Monday, October 24, 2011

Suzanne Collins: The Hunger Games

I know, I know, most people who have read my reviews or have requested reviews by me know that I do not read YA books. However, a friend of mine who is even more (for lack of a better word) anti-YA books than me, told me it was a fantastic read, so I borrowed her copy and away I went.

North America is in ruins, and has been divided into 12 districts with the Capitol overseeing all of them. Always making sure that none of the districts prosper too much and to make sure that the districts never forget that the Capitol defeated them all. Each year there is a lottery within each district when one boy and one girl are chosen in order to particpate in the Hunger Games. But these are not regular games, they are fights to the death and with each death of a child the Capitol reinforces their position as leader. This year Katniss Everdeen is heading to the games. She is skilled, has survival skills but has never had to face anything like this before. With Game Masters who move the game in the way they want, Katniss is by herself and will have to use everything she has in order to survive, as well as loose part of her humanity as a person acting with humanity will not survive the Hunger Games

I'm not going to lie, I really enjoyed this story, book and characters. I think that Suzanne Collins has done a great job in writing a book that will appeal to a wider range of audience than just YA audience. The farther the reader gets into the book the more that the characters become less age specific except for in one area (I talk about this farther below). I think that this is where Collins really succeeded in this book as it is what allowed it to be enjoyed by everyone. I also do not think that Collins went too far into the sci-fi/fantasy genre that individuals who do not like that genre would be hesitant to read this book. This book really about the survival of the fittest and is more like a modern Gladiator Games, where the ruler decides who lives and who dies

I enjoyed that Collins was not afraid to let her characters get hurt or experience Pain, both mentally and physically. This caused me to be more invested in the characters and the storyline, and it became that I needed to know who was still alive at the end of each day. I also liked how each district put forward different types of tributes and with each district the tributes excelled at different aspect in survival or killing and how some did not excel at these aspects at all.

I like Katniss as a character. She is smart, resourceful, compassionate and you can start to tell the type of woman that she could be become if she is able to survive the games. The thing I like most about Katniss is her mind and the way that she is able to adapt to each a situation and manipulate it to one that would benefit her the most.However, there are times within the book where she does show her age and does act like a brat, these were not my favorite parts of the book, I enjoyed her more when you could not tell her age or her actions were those that an adult book. But I recognize that this is a YA book and these attributes in her character are to be expected.

*****SPOILER BELOW******

My one criticism is that I did not find that Katniss and Peeta's relationship mature enough for me. I felt their relationship trying at times, and this part of the book was the least enjoyable for me. However, this is from an adults point of view, and how Collins wrote the relationship between Katniss and Peeta fits well within the YA genre. I think this might be the one aspect that may turn adult readers off this book/series as it did not have the "passion" of an adult book. But I will state again this is a YA book, therefore, it was right of Collins to not have an adult type relationship.

I think that Collins has created a book and possible a series (I have not yet read the next two books) that is able to go passed the YA genre and appeal to a more broad audience. I think that if you have been wavering about whether to read this series because it is YA book I think you should pick it up, be nicely surprised.


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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Sandra Brown: The Witness

Sandra Brown brings together another mystery thriller that explores what happens when a small town will go to great length to protect their secrets

Kendall Deaton is the new public defender of a small town, where they were not expecting to hire a women for the job and they make it known. From the first news article it is questioned whether she can handle the job or not, but Kendall is willing to prove them all wrong, this is the opportunity she has been waiting. And she does, even ends up marrying the author from the original article and into one of the most influential families in town. Kendall believes that she has found her place. However, things are not all what they seem in this small town, there are secrets in this town that no one wants exposed.

I'm happy to say that I really enjoyed this book. I was a little worried after reading the Best Kept Secrets by Sandra Brown as I did not enjoy that book at all, but this book redeemed my trust in Brown as an author.  I did not want to put this book down I had to know all the secrets of the town and what Kendall was running from. This book had everything that a reader would be looking for in a thriller as it had suspense, twist, turns, conspiracies and more.

