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Friday, February 25, 2011

20 Questions with author M. Leighton and a Giveaway!

It's time to play...
Today I had the great pleasure of sending M. Leighton, author of The Reaping 20 interview questions which she so kindly took the time to answer.
Here is what she had to say:

J: Have you always wanted to be a writer? 

ML: To be honest, until I wrote my first novel, I never even considered it.  It's kind of like wanting to be an astronaut or a famous actress.  Being a real, honest-to-goodness, bona fide writer seemed to be better suited to the “fairy tale” category than the “attainable” one. 

J: If you weren't writing, what would you be doing?

ML: I’d probably be pulling out handfuls of hair as I tried to force my square peg into a round hole.  As we adults must, I’ve done what needed to be done for many years, but I was never really happy (occupationally speaking) until I wrote my first novel.  And then it clicked.  I can’t imagine loving any job more.

J: What made you go the route of self-publishing?

ML: Oh, self publishing!  How I love thee!  Let me count the ways... 

I tried to get a novel published through the traditional channels and was promptly rejected.  At my husband's request, I started looking into self-publishing with Amazon and Smashwords.  And you know what?  I started to get really, really excited.  I could publish the work that is near and dear to my heart without having to sign away my life.  I could write what I want, when I want.  AND I wouldn't have to charge an arm and a leg to keep industry leaders in their Bentleys!  It was obvious to me from the very start that it was a win-win situation.  So when I finished The Reaping, I bypassed the mere thought of traditional publication, put it straight out in eBook format and I haven't looked back since.

J: Was there anything specific that inspired you to write The Reaping, or did the idea just come to you?

Inspiration strikes me in a lot of different ways, but what I start out with is never, EVER what I end up with.  The book that I plotted out in the beginning was quite different than the finished product.  Carson and Fahl had their own ideas for where the story was going.  I just listened to them.

J: What was the hardest part of writing your book?

ML: When the story started taking a different direction, I knew I had two choices: my way or the Humpty Dumpty way.  I could ignore the voices of the characters and continue on with MY plan and write the book I’d painstakingly planned.  Or I could go with what my willful characters wanted and then go back to the beginning to pick up all the pieces and glue them back together again.  I ended up going with Humpty Dumpty and the characters. That Carson's hard to ignore!

J: You created such great characters that are so real and so believable. Are any of them based on people you know? Which character is most or least like you, and in what ways?

ML: No, the characters aren’t based on anyone that I know, but I’m sure that will happen eventually.  I think Carson is the most like the person I HOPE I could be in that kind of situation.  Few of us ever get the opportunity to see what we’d do in a dilemma like Carson’s, thank God.  And I’m sure we all HOPE that we could be brave and selfless, but one never knows.  We can only hope that we’d do the right thing.

J: Do you need anything specific when you write? Music on, quiet, snacks?

ML: Quiet!  As close to absolute silence as I can get.  I can hear the voices in my head better.  I’m kidding.  (Or am I?)

J: How long does it take you to write a book?

ML: Anywhere from two weeks to three months.  The Reaping took three months, but I was working at the time and I started it right before the holidays.  How crazy was that?  Evidently I'm much more courageous than I look.

J: Can you tell us a little bit about what you are working on right now?

ML: I was torn about what to focus on first when I finished The Reaping.  But an idea for a dystopian novel hit me (right in the middle of showering, as some of my best ideas tend to do) and I decided to go with that. 

Without giving too much away?  Hmmm, let's see.  It's the story of a very special girl and her sister who, based on a mysteriously written prophecy, strike out across a (sort of) post-apocalyptic landscape in search of the one man, a reluctant warrior and outcast angel, who holds the key to saving humanity as well as the earth itself.

J: What do you like to do when you are not creating such great stories?

ML: I wish I could say that I love to run ten miles a day or I love to do hours of pilates followed by making my own bread and yogurt, but...I just don't.  I love to read and watch movies.  And eat.  I'm not going to lie.  And of those, eating's probably my favorite.  I love to eat.  Really!  If it were an Olympic sport, I'd undoubtedly have won the gold several times over.  People would be envious of my impressive display of medals and trophies.

