

“It’s okay, it’s all going to be okay,” her mother insisted. “But you’ve been drinking. We’ve gotten through this before. Remember?”

“Why do you do this to me?” he asked. “Evil little actress. Acting like you love me.”

“I do. You know I do.”

“Liar.”

“Please, put that down. We’ll call Dr. Goldman.”

“You sent me away. Do you know what it was like there? Knowing you betrayed me? All you had to do was love me, but you’ve ruined me!”

“No, you wanted to go. You needed to rest. Please remember. Please.”

“Where’s my Violetta?”

“Still at school.”


 
“She should be home by now—home with us. We should be together now. She hiding under her bed again?” His words turned and trailed back toward the front bedrooms. “Violetta! Come when I call you!”

“Mama?” She called through the branches.

Her mother didn’t seem surprised at all to hear her. “Shh,” she said, faint but firm. It was not her normal ‘shh.’ Something was wrong.

Her father’s voice was already growing louder again. “Violetta!”

“I’m right here,” she tried to say. She decided that she would come out; then he would be angry with her, not her mother. But, a strange sound surrounded her, like baby birds and chimes. It seemed to come through the Christmas tree lights. She blinked. They were such pretty lights—colors she had never seen before. Buzzing into a haze around her, they were mesmerizing.

Shh, it’s all okay, the lights told her, but not in words.

She felt their meaning in her teeth and bones.

Come and play with us, they urged. Come play pretend.

They flurried about. She tried to speak, but they settled against her tongue like candy-coated snow. They loved her. She watched them spin and shine and gleam and glow. They were everything she needed in that moment, and so she relaxed into the soft aura of Christmas.

Her mother was screaming, “She’s not here! She’s not here!”

The purest colors were born and danced within reflections of those who had come before. You’re not here, they echoed. You’re with us. They snuggled in and tucked themselves around her. Be still, they insisted. This isn’t real. She knew they were right. Nothing was real. She was everywhere and nowhere at all, safe between worlds. Her mother’s golden wall clock started to ding its hourly announcement—once, twice.

“You did this,” her father said.

A third ding.

“You made me do this.”

Four.

Mama’s voice fluttered. “Remember who you are.”

A loud noise exploded throughout the apartment. Ornaments rattled and slipped from their homes, and Via with them. Her hands came up to cover her ears, but his voice soon rode the wave of ringing and broke on through.

“Why?” he cried. “Why did you make me do this?”

Another explosion ripped away the space around her. She sank down overcome by the bells ringing around her. Why? Why were the bells so loud? It was a gun, she realized. The sound vibrating through her was gunfire. Her shoulder came to rest against the edge of the big box—white with a gold bow. Air came into her lungs in notches, each tighter than the last. She didn’t know what to do. Her trembling hand grasped a branch with a candy cane hanging from it. She began to pull it back.

“Mama?”

Don’t look, the pretty lights urged her. It’s not real. It’s not her.

But it was too late. She had already peered past the angels—and through to the other side.

“Ma—”

Mouth open, heart lost, she released the branch and it sprang back into place. Its candy cane held strong. The pretty lights spoke no more, but hummed and tingled. The murmur of their adoration grew faint and she began to panic. She curled up into herself, tight and small, desperate to disappear back into their protection.

“Please, pretty lights. Please don’t go.”

She blinked and the lights were just lights. The floors roared. New voices overtook the fading bells. People were yelling. People were coming. An alarm shrieked overhead. The taste of gingersnap dust burnt through the air.

“Please, pretty lights,” she called out again, even though she knew they were gone.

 

ppl -Banner

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Review: The Truth About Alice


~ Everyone has a lot to say about Alice Franklin, and it’s stopped mattering whether it’s true. The rumors started at a party when Alice supposedly had sex with two guys in one night. When school starts everyone almost forgets about Alice until one of those guys, super-popular Brandon, dies in a car wreck that was allegedly all Alice’s fault. Now the only friend she has is a boy who may be the only other person who knows the truth, but is too afraid to admit it. Told from the perspectives of popular girl Elaine, football star Josh, former outcast Kelsie, and shy genius Kurt, we see how everyone has a motive to bring – and keep – Alice down.~

My Thoughts:
I really liked this one. I could not believe how quickly everyone jumped to conclusions based on such little evidence...then I remembered what high school was like. The characters in this book were really brutal. The only other person besides Alice that I liked was Kurt, and even he had me raging a time or two. 