Brown did a great job of crafting the story and creating suspense that will keep you on your toes. I enjoyed how Brown switched back and forth between the past a present as it kept me wondering what Kendall was running from as well as trying to figure out what her next move will be. I personally did not find it hard with the switches, but if you are not a fan of this writing style this book is not for you. It tended to be one chapter in the present next chapter in the past.

I liked Kendall as a character and her willingness to do anything for herself and her baby Kevin to survive. She is smart, has a great heart and I enjoyed her quick mind and how she adapts the situation in order to fit what she needs. Yes she is a manipulator and yes she is a liar but I think that she uses these traits when she needs them in order to survive. I also enjoyed her interaction with John and his confusion with his amnesia. I think that Brown did this interaction really well.

This book was fantastic and has put my faith back into Brown's novels. I think this is one of the best Brown books that I have read in a long time.


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Sunday, October 16, 2011

Brian Springer: Blood Money

 Indie Author Brian Springer introduces the reader to Blood Money, which explores how far governments are willing to go in order to ensure that they are always able to make profit, even if it means the death of thousands.

Jessica Robbins has achieved what was thought to be impossible. She has created a vaccine for the AIDS virus. This could save and prevent the disease throughout the world. There is just one problem, the government does not want the results or her vaccine to reach the public. The "cures" for AIDS virus is too profitable to the medical industry. Jessica attempts to escape and spread the word of her research, but she is caught by the government and whisked away to a "safe house". Kelton has his own sens of morality, that some may see as skewed at time, but he always believes that he is doing something for the greater good. Kelton has been tasked to retrieve Jessica so that she is able to spread the word about her vaccine. What was suppose to be an easy extraction has turns into a game of cat and mouse where Kelton and Jessica do not know who they can trust and if the vaccine is the only reason that they are being hunted.

I think that Springer has created some interesting characters and a possible series that I think will grab peoples attention. The plot was well thought out, written and explored in this book. I think the premise that Springer presented within the book is one that is really viable because at the core governments and corporations is greed.

Kelton is a fascinating character that I really want to know more about he is a good mixture of boy scout and vigilantly with his own moral code, which I found as an interesting combination. He does not like to be call a mercenary, even though that is what he is, but he likes to believe he has a higher moral code that mercenary's do. I enjoyed learning about Kelton's past, what made him the man he is in this book. I wish we would have learned more about his training, but I can understand if Springer is going to save that for the next Kelton book.

Jessica was not my favorite character in the first part of the book, I found her just an overly sexual character and just trying to use her sexuality too much in trying to seduce Kendal. I did grow to semi like Jessica later in the book, but I just could not get past how she was portrayed in the beginning of the book too truly like her as a character. I found the questions she asked boring, and just the conversation was strained at times, and I did begin to wonder about Springer's ability to write female characters.

The book did have a few slow parts in the book, especially in the conversation between Jessica and Kelton. There were times when I wanted the conversation to end or take a different direction as there were more interesting topics that could have been discuessed but were not. Most of the conversation revolved around sex and/or Jessica trying to convince Kelton to have sex with her. Which as stated above is why Jessica was not my favorite character. There were also times where things seemed a little bit too easy for Kelton and Jessica, that it took away from the suspense and thrills that could have been in the book

I was impressed that Springer was able to create a story, plot and characters in this short book (it was just over 219 pages on my nook). I think Springer has created a character that I would like to return to, to not only learn more about but to see how his adventures unfold. Springer is an author to watch out for as I think once he hits his stride in writing he will create some great mystery/thriller/adventure stories.


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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Gemma Halliday: Undercover in High Heels

 This is the third book in the High Heels Series. The first book is Spying in High Heels and the second book is Killer in High Heels. While it is not completely essential that  you read the other two books before this one, the build up of Maddie's life and relationships start, grow and blunder through the first two books and really they are just fun reads.

"Secret affairs, hunky gardeners, and housewives desperate enough to bare it all... welcome to Magnolia Lane, TV's hottest new prime time show." and Maddie's newest obsession. Maddie's life seems to be working out, well for the most part. She's not 100% sure where her and Ramirez stand (okay it is a very hot-cold relationship, but a girl can dream of the best) but on the bright side she has created her first Maddie Springer Shoes. But Maddie's favorite TV show is about to create some of its own drama when one of the rising stars is found on set and it looks like the true target was the show star. Ramirez is assigned to the case but not in the capacity he wants to be. But Maddie thinks the best way to get Ramirez's attention is to go undercover at Magnolia Lane and find the killer, but Maddie's snooping around is about to turn deadly.