Alright, let's do some 'Get to Know You' questions:

J: Are you a morning person or night owl?

ML: I'm a strange combination of the two.  I wish I could be solely one and not the other, but I can't seem to manage it.  I've been known to stay up until 3 or 4 am, but usually I don't.  I can't seem to sleep late so I start winding down by midnight or a little after.  I'm usually awake (sadly) by about 6:30 or so.  I'm a weirdo.

J: Last song that was stuck in your head?

ML: Turning Japanese.  I know that sounds insane, but we watched Let Me In (sad vampire movie) last night and that song was in it.  I was totally stuck on it until late this morning.  The worst thing about it was that the only words I know are "I'm turning Japanese.  I think I'm turning Japanese. I really think so."  And those few words just kept going round and round and round in my head.  It's a wonder I slept at all.

J: Do you have a guilty pleasure TV show?

ML: Glee.  Does that count?

J: What was your favorite book as a kid?

ML: Cinderella.  And that's weird because I was a skinny tomboy.

J: If you had an extra hour each day, how would you spend it?

ML: Planning on how to spend it and then wondering where it went.

J: If you had to eat one thing and one thing only for an entire week, what would it be?

ML: Chocolate.  Or fettucini alfredo. 

J: If you could recommend one book that everyone should read, what would you choose?

ML: Stands A Calder Man by Janet Dailey.  Great book!  Sad book!  I would never inflict such emotional pain on one of my readers. 

J: Picture this scenario. You just received a phone call from someone who wants to turn your book into a movie. They also tell you that you have full control over who gets cast in the movie. Who do you pick to play the parts?

ML: Wow!  Great question.  That is incredibly hard to say, though.  Maybe Amanda Seyfried and Chace Crawford.  That's a tough one.

J: Finish this sentence. My perfect day off would be...

ML: Lying on the beach with my husband.  Warm sand on my back, hot sun on my face, wind in my hair and a great book on my Kindle.

J: Everyone can always use another piece of good advice. Is there a piece of advice that someone has told you that you or something you have learned on your own that you would like to share with us?

ML: Don't waste your time doing something you hate.  Life's too short.

That is great advice!
Thank you so much for taking the time to do this interview.

Thank you for having me!
You can check out her blog HERE
There are  also two other books for the Kindle by this awesome author called Caterpillar and Wiccan. Personally, after reading The Reaping, I cannot wait to read those two.
You can check out my review for The Reaping HERE.
I enjoyed reading this book so much that I am going to give away a copy of it!
Since it is a Kindle ebook before you enter make sure you have a way to read it.
The giveaway will end March 10th so get to entering!
Just click HERE to enter :D

Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Reaping (The Fahllen, Book 1) by M. Leighton.

"Every hell has its devil. And Carson is about to become intimately acquainted with hers. 

Seventeen-year-old wallflower Carson Porter has always dreamed of being something special, but what she gets isn’t what she signed up for.
Yeah, a girl’s supposed to change as she gets older, but this is ridiculous! Shiny skin, greener eyes and a run-in with the flesh-eating dead are just a few of the changes Carson has to adjust to, not to mention the arrival of very hot and very dangerous Derek Hrolf. If all that wasn’t enough to turn her once hum-drum life into something unrecognizable, a twin sister that haunts her from the shadows and a wheeling, dealing collector of souls will definitely do the trick. The question is: what will her life become? And what will she become?"-GoodReads.

ebook, Kindle Edition
                                                                                       Published: January 29th 2011
                                                                                       Source: Author sent it to me.

Carson has never really been normal. It's just her and her dad and her dad is super over protective. He doesn't want her to wear make up or too girly of clothes because he considers it "silly", he likes to make sure if she's not at school she is close to home and wants to know everything she is doing.
Right when Carson thinks she is getting a social life and that she might be able to make something out of her high school career, she starts to change, in drastic physical ways. Then everything around her starts to change and everyone that she loves is at risk.
The girl who was once a wall flower has to step into the limelight of a world she didn't even know existed to save her family and friends. But will she be strong enough and cunning enough to beat the evil that is coming her way?