I won't give away too much, but I will say that this book really shows how rumors and lies can nearly destroy a life. The Truth About Alice may not have the most original plot ever, but the delivery makes it fresh and gripping. 
 
There's about 5 (I think) characters that tell the story of what happened and why Alice is such a huge slut. Everyone knows what she did, so everyone knows how she is. Each character gives their impressions of Alice and as the story progresses you see just how mean kids can be. The switching characters made this book so much more interesting, and really shows Mathieu's talent. 

It made me sad, it made me want to cry, and it made me glad that I am old enough to realize that people aren't always what they seem. This is a great book!

The New World Series (Sanctuary) by G. Michael Hopf


Sanctuary_9780142181515

Sanctuary: Book 3 of the New World Series

Series: The New World Series
Paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: Plume (May 27, 2014)
Months after a super-EMP attack devastates America, the country is now unrecognizable. Major cities are run by gangs, survivors are dying of starvation and the government is losing control. Those who were prepared for the end find that they weren’t really prepared at all.  While some seek vengeance for their losses, others are determined to restore the nation. In SANCTUARY Gordon Van Zandt and his family are all on different paths, but they are all in search of a home away from chaos. 
From the author of post-apocalyptic thrillers The End and The Long Road, this third book in the “New World” series explores what happens when boundaries are stretched beyond imagination, and resourcefulness is the only thing that will keep you among the living.

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My Review will be near the bottom of this post!

About G. Michael Hopf

G. Michael Hopf is a former U.S. Marine and bodyguard. For years he has studied and researched the effects of an EMP (Electromagnetic Pulse) attack on the United States. From his research he was shocked by the level of devastation that would befall the country. He wanted to bring awareness to this real threat by creating the world of Gordon Van Zandt in “The End” where this type of weapon is unleashed and a fight for survival ensues. He lives with his family in San Diego, CA. 

Visit  G. Michael Hopf’s website  for more information.


Book 1: The End 
This book was pretty interesting. It is a first book in a series, so there's some info dump. I realized that this was his first book, so I let that slide. I really enjoyed "meeting" Gordon and wanted to learn more about him. The story was set up nicely and I felt that for a first book, this was a great start!

Book 2: The Long Road

This second book really worked out better for me. Hopf seems to have smoothed out his writing a lot and made his characters a LOT more vivid. The Long Road is packed full of new dangers and old threats. Gordon definitely came across as more of a "real" person in this one, making me feel the same sense of  dread and panic that I thought he must be feeling (even if he keeps it inside.) The plot had me gripping my book tightly and held my attention til the end! Great second installment!

Book 3: Sanctuary
This book wrapped up the series (maybe..will there be another one?) nicely enough for me to feel that it was a satisfying conclusion. I think that as the books progressed the writing got much much better and more fluid! I enjoyed the character development and plot progression VERY much. Most books in this genre go more for the "bang shoot em up pow pow GUNS YEAH macho grrrr" factor and forget to develop the characters. Yes there was the requisite fire power, guys with guns, and such; but as the books progressed I learned more than I expected about the characters and what might sorta happen in the event of a situation like this. The series was thought provoking and fun. A great read all around!



Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Meet Me In Barcelona

Title: Meet Me in BarcelonaAuthor: Mary CarterPublisher: KensingtonPages: 352Genre: Mainstream fictionFormat: Paperback/Kindle/MP3 CD, Audiobook, MP3 Audo, Unabridged
Purchase at AMAZON
A surprise trip to Barcelona with her boyfriend, Jake, seems like the perfect antidote to Grace Sawyer's current woes. The city is dazzling and unpredictable, but the biggest surprise for Grace is discovering who arranged and paid for the vacation.

Carrie Ann wasn't just Grace's foster sister. Clever, pretty, and mercurial, she was her best friend—until everything went terribly wrong. Now, as she flees an abusive marriage, Carrie Ann has turned to the one person she hopes will come through for her. Despite her initial misgivings, Grace wants to help. But then Carrie Ann and Jake both go missing. Stunned and confused, Grace begins to realize how much of herself she's kept from Jake—and how much of Carrie Ann she never understood. Soon Grace is baited into following a trail of scant clues across Spain, determined to find the truth, even if she must revisit her troubled past to do it.

