Friday, October 21, 2011

Fantasy Friday: Sisters Red

Sisters Red, by Jackson Pearce

Publisher: Little, Brown
Pages: 324 (hardcover)
Reading Level: 14 and up
Enjoyment Level: mid-high

If you haven’t already, check out my interview with the lovely and talented Jackson Pearce from this year’s Austin Teen Book Festival:

From GoodReads:

Scarlett March lives to hunt the Fenris--the werewolves that took her eye when she was defending her sister Rosie from a brutal attack. Armed with a razor-sharp hatchet and blood-red cloak, Scarlett is an expert at luring and slaying the wolves. She's determined to protect other young girls from a grisly death, and her raging heart will not rest until every single wolf is dead.

Rosie March once felt her bond with her sister was unbreakable. Owing Scarlett her life, Rosie hunts ferociously alongside her. But even as more girls' bodies pile up in the city and the Fenris seem to be gaining power, Rosie dreams of a life beyond the wolves. She finds herself drawn to Silas, a young woodsman who is deadly with an axe and Scarlett's only friend--but does loving him mean betraying her sister and all that they've worked for?

Of course I failed to read this one before ATBF and my interview with J.P. I didn’t actually finish it until about a week ago. Partly because I had a hard time finding time, and partly because it took me a while to get into the story. The beginning was slow for me, but I felt the action and plot pick up about midway through. So where the first ten or so chapters took me almost two weeks, I finished the rest of it within two days.

I had a really difficult time liking Scarlett March, one of the two sisters and voices in the novel. She was overbearing and extremely rigid for a main character, and I think she reminded me of someone I know who I consider a little insane and hard to get along with. However, as a character, she’s very rich in personality and history. I saw why she had developed her particular personality quirks and I understood, even though none of it made her a sympathetic character for me.

On the other side of that is Rosie March, and oddly enough I also didn’t like her much until about halfway through the story. I found her weak-willed and sappy. Again, she was very well-written. I just couldn’t seem to like her, and that made it difficult for me to really get into this tale.

I’ve put books down for less (Beautiful Creatures will never leave my to-be-finished pile!), but the premise of the story was too interesting, and I stuck it out to the halfway point before deciding my fate with the book. Luckily, Rosie became more interesting and J.P. added depth by moving the characters to a different city with new problems to overcome. The added tension caught my interest more, as well, and little details started coming in as mystery and intrigue for me.

And one huge detail had me on the edge of my seat – I thought I knew what would happen, but J.P. effortlessly turned my attention elsewhere, only to reveal that I was right in the first place! I love mysterious details like that.

So overall, I liked this one, and I would recommend it. Not everyone will feel the same way I did about the characters, and it wasn’t enough to stop me from reading. The ending was well worth the slow beginning.

Until next time, go read something!

~ Vilate

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Fantastic Holiday Giveaway

Christmas is my favorite holiday, so in honor of that, I'm doing a supergiveaway. Many will play, many will win.

Some of the books will be simple comment/follow/win giveaways. Some will involve answering some trivia, or doing something in the holiday spirit and then commenting, etc. Some people will get gift cards or other bookish, fun, holiday items. One person will win a holiday basket filled with fun goodies. All the books will be kept secret until you get your package in the mail, all gift-wrapped for Christmas fun. Some books will be ARCs, and some signed copies of popular titles.

To win any of the prizes, you'll need to be a follower of the blog, so if you aren't already and you want to get a jump on it, take a moment to become a follower now. :) The giveaway event will start mid-November. It'll be one prize per person, in most cases.

And if anyone catches the Christmas spirit and would like to participate by donating books, gift cards, or anything else, let me know. The more, the merrier when it comes to Christmas. If you'd like to donate, but don't have anything specific, you can just go the monetary route by clicking our 'Donate' button in the sidebar. That will automatically enter you into all of the contests, no matter if you've already won something or not. If you donate $20 or more, you'll get a special gift, and a part of all monetary donations will go to Please know that I don't want this to seem like I'm soliciting monetary or other donations - the giveaways are free to all followers of the blog. This is just an option for anyone who'd like bigger participation. :D

Other bloggers who'd like to participate on their own blogs are also more than welcome. Anyone who wants in on this will go on a list of participating bloggers and links will be posted here whenever someone posts a participating contest once my event starts.