I really loved this book.
I was a bit unsure what I was going to be reading because the description had so much going on in it. Shiny skin and green eyes made me think of aliens and flesh eating dead made me think of zombies. It's neither though. Once I got into the story everything started coming together and it was great.
As the title 'hints', it's about Reapers and reapings.
The storyline was great, but it was Carson that made this read awesome. She is just so real, I truly felt connected to her. She has a crush on a boy that doesn't look twice at her, she has a nerdy best friend, and a really great dad. Even though he is over protective, he means well, and teaches her a lot of things that are going to be very useful.
And when she starts changing, she doesn't have all the answers. Even when Derek, who has kind of been through what she is going through, comes along, doesn't have all the answers. He has some, but not all.
I do not like when a character starts having something happen to them that they know nothing about and they just happen to run into someone that has all the answers.
Carson has lots and lots of questions, and the more that got answered, the more questions she acquired. And they were good questions too. Ones that I would have asked in her situation.
Above all, she was strong. She did what she had to and what she thought was right. She wasn't some weak little girl that kept saying she was strong but hid under a rock at the sight of every shadow.
She leans on Derek for support when a tragedy strikes her family, but she still knew how to do things on her own.
Especially towards the middle-endish parts. This girl knows how to stand on her own two feet!

The writing has just enough description and just enough dialogue.
Oh, the descriptions were wonderful....and so creepy. Seriously, there were parts that after I read them I did not want to turn my light off at night. The reapings, the dead, all hair raising. I'm getting chills just thinking about it.
If you get creeped out easily, don't read this at night. Or have a night-light on. It helps.

I could go on and on about this book, but so much happens through out that I don't want to give anything away. So I will just strongly encourage you to head over to Amazon and order a copy for your Kindle.
It may seem a little daunting at about 8700 locations (most Kindle books I read are about 3500 locations which would be a bit over 400 pages, I believe), but it's really not that long at all. Or maybe it was just so good it didn't feel that long. Either way, it went by too fast and left me wanting more.
Cannot wait for the next one!

And be sure to check out M. Leighton's blog and follow her to get info on her other book, when she will be releasing new ones, and just to follow all her neat posts!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

In My Mailbox (#5)- eGalley Edition.

In My Mailbox is an amazing bookish meme created by the wonderful Kristi over at The Story Siren for bloggers to feature books we got over the past week, either bought, borrowed, or had them sent in the mail. Make sure to go check out her main post.

I was such a good young lady and didn't actually buy any books this week. Well except a couple to send to Kaylea and one for my almost here niece. But none for me.
I did however get some really awesome eGalleys thanks to Simon & Schuster Galley Grab and NetGalley.

The ones I got from Galley Grab are:

Invincible Summer by Hannah Moskowitz
"Noah’s happier than I’ve seen him in months. So I’d be an awful brother to get in the way of that. It’s not like I have some relationship with Melinda. It was just a kiss. Am I going to ruin Noah’s happiness because of a kiss?

Across four sun-kissed, drama-drenched summers at his family’s beach house, Chase is falling in love, falling in lust, and trying to keep his life from falling apart. But some girls are addictive...."-GoodReads.

Stay by Deb Caletti
 "Clara’s relationship with Christian is intense from the start, and like nothing she’s ever experienced before. But what starts as devotion quickly becomes obsession, and it’s almost too late before Clara realizes how far gone Christian is—and what he’s willing to do to make her stay.
Now Clara has left the city—and Christian—behind. No one back home has any idea where she is, but she still struggles to shake off her fear. She knows Christian won’t let her go that easily, and that no matter how far she runs, it may not be far enough...."-GoodReads.