I can always turn to Halliday when I need an all around fun read, after reading too much dark and serious books. She always knows just how to make me laugh and keep me entertained though out the book. I love just reading of the next situation that Maddie gets into, whether it is her fault or not. I have no idea where Halliday gets all her ideas for Maddie to get into trouble with, but they are all fall off the chair laughing ones.

I really liked Dana in this book and I'm glad that she got more of a role in this novel. It was nice to see the duo together again and all the schemes they can convince each other to partake in. I don't know how many times I laughed out loud in regards to Dana being part of SA (Sexaholics Anonymous)...That right there should make you want to read this book in this series, lol.

I appreciated that Halliday does not over do it with the sex scenes, they are hinted at, but she never goes into great detail with them. I think that she does it tastefully, and give enough of the steaminess that individuals who like to read novels that have more romance based to them will still enjoy this book.

Halliday writes fun easy to read books, that will put a smile on your face.The High Heel Series is for readers who like romance, comedy and mystery.


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Saturday, October 8, 2011

Thank You Everyone!!! Blogoversary Contests are CLOSED

Hi Everyone,
I just want to say thank you once again to all the authors who were part of my very First Blogoversary. I also want to tajnk those who took the time to read, comment and enter the author interviews and giveaways of the authors. All contests are now closed and I will be choosing winner shortly (well will be but you get the idea), so keep an eye on your email to see if you have won some books.

Cheers and Happy Canadian Thanks Giving this weekend.


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Blogoversary Author Interview & Giveaway: J. J. Westendarp

Hi Everyone,
Today we have an indie author whose debut I just read a few weeks ago and I really enjoyed it and I cannot wait to read more
Please Welcome J. J. Westendarp to Blood Rose Books today.

Do you have a specific experience or book that you read that inspired you to become an author?
David Eddings, first and foremost, is the author I go to when I need inspiration. I know a lot of people look at his stuff as simplistic and not very deep, but I love the characterization he manages to accomplish in just about everything he wrote along with his wife, Leigh. He also had a knack for world building that I think any author would appreciate. Reading his stuff always makes me want to step up my game.

As an indie author, what has been the most challenging aspect in getting your book out there for people to read?
Finding people to read it, though a close second seems to be distancing it from other paranormal works that focus on romance and sex as selling points (which might lead back to the first point). Not that my books won't have either of those in small doses (very small), but that's not what I like to read and I write things that I want to read.

The paranormal genre has become extremely popular in the past five years, why did you decide to start your writing career in this genre? 
It wasn't so much a conscious decision as it was the story I had in front of me. Spiral X started out as fan fiction that melded the worlds of Buffy and Blade, way back when they were popular. Once I realized I had a real story, I sought to make it my own while also keeping the spirit of the works that inspired its creation. And so was born The Eternal War.

What do you think would be the hardest or most challenging genre to write a novel in and why?
Comedy. Actors will tell you that comedy is the hardest part to play because timing is so critical to making people laugh. It's the same with writing. I wouldn't even begin to venture into writing something purely for comedic purposes because I'm fairly certain it wouldn't turn out nearly as funny as I would think it was.

Of all the different creatures that are now part of the paranormal genre why did you choose Vampire vs. Vampire Hunter?
Like I said earlier, it was the story I had in front of me, though I will admit that towards the end I was motivated by the idea that vampires needed to go back to being evil again. Of course, the most obvious foil to killing said vampires was a vampire hunter. There's a simplicity there that makes the story easy to explain.

It is some what rare for an author to write a main character that is an opposite sex from them, why did you choose to write a female protagonist?
Not entirely sure on this one. When I started writing I immediately did so from Cheryl's perspective without even thinking about it. Maybe it's because I've secretly wanted to be a badass chick who kills vampires all my life, but it might take years of therapy to sort that out if that's the case.

