Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Procrastinating

I am really procrastinating when it comes to finishing my story The Woman in the Lake. I don't know why, I have the story in my head but for some reason I just can't get it down on paper. I think it might have something to do with the fact that I decided to make 14 (well, 15 if you count the ghost) characters that I now have to flesh out and give distinct personalities as well as tell about the night by the haunted lake and mill. So getting part two posted is probably going to take me a while.

Review: Echo Falls


Review: Echo Falls
Echo Falls
Title: Echo Falls
Author: Jaime McDougall
Pages: 283
Rating: ****
Review Source: The Author Jaime McDougall
Back of Book Synopsis (from goodreads.com):

Running from a nightmare stalking her every move, Phoebe Martin arrives in Echo Falls hoping she has finally found a safe place to stop. But trouble has a way of catching up and soon the signs are there. 


After a vicious attack in an alley, policeman Aidan O'Bryan is left with Phoebe as his only path to understanding why the Echo Falls werewolf pack - his pack - is being attacked. When another pack member is killed, Phoebe is forced to confront her past before she loses Aidan and everything she has come to love.


Love and duty become one as Aidan strives to prevent Phoebe from becoming the next victim. But with Phoebe just as determined to protect Aidan and her new home, secrets from her past threaten to tear them apart. 


Will love give Phoebe the strength to trust Aidan and face her fears, or will her past destroy her future? 

My Thoughts:

Whenever I read a book about Vampires, Witches, or Werewolves, I am always looking to see how the author explains their creation or existence. I really liked the way Jaime McDougall explains werewolves with the legend of Echo Falls and the way the legend foreshadowed (maybe more paralleled) the events surrounding Aiden and Phoebe at the end of the book.

“When the native tribes still lived in the area a long time ago, there was once a young chief from one tribe and a young woman from another tribe who were going to be married. Their marriage was going to make an alliance between the tribes, but they were lucky enough to be in love, too.

A man from another tribe saw the alliance as a threat and he wanted the woman to marry him, but the woman turned him away. He wouldn’t accept her refusal. The night before the wedding, the night of the true full moon, he kidnapped her and brought her to [the Echo Falls] waterfalls. When she still refused to marry him, he hid her deep in the caves. The chief went to meet his bride in secret that same night and found her missing, but she managed to leave a trail for him. He went to the caves searching for her, hearing her echoing cries. When he couldn’t find her, he pleaded with the gods to help him and they turned the lovers into wolves so they could have the strength and the senses to find each other. But they were still lost to each other. The chief begged for more time, but the gods wouldn’t let him abandon his people so he had to return to human form in the morning.

He returned to search for his mate every night as a wolf and had to turn back into a human every morning. He became the first werewolf. That is why [they] can only transform at night. [They] have to return to [their] humanity during the day. And [they] have to turn in to a werewolf at every full moon as a symbol of the first night the chief turned into a wolf and searched for his lover, his other half.

They say you can still hear their lonely howls if you are near the falls during the full moon as they still search for each other.”

Echo Falls started with action right out of the gate with Phoebe being chased by a killer. (and the action continues throughout the book with some great fight scenes) She survives the attack thanks to hunky Alpha Wolf/ police officer Aiden. She has a lot of secrets that come to light as the story progresses. I really liked that she was such a mystery and that she could did not want to rely on Aiden or his pack to take care of her. Often times in paranormal romances, the woman plays the damsel in distress and that gets kind of old. I love that Phoebe is a butt kicking woman who protects others.

Echo Falls was really well written I only spotted one or two editing errors and it was a fast and engrossing read that I would recommend to fans of the paranormal romance genre.

It was a fast and engrossing read and I would recommend it to fans of Paranormal romance.

I give it a ****

WWW Wednesday 8/31

WWW Wednesdays is hosted by Should Be Reading
To play along, just answer the following three (3) questions...

* What are you currently reading?
* What did you recently finish reading?
* What do you think you'll read next?

Create your post and link it to Should Be Reading's post.