10 Miles Past Normal by Frances O'Roark Dowell
"Janie Gorman wants to be normal. The problem with that: she’s not. She’s smart and creative and a little bit funky. She’s also an unwilling player in her parents’ modern-hippy, let’s-live-on-a-goat-farm experiment (regretfully, instigated by a younger, much more enthusiastic Janie). This, to put it simply, is not helping Janie reach that “normal target.” She has to milk goats every day…and endure her mother’s pseudo celebrity in the homemade-life, crunchy mom blogosphere. Goodbye the days of frozen lasagna and suburban living, hello crazy long bus ride to high school and total isolation—and hovering embarrassments of all kinds. The fresh baked bread is good…the threat of homemade jeans, not so much.
It would be nice to go back to that old suburban life…or some grown up, high school version of it, complete with nice, normal boyfriends who wear crew neck sweaters and like social studies. So, what’s wrong with normal? Well, kind of everything. She knows that, of course, why else would she learn bass and join Jam Band, how else would she know to idolize infamous wild-child and high school senior Emma (her best friend Sarah’s older sister), why else would she get arrested while doing a school project on a local freedom school (jail was not part of the assignment). And, why else would she kind of be falling in "like" with a boy named Monster—yes, that is his real name. Janie was going for normal, but she missed her mark by about ten miles…and we mean that as a compliment."-GoodReads.
(This is also a YA Debut so it will count towards my challenge list)

The Poison Eaters by Holly Black and other authors.
 "A dark and fantastic collection of stories from the author of Tithe and The Spiderwick Chronicles."-GoodReads.

Wither by Lauren DeStefano
"What if you knew exactly when you would die? 

Thanks to modern science, every human being has become a ticking genetic time bomb—males only live to age twenty-five, and females only live to age twenty. In this bleak landscape, young girls are kidnapped and forced into polygamous marriages to keep the population from dying out.

When sixteen-year-old Rhine Ellery is taken by the Gatherers to become a bride, she enters a world of wealth and privilege. Despite her husband Linden's genuine love for her, and a tenuous trust among her sister wives, Rhine has one purpose: to escape—to find her twin brother and go home.

But Rhine has more to contend with than losing her freedom. Linden's eccentric father is bent on finding an antidote to the genetic virus that is getting closer to taking his son, even if it means collecting corpses in order to test his experiments. With the help of Gabriel, a servant Rhine is growing dangerously attracted to, Rhine attempts to break free, in the limted time she has left."-GoodReads.

And from NetGalley:

The Raising by Laura Kasischke
"The accident was tragic, yes. Bloody and horrific and claiming the life of a beautiful young sorority girl. Nicole was a straight A student from a small town. Sweet-tempered, all-American, a fomer Girl Scout, and a virgin. But it was an accident. And that was last year. It’s fall again, a new semester, a fresh start. "-GoodReads.

The Betrayal of Maggie Blair by Elizabeth Laird
 "In seventeenth-century Scotland, saying the wrong thing can lead to banishment—or worse. Accused of being a witch, sixteen-year-old Maggie Blair is sentenced to be hanged. She escapes, but instead of finding shelter with her principled, patriotic uncle, she brings disaster to his door. 
Betrayed by one of her own accusers, Maggie must try to save her uncle and his family from the king’s men, even if she has to risk her own life in the process."-GoodReads.

The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter
 "It's always been just Kate and her mom--and now her mother is dying. Her last wish? To move back to her childhood home. So Kate's going to start at a new school with no friends, no other family and the fear her mother won't live past the fall. Then she meets Henry. Dark. Tortured. And mesmerizing. He claims to be Hades, god of the Underworld--and if she accepts his bargain, he'll keep her mother alive while Kate tries to pass seven tests. Kate is sure he's crazy--until she sees him bring a girl back from the dead. Now saving her mother seems crazily possible. If she succeeds, she'll become Henry's future bride, and a goddess. "-GoodReads.

I have been wanting to read all of these for what seems like ages so I was excited to get the galleys. And they should keep me preoccupied so I don't buy more books right now....I hope.

What did you get this week??

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Dreaming What You Read.