You went back to some basic roots of the myths about what hurts/kills vampires, do you think the faith based vampire hunting has been lost in the technological world of today?
Yes. I knew early on that I wanted to fixate more on the Buffy world of vampires, where faith plays a large part in dealing with them, though truthfully I was never sure if she truly believed that faith was a weapon. In making the world my own, the concept of The Eternal War, something that exists going back millennia even in our own literature (i.e. the battle for a man's soul), the idea of faith as a literal weapon was something that grew organically out of it. This is also an idea that gets explored a heck of a lot more in the second book.

In Spiral X, you introduce Vampires, but they are actually bodies produced by Demon inhabiting a human’s body. After Vampires, what would be your next favorite creature to introduce?
Zombies, which seems like a bit of a cliché, but I figured out a way for them to world in this setting which seems completely logical. 

Do you have any information on upcoming works or events that you are able to share?
The follow up to Spiral X is currently in the editing phase and I believe I can have it ready for release toward the end of the year. No title as of yet. From there I will be working on a short story based on Tank and a steampunk fantasy novel that I have been working on in between other stuff.

What is one book on your shelf that you cannot wait to read (can either be a new or old favorite).
Ghost Story by Jim Butcher. Haven't heard a single bad thing about it.

To find out more information on J.J. Westerndarp's books you can check out my review of Spiral X and J.J.'s website. He has also very nicley offer One Ebook copy of Sprial X as part of his interview. I cannot wait for his next book in this series to come out.

1.  You do not need to be a Follower to participate, but it is always nice for you to join
2. Please Fill out the Form BELOW in order to enter
3. This Giveaway is Open Internationally
4. The Giveaway ENDS on October 7, 2011
5. The winners will be notified via email and will have 48 hrs to respond, otherwise a new winner will be chosen
6. EBook provided by J.J. Westendarp

Monday, October 3, 2011

Blogoversary Author Interview & Giveaway: Dianne Sylvan

Hi Everyone,
I'm very excited to have today's author on my blog. She has written started a great new series and had one of the best debuts that I read this year and she helped reinstalled my faith in vampire books. 

Please Welcome DIANNE SYLVAN to Blood Rose Books today!

The paranormal genre has grown in the last five years, what do you think stands out about your shadow world novels?
I think that the Shadow World novels are different because the vampires that are in them are not all mopey self-loathing types who miss being human.  My vampires really like being vampires, and they use their abilities to their utmost advantage to enforce the law.  They’re also bound together by a mystical force that becomes more and more important as the story goes on.   Also, I’m not afraid to let my characters do terrible things and make dreadful mistakes; that’s how they become who they are, by learning from the things they do wrong, like normal people.

What do you think would be the hardest or most challenging genre to write a novel in and why?
Pure Sci/fi would be pretty much impossible for me.  I don’t get anything out of outer space or robots or alien invasions.  The closest I come is having geeky characters who know how to use computers. 

Do you remember the first story that you wrote? Was it this story, another author or an experience that inspired you to become an author?
I’ve been writing since I learned how to read.  I never wanted to be anything but a writer.  It’s in my blood; I think about it every day, usually all day.  If there’s something you can’t go a day without thinking about, chances are you should be that thing. Unless it’s illegal. 

I understand that you are part of NeoPagan spirituality; do you find that this help and /or dictates your structure and develop your books?
I use a lot of mythological imagery in my books, and that will become more apparent as the series goes on – there are references to a lot of old gods and goddesses.  There are also Witches in the series, and they are both psychic type fantasy witches and actual Wiccans, who practice NeoPagan spirituality.  There’s definitely a mystical theme underlying the books. 

Within the Paranormal genre there are various types of “Monsters” to choose from, why did you choose vampires?
They’ve been a fascination of mine since I was a teenager.  I find werewolves dreadfully boring, I hate zombies, so the only other monsters I might try working with in the future are angels/demons or something like them.  There will be other creatures in the Shadow World series (no werewolves, though).
Mira’s power is essentially based around her musicality. Do you have any musical talents?
I love music, and it plays an important part in my writing process; I tend to visualize what I’m writing as if it were a scene in a movie, and that includes the soundtrack.  Songs can inspire entire characters and scenes.  I don’t currently play any instruments myself but I do intend to learn piano one day.