What I am Currently Reading:
The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradly
The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie (Flavia de Luce, #1)
Jinn Nation by Caroline Barnard-Smith
Jinn Nation

What I recently Finished:
Echo Falls by Jaime McDougall (review will be posted soon)
Echo Falls
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children
What I plan on Reading Next:

Playing With Fire by Coral Russell
Cover for 'Playing with Fire'
Blood's Voice by Aine P Massie
Cover for 'Blood's Voice'

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Review: Soul Protector


Review: Soul Protector
Words: 76190
Rating: ****
Review Source: The Author Amanda Leigh Cowley

Back of Book Synopsis (from goodreads.com):

Gracie doesn't know she's a Soul Protector. After being dragged on a night out to celebrate a friend's birthday, she discovers she can switch into other people's bodies. Within minutes she manages to switch back, but doubting her sanity, decides to keep it to herself until she can work out why it happened. On a second switch, unaware she has a visible aura, she gets abducted by a monitor, Dan. It's his job to hunt down corrupt Soul Protectors who steal bodies for their own benefit. Once he establishes Gracie is innocent, he helps her switch back and looks after her during recovery. Dan explains to Gracie how Soul Protectors are bound by a code to only switch for the benefit of vulnerable people. Gracie falls in love with Dan, but finds he has hang-ups of his own. Finally understanding the rules, Gracie switches for a third time to help someone in need. During this switch her past catches up with her, and a chain of events unfold which shock her to the core.

My Thoughts:

Gracie’s boyfriend left her for her younger sister causing her to spiral into depression and to become incredibly self-conscious. When she is at her friend, Lydia’s (Lydia is everything Gracie wishes she was, beautiful, successful, and not single) birthday party. Lydia’s boyfriend proposes causing Gracie to feel even worse about herself. She wishes she was Lydia and poof… she becomes Lydia. The shock of it causes her to faint and when she realizes what happens she manages to change back and Lydia does not seem to know what happened.

She switches with Lydia again to try to figure out what happened and she ends up putting her life in danger as well as breaking some very important rules. She is kidnapped by Dan, a monitor, who hunts down corrupt soul protectors. Once Gracie learns the rules she realizes how much danger she was in and is totally freaked out by the whole thing. She wants nothing to do with being a soul protector even though she knows that what Soul Protectors do is very important and good. 

She and Dan begin falling for one another, but because of his issues with a previous relationship he ends their new relationship causing Gracie to become depressed all over again. She runs into a woman who really needs a Soul Protector to help her get out of an abusive relationship so she decides to embrace what she is.

Gracie is a really sweet character and I often felt sorry for her but she was also strong enough to move beyond her grief over her two relationships and to become a Soul Protector and help save vulnerable people. Her insecurities were a little annoying at times because she is such a great person and she just can’t see it, but I was cheering for her the whole time.

Dan is the handsome good guy that you wish you knew. He helps Gracie through some tough emotional times and I wanted them to end up together so badly. He also believes in her when she doesn’t believe in herself.
I really enjoyed this book. I loved Gracie and Dan, and I found the idea of Soul Protectors really unique and interesting. I think that Amanda Leigh Cowley has created a great world and institution that has elements of the paranormal and suspense. This is book one in the series and I look forward to reading the next ones.

I give it a ****

Monday, August 22, 2011

The Woman in the Lake Part 1


The Woman in the Lake
By Alexandra Wright
647 Words
Photo from http://www.travelpod.co.uk/travel-photo/drewcb/1/1252001405/lake-george-at-night.jpg/tpod.html  



Camden Davers stood on the wall next to the outdoor cafeteria at Old Towne High School looking out over the student population. There was an air of anticipation, and all of the conversations trickled to a stop. He surveyed the masses with a cocky grin on his face. This is the moment he had been waiting for since school started. This was the only reason he ran for senior class president.  If he had been chosen, he knew he would have lasted, but he hadn’t he was almost jealous of The Thirteen, almost.  When all of the conversations had ceased and all eyes were on him, he let the grin slide off his face in mock seriousness, and began addressing the gathered crowd, speaking the words that had been spoken every 29th of September since the school had opened.