  Usually before I go to sleep I read for an hour or so. Actually, it has become such a habit that now I pretty much HAVE to read before I attempt sleep or I just cannot. My brain won't wind down. But while it is winding down to let me sleep, another part of my brain is gearing up for one crazy night.
I am a dreamer.
I am an incredibly vivid, that was so real, I want to go back to sleep so I can see that again, dreamer.
I dream about what I read.
As long as the book is interesting and keeping my attention while I am awake, a dream will usually come out of it.
For example, when I was reading The Hunger Games, I was completely enthralled by the story. And each night I would dream about Panem and all that was going on there. Or when I was reading Vampire Academy, it was "Hello Dimitri of my dreams (literally)" every night.
Even one time I received an email that had something about Alex Pettyfer and I Am Number 4 in it and when I woke up needing a drink I checked my phone and saw it. Then I read it and went back to sleep.
Crazy I Am Number 4 dreams.
Sometimes my brain will change how things happened in the book to how I actually thought they should happen, or if I haven't finished the story I will fill in the blanks with how I hope it's going to happen, or I will just change it entirely.
It's all really very cool.
I more often then not wake up scrambling for my journal to jot everything down and get really awesome, really vivid ideas out of these dreams.

So now my questions for you. How do you dream? Do you get dreams about what you read? And if you do, do remember them when you wake up? Are real life actors taking the lead roles or do you usually end up picturing the characters so well you can see you imagined versions better?

Friday, February 18, 2011

I Am Number Four: Movie Review.

Synopsis: Three are dead. He is Number Four. D.J. Caruso ("Eagle Eye," "Disturbia") helms an action-packed thriller about an extraordinary young man, John Smith (Alex Pettyfer), who is a fugitive on the run from ruthless enemies sent to destroy him. Changing his identity, moving from town to town with his guardian Henri (Timothy Olyphant), John is always the new kid with no ties to his past. In the small Ohio town he now calls home, John encounters unexpected, life-changing events-his first love (Dianna Agron), powerful new abilities and a connection to the others who share his incredible destiny. John (Alex Pettyfer) is an extraordinary young man, masking his true identity and passing as a typical student to elude a deadly enemy seeking to destroy him. Three like him have already been killed...he is Number Four. Based on the book by Pittacus Lore.-- (C)Dreamworks

Rated: PG-13
Running Time: 1 hr. 49 min.
In Theaters: Feb 18, 2011 Wide
Distributor:DreamWorks Studios
Directed By: D.J. Caruso


Last night I had the opportunity to get to go and see I Am Number 4 in an advance screening. I know there is a bunch of "controversy" surrounding this movie and it's book , but I wanted to see it, so I did. And it was free. Free movies are the best. (and I have my own opinions on James Frey and where I stand does not prevent me from reading the book or seeing the movie)

The screening was at the sister theatre of the movie theatre that I used to work for. All you do is watch the movie and then as you are walking out tell them what you thought of the movie. The crowd is generally moving pretty fast out the door though so you can usually only get one word out to the people jotting down notes (so they did not ask me to write a review. This is purely because I wanted to)
One of my best friends that came with me told them she thought it was awesome. I said it was great, a lot better than I was expecting. I don't know if they actually heard everything I said because I was being pushing along, but I tried.
And what I said was true. The movie was pretty neat. I was expecting it to be really cheesy but it turned out to be very entertaining.

I was searching for a synopsis of the movie online and Rotten Tomatoes came up and I saw the average rating the movie had. Not a good one. So I decided to take a look at some reviews.
I watch movies the same way I read books. Usually going purely off how the movie or book is making me feel at that moment. I don't dissect scripts the same way I do not dissect writing styles.
I am what I like to call an "emotional reviewer".
So, for me, I could not take many of the Rotten Tomatoes reviews seriously because most of the ones I saw were talking about the CGI and how parts of the script were weak, blah blah blah. They lost me at all the technical talk, because that's not how I view things.

So here is what I thought from the way I saw the movie.
To be honest, the beginning of the movie made me laugh. It actually reminded me of Jaws.
Boy is at beach party, chick invites him for a late night swim, they are out in the water talking, I start going "buh dum, buh dum", and lo and behold something actually does happen that pulls him under the water. I am giggling even now. But, alas, it was not a shark. 
Ahem, sorry...back to the actual happenings of the movie.