So that's it! Check back here for updates on this event. If you have any questions and/or are a blogger who wants into the event, or if you want more info on donating, email me at podcast at Happy Holidays, everyone!

~ Vilate

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Sci-Fi Saturday: Human.4

Human.4, by Mike A Lancaster

Publisher: EgmontUSA
Pages: 240 (hardcover)
Reading Level: 12 and up
Enjoyment Level: High

Egmont has really been hitting home runs for me lately. This is no exception. I loved getting this one along with a few other ARCs from them. Not only did I get to read it, but my brother really liked it, as well, so that’s another plus for the book.

From GoodReads:

Kyle Straker volunteered to be hypnotized at the annual community talent show, expecting the same old lame amateur acts. But when he wakes up, his world will never be the same. Televisions and computers no longer work, but a strange language streams across their screens.

Everyone’s behaving oddly. It’s as if Kyle doesn’t exist.

Is this nightmare a result of the hypnosis? Will Kyle wake up with a snap of fingers to roars of laughter? Or is this something much more sinister?

Narrated on a set of found cassette tapes at an unspecified point in the future, Human.4 is an absolutely chilling look at technology gone too far.

The premise of this book grabbed my attention while at the same time giving me an eerie feeling, right from the start. The story is narrated by Kyle Straker, who has a nice but bold voice that I think can easily resonate with teen boys. He’s introduced to us as a normal kid who has a pretty normal life in his small town. And he’s strong enough to keep it together as events and people around him become more difficult to handle.

After the hypnotism, Kyle and the other characters who were under band together and try to deal with what happened as a sort of hodge podge team. They have their hard times, but I liked the dynamic of all the characters together, working towards their goal of figuring out what has suddenly happened to their world. They’re all interesting characters separately, as well, so that helps with their chemistry together.

Although there aren’t many big action scenes, I did feel the tension and suspense of the story. I kind of knew what was going on the whole time, but still found myself anxious as I read because the characters were so real to me that I worried for them. The book blurb promised me chills, and I found them, although this is not a horror story.

What a great book for boys. And it’s a great sci-fi read and should have you turning the page to make sure Kyle gets through safely on the other side.

Until next time, go read something!

~ Vilate

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Austin Teen Book Festival - Review

This past weekend was the awesome Austin Teen Book Festival. I dragged a high school friend up there and we hung out on Friday night with a bunch of fabulous bloggers.

Threadgills is amazing! Great food and the waitress was patient with everyone. C and I walked 6th street, but had to call it quits because we were both sick and we had to get up early-ish on Saturday for the festival. Luckily, I booked us a room at the Hilton Garden Inn. I almost booked at the Homestead, which is where a lot of other bloggers and authors ended up staying. So glad I didn't! I love Austin, but the Homestead is one destination I'll never have to arrive at.

The festival started at 10am. I was late, as per usual, but I didn't miss much. The place was packed (The Palmer Events Center). Scott Westerfeld gave the keynote address and had the audience laughing a lot. He's a wonderful speaker and he really knows how to connect with a room full of teenagers. What a great choice for keynote speaker!

After the keynote, we had time to get to the first panel session (they had five panels to choose from and three time-slots). The Palmer has one main hall and a few meeting rooms upstairs. Unfortunately, the organizers of the Festival put three of the panels in the big meeting hall with just some curtains dividing the room. So the first hour downstairs was kind of a mess. I will give them credit for realizing their mistake and rearranging panels so only one at a time was going on in the main hall. I'm sure next year they'll make other arrangements.

I was very happy with the selection of authors and panels. It was really nice to see such a wide range of genres represented there. Last year was also good, but I definitely felt like this was better, although I really enjoyed having the festival at a high school. The big event center kind of made it feel a little impersonal.

I'd say the low point came with the signings at the end of the day. They packed in the panels and didn't allow enough time for the actual book signings, which disappointed a lot of kids. Not everyone got everything signed. I think the mistake came when the allowed about the same amount of time as last year, but they this year there were several more authors. It would have been nice to have a bit more time.

But I came away with several interviews to post on the podcast, and I'll get to each one along with reviews and possibly some giveaways. I had a great time, and my hat is off to the organizers of Austin Teen Book Festival. Not many people can get something like that together without too many hiccups, and these folks did a great job with such a huge gathering of fest-goers. I can't wait until next year!

Until next time, go read something!

~ Vilate