“A long time ago, before the old oak tree was planted in the center of town, there was a woman who drowned herself in the lake off of Old Mill Road. She was the daughter of the Great Storyteller. She had a doomed love affair with the town’s founder’s grandson. He was of the richest family and she, one of the poorest. Neither family wanted them to be together. They were going to run away together but tragedy struck. On a hunting trip, he was accidentally killed, leaving her to wait for him in the old mill by the lake to run away with her. She was pregnant at the time, and when his friend told her what happened she went into labor, but the baby was born dead. That on top of what happened to her lover, put her over the edge. She walked into the river with the body of her baby, never to walk back out again. The lake, and the mill where the lovers were supposed to meet have been haunted ever since.

Every year, thirteen of the incoming freshmen are chosen to spend the night there on September 30th, the anniversary of her death.  In the history of our school, only five freshmen have ever stayed for the whole night. They have become the wealthiest, most successful people in town. Well, four of them, anyway. The fifth went crazy and drowned herself in the lake as well.   It is once again that time of year, and as Senior Class President, it is my job to pick out the names of The Thirteen, who will have to brave Old Mill Lake.  You all know how this works, put your names in this hat and I will pick. Then, tomorrow night, we all go down to the lake for the bonfire; when the fire goes out, only the 13 will remain.”

Once he was done speaking, the rumble of nervous chatter started up again, the freshmen all abuzz with anticipation and the slightest sense of fear.  They all started scribbling their names on the scraps of paper Camden had passed around before he hopped up onto the wall. They all wanted to be chosen and at the same time hoped that they weren’t. After all of the names had been added to the hat, Camden began reading out the names of the chosen.

“ Ashley Clarke, Samantha Olsen, Craig Wilson, Violet Westenhal, Aiden Marks, Van Ryan, Claire Matthews, Eric Johnson, Paul Fletcher, Molly Ansley, Erich Smith, Shane Holden, and Donavan Samuelson. All right ladies and gentlemen you have been chosen. Time to find some balls” he snickered.

The next night after the football game, the students all gathered at the Old Mill Lake. The fires were lit, the kegs tapped and music was blaring out of the speakers of several of the cars parked out by the lake. The party raged late into the night and when the fires went out, the only students left were The Thirteen.


To read part 2 Click here

Tangled versus Rapunzel


Fairy Tales are super creepy! I just watched Tangled last night, it was so cute. But, it got me thinking about fairy tales and how not suitable for children they actually are. So last night after the movie I grabbed my collection of Grimm’s fairytales. I have an edited version so that my Rapunzel was not the original version which is even creepier.


The version in my book:

“There once lived a man and his wife who had long wished for a child, but in vain. Now there was at the back of their house a little garden full of the finest vegetables and flowers; but there was a high wall all round it, and no one ventured into it, for it belonged to a witch of great might, and of whom all the world was afraid. One day when the was standing at the window, and looking into the garden she saw a bed filled with the finest rampion; and it looked so fresh and green that she began to wish for some; and at length she wished for it greatly. This went on for days, and as she knew she could not get the rampion, she pined away, and grew pale and miserable.

Then the man was uneasy, and asked, ‘what is the matter, dear wife?’ “Oh,’ answered she, ‘I shall die unless I can have some of that rampion to eat that grows in the garden at the back of our house.’ The man, who loved her very much, thought to himself, ‘rather than lose my wife, I will get some rampion, cost what it will.’

So in the twilight he climbed over the wall into the witch’s garden, plucked hastily a handful of rampion and brought it to his wife. She made a salad of it at once, and ate of it to her heart’s content. But she liked it so much, and it tasted so good, that the next day she longed for it thrice as much as she had done before; if she was to have any rest the man must climb over the wall once more. So he went  in the twilight again; and as he was climbing, he saw, all at once, the witch standing before him, and was terribly frightened, as she cried with angry eyes, ‘how dare you climb over into my garden like a thief, and steal my rampion! It shall be the worse for you!’

‘Oh,’ answered he, ‘be merciful rather than just; I have only done it through necessity; for my wife saw your rampion out the window, and became possessed with so great a longing that she would have died if she could not have had some to eat.’

Then the witch said, ‘if it is all as you say, you may have as much rampion as you like, on one condition – that the child that will come into the world must be given to me. It shall go well with the child, and I will care for it like a mother.’

In his distress of mind, the man promised everything; and when the time came when the child was born the witch appeared, and, giving the child the name of Rapunzel (which is the same as rampion), she took it away with her.