Mary Carter's intriguing novel delves into the complexities of childhood bonds, the corrosive weight of guilt and blame, and all the ways we try—and often fail—to truly know the ones we love.


About the Author

Mary Carter is a freelance writer and novelist. Meet Me in Barcelona is her eighth novel. Her other works include: Three Months in Florence, The Things I Do For You, The Pub Across the Pond, My Sister’s Voice, Sunnyside Blues, She’ll Take It, and Accidentally Engaged. In addition to her novels she has written six novellas: Return to Hampton Beach in the anthology, Summer Days, A Southern Christmas in the upcoming 2014 anthology Our First Christmas, A Kiss Before Midnight in the anthology, You’re Still the One, A Very Maui Christmas in the New York Times best selling anthology Holiday Magic, and The Honeymoon House in the New York Times best selling anthology Almost Home. Mary currently lives in Chicago, IL with a demanding labradoodle. She wishes she could thank her gorgeous husband, but she doesn’t have one. In addition to writing she leads writing workshops.


For More Information
Book Excerpt:
Carrie Ann. The words felt like two gunshots to the chest. Just hearing that name come out of her mother’s mouth made Grace’s heart start tripping. She almost shot out of her chair. “I’m Grace,” she said. “Gracie Ann.” Her voice cracked. “Dad?” she said.
She’s confused, honey. The past and the present, it’s just one big, ugly glob.” Pinpricks of shame began forming at the base of Grace’s spine.
 “I’m not confused,” Jody said. “Carrie Ann came to visit me.”
My God,” Grace said. This time she did shoot out of her chair. Carrie Ann was the only girl foster child the Sawyers had ever taken in. At first she had been like a sister to Grace.
Who is she married to now?” Jody said. “I can’t remember.”
Pay no attention to her, Gracie,” Jim said.
Why can’t I remember?” Jody pressed on her temples with her index fingers, as if she could squeeze the memory out of her head.
Grace took a step toward her mother. “When did she come and visit you, Mom?”
          “Grace, I told you she didn’t,” Jim said. “Don’t egg your mother on.”
I’m not egging her on, Dad, but if Carrie Ann was here, I want to know about it.”
Her father whacked his newspaper on the side of his chair. “I told you she wasn’t! And I should know. I’ve been sitting right here!”
She’s still such a pretty girl,” Jody said. “She asked about you, Grace. She asked me all sorts of questions about you.”
Jim got up and threw up his arms. “She’s out of her mind!” He began to pace.
Dad,” Grace said. “Hush.” Her mother suddenly became very still, which meant she was listening. Grace took her father by his arm and led him back to his chair.
I’m sorry. She won’t remember me saying it.”
That’s not the point.”
I can’t help it. Carrie Ann this - Carrie Ann that. I thought we’d put that nuisance behind us for once and for all. Is this what it comes to? Reliving your worst nightmare?”
I’ve never heard you speak so harshly about Carrie Ann,” Grace said. Her mom was the one who used to say the worst things about Carrie Ann. She said Carrie Ann was evil. She said Carrie Ann was a curse that would follow all of them to their graves. Once she even said there wasn’t enough Lysol in the world to get rid of that stain. And each insult cut into Grace like her mother was saying it about her. Her sister. Of sorts. Her own Dickens-like drama.  Carrie Ann was the best thing that had ever happened to Grace, and she was the worst. She’d been out of their lives for nearly fifteen years. And Grace had spent every one of them trying, and failing, to put the past behind her. She turned to her father.
Why didn’t you tell me?”
Tell you what?”
That Mom's been talking about her.”
Because I don’t want to dredge up all that nonsense. It’s her damn medication. I keep telling the doctor it’s making her worse, and he won’t listen to me.” Her father slammed his fist on the arm of the chair. “These people think just because we’re old that we’re stupid. She wouldn’t be so forgetful if she cut down on some of those pills. How do I know that? Because she’s my wife.  Because I’ve been married to this woman for forty-four years. You know what he said to me?”
Who?”
That snot-nosed doctor, that’s who!”
What did he say?”
Put me in my place. In front of my wife. ‘You’re a psychotherapist, correct? Not a psychiatrist? You don’t prescribe medication?’ That’s what the snot-nosed so-called doctor actually said to me. Can you believe that? Some twenty-year-old who just started wiping his own ass. I’m telling you she’s on too many pills! Makes her soupy. He won’t listen to me!”
It’s okay, Dad. Calm down. It’s okay.”