Most of the book is based upon helping Mira get past her inevitable insanity, what was it about this aspect of the mind (insanity) that made you want to create a power around it?
I think that any kind of psychic gift, if left untrained, could turn to insanity very easily.  There are a lot of people in mental institutions who aren’t exactly crazy – just very, very intuitive, or empathic, or have other mental abilities that aren’t understood by modern medicine so they try to medicate them away.  I’m not saying everyone is like that, but it does happen.  I have also seen musicians who can do amazing things with their music, change the mood of an entire audience in one song, and I asked myself what would happen if someone who could do that didn’t really have any control over it? 

Mira is definitely not your typical female protagonist in the paranormal genre (really Faith is closer to typical these days) why did you choose Mira and her weaknesses as your main character?
I wanted to write a story about a survivor.  Not someone who just hops out of the box as a heroine, but someone who has to learn to become one, who makes mistakes along the way and has weaknesses and flaws.  Perfect people are not interesting to me.  People without quirks and habits and loves of their own are boring.  I wanted Miranda to reflect the real women I know – they’re complicated, multifaceted, and they’ve survived the worst life  can throw at them. 

Do you have any information on upcoming works or events that you are able to share?
I’m almost finished with Shadow’s Fall, the third book in the series.  It will hit shelves at the end of March 2012.   

What is one book on your shelf that you cannot wait to read (can either be a new or old favorite).
Right now I’m reading Karen Armstrong’s A History of God, which is amazing.  I’m also planning to reread the His Dark Materials trilogy soon.

I want to Thank Dianne for taking part in my Blogoversary and I am looking forward to the next books within her Shadow World Series. If you would like to find out more about the Shadow World and Dianne's novels check out my review of Queen of Shadows and check out Dianne's website. Dianne has very nicely donated one SIGNED copy of the second book in her Shadow World Series, Shadowflame. Thank You once again Dianne!!

1.  You do not need to be a Follower to participate, but it is always nice for you to join
2. Please Fill out the Form BELOW in order to enter
3. This Giveaway is Open to Internationally
4. The Giveaway ENDS on October 7, 2011
5. The winners will be notified via email and will have 48 hrs to respond, otherwise a new winner will be chosen
6. Books are provided by Dianne Sylvan

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Blogoversary Author Interview: Xavier Lerent

 Hi Everyone,
Today for my Blogoversary, we have an author that was not afraid to take on tough issues and whose book had me feeling every emotion out there.

Please Welcome XAVIER LERET to Blood Rose Books.

You started your creative business life in film; do you find writing novel is a better fit for your creative mind?
I actually started by making theatre, writing and directing work, then moved into film. I think it suits me better writing novels. I like being in a characters head. It took me a while to change my focus because when writing scripts, and then directing them, you are on the outside of a character observing their actions, whereas in a novel you are inside the characters head, for me that is what is exciting about the novel.

You have stated you that you were a bit of rebel when you were younger, were you writing back then? If so how has your writing changed to where it is now? My writing has changed a lot. The obvious changes are the developments from plays, into film and finally into prose and novels. The real change for me has been delving into the internal life of my characters and letting that take control of my storytelling. I have always been politically and philosophically motivated to write. It is important for me to discover things about life and ask questions about the human condition. This has not changed.

I placed Heaven Sent as a modern Contemporary novel, where do believe that Heaven Sent fits within the fiction genre world?
I would describe it as contemporary fiction and alternative reality. Some might describe it as a coming of age story too.

What do you think would be the hardest or most challenging genre to write a novel in and why?
I think comedy is hardest thing to write. I used to enjoy directing comedy for the theatre but writing it is another ball game. And quality comedy does so much more than make you laugh. It can make us look again on a subject, see it with fresh eyes.