Rapunzel was the most beautiful child in the world. When she was twelve years old the witch shit her up in a tower in the midst of the wood, and it had neither steps nor door, only a small window above, When the witch wished to be let in, she would stand below and  would cry, ’Rapunzel, Rapunzel! Let down your hair!”

Rapunzel had beautiful long hair that shone like gold. When she heard the voice of the witch she would undo the fastening of the upper window, unbind the plaits of her hair and let it down twenty ells below, and the witch would climb up by it.

After they had lived this a few years it happened that as the King’s son was riding through the wood, he came to the tower, and as he drew near he heard a voice singing so sweetly that he stood still and listened. It was Rapunzel in her loneliness trying to pass away the time with sweet songs. The King’s son wished to go in to her, and sought to find the door to the tower, but there was none. So he rode home, but the song had entered into his heart, and every day he went into the wood and listened to it.

Once, as he was standing there under a tree, he saw the witch come up, and listened while she called out, ‘Oh Rapunzel, Rapunzel! Let down your hair!”

Then he saw how Rapunzel let down her long tresses, and how the witch climbed up by them and went in to her, and he said to himself, ‘since that is the ladder, I will climb it and seek my fortune.’ And the next day, as soon as it began to grow dusk, he went to the tower and cried, Oh Rapunzel, Rapunzel! Let down your hair!’ And she let down her hair, and the King’s son climbed up by it.

Rapunzel was greatly terrified when she saw that a man had come up in to her, for she had never seen one before; but the King’s son began speaking kindly to her, and told her how her singing had entered into his heart, so that he could have no peace until he had seen her himself. Then Rapunzel forgot her terror, and when he asked her to take him for her husband and she saw that he was young and beautiful, she thought to herself, ‘I certainly like him much better than old mother Gothel,’ and she put her hand into his hand, saying, ‘I would willingly go with you, but I do not know how I shall get out. When you come, bring each time a silken rope, and I will make a ladder, and when it is quite ready, I will get down by it  and out of the tower, and you shall take me away on your horse.’

They agreed that he should come to her every evening, as the old woman came in the day-time. So the witch knew nothing of all this until once Rapunzel said to her unwittingly, ‘Mother Gothel, how is it that you climb up here so slowly, and the King’s son is with me in a moment?’

‘O wicked child,’ cried the witch, ‘what is this I hear! I thought I had hidden you away from all the world, and you have betrayed me!’
In her anger, she seized Rapunzel by her beautiful hair, struck her several times with her left hand, and then grasping a pair of shears in her right—snip, snip – the beautiful locks lay on the ground. And she was so hard hearted that she took Rapunzel and put her in a waste and desert place, where she lived in great woe and misery.

The same day on which she took Rapunzel away she went back to the tower in the evening and made fast the severed locks of hair to the window-hasp, and the King’s son came and cried’ Rapunzel, Rapunzel! Let down your hair!’

Then she let the hair down, and the King’s son climbed up, but instead of his dearest Rapunzel, he found the witch looking at him with wicked, glittering eyes.

‘Aha!’ cried she, mocking him, ‘you came for your darling, but the sweet bird sits no longer in the nest, and sings no more; the cat has got her, and will scratch out your eyes as well! Rapunzel is lost to you; you will see her no more.’

The King’s son was beside himself with grief, and in his agony he sprang from the tower; he escaped with his life, but the thorns on which he fell put out his eyes. Then he wandered blind though the wood, eating nothing but roots and berries, and doing nothing but lament and weep for the loss of his dearest wife.

So he wandered several years in misery until at last he came to the desert place where Rapunzel lived with her twin-children that she had borne, a boy and a girl. At first he heard a voice that he thought he knew, and when he reached the place from which it seemed to come, Rapunzel knew him, and fell on his neck and wept. And when her tears touched his eyes they became clear again, and he could see with them as well as ever.

Then he took her to his kingdom, where he was received with great joy, and there they lived long and happily."

The original version is that Rapunzel complained to the witch that her dresses were fitting too tightly to her belly, signifying her pregnancy, and then instead of the prince jumping out the window, the witch pushed him out. I have also read versions where there is no happy ending: the price never finds Rapunzel and where he actually raped her instead of them having a relationship.