I can’t bear hearing her talk about Carrie Ann.  Your mother's the one who told us never to mention Carrie Anne's name again." 
Forbid us. Forbid us to ever mention her name again. “I know, Dad. I’ll talk to the doctor. Calm down.”
I always wanted to go to Spain,” Jody said. She turned off the television and patted the side of the bed. So she’d heard and understood the conversation. God, the brain was a mysterious thing.
Grace went over and sat down. “You never told me that.”
I would hardly share that with a stranger.”
I’m your daughter! She wanted to shout. But her mother couldn’t help it.
Just keep talking,” her father said. “At least she’s not dredging up ghosts, or drooling over naked stud muffins.”
And now  Grace couldn't believe her father had just said “naked stud muffins.” Maybe getting away for a bit wasn’t such a bad idea. Grace turned back to her mother. “Why did you always want to go to Spain?”
My mother went to Spain. All by herself. When she was in her seventies.”
I know,” Grace said. It had been just after Grace’s grandfather had died. Her grandparents were supposed to take the trip together. Everyone thought Annette Jennings would cancel the trip. Instead, she buried her husband and packed her bags. Little Annette who had never been outside of her home state. Grace had had many conversations with her grandmother about that trip. She was proud of her too.
It was really something,” Jim said. “Because in those days seventy wasn’t the new fifty or whatever the kids say today. Seventy was seventy.”
Tell me about it,” Grace said.
Jody Sawyer straightened up, and her eyes seemed to take in more light. “Well, it’s not like it is now. Women didn’t travel alone back then. Wasn’t that brave? My mother sent me a postcard from Madrid of a beautiful tango dancer in a red dress. The dress was made of actual material—beautiful red silk right on the postcard. I’ll never forget it. She’d only written one sentence on the back. ‘Robert would’ve loved the landing.’ My father was very picking with landings and always impressed when the pilot pulled off a smooth one. Anyway. As soon as I got that postcard I knew my mother was going to be all right. ‘Robert would have loved the landing.’ After she died I spent hours just touching that silky red dress with the tips of my fingers and imagining my mother dancing in the streets of Spain.”
Jody Sawyer looked up and swayed her upper body slightly as if watching her faraway self dance. Then she looked down at her hands, twisting the bed sheet. “Look how ugly and wrinkled I am now.”
You’re not ugly and wrinkled, Mom. You’re beautiful.”
I wish I had that postcard now.” Her mother looked up into space. “I lost it.”
Grace hesitated. Did she, or didn’t she?  Grace opened the bedside drawer and took out the postcard. Her mother was right. The dress was silky. Grace handed it to her mother and watched her eyes light up. Next her mother gently outlined the edge of the dancer’s dress with the trembling tip of her right index finger. Her fingernail was misshapen, the peach paint flaking. Grace would have to see if they could bring in a manicurist.
Jody looked at Grace, her eyes clear and bright. “Gracie Ann you have to go. Film everything. I’m dying to see Barcelona through you.” Grace must have looked stricken, for her mother laughed and then put her hand over her heart. “Sorry, no pun intended.” Like antennas being manipulated for a clearer signal, sometimes her mother tuned in perfectly. Jody Sawyer laughed again, and Grace couldn’t help but laugh with her.
Mom.”
Make me feel like I’m there,” Jody said, closing her eyes. “Help me shut out this hospice. Let me see beautiful Barcelona.” She took Grace’s hand and held it. “Do it for me. I’ll feel like I’m with you. Bring a camera. And your guitar,” she added. “You never know.” When Grace still didn’t answer, her mother opened her eyes, and lifted Grace’s chin up with her hand like she used to do when Grace was a child. “Be brave, Gracie Ann. Just like my mother.”
Like my mother too,” Grace whispered back.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Week of Reading: Book 2

So here is my selection for book 2 of my week of reading like a madwoman on crack! I've finished Siege and Storm, so be on the look out for my fangirling on that series coming soon! Wish me luck on reaching my goal of 5 books in one week! 

Week of Reading -Book 1

So this is the first (at least part of it) book of the week! I'm on page 334 out of 432 in my paper back. My review of the first one is coming up sometime this week!

I'm hopefully going to get through 3 or 4 books this week! I need to catch up on my TBR and post some reviews!

So far this one is not disappointing! My review will follow the 1st book's. So watch for that! 

FINISHED AND DELIGHTED!