How did the story process start for Heaven Sent? Did you created the characters or storyline first?
I started with the characters, though they are fairly unrecognizable now from their original incarnations. Not much of their original experiences remain as much of those early character sketches were thrown out when I began to develop the story. In some ways I worked very much like an actor preparing a part. On one level there is the character experiences. But there is also another element that needs to be considered and that is the voice of the author – that is very much like another character in the work and that too has been transformed over the process.

Heaven Sent, touches on quite a few controversial issues, especially child prostitution, was this an issue you wanted to bring forward or did the story just evolve that way?
It was the character Daizee, she kept shouting at me to get up in the morning, she was the one who most wanted her story told. Though, to be honest I floundered a lot. Often I was writing stuff that was unnecessarily dark. It's interesting because now that the book has been picked up by a publisher they have asked me to calm it down a bit and cut out some big and overly dark elements. Less is more.

Daisy has quite a mouth on her, being from Canada I’m not as familiar with English “street” speech, is Daisy’s speech accurate?
I'm from Bristol and it is a thick accent with its own phrases that are particular to the region. There is a Bristolian dictionary, which I referred to quite a lot which I then mixed with more recognizably urban slang. My favorite entry in the That Be Bristle dictionary is under the H section - “This page has been left intentionally blank as no Bristolian ever pronounces the letter 'H' at the start of a word.”

Do you think that you would ever continue the story of Carlo and how Heaven Sent has changed him?
I don't think so. I am currently in the middle of re-writing the book for a publisher, which I am enjoying a lot. It is good re-connect with the characters and redevelop the book. However, I think that when this process is done I will need to move on. I have a couple of other novels in various stages of development and a bit of me is eager to go back to them – but then that might be because I got a bit stuck today.

Do you have any information on upcoming works or events that you are able to share?
I have a story coming out in a collection at the end of September. But other than that I am working hell for leather on getting HS ready for my publisher.

What is one book on your shelf that you cannot wait to read (can either be a new or old favorite).
I am currently reading Brothers Karamazov by Dostoevsky which is just amazing. 

I want to thank Xavier for taking part in an interview for my blogoversary and i am waiting for the next installment of his work. You can find more about Xavier's books by checking out my review of Heaven Sent and Xavier Website.

Jeannie Holmes: Blood Law

In her debut novel Jeannie Holmes takes the reader in the world of the FBPI (Federal Bureau of Preternatural Investigations) and a small town that is having some serious vampire trouble:

Now when you think of vampires causing a stir in a small town, normally you think they are chasing after the virgin daughter of the farmer, however, in this small town something different is happening. Some of the human have waged war on the vampire population living in their town and are willing to stop at nothing to see it happen. Enforcer Alex Sabin is with the FBPI and is responsible for Jacksonville, however, most of the local sheriff and police department do not respect or even like her because she is a vampire. However, Alex is the local paranormal expert and when Vampires are involved Alex is front and center. But these murders have a link to Alex's past and it is one that she is not sure that she wants to uncover the truth.

I've had this book on my shelf for almost a year now, and I kept passing it by as I was not into vampire based paranormal books for awhile. They were all sounding the same and having the same characters in them, that I was really looking for something different. This book took me a bit to get into this book and once I got halfway through I find that Holmes found her stride and the story became one that I did not want to put down.

I do not think that Holmes brought anything new to the paranormal genre, but Holmes did a good job of using what is already out there. I liked Holmes use of the FBPI and the integration into the American government and I also liked the anti-vampire sentiment of the people of the town were used. I think that Holmes was able to portray very real emotion and reason as to  book. however, the story was well written and entertaining especially the second half of the book. This is one of the better books for combining supernatural creatures and law enforcement.

I did not mind Alex a s female lead, yes she was head strong but I think that Holmes did a good job in making her vulnerable but strong at the same time. However, there were times when I wanted to smack her for thinking that she always knows best and not taking others into consideration. I think my favorite part is when Alex interacts with her mother, nice to know that even vampires can be stopped by their mother's just saying their names. I wasn't the biggest fan of the relationship between Alex and Varik, I'm not too sure why, I just didn't feel the spark. I personally want know more about Stephen,

I think that Holmes did a good job with her first book I am interested to see how Alex's powers develop. So I will be picking up the next book in the series.


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