This story is so dark, with suicides/ murders and pregnancies before marriage in a time when that sort of thing was not looked fondly upon. I guess that the subject matter fits the original title which was Stories for Children and Household. I just wonder why Disney and other children friendly companies use these stories to make movies and TV shows for kids.


Bout of Books Read-a-Thon


Bout of Books Read-a-Thon is hosted by On a Book Bender. Click here to find out more about the read-a-thon as well as to sign up. It runs from Today (8/22) to the 28th. It should be tons of fun!

My Read-A-Thon Goals


My goal is to read 5 books and post a review on each one.
I'd also like to write 5 short (no more than 1500 words) stories (or at least 500 words of a larger story) to get ready for the fall semester.

Books on my List


Playing With Fire by Coral Russell
Echo Falls by Jaime McDougall
Blood's Voice by Aine P Massie
Throwaway by Heather Huffman
The Glassblowers Daughter by Frances Clarke

Other Books I'd like to get to if there is Time


Odd Whitefeather by Nicholas Antinozzi
Emma by Jane Austin

How Much Time I Intend to Read


I don't start school for another 2 weeks, so I have a lot of time. I gave myself two grace days so just incase I don't finish one book one day I will still be able to make my goal. But, otherwise, my plan is to read until I finish at least one book a day.

Updates


8/22
Number of Books I've read today:
Number of books I've read total:
Today #insixwords: wonderful characters, interesting plot, sweet romance
Short Story link: The Woman in the Lake

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Review: Legacies of Talimura: War of the Witch



Review: Legacies of Talimura: War of the Witch
Legacies of Talimura: War of the Witch
Title: Legacies of Talimura: War of the Witch
Author: Angel Haze
Pages: 286
Rating: ****
Review Source: The Author, Angel Haze

Back of Book Synopsis (from goodreads.com):

Debonair, a witch from the Unspoken Lands, has meddled in the forbidden practice of magic and has created an army of nightmarish proportions. When sixteen-year-old Astanyx and his two best friends return from a hunting trip to find their small town of Polca reduced to smoke and ash, they find themselves thrust into battle for which they haven’t been trained.

With the Help of his comrades, including and esteemed warrior, one of the last great wizards and a princess they’ve sworn to protect, Astanyx must fight to unite the kingdoms of humans, dwarves, and elves. He must ask forbidden questions that no one wants to answer, questions about Talimura’s dark history. As Debonair’s brutal warriors lay siege to the kingdoms, Astanyx is driven to pursue a fateful quest for a blade powerful enough to defeat the malevolent witch before she destroys the three kingdoms and unleashes an unspeakable, ancient evil.

My Thoughts:

I really enjoyed this book. It has all of the hallmarks of a great fantasy epic reminiscent of The Lord of the Rings and the newer Inheritance series. It is so full of action and has a really fast moving plot. There are all manner of magical creatures: dwarves, goblins, wolves, elves, orcs, ogres, birdmen, hellfangs, armies of the dead, and sorcerers.

Angel has created a huge world with so much happening, and even though she introduces a lot of new characters and situations, she writes so well that I felt a connection to them (there were times when I was yelling at some of the characters hoping they would survive the battle.) Astanyx is on the quintessential hero’s quest. He has survived the terrible destruction of his home and the massacre of his friends and family. He is sent on a quest to warn the nearby (and far away) kingdoms of the monster army by his dying father. He finds friends and teachers along the way who help him discover the power and bravery inside of him and becomes a true hero and warrior.

While some of the scenery and creatures a little too closely resemble those of The Lord of the Rings (the underground castle of the dwarves, the forest of the elves and some of the personality traits of the dwarves and elves,) she was able to make each individual character a unique individual and so they felt different enough and real.

There were some editing errors like missing words or repeated words  and once and a while they would trip up the flow of the story, but they were few and far between and the story itself swept me up enough  that they were hardly noticeable.
There was a lot more action than character development but because it is a series and because of the multitude of characters, I assume there will be more development across the series. I look forward to getting to know Talimura and the people who live there better.

I love the cover!!

I give it a ****

Friday, August 19, 2011