I had not seen Alex Pettyfer (or Alex Prettyface as my friends call him) in anything before. And while everyone is either telling him to be Peeta or Jace I just wanted to see if he had any skills other than looking amazing. And, much to my surprise, he is pretty good. With a couple more movies I think he could be on his way to being great. He was brooding, but then other times just happy and normal.
The love story was a little cheesy. You could see it coming from a million miles away.
I had not seen Dianna Agron act either and she wasn't bad. Just sometimes not very believable. I would like more of a reaction from people when they find out the person they are seeing is an alien.
And I have to throw a little shout out to Timothy Olyphant, since he is one of my favorite actors and he was pretty cool in this movie.

The movie was action packed with a touch of romance and teenage angst. And it was refreshing to sit through a movie that didn't have characters having sex every chance they got. When bad guy aliens are after you, it would be very hard to find time for sex. There also was not a whole lot of language, which was nice.
Number 6 was a total badass. Though Dianna Agron gets to kiss Alex P. and most every girl I know wants to be here now, I would want to be Number 6. She is just too cool. And gets to blow a lot of stuff up. Blowing stuff up always trumps a guy in my book.
I Am Number 4 was a fun and family friendly movie that I will probably go and see again. I also cannot wait to see (hopefully they make it into a movie) The Power of Six to find out where this story is going to go.
I think I may just have to go get the book(s) and read them now.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott

"Once upon a time, I was a little girl who disappeared.
Once upon a time, my name was not Alice.
Once upon a time, I didn’t know how lucky I was.

When Alice was ten, Ray took her away from her family, her friends her life. She learned to give up all power, to endure all pain. She waited for the nightmare to be over.
Now Alice is fifteen and Ray still has her, but he speaks more and more of her death. He does not know it is what she longs for. She does not know he has something more terrifying than death in mind for her.
This is Alice’s story. It is one you have never heard, and one you will never, ever forget." -GoodReads.

Paperback, 170 pages
Published September 8th 2009 by Simon Pulse (first published September 2nd 2008)
(I read the published in 2008 book)

There is really not a whole lot that can be said about this book.
It was heart wrenching.
And just straight up sad.

Living Dead Girl is told through Alice's eyes. What she has to go 
through everyday with Ray is just awful. Every time Ray touches her
or doesn't let her eat so that she will stay weak and little,
every time he talks about her death, she wishes she really
 was dead. And that he would just kill her already.

She remembers her life before Ray. How she had everything
and now she has nothing. She wishes she appreciated it
more when she had it.
Alice doesn't think she has the power to ask anyone for help.
He threatens her and he real family so she does nothing.

I wanted to reach through the pages and pull this little girl out,
hold her, and tell her it would be alright. That we could fix it.
Even though Living Dead Girl is only 170 pages, it feels so
much longer, because it is so hard to swallow what is
happening to this poor child.
But I really think it helps raise the question, if you saw something
that doesn't look quite right, would you say something? Or would
you just turn and look the other way and think that it is none of 
your business?

It is a hard read, but it needs to be read.

Living Dead Girl is also a challenged and banned book. THIS website
has an interview with Elizabeth Scott. Notice the reasons she said her 
book has been banned. For "inappropriate content" and "unsatisfactory
ending". It is a great interview so I would suggest reading it.
I whole-heartedly disagree with Living Dead Girl being banned. 
No, it is not a fairy tale. And it has very intense and sometimes graphic
content about how Alice is being abused. But people do need to be
reminded of these kinds of things.
They need to be reminded that it can happen to anyone, so if you see 
something, SAY SOMETHING. Do not just turn your head, because
this story is happening to some poor child.

The "unsatisfactory ending" made me want to punch whoever said it.
I won't say what happens in the end, but this person was seriously
delusional when s/he said it.

It's a really short book, I had it done in a couple hours. So I hope you
decide to pick it up and read it. I will not lie and say it won't get to you,
because it will, but it is supposed to.
It is supposed to push the nice and sweet boundaries that have been 
put up. Not everything is always as it seems, and Living Dead Girl 
really and truly shows that.